Treaty of Bromberg

Treaty of Bromberg


Type Military alliance
Legal status of the Duchy of Prussia, Lauenburg and Bütow Land, Draheim (Drahim) and Elbing (Elbląg)
Signed 6 November 1657
Location Bromberg (Bydgoszcz), Poland
Expiration 1773
Signatories John II Casimir Vasa
Frederick William I
Parties Poland-Lithuania
House of Hohenzollern
Language Latin

The Treaty of Bromberg (German: Vertrag von Bromberg, Latin: Pacta Bydgostensia) or Treaty of Bydgoszcz was a treaty between John II Casimir of Poland and Elector Frederick William of Brandenburg-Prussia, ratified at Bromberg (Bydgoszcz) on 6 November 1657. The treaty consisted of several agreements, including the Treaty of Wehlau signed on 19 September 1657 by the Brandenburg-Prussian and Polish-Lithuanian envoys in Wehlau (Welawa, now Znamensk). Thus, the treaty of Bromberg is sometimes referred to as treaty of Wehlau-Bromberg or Treaty of Wehlau and Bromberg (Polish: traktat welawsko-bydgoski).

In exchange for military aid in the Second Northern War and the return of Ermland (Ermeland, Warmia) to Poland, the Polish king granted the Hohenzollern dynasty of Brandenburg hereditary sovereignty in the Duchy of Prussia, pawned Draheim (Drahim) and Elbing (Elbląg) to Brandenburg, and handed over Lauenburg and Bütow Land to the Hohenzollerns as a hereditary fief.

The treaty was confirmed and internationally recognized in the Peace of Oliva in 1660. While Elbing was kept by Poland, Lauenburg and Bütow Land and Draheim were subsequently integrated into Brandenburg-Prussia. The sovereignty in Prussia constituted the basis for the later coronation of the Hohenzollern as Prussian kings. Wehlau-Bromberg remained in effect until it was superseded by the Treaty of Warsaw (18 September 1773) following the First Partition of Poland.The treaty is regarded as one of the biggest mistakes in Polish foreign policy towards Prussia and its consequences were fatal to Poland.[1]

Historical context

The Duchy of Prussia was established as a Polish fief under duke Albrecht (Albert) in the Treaty of Cracow of 8 April 1525.[2] The fief was hereditary, and in case Albrecht or his brothers' house became extinct in the male line, Cracow provided for it to pass on to the Polish king, who would then be obliged to appoint a German-speaking Prussian-born governor.[3] On 4 June 1563, this provision was changed by Polish king Sigismund II Augustus in a privilege issued at Petrikau, which in addition to Albrechts branch of the House of Hohenzollern (Hohenzollern-Ansbach) also allowed the Brandenburg branch of the Hohenzollern as possible successors.[3] This privilege provided for the succession of the Brandenburgian electors as Prussian dukes upon the extinction of the House of Hohenzollern-Ansbach in 1618.[3]

In 1656, during the early Second Northern War, the Brandenburgian Hohenzollern first took the Prussian duchy and Ermland (Ermeland, Warmia) as Swedish fiefs in the Treaty of Königsberg, before the Swedish king released them from the vassalage and made them absolute sovereigns in these provinces.[4] After fighting alongside with the Swedish army in 1656, most prominently in the Battle of Warsaw, Hohenzollern Frederick William I was willing to abandon his ally when the war had turned against them, and signalled his willingness to change sides if Polish king John II Casimir Vasa would grant him similar privileges as previously the Swedish king Charles X Gustav - these conditions were negotiated in Wehlau (Welawa, now Znamensk) and Bromberg (Bygost, Bydgoszcz).[5]

The Polish interest in an alliance with Brandenburg-Prussia was born out of the need to end the war with Sweden as soon as possible.[6] On 3 November 1656, the Truce of Vilna had promised Alexis of Russia's election as successor on the Polish throne at the next diet in turn for halting his offensive in Poland-Lithuania and fight Sweden instead.[7] While in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania there was support for this treaty among the nobles, who hoped for more privileged positions, this was not true for the Kingdom of Poland, where the elites looked for ways to circumvent Alexis' succession.[8] To quickly end the war with Sweden and thus be able to avoid the implementation of Vilna, the anti-Swedish alliance had to be extended.[6] The new-won Russian ally was reluctant to support Poland against Sweden as long as no diet had confirmed Vilna.[9] A second ally, the Austrian Habsburgs were won in the first and second Vienna treaties,[10] yet as the Habsburg forces were to be maintained by Poland, this alliance's prize was bound to rise the longer the war lasted.[6] A third ally was Denmark-Norway, who joined the anti-Swedish coalition in June 1657 triggered by the second treaty of Vienna.[10] Yet, Denmark was not fighting on Polish soil, and although her involvement bound Charles X Gustav's forces and a formal alliance with Poland-Lithuania was concluded in July, the Danish war aim was to recover Scandinavian territories lost in the Second Treaty of Brömsebro (1645).[10]

The Habsburgs' interest in the treaty was to build up good relations to Frederick William I, who as a prince-elector was a valuable ally if he was won to support their policy in the Holy Roman Empire.[11] Thus, the Habsburgs were interested in Frederick William I changing from the Swedish to their camp, and sent diplomat Franz Paul Freiherr von Lisola to mediate a respective settlement.[11]

Bromberg and Wehlau are regarded as "twin treaties",[12] "supplementary treaties"[13] or one treaty, sometimes referred to as "Treaty of Wehlau and Bromberg"[14] or "Treaty of Wehlau-Bromberg."[15]

Ratification and confirmation

The preliminary treaty of Wehlau had been signed on 19 September 1657 by Frederick William I's envoys von Schwerin and von Somnitz, as well as by Warmian (Ermland) prince-bishop Wacław Leszczyński and Wincenty Korwin Gosiewski for the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, and Habsburg delegate and mediator Freiherr Franz von Lisola.[16][nb 1]

The amended and final version of the treaty was ratified on 6 November by Frederick William I and John II Casimir in Bromberg (Bydgoszcz).[17][nb 2] Both the Brandenburgian elector and the Polish king attended the ceremony with their wives, Luise Henriette of Nassau and Marie Louise Gonzaga, respectively.[17] Danzig (Gdansk) mayor Adrian von der Linde was also present.[18]

The treaties of Wehlau and Bromberg were confirmed by the parties[19] and internationally recognized[20] in the Peace of Oliva, which ended the Second Northern War in 1660,[19] and by the Polish sejm in 1659 and 1661.[21]


The treaty ratified in Bromberg consisted of three parts. The first one contained twenty-two articles[22] and dealt primarily with the status and succession of Prussia, the Brandenburg-Polish alliance and military aid, it was drafted in Wehlau and signed there by the Brandenburgian and Polish plenipotentiaries and the Habsburg mediator. The second part was a special convention ("Specialis Convention") containing 6 articles, also drafted and signed by the plenipotentiaries and the mediator in Wehlau, which further detailed the alliance and military aid. The third part amended the Wehlau agreement and primarily detailed Polish concessions.[23]

On the status of Prussia

The Duchy of Prussia, where Frederick William I was full sovereign by the Brandenburg-Swedish Treaty of Labiau, was accepted by the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth to be the sovereign possession of the House of Hohenzollern.[20]

Wacław Leszczyński (Venceslaus Les(z)no), archbishop of Ermland (Warmia)

Hereditary Hohenzollern sovereignty was only agreed on for the Duchy of Prussia, while Ermland (Ermeland, Warmia) was to be returned to Poland.[20] In case of the extinction of the Brandenburgian Hohenzollern dynasty in the male line, it was agreed that the Prussian duchy should pass on to the Polish crown.[20] Owing to this clause, the Prussian estates were obliged to pay conditional allegiance to an envoy of subsequent Polish kings upon their succession ("hommagium eventuale, Eventualhuldigung"), while else they were released from previous oaths and obligations regarding the Polish crown.[20]

The Roman Catholic Church in the former Duchy of Prussia was to remain subordinate to the archbishop of Ermland (Warmia),[24] retain its possessions and income and be granted religious freedom.[25]

On military aid

Brandenburg-Prussia was obliged to militarily aid Poland against the Swedish Empire in the ongoing Second Northern War.[26] Frederick William I had already in Wehlau agreed to aid John II Casimir Vasa with 8,000 men,[27] and both parties agreed on an "eternal alliance".[28] In Bromberg it was agreed that from his Prussian province, Frederick William I was to dispatch 1,500 foot and 500 horse to join the army of the Polish king.[21]

Financial and territorial agreements

Territorial changes following the Treaty of Wehlau-Bromberg, compared to the pre-war situation (1654) and the treaties of Königsberg (January 1656) and Labiau (November 1656).

In return, the Polish crown granted Brandenburg-Prussia Lauenburg and Bütow Land as a hereditary fief.[26] The fief was to be held at the same conditions as previously granted to the House of Pomerania: it was to be free of duties, except that the House of Hohenzollern was obliged to send envoys to the coronations of successive Polish kings who were then to receive a written confirmation of the fief.[26] In case the Hohenzollern dynasty was left without a male heir, the fief should return to the Polish crown.[26]

In addition to Lauenburg and Bütow land, Brandenburg-Prussia was to receive the town of Elbing (Elbląg).[29] In an amendment, Brandenburg-Prussia was obliged to return the town to Poland once the latter had bailed it out with 400,000 thalers.[nb 3]

The third Polish concession was the payment of 120,000 thalers to Brandenburg-Prussia for war-related damage suffered upon entering the war on the Polish side.[29] As a security for this payment, the district of Draheim was to be handed over to Brandenburg for three years.[29] This district comprised the town of Tempelburg (now Czaplinek) and 18 villages at the border of Brandenburgian Pomerania.[30] The sum was to be paid in annual rates of 40,000 thalers, and Brandenburg was to keep Draheim if not paid by the end of the third year.[27]

For the Catholics in Draheim, religious freedom was guaranteed.[25] The Hohenzollern also agreed to grant religious freedom to the Catholic Church in Lauenburg and Bütow Land.[25][31] The Catholic communities were to stay subordinate to and be represented by the Kuyavian bishop and keep all of their income, while the Electors of Brandenburg and the local nobility were to have the patronage over the churches.[32]

The rights of the nobility of Lauenburg and Bütow Land were to be left unchanged, previous court sentences and privileges were to remain in force.[32] The administration of the region should be exerted the same way as it was handled by the Pomeranian dukes.[32] In a note issued separately from the treaty, John II Casimir assured the nobles that Poland would continue to treat them as members of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, and that thus the nobles would enjoy the same rights and opportunities as the Polish nobles in case they decided to leave for Poland.[32]

Implementation and consequences


Image: The Prussian estates paying homage to Frederick William I in Königsberg Castle, 1663. Map: East Prussian regions, dates indicate the year of acquisition by the House of Hohenzollern.

The treaty first met the protest of the Prussian estates, who feared that the loss of privileges.[33] As a leader of the opposition, Königsberg mayor Hieronymus Roth was incarcerated for sixteen years, until his death.[33] The estates' protests ended in 1663, when they swore allegiance to Frederick William I.[33] The ecclesiastical subordination of the Roman Catholic Church to the Polish Royal Prussian prince-bishop of Ermland (Warmia) also caused tensions with the House of Hohenzollern.[24] Despite these problems, the sovereignty in the Prussian duchy provided the basis for the Brandenburgian Hohenzollern to crown themselves "King in Prussia" in 1701.[34]

Lauenburg and Bütow Land

Lauenburg and Bütow Land was officially handed over by John II Casimir's envoy Ignatz Bokowski and received by the Brandenburg-Prussian envoys Adam von Podewils and Ulrich Gottfried von Somnitz in April 1658.[32] During the ceremony, the non-noble inhabitants swore the same oath of allegiance to the Brandenburgian electors that was previously sworn to the Pomeranian dukes, while the nobles swore a modified oath.[32] The oath was given by 63 noble families from the Lauenburg district and 43 families of the Bütow district, represented at the ceremony by 220 persons.[32] three persons swore in Polish.[32] The Brandenburg-Prussian administration did however not accept all of these families as nobles: in May, only thirteen indigenous and six immigrated Pomeranian families in the Lauenburg district and four families in the Bütow district were listed as nobles, the others were referred to as "besondere freye Leute" - "special free persons".[35]

The Brandenburgian electors amended their title with "dominus de Lauenburg et Bytaw", despite Polish protests aimed at a change from "dominus" (lord) to "fiduciarus" (fiduciary).[26] Until 1771, Lauenburg and Bütow Land was administered from Lauenburg (now Lebork), where the local Oberhauptmann had his seat, the nobles swore allegiance to the electors and assemblies of the nobles were held in a landtag named "Seymik".[36] After 1771, the region was governed from Stettin (now Szczecin) like the rest of Brandenburgian Pomerania, and allegiance to subsequent Prussian kings was given together with the other Pomeranian estates in Stettin.[36]

The provision that Brandenburgian envoys were to be sent to the inauguration of subsequent Polish kings was followed until 1698, before Brandenburg-Prussia ceased to send delegations.[26] The treaty of Bromberg was superseded by the Treaty of Warsaw (1773), which followed the First Partition of Poland in 1772.[36] In Warsaw, the terms of Bromberg were cancelled, including the guarantees for the Catholic Church and the nobles, and the Polish crown renounced all rights on Lauenburg and Bütow Land, which accordingly was no longer a fief and neither would be inherited by the Polish king in case the Hohenzollern line became extinct.[36]


Elbing (Elbląg)

In 1660, the Swedish garrison withdrew from Elbing (Elbląg), yet the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth seized it before Brandenburg-Prussia despite not having paid the sum agreed on in Bromberg.[15] Because of this, Frederick William I did not support Poland in the contemporary Russo-Polish war[37] and instead yielded the neutrality agreement he had concluded with Russia in 1656.[21] Poland was to keep the town until the First Partition of Poland in 1772,[15] with short interruptions in 1698/1699 and 1703: In 1698, Polish king August the Strong permitted Prussian troops to siege and storm Elbing,[38] but the Prussian troops withdrew in the following year when Russia mediated its exchange for the Polish Crown Jewels as a security for the bills receivable.[39] When August the Strong nevertheless failed to pay, the town was re-occupied in 1703, during the Great Northern War, but the Prussians again withdrew shortly afterwards due to Swedish pressure.[39]


Ruins of Draheim castle

In addition to Elbing, the commonwealth aimed at also keeping Draheim, yet Frederick William I was able to thwart these plans by occupying it in 1663.[15] While since the 1720s the government of the Brandenburgian province of Pomerania subsequently took over administrative tasks regarding Draheim, it retained its independence from the Pomeranian province until the terms of Bromberg were superseded by the Treaty of Warsaw (1773).[40] Before the 1773 treaty, Poland had nominally held the right to bail out Draheim,[41] which however was never actually pursued.[42] Nevertheless, the Polish crown underlined this right by granting privileges to the local Schulze until 1680.[42] In Article V of the Warsaw treaty, Poland renounced her right to buy Draheim back, and ceded it to Prussia "for eternal times".[42]

Impact and assessment

According to Robert I. Frost the House of Hohenzollern, Wehlau-Bromberg was a "major geopolitical gain and surge in wealth and prestige",[12][43] while Poland had "substantially benefited" from Brandenburgian support during the war.,[15] the concessions Poland made in Wehlau and Bromberg were thought as tactical and open to later reversal - which however did not happen due to the internal weakness of the commonwealth.[15] Christopher M. Clark says that John Casimir of Poland was on the one hand "eager to separate Brandenburg from Sweden and to neutralize it as a military threat" when Poland-Lithuania was threatened by the Tsardom of Russia, and on the other hand was ready to accept the Hohenzollerns' demands due to pressure by the House of Habsburg, who after the emperor's incidental death earlier that year needed to secure the elector's vote, and whose "urgings [...] carried a considerable weight, since the Poles were counting on Austrian assistance in the event of a renewed Swedish or Russian attack."[44] Clark thus views Frederick William as a "beneficiary of international developments beyond his control," and verifies his thesis by the post-Bromberg developments, where the elector lost all further war gains due to French intervention at the Treaty of Oliva.[45]

Józef Włodarski regards the treaty as one of the heaviest mistakes in Polish foreign policy towards Prussia with fatal consequences for Poland.[46] According to Anna Kamińska, the treaty marked the point when Poland's influence on the Baltic was lost and Poland-Lithuania's position in Europe declined.[47] Frost says that the treaty was subject to criticism of historians such as Kazimierz Piwarski, who says that the prize paid by Poland in Bromberg was unnecessarily high.[48] According to Frost, these critics argue from a post-partition point of view, and neglect the complexity of the contemporary situation: "Contemporary [Polish] politicians were aware of the dangers of conceding sovereignty, which they accepted not because they were stupid, indifferent, or lacking in foresight, but because the alternatives seemed more damaging to the Commonwealth's interests", he says.[11] While Frost regards Piwarski's assertion, that the Polish decision was heavily influenced by the Habsburgs, to have merit, he also says that the Polish interest in a rapprochment with Brandenburg had already emerged in 1656, long before Lisola entered the scene.[11]

See also


  1. Signatories at Wehlau (per Annotated edition, IEG Mainz, retrieved 2010-02-22):
    • Venceslaus de Leszno, episcopus Varmien[sis] s[acrae] r[egiae] m[ajesta]tis Poloniae et Sueciae plenipotentiarius
    • Vincentius Corvinus Gosiewski, supremus thesaurarius et campiductor m[agni] d[ucatus] L[ithuaniae] s[acrae] r[egiae] m[ajestatis] Poloniae et Sueciae plenipotentiarius
    • F[ranciscus] De Lisola, seren[issimi] m[ajestatis] Hungariae et Bohemiae regis ad hosce tractatum pro mediatione ablegatus, eiusdemque consiliarius
    • Ottho Liber Baro a Schwerin, plenipotentiarius electoralis
    • Laurentius Christophorus Somnitz, Plenipotentiarius electoralis
  2. The signatories at Bromberg also included Mikołaj Prazmowski and Kazimierz Samuel Kuszewicz. Annotated edition, IEG Mainz.
  3. The sum stated as Elbing ransom by historian Robert I. Frost is 40,000 thalers in Frost (2004), p. 104, and 400,000 thalers in Frost (2000), p. 200. It is 300,000 thalers in Oakley (1992), p. 103 and Wilson (1998), p. 135. Kamińska (1983), p. 12 gives 400,000 thalers. The commented edition of the treaty at the Institut für Europäische Geschichte (Institute for European History) in Mainz gives 400,000 reichstalers in the second amendment, overruling Article XII of the Wehlau tractates: instead of providing 500 horse, Brandenburg-Prussia was to return Elbing and level its fortification upon receiving the payment, sources given there are: AGADWarschau MK KK Volume 202, p. 40, print: Dogiel IV, p. 497; Pufendorf, p. 389; Dumont VI/2, p. 196; Dolezel, p. 208



  1. Miasta warmińskie w latach 1655-1663 Józef Włodarski Wyższa Szkoła Pedagogiczna w Olsztynie,page 62, 1993
  2. Jähnig (2006), p. 71
  3. 1 2 3 Małłek (2006), p. 75
  4. Vierhaus (1984), p. 169
  5. Wilson (1998), pp. 36-37
  6. 1 2 3 Frost (2004), p. 98
  7. Frost (2004), p. 82
  8. Frost (2004), pp. 86, 89, 98, 103, 128, 132
  9. Frost (2004), p. 86
  10. 1 2 3 Frost (2004), p. 95
  11. 1 2 3 4 Frost (2004), p. 97
  12. 1 2 Nolan (2008), p. 334
  13. Stone (2001), p. 169
  14. Materna (1995), p. 318
  15. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Frost (2004), p. 105
  16. Frost (2004), pp. 97, 104
  17. 1 2 Biereigel (2005), p. 63
  18. van Stekelenburg (1988), p. 255
  19. 1 2 Frost (2000), p. 183
  20. 1 2 3 4 5 Jähnig (2006), p. 68
  21. 1 2 3 Friedrich (2006), p. 150
  22. Kamińska (1983), p. 9
  23. Annotated edition, IEG Mainz, retrieved 2010-02-22
  24. 1 2 Kamińska (1983), p. 10
  25. 1 2 3 Bahlcke (2008), p. 124
  26. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Schmidt (2006), p. 103
  27. 1 2 Motsch (2001), p. 85
  28. Wilson (1998), p. 36
  29. 1 2 3 Frost (2004), p. 104
  30. Motsch (2001), p. 18
  31. Schmidt (2006), pp. 103-104
  32. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Schmidt (2006), p. 104
  33. 1 2 3 Stone (2001), p. 170
  34. Holborn (1982), p. 104
  35. Schmidt (2006), pp. 104-105
  36. 1 2 3 4 Schmidt (2006), p. 105
  37. Friedrich (2006), p. 151
  38. Wilson (1998), p. 135
  39. 1 2 Wilson (1998), p. 136
  40. Motsch (2001), p. 25
  41. Motsch (2001), pp. 18-19
  42. 1 2 3 Motsch (2001), p. 87
  43. similarly: Frost (2004), p. 97: of "undeniable importance in the subsequent rise of Brandenburg-Prussia"
  44. Clark (2006), p. 49.
  45. Clark (2006), pp. 49-50.
  46. Włodarski (1993), p. 62.
  47. Frost (2004), p. 97, referring to Kamińska (1983), p. 3
  48. Frost (2004), p. 97, referring to K. Piwarski (1938)


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Text of the Wehlau-Bromberg treaty

Confirmation and extension of the Wehlau-Bromberg treaty

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