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The History of the Town Print
The history of the town

The first people lived in the vicinity of Znin more than 10 thousand years ago, after the Scandinavian ice sheet receded and tundra vegetation appeared in the area. The oldest signs of settlement come from 10 thousand  years ago, from the Paleolithic era. Numerous archaeological finds bear testimony to the contacts of Znin with  the civilization of ancient Rome. The contacts were possible due to the Amber Trade Route, which led from the Adriatic through Silesia and what is believed to have been ancient town of Kalisz to the Baltic Sea. The evidence for the  possible course of the route is provided by Ptolemy (90-158AD). The town of Setidava situated to the north of Kalisz which he marked on his map most probably is ancient Znin. Between the railway embankment and the bank of the Jezioro Duze Zninskie [Big Znin Lake], on the right bank of the River Gasawka the remains of an early medieval castle from between 6th and 8th centuries are preserved till our times. Perfect geographical situation and favourable – from the defensive point of view – topographical conditions contributed to the development of Znin.
The topography of Znin was formed at the beginning of the C11th. It consisted of three elements: the seat of the local authorities and military headquarters on the peninsula, the settlement outside town walls, where craftsmen  and soldiers lived and the holm, where the market with an inn and a place of worship were situated. The church was built there because the area of market had been previously handed over to the Church. During the reign of the Piast dynasty, the significance of Znin as a communications hub augmented. The state authority located its seat in a town, which was situated among marshland of Jezioro Duze Zninskie [Big Znin Lake].  Its role was military, first and foremost it was to defend the crossing on the River Gasawka, simultaneously it prevented the invaders from penetrating the country’s hinterland. Between C11th and C13th kasztelan , the representative of the state authority, resided in the town, which is indicative of its significance. In mid-11th century Znin already belonged to the Church. It was indicated in “Bulla Gnieznienska” [Gniezno Bulla] issued by pope Innocent II on 7th July 1136 to archbishop Jakub Swinka of Znin. It is the oldest document mentioning Znin (“provincia de Znein cum foro”). In general, the Bulla mentions 29 towns and villages in Paluki region [Znin is its capital] belonging to the Church.
According to Jan Dlugosz [the Polish chronicler living in the C15th], the wars wedged by Boleslaw Krzywousty [Boleslaw Wrymouth – the king of Poland 1102-1138] forced him to fortify Znin.
In 1234 Wladyslaw Odonic relinquished the office of kasztelan and handed it over to archbishop Janusz II, who granted Znin a charter according to Magdeburg law in 1263. Unfortunately, the document itself was destroyed and did not preserve till our times. In 1284 the duke of Wielkopolska [Greater Poland] endorsed all the privileges previously granted to Znin by his predecessors and permitted archbishop Jakub Swinka to mint his own coins, which could be used in the whole country. It was highly profitable. The income was probably invested in the Church's estate. Furthermore, Znin was a stop on the trade route from Silesia to Gdansk, the so called Amber Trade Route. In July 1331 a troop of Teutonic knights under the command ofmarshal Deitrich von Altenburg invaded the town. Znin was burned to the ground and pillaged, even the archbishop's estate was not spared.
In order to prevent similar attacks, it was decided that the town should be fortified. The building of the defensive wall was started in 1343. At that time left-bank Znin became oval-shaped, Wielka St (today's Sniadecki St), Mniska St (today's Rychlewskiego St) and the market as it is known today were built. The Old Town was protected from the west and the north with double motes, Brama Poznanska [Poznan Gate] was built on Dworska St. The west of the town was protected by Brama Torunska [Torun Gate] with a drawbridge connecting the town with the holm. The third gate, Wodna [Water Gate], was built at the end of the street leading to the Lake Chaple. The Szewska St and Sukiennicza St [today's Pocztowa St] were connected by the market. The Dominican monastery with St John the Baptist's church  founded by archbishop Janislaw was situated at the  place of today's Blessed Virgin Mary's church. Podmurna St, which ran along the town walls, was the most western street of the town. The opposite part of the town was protected by the holm with Brama Ostrowska [Holm Gate] opening to the west. A wide ditch with a wooden bridge could still be seen at the end of the C19th there.
In 1350 the town was rechartered according to Sroda law.In 1357 king Kazimierz Wielki [Casimir the Great] endorsed all the privileges previously granted to Znin – the area under the authority of the Znin authorities  was named districtus – which helped the town's development a great deal. It lasted, at intervals caused by wars,  blazes and numerous plagues, till the beginning of the C17th. From the C15th onwards delicious beer was brewed  in Znin (in 1583 the number of brewers equalled the number of bakers). According to the 400-year-old testimony of primate Jan Laski, the finest bread in Wielkopolska was baked in Znin. Many fishermen also lived there.
The town's defensive walls were partially destroyed during the Swedish Deludge [Polish-Swedish war 1655-1660]. In 1424 of of the oldest marksmen fraternities in Wielkopolska, associating the most affluent craftsmen in the  town, was established in Znin. It stemmed from the duty of townsmen to protect the town's fortifications. In the C15th the Gothic tower, the so called baszta, was built. In 1443, archbishop's estate on the holm was incorporated into the town. At that time, Znin was on of the biggest towns of Wielkopolska.
In the late Middle Ages Znin district (districtus) ceased to exist and the town was incorporated into Kcynia district. In the C16th it became a part of Kalisz Voivodeship.
The town collapsed at the beginning of the C17th. Just before the great plague of 1628, when the town's inhabitants left Znin for some time, there were 201 houses there. During the Swedish invasion of Poland in 1655 many of the town's facilities were destroyed: the mote, the gate, the windmill, the brickyard, the bathhouse and the wall (partially). Only 96 houses were spared. Further havoc was wrought by the blazes in 1678, 1692 and 1700 as well as the Great Northern War in 1751. Due to the severe damage most of Znin inhabitants moved to Gniezno, Kcynia and Zerniki. In the summer 1772, as a result of the first partition of Poland, Znin was incorporated into Prussia. The town became a part of Inowroclaw district, Notec province. It was inhabited by 613 people, which made it bigger than Bydgoszcz at that time (today's population: about 380.000) or Inowroclaw (today's population: about 80.000); the number of houses was 120. Within a short  period 141 Germans settled there but Znin never became Germanized and never lost its Polish character. During the period of Partitions of Poland the fortifications, the Holy Trinity's church (in 1817) and the Dominican monastery with St John the Baptist's church were pulled down. The town's defensive walls were also demolished (Torun Gate in 1820). The remains of the foundations of the town's walls still exist on the left  side of the River Gasawka (by the bridge in 700-lecia St) and in the basement of the house in 17 Podmurna St. Large numbers of Znin inhabitants took part in the Kosciuszko Insurrection in 1794. The insurrection army controlled Znin from September to November 1794. In 1806 the Napoleonic armed forces passed through the town. Between July 1807 and 1815 Znin was a part of Duchy of Warsaw. Between 1818 and 1887 the Grand Duchy of Poznan existed and Znin was under the jurisdiction of Szubin district and Bydgoszcz department.
In the mid-19th century Znin started developing rapidly – new buildings and roads were being built, commerce and craft flourished. During the Revolutions of 1848 an uprising broke out in Znin. Till 17th May 1848 the town  was controlled by Poles.In 1867 the first Polish Loan Company was created. It was later transformed into Popular  Bank. The town could therefore make itself financially independent of the Prussian authorities.In 1887 Znin became the capital of powiat [district], two years later the narrow-gauge railway line was built. Between 1893 and 1894 the sugar factory was built, which, together with the railway station, propelled the town's spacial development towards the west. During the last decade of the 19th century the town's population increased by 1500 people. In this time the Polish Singing Association was formed and a library, a dairy, a post office, a hospital, a court of law and a jail were built; a sewage system, a gas pipeline, a water supply system and lampposts were installed.

In 1909 in the place of the former Dominican monastery the Evangelical church was built (today's Blessed Virgin Mary's church). The town's population growth was stopped by the outbreak of World War I. 700 men were called up,  of which 86 died. On 1st January 1919 Znin joined in the Wielkopolskie Uprising. Polish armed forces under the command of Capitan Jan Tomaszewski dislodged the Germans from the town. Znin had 4980 ingabitants, who elected 12-person town council. The town was increasingly geared towards providing services for agriculture – steam windmill, dairy cooperative and Malak brothers's Agricultural Machines Factory (today's cast iron foundry in Mickiewicza St) were open. Nevertheless, the sugar factory remained the most important company in the area.
Numerous new plants were open during the interwar period, the most significant one being the power plant. The housing of Mickiewicza, Szpitalna and Podgórna streets was extended, first buildings appeared in Dabrowskiego  and Pierwszego Stycznia streets. The place of the former fortifications was earmarked for a park.
Znin was renowned for Anna & Alfred Krzyccy's publishing house employing more than 300 employees. Such magazine and newspapers as “Ilustrowany Kurier Polski”, “Oredownik Urzedowy Powiatu Zninskiego”, “Paluczanin” or “Moja Przyjaciolka”, which had subscribers all over Poland and weekly circulation of more than a million copies, were published by them. In 1923 the municipal high school, which played an essential role in the town's intellectual life, was opened. In the August 1939 Znin had 5090 inhabitants. On 9th September 1939 Znin was taken over by the Germans. Its name was changed to Dietfurt . 600 people, mainly intelligentsia and local businesspeople were deported to, among others, Minsk Mazowiecki and Nowy Targ. More than 200 people were deported  as forced labourers to Germany. Some inhabitants of Znin were arrested, some were transported to concentration camps, many were shot. Znin itself did not suffer much damage. Only the synagogue in Pocztowa St (today sugar factory's block is situated there) was burned down, Mrs Smorowscy's old tenement was pulled down (the plot in the marketplace is still empty) and the high school library was damaged. 16 hectares of the parks around the old town an the Lake Chaple were spared.
Guerrilla groups formed in the nearby forests, among them the Home Army Autonomous Paluki District Unit under the command of Bogdan Hadzlika, alias Madej of Parlin. During the autumn 1944 a Soviet reconnaissance party operated in these forests as well. On 21st 1945 the Soviet Army took over the town – the introduction and consolidation of popular authority began. After World War II, significant development of the town took place. The town expanded, Spomasz machine factory was built, Zefam, also producing machines, was created on the basis  of Malak brothers' factory. The new housing estates were located to the northwest of the town (Mickiewicza and Browarowa streets as well as in the area of Wielka Osada settlement, near the road to Szubin). In the 1960s the village of Gora was incorporated into the town. The number of inhabitants exceeded 10,000 then.
Last Updated ( ¶roda, 05 luty 2014 )
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