|House of Griffin|
|Parent house||House of Piast or Gryfici (Świebodzice)|
|Final ruler||Bogislaw XIV|
The House of Griffin or Griffin dynasty (German: Greifen; Polish: Gryfici, Danish: Grif)[a] was a dynasty ruling the Duchy of Pomerania from the 12th century until 1637. The name "Griffins" was used by the dynasty after the 15th century and had been taken from the ducal coat of arms. Duke Wartislaw I (died 1135) was the first historical ruler of the Duchy of Pomerania and the founder of the Griffin dynasty. The most prominent Griffin was Eric of Pomerania, who became king of the Kalmar Union in 1397, thus ruling Denmark, Sweden and Norway. The last Griffin duke of Pomerania was Bogislaw XIV, who died during the Thirty Years' War, which led to the division of Pomerania between Brandenburg-Prussia and Sweden. Duchess Anna von Croy, daughter of Duke Bogislaw XIII and the last Griffin, died in 1660.
The dynasty is known by two names, Pomerania, after their primary fief, and Griffin, after their coat of arms, which had featured a griffin since the late 12th century: the first verifiable use of the griffin as the dynasty's heraldic emblem occurred in a seal of Casimir II, Duke of Pomerania, which showed the imaginary beast within a shield, and was attached to a document dated 1194. The name Pomerania comes from Slavic po more, which means "[land] along the sea".
The origins of the Griffins are not clear. Most theories derive them from either local Slavic nobility or a cadet branch of the Polish house of Piasts. Medieval Polish chronicler Jan Długosz connected them with Polish noble family of Świebodzice from the south province of Poland named the Lesser Poland, who also used a griffin as their coat-of-arms and who in turn might also have been a cadet branch of the Piasts. At any rate, chronicler Gallus Anonymus in his Gesta principum Polonorum calls the Griffins "close cousins" of then-contemporary Bolesław III of Poland, directly implying a close dynastic relationship with the Piasts.
In the 17th century, the Griffins derived their roots from legendary beings from Sorb mythology called Gryphus or Baltus.
The first known members of the Griffins were the brothers Wartislaw I and Ratibor I. Wartislaw would be the ancestor of the line of dukes that ruled the Duchy of Pomerania until 1630; Ratibor would be the ancestor of the Ratiborides branch of the Griffins, that was to rule the lands of Schlawe and Stolp until the line became extinct and the area was incorporated in the Duchy of Pomerania. The first known member of the Swantiborides branch of the Griffins, notable as castellans of Pomeranian cities, was Wartislaw (II) Swantiboriz.
Members of the Ratiborides (Ratiboriden) branch were most probably descendants of Ratibor I, a brother of Wartislaw I.
The Swantiborides (Swantiboriden) were related to the Griffins, but the link remains unclear. Probably they descend from Swantibor, a Pomeranian duke overthrown in a rebellion and expelled to Poland in 1105/06. This Swantibor might have been a cousin of Swantopolk, a Pomeranian duke defeated by Boleslaw III of Poland in a campaign of 1111/12. Yet, these assumptions all remain speculative.