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Duchy of Prussia 1525-1701 (Germany)

herzogtum preussen, polish fief 1525-1657

Last modified: 2012-09-15 by pete loeser
Keywords: prussia | preussen | brandenburg | duchy of prussia | herzogtum preußen | royal prussia | eagle (black) | arm | coat of arms |
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After the battle of Tannenberg 1410, the treaty of 1466 gave the King of Poland most of the Teutonic Order's territory west of the Vistula, thereafter called Royal Prussia, and the rest of Prussia (which in 1525 became the Duchy of Prussia) was subjected to Polish suzerainty.
Santiago Dotor, 29 June 2000

In 1525, the Grand Master, Albrecht von Brandenburg secularized the Teutonic Order and thereby took over control of Prussia, initially as a fief of Poland. Shortly thereafter, it was inherited by the Elector of Brandenburg, one of the princes entitled to elect the Emperor. When in 1660, the Duchy of Prussia became independent of Poland the way was opened to union with Brandenburg and thereby also the foundation of the Prussian state. In 1701, Prussia became a kingdom and from then till 1871, it was in a continuous stage of expansion until it came to be by far the largest German state, almost as large as all the others together.
The flags listed below mostly come from one or more flag charts or books, either directly, or taken from them from Siegel 1912. Where I can I will cite the date. Note that my citing a date does not imply that the flag was adopted then; indeed, in almost every case, it was adopted sometime earlier, since it takes some time for it to get to a chart. I never deliberately cite a flag after it ceased to be used, but since I will only "overrule" a source if I feel confident I can do so, it would surprise me if there were not several such cases. In all cases, the eagle's head is pointed towards the hoist unless otherwise stated. Since most of the data come (directly or indirectly) from flag charts, it is sometimes difficult to be certain whether a minor difference is due to inaccuracy of the source or not. The result is that some of the flags listed as distinct may in fact not be.
Norman Martin, 20 January 1998

The Duchy of Prussia 1525-1657

[Duchy of Prussia 1525-1657 (Germany)] Image by Adam Kromer

A white flag with a black eagle with golden beak and claws. Around the neck is an open golden crown. On the breast of the eagle a golden letter S (for Sigismund). [Illustrated at the top of this page.]
Norman Martin, 20 January 1998

In 1466 the state of the Teutonic Order (that part of Prussia not under Polish sovereignty as Royal Prussia) became a Polish vassal. In 1525, after the secularisation of the Teutonic Order, in Prussia arose the Duchy of Prussia (Ducal Prussia) as a Polish vassal too. On 10 April 1525 the Polish King Zygmunt Stary (Sigismund the Older) gave Ducal Prussia a flag and a coat of arms: a black eagle with a crown on its neck and the letter S (Sigismund) on its breast. Ducal Prussia was a Polish vassal until 1657. I do not know if the coat of arms was abandoned this year or in 1701, when Prussia became a Kingdom.
Adam Kromer, 20 July 2000

Royal Prussia 1466-1772 (Polish Prussia)

[Royal Prussia 1466-1772]
Image by Adam Kromer
     [Royal Prussia 1466-1772]
Image by António Martins and Adam Kromer

Flag of part of Prussia under Polish rule from 1466-1772. A white flag with a black eagle with golden beak and claws. Around the neck is a open golden crown. Emerging from the crown is a silver arm with armor grasping a silver sword.
Norman Martin, 20 January 1998

I suppose you could call this Polish Prussia to make it less confusing for non-historians, but the actual standard name for this territory (roughly, the later West Prussia) was Royal Prussia. Royal referring to the king of Poland, as opposed to Ducal Prussia - the territory of the Duke, later King, of Prussia.
Norman Martin, 26 June 2000

Royal Prussia: 1466 polish king Kazimierz Jagiellonczyk (Casimir Jagiellonian) gave this coat of arms and flag to Royal Prussia - new province of Poland (authonomic province to 1569). The eagle is taken from the Teutonic Order's crest (or rather from the Great Master of the Order). The crown is dignitated (I am not sure about this word in English). The arm with sword comes from Jagiellonian's crest = Pogon (the same crest as in Lithuania). This crest was the symbol of the unity of Royal Prussia and the Kingdom of Poland. When the Kingdom of Prussia annexed in 1772 Royal (i.e. Polish) Prussia coat of arms was left unchanged. At that time it became the coat of arms of West Prussia (Westprussen). There was a variant flag of West Prussia with [the historical Royal (Polish) Prussia] coat of arms.
Adam Kromer, 20 July 2000

Royal Prussia Coat-of-Arms (Polish Prussia)

[Coat-of-Arms (Royal Prussia 1466-1772)] Image by Adam Kromer

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