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The War of the Priests (1467-1479, German: Pfaffenkrieg, Polish: wojna popia, wojna księża) was a drawn-out dispute with Poland over the independence of the Prussian Prince-Bishopric of Ermland (Latin: Warmia). The Second Treaty of Thorn that had been sealed in 1466 at Toruń affected also the Bishopric of Warmia, which claimed to have received Prince-Bishopric status a century earlier from Emperor Charles IV. This led to conflicts with Polish King Casimir IV [1].


Political background

The Prussian Bishopric of Warmia was in the 14th century part of the Monastic State of the Teutonic Knights, but enjoyed autonomy and was administrated as a prince-bishopric. The bishops, often members of the Teutonic Order, were loyal to the order even in early 15th century, when the Teutonic Knights raised the taxes to pay for the resulting costs of the Battle of Grunwald at Grünfelde near Tannenberg in 1410 against Poland and Lithuania. Eventually, the order's policies and tax increases led to opposition within the order state and to the foundation of the Prussian Confederation in 1440 by Prussian cities who wanted to defend their rights against the order.

The Prussian Confederation eventually asked for external aid and allied with the Polish King Casimir IV in order to secede, which led to the Thirteen Years' War (1454-1466). The Bishop of Warmia Paul von Legendorf (1458-1467) joined the Prussian Confederation in the last year of the conflict (1466). The Second Peace of Thorn (1466) put some of the seceding Western Prussian cities as Royal Prussia under the suzerainty of the Polish King. The Bishops of Warmia, though, insisted on their prerogatives, namely the completely independent election of the bishop by the chapter.

Election dispute

In 1467, the chapter did not accept the bishop nominated by Polish King Casimir IV, and instead elected Nicolaus von Tüngen. This resulted in a dispute in which the bishopric was supported by the Teutonic Order and Matthias Corvinus, the Hungarian king.

Military action

In 1478, Polish forces of king Casimir IV intervened militarily in Warmia, besieging Braunsberg Braniewo the city which held out against him.[2].


The first Treaty of Piotrków (in Piotrków Trybunalski) ended the feud in 1479. The Polish King accepted Nicolaus von Tüngen, who had been elected in 1467, as bishop, and granted or confirmed several prerogatives of the bishopric. The bishop acknowledged the sovereignty of the Polish King over Warmia, obliged the chapter to elect only candidates "liked by the Polish King" and the Warmians had to pledge allegiance to him.

However, 10 years later, the election of the next bishop, Lucas Watzenrode the Younger revived conflicts between Warmia's chapter and Casimir IV. The Prince-Bishopric of Warmia in church organisation matters received exempt status, under directly authorisation of the Pope, resisting attempts to subordinate it by the archbishopric of Gniezno. Politically it remained under lordship of the Polish crown.



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