Last modified: 2017-11-11 by andrew weeks
Keywords: ropczyce |
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The first reference to Ropczyce comes from a document of 1252, which
confirmed the donation of the land by brothers Klemens and Marek Gryf to
a Cistercian Abbey in Szczyrzyc near Limanowa. Around this time Ropczyce
was damaged by a Tatar raid. In 1266 the settlement was destroyed by an
army composed of Rusyn, Tatar and Lithuanian troops, led by the Rusyn prince
'Ioann (John) Shvarn' (Polish: Szwarno). Ropczyce became a town
on 3 March 1362, when the Polish king, Casimir III the Great, gave it city
rights (Magdeburg rights). At the same time, he made two brothers, Jan
and Mikolaj Gielnic the first 'wójts' or advocates of the new town.
He also made Ropczyce a parish, separate from the parish of Sędziszow.
Within six years a parish church was built in the new 'royal' town of Ropczyce.
As Ropczyce was situated close to the Sandomierz Wilderness (Polish: Puszcza Sandomierska), one of the biggest forests in southern Poland, which covers large parts of the Sandomierz Basin, it became a popular place for the Polish Kings to stay when they went hunting and fishing. King Casimir III the Great, king Kazimierz IV Jagiellończyk and king Władysław II Jagiełło were regular visitors to Ropczyce. Under the patronage of the Polish Royals and subsequent trade agreements with Ruthenia, the town's future started to look very good. It could then grow and develop, also due to its favourable location on an important trade route from Silesia and Lesser Poland (Małopolska) to Ruthenia. Ropczyce was severely damaged during a Tatar raid in 1504. To help the town and citizens recover from this tragedy, king Aleksander Jagiellończyk gave all the citizens a 10 year tax exemption from 1504-1514. In the 15th and 16th centuries Ropczyce became a major centre in the manufacture of canvas goods.
Since its formation Ropczyce has been known by several different names, although these appear to be phonetic variations of the same name. By the middle of the 16th century, it was first recorded as 'Ropczyce' replacing the previous variation of 'Robczyce' - this name is thought to have probably originated from the family name of 'Robek' (from the polish verb, 'robić' - 'to work') who are thought to have established the original settlement.
In the 16th century Ropczyce's churches were influenced by the Reformation, with the Parish Church going over to Protestantism several times. Around the 1550s the Parish Church was under the control of the Polish Brethren (Bracia Polscy, also called Arians or Socinians) for over a decade.
From the founding of the Kingdom of Poland in the eleventh century through the early years of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth created in 1569 (to 1795), Poland was one of the most tolerant countries in Europe. Known as 'paradisus Iudaeorum' (Latin for Jewish paradise) it became unique shelter for persecuted and expelled European Jewish communities and a home to one of the world's largest and most vibrant Jewish communities. Streams of Jewish immigrants headed east to Poland during the reign of Casimir III the Great, who encouraged Jewish settlement by extending royal protection to them. The first mention of Jewish settlements in Lvov (1356), Sandomierz (1367), Kazimierz near Krakow (1386) and several other cities date from the second half of the the 14th century. In the 15th century Jews appeared in many cities in Greater Poland (Polish: Wielkopolska), Lesser Poland (Polish: Małopolska), Kuyavia (Kujawy), Pomerania (Pomorze) and Red Ruthenia (Ruś Czerwona). In the 1450s Polish towns gave shelter to Jewish refugees from Silesia which was then ruled by the Habsburgs. The earliest information about Jews settling in Ropczyce dates back to 1564. It was noted then that four Jewish families, i.e. about 30 people, lived on the farm of the Gryf family. In 1604, King Sigismund III Vasa granted Ropczyce with a law, following which only two Jewish families (of a district's leaseholder and of a tax collector) were allowed to live in the town, however, they were strictly forbidden to 'do business and produce alcohol...'
The 17th century was the time of the town's stagnation and downfall. Ropczyce was plundered by Swedish troops in 1655 and conclusively devastated in 1657 by the army of George II Rákóczi, the Prince of Transylvania. Many houses in the town were deserted and ruined after the wars. As nobody paid for them, the local authorities tried to occupy the houses with new inhabitants. However, Polish townsmen were not interested in it, and so Jews were the buyers, despite the fact that the ban on their settling in the town was still in effect. The law was broken for the first time in 1675, when the Town Council allowed Józef Szmul, a Jew, to acquire a house at the Market Square under condition of renovating the building. In exchange for that, he was exempted from paying taxes for two years.
" At the end of the 18th century, Ropczyce became a significant center
of Chassidism after the famous Zvi Naftali Horowitz (1760-1827) settled
in the town (He was born on May 22 1760, the day that the Baal Shem Tov,
founder of Chassidism, died). He was the son of Menachem Mendel Rubin,
the rabbi of Lesko and
a follower of two great tzadikkim: Elimelech of Leżajsk (Lizhensk) and Menachem Mendel of Rymanów. Tzadik Zvi Naftali Horowitz was the author of, among others, 'Zera Kodesh' (a collection of comments to the Torah, published in 1868), and 'Ohel Naftali' (a collection of sayings, published in 1911). At the end of his life, he left Ropczyce and settled in Łańcut where he died on 8 May 1827 (corresponding to 11 Iyar 5587) and where he was buried. Asher of Ropczyce was
the next tzadik of the town. The sons of Zvi Naftali Horowitz also became tzadikkim: Eliezer Horowitz – in Dzików near Tarnobrzeg, and Jakub Horowitz (named The Small 'Baal Shem Tov', usually translated into English as 'Master of the Good Name', due to numerous miracles that he performed) – in Kolbuszowa and later in Mielec. " Up until World War II Ropczyce was a 'shtetl' (Yiddish: Ropshits, Ropshitz, Ropschitz) with a significant Jewish population. There is a Ropshitz Hasidic dynasty.
Ropczyce's 'Golden Age' was but a distant memory in the 17th and 18th
centuries – these were times of wars and invasions. The town went into
decline and life got
a lot harder for the townspeople. In 1605 over half of the town was destroyed in a great fire. Fifty years later, Ropczyce was hit by The Plague. In 1669 the Parish Church was destroyed by fire. On 14th July 1772, following the First Partition of Poland, Ropczyce found itself in the Austrian province of Galicia, part of the Habsburg Monarchy in the Austro-Hungarian Kingdom of Galicia and Lodomeria. Ropczyce was first located in the administative area (or cyrkuł) of Pilznen and in the Sandomierski district. In 1775 the administative areas in Galicia were reorganised and Ropczyce was reallocated to the Tarnów cyrkuł. Fortunately for Ropczyce, as a 'Royal town', it was given virtually autonomous administration. The position of 'town advocate' was replaced by the new position of mayor. However, during these times the whole region was systematically 'germanised', from the system of administration, local by-laws, education to everyday life.
At the beginning of the 19th century, the population grew to over 1,000.
At this time there was a small Austrian garrison stationed in the town.
In 1806 there was a Cholera outbreak in which 133 people from Ropczyce
died. In 1873 the town was again struck by a great fire, with much destruction.
In the following administrative changes of the region of Galicia in 1885,
178 counties (powiats) were created in the existing 19 administative areas
(cyrkułs) and Ropczyce was made the administrative centre of its own county.
The last reorganization occurred in 1867 saw the reduction of administative
areas and the number of counties set to 74.
Ropczyce remained as the seat of it's county. At the end of 1867 the population of Ropczyce county was 58,975 people, the first 'starosta'; elder or mayor of the reorganised county of Ropczyce was Wilhelm Mehoffer (father of Józef Mehoffer, polish painter). Ropczyce remained part of Galicia until 1918, when it became part of independent Poland (Second Polish Republic).
Arms adopted on May 21, 2003.
Flag adopted on May 20, 2005 (resolution # XXX/314/05).
"Arms: on the blue field a bird (symbolizing the falcon) holding a golden letter "R" in its beak and standing on white horseshoe with the cavalier cross inside it.
Flag: rectangular piece of cloth of blue color with rhe Arms placed in its middle."
Chrystian Kretowicz, 18 Dec 2008