Skip to main content
Select Source:

Warsaw

WARSAW

WARSAW (Polish, Warszawa). A small late medieval settlement on the left bank of the middle Vistula, Warsaw became the capital of the Principality of Mazovia during the reign of Janusz I the Elder (ruled 13741429). "Old Warsaw" was founded c. 1300 on the escarpment overlooking the Vistula, just north of an existing castle. By 1408 a "New Warsaw," lying due north of Old Warsaw, had established its own autonomous municipality, with a separate magistracy and market square. Old Warsaw was the more populous and affluent, with the bricked houses of the patriciate and wealthier tradesmen. Artisans, shopkeepers, and small farmers occupied the mostly wooden structures of New Warsaw.

The last Mazovian prince, Janusz III, died in 1526, and from that time Mazovia and Warsaw came under the Polish crown. No longer the small capital of an independent principality, Warsaw nonetheless continued to grow modestly, thanks partly to its expanding ties with Cracow and the kingdom. In 1527 and 1529, Sigismund I (ruled 15061548) granted charters to eleven Warsaw guilds, removing them from the jurisdiction of the Cracow brethren. By 1564, Old Warsaw encompassed 486 stone houses, New Warsaw 204 still mostly wooden houses. Jews were expelled from Warsaw in 1483, and a privilege de non tolerandis Judaeis, granted its burghers in 1527, forbade Jewish settlement in the town itself, relegating them to the suburbs for most of the early modern period.

Warsaw grew quickly in significance toward the end of the sixteenth century. From 1569 it was the site for meetings of the General Parliament, and from 1573 for the Election Parliaments that chose the kings of Poland and the grand dukes of Lithuania. A fire in the Wawel Castle in Cracow in 1596 moved Sigismund III Vasa (ruled 15871632) to begin expanding the Warsaw castle and to make it into the residence of Polish kings and their courts beginning in 1611. (Cracow would remain the capital and coronation city.) With the transfer of the royal court to Warsaw, the city began to draw magnates and gentry, who established residences in privately owned suburban "jurisdictions," which formed a chain of autonomous towns around Old and New Warsaw and offered competition to Warsaw's patriciate and guild artisans. The right-bank Praga suburb, the site of breweries, warehouses, and granaries, received its municipal privilege in 1648.

The wars of the mid-seventeenth century interrupted Warsaw's rapid growth from modest sixteenth-century numbers (its population had reached 20,000 by 1655). Swedish and Transylvanian armies finally left the city on 23 June 1657, and the rebuilding of Old and New Warsaw was largely completed by 1670. Under John III Sobieski (ruled 16741696) the center of gravity moved to the west, beyond the old walls, and settlement expanded into the magnates' suburban jurisdictions to the north and south along the river. The city again rebuilt after the Northern War (17001721). Warsaw became the center of Polish commerce and enlightenment under the last Polish king, Stanisław II Augustus Poniatowski (ruled 17641795). A "Black Procession" of burgher leaders to the Royal Castle on 2 December 1789 paved the way for belated urban reform in the Commonwealth of Poland-Lithuania. The autonomy of the "jurisdictions" was finally abolished, and Old and New Warsaw, plus the suburbs, now formed one urban legal unit. Warsaw's growth (to 110,000 in 1792) was delayed with the sacking of Praga by Russian armies on 5 November 1794 and the third partition of Poland (1795), which initially gave part of Mazovia, including Warsaw, to Prussia. In 1799, the city's inhabitants numbered 64,000.

See also Jews and Judaism ; Northern Wars ; Poland, Partitions of ; Poland-Lithuania, Commonwealth of, 15691795 ; Poland to 1569 .

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Berdecka, Anna, and Irena Turnau. ycie codzienne w Warszawie okresu Oświecenia. Warsaw, 1969.

Drozdowski, Marian M., and Andrzej Zahorski. Historia Warszawy. Warsaw, 1997.

David Frick

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Warsaw." Europe, 1450 to 1789: Encyclopedia of the Early Modern World. . Encyclopedia.com. 23 Jul. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Warsaw." Europe, 1450 to 1789: Encyclopedia of the Early Modern World. . Encyclopedia.com. (July 23, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/warsaw

"Warsaw." Europe, 1450 to 1789: Encyclopedia of the Early Modern World. . Retrieved July 23, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/warsaw

Warsaw

Warsaw (wôr´sô), Pol. Warszawa, city (1993 est. pop. 1,655,700), capital of Poland and of Mazowieckie prov., central Poland, on both banks of the Vistula River. It is a political, cultural, and industrial center, a major transportation hub, and one of Europe's great historic cities. Among its many industries are steel machinery, electrical engineering, chemicals, motor vehicles, food products, and textiles.

Landmarks and Institutions

Among Warsaw's most notable buildings are the Holy Cross Church, the 15th-century St. Carmelite Church, several fine palaces, and the monuments to Copernicus and Adam Mickiewicz. The medieval Stare Miasto [old town], with its marketplace and 14th-century cathedral, was rebuilt according to the prewar pattern. Warsaw has many educational and cultural institutions, including the Univ. of Warsaw (founded in 1818) and the Polish Academy of Sciences.

History

Although settlements existed on the site of Warsaw in the 11th cent., the city probably grew around a castle built in the 13th cent. by a duke of Mazovia. In 1413, Warsaw became the capital of the duchy of Mazovia, which was incorporated with Great Poland in 1526. After Kraków burned, Warsaw replaced it (1596) as Poland's capital. Warsaw grew rapidly as a commercial and cultural center, despite frequent invasions and pillages. It fell temporarily to the Swedes under Charles X (1655–56) and Charles XII (1702), was occupied by the Russians in 1792 and 1794, and passed to Prussia in 1795.

Liberated by Napoleon I in 1806, it became (1807) the capital of the grand duchy of Warsaw (see Poland) and was the scene in 1812 of a diet that proclaimed the reestablishment of Poland. In 1813, however, the city fell to the Russians, and in 1815 it became the capital of the nominally independent kingdom of central Poland, awarded by the Congress of Vienna to the Russian crown. Warsaw was the principal center of unsuccessful Polish uprisings against Russian domination in 1830 and 1863.

German forces took the city in 1915, during World War I. In Nov., 1918, it was liberated by Polish troops and proclaimed capital of the restored Polish state. In 1920 the Polish defense of Warsaw, led by the French general Maxime Weygand, turned the tide of the Russo-Polish War. The city was the scene in 1926 of a military coup that established Marshal Joseph Piłsudski's dictatorship.

During World War II the city was occupied (1939–45) by German troops and subjected to systematic destruction. In 1940 the Germans isolated the Jewish ghetto, which in 1942 contained about 500,000 persons. In reprisal for a Jewish uprising (Feb., 1943) in the ghetto, the Germans killed an estimated 40,000 of the Jews who had survived the battle. When Warsaw was liberated (Jan., 1945) by Soviet troops, only about 200 Jews remained.

From Aug. to Oct., 1944, some 40,000 members of the Polish nationalist underground and German troops battled for Warsaw. While the battle was raging the Soviet army, which was camped across the Vistula and which the partisans had hoped would come to their aid, remained inactive. The Germans routed the rebels and following their victory carried out severe reprisals, killing or expelling Warsaw's inhabitants and deliberately demolishing the city. By October about 15,000 partisans and more than 200,000 civilians had been killed and the city lay in ruins. The postwar decision to retain Warsaw as the national capital resulted in a large-scale reconstruction. In 1955, the Warsaw Pact established the now-defunct Warsaw Treaty Organization, the Eastern European counterpart to NATO.

Bibliography

See N. Davies, Rising '44: The Battle for Warsaw (2004).

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Warsaw." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. 23 Jul. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Warsaw." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. (July 23, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/warsaw

"Warsaw." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Retrieved July 23, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/warsaw

Warsaw

Warsaw Capital and largest city of Poland, on the River Vistula. Its first settlement dates from the 11th century. In 1596 it became Poland's capital and developed into the country's main trading centre. Controlled by Russia from 1813 to 1915, German troops occupied it during World War 1. In 1918, Polish troops liberated the city. The 1939 German invasion and occupation of Warsaw marked the beginning of World War 2. In 1940, the Germans isolated the Jewish ghetto, which contained 500,000 people, and following a brutal suppression of a Jewish uprising in February 1943, they killed more than 40,000 survivors. In January 1945, when the Red Army liberated Warsaw, they found only 200 surviving Jews. After World War 2, the old town was painstakingly reconstructed. Warsaw is a major transport and industrial centre. Industries: steel, cars, cement, machinery. Pop. (1999) 1,618,468.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Warsaw." World Encyclopedia. . Encyclopedia.com. 23 Jul. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Warsaw." World Encyclopedia. . Encyclopedia.com. (July 23, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/environment/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/warsaw

"Warsaw." World Encyclopedia. . Retrieved July 23, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/environment/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/warsaw

Warsaw

Warsaw •Nassau • hacksaw • heartsore •bedsore • Ensor • fretsaw • chainsaw •Esau, seesaw •jigsaw •ripsaw, whipsaw •eyesore • Warsaw • bowsaw •footsore • Luxor • plesiosaur •stegosaur • Arkansas • Chickasaw •dinosaur • brontosaur

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Warsaw." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Encyclopedia.com. 23 Jul. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Warsaw." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Encyclopedia.com. (July 23, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/warsaw

"Warsaw." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Retrieved July 23, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/warsaw