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Griffin as heraldic animal
The large nine-field coat of arms, as it had been used by the Griffin since the beginning of the 16th century.
Griffin coat of arms in the Behrenhoff church around 1240
Erich von Pommern is chosen as the successor to Queen Margaret I as King of the Nordic Union .
The greatest prosperity and power development of Pomerania under the grip of Bogislaw the Great , Duke of Pomerania.

Griffin was the name of the dynasty of the Dukes of Pomerania . It is derived from the heraldic animal, a walking upright griffin , which can be detected for the first time on a seal of Duke Casimir I in the 1190s .

In the investigation of the preservation of monuments in 2014 due to the restoration of the unique paintings in the church in Behrenhoff ( Vorpommern-Greifswald district ), these were dated to the first half of the 13th century. The coat of arms frieze was also examined more closely and it was established that, in addition to the coats of arms of the von Behr family and the Counts of Gützkow, there is also a coat of arms of the griffin dukes that can be assigned to this period. The scientists suspect that it could be the oldest depiction of the griffin's coat of arms (see photo).

Initially only used as a foreign name, the dynasty also used the name Greifen itself since the 15th century.

The first reliably verifiable representative of the dynasty is Wartislaw I. He had to face the Polish duke Bolesław III as a duke in Stettin in 1121 . Subjugate Schiefmund , but in the following years expanded his territory over the Randow westward to the Peene (see also Demmin ), probably even with Polish help. During his reign, Bishop Otto von Bamberg undertook two mission trips to Pomerania. The first journey initiated by Boleslaw Schiefmund took the missionary to the original territory of Wartislaw I east of the Oder. He undertook the second trip in 1128 with German support and this time proselytized in the areas west of the Oder that were subject to Wartislaw I. Wartislaw I himself was later murdered by a pagan turn.

His brother Ratibor I , ancestor of the Ratiboriden , a branch line of the Griffins, who reigned for the still underage sons of Wartislaw, founded the first monastery in Pomerania, Stolpe an der Peene , west of Anklam, near the site of the murder . The successors of Wartislaw I were under pressure from Henry the Lion and Denmark . In 1164, after the defeat in the Battle of Verchen , the western griffins became feudal men of Henry the Lion. In 1181 Emperor Friedrich I of Lübeck enfeoffed Bogislaw I as a dux slavorum with Pomerania. However, Bogislaw I had to submit to the Danes as a vassal in 1185, as he received no help from his liege lord, the emperor, a few years later ; he made the feudal oath to King Knuth VI. , "King of the Danes and Slavs". Since 1227, the year of the Battle of Bornhöved , the griffins were again under the control of the Roman-German emperors.

Ratibor's own descendants, on the other hand, ruled as princes in a smaller area in Western Pomerania , which is known as the Land of Schlawe or the Lordship of Schlawe-Stolp . With Ratibor II. († before 1227) the tributary of the Ratiboriden died out. There were inheritance disputes over the Schlawe-Stolp rule between the main line of the Greifenhaus, which ruled it to the west, and the Samborids, who ruled east of it in Pomerania .

Since the end of the 12th century, with a short interruption 1185–1227, the territory of the Griffins was connected to the empire . The feudal sovereignty claimed by Brandenburg ( confirmed by Frederick II in 1231 ) remained in dispute. Nevertheless, large areas in the west and south were lost during this time, including Zirzipanien , the Land of Stargard and most of the Uckermark and parts of the Neumark . The diocese of Cammin , which was originally congruent with the territory of the Griffin , now protruded far into Brandenburg and Mecklenburg . The expansion of the country under German law was particularly encouraged by Duke Barnim I. From about 1220/1230, increasing numbers of German settlers poured into the country, which had been devastated by the previous wars, especially the Danish invasions in the last third of the 12th century. Between 1250 and 1350 most of the cities were founded under German law, mostly based on either the Lübeck or Magdeburg model. In 1295 the Greifen-Haus was divided into the Stettin and Wolgast lines . The Wolgast line succeeded in gaining the Schlawe-Stolp rule in 1317 and the Principality of Rügen in 1325.

Barnim III stands out among the griffins of the 14th century . from Pomerania-Stettin . Since 1348 he had been in close relations with Charles IV , who enfeoffed the griffin dukes of all lines in full with Pomerania and Rügen as an imperial direct duchy and in 1363 married Elisabeth von Pommern , a daughter of Bogislaw V von Pommern-Wolgast-Stolp, in his fourth marriage . The future emperor Sigismund emerged from this marriage . His grandson Casimir V took part in the Battle of Tannenberg on the part of the Teutonic Order in 1410 and was taken prisoner by the Poles. Due to a closer dynastic reference of the Szczecin dukes to Brandenburg, German first names were more common among them in the 14th and 15th centuries than with the Wolgast cousins, e. B. Otto II. , Joachim the Elder Ä. , Joachim d. J. and Otto III.

From 1372 the Duchy of Wolgast split into a line from front and rear. The Dukes of Rear Pomerania (based in Stolp and Rügenwalde ) were particularly involved in the struggle between Poland and the Teutonic Order (so under Bogislaw VIII and Erich II ). They came into the possession of the Lauenburg and Bütow regions in 1455/1466 (see also Bütow and Lauenburg districts ). The most remarkable of the rear Pomeranian griffins was Erich von Pommern , who as Erich VII was the Nordic Union King from 1397 to 1439 (see also Kalmar Union ). After his deposition in the northern kingdoms and the expulsion from the island of Gotland, Erich returned to Rügenwalde, where he also died and was buried in 1459. A dispute broke out over his inheritance between the Vorpommern dukes of the Wolgast line and the last duke of Pomerania-Stettin, Otto III.

The Dukes of Western Pomerania divided their territory even further in the 15th century (Barth-Rügen, Wolgast). One of them is Wartislaw IX. , † 1457, to be mentioned as the sovereign sponsor of the founding of the University of Greifswald in 1456. Heraldically, the threatening drifting apart of the dynasty in the 15th century can also be recognized by the fact that the Wolgast dukes used the black griffin, a symbol of the coat of arms that differed from the red Stettin griffin.

The Brandenburg attempt to take possession of this part of the country after the Stettin line had died out (Otto III, † 1464) failed. In 1493 in the Treaty of Pyritz and in 1529 in the Treaty of Grimnitz , Brandenburg recognized the imperial immediacy of Pomerania, but subject to contingent succession in the event that the griffins in the male line died out. Duke Bogislaw X. (1454–1523), the most important of the Griffins, united in 1478 all parts of Pomerania that had been separate since 1295, which he transformed into an early modern territorial state. His sons George I and Barnim IX. ruled together, but were already preparing a new division of the country. This came only in 1532 after the death of George I between his then sixteen-year-old son Philip I and Barnim IX. conditions. It divided the duchy into the partial rulers Wolgast - mainly areas west of the Oder - and Stettin - mainly areas east of the Oder - and was initially only valid for 9 years. It was finally completed in 1541 and confirmed with slight modifications when the members of the ducal house who were entitled to govern the building dispute again in 1569.

In 1534 the dukes introduced the Reformation to the state parliament of Treptow an der Rega. They joined the Schmalkaldic League , and Philip I's marriage to Maria von Sachsen, a daughter of Elector John the Constant of Saxony, in 1536, strengthened Pomerania's relations with the leading Protestant power in the empire. In 1556, the Griffins also took control of the Cammin monastery , which became, so to speak, the secondary school of the ducal house.

Picture family tree of the Krommeny Griffins 1598
The last Duke of Pomerania (1625–1637), Bogislaw XIV.

Since Barnim IX. remained without male heirs, the sons of Philip I took over rule in all three territories from 1569. The eldest son Johann Friedrich ruled in Stettin , the third son Ernst Ludwig after the resignation of his older brother Bogislaw XIII. in Wolgast . After reaching the age of majority, the youngest son Casimir VI took over rule in the monastery from 1574 . The other two brothers Bogislaw XIII. and Barnim X. received, as did their great-uncle Barnim IX, who voluntarily renounced their rule. an appanage in the form of several sovereign offices.

Of the brothers only Bogislaw XIII. and Ernst Ludwig descendants. While Ernst Ludwig's only son Philipp Julius, after he reached the age of majority in 1601, followed his father, who died in 1592, in the rule of the Volga, Bogislaw XIII took over. 1603 and after him in 1606 his eldest son Philip II took over the rule in Stettin. As early as 1602, the second eldest son of Bogislaw XIII, Franz , had followed his uncle Casimir VI. Franz took over the rule in Stettin in 1618 and handed the monastery over to his youngest brother Ulrich . After Franz died in 1620 and Ulrich in 1622, the only remaining brother Bogislaw XIV took over rule in both territories. In 1625 he also followed his nephew Philipp Julius in Wolgast, so that he had reunited all of Pomerania in his hand.

Since Bogislaw XIV had no descendants of his own and no succession regulation had been accepted by the allies and estates with regard to other lines and descendants of the Griffin family, the rule of the Griffins ended with his death in 1637. This also ended the state independence of Pomerania, which was divided between Brandenburg and Sweden in the Peace of Westphalia in 1648 . Nevertheless, Ernst Bogislaw von Croÿ , the nephew of the last griffin duke and former bishop of the Cammin, acted as the Brandenburg governor of Western Pomerania until 1678.

See also


  • Ulrich von Behr-Negendank , Julius von Bohlen-Bohlendorf (ed.): The personal details and corpse processions of the Dukes of Pomerania and their relatives from the years 1560–1663 . Hall 1869.
  • Helmuth Bethe: The portraits of the Pomeranian ducal house . In: Baltic Studies. NF 39 (1937), pp. 71-99.
  • Helmuth Bethe: The art at the court of the Pomeranian dukes . Berlin 1937.
  • Helmuth Bethe: The griffins. Pomeranian dukes 12th to 17th centuries. Catalog for the exhibition March 3 to May 5, 1996 . Kiel 1996.
  • Helmuth Bethe: Art care in Pomerania. Special exhibition of old works of art, documents and prints in memory of the griffin family, which died out in 1637. Szczecin 1937. (exhibition catalog)
  • Edward Rymar : Rodowód książąt pomorskich. 2 volumes. Szczecin 1995 (= Genealogy of the Dukes of Pomerania). (2nd edition in a volume Szczecin 2005).
  • Dirk Schleinert : Pomeranian dukes. Portrait of the griffins . Hinstorff Verlag, Rostock 2012, ISBN 978-3-356-01479-2 .
  • Christoph Schley, Helga Wetzel: The griffins. Pomeranian dukes. 12th to 17th centuries. Pommern Foundation, Kiel 1996 (exhibition catalog).
  • Roderich SchmidtGrasping. In: New German Biography (NDB). Volume 7, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 1966, ISBN 3-428-00188-5 , pp. 29-33 ( digitized version ). Reprinted in: Roderich Schmidt: The historic Pomerania . Böhlau Verlag, Cologne / Weimar / Vienna 2007, ISBN 978-3-412-27805-2 , pp. 117–123.
  • Martin Wehrmann (edit.): Genealogy of the Pomeranian ducal house. Publications of the regional historical research center for Pomerania, series 1, vol. 5. Stettin 1937.
  • Martin Wehrmann: The burial places of the members of the Pomeranian ducal house. In: Baltic Studies. NF 39 (1937), pp. 100-118.
  • Martin Wehrmann: From the Pomeranian ducal house. In memory of its exit 300 years ago. In: Our Pommerland . 22 (1937), issue 1/2, pp. 1-6.
  • Ralf-Gunnar Werlich: Grasping . In: Courtyards and residences in the late medieval empire. A dynastic topographical handbook. Residency Research Vol. 15/1. Ostfildern 2003, pp. 74–84.
  • Ralf-Gunnar Werlich: Dynasty and genealogy - family trees of the griffins. In: Melanie Ehler, Matthias Müller (ed.): Under princely regiment. Barth as the residence of the Pomeranian dukes. Berlin 2005, pp. 149-185.

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