La commanderie de Chwarszczany

Original texts of Błażej Skaziński : Project Szlak Templariuszy

Translation : Agnieszka Staf & Andrew Zolnai

La chapelle de Chwarszczany
Diaporama en bas de page
Poland, Województwo Zachodnio Pomorskie

Poland, West Pomeranian Voivodeship (Wojewˇdztwo Zachodniopomorskie), 45 km west of Gorzˇw Wielkopolski, 12 km north of Kostrzyn, 100 km east of Berlin (Germany).

In 1232, the Templars obtained from Władysław Odonicz(1), Prince of Greater Poland, 1000 łan(2) of land in the Kostrzyn region, near the village of Chwarszczany, in a curve of the river Myśla.

Location area (blue square) of the Templar estates in today's western Poland - © AgnŔs Staf
Location area (blue square) of the Templar estates in today's western Poland - © AgnŔs Staf

The Knights Templar then settled in this region on the border between Pomerania, Greater Poland and the Brandenburg March for military reasons. They must defend it, pacify it and help to colonize it. The knights arriving in Chwarszczany probably came from the preceptory of Oleśnica Mała, located around 320 km to the south-east.

Around 1234, the Prince of Szczecin, Barnim I(3), gave the Knights Templar of Chwarszczany 200 łan near Dargomyśl and in 1241, Boleslaw II Łysy(4), Prince of Silesia, gave them the villages of Lubno and Oborzany.

In the middle of the 13th century, the properties located in Chwarszczany were under the domination of the Brandenburg Margraves(5) and their relations with the Templars were strained. The Margraves demanded that the Templars give them some of their property. In 1261, they reached an agreement stipulating that the Templars renounce their rights to villages located near the road from Kostrzyn to Gorzˇw and to the preceptory of Myślibórz. In exchange, they received confirmation of their rights on the domains of Chwarszczany and ten villages that depend on them and also receive the rights on the village of Kaleńsko.

Sketch of the implantation of the preceptory - http://www.templariusze.org
Sketch of the implantation of the preceptory
Source : http://www.templariusze.org

Over time, relations with the Brandenburg Margraves improved because in 1286, Otto VI(6) was admitted to the Order in Chwarszczany, which then grew in importance. In the 1290's, the preceptor of Chwarszczany, Bernhard von Eberstein (or Everstein), also served as Preceptor of Poland, New March (Neumark), Bohemia and Moravia.

The latest information about the Templars of Chwarszczany concerned the sale of the village of Cychry (Zicher) to the burghers of Frankfurt in 1308.

The preceptory of Chwarszczany is built on a small hill in a bend of the river Myśla.
Around the middle of the 13th century, on the north-western side of the land, the chapel was built in granite and in Romanesque style. It was built on a rectangular plan with the choir on the east side.

In the years 1290, the chapel was destroyed and in its place a new one was built as it can still be seen today. Of the old chapel there only remains the base of the western part with the entrance portal. The granite was reused to build the base of the new Gothic building.

The new chapel was also built on a rectangular plan and closed on the east side by a pentagonal apse. The interior was covered by a rib vault supported on capitals located between the long and narrow windows. Two brick niches have been inserted in the east and south walls of the choir. The first served as a seat and in the second one the hosts were kept.

The plan of the chapel
The plan of the chapel

On the outside, the entire construction is reinforced by massive buttresses. The fašade is flanked by two cylindrical towers topped by a dome. Between the two towers there is a stone portal and above it a window with an infill. At the beginning of the 14th century, the interior was covered with Gothic paintings. In the south wall can be seen halfway along its length the old portal now walled.

After the fall of the Order, all its possessions passed into the hands of the Hospitallers, including the preceptory of Chwarszczany.
Around the middle of the 14th century, the Hospitallers renovated the altar of St. Catherine and St. John the Evangelist and later enriched it with paintings depicting the apostles and holy virgins.

In 1540, the Margrave John of Kostrzyń(7) transferred the headquarters of the preceptory of the Order of the Hospital to Świdwin. The chapel in Chwarszczany was transformed into a Protestant church, dependent on the one in Cychry.

In 1758, during the Battle of Sarbinowo(8), all the buildings of the preceptory of Chwarszczany were destroyed and the chapel badly damaged. But it was rebuilt two years later.

In the 19th century, the sacristy was added on the north side and the plaster was removed from the walls, uncovering the paintings of the Middle Ages, which were immediately put to renovation. After the 2nd World War, in 1948, the chapel reverted to the Catholic Church. The old paintings were covered with whitewash.

Between 2004 and 2008, archaeological excavations were undertaken on the site, as well as renovation and conservation work.

Notes :

(1)Władysław Odonic is a Duke (Prince) of Wielkopolska from the Piast dynasty. He was born around 1190 and died on 05 June 1239. He is the son of Odon of Poznań and Wyszesława of Halicz.

(2)A "łan" represented an area of between 17 and 24 hectares depending on the region.

(3)Barnim I is a Duke (Prince) of Szczeczin and Pomerania of the Gryfici (Griffins) dynasty. He was born around 1210, became Prince of Szczeczin around 1220 after his father's death and Prince of Pomerania around 1264. He died at Dąbie in November 1278. He is the son of Duke Bogusław II of Pomerania and of Mirosława of Gdańsk.

(4)Bolesław II Łysy (the Bald) also called Bolesłas II Rogatka is a Duke of Silesia and part of Wielkopolska of the Piast Dynasty. He was born around 1220 and is the son of Henryk II Pobożny (Henry II the Pious) and Anna Przemyślidka (Anne of Bohemia). He became a duke on the death of his father at the battle of Legnica on April 9, 1241. He died on 26 December 1278.

(5)Between 1220 and 1266, the Brandenburg March was led jointly by brothers John I and Otto III, who came from the powerful House of Ascania. In 1259, they jointly decided to divide their estate into two parts, with John inheriting the Altmark (Old March) in the west and Otto inheriting the Neumark (New March) in the east.

(6)Otto VI of Brandenburg (der Kleine) was born around 15 November 1264 and died on 6 July 1303. He was Margrave of Brandenburg (Neumark) from 1280 to 1286. He was the fourth son of Otto III of Brandenburg and Beatrice of Bohemia (Božena Ceská), the daughter of the Bohemian king Wenceslas the Borgne (Vßclav I). He abdicated in 1286 after his wife's death to become a Knight of the Order of the Temple and then became a Cistercian monk at Lehnin Abbey, where he was buried at his death in 1303.

(7)John I of Brandenburg-KŘstrin, also known as John of Hohenzollern, was Margrave of Brandenburg-KŘstrin from 1535 to 1571. He is the son of Joachim I Nestor of Brandenburg and Elisabeth of Denmark, daughter of King John I of Denmark. When he died in 1571, his estate was reunited with Brandenburg.

(8)Sarbinowo is a small village 6 km south of Chwarszczany. On August 25, 1758, the village was the scene of a bloody battle of the Seven Years' War between Prussian troops commanded by the Prussian King Frederick II and Russian troops commanded by Count Villim Villimovich Fermor.

    


Bibliography
  1. "Zakony rycerskie"
    Edward Potkowski ; Wojskowa Drukarnia 1995
  2. "Henryk Brodaty i Jego Czasy"
    Benedykt Zientara ; Trio 1997
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