mall town Łagów, situated on a narrow isthmus between two lakes, since ancient times has served as a strategic point between Wielkopolska, Pomerania, Brandenburg and Silesia. In the 10th century, together with Lubuskie Land, this area belonged to Poland, then it was part of the Silesian district, and in the middle of the 13th century it became the property of German margraves. The first surviving note about the wooden castrum Lagowe dates back to 1299, when the margraves Otto, Konrad and Henry dei gratia Brandenburgenses et de Landesberge Marchiones gave it to the brothers Albert and Henry von Klepzig as a fief, with all the adjoining lands. The von Klepzig family probably lost these assets after 1323, when Ludwig V of Bavaria (d. 1361) took over the power in Brandenburg. The loss of land could probably have resulted from the Wittelsbachs' antipathy to the knights from Łagów, who several years earlier supported the Silesian dukes in conflict with Brandenburg. In 1347 the indebted Ludwig gave Hus Lagowe as a pledge for 400 pieces of silver to the Order of St. John, who, paying 100 pieces to the Margrave and 300 to his creditor, Wesenberg of Lubusz, signed a three-year lease agreement, which was converted in 1350 into an act of ownership with the right to build a brick castle. The organizer of new administrative unit, including the town of Sulęcin and about twenty villages, was Herman von Werberg (d. 1371), the superior of the order on the eastern side of Elbe River. From the beginning, the Łagów commandery was part of the Brandenburg Baliwat. It was characterized by a particularly strong political connection with the lords of Brandenburg; on behalf of the margraves, the hospitaller knights often took care of the merchants by convoying them on the trade route leading from Wielkopolska to German lands. They received for this a fee depending on the number of horses in the convoy, as well as compensation for each killed horse or peasant.
VIEW OF THE CASTLE FROM THE SOUTH
robably the first commander of Łagów was Albertus heres de Lagowo, mentioned in 1362, and later, at least since 1372, Henry von Wedel, followed by Busso von Alvensleben (d. 1432) who managed the komturia in years 1382-92. Supposedly, still in the times of Henry the Hospitallers started erecting a brick castle as a quadrilateral wall with dwelling house and square tower. At the same time, Łagów became the new administrative, economic and commercial centre of the region. Thanks to many land grants in the second half of the 14th century, the organisation significantly expanded its territorial range and strengthened its economic status, gaining primacy among other commanders belonging to Brandenburg district. However, it lost it after 1426, when the balivat's headquarters were moved to Słońsk. On 5 November 1460, Frederick II Hohenzollern confirmed the rights of Hospitallers to estates located in Brandenburg March. According to this document, the Łagów komturia included: the town and castle of Łagów (Schloss Lagow, das Städtchen), the town of Sulęcin (Zielenzig, das Städtchen) and villages Neu-Lagow, Spiegelberg, Börsten, Leichholtz, Tauerzig, Malckendorff, Petersdorff, Grosz Oschatz, Schönow, Coritten, Alt Kirssbaum, Neu Kirssbaum, Lindow, Wandrin, Hildebrandtsdorff, Döbernitz, Grabow, Ostrow mit der Möllen, Gandikow, Rampitz, Kloppeth, Melssnitz mit der Möllen, Langenfeldt, Borsten, Reehnow, Lübn and Buchholtz. In the same year, the castle housed a meeting of German deputies headed by Bishop Frederick Sesselmaneni and Liborius von Schlieben with emissaries of polish King Kazimierz Jagiellończyk. Probably, Łagów commander was then Hildebrand Selchow.
LITHOGRAPHY BY H. LITZMANN, 2ND HALF OF XIX CENTURY
VIEW OF THE CASTLE FROM TRZEŚNIOWSKIE LAKE SIDE, PROBABLY XIX CENTURY
WHO WERE THE HOSPITALLER KNIGHTS?
The Order of St John was founded around 1083 by developing the structures of the Hospital of St John the Baptist in Jerusalem, sponsored by merchants from the Italian state of Amalfi. According to rule approved by
Pope Paschalis II, the Order was to perform two basic functions: to protect Christians from attacks by Muslims and to help sick or injured pilgrims. In addition to their military and medical activities, the Hospitallers have developed trade, orcharding, port organization, wine growing, and shipping, in which they have proven to be masters. Unlike the Teutonic Knights, the Order of St. John had an international character, where noble born Catholic knights were accepted regardless of their nationality. The friars joining the religious community vowed: chastity and obedience, which means carrying out all the orders of authority, and living without property. They wore
a black habit and a black coat with an eight-sided white cross, which they exchanged for armour covered with
a red tunic with a white cross for the time of battle.
After the establishment of the Kingdom of Jerusalem in 1099, the Hospitallers were an important part of its armed forces, strengthened by a network of fortresses built in Syria and Palestine. Among them stood out a huge fortress-hospital
Margat, which served as the capital of the Order after the fall of Jerusalem, as well as the impressive castles of
Belvoir and Bethgibelin. However, the most famous and greatest was the Krak de Chevaliers, given to the Hospitallers by the Count of Tripoli, Raymond II in 1144 and later extended by them. Krak was the only stronghold of the Crusaders that remained in their hands for almost the entire 13th century, for this reason it was called by Muslims a bone in Islam's throat.
Krak de Chevaliers
After the fall of Akka, the last stronghold of the Crusaders in Palestine, the Hospitallers moved to Cyprus, and after the Templar Order was liquidated, they took over much of its property. In 1308 they invaded and conquered the island of Rhodes to establish a new congregation capital there. They left the island Rhodes after 1522, escaping from 400 ships and 160 thousand soldiers under command of
Sultan Suleiman the Great. For the next few years, the Order was wandering around different European countries, and finally, in 1530, the German Emperor
Charles V allowed the Hospitallers to settle in Malta, where they built a port and fortress, and from where they continued their military mission of hunting Ottoman ships. In 1566 the convent began to build a new headquarters here - in honour of Grand Master
Jean de la Valette, the city was named La Valetta.
In Malta, the Order resided safely until the Napoleonic Wars, when, as a result of the intervention of French troops, it lost most of its lands and almost completely disintegrated. Its structures began to revive in the middle of the nineteenth century as informal, often independent secular congregations (the great master was, among others, the Tsar of Russia
Pavel I), engaged in charitable activities, providing assistance during natural disasters and wars. Today the Order of Malta has about 10,000 members. It still has the prerogatives to print passports, mint coins and issue its own postage stamps. He is headed by an Englishman
Matthew Festing (2019).
The Hospitallers arrived in the Piast lands in the 12th century in response to invitation of Duke Henryk Sandomierski, establishing commanderies in Zagoście, Poznań, Bardo and Strzegom. In the former New March, and now the Lubuskie Land and Pomerania, they possesed castles among others in Łagów, Swobnica, Świdwin and Stare Drawsko. Currently, about 160 citizens of our country belong to the Order.
VIEW FROM THE SOUTH-WEST ON POSTCARD FROM AROUND 1900, THE MARTIAN GATE IN THE FOREGROUND
LOOKING FROM THE MARCH GATE, AROUND 1920
esides estates located in Brandenburg, the Łagów commandery also owned four villages located on the Polish side of the border: Boryszyn, Templewo, Zarzyn and Wielowieś. The division of the commandery into the Polish and Brandenburg parts led to conflict between the starost of Międzyrzecz, Stanisław Miskowski, and the commander, who was unwilling to pay the starosty. The culminating point of this strife was an armed expedition of commander Veit von Thumen (d. 1544) to Międzyrzecz in 1527, which ended with the conquest of the town and then the signing of an agreement obliging Hospitallers to pay the Polish side 2000 Rhine florins as a reparation for the unjustified assault and damages caused by it. The Order, however, sought to resolve the disputed issue in a judicial manner and they achieved this with success, as the area was finally incorporated into the Brandenburg Marches by decision of the mixed court. It seems interesting that despite the unfavorable sentence for Poland, almost until the end of the 18th century a tax collector from starosty enforced duties from these areas. When elector
Joachim I Nestor (d. 1535) died a few years later,
Johann von Brandenburg-Küstrin (d. 1571), a supporter of the Reformation, took over power after him. At the end of the fourth decade of the 16th century, he was considering secularization of the order's property located within the Marches, proclaiming that church institutions should serve primarily state purposes. This determined attitude of the margrave forced von Thumen to act in a way that would enable the surviving of organization, even at the cost of sacrifices in religious and financial matters. Thus, it allowed Lutheran preachers to evangelize and celebrate the masses in the villages under the jurisdiction of Hospitallers, and members of the Order - to change their religious orientation. Already then, the half secular character of the Order deepened the upcoming changes and contributed to the acceptance by the Brandenburg Hospitallers the Lutheran faith. In 1543 Andreas von Schlieben (d. 1571) got married and became the first married Łagów commander.
A CASTLE ON COLOURED POSTCARDS FROM THE 1920S
espite the anxieties accompanying the loss of independence of the Brandenburg Balivat, the town of Łagów, which had been operating since the middle of the 16th century under the patronage of secular authorities, developed economically and militarily. The Łagów Castle was also changed: the main tower was raised and the two-storey north wing was added, and its outer walls were reinforced by adding a gate building and two short towers. Such fortified stronghold experienced the only siege in its history, when in 1640 the Brandenburg troops commanded by gen. Burchard von Goldacker tried to conquer it in order to force out the Swedish crew. The siege failed - the Swedes repulsed attack by killing 30 soldiers and 7 officers. In 1656, a troop of 3000 soldiers from Wielkopolska under the command of Piotr Opaliński stayed at the walls of the castle. Its arrival was a reaction to the violation of the borders by the Brandenburg army and the occupation of several towns on the Polish side of the border. We do not know what arguments Opaliński used, but the fact is that he entered the castle and then occupied it for several months until the signing of the truce, by virtue of which the Germans committed themselves to withdraw from Międzyrzecz and Zbąszyń. Significant development of Łagów was observed in the first decades of 18th century, when
Christian Ludwik von Hohenzollern (d. 1734) became the commander. On his initiative, a church was built, and the town received new privileges with the right to collect excise duty and organize three fairs during the year. Von Hohenzollern also founded the town park, and at the shore of Lake Trześniowskie he established a small zoo. The changes did not omit the spatial layout of the commandant's headquarters, which received the cloisters in the southern and eastern part of the courtyard, and later - new Baroque facades and interior design.
PANORAMY ZAMKU ZNAD JEZIORA ŁAGOWSKIEGO, FOTOGRAFIE Z LAT 30. I 40. XX WIEKU
n 1810, the Order of St. John in Prussia was cancelled by the edict of
Friedrich Wilhelm III, and its estate was taken over by the state in order to secure funds for repayment the war contributions after losing the war against France. A few years later, the king handed over part of the former commandery, including the park, the zoo and six estates, to General Friedrich Wilhelm von Zastrow (d. 1830). In 1832 Friederike Dorothea Ludeman (d. 1840) bought the castle for 10,000 thalers and soon sold it to General Wilhelm von Barfus-Falkenberg (d. 1863). After the fire in June 1842, which damaged the tower, the castle was bought by Hermann von Oppen, and then, by succession, the property passed into the hands of his son-in-law, Count von Arnim. Since 1856, the former seat of the Order was owned by Hugo Wrschowetz-Sekerka von Sedczic, Baron Wurmb von Finck, Count von Pueckler-Limburg and Wanda von Pueckler-Limburg, the last hostess of the castle, who left Łagów in 1945. After the war, the town was incorporated into Poland, and the Association of Art and Culture Historians took care of the neglected heritage, organizing a Creative Work House there. In 1962 it was taken over by the Henryk Wieniawski Music Society, hosting many outstanding artists and scientists, organizing open-air art schools and preparing musicians for international competitions. After renovation in the years 1966-71, the building went under the management of the Sports and Tourism Centre, which arranged there a hotel for "dollar tourists".
KNIGHT'S HALL, INTERWAR PERIOD
IN THE COURTYARD OF ŁAGÓW CASTLE, INTERWAR PERIOD
COMMANDERS FROM ŁAGÓW (tenure)
* Albertus heres de Lagovo (1362) - probably the first, not confirmed by documents, Łagów commander.
* Henryk von Wedel (1372-82) - representative of powerful noble family from the German Holstein, a close associate of Otto V. After 1372 he was probably commander of Chwarszczany.
* Busso von Alvensleben (1382-92) - previously in office as commander of Czaplinek.
* Anno von Heimburg (1403-07) - after leaving Łagów, he became a commander in Süpplingenburg.
* Bernard Bruker (-1435) - commander of Chwarszczany, accused by Teutonic Knights of cooperation with the Polish army, and then regarded by them a traitor and deprived of the possibility of holding any office in the lands subject to Teutonic Order.
* Miklosz Colditz (1435-58) - he came from a Czech-Miśnia family, in the Order of St. John he was previously the commander in Swobnica, Süpplingenburg and Tempelhof.
* Liborius von Schlieben (1458-60) - in 1460, he was elected master of the Brandenburg balivat.
* Hildebrand Selchow (1463)
* Baltazar List (1468)
* Jakub von Barfuss (1474-90) - engaged in diplomatic affairs between Brandenburg and Poland; also participant in the war for the Duchy of Głogów, during which he was briefly imprisoned. After leaving Łagów, he held the office of Chwarszczany commander.
* Liberius von Schapelow (1505-)
* Veit von Thumen (1523-1539?) - in 1527, raised to the dignity of a Brandenburg master; since then, he has combined this function with the management of the Łagów commandery.
* Andreas von Schlieben (1541-71) - a trusted associate of Jan Hohenzollern and a follower of the Reformation. In 1543 he married as one of the first Brandenburg commanders.
* Abraham von Gruneberg (1572-81)
* Konrad von Burgsdorff (1628-52) - the chief fiscal officer and private councillor of the Brandenburg electorate, as well as the chief commander of all strongholds in Mark Brandenburg and the parish priest of the cathedral collegiate churches in Halberstadt and Brandenburg. Recognized as the founder of the modern Brandenburg-Prussian army.
* Georg Friedrich von Waldeck (1654-59) - a German field marshal and Dutch general. Commander of the Brandenburg-Swedish Corps in the war with Poland, during which he failed at the battle at Prostki. He also took part in the memorable Battle of Vienna in 1683 as commander of Bavarian troops.
* von Loben (1660-68) - recommended by the elector after removal of von Waldeck from his command post as a punishment for the cooperation between the Dutchman and the Swedish army.
* Georg Friedrich von Waldeck (1668-92)
* Christian Ludwig von Hohenzollern (1705-35) - after 1712 he extended the Łagów Castle by the fourth, eastern wing. On his commission J. S. Bach composed six concerts, which came to history as Brandenburg concerts. During the reign of von Hohenzollern, Łagów was granted town rights and a small zoo was established near the castle.
* Adam Otto von Viereck (1735-) - Prussian Minister of State and private budget advisor. He was the hereditary ruler of Weitendorf. In 1747 he became an honorary member of the Royal Prussian Scientific Society.
* Friedrich Wilhelm von Pannwitz (1765) - son of General Wolf Adolf von Pannwitz, owner of the manor house Schönfließ near Oranienburg, where he and his father created an exemplary manor house and agricultural village according to modern agricultural and forestry methods.
* Joachim von Burgsdorff (1802-10)
* Fryderyk von Hessen-Philippstahl (1810)
he Gothic castle was built of brick and partly of stone, on a plan similar to 30x34 meter trapeze. Initially, it consisted of residential houses situated in the western and northern part of the courtyard and a tower erected on the plan of square with side of 8.5 meters. Its lowest storey was occupied by a small dungeon measuring 3.5x3.5 metres, above it there were rooms for guards, then shooting stands and a latrine, and the peak, which was first 17 and later 24 metres high and topped with blanks. Originally, the entrance to the tower was at a height of 13 metres and was accessible from the porch. The west wing measured 27 metres in length and 8 metres in width, and filled the entire length of the curtain. It was partly cellared, with two rooms on the ground floor and windows facing the courtyard. In the southern part there was a cross-ribbed refectory, and in the northern part - probably a chapel. The chapel was equipped with, among other things, an altar depicting Madonna and Child and wooden artifacts: a crucifix and a bowl with the image of the patron of the Order, which today is in the collection of the National Museum in Poznań. Before 1533 the refectory was divided into smaller rooms with an armoury, a courtroom and - probably - a soldier's room. The West House first floor and both floors of the North Building housed living quarters, including chambers of the master, the commandant and his courtiers. The remaining, southern part of the floor of the west wing was occupied by the visitors' area, mentioned in year 1533 as Grroey gastkamern. Horizontal communication between chambers was probably carried out by means of wooden cloisters and porches running along the top of the wall, while vertical communication was provided by wooden stairs attached to external walls.
GATE NECK LEADING TO THE COURTYARD FROM THE EAST
VIEW FROM THE TOWER ON THE ROOFED COURTYARD
he residential and utility buildings were closed from the east and south with a curtain wall topped with a crenellation, with an entrance to the courtyard preceded by a long wooden bridge. Presumably, at the turn of the 14th and 15th centuries, the upper castle was surrounded by
brick walls measuring 70x70 metres and 8 to 11 metres high, which, in spite of its defensive tasks, also served as a supporting structure for the artificially erected castle hill. This additional perimeter in the northern and western parts was equipped with two semicircular bastions, and in the southern curtain with shooting stands and wooden hoards. The third line of defense of the order's seat were the town walls surrounding the former bailey with the 15th century Polish Gate in the south-eastern part and the German Gate erected in the 16th century at the south-western entrance. In the 16th century, the tower was raised and a gate tower was added to the eastern curtain, which was later incorporated into the entrance neck and covered with a mansard roof. At the end of the century, the northern wing was re-erected, and in the 17th century - after the Thirty Years' War - the housing was supplemented with a southern wing, where in addition to the kitchen, a bakery, a brewery and meat and cheese warehouses were located. The former armoury in the west wing was then transformed into gewolbte Fleichkammer - a meat pantry for the neighbouring kitchen.
THE CONTEMPORARY PLAN OF THE CASTLE, THE MEDIEVAL WALLS MARKED WITH A GRID, AND THOSE FROM THE XVII-XVIII CENTURY ARE HATCHED:
1. WEST WING, 2. SOUTH WING, 3. NORTH WING, 4. MAIN TOWER, 5. GATE NECK, 6. MAIN STAIRCASE, 7. ARCADES AT THE EASTERN WALL
SOURCE: LEKSYKON ZABYTKÓW POMORZA ZACHODNIEGO
PLAN OF CASTLE FORTIFICATIONS ACCORDING TO H.E. KUBACH: 1. CASTLE, 2. EXTERNAL WALL,
3. BASTIONS, 4. TOWN WALL, 5. GERMAN GATE, 6. POLISH GATE, 7. CHURCH
uring the Baroque modernization of the castle, an eastern curtain of the walls was built up with two-storey arcades, and a staircase leading directly to the courtyard was added to gate tower.
A gate was formed in the southern part of the eastern curtain of the outer perimeter, from where
a driveway was led along the southern wing to the entrance located in the western wing. The interiors of the west wing, where the staircase was built and new fireplaces installed, also transformed. The exterior elevations of all buildings were rearranged by new layout of windows and portals. The last significant modifications in architecture and decoration occured in the first half of the 19th century, when the northern and southern wings received new entrances, and the large hall in the western wing was divided into four smaller rooms.
CASTLE IN ŁAGÓW, VIEW FROM THE RAILWAY VIADUCT IN THE EASTERN PART OF THE TOWN
he present-day appearance of the castle results from its Baroque reconstruction and transformation of the 19th century, but underneath this form almost entirely medieval walls preserved. Today, the Gothic character is represented only by the tower and fragments of defensive walls, and inside - by room in the west wing, covered with a cross-ribbed vault, as well as the cellars placed underneath. The Baroque decorations are represented by remains of stucco ornamentation and fireplaces. The castle belongs to the municipality, which leases it to a private company. It runs a hotel here with a conference centre, restaurant and café. The castle is not open to the public, but during the summer season the tower with viewing point is available for tourists, from where they can admire the charming panorama of the town and lakes:
Trześniowskie (Ciecz) and
Łagowskie. From the south, the castle is adjacent to historic small-town building, which stretches over a 120-metre section of road closed by the Gates: German and Poland. On the western side there is a small amphitheatre which is arena for Lubuskie Film Summer.
CASTLE IN 2019: ON THE LEFT VIEW FROM THE SOUTH-EAST, ON THE RIGHT THE DRIVEWAY ALONG THE SOUTH WING
HOW TO GET THERE?
he town is located approximately halfway between Gorzów Wielkopolski and Zielona Góra, a few kilometres north of the A2 highway in Poznań-Świecko section. Łagów can be reached by buses from Zielona Góra, but they run only several times a day. During the summer season it could be crowded here, so parking your car in close vicinity to the castle can be a challenge. Theoretically, it is possible
at Kosciuszki Street, just next to the southern curtain of the walls, or on the square
at Zamkowa Street, but I recommend heading straight to the larger car park located
at Mostowa Street, from where we have about 400 meters to the former seat of the Order.
1. D. Hein: Zamki joannitów w Polsce, Poznań 2009
2. L. Kajzer, J. Salm, S. Kołodziejski: Leksykon zamków w Polsce, Arkady 2001
3. K. Stępińska: Pałace i zamki w Polsce dawniej i dziś, KAW 1977
4. A. Wagner: Murowane budowle obronne w Polsce X-XVIIw., Bellona 2019
5. K. Wasilkiewicz: Templariusze i joannici w biskupstwie lubuskim, UAM Poznań 2016
6. K. Wasilkiewicz: Zarys dziejów komandorii joannitów w Łagowie..., Studia Europaea Gnesnensia 10/2014
7. K. Wasilkiewicz: Zarys dziejów baliwatu brandenburskiego..., Studia Europaea Gnesnensia 18/2018
8. K. Wroński: Zamek w Łagowie w świetle najstarszego inwentarza z 1533 roku, Rocznik Chojeński 2018
PANORAMA OF THE TOWN FROM CHROBRY STREET
Castles nearby: Świebodzin - relics of ducal castle from the 13th-14th century, 21 km Międzyrzecz - the ruins of royal castle from 14th century, 26 km
IT IS WORTH SEEING ALSO:
The neoclassical church of St. John Baptist from 1726, extended in 1887. Inside the temple it is worth to pay attention to the galleries, as well as several tombstones from 16th century in the late Renaissance style, among others the tombstones of Łagów Commander's Andreas von Schleiben and his son, also Andreas.
A small beech park with an old trees, located between the castle and Lake Trześniowskie, which was founded in the 18th century by Christian von Hohenzollern. Attention is drawn here primarily to the beech with almost horizontal branches, whose crown is over a dozen meters in diameter. Hiking trails lead from the park to Łagowsko-Sulęciński Landscape Park. Nearby there is a small marina where you can rent pedal boats or kayaks.
Marchijska Gate, also called German Gate or Berlin Gate, which closes the area of the former bailey from the south-western side. It is one of two medieval town gates of Łagów. Erected in the 16th century, in the lower part made of brick, in the upper part half-timbered construction.
Polish Gate, also called Poznańska Gate, which occupies the southeastern part of the historic urban area. It is two-storey building erected of brick, covered with a gable roof. Both here and in the German Gate a narrow passage was carved, therefore traffic is controlled by traffic lights. Trucks and coaches cannot pass through them.