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Bezławki – several additional sources regarding the late medieval settlement complex on the periphery of Prussian lands
 
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Online publication date: 2016-05-08
Publication date: 2016-05-08
 
KMW 2016;291(1):31–54
 
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history
 
ABSTRACT
This article contributes to our knowledge of the late Middle Ages of the village of Bezławki. Based on sources to date neglected in the scholarly literature, various aspects of the settlement’s functions are presented between 1371 and 1517. From the sources emerges an image of a settlement complex, characterized by significant legal, settlement, economic and socio-professional differences. The analyzed written sources (administrative documents and records) testify to the functioning of the village chartered with the ‘Kulm Law’, where alongside the mayor, peasants, innkeepers, miller and priest lived, or at least owned, the townspeople and those with ‘free’ status of a noble or non-noble background, with the settlement under the governance of the Order and later under the ‘free’, so-called new lords deriving from the group of mercenaries who came to Prussia during the period of warfare in 1454-1466. Within this heterogenous community there were additional dynamic changes taking place in Bezławki in terms of economic activities and the types of production activities associated with them. Only the structure of the governance and the sovereign control of the inhabitants of the settlement by the Teutonic Order remained consistent. Such results should prompt restraint in drawing generic conclusions from single mentions in the sources of individual settlements in late medieval Prussia. A regularly used method of chronological transplantation of specific information back and forth should be applied more carefully and rigorously. The example of Bezławki shows that there are cases when individual elements of the settlement changed much more often than previously thought.
eISSN:2719-8979
ISSN:0023-3196