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Przedbórz Town History in brief
(Also see the Introduction to General Polish and Jewish History, especially 1700 on.)
- Przedbórz roughly means "in front of (Przed) the woods (bórz)", and there is still nearby a large national park (Przedbórski Park Krajobrazowy, or Przedbórz Landscape Park.)
- Przedbórz is located on the east bank of the Pilica river about 70 miles (110 km) north of Krakow, and slightly to the west. Its longitude and latitude are approx. 51° 05' 16" N, 19° 52' 26" E
- Located on an important river crossing separating two voivoidships, it was always an important trading town, especially for wheat. The wheat exchange
building exists to this day, located just south of the bridge. (A voivoidship is analogous to a U.S. state or Canadian province.)
- 1145 -- Przedbórz is first mentioned, in a document granting income (from tolls?)
to the Trzemenesznie monastery. It's not clear if the town is owned by the King or by the monastery.
Some say this document is a forgery.4 Many Polish and other documents were forged, so it's plausible. I have no idea on what this particular statement is based.
- 1370 -- King Casimierz the Great dies in a hunting accident. The King had built a castle in town, part of which can still be seen next to the Esther cafe. He also had given Przedbórz a municipal charter.
- 1405 -- King Wladyslaw Jagiello visits after one of the occasional great fires, and elevates the municipal standing to "Magdeburg Rules", according to recent tourist literature. (See footnote 1.) According to Slownik Geograficzny, he also repaired and enlarged the castle.
- 1550 -- King Zygmunt August grants additional privileges, such as relief from providing military transportation, and several merchant fees/taxes. (Per Slownik Geograficzny.)
- 1551 -- Przedbórz is granted the "two towers and gate" coat of arms, per tourist literature.
- 1573 -- The 1550 privileges are reaffirmed. (Per Slownik Geograficzny.)
- late 1650's -- Przedbórz is destroyed during the Swedish invasion. The 1660 census lists only 30 houses. (Per Slownik Geograficzny.)
- 1792-95 -- Poland has become a weak country, unable to defend itself. Three partitions leave Przedbórz in the Prussian section. (The Pilica river
seems to have been one of the boundaries, in which case Przedbórz would have been a border town.)
See a PDF of various relevant maps, mostly from Wikipedia.
- 1815 --
After 20 years of Prussian occupation, Przedbórz (and much more) is transferred to the Russians as part of the Treaty of Vienna after the Napoleonic Wars. (See Russian 1892 "Przedborz" cancel at right.) It stays part of Russia until WWI (approx. Feb., 1915.)
- Early 1900's -- Apparently the nearest "higher" secondary school was in Krakow, because Stanislaw Mikstein, the great Polish philatelic expert, attended the "Kraków - Przedbórz Gimnasium" in there. [Dunski 1956]
Peter Berghof has a blog (link broken as of 25 Sept. 2011) which says there were no "modern schools" in Pre-WWI
- August, 1914 -- World War I (AKA The Great War) breaks out. Much, if not most, of the fighting in the Eastern Front occurs in Poland.
- February, 1915 (probably) -- Russia is pushed back from the Western part of Poland.
Fighting in and around Przedbórz is generally over for the rest of the War, and the town comes under Austrian occupation.
- 1921-2000 -- Przedbórz loses a third of its population. In 1921, according to
Jewish Gen, Końsk, then the county (powiat) seat, had about 8,291 people vs. 5,885 in Przedbórz.
Now Końsk has about 23,000 people, Przedbórz about 3,800. (Shows why cities fight to be the county seat!)
But see Jonah Lehrer's The Living City article in Seed #11 (July-August 2007, pg 54 ff.) He makes the point that the larger the city or town, the more efficient it is in terms of resources used and productivity.
For example, energy use apparently rises with population raised to the 0.8 power, i.e., the more people who live in a city, the less the per-capita energy use, while per-capita GDP is higher in large cities than in small ones. (The equivalent exponent is greater than one.) So perhaps it is inevitable that some towns, perhaps like Przedbórz, will shrink, and others like Końsk will grow.
- 1145-1820 -- Who owned Przedbórz? Did it change hands? If so, when?
Perhaps the King owned it: In my readings thus far, the King is the only person mentioned as having granted some right or restriction to the town or its Jewish population.
According to Davies [1982a, pg. 52], Royal lands were inventoried [periodically?] starting in the 1500's.
If say, The Duke of Earl© owned the town, then he would have been granting some rights or restrictions, and perhaps that would have been noted in the literature.
Apparently these inventories (called Lustracje) listed towns, including towns in Royal lands which were leased out.
It would be very interesting to know if Przedbórz was listed, and if so, in what connection.
I'd still like some more authoritative answers or comments.
- What about the town coat of arms?
- About the Kings' castle
- Our correspondent, I.C., was told that in the 1800's and perhaps earlier, Przedbórz was known for its good beer and good horse fairs/auctions. If you have also heard of this, please let us know.
1. Discussing Magdeburg Rules would take us far afield. Suffice it to say that in those days towns and cities had varying degrees of autonomy, depending on who had jurisdiction (ownership or control) over the town or city. Magdeburg, Germany was the prototype for one type of charter giving a relatively high degree of governmental autonomy to the town's inhabitants.
2. The Duke of Earl© is a 1962 hit R&B or "doo-wop" song by Gene Chandler. It was #1 for three weeks. Read its Wikipedia entry.
3. Thanks to Andy Taylor [Editor, (Britain's) Austrian Philatelic Society] for introducing me to those website pages, and to Roman Sobus for suggesting I contact the Society.
For a very readable machine translation of these sites, go to Google Language Tools, choose the languages (German to English), and paste the URL into the translate website box. The back and next buttons at the bottom even work, so you can page back and forth and the pages will be translated. Very helpful!!!
(Note that the Polish to English doesn't translate as well as German to English.)
The two pages listed may be the only Przedbórz references in this particular source. Please let me know if there are other references.
According to Chapter 2 of Dixon-Nuttell, the Austrian-Hungarian military had a "unified command", but individual units were recruited as much as possible from individual geographical areas so that the unit would have a common language (i.e., so that the men could understand each other.) The 31st Nagyszeben Infantry Regiment (31. I.R.) is identified as Infanterieregiment Pucherna Nr.31 in http://www.austro-hungarian-army.co.uk/nationality.htm and was 69% Romanian at the start of WWI. Nagyszeben, in Transylvania, is now identified as Sibiu, Romania, according to Google Earth and other internet sources. In German it was Hermannstadt, I believe. Dixon-Nuttell chapter 3 seems to imply the 31. I.R. was in the 12th Corps, but that deserves a closer reading.
http://www.austro-hungarian-army.co.uk seems to indicate the 31. I.R.
was part of the 2nd Army, 12th Corps, 16th Infantry Division, but again a more careful reading is needed.
This phase of WWI (fighting near Przedbórz) is sometimes called the Przasnysz campaign.
was one such site, but it's been moved.
© 2007-14 Sam Ginsburg; Special thanks to Roy & Christina Koczarski & Adam (Zbigniew) Chojczak,
who are NOT responsible for any errors above.
Last modified 30 Mar. 2015