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Warsaw History, Poland

The Warsaw area first saw settlements in the 10th century. The beginning of a township, however, can be dated only towards the beginning of the 14th century when the dukes of Mazovia built a structure at the site where the Royal Palace stands now. Named Warszowa, the small township became the seat of the Mazovian dukes in 1413; thereafter, the region saw all-round development. When the last Mazovian duke died without any lawful heir in 1526, the duchy including the capital was annexed to the Polish kingdom.

History of Warsaw as the Capital of Poland

Year 1569 marked a new beginning in the history of Warsaw as the Polish Parliament (Sejm) was permanently shifted to Warsaw in this year following the union of Poland and Lithuania under the name of Republic of Two Nations. Warsaw’s central location (between Poland’s capital city Krakow and Lithuania’s capital Vilnius) made it an ideal venue for holding joint Polish-Lithuanian parliamentary sessions. Exactly 27 years later, when a fire broke out in the Wawel Castle in Krakow, King Zygmunt III Waza shifted his court and offices to Warsaw and named it as the capital city of the Republic of Two Nations.

In the 17th century, Warsaw underwent all-round progress as the capital city (except for the five years under Swedish rule between 1655 and 1660). This developmental phase continued for the better part of the 18th century and Warsaw became the cultural, economic, industrial and political hub of the Polish nation. The reign of the last Polish King Stanislaw August Poniatowski (1764-1772) is regarded as the ‘golden age’ in the history of Warsaw city.

History of Warsaw and the Partition of Poland

This period of prosperity was followed by a period of misery when Poland was partitioned in 1795 between three empires: Habsburg, Prussian and Russian Empires. Warsaw went to Prussia and it lost its importance. When Napoleon created the Duchy of Warsaw in 1807, the city became its capital. With the fall of the Napoleonic Regime, Warsaw went under the Russian control. The years of Russian occupation proved advantageous and Warsaw registered immense growth and development.

History of Warsaw – 20th Century

Poland regained independence in 1918 and the Second Republic of Poland was formed. Warsaw was made the capital of the Second Republic. During World War II, Warsaw went under German occupation. The period of five years (1939 to 1944) has been the darkest period in the history of Warsaw. The citizens led what can be called a hellish existence, with the Jewish population facing the worst in the form of gas chambers and death camps. The Warsaw Uprising of 1944 was quelled by the Nazis. Over 200000 Polish people, both soldiers and civilians, were killed by Nazis and the entire city was laid waste. This macabre incident also hastened the fall of Nazi Germany. Warsaw was liberated by the Soviet troops on the 17th of January, 1945.

Steps were taken to rebuild the city and restore its lost glory immediately after the conclusion of the World War. Warsaw once again became the capital but the Communist regime (directed by Communist Soviet Union) was not really effective. The first free election of Poland was held in 1989 and the Communist Party was voted out of power. In the following years, Warsaw saw economic boom and today, Warsaw is not way behind other European capital cities. No wonder that Warsaw has been chosen as the venue for the opening match in UEFA Euro 2012.

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