Treaty of Melno

Last updated
Map of the State of the Teutonic Order between 1260 and 1410 Teutonic Order 1410.png
Map of the State of the Teutonic Order between 1260 and 1410

The Treaty of Melno (Lithuanian : Melno taika; Polish : Pokój melneński) or Treaty of Lake Melno (German : Friede von Melnosee) was a peace treaty ending the Gollub War. It was signed on 27 September 1422, between the Teutonic Knights and an alliance of the Kingdom of Poland and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania at Lake Melno (German: Melnosee, Meldensee; Polish: Jezioro Mełno), east of Graudenz (Grudziądz). The treaty resolved territorial disputes between the Knights and Lithuania regarding Samogitia, which had dragged on since 1382, and determined the Prussian–Lithuanian border, which afterwards remained unchanged for about 500 years. A portion of the original border survives as a portion of the modern border between the Republic of Lithuania and Kaliningrad Oblast, Russia, making it one of the most stable borders in Europe. [1]



The First Peace of Thorn of 1411 did not resolve long-standing territorial disputes between the Teutonic Knights and the Polish–Lithuanian union. The peace transferred Samogitia to the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, but only for the lifetimes of Polish King Jogaila (Władysław II Jagiełło) and Lithuanian Grand Duke Vytautas. At the time both rulers were aged men. Soon disagreements arose as to the Samogitian borders: Vytautas claimed that the entire northern bank of the Neman River, including the port of Memel (Klaipėda), was Samogitian territory. [2] The dispute was mediated at the Council of Constance and by Sigismund, Holy Roman Emperor. When Sigismund delivered an unfavorable judgment to the Lithuanians, Jogaila and Vytautas invaded the monastic state of the Teutonic Knights in July 1422, starting the Gollub War. [3] The Teutonic Knights, led by Grand Master Paul von Rusdorf, were unable to mount a suitable defense. However Poland–Lithuania decided to end the conflict before reinforcements from the Holy Roman Empire could arrive through Farther Pomerania. [4] A truce was signed on 17 September 1422. Each side named eight representatives, [nb 1] gave them full authority to negotiate, and sent them to the Polish Army camp near Lake Melno. [5] The Treaty of Melno was concluded ten days later, on 27 September. [6]


According to the terms of the treaty, the Teutonic Knights for the first time renounced all territorial, political, and missionary claims against the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. [3] Samogitia was permanently ceded to Lithuania. The Prussian–Lithuanian border ran from sparsely inhabited wilderness in Suvalkija, through the triangle north of the Neman River, to Nemirseta on the Baltic Sea. Thus the Knights still controlled Neman's lower reaches and Memel (Klaipėda), an important seaport and trade center. Lithuania retained access to the Baltic Sea between the towns of Palanga (Polangen) [nb 2] and Šventoji (Heiligen Aa) – a distance of about 15 kilometres (9.3 mi). [7] However, Lithuania failed to develop harbors in Palanga or Šventoji as there was stiff competition with the nearby established ports Memel and Libau (Liepāja) [8] and unfavorable natural conditions. [9] Thus it could not be considered a real access to the sea. [10] For the Knights this short coastline strip was a major sacrifice as it separated the Teutonic Knights in Prussia from their branch in Livonia. The treaty is often described as a mutual Prussian–Lithuanian compromise. [3] The Kingdom of Poland received Nieszawa and half of the Vistula channel from the mouth of the Drwęca River; in return Poland renounced any territorial claims to Pomerelia, Culmerland, and the Michelauer Land. [7] These results were described as a "disappointment" for Poland. [10]

At the time of the treaty, the parties did not have their official seals and therefore it was not immediately ratified. [5] Grand Master Rusdorf attempted to exploit the recess and renegotiate the treaty because his subjects were not satisfied with the terms. He hoped to wage a war with assistance from the Holy Roman Emperor. However, Sigismund and Jogaila met in Käsmark (Kežmarok) and agreed to an alliance: Sigismund would end his support to the Knights and Poland–Lithuania would stop their assistance to the Hussites in the Hussite Wars. [5] This meant that Vytautas had to abandon his interventions in Bohemia. [11] The agreement was signed on 30 March 1423. [7] The Treaty of Melno was subsequently ratified on 9–18 May in Veliuona and approved by Pope Martin V on 10 July 1423. [12] Poland–Lithuania affixed some 120 official seals to the treaty. [13] The first Lithuanian signatories were voivode of Vilnius Albertas Manvydas, starosta of Vilnius Kristinas Astikas, voivode of Trakai Jonas Jaunius, elder of Samogitia Mykolas Skirgaila. [14]


Monument commemorating the treaty in the village of Melno, Poland Treaty of Melno monument.jpg
Monument commemorating the treaty in the village of Mełno, Poland

The treaty effectively ended warfare between the Teutonic Knights and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, which had continued with brief interruptions since the 13th century. The last volunteer crusaders arrived in October 1422; after that the Knights had to rely on their own men or on mercenaries. [15] It was a welcome development to Lithuania, as the treaty allowed it to direct its attention towards its Eastern territories and to internal reforms. [3] War-devastated border regions in Samogitia and Suvalkija began to recover. However, the Polish–Teutonic disputes were not resolved. In a telling episode shortly after the treaty had been signed, the Knights and the Poles disputed a watermill in Lubicz, a strategic post that had been turned into a fortress. [16] Vytautas was angered by the dispute and threatened to give up Palanga to the Knights if Poland did not surrender its claims to Lubicz. The Knights won this dispute. [16]

The treaty put an effective end to the Polish–Lithuanian cooperation against the Knights. [17] The Teutonic Knights attempted to befriend the Lithuanians, offering a royal crown to Vytautas in hopes of breaking up the Polish–Lithuanian union. During the Lithuanian Civil War (1431–1435), Lithuanian Duke Švitrigaila was able to employ the Polish–Teutonic animosity for his own advantages – the Knights invaded Poland, starting the Polish–Teutonic War. The two states battled again during the Thirteen Years' War (1454–66), a civil war that tore Prussia in half.

The agreement drew the Prussian–Lithuanian border roughly and imprecisely, resulting in local demarcation disputes. The border was redrawn with greater detail and precision in 1532 and 1545. [18] The border survived without major changes until World War I. In 1919, the Treaty of Versailles detached the Klaipėda Region (Memel Territory) from Germany as a League of Nations mandate. Lithuania annexed the region in 1923. The southern portion of the border, with small modifications, still survives as the border between Lithuania and Kaliningrad Oblast, Russia. [1]


  1. Teutonic Knights sent two Teutonic officers, Bishop of Ermland, Bishop of Pomesania, Livonian marshal, and three secular knights.
  2. According to the Bychowiec Chronicle, Birutė, mother of Lithuanian Grand Duke Vytautas, hailed from Palanga.

Related Research Articles

Władysław II Jagiełło Grand Duke of Lithuania

Jogaila, later Władysław II Jagiełło was the Grand Duke of Lithuania (1377–1434) and then the King of Poland (1386–1434), first alongside his wife Jadwiga until 1399, and then sole King of Poland. He ruled in Lithuania from 1377. Born a pagan, in 1386 he converted to Catholicism and was baptized as Władysław in Kraków, married the young Queen Jadwiga, and was crowned King of Poland as Władysław II Jagiełło. In 1387 he converted Lithuania to Christianity. His own reign in Poland started in 1399, upon the death of Queen Jadwiga, and lasted a further thirty-five years and laid the foundation for the centuries-long Polish–Lithuanian union. He was a member of the Jagiellonian dynasty in Poland that bears his name and was previously also known as the Gediminid dynasty in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. The dynasty ruled both states until 1572, and became one of the most influential dynasties in late medieval and early modern Central and Eastern Europe. During his reign, the Polish-Lithuanian state was the largest state in the Christian world.

Vytautas King of Lithuania

Vytautas, also known as Vytautas the Great from the 15th century onwards, was a ruler of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, which chiefly encompassed the Lithuanians and Ruthenians. He was also the Prince of Hrodna (1370–1382), Prince of Lutsk (1387–1389), and the postulated king of the Hussites.

Lithuania Minor

Lithuania Minor, or Prussian Lithuania, is a historical ethnographic region of Prussia, later East Prussia in Germany, where Prussian Lithuanians lived. Lithuania Minor enclosed the northern part of this province and got its name due to the territory's substantial Lithuanian-speaking population. Prior to the invasion of the Teutonic Knights in the 13th century, the main part of the territory later known as Lithuania Minor was inhabited by the tribes of Skalvians and Nadruvians. The land became depopulated to some extent during the warfare between Lithuania and the Order. The war ended with the Treaty of Melno and the land was resettled by Lithuanian newcomers, returning refugees, and the remaining indigenous Baltic peoples; the term Lithuania Minor appeared for the first time between 1517 and 1526. With the exception of the Klaipėda Region, which became a mandated territory of the League of Nations in 1920 by the Treaty of Versailles and was annexed to Lithuania from 1923 to 1939, the area was part of Prussia until 1945. Today a small portion of Lithuania Minor is within the borders of modern Lithuania and Poland while most of the territory is part of the Kaliningrad Oblast of Russia.

Švitrigaila Grand Duke of Lithuania

Švitrigaila was the Grand Duke of Lithuania from 1430 to 1432. He spent most of his life in largely unsuccessful dynastic struggles against his cousins Vytautas and Sigismund Kęstutaitis.

Peace of Thorn (1411) 1411 treaty between the Polish-Lithuanian alliance and the Teutonic Knights

The (First) Peace of Thorn was a peace treaty formally ending the Polish–Lithuanian–Teutonic War between allied Kingdom of Poland and Grand Duchy of Lithuania on one side, and the Teutonic Knights on the other. It was signed on 1 February 1411 in Thorn (Toruń), one of the southernmost cities of the Monastic State of the Teutonic Knights. In historiography, the treaty is often portrayed as a diplomatic failure of Poland–Lithuania as they failed to capitalize on the decisive defeat of the Knights in the Battle of Grunwald in June 1410. The Knights returned Dobrzyń Land which they captured from Poland during the war and made only temporary territorial concessions in Samogitia, which returned to Lithuania only for the lifetimes of Polish King Władysław Jagiełło and Lithuanian Grand Duke Vytautas. The Peace of Thorn was not stable. It took two other brief wars, the Hunger War in 1414 and Gollub War in 1422, to sign the Treaty of Melno that solved the territorial disputes. However, large war reparations were a significant financial burden on the Knights, causing internal unrest and economic decline. The Teutonic Knights never recovered their former might.

Polish–Lithuanian–Teutonic War 15th-century war in Northern Europe

The Polish–Lithuanian–Teutonic War or Great War occurred between 1409 and 1411, pitting the allied Kingdom of Poland and Grand Duchy of Lithuania against the Teutonic Knights. Inspired by the local Samogitian uprising, the war began by Teutonic invasion of Poland in August 1409. As neither side was ready for a full-scale war, Wenceslaus IV of Bohemia brokered a nine-month truce. After the truce expired in June 1410, the military-religious monks were decisively defeated in the Battle of Grunwald (Tannenberg), one of the largest battles in medieval Europe. Most of the Teutonic leadership was killed or taken prisoner. While defeated, the Teutonic Knights withstood the siege on their capital in Marienburg (Malbork) and suffered only minimal territorial losses in the Peace of Thorn (1411). Territorial disputes lasted until the Peace of Melno of 1422. However, the Knights never recovered their former power and the financial burden of war reparations caused internal conflicts and economic decline in their lands. The war shifted the balance of power in Central Europe and marked the rise of the Polish–Lithuanian union as the dominant power in the region.

Gollub War conflict

The Gollub War was a two-month war of the Teutonic Knights against the Kingdom of Poland and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania in 1422. It ended with the signing the Treaty of Melno, which resolved territorial disputes between the Knights and Lithuania over Samogitia that had dragged on since 1398.

The Battle of Wilkomierz took place on September 1, 1435, near Ukmergė in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. With the help of military units from the Kingdom of Poland, the forces of Grand Duke Sigismund Kęstutaitis soundly defeated Švitrigaila and his Livonian allies. The battle was a decisive engagement of the Lithuanian Civil War (1432–1438). Švitrigaila lost most of his supporters and withdrew to southern Grand Duchy; he was slowly pushed out and eventually made peace. The damage inflicted upon the Livonian Order has been compared to the damage of Battle of Grunwald upon the Teutonic Order. It was fundamentally weakened and ceased to play a major role in Lithuanian affairs. The battle can be seen as the final engagement of the Lithuanian Crusade.

The Hunger War or Famine War was a brief conflict between the allied Kingdom of Poland, and Grand Duchy of Lithuania, against the Teutonic Knights in summer 1414 in an attempt to resolve territorial disputes. The war earned its name from destructive scorched earth tactics followed by both sides. While the conflict ended without any major political results, famine and plague swept through Prussia. According to Johann von Posilge, 86 knights of the Teutonic Order died from plague following the war. In comparison, about more than 200 knights perished in the Battle of Grunwald of 1410, one of the biggest battles in medieval Europe.

Lithuanian Civil War (1432–1438)

The Lithuanian Civil War of 1432–1438 was a conflict over the succession to the throne of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, after Vytautas the Great died in 1430 without leaving an heir. The war was fought on the one side by Švitrigaila, allied with the Teutonic Knights, and on the other by Sigismund Kęstutaitis, backed by the Kingdom of Poland. The war threatened to sever the Union of Krewo, the personal union between Poland and Lithuania. Švitrigaila's alliance with the Grand Master of the Teutonic Order, Paul von Rusdorf, launched the Polish–Teutonic War (1431–1435) but failed to secure victory for Švitrigaila.

Ostrów Agreement

The Ostrów or Astrava Agreement was a treaty between Jogaila, King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania, and his cousin Vytautas the Great, signed on 4 August 1392. The treaty ended the destructive Lithuanian Civil War, launched in 1389 by Vytautas who hoped to gain political power, and concluded the power struggle between the two cousins that erupted in 1380 after Jogaila secretly signed the Treaty of Dovydiškės with the Teutonic Knights. The Ostrów Agreement did not stop attacks from the Teutonic Knights and the territorial dispute over Samogitia continued up to 1422. According to the treaty, Vytautas became the ruler of Lithuania, but he also acknowledged Jogaila's rights to Lithuania. The details of the Polish–Lithuanian relationship were clarified in several later treaties, including the Union of Vilnius and Radom in 1401 and Union of Horodło in 1413.

Treaty of Salynas

Treaty of Salynas was a peace treaty signed on 12 October 1398 by the Grand Duke of Lithuania Vytautas the Great and the Grand Master of the Teutonic Knights Konrad von Jungingen. It was signed on an islet of the Neman River, probably between Kulautuva and the mouth of the Nevėžis River. It was the third time, after the Treaty of Königsberg (1384) and Treaty of Lyck (1390), that Vytautas promised Samogitia to the Knights. The territory was important to the Knights as it physically separated the Teutonic Knights in Prussia from its branch in Livonia. It was the first time that the Knights and Vytautas attempted to enforce the cession of Samogitia. However, it did not solve the territorial disputes over Samogitia and they dragged on until the Treaty of Melno in 1422.

Lithuanian Civil War (1389–1392)

The Lithuanian Civil War of 1389–92 was the second civil conflict between Jogaila, King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania, and his cousin Vytautas. At issue was control of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, then the largest state in Europe. Jogaila had been crowned King of Poland in 1386; he installed his brother Skirgaila as ruler of Lithuania. Skirgaila proved unpopular and Vytautas attempted to depose him. When his first attempt to take the capital city of Vilnius failed, Vytautas forged an alliance with the Teutonic Knights, their common enemy – just as both cousins had done during the Lithuanian Civil War between 1381 and 1384. Vytautas and the Knights unsuccessfully besieged Vilnius in 1390. Over the next two years it became clear that neither side could achieve a quick victory, and Jogaila proposed a compromise: Vytautas would become Grand Duke and Jogaila would remain Superior Duke. This proposal was formalized in the Ostrów Agreement of 1392, and Vytautas turned against the Knights. He went on to reign as Grand Duke of Lithuania for 38 years, and the cousins remained at peace.

The Treaty of Dubysa or Treaty of Dubissa consisted of three legal acts formulated on 31 October 1382 between Jogaila, Grand Duke of Lithuania, with his brother Skirgaila and Konrad von Wallenrode, Marshal of the Teutonic Order. During the Lithuanian Civil War (1381–84), Teutonic Order helped Jogaila and Skirgaila to defeat their uncle Kęstutis and his son Vytautas. Trying to realize promises given by Jogaila during the war, Teutonic Order organized the negotiations for the treaty. The acts were signed after six days of negotiations on an island in the mouth of the Dubysa River. The treaty was never ratified and never came into effect. The civil war resumed in summer 1383.

The Treaty of Königsberg was signed in Königsberg (Królewiec) on 30 January 1384, during the Lithuanian Civil War (1381–1384) between Vytautas the Great and representatives of the Teutonic Knights. Vytautas waged a civil against his cousin Jogaila, Grand Duke of Lithuania and future King of Poland, and allied himself with the Teutonic Knights. In order to secure Teutonic support in the civil war, Vytautas signed the treaty and granted Samogitia up to the Nevėžis River and Kaunas to the Knights. In 1382 Jogaila promised the Knights Samogitia only up to the Dubysa River, but never ratified the Treaty of Dubysa. Samogitia was important for the Knights as this territory physically separated them from uniting with the Livonian order in the north. Vytautas also promised to become Order's vassal. In February several Samogitian regions acknowledged their support to Vytautas and the Knights.

The Treaty of Lyck was a treaty between Vytautas the Great, future Grand Duke of Lithuania, and the Teutonic Knights, represented by Marquard von Salzbach, komtur Arnold von Bürglen, and Thomas, son of Lithuanian duke Survila. It was signed on 19 January 1390 in Lyck, State of the Teutonic Order,. Vytautas, in exchange for a military alliance against his cousin Jogaila during the Lithuanian Civil War (1389–1392), agreed to cede Samogitia up to the Nevėžis River and become the Order's vassal. In essence Vytautas confirmed the Treaty of Königsberg (1384) that he had signed with the Knights during the Lithuanian Civil War (1381–1384). Once betrayed, the Knights now asked for hostages as a guarantee of Vytautas' loyalty. The Order demanded as hostages his two brothers Sigismund and Tautvilas, wife Anna, daughter Sophia, sister Rymgajla, brother-in-law Ivan Olshanski, and a number of other nobles.

Samogitian uprisings

Samogitian uprisings refer to two uprisings by the Samogitians against the Teutonic Knights in 1401–1404 and 1409. Samogitia was granted to the Teutonic Knights by Vytautas the Great, Grand Duke of Lithuania, several times in order to enlist Knights' support for his other military affairs. The local population resisted Teutonic rule and asked Vytautas to protect them. The first uprising was unsuccessful and Vytautas had to reconfirm his previous promises to transfer Samogitia in the Peace of Raciąż. The second uprising provoked the Knights to declare war on Poland. Hostilities escalated and resulted in the Battle of Grunwald (1410), one of the biggest battles of medieval Europe. The Knights were soundly defeated by the joint Polish–Lithuanian forces, but Vytautas and Jogaila, King of Poland, were unable to capitalize on their victory. Conflicts regarding Samogitia, both diplomatic and military, dragged until the Treaty of Melno (1422).

Treaty of Christmemel

The Treaty of Christmemel was a treaty signed on 19 June 1431 between Paul von Rusdorf, Grand Master the Teutonic Knights, and Švitrigaila, Grand Duke of Lithuania. Švitrigaila was preparing for a war with Poland to defend his claim to the Lithuanian throne and sought allies. The treaty established an anti-Polish alliance and prompted the Knights to invade the Kingdom of Poland, starting the Polish–Teutonic War (1431–35). Lithuania also surrendered Palanga and three miles of the coastline on the Baltic Sea, thus modifying the Treaty of Melno of 1422.

Rumbaudas Valimantaitis was an influential Lithuanian noble of Zadora coat of arms. He was a son of Valimantas and brother of Mykolas Kęsgaila. He became Elder of Samogitia (1409–1411) and Grand Marshal (1412–1432).

Benedict Makrai was a well-educated Hungarian noble and diplomat in the service of Sigismund of Luxemburg, King of Hungary and later Holy Roman Emperor. He is best known for his 1412–13 mission to Poland–Lithuania to mediate their territorial dispute with the Teutonic Knights over Samogitia and Masovia in the aftermath of the Battle of Grunwald (1410). His mission did not resolve the dispute and only heightened the tensions.


  1. 1 2 Rašimaitė, Eglė (2010-03-24). "Siena: šimtmečių vingiai". Kelias (in Lithuanian): 60–64. ISSN   1648-7818.
  2. Ivinskis, Zenonas (1978). Lietuvos istorija iki Vytauto Didžiojo mirties (in Lithuanian). Rome: Lietuvių katalikų mokslo akademija. p. 345. LCC   79346776.
  3. 1 2 3 4 Kiaupa, Zigmantas; Kiaupienė, Jūratė; Kunevičius, Albinas (2000). The History of Lithuania Before 1795. Vilnius: Lithuanian Institute of History. pp. 144–145. ISBN   9986-810-13-2.
  4. Turnbull, Stephen (2003). Tannenberg 1410: Disaster for the Teutonic Knights. Oxford: Osprey. pp. 83–84. ISBN   1-84176-561-9.
  5. 1 2 3 Urban, William (2003). Tannenberg and After. Chicago, IL: Lithuanian Research and Studies Center. pp. 281–283. ISBN   0-929700-25-2.
  6. Stanislaus F. Belch (2017). Paulus Vladimiri and his doctrine concerning international law and politics. 2. Walter de Gruyter. p. 1074.
  7. 1 2 3 Zinkus, Jonas; et al., eds. (1985–1988). "Melno taika". Tarybų Lietuvos enciklopedija (in Lithuanian). 3. Vilnius, Lithuania: Vyriausioji enciklopedijų redakcija. p. 46. LCC   86232954.
  8. Semaška, Algimantas (2006). Kelionių vadovas po Lietuvą: 1000 lankytinų vietovių norintiems geriau pažinti gimtąjį kraštą (in Lithuanian) (4th ed.). Vilnius: Algimantas. p. 498. ISBN   9986-509-90-4.
  9. McLachlan, Gordon (2008). Lithuania: the Bradt travel guide (5th ed.). Bradt Travel Guides. p. 209. ISBN   978-1-84162-228-6.
  10. 1 2 Halecki, Oskar; F. Reddaway; J. H. Penson. The Cambridge History of Poland to 1696. Cambridge University Press. p. 222. ISBN   978-1-00-128802-4.
  11. Mickūnaitė, Giedrė (2006). Making a great ruler: Grand Duke Vytautas of Lithuania. Central European University Press. p. 50. ISBN   978-963-7326-58-5.
  12. Jučas, Mečislovas (2009). The Battle of Grünwald. Vilnius: National Museum Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania. p. 112. ISBN   978-609-95074-5-3.
  13. Petrauskas, Rimvydas; Kiaupienė, Jūratė (2009). Lietuvos istorija. Nauji horizontai: dinastija, visoumenė, valstybė (in Lithuanian). IV. Baltos lankos. pp. 416–417. ISBN   978-9955-23-239-1.
  14. Kirkienė, Genutė (2008). LDK politikos elito galingieji: Chodkevičiai XV–XVI amžiuje (in Lithuanian). Vilniaus universiteto leidykla. p. 65. ISBN   978-9955-33-359-3.
  15. Christiansen, Eric (1997). The Northern Crusades. London: Penguin Books. p.  242. ISBN   0-14-026653-4.
  16. 1 2 Mickūnaitė, Giedrė (2006). Making a great ruler: Grand Duke Vytautas of Lithuania. Central European University Press. p. 130. ISBN   978-963-7326-58-5.
  17. Lukowski, Jerzy; W. H. Zawadzki (2006). A concise history of Poland (2nd ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 48. ISBN   978-0-521-61857-1.
  18. Čelkis, Tomas (2008). "Nuo teritorinio ruožo prie linijos: sienų sampratos pokyčiai Lietuvos Didžiojoje Kunigaikštystėje XIV-XVI amžiuje" (PDF). Lietuvos istorijos studijos (in Lithuanian). 22: 68, 70. ISSN   1392-0448.

Coordinates: 53°26′15″N19°00′15″E / 53.43750°N 19.00417°E / 53.43750; 19.00417