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1250 up to 1300

Heinrich der Löwe auf dem ältesten Schweriner Siegel von 1253
Henry the Lion on the oldest Schwerin seal from 1253

Mecklenburg initially only covered one third of the later area. Comprehensive territorial rule was hindered by the distribution of estates. The first divided the Obotrite legacy into the counties of Mecklenburg, Rostock, Werle-Güstrow and Parchim-Richenberg in 1229/1235. Local landlords became supporters of the new regime.

Wealthy landowners became territorial rulers who founded towns where merchants and craftsmen settled. Priests and monks founded convents. They brought Christianity into the state and arranged for the construction of basilica and hall churches. Parishes involved all residents in the organisation of the church municipality. Craftsmen in the towns and villages were organised into guilds. Some of them exported their products.

Großes Stralsunder Koggensiegel von 1329
Large cog emblem of Stralsund, 1329

Barnim I. unites the territorial regions of Pomerania. The local landowners develop into a class of Pomeranian landed gentry. The estates – landed gentry, the cities and the clergy – forge their first alliance in 1278, imposing uniform regional taxation and squeezing the duchy.

Farmland and grassland were created by large scale forest clearances. Wood was required for ships and for the timber frameworks of the new houses. The result is a designed cultural landscape.

Of the 58 states in the late Middle Ages, 30 are founded in the period from 1226 to 1275. The 'Wendian Quarter' emerges within the Hanseatic League, and Stralsund acquires a powerful position. Hanse cities enjoy the prerogative of coinage, impose duties and maintain fleets and armed forces. The patriciate shares power with the clergy. Craftsmen, masons and simple service providers formed the social hierarchy “below.”

Monasteries are the intellectual centres of science and education in Pomerania.

The farmers occupy the lowest rung on the ladder of life, although their dependence on the lords is initially tenuous.

Barnim I., Duke of Pomerania, grants the same rights to Jews as other citizens in 1261.