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Gdansk History, Poland

The city of Gdansk is the chief seaport of Poland and serves as the capital of Pomeranian Voivodeship. It is located on the southern side of Gdansk Bay and has a total of about 460,000 citizens. Historically, Gdansk is also the biggest city found in the Kashubian Region. Throughout most of the Gdansk History, its residents were typically German speakers.

Gdansk History – Foundation of the City

Based on records, Gdansk was formally founded in 997 AD when St. Adalbert from Prague went by the place as a part of the crusade for Christianization. Gdansk later became a part of the Pomeranian territory (1000) and was designated to the diocese of Kolobrzeg. Five years later, the bishopric was destroyed during a pagan Pomeranian rebellion.

Gdansk History – Medieval Era

During the 12th century, Gdansk became a chief stronghold of the reigning dynasty of the Samborides. By 1235, Gdansk had a total of about 2,000 residents and Swantopolk II accorded it with Lubeck city rights. It was also around this time that the city became well-known as a very significant fishing and trading seaport down the Baltic Sea coastline.

At the dawn of the 14th century, the province got involved in the war between Poland and the Brandenburg Margraviate. Brandenburg was able to seize Gdansk and King Wladyslaw I’s troops were not able to relieve the city from the foreign occupiers. The Teutonic Knights helped Poland and they were able to kick out the Brandenburgers from the city. However, when the King refused to pay the knights, the latter did not hand over Gdansk to Poland. For quite some time, the city was under the rule of the Teutonic Knights.

Gdansk History – Renaissance Era

One significant fact in Gdansk History was when the city started to develop during the early 15th century. It had become the most significant and the biggest seaport of the region. Add to this, the city prospered due to chief investments and economic wealth in Poland and Teutonic Prussia. By the mid-15th century, the whole of Pomerelia became a part of the Polish Kingdom. Not only did Gdansk transform into an economic powerhouse, it also changed culturally.

Gdansk History – 18th and 19th Century

The German-speaking residents of Gdansk fiercely contested the city to remain a part of Poland when the First Partition happened in the 18th century. However, Gdansk was incorporated in the Kingdom of Prussia. The city continued to be a part of Prussia but never a member of the German Confederation. In 1871, when the German Empire was established, Gdansk was integrated.

Gdansk History – 20th Century

After the First World War, the Allied powers’ Treaty of Versailles made Gdansk a free city. Poland took this opportunity to aim on regaining free right of entry to the open sea. The allies of World War I accorded the country the Gdansk Westerplatte (Danzig Westerplatte) port. A great number of Polish migrated to the area and the small village slowly grew into an important sea trading center. This caused a few squabbles between Poland and Gdansk.

After the Second World War, the city was once again placed under the Polish government. Most of the German residents were expelled from Gdansk while many Polish nationals settled in the city. Many buildings, which were destroyed during the war, were restored to their original states (removing just the German inscriptions).

Gdansk shares the same ups and down with other cities in Europe. Find out about these facts through Poznan History and Krakow History.

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