The House of Griffin dukes and the Duchy of Pomerania
The Pomeranian Dukes’ Castle in Szczecin is the oldest and most magnificent historical seat of the rulers from the Griffin family who ruled over Pomerania between the 13th and the mid-17th century. The House of Griffin was a ducal dynasty of Slavic origin that developed in the early Middle Ages and ruled over the lands on the southern coast of the Baltic Sea, known as the Duchy of Pomerania, for over five hundred years. The duchy covered the areas on both sides of the Oder, from Bardo (today Barth in Germany) in the west to Lębork in the east. Wartislaw I is considered the founder of the family. His name is first mentioned in historical sources from 1124. As a result of the missionary work conducted in the years 1124-1128 by St. Otto of Bamberg the Griffins converted to Christianity (St. Otto, a copy of the statue from the 14th century put up on the Bell Tower on the side facing the mint yard). After the schism divided Western Christianity in the early 16th century, the Pomeranian dukes converted to Lutheranism (1534). The peak development of the duchy took place in the last hundred years of its existence (the reign of duke Bogislaw X, John Frederick, Barnim XI and Philip II). Bogislaw XIV was the last Griffin ruler. He died childless in 1637. After his death, under the treaties of Westphalia, which ended the Thirty Years’ War, the lands of the Duchy of Pomerania were split up and became part of Sweden and Brandenburg. In 1720 they became part of the Kingdom of Prussia, and then, until 1945, they were part of Germany. As a result of World War II, the eastern part of the land, including Szczecin (former capital of the duchy of Griffins), became part of Poland. Currently, the historical lands of the Duchy of Pomerania are located in two countries: Poland and Germany.