DUCHY OF PLESS




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Duchy of Pless


The Duchy of Pless (or the Duchy of Pszczyna,[1] German: Herzogtum Pleß, Polish: Księstwo Pszczyńskie) was a Duchy of Silesia, with its capital at Pless (present-day Pszczyna, Poland).


Duchy of Pless History


After the fragmentation of the Polish kingdom upon the 1138 Testament of Bolesław III Krzywousty the lands around the castellany of Pszczyna belonged to the Seniorate Province of Lesser Poland (Małopolska), until in 1177 King Casimir II the Just granted them to the Silesian duke Mieszko I Tanglefoot. Mieszko attached Pszczyna to his Duchy of Racibórz. The Racibórz branch of the Silesian Piasts became extinct with the death of Duke Leszek in 1336.

Before his death, Leszek together with several other Lands of the Bohemian Crown.

From 1462 onwards, Pless was held by the sons of the Bohemian king state country until 1765.


Duchy of Pless Principality of Pless

Hans Heinrich XV (1916)

In the War of the Austrian Succession most of Silesia was conquered by the kingdom of Prussia; but the Dukes, and later Princes, of Pless would remain the rulers of the territory. Since 1742 Pless was a state country within Brandenburg-Prussia.

The Dukes of Anhalt-Cöthen-Pless inherited it in 1765 (being descended from the earlier dukes in the female line), the last of them died in 1847, and was succeeded by his nephew, [3]

The incumbents of state countries (Standesherren) had no sovereignty over their possessions, but held the privileges to supervise religion, charitable endowments, school education, and lower jurisdiction. In 1830 the Prussian state stripped all Standesherren of their juridical competences and subjected their remaining privileges to state supervision. The Prince's power over his land, since 1807 constituted as alienable allodial property, and thus his influence on its tenants was very great; for example, when the [5]

Tombs of Anhalt-Cöthen-Pless family

The Princes of Pless regarded themselves as benevolent lords. Hans Heinrich XI introduced a pension scheme in 1879, before Bismarck's social legislation; also company housing and other social measures. But worker discontent under his son reached the point of a public petition to the Imperial Reichstag.[6]

Alexander II of Russia gave the Hochbergs a herd of wisents in 1864 or 1865, the herd was broken up and reduced to three survivors by poaching at the time of the German Revolution in the aftermath of the First World War.[7]

The Hochbergs were Princes of Pless in the Prussian peerage; however, in 1905, Hans Heinrich XI was created Duke of Pless, for his lifetime only - in part because he had been a Prince for fifty years;[8] in Germany, dukes outranked princes (Fürsten).

Hans Heinrich XV succeeded in 1907; he had married Mary Theresa Cornwallis-West, better known as Daisy, Princess of Pless. He was one of the Kaiser's adjutants during the First World War; several important planning conferences were held at Pless itself during the war; and when the Central powers decided to create a Kingdom of Poland as a German-Austrian protectorate, Hans Heinrich (and, according to his wife, his two elder sons) were among the many to be considered for (and decline) the vacant throne, in part because of their Polish descent.[9]

The Prussian Government attempted to Germanize or assimilate the ethnic Poles on its conquered territories, culminating in the Polish Expropriation Act of 1908, which Hans Heinrich XV opposed.[10] The greatest efforts in defence against Germanisation were made by regional newspaper called "Tygodnik Polski Poświęcony Włościanom" ("Polish Weekly for Estate Owners"), which was the first newspaper printed in Polish language in Upper Silesia.[11] the town of Pless was 94.3% Polish in 1829; the whole district remained 86% Polish as late as 1867.[12] After 1918, with the end of monarchy in Prussia, the state country privileges were abolished. The noble titles were abolished in Germany in 1919 by the Weimar constitution, but transformed into parts of the family names, thus until 1919 the family name was of Hochberg and of Pless and the title count and prince, respectively, the family name became Graf von Hochberg and Fürst von Pleß,[13] only conveniently, but legally incorrectly, still translated as Count of Hochberg, Prince of Pless into English.[14]

In the plebiscite of March 20, 1921 in accordance with the Treaty of Versailles about 75% of the voters in the Pless lands voted to join Poland;[15] and the principality was awarded to Poland after the Third Silesian Uprising. The voters in the city of Pless (Polish: Pszczyna), however, voted to remain within Germany, with a 67% majority. The Pless land therefore became part of Second Polish Republic in 1922.


Duchy of Pless Notes


  1. ^ Julian Janczak, "Duchy of Pszczyna" (in) Zarys dziejów kartografii śląskiej do końca XVIII wieku (An outline for the History of Cartography till the End of the 18th century), Opole: 1976, Polish Academy of Sciences, Warsaw: Institute of History of Science, Education and Technology, 1993, ISBN 83-86062-00-2. This contains sections in several European languages, including (English); Accessed 2008-13-01.
    ^ Tadeusz Walichnowski, Territorial Provenance of Archival Documents in International Relations (Przynaleznosc terytorialna archiwaliow Panstwa Polskiego w stosunkach miedzynarodowych), Polish Scientific Publishers, Warsaw, 1977. Polish State Archives.
    ^Nagel's Encyclopedia Guide, Poland by Nagel Publishers, 1989, 399 pages, ISBN 2-8263-0818-1. Accessed 2008-13-01.
  2. ^ The dynastic numbering was, as in other princely families, given to all males of the House.
  3. ^ Editor's introduction to Daisy, Princess of Pless; for the wealth of the Hochbergs and the mines, see also Anderson,loc. cit..
  4. Chlodwig, Prince of Hohenlohe-Schillingsfürst, later Chancellor, who had given up the family estates. Half of the real estate in the district belonged to the Prince of Pless; the Hohenlohes owned much of the rest.
  5. ^ Anderson, p.1464-68; which contains contemporary accounts of Müller, his charisma, and his charity; "half-saintly" is a quotation from the minutes of the Reichstag, Anderson, p.165. Her analysis is that the land proprietors of 1871 could indeed suppress any secular opposition; opposition candidates had to hand out ballots to voters, and this could be prevented - but the pulpit was relatively free.
  6. ^ Koch, pp. 99, 105,109
  7. ^ Ahrens, p.61.
  8. ^ Daisy, Princess of Pless, Better Left Unsaid, p.177
  9. ^ The submarine warfare conferences of August 1916 and January 1917; also the conference of October 1917, which both issued a general invitation to discuss peace terms and invited a Polish delegation to discuss the settlement of Poland. Daisy, Princess of Pless, 420-2; Koch, p. 240; (German) Heinz Lemke, Allianz und Rivaltät, die Mittelmächte und Polen im ersten Weltkrieg (Bis zur Februarrevolution) Vienna (1977), pp. 142, 357; Brunauer, op. cit., pp. 55l, 553f., 568. Princess Daisy wrote that Prince Hans declined for his sons, who were not then of age; the other Hochbergs have not confirmed those offers, but Koch considers them plausible: Alexander, the second son, became a Polish citizen after the war, and was fairly popular in Poland.
  10. ^ Princess Daisy of Pless. pp. 147-151, and note to p. 151; Koch, p. 154; because of the Parliamentary opposition to it, it remained largely unenforced. - Imanuel Geiss Die Polnische Grenzstreifen, 1914-18, Lübeck, 1960, p.20, which also notes four expulsions in 1911. The policy of moving ethnic Poles out was delayed until the war.
  11. ^ About Polish-Silesian "Tygodnik Polski Poświęcony Włościanom" (Polish Weekly for Estate Owners), University of Bielsko-Biała. Accessed 2008-01-18.
  12. ^ (Polish) Historia Krajów Słowiańskich; for the district see Anderson, op. cit..
  13. ^ In German usage the citation and addressing of members of noble families changed, before 1919 Prince, the title replacing the else usual Herr (Mr.) first name of Pless to Herr first name Fürst von Pleß.
  14. ^ For example, see Berry; Hans Heinrich XVII, son of Hans Heinrich XV, applied to become a denizen of England in 1933; Berry cites the Times of London referring to him as Prince of Pless, for December 18, 1943. For the more recent history of the house, see Hansel Pless: Prisoner of History : a Life of H.S.H. Hans Heinrich XVII, 4th Prince of Pless by Michael Luke and Patrick Scrivenor. (2002)
  15. ^ Koch, p.279

Duchy of Pless References



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