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The proper Greater Poland
|Seat||Gniezno, Poznań, Kalisz|
|Time zone||UTC+1 (CET)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC+2 (CEST)|
Greater Poland, often known by its Polish name Wielkopolska ( [vʲɛlkɔˈpɔlska] ( listen ); German : Großpolen, Latin : Polonia Maior), is a historical region of west-central Poland. Its chief and largest city is Poznań followed by Kalisz, the oldest city in Poland.
The boundaries of Greater Poland have varied somewhat throughout history. Since the Middle Ages, Wielkopolska proper has been split into the Poznań and Kalisz voivodeships. In the wider sense, it also encompassed Sieradz, Łęczyca, Brześć Kujawski and Inowrocław voivodeships, which were situated further eastward. After the Partitions of Poland at the end of the 18th century, Greater Poland was incorporated into Prussia as the Grand Duchy of Posen. The region in the proper sense roughly coincides with the present-day Greater Poland Voivodeship (Polish : województwo wielkopolskie).
Like the historical regions of Pomerania, Silesia, Mazovia or Lesser Poland, the Greater Poland region possesses its own distinctive folk costumes, architecture, cuisine, dialect and other traditions that differ from other parts of Poland.
Because Greater Poland was the settlement area of the Polans and the core of the early Polish state, the region was at times simply called "Poland" (Latin Polonia). The more specific name is first recorded in the Latin form Polonia Maior in 1257, and in Polish w Wielkej Polszcze in 1449. Its original meaning was the Older Poland, contrasting with Lesser Poland (Polish Małopolska, Latin Polonia Minor), a region in south-eastern Poland with its capital at Kraków which became the main center of the state later.
Greater Poland comprises much of the area drained by the Warta River and its tributaries, including the Noteć River. The region is distinguished from Lesser Poland with the lowland landscape, and from both Lesser Poland and Mazovia with its numerous lakes. In the strict meaning, it covers an area of about 33,000 square kilometres (13,000 sq mi), and has a population of 3.5 million. In the wider sense, it has almost 60,000 square kilometres (23,000 sq mi), and 7 million inhabitants.
The region's main metropolis is Poznań, near the centre of the region, on the Warta. Other cities are Kalisz to the south-east, Konin to the east, Piła to the north, Ostrów Wielkopolski to the south-east, Gniezno (the earliest capital of Poland) to the north-east, and Leszno to the south-west.
An area of 75.84 square kilometres (29.28 sq mi) of forest and lakeland south of Poznań is designated the Wielkopolska National Park (Wielkopolski Park Narodowy), established in 1957. The region also contains part of Drawa National Park, and several designated Landscape Parks. For example, the Rogalin Landscape Park is famous for about 2000 monumental oak trees growing on the flood plain of the river Warta, among numerous ox-bow lakes.
Greater Poland formed the heart of the 10th-century early Polish state, sometimes being called the "cradle of Poland". Poznań and Gniezno were early centres of royal power, but following devastation of the region by pagan rebellion in the 1030s, and the invasion of Bretislaus I of Bohemia in 1038, the capital was moved by Casimir I the Restorer from Gniezno to Kraków.
In the Testament of Bolesław III Wrymouth, which initiated the period of fragmentation of Poland (1138–1320), the western part of Greater Poland (including Poznań) was granted to Mieszko III the Old. The eastern part, with Gniezno and Kalisz, was part of the Duchy of Kraków, granted to Władysław II. However, for most of the period the two parts were under a single ruler, and were known as the Duchy of Greater Poland (although at times there were separately ruled duchies of Poznań, Gniezno, Kalisz and Ujście). The region came under the control of Władysław I the Elbow-high in 1314, and thus became part of the reunited Poland of which Władyslaw was crowned king in 1320.
In the reunited kingdom, and later in the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, the country came to be divided into administrative units called voivodeships. In the case of the Greater Poland region these were Poznań Voivodeship and Kalisz Voivodeship. The Commonwealth also had larger subdivisions known as prowincja , one of which was named Greater Poland. However, this prowincja covered a larger area than the Greater Poland region itself, also taking in Masovia and Royal Prussia. (This division of Crown Poland into two entities called Greater and Lesser Poland had its roots in the Statutes of Casimir the Great of 1346–1362, where the laws of "Greater Poland" – the northern part of the country – were codified in the Piotrków statute, with those of "Lesser Poland" in the separate Wiślica statute.)
In 1768 a new Gniezno Voivodeship was formed out of the northern part of Kalisz Voivodeship. However more far-reaching changes would come with the Partitions of Poland. In the first partition (1772), northern parts of Greater Poland along the Noteć (German Netze) were taken over by Prussia, becoming the Netze District. In the second partition (1793) the whole of Greater Poland was absorbed by Prussia, becoming part of the province of South Prussia. It remained so in spite of the first Greater Poland uprising (1794), part of the unsuccessful Kościuszko Uprising directed chiefly against Russia.
More successful was the Greater Poland Uprising of 1806, which led to the region's becoming part of the Napoleonic Duchy of Warsaw (forming the Poznań Department and parts of the Kalisz and Bydgoszcz Departments). However, following the Congress of Vienna in 1815, Greater Poland was again partitioned, with the western part (including Poznań) going to Prussia. The eastern part (including Kalisz) joined the Russian-controlled Kingdom of Poland, where it formed the Kalisz Voivodeship until 1837, then the Kalisz Governorate (merged into the Warsaw Governorate between 1844 and 1867).
Within the Prussian empire, western Greater Poland became the Grand Duchy of Posen (Poznań), which theoretically held some autonomy. Following an unrealized uprising in 1846, and the more substantial but still unsuccessful uprising of 1848 (during the Spring of Nations), the Grand Duchy was replaced by the Province of Posen. The authorities made efforts to Germanize the region, particularly after the founding of Germany in 1871, and from 1886 onwards the Prussian Settlement Commission was active in increasing German land ownership in formerly Polish areas.
Following the end of World War I, the Greater Poland uprising (1918–19) ensured that most of the region became part of the newly independent Polish state, forming most of Poznań Voivodeship (1921–1939). Northern and some western parts of Greater Poland remained in Germany, where they formed much of the province of Posen-West Prussia (1922–1938), whose capital was Schneidemühl (Piła).
Following the German invasion of 1939, Greater Poland was incorporated into Nazi Germany, becoming the province called Reichsgau Posen , later Reichsgau Wartheland (Warthe being the German name for the Warta river). The Polish and Jewish population was classified by Nazis as subhuman and subjected to organized genocide,involving mass murder and ethnic cleansing, with many former officials and others considered potential enemies by the Nazis being imprisoned or executed, including at the notorious Fort VII concentration camp in Poznań. Poznań was declared a stronghold city ( Festung ) in the closing stages of the war, being taken by the Red Army in the Battle of Poznań, which ended on 22 February 1945.
After the war, Greater Poland was fully within the Polish People's Republic, as Poznań Voivodeship. With the reforms of 1975 this was divided into smaller provinces (the voivodeships of Kalisz, Konin, Leszno and Piła, and a smaller Poznań Voivodeship). The present-day Greater Poland Voivodeship, again with Poznań as its capital, was created in 1999.
The following table lists the cities in proper Greater Poland with a population greater than 25,000 (2015):
|City||Population (2015)||Voivodeship in 1750||Voivodeship in 2016||Additional information|
|1.||Poznań||548,028||Poznań||Greater Poland||Former capital of Poland, former royal city of Poland, historical capital of Greater Poland.|
|2.||Kalisz||103,997||Kalisz||Greater Poland||Former royal city of Poland, former voivodeship capital.|
|3.||Konin||77,224||Kalisz||Greater Poland||Former royal city of Poland.|
|4.||Piła||74,609||Poznań||Greater Poland||Former royal city of Poland.|
|5.||Ostrów Wielkopolski||72,890||Kalisz||Greater Poland||Former private town of the Przebendowski family.|
|6.||Gniezno||69,883||Kalisz||Greater Poland||Former capital of Poland, former royal city of Poland, ecclesiastical capital of Poland.|
|7.||Leszno||64,589||Poznań||Greater Poland||Former private town of the Leszczyński family.|
|8.||Swarzędz||31,084||Poznań||Greater Poland||Former private town of the Grudziński family, part of the Poznań metropolitan area.|
|9.||Luboń||30,676||Poznań||Greater Poland||Part of the Poznań metropolitan area.|
|10.||Śrem||30,152||Poznań||Greater Poland||Former royal city of Poland.|
|12.||Krotoszyn||29,397||Kalisz||Greater Poland||Former private town.|
|14.||Wałcz||26,231||Poznań||West Pomeranian||Former royal city of Poland.|
Greater Poland Voivodeship, also known as Wielkopolska Voivodeship, Wielkopolska Province, or Greater Poland Province, is a voivodeship, or province, in west-central Poland. It was created on 1 January 1999 out of the former Poznań, Kalisz, Konin, Piła and Leszno Voivodeships, pursuant to the Polish local government reforms adopted in 1998. The province is named after the region called Greater Poland or Wielkopolska(listen). The modern province includes most of this historic region, except for some western parts.
Poznań Voivodeship was the name of several former administrative regions in Poland, centered on the city of Poznań, although the exact boundaries changed over the years. Poznań Voivodeship was incorporated into the Greater Poland Voivodeship after the Polish local government reforms of 1998.
The Grand Duchy of Posen was part of the Kingdom of Prussia, created from territories annexed by Prussia after the Partitions of Poland, and formally established following the Napoleonic Wars in 1815. Per agreements derived at the Congress of Vienna it was to have some autonomy. However, in reality it was subordinated to Prussia and the proclaimed rights for Polish subjects were not fully implemented. The name was unofficially used afterward for denoting the territory, especially by Poles, and today is used by modern historians to refer to different political entities until 1918. Its capital was Posen. The Grand Duchy was formally replaced by the Province of Posen in the Prussian constitution of December 5, 1848.
The Greater Poland uprising of 1918–1919, or Wielkopolska uprising of 1918–1919 or Posnanian War was a military insurrection of Poles in the Greater Poland region against German rule. The uprising had a significant effect on the Treaty of Versailles, which granted a reconstituted Second Polish Republic the area won by the Polish insurrectionists. The region had been part of the Kingdom of Poland and then Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth before the 1793 Second Partition of Poland when it was annexed by the German Kingdom of Prussia. It had also, following the 1806 Greater Poland Uprising, been part of the Duchy of Warsaw (1807–1815), a French puppet state during the Napoleonic Wars.
Środa Wielkopolska is a town in western-central Poland, situated in the Greater Poland Voivodeship, about 30 kilometres (19 mi) southeast of Poznań, with 22,001 inhabitants (2009). It is the seat of Środa Wielkopolska County, and of Gmina Środa Wielkopolska.
Piła is a city in northwestern Poland situated in the Greater Poland Voivodeship, previously capital of Piła Voivodeship (1975–1998). It had 73,791 inhabitants as of 2017 making it the fourth-largest city in the voivodeship after Poznań, Kalisz and Konin and is the largest city in the northern part of Greater Poland. It is the capital of Piła County. The city is located on the Gwda river and is famous for its green areas, parks and dense forests nearby. It is an important road and railway hub, located at the intersection of two main lines: Poznań–Szczecin and Bydgoszcz–Krzyż Wielkopolski.
Nakło nad Notecią is a town in northern Poland on the river Noteć with 23,687 inhabitants (2007). Since 1999, it has been in the Kuyavian-Pomeranian Voivodeship. It was in Bydgoszcz Voivodeship from 1975 to 1998. It is the seat of Nakło County, and also of Gmina Nakło nad Notecią. It is located in the ethnocultural region of Krajna.
Międzyrzecz is a town in western Poland, on the Obra and Paklica river, with 17,994 inhabitants (2019). The capital of Gmina Międzyrzecz and Międzyrzecz County. Since the Local Government Reorganization Act of 1998, it has been situated in Lubusz Voivodeship. In 1975–1998 Międzyrzecz was part of Gorzów Voivodeship. The town limits cover 10.26 square kilometres (3.96 sq mi).
Jarocin is a town in central Poland with 25,700 inhabitants (1995), the administrative capital of Jarocin County. Since 1999 Jarocin has been located in Greater Poland Voivodeship, prior to that it was located in the Kalisz Voivodeship (1975–1998).
South Prussia was a province of the Kingdom of Prussia from 1793 to 1807.
Kuyavia, also referred to as Cuyavia, is a historical region in north-central Poland, situated on the left bank of Vistula, as well as east from Noteć River and Lake Gopło. It is divided into three traditional parts: north-western, central, and south-eastern.
Poznań, today Poland's fifth largest city, is also one of the country's oldest cities, and was an important political and religious center in the early Polish state of the 10th century. Poznań Cathedral is the oldest church in the country, containing the tombs of the first Polish rulers, Duke Mieszko I and King Bolesław I Chrobry.
Łabiszyn is a small town in Żnin County, in the Kuyavian-Pomeranian Voivodeship in Poland, with 4,403 inhabitants (2004). It is located on the Noteć river near Żnin, on the border between the historic regions of Pałuki and Kuyavia.
Międzychód is a town in Greater Poland Voivodeship, Poland, the administrative seat of Międzychód County. It is located on the southern shore of the Warta river, about 75 km (47 mi) west of Poznań. Population is 10,915 (2009).
Margonin is a town in Chodzież County, Greater Poland Voivodeship, Poland, with 2,941 inhabitants (2004).
The Netze District or District of the Netze was a territory in the Kingdom of Prussia from 1772 until 1807. It included the urban centers of Bydgoszcz (Bromberg), Inowrocław (Inowraclaw), Piła (Schneidemühl) and Wałcz and was given its name for the Noteć River that traversed it.
Poznań Voivodeship was a unit of administrative division and local government in Poland in the years 1919–1939, created after World War I from the Prussian-German province of Poznań. The borders were changed in 1939: the city of Bydgoszcz passed to the Pomeranian Voivodeship, but some eastern areas were included.
Kcynia is a town in Nakło County, Kuyavian-Pomeranian Voivodeship, Poland, with 4,712 inhabitants (2004). It is located in the Pałuki ethnographic region in the northern part of historic Greater Poland.
Kalisz Voivodeship 1314–1793 was an administrative unit of Poland from 1314 to the Second Partition of Poland in 1793. It was part of the Greater Polish Province. Its capital was in Kalisz, and together with neighboring Poznań Voivodeship, Kalisz elected general starosta of Greater Poland. The sejmiks for the two voivodeships took place at Środa Wielkopolska, while general sejmik for the whole Province of Greater Poland took place in Koło, at the Bernardine Abbey.
Poznań Voivodeship 14th century to 1793 was a unit of administrative division and local government in Poland from the 14th century to the Second Partition of Poland in 1793. It was part of the Greater Polish prowincja.