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Brief Or Short History of Warsaw - Capital of Poland

Updated on January 20, 2016
Crest of the City of Warsaw
Crest of the City of Warsaw

A short history of Warsaw

Warsaw in one of Europe's youngest capital cities; it became Poland's capital only in the 16th century; though early settlements existed from the 10th century. At the end of the 13th century, Boleslaw II, Duke of Mazovia, established a residence and founded what is now known as the Old Town.

The history of Warsaw began at the beginning of the 15th century, Duke Janusz I Starszy also established his court in Warsaw, and the town developed rapidly in the late Middle Ages. Although Kraków was the capital, Warsaw remained the seat of the Mazovian dukes. When the dynasty died out in 1526, the king took control od the duchy.

Warsaw's growing status, and central position in Poland, resulted in Parliament being move from Kraków to Warsaw in 1569. Warsaw became the capital in 1596, when King Zygmunt III Waza transferred his permanent residence there.

In the 17th century, Warsaw continued to develop rapidly with various churches and palaces being built. But the city's evolution was halted by the Swedish invasion of 1655, known as "the Deluge". Warsaw continued to grow in the late 18th century during the reign of Poland's last king, Stanislaw August Poniatowski. However, the city was occupied by Prussia in 1795. In 1815 Warsaw came under Russian rule. Russian suppresion of the 1930 and 1863 insurrections left Warsaw politically weak, but the city still saw rapid inustrial growth in that century.

When Poland regained independence after World War I, Warsaw was re-established as the capital. During World War II Warsaw experienced three dramatic events: the siege of September 1939, the 1943 uprising in the Jewish Ghetto, and the 1944 Warsaw Uprising. Following this last uprising, the Nazis systematically destroyed almost the entire city. Overall, 700,000 of Warsaw's inhabitants (almost half of the total) were killed of displaced during the war.

The city came under Communist control in 1945, and a massive rebuilding programme restored many of Warsaw's historic monuments. In 1989 the city celebrated the first postwar democratic elections which ended the Communist era and this part of the history of Warsaw.

Warsaw On A Map

A markerWarsaw -
Warsaw, Poland
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    • maven101 profile image

      maven101 6 years ago from Northern Arizona

      Excellent review of the Polish capitol...So much history, so much tragedy, so many rebirths...

      The last great uprising was the Solidarity movement from 1980 through the election of Lech Walesa in 1990 to the presidency...

      Poland, the step-child of Europe, caught between the hungry bear, Russia, and the savage wolf, Germany, had a most turbulent history rife with war...The nation itself ceased to exist several times during its history...

      A great read about Poland is Michener's historical novel " Poland "...Larry