Journal:Acta Historica Universitatis Klaipedensis
Volume 33 (2016): Verbum movet, exemplum trahit. The Emerging Christian Community in the Eastern Baltic = Verbum movet, exemplum trahit. Krikščioniškosios bendruomenės tapsmas Rytų Baltijos regione, pp. 123–146
The paper presents the general conditions in which the pastoral work of mendicant orders was conducted in the domains of the Teutonic Order and particular bishoprics in Prussia and Livonia, at the same time indicating similarities and differences in the situations in which friars had to work in these areas. The research focuses exclusively on pastoral work conducted among the urban population. The network of mendicant friaries in Prussia and Livonia was a reflection of the demographic potential and the degree of urbanisation of both parts of the domains of the Teutonic Order. The scale of effectiveness of the friars is authenticated by numerous references to prayer agreements concluded with members of religious orders and guilds of craftsmen, burials in friary churches (tombstones), and bequests of townspeople. The degree of success of mendicant orders and the support of the townspeople is confirmed in the partially preserved great hall-type churches erected by mendicants in the main towns (Gdańsk, Toruń, Tallinn, Riga).
The conditions and the environment of the mendicant religious orders (Dominicans, Franciscan Conventuals, Franciscan Observants, Carmelites, and Augustinians) in the holdings of the Teutonic Order in Prussia differed from those in Western Europe. In newly built castles and newly founded cities, German and Polish-speaking communities predominated; while Prussians, unfamiliar with the basics of Christianity, prevailed in rural territories. The network of parish churches declined towards the eastern and northern boundaries of the state. Therefore, the mendicant orders operated there on a different model. An examination of its characteristics is carried out by means of an analysis of the stages, development and dynamics of the settlement of mendicant orders in Prussia. An attempt is made to identify the organisation of their provision and the supporting milieu. Particular attention is paid to the impact of mendicant orders on the deepening of the faith of the local Prussian population in the eastern part of the Teutonic Order’s holdings.