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Dobrzyn upon Vistula

Andrzej Koraszewski 2002-12-26

A town of more than 2500 inhabitants, Dobrzyn is located in rural central Poland in a region of orchards and cereal and root crops. Dobrzyn (pronounced dob-zhin) has been known as a market town since the 12th century.

It probably started as a fortified border town. The early Piast monarchy in Poland was based on a feudal system of fortified settlements in which an official called the castellan acted as administrator, military commander, judge, and tax collector and generally ran the ruler's domain for him. In the 14th century Dobrzyn was known as the base of a castellan.

The history of Dobrzyn is closely connected to the history of the Teutonic Order in Poland.
In the 13th century Poland was divided between different branches of the Piast dynasty. In the north the pagan Lithuanians, Prussians, and Jatvingians were harassing the Duchy of Mazovia, so in 1226 Duke Conrad of Mazovia called in the German crusading order generally known as the Teutonic Order. He provided them with a territorial base (including Dobrzyn), and assumed that after a joint conquest of the Prussian lands (later known as East Prussia) they would become his vassals.

The arrival of the Teutonic Knights changed the balance of power in that part of Europe and marked the beginning of the rise of Prussia as a great power. During next two hundred years Dobrzyn changed hands several times. In 1391 it was sold with the rest of this region to the Teutonic Order but went back to Poland in 1405; it was burned down in 1409 by the Teutonic Knights but became Polish again after the Treaty of Torun in 1411.

After that Dobrzyn had more than two hundred years of prosperity. Unfortunately, during the Polish-Swedish War it was again conquered, sacked, and burned in 1656.

Today nothing is left of its prosperous past, neither in its architecture nor in its spirit. The town is rather run-down, with high unemployment and very poor infrastructure, but it has great potential to be developed as a base for water sports and tourism.

The town is located on a high bank overlooking the Vistula. The river is very broad here because of a hydroelectric dam about 12 miles below the town. The surrounding countryside is beautiful, unspoiled, rolling, wooded farmland.

Population: 2,600
Town and Commune Council: Szkolna Street (phone: 253 12 31)
Police: Zunska Street (phone) 253 10 07)
Health Center: Służba Polsce Street (phone: 253 10 27)
Our School: Licealna Street (phone: 253 10 22)
Fire Station Szkolna Street (253 10 98)

The Legend of Nawojka, the First Polish Woman Student

On 15 October 1384 a 10-year-old girl was crowned in Cracow as the Polish Queen Jadwiga. She was a granddaughter of Casimir the Great, the only Polish king who was called 'the Great'. She was intelligent and pretty, and already well educated. But Poland was a foreign country for her, because she was brought up at the Angevin court in Budapest. On 18 February 1386 this young girl married a Lithuanian prince, Wladislaw Jagiello, who was in his 30s. She never loved her husband and despised the Polish aristocrats who had made her marry him. Jadwiga devoted the rest of her life to charity and to the poor.
When she died in Cracow at 24, she was known all over Europe as a very wise and holy woman. All her personal fortune she left for re-establishing the Cracovian Academy, which was founded by her grandfather and is known today as the Jagiellonian University.

More than thirty years after the death of Queen Jadwiga, a Benedictine monk from Vienna wrote a story about a young girl from a rich family who inherited a fortune from her parents. She decided to dress as a man and go to study in Cracow. After two years her deception was uncovered, and as a punishment she was sentenced to live in a convent. There is no other confirmation of this story, and similar legends circulated in other countries.

Not surprisingly, many writers used this legend and developed the story quite freely. Several towns claimed this legendary first Polish woman student, and Dobrzyn-upon-Vistula is among them. Our claim is as well documented as any other. The name Nawojka was introduced by somebody in the 1960s, and we like it very much.

So, whereas it is thereby proved, the first Polish woman student came from Dobrzyn, studied in Cracow between 1407 and 1409, and then became a nun in one of the convents there. She was a very good scholar, and we have every right to be proud of her. Which we are.

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1. Dobrzyn upon Vistula indianka 2002-12-29

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Miasto i Gmina Dobrzyń: www.dobrzyn.pl

Dobrzyn upon Vistula

Redaktor naczelny:   Wiktoria Jankowska
Webmaster:   Elżbieta Wierzbicka
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