A plaque in commemoration of Barnim III

A monumental plaque made of limestone, founded in 1543, that is 175 years after Duke Barnim III’s death, by his descendant and namesake, Barnim IX (XI). Designated for the Carthusian monastery of Grabów which was endowed by Barnim III who brought the Carthusian monks to Pomerania in 1360. It shows the duke as a knight and praises his deeds in Latin. The plaque was probably made by artists from Southern Germany in a style characteristic of the time of its founder, Barnim IX (XI), i.e. a combination of medieval and Renaissance elements. After the monastery of Grabów had been destroyed and demolished during the 18th century, the plaque was moved to the church of the Cistercian nuns in Szczecin, and after its demolition in 1904, to the St. James’s church. After World War II, the plaque was put up on the wall of the northern wing of the restored Pomeranian Dukes’ Castle (on the side facing the courtyard).

Barnim III, called the Great (c. 1304-1368), who is shown on the plaque, was the son of Duke Otto I and Elisabeth of Holstein. He spent his youthful years at the imperial court of Prague, where he received a well-rounded education. From 1320, he co-ruled over the Duchy of Szczecin together with his father, and after his death in 1344 he became an independent ruler. At that time, he erected a permanent seat on the Castle Hill, the so called “Stone House” and the collegiate church of St. Otto. During his reign, he first of all sought to make the duchy independent of Brandenburg. To this end, he repeatedly formed alliances with Bohemia and Poland, and in 1331 he gave the duchy under the Pope’s protection. Finally, in 1348 he achieved his goal. From Charles IV of Luxembourg, who then became emperor, he obtained recognition of the Pomeranian Duchy as a direct imperial fiefdom and therefore became a Reich’s duke. As an ally of Luxembourgers, he significantly strengthened the political position of the duchy, but that did not prevent his conflict with Brandenburg. At the cost of peace with Brandenburg, he entered into a treaty which guaranteed that in the Duchy of Pomerania margraves of Brandenburg would be in line of succession after the House of Griffins came to an end. The duke died suddenly and was buried in the collegiate church of St. Otto in Szczecin.

The founder of the plaque, Barnim IX (XI), called the Pious, (1501-1573) was a son of Duke Bogislaw X and Anna Jagiellon. Prepared initially to be appointed to the bishopric in Kamień Pomorski, he first studied at the University of Greifswald, and then, from 1518, in Wittenberg where he met Martin Luther. In 1523, together with his brother George I, he became a ruling Pomeranian duke. After his brother’s death, he divided the duchy into two parts: the Duchy of Szczecin to the east of the Oder, which was in his reign, and the Duchy of Pomerania-Wolgast ruled over by his nephew Philip I. At a diet assembled in Trzebiatów in 1534, as a reformationist (together with his nephew), he converted the Duchy of Pomerania to Lutheranism. He operated his foreign policy in collaboration with Sigismund II Augustus, King of Poland, to whom he was related through his mother Anna Jagiellon. Since he had no male descendant, in 1569 he renounced his power to a grandson of George I, John Frederic, and settled in the castle in Grabów, where he died. Duke Barnim IX (XI) was a clever politician with a great passion for art and science as well as a powerful patron of the arts. He contributed to the founding of the school Paedagogii Stetinensis (1543), extended the Big House, the duke’s seat on the Castle Hill, and initiated creation of numerous artistic works of great value, including the plaque in commemoration of Barnim III.