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History

Panorama miasta z 1650 roku.


STRZELCE KRAJEŃSKIE


Strzelce is located 25 kilometers north-east of Gorzów, by the trunk road no. 22, the historical route from Aix-la-Chapelle to Königsberg. On the basis of archeological research, it might be assumed that a continuous process of settlement developed around the turn of the 8th and 9th century. The decisive factor in the process was the favorable defensive location, by the route on a pass between two lakes.

The town was established in an area which belonged to the Castellany of Santok, on the borderline between Great Poland and Pomerania. These lands became Neumark- part of the Margraviate of Brandenburg as a result of the territorial expansion to the east by Brandenburg margraves from the Ascanian dynasty. In 1402-1454 Strzelce as part of Neumark belonged to the Monastic State of Teutonic Knights. Then, the town was under the rule of the Hohenzollerns. In the 18th century Strzelce was included in a list of towns submitted directly to the ruler. Another administrative change was incorporating the Strzelce District to the West Pomeranian province in 1937.

Strzelce has been the center of the district almost since its establishing. The town's character as and administrative and economic center preserved until present tahoma. In 1945, the town found itself within the borders of Poland.

The oldest mention of Strzelce dates back from 1272 and occurred in the Chronicle of Great Poland. With reference to a castle and a settlement described in it, a Slavic name- Strelci was used. The name was still in use among the local residents even in the early 1700s. It described an ancillary settlement inhabited by archers. The German name of the town was Friedeberg, mentioned for the first time in 1286, and it was in use until the beginning of the year 1945. It meant "peaceful or calm mountain".  

The oldest depiction of the town's coat of arms comes from a secret seal of the town's counsel from 1348. The coat of arms which has developed within several centuries is charged with a white, brick wall with a red, open gate against the black background of which three white lilies are placed. Above, three white round towers covered with blue, conical cupolas are shown. Before 1945, a flag with the town's coat of arms was also in use.


THE MIDDLE AGES


Primarily, in the area of today's town, a princely hunting palace was located, built by Margrave Conrad. There was an ancillary settlement beside the castle. It was raided and completely destroyed by the Great Polish prince Pribislav in 1272. Allegedly, the castle has never been rebuilt again. As a result of the damage, the margraves decided to found a town on Magdeburg Law. The exact date of the foundation charter including its demarcation is unknown. It is assumed that the location took place before 1286. The foundation charter has not preserved.


Strzelce was located on the eastern side of Lake Wielkie and Lake Dolne, on the plan of a regular circle with the diameter of 500 meters. In the center, a market square and a church quarter including a cemetery were demarcated. The encircling road was parallel to the defensive walls. The net of streets creating quadrilateral housing areas were marked out by three parallel streets running east-west and three streets running across. The street plan did not change distinctly until WW2.


The head of the town was primarily the alderman, mentioned in 1338 for the first time. Almost at the same time the town counsel developed. The first information about that fact dates back from 1336. The composition of the counsel changed yearly, on the Epiphany (January 6). Feudal allegiance, where the power lay in the hands of the margrave, was certified only after 1348. Moreover, the town was the seat of provost or the archdeacon later on, in the structures of the Kamień Diocese.


The eldest town's privilege was granted in 1345 when the merchants of Strzelce were allowed to sail on the River Polka flowing into the River Noteć, the River Warta and finally into the River Oder. The income from the monopoly on fishmongery was reduced with time by the margrave, who reserved the right of trout fishing to himself.


Apart from fish trade, the town's income consisted of judiciary, stall charges, taxes and rents, mills, brickyards, causeway customs and inn rents. The town owned the villages of Górki, Przyłęg and Sławno. The duties, on the other hand, were the taxes due to the margrave in the form of real property taxes and cornfield feuds paid twice a year.


The dwellers of Strzelce earned their living as craftsmen, were into trade, farming and brewing (known from 1488). 


The town was surrounded with a ring of stone defensive with a system of half-shell towers and two gates: The Gorzów Gate on the western part, and the Drezdenko Gate in the east. It was surrounded with a mount and embankments as additional security measures. The walls embraced an area of 24 hectares. Apart from housing constructions, a number of grand buildings were erected including a parish church, a monastery and a town hall. Within the church quarter, St.Mary's gothic church was erected in the end of the 13th century. In the southeastern part of the town the Augustinian monastery was located with a chapel by the Gorzów Gate. Outside the walls two hospitals and chapels were located: St. George's on the western side and St. Gertrude's in the east. The town suffered from damages as a result of the raid of Ladislaus I of Poland in 1326 and the Hussites in 1433 which surely must have slowed its development for some time.


MODERN HISTORY


Because of the crisis in the Roman-Catholic church, Johann von Brandenburg-Küstrin, the new ruler of Neumark, received Communion in both kinds in 1538, which is presently recognized as conversion to Lutheranism. According to the rule of cuius regio eius religio, all the social classes of Neumark converted to the new faith.  Besides purely political, social or religious changes, converting to Lutheranism caused the secularization of church estates, economic transformations as well as strengthening princely power. After the remuneration of the parish church and the dissolution of the Augustinian monastery, the ruler allocated at his own discretion.


In the 16th century Strzelce, there were two counsels and mayors changing every year. For almost two hundred years the common folk were in conflict with the patriciate on the question of membership in the counsel, which finally finished with a compromise: two representatives of the craftsmen and two, then four representatives of the patriciate. The parish priest has been the inspector of the church district which included the District of Strzelce, since Reformation.


In the work of Martin Zeiller, Topographia Electoratuus Brandenburgici et Ducatus Pomeraniae, the town was illustrated from the southern part in the etching by Matthew Merian the elder. The buildings do not have any signs of damage, the same with a well prospering sheepfold in front of the Gorzów Gate. Therefore, it might be assumed that the rough sketch was made in the 1620, before the damages of the Thirty Years' War. The town closed with a ring of walls was filled with half-timbered, one-storey tenements; occasionally the tenements were two-storey with landmarks such as the gates, the tower of the town hall and the parish church. The damages of The Thirty Years' War were serious. Another negative factor was frequent, obligatory requisitions made by foreign armies' units. The picture by Daniel Petzold created around 1710-1715 reveals losses in the development as well as partly damaged fortifications.


The 16th century brought the development of crafts- the artisans associated in guilds and protected their businesses. In 1615, the guild of smiths and related professions such as coppersmiths, locksmiths and goldsmiths was granted status. After the period of the Thirty Years' War, 64 drapers and 58 shoemakers were brought to the town.  Four guilds were registered in the 17th century- bakers, butchers, drapers and shoemakers. In the first half of the century even a master organ builder, Johann P. Schütze- the builder of the organ in the Gorzów Church of Concord. A particular role in the town's industry was fulfilled by the drapers who completed orders made by the army. The development of drapery was strictly connected with establishing sericulture in Strzelce.


In 1800 Strzelce had 309 craftsman masters, 101 journeymen and 86 apprentices, among whom there were 53 drapers, 14 bakers, 6 butchers, 28 tailors, 4 furriers, 5 hatters, 3 glovers, 2 turners, 2 buttoners, 2 tanners, 6 locksmiths, 2 millers, 2 joiners, 6 carpenters, 2 saddlers, 2 rope-makers, a pewtersmith, a coppersmith, a bookbinder, a chandler, a stocking-maker, a gunsmith, a tobacconist, a clockmaker, a glazier, a housepainter and only 2 master bricklayers.


Apart from craft and trade, farming was an important source of income for the town's dwellers, especially after arable acreage has been developed around the town. A popular branch of craft was also miller's trade. Strzelce and the area had numerous water and wind mills. At the same period, brewing traditions became popular. In 1562, a large number of 122 townsmen had the privilege of brewing beer. The beer produced in Strzelce was sold in an inn in Różanki which aroused outrage among the Gorzów town councilors.


A positive influence on the town's progress had the decisions of Frederick William II and Frederick II of settlement of marshland by the River Noteć. Numerous colonies and settlements such as Przyłęg, Sarbiewo, Wełmin and Żółwin were established, all of which belonged to the municipality. Aside from the rents, Strzelce obtained and additional target of goods exchange, as well as resources of craftsmen. Creating a garrison in town was another favorable factor for its growth. It enabled obtaining income by providing the army with supplies settled by the state. Another drawback in the town's evolution occurred due to the damage of The Seven Years' War. Particularly acute were the losses caused by the Napoleonic Campaign.


THE YEARS 1815-1945 


Rynek

After the administrative reform of 1815, Strzelce remained part of Neumark, which was subdued over the Regency of Frankfurt. The town was governed by municipality consisting of the mayor and six town councilors. In 1832, the town became the official seat of the Starost of the Strzelce District. The offices of the building police, land registry and tax existed here. In 1850, the town owned manors in Sarbiewo and Sławno, as well as Podgrodzie, Piastowo and Sidłów.


The reasonably growth of the town in the latter half of the 19th century was caused by building a railroad from Krzyż to Gorzów  in 1857 which led past it with the distance of 7 kilometers south. Railroads have always been a factor positively contributing to economic growth. Therefore, it was finally decided to create a local train in 1897 which was drawn farther to Lubiana. The decision, however, did not bring any spectacular effects.


At the turn of the 19th and the 20th centuries, Strzelce developed in the southwestern direction towards the road to Gorzów. A couple of new public buildings appeared, such as the seat of the County Administrator's Office, the Public School the new Town Hall and the Teachers College. The process of re-Gothicisation of the parish church which was was given new furnishings and interior decor. The period following WW1 brought decline. In 1928, another two other manors, Czyżkowo and Golczewice, were included into the municipality.


The leading occupation has incessantly been crafts. The first factory was established no earlier than in 1850. It was a felt product manufacturing company which produced mainly court shoes. There were also two lumber mills. At the end of the 19th century, a creamery was opened, and soon after a slaughterhouse, a tannery and a power plant. In the 1940s a motor mill was in use.


The spiritual lives of the dwellers were focused around St Mary's church. The head of the protestant community was the parish priest helped by a vicar in the rank of archdeacon. The 19th century brought a revival of Catholicism. Primarily, the Catholics belonged to the parish of the Holy Cross in Gorzów. In 1936, however, a new Roman-Catholic parish was created in Strzelce.

Kościół farny - okolo 1866In 1919, in the Drezdenko gate, the regional Museum was established. The town had also got municipal and church archives as well as folk and municipal libraries.



Strzelce was captured on January 30, 1945 by the Red Army. The German administration did not assume the town to be an area of defense. However, front army units, and marauders following them, committed constant plunders and arsons. German civilians who did not evacuate were not spared. Within few months, the old town was largely devastated and burnt. The effects of the war damage were dealt not until 1960s and 70th replacing the period houses with modern housing which does not harmonize with the historic character of the town.