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MECKLENBURG


lOS


MECKLENBURG


Cnito, Prince of tlie Island of Riigen, ruled the Coiintrj- for nearly thirty years. Finally in 1093, t'ruto having been nuirdercd, Gottsohalk's son, Henry, was able to gain his inheritance. Although a Christian he ne\er attempted to force Christianity upon the Wends. The only church was in his capital, Liibeck, where St. Vicelin proclaimed the won! of (iod from 1120. Soon after Henry's death (1120) his family became e.xtinct, and the Emperor Lothair grantetl the vacant territory in fief to Henry's Danish cousin, Knot Laward, Duke of Schleswig. Claims were also made by Henry's nephew Pribislaw, and by Niklot, an Obotrite noble. These two divided the rulerless land between them when in 1131 Knut Laward was killed by his cousin Magnus. Pribislaw, however, could not maintain himself long against the German advance. He was oliliged to sin-render in 1142 to Count Adolf of Schauenburg, w'ho repeopled the almost desolate territory with colonists from Flanders, Holland, Westphalia, and Frisia. Niklot, on the other hand, preserved his independence until, after a protracteil struggle, he was subdued by Henry the Lion, Duke of Saxony. Upon agreeing to accept Christianity and to acknowledge German supremacy, Niklot w-as allowed to retain his possessions (1147). However, he subsequently headed a revolt, which ended in his overthrow (1100). After Niklot's son, Pribislaw II, the ancestor of the reigning dynasty, had been baptized in the year 1 107, he was established as ruler.

Hartwig of Stade, Bishop of Bremen, soon provided for the restoration of the former Wendic dioceses. In 1150 he con.secrated Vicelin Bishop of Oldenburg, and Emmehard Bishop of Mecklenburg, Schwerin now becoming the see of the latter. Hartwig had not waited to secure an endowment sufficient for them from the Saxon duke. Henry the Lion, therefore, \vas soon able to obtain for himself what otherwise only belonged to the emperor, the right of investiture for the Obotrite dioceses. This privilege was granted by the Emperor Frederick Barbarossa (1152-1189), who regarded Henry as one of the most trustworthy supporters of his power. At the same time Henry was empowered to foimd dioceses and churches in the region on the farther side of the Elbe and to endow them w^th imperial domains, which was what the conquered Slavonic territory was held to be. In 1154 Henry re-established the Diocese of Ilatzeburg, ap- pointing as bishop Evermod, cathedral provost of Magdeburg. A number of Christian Germans came into the region , and the Wends were brought to accept Christianity. The land was rapidly covered with churches, parishes, and monasteries. Besides the Cistercian monastery of Dobberan that Pribislaw endowed largely with lands, there were foimded mon- asteries of Benedictines, Franciscans, Premonstra- tensians, of the religious orders of Knights Hospital- lers, of St. Anthony, etc.

In 1170 Frederick Barbarossa raised Pribislaw to the dignity of a prince of the empire. On Pribislaw's death in 117S, however, domestic disputes broke out, and the overthrow of Duke Henry the Lion of Saxony in IISO weakened German power in the northern part of the empire. Denmark was thus enabled to bring imder its authority large portions of North Germany, -Mecklenburg being obliged to recognize Danish su- premacy in the reign of Henry Burwyl (1178-1227). In 1227 Henry Burwy, in confederation with the Counts of Schwerin, the .\rchbishop of Bremen, and the city of Liibeck, cast off the Danish yoke. There- upon the influx of German colonists received a new impetus, and, in the first half of the thirteenth cen- tury, a German mimicipality had already developed there. After the death of Henry Burwy, the terri- tory was divided (1229) into four principalities: Mecklenbui^, Werle, Rostock, and Parchim. "The two latter lines died out in 1314 and 1316 respectively;


that of Werle flourished until 1430. The main branch of the Mecklenburg line was founded by John II (1220-04). One of its members, Henry tlie Pilgrim (1204-1302) was captured at Cairo in 1271, whiie on a crusade, and kept prisoner until 1297. His son, Henry the Lion, obtained the district of Starganl as dowry with his wife, Beatrice of Brandenburg, and, on the Rostock line becoming extinct, forced the Danes to recognize him as the hereditary possessor of the city and territory of Rostock, then under Danisli suprem- acy. Henry's two sons, Albert II (d. 1379) ami John I (d. 1392), were made dukes and princes of the empire by the Emperor Charles IV. The partition of 1352 led to the founding of the Stargard line, which be- came extinct in 1471.

In 1358 Albert succeeded in obtaining the County of Schwerin by purchase ; his scheme to place his eldest son, Henry III, on the Danish throne failed com- pletely, but his second son, Albert III, was elected King of Sweden in 1303. However, soon after Alljert III had succeeded his father in the government of Mecklenburg (1383), a rival claimant of the throne of Sweden appeared in the person of Queen Margaret of Denmark. In 1389 Margaret took Albert prisoner, and did not release him until, after six years of cap- tivity, he renounced all claims to the Swedish throne. His son, Albert V (1412-22), was followed by his own cousin, Henry the Fat (1422-77), who, after the Star- gard line — to which the foundation of a university at Rostock in 1418 is due — had become extinct, reigned over the whole of Mecklenburg, thus once more united under a single ruler (1471). Henry's successor, Magnus (1477-1503), was a very energetic prince. The cities had, imder the weak rule of his predecessor, become insubordinate; Magnus directed his efforts towards bringing them under the control of the ruler and evolving a unified state out of a confused medley of districts, cities, and estates. For a time his sons, Henry V (1503-52) and Albert VII (1503-47), reigned jointly so as to maintain the country undivided. In 1523 the prelates, knighthood, and cities formed a Landesunion, which was the basis of the present constitution, and established a common diet for all the divisions of the territory without regard to any partitions. In 1530 the brothers divided their do- minions, Henry becoming Duke of Schwerin and Al- bert Duke of Giistrow.

The Reformation in Mecklenburg was entirely the work of the two joint rulers, Henry V and Albert VII. Even Protestant historians have testifietl that before the Reformation the country had excellent bishops, a pious clergy, and a genuinely Catholic popu- lation. Both dukes were early won over to Luther's cause by the Humanist Konrad Pegel, whom Henry had called from the University of Rostock as tutor for his son Magnus, the postulated Bishop of Schwerin. The duke had permitted Pegel to go to Wittenberg, whence the latter returned an ardent adherent of Luther. Albert, indeed, soon abandoned the new doctrine and maintained the old faith in his part of the coimtry. On the other hand, from 1524 Henry allowed the new doctrine to be proclaimed in the chapel of the castle at Schwerin, and protected the preachers even in his brother's domains. Henry's chief desire was to obtain the Bishopric of Schwerin. Its administrator, his son Magnus, who had married in 1543, died childless in 1550, and Henry saw to it that the chapter elected as successor his nephew Ulrich.

When after Albert's death in the year 1547 his son John Albert { 1547-70) came to power, the Reformation was completely established. John Albert was first sole ruler in his father's dominions, then in 1552 he also succeedeil his uncle in Schwerin, but he resigned the latter principality in 1555 to his brother LHrich. In 1549 the joint diet at Sternberg proclaimed the Lutheran Faith to be the religion of the state, and from