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Dzierżoniów County – a land at the foot of the Owl Mountains with an interesting history worth knowing.
The first information about human activity in the area of the present Dzierżoniów poviat concerns the neighboring mountains of Radunia and Ślęza. According to archaeologists, the pagan peoples were to mix there. In the case of Radunia, a stone cult rampart from the Bronze Age has been preserved to this day.
The first important center in these lands was Niemcza, probably established in the 5th century. Soon the settlement grew and turned into a mighty stronghold, defended by a triple wooden palisade and then by defensive walls. Like the rest of these lands, Niemcza was successively under Czech or Polish rule. In 990, Niemcza was captured by the troops of Mieszko I. The Great Defense of Germany in 1017, when the troops of the German Empire wanted to conquer it. The determination and courage of the defenders became famous also far abroad, and the defense itself became a symbol of the fight for Polish borders.
fot. Dzierżoniów County
Niemcza received German municipal rights around 1282. Six years later, Dzierżoniów, then Rychbach (“a rich stream”), passed to them in the same way. The origins of Mościsko (the settlement located at the crossing), Owiesna, Ratajna, Bielawa, Pieszyce, Piława and Łagiewnik are also dated to the 13th and 14th centuries.
In 1392, the area of today’s Dzierżoniów land came under Czech rule as a result of dynastic arrangements. The so-called the Hussite War, when Dzierżoniów, Bielawa and other nearby towns were probably burnt and plundered in 1428. It was no better later, because in the years 1431-1495 the land was devastated five times by a plague.
From 1526, these areas became part of Austria. The peace and development were disturbed this time by the Thirty Years’ War raging in 1618-1648 in Europe. Virtually every march of troops through the area of Dzierżoniów ended with burning, destruction and looting. It was definitely not the time to develop crafts or ordinary everyday life. Dzierżoniów came under the rule of Protestants and Catholics, which ended each time the losers were expelled.
After 1740, the area was taken over by Prussia. Austria, despite the peace signed in 1742, tried to regain it several times – first in 1744-45, then in 1756. It was successful only in 1757, but the new state of affairs did not last long. In 1762, after the battle in today’s Piława Dolna area, Prussia regained these lands. Two dates are worth noting. In 1790, the Austro-Prussian convention on a common policy towards Russia was signed in Dzierżoniów. The talks took place in a tenement house in the Market Square, which no longer exists. In turn, in 1813, an anti-Napoleonic treaty was signed here. The talks took place in a tenement house at today’s 27 Krasickiego Street. From 1871, the Dzierżoniów land became part of the united Germany. This state of affairs lasted until the end of World War II.
The entire neighborhood was famous for its textile traditions. The craftsmanship developed very dynamically over the centuries. It was significantly hampered by the industrial revolution, ongoing wars and fierce competition in the western part of the continent. Initially, weavers, associated with guilds or working individually, led a relatively quiet life. In Pieszyce, Bielawa and Dzierżoniów, entire families lived only from weaving. Their fate was connected with manufactories. The establishment of large weaving factories made individual activity meaningless. At the beginning of the 19th century, a wealthy entrepreneur, Fryderyk Sadebeck, employed nearly 10,000 people in his factories. employees. Unfortunately, the aforementioned economic factor, which was Western competition, but also the continental blockade, led to a constant reduction in production, and thus – also employment and wages.
In 1844, in Pieszyce, and then in Bielawa, demonstrations began, which quickly turned into riots. During this time, workers demolished or burned down the houses of local entrepreneurs and company warehouses. The uprising was bloodily suppressed by the Prussian army. Though small in itself, it echoed widely even in distant countries, inspiring other workers’ activists. The weavers’ rebellion was immortalized in the play Weavers of the German Nobel Prize winner Gerhardt Hauptmann.
The new international order after the Second World War also changed the shapes of the borders. From 1945, Silesia became part of Poland again. The Germans were displaced from the land of Dzierżoniów, and Poles were settled in their place, including those displaced from the Eastern Borderlands. The name Dzierżoniów, given after the war, which replaced the German Reichenbach, comes from the name of priest Jan Dzierżoń, a famous Silesian beekeeper. Interestingly, it is not known why it was decided to commemorate this person. Father Dzierżoń was never connected with the land of Dzierżoniów.
For the land of Dzierżoniów, the period of the Polish People’s Republic was a time of dynamic development of the textile industry (Bielbaw, Silesiana textile plants), as well as radio engineering (Diora). These plants, however, failed in reality in the Third Polish Republic and were subsequently liquidated.
Recent years have seen the gradual creation of new jobs in industry in the Dzierżoniów poviat, as well as focusing on tourist values and environmental awareness of the inhabitants.