Definitions

Leszno

Leszno

Leszno, Ger. Lissa, town (1993 est. pop. 59,500), Wielkopolskie prov., SW Poland. A railway junction, it is a center for metallurgy and light industry. Chartered in 1547, it passed to Prussia in 1793 and again in 1815. It reverted to Poland in 1919. Leszno was a center of the Protestant Reformation of the 16th cent. and the chief seat of the Moravian Brethren in Poland. John Amos Comenius was a rector of the famous Moravian school here. The town has an 18th-century palace.

Leszno [] German Lissa, is a town in central Poland with 71,000 habitants (2008).

Situated in the Greater Poland Voivodeship since 1999, it was previously the capital of the Leszno Voivodeship (1975-1998).

History

Leszno was first mentioned in historical documents in 1393. The settlement was then the property of Stefan z Karnina of Clan Wieniawa. The family adopted the surname of Leszczyński from the name of their estate according to the medieval custom of the Polish nobility.

In the early 16th century a community of Protestant Unity of the Brethren refugees from Bohemia settled in Leszno invited by the Leszczyński family, who were since 1473 imperial counts and had converted to Calvinism. The arrival of the Bohemian Protestants as well as weavers from nearby Silesia helped the settlement to grow and made it possible to became a town in 1547 by a privilege given by King Sigismund I the Old. Leszno was also the biggest printing center in Greater Poland thanks to the activity of the Protestant community, whose number increased because of inflow of German refugees from Silesia during the Thirty Years War. At the time it already had a Gymnasium school led for a period by Jan Amos Komenský (known in English as Comenius), a Bohemian educator who was a member of the Unity of the Brethren. From 1638 to his death in 1647, Johann Heermann, a German-speaking poet, lived in Leszno. Between 1736 and 1639 the town became fortified and its area increased. The golden era of Leszno ended with a large fire in 1655. During the Great Northern War the town was burned again in 1707 and had a plague in 1709. The Leszczyński family owned the city until 1738 when king Stanisław Leszczyński sold it after he abdicated for the second time.

During the Second Partition of Poland in 1793, Leszno was annexed by Prussia and became part of Province of Posen as Lissa. The town took part in the Greater Poland Uprising (1918–1919) and was returned to Poland by the Treaty of Versailles on 1920 January 17. The town was annexed by Nazi Germany in 1939. The Polish population was resettled to the General Government. Most of the town's Jewish population (which in its history included such famous rabbis as Leo Baeck and Jacob of Lissa as well as the Polish-Jewish writer Ludwig Kalisch) was exterminated by the Nazis. See the photograph "Execution of Poles by Einsatzkommando" in the Wikipedia article Einsatzgruppen. The town returned to Poland in 1945. After the war, the city underwent a period of fast development especially between 1975 and 1998 when it was a seat of a voivodeship administrative area. In 2000 the city was awarded "The Golden Star of Town Twinning" prize by the European Commission.

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