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European Kingdoms

Eastern Europe


Bishops of Culm / Chełmno (Prussia)
AD 1243 - Present Day

Until the arrival of the Teutonic Knights, the Prussian region of Chełmno (or Chelmo in English, missing the accented letter, plus Culmerland or Kulmerland in German) was a disputed part of the Polish region of Mazovia in western-central Prussia, a south-western tip of territory which was encircled by the River Vistula to the west and the Drewenz to the east. Battles here between the Poles and the Prussians were the initial reason for the knights of the Order being invited to settle in the Lower Vistula and provide a buffer for the Polish kingdom. Once the Order had conquered the Old Prussians, Culm became a diocese and an important stronghold. The Papal legate, William of Modena, oversaw the creation of the diocese in 1243, along with those of Ermland, Pomesania, and Samland, placing the seat at Kulmsee (Chelmza). This was moved in 1257 to Lubawa Castle.

During this period the inhabitants of Prussia were in a dismal state. Treaties signed between the Prussians and the Order had not been fulfilled; the Prussians were forbidden to live in towns, and they were driven out of their native areas and moved to the eastern districts of the state. Large numbers of Prussians died and their farms were destroyed during the crusade, with almost all the western and northern Prussian provinces now being under the control of the Order, and also in the revolts of 1260-1274. The Order ordered the colonisation of Prussia by German peasants with the result that the few Prussians who survived found themselves surrounded by Germans and were gradually assimilated. It was only in Samland with one of the heaviest concentrations of Balts that they constituted a majority.

The colonisation and Germanisation of the Prussian lands began immediately. By 1400, the Teutonic Order could boast fifty-four towns, nearly a thousand villages, and almost twenty thousand farms of new colonists. During the wars the Prussian upper class and its leaders had perished. The survivors yielded to the control of the Order, were baptised, and in striving for social status gradually accepted German customs and language. The lower and lower-middle classes were underprivileged and peasants were forced into serfdom. The language and customs of the Prussians were preserved by this lower, underprivileged class, and Prussian continued to be spoken for another four hundred years. The western provinces were more rapidly Germanised than was the Samland peninsula where the old population lived in compact groups. Catechisms published in Prussian in the sixteenth century show that not everyone understood German. It is known that at the beginning of the seventeenth century sermons were preached with the help of translators, but the Prussian language was living through its last stages at the end of this century. It was only spoken by the old people in villages.

(Additional information by Leitgiris Living History Club, from The History of the Baltic Countries, Zigmantas Kiaupa, Ain Mäesalu, Ago Pajur, & Gvido Straube (Eds, Estonia 2008), from Królestwo rowerowe Warmia i okolice (Cycling Kingdom, Warmia and Surroundings), Green Velo tourist publication, 2015, and from External Links: The Balts, Marija Gimbutas (1963, previously available online thanks to Gabriella at Vaidilute, but still available as a PDF - click or tap on link to download or access it), and Leitgiris.)

1245 - 1263


Of the Dominican Order.


The bishopric of Samland is formed in northern Prussia, comprising the Frisches Haff (Vislinskii Zaliv) and Kurisches Haff (Kurskii Zaliv), with Königsberg serving as the administrative headquarters.


The bishop's seat is moved to Lubawa Castle.

The church of St James and St Nicholas in Chełmno
The church of St James and St Nicholas in Chełmno was established as a Franciscan monastery church in the 1320s, with consecration coming around 1346 by Bishop Otto von Kulm

1260 - 1274

The Livonian Knights, along with the Teutonic Knights, are abandoned by their Estonian and Couronian vassals and severely defeated at the Battle of Durbe in Livonia by the Samogitians. As a result, numerous rebellions break out against the Teutonic Knights all across the Baltics, including a general uprising throughout Prussia known as the Great Prussian Uprising. The Prussians win several battles against the hard-pressed Knights, with Duke Skomantas of the Yotvingians attacking the stronghold of Chełmno in 1263, and by 1264 the situation is critical. Reinforcements arrive from Germany and the Order launches an attack against the rebels, with final defeat of the Prussians coming in 1274. Several uprisings occur in the thirteenth century, but none as serious as this.

1264 - 1274

Friedrich von Hausen

Of the Teutonic Knights.

1275 - 1291

Werner von Kulm

Of the Teutonic Knights.

1291/92 - 1301

Heinrich Schenk

Of the Teutonic Knights.

1303 - 1311

Hermann von Kulm

Of the Teutonic Knights.

1311 - 1316/19

Eberhard von Kulm

Of the Teutonic Knights.

1319 - 1323

Nikolaus Afri

Of the Dominican Order.

1323 - 1349

Otto von Kulm

Of the Teutonic Knights.

1349 - 1359

Jakob von Kulm

Of the Teutonic Knights.

1359 - 1363

Johann Schadland

Of the Dominican Order.

1363 - 1381/85

Wikbold Dobilstein

Of the Teutonic Knights.

1385 - 1390

Reinhard von Sayn


Martin von Lynow

Of the Teutonic Knights.

1390 - 1398

Nikolaus Schippenbeil

Of the Teutonic Knights.

1398 - 1402

Johann II

Herzog von Oppeln.

1402 - 1416

Arnold Stapel

Of the Teutonic Knights.

1416 - 1457

Johann Marienau

1457 - 1479

Vincent Goslawski Kielbasa


At the conclusion of the Thirteen Year War, along with the Teutonic Knights, the bishopric of Culm falls under the suzerainty of Poland.

1480 - 1495

Stephan von Niborka

1496 - 1507

Nikolaus Krapitz

1508 - 1530

Jan Konopacki


The Teutonic Knights' Ordenstaat is secularised and converted to Lutheran Protestantism as the duchy of East Prussia. In the same year, the reverberations of the Peasants' War in Germany reach Prussia.

1530 - 1538

Johannes Dantiscus

1538 - 1549

Tiedemann Giese

1549 - 1551

Stanislaus Hosius

1551 - 1562

Jan Lubodziecki

1562 - 1571

Stanisław Żelisławski


The Union of Poland-Lithuania, Ruthenia, Livonia, Polotsk, and Samogitia is effected, establishing the Commonwealth of Poland. Sigismund II Augustus becomes king of a united Poland-Lithuania.

1574 - 1595

Piotr Kostka


The bishopric of Culm survives the dissolution of two of the other bishoprics in Prussia between 1577-1587. In 1587, it gains the remaining Catholic areas of the former bishopric of Pomesania when that too is dissolved.

1595 - 1600

Piotr Tylicki

1600 - 1610

Wawrzyniec Gembicki

1611 - 1613

Maciej Konopacki

1614 - 1624

Jan Kucborski

1624 - 1635

Jakob Zadzik

1635 - 1639

Jan Lipski

1639 - 1646

Kasper Działyński

1646 - 1652

Andrzej hrabia Leszczyński

1653 - 1655

Jan Gembicki

1658 - 1661

Adam Koss

1662 - 1674

Andrzej Olszewski

1676 - 1681

Jan Małachowski

1681 - 1693

Kasimir Johann z Bnina Opaliński

1693 - 1694

Kasimir Szczuka

1699 - 1712

Theodor Andrzej Potocki

1719 - 1721

Johann Kasimir Alten-Bokum

1723 - 1730

Felix Ignaz Kretkowski

1731 - 1733

Tomasz Franciszek Czapski

1736 - 1739

Adam Stanislaus Grabowski

1739 - 1746

Andrzej Stanisław Załuski

1747 - 1758

Wojciech Stanisław Leski

1759 - 1785

Andrzej Ignacy z Broniewic Baier

1785 - 1795

Karl von Hohenzollern-Hechingen

1795 - 1814

Franciszek Ksawery z Wrbna Rydzyński

1824 - 1832

Ignaz Vinzenz Stanislaus Matthy

1834 - 1856

Anastazy Sedlag

1857 - 1886

Johann Nepomuk Marwicz

1886 - 1898

Leon Redner

1899 - 1926

Augustin Rosentreter

1926 - 1944

Stanisław Wojciech Okoniewski


The conclusion of the Second World War witnesses the expulsion of the German population by the Soviet Russian victors. This expulsion includes the German bishop of Warmia, with the result that the position remains vacant in Poland until a new Polish diocese is formed in 1972. Culm itself becomes part of Poland.

1946 - 1972

Kazimierz Józef Kowalski

1973 - 1980

Bernard Czapliński

1981 - 1992

Marian Przykucki

1992 - Present

Jan Bernard Szlaga

Bishop of Pelplin.

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