Principality of Neisse

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Coat of arms of the principality of Neisse

The principality of Neisse (also Duchy of Neisse ; principality of Neisse-Grottkau ; Neisse-Ottmachauer diocese land ; Latin territory Nisense or Nysensis provincia ; Polish Księstwo Nyskie ; Czech Nisko-otmuchovské knížectví ) was a territory of the bishops of Breslau . As an independent principality, in which the bishops exercised both spiritual and secular power, it existed from 1290 until secularization in 1810. From 1342 until the Prussian annexation of the greater part of Silesia in 1742 it was a fiefdom of the crown of Bohemia . Like the other duchies in Silesia , however, it was only imperial- mediated , ie the bishop and the dukes did not have the imperial estate and thus neither a seat nor a vote in the diet .

The Principality of Neisse comprised about a tenth of the Diocese of Wroclaw and was located on its southern edge, about 90 kilometers from Wroclaw. It consisted of a contiguous area around the cities of Neisse , Ottmachau , Patschkau , Ziegenhals , Weidenau , Freiwaldau and was expanded to include Grottkau in 1344 . The place of residence was the episcopal city of Neisse.


Prince-Bishop's Palace in Neisse, 1769 scene of the meeting of Frederick II with Emperor Joseph II ; Representation from the 18th century
The Prince-Bishop's Palace today

The principality of Neisse was established on the area of ​​the former Ottmachau castellan , which was presumably assigned to the Breslau bishops as equipment from the beginning . The castellany, which was a Silesian administrative district on the border with Bohemia , also included the Ottmachau castle with accessories ("Castellum Otomochov cum pertinentiis"). The castellany is documented as an episcopal estate for the year 1155, when Bishop Walter placed the castellany belonging to the diocese of Breslau under the protection of Pope Hadrian IV . However, since the dukes continued to exercise sovereignty over the area, the bishops were initially not entitled to any constitutional responsibilities.

After the division of the Duchy of Silesia in 1248/51, the Neisse-Ottmachauer Land fell undivided to the Duchy of Breslau . After the death of Bishop Thomas I in 1268, his successor Wladislaus was also Duke of Wroclaw. Under the bishop Thomas II , who came from the Neisser Land, there were long-term immunity disputes with the Breslau Duke Heinrich IV. The reason for this was unclear ownership rights of some villages that were founded or implemented by the bishops in the Grenzwald under German law as well as the Paying tithing . The church dispute was buried in 1276 with the help of the Olomouc bishop Bruno von Schauenburg , but flared up again in 1282. On August 10, 1282, the papal legate Philip of Fermo made an arbitration award in Lindewiese , with which Duke Heinrich IV was supposed to reimburse the diocese for the damage caused by him, his father and his uncle Wladislaw as well as the church property. Thereupon the duke laid claim to the villages that had been created without a sovereign permit. When a baron court soon afterwards decided that the 65 named villages belonged to the Duke, as they served to secure the national borders, Duke Heinrich occupied these villages in 1284 and claimed their taxes and income for himself. Thereupon he was banned by the bishop . A reconciliation between duke and bishop did not come about until January 11, 1288 in Breslau. Shortly before his death on June 23, 1290, Heinrich IV confirmed the diocese's goods and possessions and granted the bishop the privilege of sovereignty for the Neiss and Ottmachau area . As a result, the episcopal possessions in this area were no longer subject to secular power. The sovereignty of the country was restricted to the extent that the duke reserved the residents' military service and the right to occupy the episcopal castles in the event of national defense. Objections to the episcopal sovereignty were raised by Duke Bolko I of Schweidnitz , who died in 1301, and Duke Bolko II of Münster , who did not waive his claims until 1333.

By transferring sovereignty to the bishops, the Ottmachau castellan office lost its supremacy in the diocese. The place of residence of the Breslau bishops was now Neisse, which was also Oberhof for the settlements under German law in the diocese. Since the Duchy of Silesia was split up into 17th partial duchies due to inheritance divisions, the bishop residing on the Breslau Cathedral Island with his Neiss diocese was one of the richest princes in Silesia.

The first bishop of Breslau to use the title of prince-bishop was Heinrich von Würben . Bishop Preczlaw von Pogarell , who was in office from 1342, leaned against Bohemia politically, like almost all Silesian dukes before. As early as 1342 he transferred his prince-bishopric as a fief to the Bohemian King John of Luxembourg . Subsequently, in 1344, Silesia was incorporated into the Crown of Bohemia and thus indirectly to the Empire . In addition, the bishop was instrumental in the conclusion of the Treaty of Namslau in 1348, in which the Polish King Casimir III. finally recognized the supremacy of Bohemia over Silesia. Probably because of this Preczlaw became court chancellor of the Roman-German and Bohemian King Charles IV in 1344. Already in 1344 he had acquired the city ​​and the soft area of Grottkau , which he combined with his previous areas to form the “Principality of Neisse-Grottkau”. In the following, the respective Breslau bishops were entitled “Prince of Neisse and Duke of Grottkau”.

Presumably because of the harassment by the Hussites , Bishop Konrad von Oels transferred the main command of the diocese ( excluding Grottkau ) to the city council of Neisse in 1432 . After the destruction caused by the Hussite Wars , in which the cities of Ziegenhals, Weidenau, Ottmachau and Patschkau were reduced to ashes, the Neiss diocese recovered economically. The Reformation , which also spread to the diocese from 1522, was ousted by the Jesuits from 1622 . From 1575 to 1655, the Breslau seminary had its seat in Neisse. The establishment of a university and a Konvikt in Neisse, pursued by Bishop Archduke Karl , did not materialize due to his early death. The diocese also suffered great devastation during the Thirty Years' War. In 1729, a new episcopal residence was built in Neisse under Bishop Franz Ludwig von der Pfalz .

After the First Silesian War , most of Silesia fell to Prussia . The principality of Neisse also had to be divided:


  • Bernhard W. Scholz: The spiritual principality Neisse . 2011 Böhlau Verlag Cologne Weimar Vienna, ISBN 978-3-412-20628-4 [With a list of the localities of the Principality of Neisse on pages 338–397 and a map of the villages and towns of the Principality of Neisse 1650 on the trailer]
  • Hugo Weczerka (Hrsg.): Handbook of the historical places . Volume: Silesia (= Kröner's pocket edition . Volume 316). Kröner, Stuttgart 1977, ISBN 3-520-31601-3 , pp. 95–99 and pp. 331–338 and 387–391 as well as lists of bishops on pp. 604–605.
  • Ludwig Petry , Josef Joachim Menzel (ed.): History of Silesia. Volume 1: From prehistoric times to 1526. 5th revised edition. Thorbecke, Stuttgart 1988, ISBN 3-7995-6341-5 , pp. 89, 103, 106, 117f., 128ff., 133, 138, 149, 159, 163ff., 169m 187, 200, 206, 227f., 242 , 308ff., 414 and 433.
  • Rudolf Žáček: Dějiny Slezska v datech. Praha 2004, ISBN 80-7277-172-8 , pp. 432f.
  • Faustin Ens : The Oppaland, or the Troppauer Kreis, according to its historical, natural history, civil and local characteristics . Volume 4: Description of the locations of the principalities of Jägerndorf and Neisse, Austrian Antheils and the Moravian enclaves in the Troppauer district , Vienna 1837, p. 174 ff.

Web links

Commons : Fürstentum Neisse  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. In the course of its history it was sometimes wrongly referred to as the Diocese of Neisse with its appendages ("bisthumb Neyss una cum appertinentiis").