Saint Adalbert, urbs Gyddaanyzc and chrystianisation of Western Pomerania
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Muzeum Zachodniokaszubskie w Bytowie
Kamil Kajkowski
Online publication date: 2016-11-23
Publication date: 2016-11-23
KMW 2016;293(3):431–455
The 1050 anniversary of the baptism of Poland provided a good reason to resume the current discussion on the causes and circumstances of the conversion of Mieszko I and his nascent state. The scarcity and ambiguity of available sources has meant that we are far from definitive conclusions in this regard. It would seem that we can have a better understanding regarding the conversion of Pomerania. Two missions connected sequentially with the eastern and western part of that area have had a direct echo in the literature of the early Middle Ages. And while the activity of Otto of Bamberg in Western Pomerania brought visible results (although it seems to have no such consequences as suggested by the sources) it is difficult to find evidence for the 10th century from the eastern part of the region. Recent archaeological discoveries related to the stronghold located between the Vistula and the Motława rivers, undermine not only the possibility of missionary work in this place, but also the presence of St. Adalbert in general. Furthermore, the archaeological sources we have at our disposal suggests that the inhabitants of the Gdansk were not interested in the reception of Christian ideology – even if these were associated with early medieval elites (and the presence of their representatives here is indicated by some discoveries). It seems to be confirmed by a corpus of sources which can indicate that the functioning of the local community was based on a traditional normative system. In other words, common archaeological discoveries do not give any direct evidences concerning the stronghold’s conversion, or even to place a Christian community here. In such circumstances, we must assume, that either the Vita of St Adalbert does not reflect the reality of their time and should be treated as a ‘classic’ example of hagiographic rhetoric, or concerns a different stronghold located at the mouth of the Vistula river.