Pomerania During The High Middle Ages - Society Under Wartislaw I

Society Under Wartislaw I

During Wartislaw I's rule society was composed of the Pomeranian freeman and the slaves, who consisted mostly of Wendish, German or Danish war captives. The freemen generally made their living from agriculture, fishing and husbandry, as well as hunting and trade. Their social status depended both on accumulated wealth as well as noble status. The proportion of slaves in the total population of the area was relatively small and in fact the Pomeranians exported slaves to Poland.

The largest settlements were Wollin (Wolin) and Stettin (Szczecin), each of which had a few thousand inhabitants, and a biweekly market day. While some historians address these settlements as towns, this is rejected by others due to the differences to later towns. They are usually referred to as early towns, proto-towns, castle towns or emporia; their Slavic designation was *grod (gard in Pomeranian and Polabian language). The population of Pomerania was relatively wealthy in comparison to her neighbors, owing to abundant land, inter-regional trade and piracy.

Wartislaw's power and standing differed depending on the area. In the east of his duchy (Cammin, Belgard, and Kolberg area) his power was strongest, tribal assemblies are not documented. In the center (Wolin, Szczecin, and Pyrzyce area) Wartislaw had to yield the decisions of the local population and nobility. In the towns, Wartislaw maintained small courts. Every decision of Wartislaw had to pass an assembly of the elders and an assembly of the free. In the newly gained Lutici territories of the West, Wartislaw managed to establish a rule that resembled his rule in the eastern parts, but also negotiated with the nobility.

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