Duchies in Silesia

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Duchies of Silesia as part of the Bohemian Crown within the Holy Roman Empire (1618)

The duchies in Silesia arose from numerous inheritance divisions from the original Duchy of Silesia , which belonged to the Polish state association of the Piasts and then gained political and dynastic independence with the repeal of the seniority principle among the Silesian Piasts .


After the death of Duke Bolesław III. Schiefmund In 1138 the seniority principle was introduced and the Kingdom of Poland was divided into several duchies. One of them was the Duchy of Silesia under senior duke Władysław II the expellee , who founded the line of the Silesian Piasts. Between 1289 and 1335 almost all of the previously existing partial principalities handed over their territories as a fiefdom to the Crown of Bohemia , which was confirmed with the Treaty of Trenčín in 1335 between the kings of Poland and Bohemia. Münsterberg followed in 1336 and Schweidnitz-Jauer in 1364 . Like his predecessor Casimir III. In the 1348 Treaty of Namslau , King Ludwig the Great also confirmed the renunciation of all Silesian duchies again in 1372.

As early as 1348, the Roman-German and Bohemian King Charles IV incorporated Silesia into the Bohemian crown and thus also into the Holy Roman Empire . Since he wanted to emphasize the importance of Silesia for the empire, after his coronation as emperor in 1355 he again confirmed that Silesia was part of the empire. The Silesian princes, however, remained Bohemian vassals, but had their own rulership rights. Since they received their flag loan from the Bohemian crown and not from the Reich, from 1495 they did not belong to the imperial estates with a seat and vote in the Reichstag .

The Duchy of Opava and its sub-duchies Jägerndorf and Leobschütz , whose territories originally belonged to Moravia , between 1337 and 1521 the Duchy of Ratibor and the Loslau split off from it were ruled by the Opava branch of the Přemyslids . The Duchy of Münsterberg was sold to Georg von Podiebrad in 1456 , and it remained with his descendants until 1569. They formed the Münsterberg branch of the Lords of Podiebrad and subsequently also came to the duchies of Oels and Bernstadt and temporarily to Opava, which was taken from them by King Matthias Corvinus . The principality of Neisse belonged to the Breslau prince-bishops and the area of ​​the later Duchy of Freudenthal initially belonged to the Přemyslids of Jägerndorf and Ratibor. In 1682, when Grand Master Johann Caspar von Ampringen was awarded the title of duke, it achieved the status of a duchy. Since the title of duke was limited to the lifetime of the Grand Master of Ampringen, the duchy expired with his death in 1684.

The duchies remaining with the Silesian Piasts were in individual cases given as personal items to ducal widows, who then exercised the regency independently or as guardians of the heirs who were not yet of legal age.

During the Reformation almost all of Silesia became Protestant . Friedrich II. Von Liegnitz und Brieg , governor of the duchies in Lower Silesia and one of the most influential Silesian dukes, supported the Lutheran denomination as early as 1523 . As a result of the Thirty Years' War (1618-1648), the Upper Silesian duchies were largely re-Catholicized .

After their reversion, all the duchies fell to the Bohemian sovereign , who was appointed by the Habsburgs from 1526 . After their reversion they were referred to as hereditary principalities.

Individual areas that were spun off from the partial duchies achieved the status of free class rule from the end of the 15th century , which were given to non-princely families.

With the exception of the duchies of Teschen, Troppau and Jägerndorf and the southern part of the duchy of Neisse, which remained with Bohemia, as well as the duchies of Auschwitz , Sewerien and Zator , which were sold to Poland in the second half of the 15th century , the Silesian hereditary duchies and free territorial lords fell after First Silesian War against Prussia . In 1813 they were dissolved as part of the Prussian reforms , which pursued a comprehensive reorganization of the Prussian state and a reform of the organization of the authorities. The areas of the former principalities were incorporated into the newly created political administrative units of the administrative districts.


Free rulers

The free class lords emerged from the end of the 15th century. They were given to non-princely families and had sovereign rights.

Silesian territories that did not fall to Prussia in 1742

The part of the country that remained with Austria after the division of Silesia in 1742 and still belonged to the countries of the Bohemian Crown was known as the Duchy of Upper and Lower Silesia or the Duchy of Silesia , colloquially as Austrian Silesia , until 1918 .


Individual evidence

  1. Ulrich Schmilewski:  Opole, Dukes v .. In: New German biography (NDB). Volume 19, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 1999, ISBN 3-428-00200-8 , pp. 558 f. ( Digitized version ).
  2. ^ Arno Herzig : Silesia. ISBN 978-3-8319-0406-8 , p. 42.
  3. ^ Arno Herzig : Silesia. ISBN 978-3-8319-0406-8 , p. 60.
  4. Land ordinance for the Duchy of Silesia, Appendix II lit. n on the Imperial Patent of February 26, 1861, RGBl. No. 20/1861 (= p. 265)