Pomerania, a Prussian province on the Baltic Sea situated on both banks of the River Oder, divided into Hither Pomerania (Vorpommern), the western part of the province, and Farther Pomerania (Hinterpommern), the eastern part. Its area is 11,628 square miles, and it contains 1,684,345 inhabitants. In the southeast Pomerania is traversed by a range of low hills (highest point fourteen miles), otherwise it is a low plain. Farming and market-gardening take 55.2 per cent of the soil, grassland 10.2 per cent, pasturage 6.5 per cent, and woodland 20.2 per cent. The chief occupations are farming, cattle-raising, the shipping trade, and fishing. There is no manufacturing of any importance except in and near Stettin. The earliest inhabitants were German tribes, among them Goths, Scirri, Rugians, Lemovier, Burgundians, Semnonians (Tacitus, “Germania”). About the middle of the second century these tribes began to migrate towards the southeast; they were replaced by others who also soon left, and Slays (Wends), entering from the east, gradually gained possession of the province. Consequently the name Pommern is Slavonic, Po more, Po moran signifying “along the sea”. Charlemagne compelled the acknowledgment of his suzerainty as far as the Oder, but his successors limited themselves to the defensive. In the reigns of Henry I and Otto the Great, the Wends were again obliged to pay tribute. However, German supremacy remained uncertain and the Danish influence was greater, until the Poles conquered Pomerania about 995. As suffragan of their new Archdiocese of Gnesen, established in 1000, the Poles founded the Diocese of Kolberg, which, however, existed apparently only in the parchment deed. It is doubtful whether the bishop Reinbern ever stayed at Kolberg; he died about 1015 while on an embassy to Kiev.
In the following era there were wars with varying results between the Poles, Danes, and Germans for the possession of Pomerania. Finally after a long and bloody struggle the Poles were victorious (1122), and Duke Boleslaw earnestly endeavored to convert the inhabitants to Christianity. The task was given to Bishop Otto of Bamberg who accomplished it during two missionary journeys. At this period appears the name of the first well known Duke of Pomerania, Wratislaw. Otto had the supervision of the Pomeranian Church until his death, but could not found a diocese to which to appoint the chaplain Adalbert. After Otto’s death, Innocent II by a Bull of October 14, 1140, made the church of St. Adalbert at Julin on the Island of Wollin the see of the diocese, and Adalbert was consecrated bishop at Rome. The difficulty as to which archdiocese was to be the metropolitan of the new bishopric was evaded by placing it directly under the papal see. Duke Ratibor of Pomerania founded the first monasteries: in 1153 a Benedictine abbey at Stolp, and later a Premonstratensian abbey at Grobe on the island of Usedom. Before 1176 the see was transferred to Kammin, where a cathedral chapter was founded for the Cathedral of St. John. The western part of the country belonged to the Diocese of Schwerin. The founding of the Cistercian monasteries at Dargun (1172) and at Kolbatz east of the Oder (1173) were events of much importance. The Cistercians greatly promoted the development of religion and civilization by engaging in agricultural undertakings of all kinds. About 1179 the Premonstratensians obtained a new monastery at Gramzow near Prenzlau, and in 1180 at Belbuk in Farther Pomerania. In 1181 Duke Bogislaw received his lands in fief from Emperor Frederick I, and thus became a prince of the German Empire. This was followed by a large immigration of Germans.
The ecclesiastical organization also progressed. Cistercian monasteries were established at: Eldena (c. 1207); Neuenkamp (c. 1231); of the latter a branch on the Island of Hiddensee (1296); Bukow (c. 1253); Bergen on the island of Riigen (1193); near Stettin (1243); at Marienfliess (1248); near Kolberg (1277); near Koslin (1277); at Wollin (1288). A Premonstratensian convent was founded near Treptow on the Rega (1224). The Augustinians had monasteries at: Uckermunde (1260), later transferred to Jasenitz; Pyritz (c. 1255); Anklam (1304); Stargard (1306); Gartz (1308). The Franciscans had foundations at; Stettin (1240); Greifswald (1242); Prenzlau (before 1253); Stralsund (1254); Pyritz (before 1286); Greifenberg (before 1290); Dramburg (after 1350); the Dominicans at: Kammin (about 1228); Stralsund (1251); Greifswald (1254); Stolp (1278); Pasewalk (1272); Prenzlau (1275); Soldin (about 1289); Norenberg (fourteenth century). Finally the Duchess Adelheid founded the Carthusian convent of Marienkron near Koslin in 1394; it was first transferred to Schiawe, then in 1407 to Rugenwalde; in 1421 the Brigitine convent of Marienkron was established at Stralsund. All these establishments contributed greatly to the extension of Christian and German civilization, as did also the orders of knights, e.g., the Knights of St. John. Foundations for canons were made about 1200 at Kolberg, and in 1261 at Stettin.
In 1295 Dukes Otto and Bogislaw divided the country into the two Duchies of Stettin and Wolgast; at later dates there were further divisions. The victory of German civilization in Pomerania was assured in the fourteenth century, and the diocese became dependent upon the dukes. The bishop was merely the first in the social order of prelates; and there were constant quarrels over the possession of the diocese and of the episcopal castles. In the fifteenth century conditions were in great disorder. During the years 1437-43 the University of Rostock, founded in 1419, withdrew from Rostock on account of quarrels between the council and the citizens, and settled at Greifswald. The mayor, Heinrich Rubenow, urged Duke Wratislaw IX to establish a university at Greifswald, to which the duke agreed, gave some of his revenues for its support, and, aided by the abbots of the monasteries in Hither Pomerania, obtained from Callistus III a Bull of foundation, May 29, 1456. In the first semester 173 students matriculated. At the same time a foundation for twenty canons, intended to furnish maintenance for new teachers, was united with the church of St. Nicholas. The university continued with increasing prosperity.
About 1400, heresy, caused by the Waldensians, developed in the province; Peter the Celestine came to Stettin to investigate the matter, and scattered the heretics in 1393. The sect of the “Putzkeller”, concerning which there are only confused reports, appears also to be traceable to the Waldensians. Diocesan synods were held in 1433, 1448 (at Stettin), 1454 (at Gulzow and Kammin), 1492, and 1500. The statutes show a disorderly condition of morals, but earnest attempts to improve conditions. The first traces of Lutheranism appeared at Stralsund, and in the monastery of Belbuk, where Johannes Bugenhagen (Pomeranus), rector of the town-school and teacher of the monks, became acquainted with Luther’s writing “De captivitate Babylonica”; he won over many priests to the new doctrine and in 1521 went to Wittenberg. Preachers from other regions, and monks who had left their monasteries, found ready attention throughout the country, on account of the great social and economic discontent, and especially the freedom from taxes of the clergy and the ecclesiastical jurisdiction. In 1525 Stralsund adopted Lutheranism, while Greifswald and Stargard remained true to the Faith, and other towns were divided between passionately contending parties. When Duke Barnim XI of Stettin, who had been a student at Wittenberg, and his nephew, Philip of Wolgast, joined the Lutheran party, its victory was assured.
A basis for the Lutheran Church of Pomerania was prepared by the Diet at Treptow on the Rega in 1534 with the aid of the rules drawn up by Bugenhagen. The prelates and some of the nobility protested and left the diet; the towns gradually abandoned their opposition and accepted Bugenhagen’s propositions, and Bishop Erasmus Manteuffel, who maintained his protest, died in 1544. The monasteries were suppressed (1535-6) and in 1539 the nobility gave up; the dukes joined the Smalkaldic League but maintained an ambiguous position. The later church ordinance of 1563 established the strictest form of Lutheranism, and the first bishop was Bartholomaus Suawe (1546). In 1548 Emperor Charles V claimed the diocese, as it belonged to the estates of the empire. The dukes were obliged to accept the Interim, and after Suawe resigned, Martin Weiher became bishop in 1549, was recognized by Julius III, October 5, 1551, and took his place as a prince of the empire. In 1555 the Peace of Augsburg gave the final victory to the evangelical party in Pomerania. After Weiher’s death in 1556 the diocese came under the control of the ruling princes, who filled the see with members of their family. The Evangelical cathedral chapter with thirteen positions for worthy officials of the province and the Church continued to exist until 1810. The last duke, Bogislaw XIV, who from 1625 had ruled over the united Duchies of Stettin and Wolgast, died childless March 10, 1637; the country then passed to Brandenburg, which by old treaties had the right of succession, but by the Treaty of Westphalia (1648) had to be content with Farther Pomerania; Hither Pomerania and Rugen were given to Sweden. The Lutheran bishop, Duke Ernest Bogislaw of Croy, gave the Diocese of Kammin to Brandenburg in 1650. By the Treaty of Stockholm of 1720, Hither Pomerania as far as the Peene was given to Brandenburg–Prussia; the rest of the province and the island of Rugen were obtained by Prussia in the treaty of June 4, 1815.
In 1824 the seven hundredth anniversary of Pomerania’s conversion to Christianity was celebrated, and a monument was erected to Bishop Otto of Bamberg at Pyritz. Catholic parishes have developed since the end of the eighteenth century from the military chaplaincies in the larger garrison towns. At the beginning these parishes were under the care of the Vicariate of the North German Missions. In 1821 they were placed under the Prince Bishop of Breslau, who gave their administration to the provost of St. Hedwig’s at Berlin as episcopal delegate. At present (1911) there are two arch-presbyteries, Koslin and Stettin-Stralsund. Koslin has nine parishes: Arnswalde, Grunhof, Koslin, Kolberg, Neustettin, Poll-now, Schivelbein, Stargard, Stolp. Stettin-Stralsund has eleven: Anklam, Bergen, Demmin, Greifswald, Hoppenwalde, Louisental, Pasewalk, Stettin, Stralsund, Swinemunde, Viereck. The religious orders are represented only by the Sisters of St. Charles Borromeo at Grunhof, Misdroy, Stettin, and Stralsund. The Catholics of the government district of Lauenburg-Butow, that formerly belonged to the Kingdom of Poland, form five parishes of the Diocese of Kulm; the provostship of Tempelburg in the government district of Koslin belongs to the Archdiocese of Posen. At the last census (1905) the Catholics of Pomerania numbered 50,206. The largest Catholic parishes are Stettin (8635 souls), Lauenburg (1475), Stargard (1387), Kolberg (1054), Greifswald (951), and Stolp (951).