"PERIOD THIRD begins, early in 1454, with an important special catastrophe; and ends, in the Thirteenth year after, with a still more important universal one of the same nature. Prussian BUND, or Anti-Oppression Covenant of the Towns and Landed Gentry, rising in temperature for fourteen years at this rate, reached at last the igniting point, and burst into fire. February 4th, 1454, the Town of Thorn, darling first-child of Teutsch Ritterdom,--child 223 years old at this time, ["Founded 1231, as a wooden Burg, just across the river, on the Heathen side, mainly round the stem of an immense old Oak that grew handy there,--Seven Barges always on the river (Weichsel), to fly to our own side if quite overwhelmed"
"War hereupon, which blazed up over Preussen at large,--Prussian Covenant and King of Poland VERSUS Teutsch Ritterdom,--and lasted into the thirteenth year, before it could go out again; out by lack of fuel mainly. One of the fellest wars on record, especially for burning and ruining; above '300,000 fighting-men' are calculated to have perished in it; and of towns, villages, farmsteads, a cipher which makes the fancy, as it were, black and ashy altogether. Ritterdom showed no lack of fighting energy; but that could not save it, in the pass things were got to. Enormous lack of wisdom, of reality and human veracity, there had long been; and the hour was now come. Finance went out, to the last coin. Large mercenary armies all along; and in the end not the color of money to pay them with; mercenaries became desperate; 'besieged the Hochmeister and his Ritters in Marienburg;'--finally sold the Country they held; formally made it over to the King of Poland, to get their pay out of it. Hochmeister had to see such things, and say little. Peace, or extinction for want of fuel, came in the year 1466. Poland got to itself the whole of that fine German Country, henceforth called 'WEST Preussen' to distinguish it, which goes from the left bank of the Weichsel to the borders of Brandenburg and Neumark;--would have got Neumark too, had not Kurfurst Friedrich been there to save it. The Teutsch Order had to go across the Weichsel, ignominiously driven; to content itself with 'EAST Preussen,' the Konigsberg-Memel country, and even to do homage to Poland for that. Which latter was the bitterest clause of all: but it could not be helped, more than the others. In this manner did its revolted children fling out Teutsch Ritterdom ignominiously to the dogs, to the Polacks, first of all,--Thorn, the eldest child, leading off or setting the example."
And so the Teutsch Ritters are sunk beyond retrieval; and West Preussen, called subsequently "Royal Preussen," NOT having homage to pay as the "Ducal" or East Preussen had, is German no longer, but Polish, Sclavic; not prospering by the change. [What Thorn had sunk to, out of its palmy state, see in Nanke's
It was in the second year of that final tribulation, marked above as Period Third, that the Teutsch Ritters, famishing for money, completed the Neumark transaction with Kurfurst Friedrich; Neumark, already pawned to him ten years before, they in 1455, for a small farther sum, agreed to sell; and he, long carefully steering towards such an issue, and dexterously keeping out of the main broil, failed not to buy. Friedrich could thenceforth, on his own score, protect the Neumark; keep up an invisible but impenetrable wall between it and the neighboring anarchic conflagrations of thirteen years; and the Neumark has ever since remained with Brandenburg, its original owner.
As to Friedrich's Pomeranian quarrel, this is the figure of it. Here is a scene from Rentsch, which falls out in Friedrich's time; and which brought much battling and broiling to him and his. Symbolical withal of much that befell in Brandenburg, from first to last. Under the Hohenzollerns as before, Brandenburg grew by aggregation, by assimilation; and we see here how difficult the process often was.
Pommern (POMERANIA), long Wendish, but peaceably so since the time of Albert the Bear, and growing ever more German, had, in good part, according to Friedrich's notion, if there were force in human Treaties and Imperial Laws, fallen fairly to Brandenburg,-- that is to say, the half of it, Stettin-Pommern had fairly fallen,--in the year 1464, when Duke Otto of Stettin, the last Wendish Duke, died without heirs. In that case by many bargains, some with bloody crowns, it had been settled, If the Wendish Dukes died out, the country was to fall to Brandenburg;--and here they were dead. "At Duke Otto's burial, accordingly, in the High Church of Stettin, when the coffin was lowered into its place, the Stettin Burgermeister, Albrecht Glinde, took sword and helmet, and threw the same into the grave, in token that the Line was extinct. But Franz von Eichsted," apparently another Burgher instructed for the nonce, "jumped into the grave, and picked them out again; alleging, No, the Dukes of WOLGAST-Pommern were of kin; these tokens we must send to his Grace at Wolgast, with offer of our homage, said Franz von Eichsted." [Rentsch, p. 110 (whose printer has put his date awry); Stenzel (i. 233) calls the man "LORENZ Eikstetten, a resolute Gentleman."]--And sent they were, and accepted by his Grace. And perhaps half-a-score of bargains, with bloody crowns to some of them; and yet other chances, and centuries, with the extinction of new Lines,--had to supervene, before even Stettin-Pommern, and that in no complete state, could be got. [1648, by Treaty of Westphalia.] As to Pommern at large, Pommern not denied to be due, after such extinction and re-extinction of native Ducal Lines, did not fall home for centuries more; and what struggles and inextricable armed- litigations there were for it, readers of Brandenburg-History too wearisomely know. The process of assimilation not the least of an easy one!--
This Friedrich was second son: his Father's outlook for him had, at first, been towards a Polish Princess and the crown of Poland, which was not then so elective as afterwards: and with such view his early breeding had been chiefly in Poland; Johann, the eldest son and heir-apparent, helping his Father at home in the mean while. But these Polish outlooks went to nothing, the young Princess having died; so that Friedrich came home; possessed merely of the Polish language, and of what talents the gods had given him, which were considerable. And now, in the mean while, Johann, who at one time promised well in practical life, had taken to Alchemy; and was busy with crucibles and speculations, to a degree that seemed questionable. Father Friedrich, therefore, had to interfere, and deal with this "Johann the Alchemist" (JOHANNES ALCHEMISTA, so the Books still name him); who loyally renounced the Electorship, at his Father's bidding, in favor of Friedrich; accepted Baireuth (better half of the Culmbach Territory) for apanage; and there peacefully distilled and sublimated at discretion; the government there being an easier task, and fitter for a soft speculative Herr. A third Brother, Albert by name, got Anspach, on the Father's decease; very capable to do any fighting there might be occasion for, in Culmbach.
As to the Burggrafship, it was now done, all but the Title. The First Friedrich, once he was got to be Elector, wisely parted with it. The First Friedrich found his Electorship had dreadfully real duties for him, and that this of the Burggrafship had fallen mostly obsolete; so he sold it to the Nurnbergers for a round sum: only the Principalities and Territories are retained in that quarter. About which too, and their feudal duties, boundaries and tolls, with a jealous litigious Nurnberg for neighbor, there at length came quarrelling enough. But Albert the third Brother, over at Anspach, took charge of all that; and nothing of it fell in Johann's way.