n the early Middle Ages, on the trade route leading from Grudziądz to Golub a small wooden castle in the vicinity of the present-day Radzyń existed, who was probably inhabited by pagan Prussians from the Pomezanian tribe. In the 12th century, the village of Rasin functioned in this place, and next to it the castle belonging to the Mazovian voivode Krystyn. After the death of the governor (murdered by polish prince Konrad Mazowiecki), his sons sold their fatherhood to Bishop of Prussia Christian (d. 1245). The bishop concluded an agreement with Teutonic Knights, on the basis of which he retained two thirds of the land received, together with the right of sovereignty over the whole territory, and the remaining part was given to the Order in exchange for armed help in case of danger from the Prussian tribes. Teutonic Knights built a fortified camp on the land received from the bishop, and in 1234, on the order of the master Herman von Balk (d. 1239), they built a wooden fortified castle in its place: In 1234 Lord's year, brother and master Herman, when he removed the Prussians from Chełmno land, gathered an armed forces and built a castle on the edge of the wilderness stretching between Chełmno and Pomezania. This fortified settlement, called Ratzin, was one of the few to defend itself during the first Prussian uprising, which broke out in December 1242. Nine years later Ratzin became the seat of the monastic convent, and the first commander of it was the knight named Hartwich
BIRD'S EYE VIEW OF THE RUINS FROM THE SOUTHWEST
he construction of the castle probably began around 1270. This work was suspended after the beginning of the second Prussian uprising in 1278, when one of the rebellious armed units commanded by Skomand of Krasim destroyed, and perhaps even conquered, the Teutonic Knights' stronghold. The work was resumed and probably completed before 1329, when, under the leadership of the Grand Master
Werner von Orseln (d. 1330), a great meeting of knighthood and monastic elderly took place in Radzyń, during which they discussed the conditions for paying taxes to the Vatican. In the following year the castle was unsuccessfully conquered by the armies of Władysław Łokietek and Lithuanian prince Gedimin. Władysław Jagiełło's attempt to seize it immediately after the Battle of Grunwald was also unsuccessful. This proves the high value of the castle fortifications, the strength of the equipment and, above all, the determination of its crew, because, according to the chronicles, the cast of the fortress consisted then of only 15 older brothers supported by a squad of local burghers. It is worth mentioning that the siege of Radzyń in July 1410 was a struggle not only to gain another bridgehead, but also to seize a part of the Order's treasure, including the personal silver of Ulrich von Jungingen, which was deposited here.
IN FRONT OF THE GATE LEADING TO THE CASTLE COURTYARD
he attempt to conquer the castle was repeated by Jagiełło on 21 September 1410. According to Jan Długosz, the Polish ruler initially did not plan such a manoeuvre, because he was afraid of its effectiveness, as the castle was very strong thanks to its location and fortified walls, but the later decision to attack Radzyń may have resulted from a failure to achieve the most important goal of the expedition, i.e. to conquer the capital of the Teutonic state in Malbork. This time more numerous and better prepaed Polish troops needed only a few hours to take the castle. These events were described by Jan Długosz. (...) When the news spread in the army that the king was going to attack the next day, breakfast was barely over, and without the king's order he led the knights (...) to fight and to attack the Radzyń castle. The army without any reminders moved forward very willingly. The knight Dobiesław from Oleśnica with soldiers of his unit smashed the gate of the lower castle and, shielding the knight who did it, was hit from the smaller cannon. Shortly afterwards, the first knight, Piotr Chełmiński, entered the upper castle, and behind him the Castellan of Wiślica, Florian of Korytnice and others, and forced to escape the vice-commander of the castle. Piotr from Oleśnica got with other knights on the foreground of the castle and wounded in one leg was shielded only by a shield, so that he would not be hit from above. The besieged threw their weapons and surrendered the castle to the king. When the king entered the castle in the evening, he gave life to all the besieged and captured, among whom there were fifteen elderly Teutonic Knights, but he took them into prison. Furthermore, when he discovered that the castle was full of significant treasures, jewels and valuable objects, as well as plenty of food, he distributed treasures and jewels among the knights and left the food supplies to the castle.
IN THE COURTYARD, VIEW FROM THE NORTH ON THE RUIN OF THE SOUTHERN WING
TEUTONIC COMMANDERS AT THE CASTLE IN RADZYŃ CHEŁMIŃSKI
Hartwich (1251-1252), Hartung (1278-1280), Heinrich von Vaternrode,
Hartung (1289-1298), Peter (1304), Hermann (1312-1321)
Dietrich von Spira (1332), Heinrich von Bovenden (1338), Hartmann (1339)
Schweder, Petzold von Korwis, Hans von Rubesom (1370-77)
Heinrich von Webirstete (1377-82), Gotthold von Kurwis, (1382-1383), Engelhard von Wildstein
Werner von Tettingen (1387-1390), Heinrich Harder (1390-1391), Rudolph von Kyburg (1391-1402)
Wilhelm Folkolt (1402-1404), Heinrich von Schwelborn (1404), Eberhard von Affenfeld (1404)
Hans von de Dollen (1407-1409), Mikolai von Melin (1409-1410, died in the battle of Grunwald)
Georg von Wrisberg (1411), Heinrich Hold (1411), Conrad von Sefeln (1411-1412),
Otto von Walsbach (1412-1415), Andreas von Sekendorf (1415-1416),
Friedrich von Zollern
Wolf von Sansenhiem (1416-1421), Mikolai von Bergau (1421-1422), Mikolai von Goerlitz (1432)
Hans von Pommersheim (1433-1434), Ludwig von Landsee (1434), Georg von Egeling (1434-1436)
Heinrich Marschalk (1436), Hans von Erlbach (1437-1438), Hans von Gleichen (1438-1441)
Friedrich von Nickeritz (1449), Dietrich von Werdenau (1449-1454)
VIEW FROM THE TOWER (TO THE EAST AND TO THE NORTH)
fter the conquest of Radzyń, the king garrisoned it with a Polish-Czech crew under the command of Jaśko from Lamberk. Just a few days after this nomination Jaśko was poisoned. He was replaced by the Polish knight Dobieslaw Puchała from Węgrowo (d. 1441), and after him Wojciech Malski (d. 1454), held the post. Shortly afterwards, when the main core of the Polish army left Prussia,
Heinrich von Plauen (d. 1429), acting as the governor of the Teutonic Knights, decided to take the castle back. But the siege in October and November 1410 did not bring the expected results. On the contrary - the Polish crew not only bravely defended themselves, but also made a successful night sortie, causing great losses to the enemy. In the following year, the fortress was returned to the Order by means of peace agreement. However, the effects of the so-called Great War were still being felt for many years. The shortage of staff was so significant that in 1411 only six brothers and commandant Heinrich Hold lived in Radzyń, a commandant who a year ago was only a modest mayor of a small local castle in Lipieniek. Almost all movable property was destroyed or stolen, there were no weapons or breeding animals. The condition of the castle walls was also terrible. By the next war, which broke out in 1454, all this was somehow repaired and reorganized, but only two weeks after its beginning, the rebellious trade union troops carried out a victorious assault and chased the Teutonic Knights out of the town.
XIXTH-CENTURY WATERCOLOR, "ATLAS ZUR ZEITSCHRIFT FUR BAUWESEN", 1866
LITHOGRAPH BY NAPOLEON ORDA, "ALBUM WIDOKÓW", 1880
On 24 February 1397 in Radzyń Chełmiński the Lizard Society (Eidechsenbund) was founded - an organization of the Chełmno nobility against the arbitrariness of the Order's lords and their oppressive fiscal policy. The founders of the association were Mikołaj from Ryńsko, his brother Jan from Pułków and their cousins Fryderyk and Mikołaj from Kitnowo. The motto of the Society was mutual assistance to persons and property without any unfaithfulness, deceit, betrayal and against anyone who teases, oppresses or injures except the great master (...), and the symbol was the silver lizard worn on the tunic. Initially, the organization operated legally on the basis of the statute accepted by the Teutonic Knights and was tolerated by them as a group defending the interests of the nobility. It went underground in 1410 after being accused by the Order of promoting the interests of Poland, which was not unreasonable given the fact that during the Battle of Grunwald Mikołaj from Ryńsko withdrew his troop from the battle and after being released by the Poles he took the oath of allegiance to the King of Poland. In December of the same year he was arrested and a few months later beheaded. In 1440 the Lizard Society became a part of the Prussian Union, on the initiative of which on 4 February 1454 the Prussian uprising against the Teutonic Knights began, which was the beginning of the Thirteen Years' War.
RUINS IN RADZYŃ, "DIE BAU- UND KUNSTDENKMALER DES KREISES GRAUDENZ", 1894
fter the second Toruń peace in 1466, Radzyń Chełmiński was incorporated into Poland and after reconstruction from war damages and adaptation to new administrative functions, it was the seat of the royal castle starosts. For over a hundred years, the Dąbrowski family of
Virgo Violata coat of arms, the ancestors of General
Henryk Dąbrowski, were the starosts here. During their reign, in the last Polish-Teutonic war of 1519-25, the building served as the starting point for the militia of the Chełmno Land, and later it housed the headquarters of the royal army. It was destroyed during the siege by the Swedes in September 1628, who captured the fortress and then plundered its equipment and devastated its interiors. The castle collapsed and its poor condition is best reflected in the record of the inspection carried out in 1664: Inside partly ruined, however, by the tenants at the first entrance gate several rooms repaired and a wooden brewery erected. The stables were built, but the repairs needed [...]. In the second courtyard, half of the rooms in ruins, the other half and the chapel need repairs.
POSTCARDS FROM THE BEGINNING OF THE XXTH CENTURY, THE CASTLE CHAPEL STILL WITHOUT A ROOF
t the beginning of the 18th century only the south wing remained in use, where in the former refectory and chapter house apartments were arranged. In 1772, after the castle was taken over by the Prussian administration, offices were established in its premises, which at the turn of the centuries were transferred to the town. From that moment the successive and organized demolition of the fortress began, and the obtained bricks were used to build the other houses and the town hall. In 1837, as a result of a protest of the inhabitants of Radzyń, the demolition works were stopped and already in the following summer some actions were taken to protect the building from further devastation. In the 1880s, under the supervision of
Conrad Steinbrecht, the castle was partially cleared of rubble and preserved as permanent ruin. In 1910 the chapel was covered with a characteristic slanting roof, which in the mid-1960s was replaced by a reinforced concrete cover. Afterwards, the peripheral walls of the fortress were partially reconstructed and its area was opened to tourists.
PHOTOGRAPHS FROM THE 1920S AND 1930S, CHAPEL IS ROOFED
POLISH GOVERNORS IN RADZYŃ CHEŁMIŃSKI
Jakusz ze Świętego (1454), Mikołaj Bajerski (1455), Gabryel Bażyński (1458)
Jan Dąbrowski (1504), Jan de Lusianis (1520, 1539-1550), Hugo Dąbrowski (1568-1570)
Jan Dąbrowski (1592), Paweł Działyński (1600), Hugo Dąbrowski
Jan Weyher (1614-1626), Mikołaj Weyher (1626-1646), Władysław Gnin-Gniński (1679-1699)
Piotr Jan Czapski (1718-1732), Konstancya Czapska z Gnińskich (1740), Tomasz Czapski (1740-1784)
SOUTHERN WING IN THE 1930S AND TODAY
ON A CONTEMPORARY PHOTOGRAPH THE POST-WAR RECONSTRUCTION OF WALLS IS CLEARLY VISIBLE (LIGHTER BRICK)
he castle in Radzyń was one of the largest and best fortified in the whole Teutonic state. The stronghold, which probably consisted of two lower towns and the upper castle, was located on a not very high hill. Its building material, like most of Teutonic strongholds in Prussia, consisted mainly of stone in the ground part, and then brick and mortar, while to finish, relief tiles, glazed fittings and the so-called artificial limestone were used. In the first stage of construction works, an external fortification line was built and a square-shaped convent house, which was a four-winged complex of three-storey residential buildings, supported in corners by 36-metre-high square turrets.
THE SECOND LAST AND THE LAST STOREY OF ONE OF THE TWO SURVIVING CORNER TOWERS
n the second phase, an external brick wall of the lower town was erected and internal buildings were attached to it, and in the north-western part of the castle a free-standing tower of the last defense was built. The tower, based on a regular octagon plan, didn't connect with other buildings and was probably crowned with a conical roof with a crenellation. The road to the castle led from the north along the east wing to one of the lower town, and then through a drawbridge to the gate located in the south wing. From the west side there was a dansker - a toilet tower which also had a military function. The upper castle was surrounded by a moat irrigated from a nearby lake. To the south of it there was a large, trapezoidal lower town, surrounded by peripheral walls with a wooden porch. It included farm buildings: bakeries, breweries, granaries, stables and carriage houses, as well as the servants' dwellings.
RECONSTRUCTION OF THE CASTLE IN RADZYŃ CHEŁMIŃSKI ACCORDING TO J. SALM
he upper castle was characterized by a form typical for the Teutonic Knights' architecture of that period - a regular fortified monastery, in which each wing was assigned a strictly defined function. The southern wing was the most representative and the largest one, with two huge halls separated by a gateway: a chapel on the east side and a hypocaust oven-heated refectory. Between them, just above the gateway, there was a small vice commander's apartment. Above it there was a chamber with devices for lifting the bridge and the gate.
TRACES OF BASEMENT VAULTS BELOW THE CASTLE CHAPEL
RELICS OF CROSS-RIBBED VAULTS OF THE REFECTORY (WHICH CURRENTLY SERVES AS A PUBLIC TOILET)
he chapel was adjoined by a chapter house located in the southern part of the eastern wing, the northern part of which was occupied by a dormitory. In the short western wing there were private commander's chambers and a passage to the latrine tower. In the north wing there was probably an infirmary and in the ground floor there was a kitchen. The second floor of all wings was occupied by warehouses, while the higher floor was adapted for a guard porch. Horizontal communication was provided by a brick, vaulted and roofed cloister, although it is difficult to determine now whether it surrounded the courtyard from all sides. The elevations of Radzyń castle were decorated with diamond patterns made of dark brick called zendrówka.
LAYOUT OF THE CASTLE IN RADZYŃ CHEŁMIŃSKI: 1. MAIN TOWER, 2. COMMANDER'S CHAMBERS, 3. REFECTORY,
4. CHAPEL, 5. CHAPTERHOUSE, 6. DORMITORY, 7. INFIRMARY, 8. KITCHEN, 9. CORNER TURRETS, 10. DANSKER,
11. OUTER WALL, 12. MOAT, 13. SOUTHERN BAILEY
he ruin of Radzyń castle is now only a memory of the former glory of the mighty order and a place of expeditions for enthusiasts of the history of Polish-Teutonic relationships. The best preserved part of the once magnificent fortress is
the southern wing - the other wings do not exist or are in a debris state. The main tower also no longer exists, and only foundations are visible in the north-western part of the courtyard. The chapel, covered with an ugly
concrete ceiling, and the cellars in the eastern and southern wings house a small
exhibition on historical and archaeological topics. There are also a viewing terraces in the corner turrets, but it is worth mentioning that
a narrow entrance to the top of the turret can be a challenge for larger people.
IN THE CASTLE CHAPEL, BELOW WE CAN SEE THE TRACES OF XIXTH CENTURY "VANDALISM"
It is required to buy a ticket. We visit the ruins individually (there is an option to hire a guide).
A thorough tour of the castle including the exhibition takes about 45 to 60 minutes.
You can enter the castle accompanied by your dog.
An excellent place for bird's eye photography: no air corridors, terrain obstacles and residential buildings.
A FRAGMENT OF THE EXHIBITION (SOMETIMES QUITE HUMOROUS) IN THE CASTLE BASEMENT
adzyń Chełmiński is located about 20 km southeast of Grudziądz. The town has good bus connections with Grudziądz, Brodnica and Toruń. The ruins are situated north of the small market square and west of the currently disappearing Castle Lake.
You can park your car
on the unpaved area, just in front of the entrance to the castle. Parking is free (2021).
You should have no problem getting permission to bring your bike into the courtyard.
1. W. Antkowiak, P. Lamparski: Zamki i strażnice krzyżackie ziemi chełmińskiej, Graffiti BC 1999
2. M. Haftka: Zamki krzyżackie w Polsce, 1999
3. L. Kajzer, J. Salm, S. Kołodziejski: Leksykon zamków w Polsce, Arkady 2001
4. P. Zaniewski: Szlakami zamków krzyżackich, Muza S.A. 2005
5. B. Wasik: Zamek w Radzyniu Chełmińskim. Technika i etapy budowy siedziby krzyżackich komturów...
6. K. Witkowska: Badania nad średniowiecznymi materiałami budowlanymi z zamku w Radzyniu Chełm.
Castles nearby: Pokrzywno - ruins of Teutonic castle from the 13th century, 7 km Wąbrzeźno - relics of Chełmno bishops' castle from the 14th century, 13 km Grudziądz - relics of Teutonic castle from the 13th century., 19 km
Rogoźno - ruins of Teutonic castle from the 13th century, 25 km Kowalewo Pomorskie - relics of Teutonic castle from the 13th century, 30 km
Lipieniek - relics of Teutonic castle from the 14th century, 30 km