Bishopric of Cammin
Bistum Kammin
1176 - 1650

Kamień Pomorski
Upper Saxon
Council of Princes
Transferred from Wolin 1176
Prince of the Empire 13th Century
Secularised to Brandenburg 1650

The Bishopric of Cammin was a Roman Catholic diocese based in Kamień Pomorski (German: Cammin or Kammin) in far northwestern Poland.

Founding of the Bishopric[edit | edit source]

The region of Pomerania was inhabited in ancient times by Germanic tribes. After the 2nd Century AD they began to migrate southwards and Slavs, primarily Wends, gradually obtained the entire region. The Emperor Charlemagne managed to force all tribes as far as the Oder to recognise his suzerainty but his less successful heirs were limited to maintaining a defense against the Slavic tribes. It was only during the reigns of the German kings Henry I the Fowler (919 - 936) and Otto I the Great (936 - 973) that the Wends again paid tribute. German influence was insecure and gradually waned and Pomerania came under the stronger influence of the Danes until the entire region was conquered by Poland in 995.

The Poles organised the region into a new bishopric at Kołobrzeg as a suffragan to the Archbishopric of Gniezno in 1000 but there is little evidence that the bishopric itself existed in anything other than writing. The one and only bishop, Reinbern, died in Kiev during an embassy and the Polish state itself was driven out of the region in 1014. For more than a century the Poles, Danes and Germans fought a long series of wars to obtain Pomerania until the final victory of Duke Boleslaw III Wrymouth in 1122. He endeavoured to convert the Pomeranians to Christianity and commissioned Otto of Bamberg to accomplish it. Otto succeeded in two separate missions and he maintained control of the church in Pomerania until his death in 1139 despite being unable to establish a diocese in the region.

In a Papal Bull on 14 October 1140, Pope Innocent II established a diocese on Wolin with its seat at the Church of St Adalbert in Julin. Adalbert, Otto of Bamberg's chaplain, was made the appointed the new bishop in a ceremony in Rome. In order to avoid the dispute as to which archdiocese the new bishopric was suffragan to, the Bishopric was made directly under the Papal see. After its founding in 1165, the western half of Pomerania was in the Bishopric of Schwerin. In 1175 Duke Henry III the Lion of Saxony subjugated Hither Pomerania and the following year the bishopric was transferred to Kamień Pomorski.

The early Bishopric (1176 - 1534)[edit | edit source]

In 1181 Duke Bogislaw I of Pomerania was enfoeffed by the Emperor Frederick I Barbarossa and Pomerania became an official part of Germany. This was followed by a large influx of German settlers. The diocese now comprised of Pomerania as far as Rügen and parts of eastern Mecklenburg, Uckermark and Neumark. Many monasteries and convents were founded throughout the diocese and by the end of the 14th Century the entire region was largely Germanised. In the 13th Century the Bishops were made Princes of the Empire and from 1422 they were independent princes. However the bishops were largely dependent on the Dukes of Pomerania in the various lines, and there were constant quarrels over the ownership of church land, castles and the bishopric itself.

During the 15th Century the Church in Pomerania was in complete disarray. The Waldensians had introduced their teachings sometime during the 14th Century and local heretics emerged. In 1393 Peter the Celestine investigated the matter and scattered them. The sect of the "Putzkeller" is traceable to the Waldensians despite the confused reports. Diocesan synods wer held at various times during the 15th Century. Despite reports of constant immorality there were several attempts to clean up the clergy. Lutheranism first appeared in Stralsund and the Abbey of Belbuk after being introduced by Johannes Bugenhagen, and in 1521 he went to Wittenberg. Lutheran preachers entered the dicoese and many monks left the abbeys. Stralsund quickly adopted Lutheranism; Stargard and Greifswald remained Catholic and the rest of the diocese was plunged into a violent division. However when Dukes Barnim XI of Pomerania-Stettin and Philip I of Pomerania-Wolgast converted to Lutheranism, its victory was assured.

The later Bishopric (1534 - 1650)[edit | edit source]

The groundwork for the establishment of a Lutheran church in Pomerania was drawn up at the Diet of Treptow in 1534 with the aid of rules drawn up by Bugenhagen. The prelates and several of the nobility protested and left the diet. The monasteries were suppressed in 1535-6, the nobility surrendered in 1539, the towns gradually accepted Lutheranism and the last Catholic bishop, Erasmus of Manteuffel-Arnhausen, died in 1544. The Dukes joined the Schmalkadic League but maintained an ambiguous position. The first Protestant bishop, Bartholomew Swawe, was sworn in in 1545 under the sovereignty of the Pomeranian dukes. Bartholemew's successor, Martin Weiher of Leba, succeeded him in 1549 and was recognised by Pope Julius III on 5 October 1551, gaining a seat in the Imperial Diet.

Martin Weiher died in 1556 and from 1557 the Pomeranian Dukes appointed their relations as Bishops. In 1624 Duke Bogislaw XIV became the last male member of the Ducal family. He died childless in 1637 and Pomerania passed to the Electors of Brandenburg. In 1650 Bishop Ernest Bogislaw, Duke of Croÿ surrendered the bishopric to the Elector for a sizeable sum and the diocese of Cammin was suppressed and secularised.

The Nazi "Bishopric" (1933 - 1935)[edit | edit source]

On 5 October 1933 the Nazi Party and the clergy associated Karl Thom with years as Bishop of Cammin after the two former Pomeranian general superintendents were dismissed. The establishment of a headquarters in Kamień Pomorski proved unfavourable and Thom died on 2 February 1935, being replaced by two general superintendents.

See also[edit | edit source]

Upper Saxon Circle
Anhalt | Barby | Brandenburg | Cammin | Further Pomerania | Gernrode | Hatzfeld | Hither Pomerania
Hohnstein | Lohra and Klettenberg | Mansfeld | Quedlinburg | Querfurt | Reuss | Saxe-Altenburg | Saxe-Coburg
Saxe-Eisenach | Saxe-Gotha | Saxe-Weimar | Saxony | Schönburg | Schwarzburg-Rudolstadt
Schwarzburg-Sondershausen | Stolberg | Walkenried | Wernigerode

Earlier Members
Beichlingen | Brandenburg | Cammin | Elbing | Danzig | Gleichen | Göttingen | Havelberg | Lebus | Leisnigk
Meissen | Merseburg | Naumburg-Zeitz | Pomerania | Regenstein | Riddagshausen | Ruppin | Saalfeld | Wildenfels

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