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Pszczyna district (Poland)

Pszczyna county, Śląskie voivodship

Last modified: 2017-11-11 by andrew weeks
Keywords: pszczyna |
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[Pszczyna flag] image by Jens Pattke, 17 Oct 2004 See also:

Pszczyna flag

Here is the flag of Pszczyna city and commune (voi. Śląskie, Pszczyna County).
The history of this land, and thus the history of the castle and the adjacent town, goes back to the beginnings of the Piast dynasty. According to Schaeffer, a ducal annalist living in the 19th century, the first castle of the Piast Princes had been built as early as in the 12th century, whereas the beginnings of the town date from the turn of the 13th century. It was then when a castle, surrounded by earthworks with a moat and the adjacent town-stronghold which functioned as a market place and a guard tower at the same time, had stood next to the main trade route leading from Ukraine to Małopolska and the Moravian Gate to the south of Europe. The land was quite marshy, and the river, lazily heading for the river Vistula, created numerous water floods here. In all likelihood this is how the name "plsczyna" was derived - it meant an area abounding in stagnant waters and swamps. However, according to the linguist Prof. Jan Miodek, the town owes its name to the name of the river Pszczynka (in the former spelling - Blszczynka - from Polish verb "błyszczeć - glisten, shimmer").
In those long-gone days, the Land of Pszczyna was a part of Małopolska. It became a part of Silesia in 1178 when it passed into the hands of the Piast prince of the Opole-Racibórz line.
Pszczyna, as "CIVITAS" - a town founded next to the formerly existing stronghold, was mentioned in 1327 in a document in which Piast Prince Leszek - the last independent ruler of the Opole-Racibórz principality - paid homage to king John of Luxembourg. After his death in 1336, Pszczyna was taken into possession by the Opava princes from the Bohemian dynasty of Premyslids.

In 1407, one of the Bohemian princes separated out an area from his principality as life property for his wife Helena Korybutówna. This land, called then the land of Pszczyna, encompassed Pszczyna, Mikołów, Bieruń Stary and Mysłowice (until 1536). Under rule of the duchess, in the early 15th century, the hunting lodge yielded to a gothic building girdled by walls and a moat. Owing to that fortress, the town managed to ward off Hussite attacks that ravaged the area.

In 1548, Hungarian magnate Jan Turzo sold the State of Pszczyna to the Bishop of Wrocław, Balthasar von Promnitz from Żary. In this way the Duchy came in the hands of one of the most eminent families in the then Silesia for the two following centuries.
Under the reign of the Promnitz family and then their relatives, the family of Anhalt-Köthen, Pszczyna maintained close relationships with the Wawel Royal Castle in Kraków. The owners cared for the development of music life as well. In the years 1704-1708, Georg Philipp Telemann, an outstanding composer of the German baroque, fulfilled the function of the court kapellmeister.

In 1846, the entire Pszczyna estates passed to the Hochberg counts, whose ancestral seat had been the castle in Książ near Wałbrzych. It was one of the richest noble families in the then Europe; they received the ducal mitre in 1848 and since that moment, they assumed the name von Pless, becoming thus the Dukes of Pszczyna. The Hochbergs persisted in improving their summer and hunting seats and estates throughout the entire 19th century. It was them who brought wisents to the Pszczyna forests in order to add splendour to the hunting parties where almost all European rulers were invited.
The town became then an important centre of crafts: people worked in cloth works, tanneries, metal works, brickyards, oil-houses, and tile works. Moreover, weapon was also produced.
In the early 19th century two printing houses were founded in Pszczyna. The first was opened in 1805 by Karl Beniamin Fiestel, and the second - in 1833 - by Christian Schemmel, who in 1845 published "Weekly for Estate Holders" - the first newspaper in Upper Silesia printed in the Polish language.

During the First World War, Pszczyna was the seat of the headquarters of the German army fighting on the west. It was here where in 1916 the German-Austrian proclamation establishing the "independent" Kingdom of Poland, the so-called 5th November Act.

In August 1919 on the Land of Pszczyna the first Silesian uprising broke out. The assembly of the insurgents took place in the park next to the Three Oaks.

Owing to participation of the inhabitants in the three Silesian uprisings and the results of the plebiscite of 1921 (74 percent of the poviat population were in favour of Poland), the Land of Pszczyna returned to the Motherland. In 1922, the Polish forces commanded by General Szeptycki marched in to the town. This ceremony was also attended by the commander of all Silesian uprisings Wojciech Korfanty.

September 1939 saw heroic defence of the town by the former Silesian insurgents and scouts, and heavy struggles of Army Kraków units. At the turn of 1944 Pszczyna witnessed the "march of death" of Oświęcim (Auschwitz) prisoners.
Fortunately, the town, liberated in February 1945, did not suffer serious war damages or destruction. Its valuable monuments and items of historic interest have survived and today tourists from home and abroad may see them on various displays available in the region.
Source: this website.
Jens Pattke, 17 Oct 2004