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flag  History of Poland

Journey back in time to Poland

Visit Poland. Discover its history. Learn about the people who lived there through stories, old newspaper articles, pictures, postcards and ancestry.

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 Poland - The Jews Market, Warsaw Picturesque Europe : with illustrations on steel and wood by the most eminent artists ([1876-1879])

Christmas Eve: So important is the first star of the night that Christmas Eve has been given the affectionate name of "little star" or "Gwiazdka," in remembrance of the star of Bethlehem. On that night, all watch the sky anxiously, hoping to be the first to cry out, "The star!' The moment the star appears, everyone exchanges greetings and good wishes. Families unite for the most carefully planned meal of the year, "Wigilia," Christmas supper. According to tradition, bits of hay have been spread beneath the table cloth as a reminder that Christ was born in a manger. An even number of people must be seated around the table or tradition states someone might die in the coming year.

There is MUCH more to discover about Poland. Read on!

Poland Nostalgia: Vintage Photos, Ads, and Postcards

The Jews' Market, Warsaw
Picturesque Europe : with illustrations on steel and wood by the most emin

The Jews' Market, Warsaw
Picturesque Europe : with illustrations on steel and wood by the most eminent artists ([1876-1879])









Discover Poland: History, News, Travel, and Stories

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1700s - Poland's three powerful neighbors, Russia, Prussia and Austria, each want to own Poland.
This was all but impossible without risking war with each other. They finally settled their dispute by dividing Poland among themselves in a series of agreements called the Three Partitions of Poland. ~polwgw/ history.html
1704 - July 12 - Stanislaw Leszcynski becomes king of part of Poland
1733 - September 12 - Polish Landowners select Stanislaw Lesczynski king
1733 - September 22 - Polish King Lesczynski flees to Danzig
1736 - January 26 - Stanislaw I of Poland abdicates his throne
1794 - Tadeusz Kosciuszko, the famous general who helped win the American Revolution, starts a rebellion for Polish independence, but it is not strong enough to defeat the Russians. ~polwgw/ history.html
1795 - The Third Partition divides the rest of Poland. Poland is "officially" non-existent for the next 123 years. ~polwgw/ history.html
1800 - Population of Russian Poland (Russian Empire) - 1,200,000

1806 - November 3 - Greater Poland Uprising begins
Greater Poland Uprising of 1806 was a military insurrection by Poles in Wielkopolska (Greater Poland) against the occupying Prussian forces after the Partitions of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth (1772–1795).

The 1806 Greater Poland Uprising was organized by General Jan Henryk Dąbrowski to help advancing French forces under Napoleon I in liberating Poland from Prussian occupation. The Wielkopolska Uprising was a decisive factor that allowed the formation of the Duchy of Warsaw (1806) and the inclusion of Wielkopolska in the Duchy of Warsaw.
November 3, 1806
1830 - November 29 - November Uprising begins (Poland)
The November Uprising (1830–31), Polish–Russian War 1830–31[3] also known as the Cadet Revolution, was an armed rebellion in the heartland of partitioned Poland against the Russian Empire. The uprising began on 29 November 1830 in Warsaw when the young Polish officers from the local Army of the Congress Poland's military academy revolted, led by lieutenant Piotr Wysocki. They were soon joined by large segments of Polish society, and the insurrection spread to the territories of Lithuania, Western Belarus, and the right-bank of Ukraine. Despite some local successes, the uprising was eventually crushed by a numerically superior Imperial Russian Army under Ivan Paskevich. Czar Nicholas I decreed that henceforth Poland was an integral part of Russia, with Warsaw little more than a military garrison, its university closed.
1846 - February 19 - March 4 - Kraków Uprising (Poland)
The Kraków Uprising of February 1846 was an attempt, led by Polish insurgents such as Jan Tyssowski and Edward Dembowski, to incite a fight for national independence. The uprising was centered around the city of Kraków, the capital of a small state of Free City of Kraków. It was directed at the powers that partitioned Poland, in particular, the nearby Austrian Empire. The uprising lasted about nine days, and ended with Austrian victory.
February 19, 1846
1848 - Greater Poland uprising
The Greater Poland Uprising of 1848 or Poznań Uprising was an unsuccessful military insurrection of Poles against Prussian forces, during the Spring of Nations period. While the main fighting was concentrated in the Greater Poland region, fights also occurred in other part of the Prussian partition of Poland, and protests were held in Polish inhabited regions of Silesia.
1864 - March 2 - Abolition of serfdom in Congress Poland
March 2, 1864
1870s - Russia attempts to eradicate Polish culture, making Russian the official language of the Russian partition.
Prussia does the same in their portion of Poland, attempting to Germanicize Poles. Under the Austrian partition, Galician Poles are allowed to retain some autonomy. ~polwgw/ history.html
1890s - Poland experiences mass emigration due to poverty. Approximately 4 million out of 22 million Poles emigrate to the United States prior to World War I. ~polwgw/ history.html
1895 - Poland
Poland (Polish, Polska, pöl'skA, meaning "flat land;"), an extensive country of Central Europe, which existed for many centuries as an independent and powerful state, but, having fallen a prey to internal dissensions, was violently seized by Austria, Prussia, and Russia as a common spoil, partitioned among these three powers, and incorporated with their dominions. In its greatest prosperity it had a population variously estimated at from 11,000,000 to 15,000,000, and an area of 284,000 square miles, greater than that of France, stretching from the frontiers of Hungary and Turkey to the Baltic, and from Germany far E. into Russia, lat. 47° to 56° N., lon. 15° to 32° E. The territory thus marked out formed one vast and remarkably compact kingdom, divided into Great and Little Poland on the W., Masovia and Podlachia in the centre, Volhynia, Podolia, and the Ukraine in the E., and Lithuania in the N.E.; the principal sub division was into 31 palatinates and starostys...
Lippincott's Gazetteer of the World: A Complete Pronouncing Gazetteer Or Geographical Dictionary of the World Containing Notices of Over One Hundred and Twenty-five Thousand Places ... Joseph Thomas January 1, 1895 J.B. Lippincott
Poland (Pol. Poltka, pol'ski, meaning " flat land;" L. Polo'nia; Ger. Poltn, po'len ; Fr. Polognt, poMofi'), an extensive country of central Europe, which existed for many centuries as an independent and powerful state, but, having fallen a prey to internal dissensions, was dismem bered in the latter part of the eighteenth century by Aus tria, Prussia, and Russia, and incorporated with their dominions. In the early part of the seventeenth century the Polish kingdom had an area of about 375,000 sq. m., making it the most extensive realm (not counting colonial possessions) in Christendom, excepting Russia. It stretched from the frontiers of Hungary and the Turkish Empire to the Baltic, and from Germany far E. into what is now Russia. In the W. it reached almost to the Oder and on the E. it extended far beyond the Dnieper. The territory thus marked out formed a compact kingdom, embracing Great and Little Poland (in the extreme W. and SW.), West Prussia, Masovia (with Warsaw), Cujavia (W. ... Read MORE...

1916 - November 5 - Signing of the Act of 5 November (Poland)
The Act of 5th November of 1916 was a declaration of Emperors Wilhelm II of Germany and Franz Joseph of Austria. This act promised the creation of the Kingdom of Poland out of territory of Congress Poland, envisioned by its authors as a puppet state controlled by the Central Powers. The origin of that document was the dire need to draft new recruits from German-occupied Poland for the war with Russia. Even though the act itself expressed very little in concrete terms, its declaration is regarded as one of main factors in the Polish efforts to regain independence.
November 5, 1916
1918 - November 11 - Poland becomes independent as WWI comes to an end.
The country was devastated by the war. Approximately one million Poles died. All Polish institutions had to be rebuilt as the country once again formed a nation. The official boundaries are not set until 1923. ~polwgw/ history.html
November 11, 1918
1919 - February 15 - Polish-Soviet War begins
The Polish–Soviet War (February 1919 – March 1921) was an armed conflict that pitted Soviet Russia and Soviet Ukraine against the Second Polish Republic and the Ukrainian People's Republic over the control of an area equivalent to today's Ukraine and parts of modern-day Belarus. At some points the war also threatened Poland's existence as an independent state.
February 14, 1919
2023 - Here's a mix of popular and off-the-beaten-path places to visit and things to do in Poland:
Warsaw: The capital city is a vibrant mix of the old and new. You can visit the historic Old Town, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site, and explore the Warsaw Uprising Museum. For a taste of modern Poland, check out the Warsaw Rising Museum and the vibrant nightlife in the city.

Kraków: Known for its stunning Old Town, it's a UNESCO World Heritage site with beautiful architecture, including Wawel Castle and St. Mary's Basilica. Don't forget to explore the historic Jewish Quarter, Kazimierz.

Auschwitz-Birkenau: Pay your respects at this former Nazi concentration and extermination camp. It's a somber yet essential historical site, a reminder of the Holocaust's horrors.

Wieliczka Salt Mine: Located near Kraków, this underground mine is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Explore the intricate salt chambers, sculptures, and chapels carved entirely from salt.

Zakopane: This town in the Tatra Mountains is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts. You can go hiking, skiing, or simply enjoy ... Read MORE...

Polish Surnames
In Poland and most of the former Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, surnames first appeared during the late Middle Ages. They initially denoted the differences between various people living in the same town or village and bearing the same name. The conventions were similar to those of English surnames, using occupations, patronymic descent, geographic origins, or personal characteristics. Thus, early surnames indicating occupation include Karczmarz ("innkeeper"), Kowal ("blacksmith"), "Złotnik" ("gold smith") and Bednarczyk ("young cooper"), while those indicating patronymic descent include Szczepaniak ("Son of Szczepan), Józefowicz ("Son of Józef), and Kaźmirkiewicz ("Son of Kazimierz"). Similarly, early surnames like Mazur ("the one from Mazury") indicated geographic origin, while ones like Nowak ("the new one"), Biały ("the pale one"), and Wielgus ("the big one") indicated personal characteristics.

In the early 16th century, (the Polish Renaissance), toponymic names became common,... Read MORE...

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Updated: 12/15/2023 3:20:13 PM