Danzig -- History -- Early History

Map of northern Europe (edited by KH)

Danzig, first mentioned in records from 997 A.D., lies on the Motlau, a river that runs into the Vistula (German: Weichsel) 3 kilometers inland on the Gulf of Danzig in the Baltic Sea. In 1309 the area, including Danzig, was conquered by the Teutonic Knights, a military and religious order of German nobles. They built many fortified castles in their effort to colonize and Christianize these eastern territories. The largest of these, Marienburg (Malbork) [image] near Danzig, became the seat of the Grand Master (Hochmeister).

In 1358 the increasingly prosperous port joined the Hanseatic league. With growing prosperity, however, came dissatisfaction with rule by foreign nobility and, following a 13-year war, the Poles succeeded in evicting the Knights in 1466. In gratitude for its loyalty during the conflict, King Casimir IV of Poland granted Danzig local autonomy.