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02 . 06
03 . 06

History of Castle Gniew

"The Teutonic Knights received the Gniew lands in 1282 from Duke Mestwin II of Pomerania, on the basis of the 1276 decision to confer the territory by Sambor, the prince of Lubiszewo Tczewskie. A provisional Teutonic fortress was raised already in 1283. Under the leadership of the first commander of these lands, Gietrich von Spir, the convent settled there. The construction of a brick castle bagan around 1290 and wwas completed by the first hald of the 14th century. Significant changes in the building took place as late as after 1422. This castle had great significance as the first and, from 1309, one of the most important outposts of the Order in Pomerania. Despite its might, Gniew fell into Polish gands during the Great War (1410). After several months, the Teutonic Knights recaptured the castle. In 1454, Gniew was seized by forces of the Prussian Confederation, or the Order’s rebeiling subjects. As the Thirteen Year War continued, Teutonic forces again took the castle, weathering two unsuccessful sieges by Polish forces. Finally, in 1464, it surrendered to the forces of Piotr Dunin from Prawkowice. Upon the return of Pomerania to Poland in 1466, the castle functioned as the seat of governors (starostas). On behalf of the King, the governors administrated the lands within the area of the former commandry. In July 1626, Swedish forces captured Gniew. In September, in the castle vicinity, the decisive battle took place between two king of the Vasa dynasty – Sigismund III and Gustavus Adolphus. The goal of the Poles was to recapture the castle, whilist the Swedes aimed to thwart this. The Swedes succeeded, In 1627, Gniew was finally seized from enemy hands by hetman Stanislas Koniecpolski. Another Swedish occupation of the castle took place during the Deluge of 1655. Albeit brief, it left terrible damages. In 1667, the governorship of Gniew was given to hetman Jan Sobieski, the later King John III, the man who would defeat the army of Kara Mustafa in Vienna (1683). He restored the castle and built a larch residence next to it for his wife, Maria Casimira. After the first partition of Poland (1772), Gniew found itself within the borders of Frederick II’s Prussia. The Prussians adapted the castle as a barracks and later as a granary. In so doing, they destroyed the Gothic vaulting and cloisters, transformed the original lay-out of the interiors and window locations, stuccoed the elevations, demolished the latrine tower, filled in the moats and broke a new entrance portal into the western wing. During a wave of Romantic era fascination with the Middle Ages during the mid-19th century, German builders reconstructed the chapel’s vaulting, returned the Gothic arch shape to the windows of the southern elevation and rebuilt two corner towers. At that time, a prison for criminals was established at the castle. In 1920, the Treaty of Versailles returned Gniew to Poland. The castle became an administrative headquarters, later it was given to the military. In July of 1921, a great fire broke out and caused terrible damage. Only the southern wing of the castle survived. During World War II, the Nazis used the ruins to organize a transit camp for the Polish population of Pomerania. Today, thank to the efforts of people of good will, the castle walls have, to a great degree, regained their original shape and the splendour befitting a seat of Teutonic commanders and Polish governors. Stokowski, M. - Gniew Castle - seat of TTeutonic commanders and royal governors"
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