Pokrzywno – teutonic castle


    Castle in Pokrzywno (Engelsburg) was one of the oldest Teutonic strongholds in Chełmno. It was preceded by a Slav hillfort and settlement dating back to the turn of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. Located on a hill in the fork of two streams, it was adjacent to the rout leading from Radzyń to Grudziądz, which raised the strategic role of the stronghold. The construction of a makeshift wooden watchtower began in 1231. From 1279 comes information about the first teutonic commander of Henryk Brabantius. It was probably then that the brick castle was built. Pokrzywno served as the commandry until 1416, that is to the death of the last commander Frederick von Zollern. After that date, the castle and castle’s farm were included in the vogts of Rogoźno.
In 1411, on the initiative of the Grand Master Henry von Plauen, the Teutonic Knights began to modernize the defense system. It was renovated and the walls were raised and equipped with more modern arrowslits. After the coup, Henry von Plauen himself was demoted and transferred to the commandry in Pokrzywno. The castle remained the property of the order until the outbreak of the Thirteen Years War in 1454, when it was taken over by the rebellious forces of the Prussian Union. Under the agreements of the Second Peace of Toruń, in 1466, Pokrzywno along with the entire Chełmno land was incorporated into Poland and until the first partition in 1772 it was the seat of Polish starosts. The castle burnt down in 1611, and in 1657 it was destroyed by the Swedes. Despite partial reconstruction, it has not regained its original value. At the end of the 18th century the buildings were sold to a private person and disassembled.


    In the Middle Ages, the stronghold consisted of an upper castle, medium castle and an extensive outer bailey, separated by a moat. The upper castle consisted of a two-storey, two-winged building on the L-shape. In its eastern part there was a sacristy of the church, and further south a small refectory. In 1300, its flat ceiling supported by granite corbels was replaced with a rib vault. At that time, a third room was also built or rebuilt, also having a rib vault and three large windows. One can see in it the then chapter house. In the northern part of the upper castle there probably was a castle church.
From the south-east there was a gate tower adjoining the building, which also served as a bergfried, as it was devoid of brick stairs. On its floor there was a room with dimensions of 5.4×2.6 meters, devoid of a fireplace, and thus not serving residential purposes. A castle chapel could be located there, as evidenced by preserved decorative elements, for example chalice capitals or a trifolium window. The remaining buildings of the courtyard are unknown, it is not known whether the castle had a tower, the hypotheses about the existence of a south-west wing with the dormitory are also not confirmed.
The middle castle consisted of buildings adjacent to the perimeter walls. The so-called granary in the northern part, was in fact a brewery or a malt house. Its decorative elements indicate that after moving the economic buildings in the fourteenth century to the outer bailey, it also had a residential function. The artistic care of the castle is also visible in the small gate to a bridge between the wards, decorated with zendrówka bricks. It was probably the gate of the lower castle or it constituted the closing of the foregate fortifications or the middle castle bridge. On the lower castle draws attention the preserved barn, decorated with rhombic patterns made of brick zendrówka.

Current state

    Currently, the gate of the upper castle, the granary on the middle castle and the gate and barn of the outer bailey are the best preserved. In addition, fragments of the walls of the main building and defensive walls have survived. Neglected and falling apart ruin is in private hands.

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Leksykon zamków w Polsce, L.Kajzer, S.Kołodziejski, J.Salm, Warszawa 2003.
Torbus T., Zamki konwentualne państwa krzyżackiego w Prusach, Gdańsk 2014.