"Pinkas Hakehilot" - Encyclopedia of Jewish Communities - Poland; Vol. 4: Warsaw and District, Yad Vashem, Jerusalem 1989

Plock (Plock) (Region: Plock; Province: Warsaw).

Pages 358 - 372

Written by Abrahan Wein
Translated from the Hebrew by Morris Gradel


Polish History

 Plock was one of the oldest urban settlements in Mazowia and in the whole of Poland. Archaeological excavations on the spot revealed remnants of a pagan ritual centre of Slav tribes from the the centuries preceding the adoption of Christianity and its expansion in Poland from the year 966 onwards. In the 11th century P was the seat of the castellan (the district governor for the king of united Poland); the town was then also the capital of the district of Mazowia. In 1075 it was the see of a bishop. In the years 1079-1102 Prince Wladislaw Harman ruled areas of Poland from his centre in P. He was even buried in Plock, and also buried there was the Polish King Boleslaw "Crooked Mouth". From 1138 Plock was the capital of one of the principalities of divided Poland - Mazowia.

The development of Plock as a political and economic centre took place in the 12th century. In 1237 the town was granted a charter which set out the rights of its inhabitants. Plock was conquered by the Pomeranians in 1243 and by the Lithuanians in 1260 and 1286. The invaders destroyed much of the town, which was built mainly of wood. In 1353 the Polish king Wladislaw Lukeitik conquered the town, and he too destroyed many of its houses. In 1351-1370 the district of Mazowia passed under the tutelage of the Polish king Casimir the Great, who restored Plock and built a fortress; in 1361 Plock was granted the status of a town and its citizens given considerable privileges. After Casimir's death Plock again came under the protection of the princes of Mazowia until the union of the region with Crown Poland in 1495. In the 16th century Plock was the most important town in the kingdom after the capital Krakow. The development of the town was dependent on the trade of the towns of the kingdom with Danzig that took place along the Vistula, and thus passed through Plock. A quarrel then broke out among the merchants and tradesmen of the town ( weavers, brewers, brandy distillers, etc.) who organised themselves in guilds. Towards the end of the 16th century the decline of Plock began, mainly because it could not compete with Warsaw, which had become the capital of Poland instead of Krakow.

The crisis that afflcted Plock grew worse during the wars with the Swedes. In the middle of the 17th century, after the destruction that these brought with them, there were in 1661 only 40 houses intact. Neither did the wars with Sweden at the beginning of the 18th century spare Plock, and they left behind many marks of destruction. With the second division of Poland in 1793 Plock was incorporated into the Prussian area. From 1807 Plock was the seat of the Governor of the Woiwoda (County) in the principality of Warsaw. From 1815 Plock was the chief town of the Woiwoda (after 1837 of the province or Gubernia) of the Kingdom of Poland.With the restoration of Polish sovereignty in 1918 the town was designated the district capital. During the German occupation of 1939-45 it was incorporated into the Third Reich.


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