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Establishment of the Diocese of Pomezania

Banderia Prutenorum The first manifestation of Christianization activity in Prussia was the unsuccessful mission of St. Adalbert in 997, ended with his martyr’s death. In the 12th century, attempts at missionary activity were undertaken by Bolesław Wrymouth and his sons, but they did not bring satisfactory results. It was only in the thirteenth century that the organized activity of the Cistercian abbot Gotfryd of Łękno, with the support of Pope Innocent III, began to bring visible results. An important role in the Prussian mission was played by Gottfried’s successor, the Cistercian Chrystian, who from 1213 independently led the conversion of the Prusai. Pope Innocent III’s bull, listing the Christianization achievements, gave Prussia under the protection of the Archbishop of Gniezno, Henryk Kietlicz, until a separate bishop was appointed there. Soon, by the decision of the pope, Chrystian was appointed the first missionary bishop in Prussia, and his seat was probably Zantyr. Christian, receiving numerous powers from Pope Honorius III, became the undisputed ruler of Prussia, and in 1218, under a papal bull, he obtained the right to divide Prussia into dioceses and consecrate bishops, which, however, did not happen at that time. Another failed attempt to appoint is associated with the activities of the papal legate, William of Modena in the mid-20s of the 13th century.
The situation changed after bringing the Teutonic Order, which, taking advantage of the fact that Bishop Chrystian, acting in Sambia, was imprisoned by pagans, obtained from Gregory IX the grant of Prussia, on the condition of endowment of bishoprics to be established there. The aforementioned William of Modena, pursuant to a document issued by the pope in agreement with the Teutonic Order, was obliged to divide Prussia into dioceses, which again did not come to fruition. The final division of the lands controlled by the Teutonic Knights into four dioceses (Chełmno, Pomesania, Sambia and Warmia) was made in 1243, in the Italian town of Anagni, at the behest of Pope Innocent IV.

The first bishop of Pomezania was the Dominican Ernest, who, as a result of an agreement with the master of the country, Ludwik von Queden, received 1/3 of the diocese as an endowment, and chose Kwidzyn as the capital of the bishopric. In 1284 and 1285, the Pomesanian chapter was founded, incorporated into the Teutonic Order, then it was probably decided to raise the existing parish church to the rank of a cathedral and build a castle for the Pomesanian chapter.

The construction of the castle of the Pomesanian chapter began at the turn of the 13th and 14th centuries. After the works aimed at preparing the area, the erection of the castle wings and buildings of the outer bailey began. The castle was built of stones and bricks in the form of a four-wing building on a plan similar to a square, with towers in the corners, a two-story cloister in the courtyard and an entrance from the north, where there was an economic outer bailey. Most of the construction works at the castle were completed in the years 1340 – 1350, in the 80s of the 14th century, Gdanisko was completed. Originally, the castle was an independent establishment, only later it was connected to the cathedral, and its south-eastern corner tower was transformed into a belfry. The completion of the new cathedral church dates back to the reign of Bishop Jan Mönch (1377 – 1409). At that time, a unique architectural complex was created in Kwidzyn, which included two castles (bishops and chapters), a cathedral and a town. Individual sections had their own fortifications, and connected by walls, they formed a defensive system, perfectly integrated into the natural conditions of the area. The castle became the seat of the Pomesanian chapter, as well as a religious, political and administrative center.

Pursuant to the provisions of the Second Peace of Toruń, Kwidzyn, together with the episcopal dominion, was granted to the Teutonic Order. The Pomesanian bishopric was given for life to the Polish bishop of Chełmno, Wincenty Kiełbasa. After his death, the Order made an attempt to fill the Pomesanian bishopric, having the support of the cathedral chapter. This led to the intervention of Polish troops in the areas belonging to the Pomesanian and Warmian bishoprics. In 1478, Polish troops captured Kwidzyn. The townspeople took refuge in the chapter’s castle and set the town on fire. During the war, the castle was seriously damaged – during renovation works carried out in 1487, the damaged corner towers were demolished.

In 1520, as a result of subsequent military operations, the Polish army completely destroyed the bishop’s castle and most likely damaged the chapter’s castle. In 1526, the Pomesanian bishops converted to Protestantism. In the 1630s, the first Protestant bishop, Paulus Speratus, carried out the renovation of the chapter castle at his own expense. After his death, in 1551, the castle was taken over by the officials of Prince Albrecht Hohenzollern, becoming a government building and a residence where, in 1709, Tsar Peter I of Russia stayed during his stay in Kwidzyn, at the invitation of the Prussian king Frederick I .

In 1728, the southern wing of the castle was transformed into a food warehouse for the military garrison. After the first partition of Poland, the castle became the seat of the court. Due to the change of function, the necessary adaptation works were carried out. The rooms on the first floor were divided into a series of small rooms. The western cloister was partially demolished, building stairs leading from the courtyard to the first floor. Part of the castle was adapted for prison cells. In 1798, a decision was made to demolish two castle wings: the eastern one and the most representative southern one, in order to build a separate building from the obtained material.

After 1854, under the decree of King Frederick William IV, the devastation of the castle was stopped and reconstruction work began. Their most important stage was carried out in 1874, under the direction of Gustav Reichert. As a result, the corner towers were rebuilt, the vaults in the rooms on the first floor of the northern wing were reconstructed and the architectural detail was completed.

The castle served as a court and prison until 1935. In 1936, after carrying out a number of adaptation works, the castle became the seat of the Hitlerjugend school HJ-Ostlandführerschule, and it served this function until 1945. After the city was occupied by the Red Army, the castle, unlike the Old The city, fortunately, avoided major damage, only its interior was plundered. In December 1949, the castle was taken over by the Ministry of Culture and Art.

German Heimatmuseum Westpreussen
Establishment of the Polish Museum
History / German Heimatmuseum Westpreussen
In 1876, the Historical Society of the Kwidzyn District was established in Kwidzyn, which was to deal with the history of the region and the collection of historical memorabilia related to it. In 1889, as a result of archaeological work, exhibits were obtained, which were to become the nucleus of the first Museum in the history of the city. However, the project was not implemented at that time – the new management board of the Society was not interested in creating such an institution, and the acquired exhibits were sold due to the difficult financial situation. The idea of creating the Museum was revisited in the 1920s. Thanks to the efforts of the middle school teacher Waldemar Heym, on June 4, 1926, the Heimatmuseum Westpreussen was officially opened, located at today’s Słowiańska Street. The facility collected exhibits from the areas of the following districts: Kwidzyn, Sztum and Sucha. In the years 1926-36, the Museum conducted archaeological research, among others. in the area of the Old Castle in Kwidzyn, Bystrzca, Podzamcze, Stary Targ and Starzyków. The remaining part of the exhibits were gifts from the inhabitants of the city and the surrounding area, as well as purchases. In 1944, due to the upcoming offensive of the Red Army, measures were taken to secure the acquired exhibits. Some of them were located in nearby towns, the rest were evacuated to central Germany. In 1945, the exhibits of the Heimatmuseum Westpreussen were taken over and secured by the Polish authorities.

Establishment of the Polish Museum

The idea of creating the Museum in Kwidzyn was born in 1945, shortly after the city was handed over to the Polish administration. Its basis was supposed to be the exhibits that survived the German Heimatmuseum Westpreussen, founded by teacher Waldemar Heym in 1926. These collections were initially to be included in the collection of the National Museum in Warsaw, but thanks to the intervention of the then starost Wiesław Sztejnike, they remained in Kwidzyn.

Until May 1950, the collections gathered in the building at Słowiańska Street were looked after by Józef Błachnio – the manager of the Museum in Grudziądz. The first manager of the Museum was Alfons Lemański, appointed by the Minister of Culture and Art. In July 1950, permission was obtained to use the former castle of the Pomesanian chapter for museum purposes. After carrying out the necessary renovation works, the transfer of the collections began. They were supervised by Fr. Dr. Wladyslaw Łęga. At the same time, work on the first exhibitions began.

The museum officially opened on November 20, 1950. At that time, two exhibitions were made available to visitors: an archaeological permanent and a temporary exhibition composed of color reproductions of paintings from the Tretyakov Gallery. At that time, due to the diversity of its collections, it was undertaken to develop a profile of the Museum, with the help of prof. Karol Górski, prof. Rajmund Galon and prof. Maria Znamierowska-Prüfferowa. Initially, the Museum was directly subordinated to the Ministry of Culture and Art, later it was looked after by the Pomeranian Museum in Gdańsk. In April 1963, the Museum became subordinated to the Presidium of the Poviat National Council, and a year later the status of the institution entered into force, approved by the Ministry of Culture and Art.

In May 1967, after the necessary renovation works were carried out on the third floor of the castle, a permanent exhibition of natural history “Nature is a treasure” was opened.

Since January 1973, the Museum in Kwidzyn has been functioning as a branch of the Castle Museum in Malbork. 


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