The Cistercian Order – A Danish-Polish connection (Esrum – Kołbacz – Oliwa)

The Cistercian monks belong to an order founded in France in the city of Citeaux, in Latin: Cistercium, of which the name of the order. The Cistercian order was created as a protest against a growing departure from the monastic rules within the Benedictine Order.
The Cistercians were engaged in agriculture and crafts. The monks nourished themselves by the work of their hands, renouncing a lavish lifestyle and all kinds of superfluous wealth. In the places where they settled, they introduced modern methods in agriculture and developed the crafts.

The East Pomeranian Subisław I’The decision to call for the Cistercian order was certainly dictated, among other things, by a desire to promote business development in Pomerania.

However, it was western Pomerania that first became acquainted with the Cistercian order. On February 2, 1174, the first Cistercians, led by Abbot Reihold, arrived from the Danish monastery in Esrum to Kołbacz in Pomerania.
The price of getting the order to Pomerania was high, with the princes giving the monks large tracts of land along with entire villages, fishing rights, the right to charge tithes of customs revenue and other rights. Yet the benefits of the order's presence soon became apparent.

The castle of Szczecin, Warcisław Świętoborzyc, gave the Cistercians 6 villages: Kołbacz, Rekowo, Reptowo, Zdunowo, Sosnowo and Dąbie (all of whom belonged to the genus Świętoborzyc). In 1176, the Cistercians were granted further east of Lake Miedwie to Przylep, Obryta and others. Even later, the order took over an area of land between Stargard and Choszczno, where they founded Dolice, as well as another area on the northern shore of Lake Płoń (Ukiernica, Lubiatowo and Luków). Incidentally, the monks were granted land temporarily in other parts of Pomerania, thus around Kołobrzeg.

In 1188, the Cistercians from Kołbacz were made by Prince Sambor of Gdańsk (the former Prince Subisław’s successor) invited to Oliwa (near Gdańsk) in connection with the founding of the monastery there. Since the monastery in Kołbacz was still too young and too small to independently send large numbers of monks to the new monastery, it is likely that the majority of the monks came directly from Denmark; the leader of the group from Kołbacz was the Dane Bernard Dithard of Esrum Monastery. Dithard became the first abbot for the monastery in Oliwa. The building of the monastery church in Oliwa was indirectly inspired by Danish architecture.

In 1210, a church began to be built in Kolbacz. This church that still exists was often referred to as “the Danish church”.

In the year 1274 the Cistercian order in Pomerania owned over 18 villages and 2 cities. The expansion of their land was accomplished through donations, acquisitions and exchanges.
According to the rules of the Cistercian order, each abbot was to be a completely self-sufficient entity. The monastery had within its land properties everything needed for the community to function, and the profits generated by its own production were sold in the immediate or remote area.
The abbots of all monasteries were in constant contact with each other; each year they met for meetings, called chapters. In this way, all new inventions and working methods were made widely known throughout the order. Undoubtedly one of the greatest achievements of the Kołbacz Cistercian is the change of the river Płonia’s run (1183) as well as the dam of the water in Lake Miedwie.

On their estates the monks had many sheep and pig stables as well as several watermills; they run a brewery and workshops for tailors, tanners, saddlers, weavers, feltmakers and blacksmiths and spinning mills.
The agricultural activities at the monastery included grain warehouse, horse stable, barns, bakery, slaughterhouse, brewery, wine press, dairy, workshops, brickwork, mill, inn and residential buildings. Similar large farms lay scattered throughout the land which the Order owned.
The center of the Cistercian Order in Kołbacz employed approx. 150 people, including beer brewers, bakers, chefs, gardeners, sheep shepherds, vines, and crews engaged in forestry and hunting.
The Cistercians built cities, founded markets, acquired houses in the cities and had several inns.

On July 3, 1403, Pope Bonifacius appoints 9 – at the request of Queen Margrete – the abbots Salomon and Niels in Esrum and Sorø monasteries as general vicars for the monasteries of the Cistercian Order in Denmark, Norway and Sweden, and for Colbatz (Kołbacz) and Eldena monasteries. ecclesiastical schism lasts as Citeaux has joined the counter-pope and the new vicar is in Italy.

The wars in the 15th century. brought economic downturns to the monastery in Kołbacz, and the effects of the Reformation led to the dissolution of the order. In 1535 the property of the order passed to the princes.

The Cistercian monastery in Oliwa suffered a similar fate. After considerable development followed bad years in which the monastery was assaulted and robbed. The work was completed by the wars and the Protestant Reformation.

Prepared by MTS i.a. on the basis of:
Parafia w Kołbaczu pod wezwaniem Najświętszego Serca Pana Jezusa
Esrum Monastery
Letters of the Danish Empire. 1403. No. 1442
Jan Wołucki: Gdańsk. Duńskie karty historii. Gdańsk, 2000.

Translated into English by Google Translate. accept no liability for any errors or omissions in translation.

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