Politics up to 1200

Henry the Lion, Relief in the manor house Bernstorf Henry the Lion, Relief in the manor house Bernstorf

region Mecklenburg

In the 8th and 9th century the Slavs formed the tribal communities of the Obotrites in the west and the Wilzians (or Lutici) in the east. The centres were hill fort sites that covered the state in a mesh-like manner. Whereas the Lutici were annihilated in armed battles, the Obotrites created around 1100 an early feudal state from Ostholstein to the Oder with Mecklenburg as the main bastion. The Saxon Duke Henry the Lion (1129-1195) conquered the Obotrite kingdom from 1142 and founded the German counties of Ratzeburg and Dannenberg.

In 1154 the Emperor gave him the right to appoint bishops in the Slavic state. In 1164 he conquered a last contingent of Obotrites. He raised Schwerin to a diocesan town and formed the county of Schwerin. In 1167 Heinrich gave large parts of his father’s inheritance back to Pribislaw, the Slavic ruler, and thus stabilised power.

Herzog Kasimir I. 1170 mit Kettenhemd, Schild und Lanze (Nachzeichnung eines Siegels) Duke Casimir I., 1170 (sketch of a signet)

region Western Pomerania

The Slavs form the clans of the Rani and the Rugians, inhabiting the island of Rügen and Pomerania along the central expanses of the southern Baltic coast in the 8th and 9th centuries. They build their settlements in hillforts that extend across the countryside like a net.

Wartislaw I. founds the Pomeranian House of the Griffins in 1124, expanding his dominion to the banks of the river Peene. Casimir, Duke of Pomerania, is forced to accept the feudal sovereignty of Henry the Lion in 1164. Casimir and his brother Bogislaw I convene the first regional council at Ueckermünde Castle in 1178. On Rügen, the Slavic lord Jaromar surrenders in 1168 to the Danish King Valdemar, himself embroiled in bitter wrangling with the Germanic tribes for power in the Slavic territories.

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