Upper Silesia (Polish : Górny Śląsk; Silesian Polish: Gůrny Ślůnsk; Czech : Horní Slezsko; German : Oberschlesien; Silesian German: Oberschläsing; Latin : Silesia Superior) is the southeastern part of the historical and geographical region of Silesia, located mostly in Poland, with small parts in the Czech Republic.
Polish is a West Slavic language of the Lechitic group. It is spoken primarily in Poland and serves as the native language of the Poles. In addition to being an official language of Poland, it is also used by Polish minorities in other countries. There are over 50 million Polish language speakers around the world and it is one of the official languages of the European Union.
Czech, historically also Bohemian, is a West Slavic language of the Czech–Slovak group. Spoken by over 10 million people, it serves as the official language of the Czech Republic. Czech is closely related to Slovak, to the point of mutual intelligibility to a very high degree. Like other Slavic languages, Czech is a fusional language with a rich system of morphology and relatively flexible word order. Its vocabulary has been extensively influenced by Latin and German.
German is a West Germanic language that is mainly spoken in Central Europe. It is the most widely spoken and official or co-official language in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, South Tyrol (Italy), the German-speaking Community of Belgium, and Liechtenstein. It is also one of the three official languages of Luxembourg and a co-official language in the Opole Voivodeship in Poland. The languages which are most similar to German are the other members of the West Germanic language branch: Afrikaans, Dutch, English, the Frisian languages, Low German/Low Saxon, Luxembourgish, and Yiddish. There are also strong similarities in vocabulary with Danish, Norwegian and Swedish, although those belong to the North Germanic group. German is the second most widely spoken Germanic language, after English.
Since the 9th century, Upper Silesia has been part of (chronologically) Greater Moravia, the Duchy of Bohemia, the Piast Kingdom of Poland, again of the Lands of the Bohemian Crown and the Holy Roman Empire, as well as of the Habsburg Monarchy from 1526. In 1742 the greater part of Upper Silesia was annexed by the Kingdom of Prussia, and in 1871 it became part of the German Empire. After the Second World War it was placed under the administration of the Republic of Poland, in 1945. Following the German-Polish border treaty of 14 November 1990 it became Polish.
Bohemia is the westernmost and largest historical region of the Czech lands in the present-day Czech Republic. In a broader meaning, Bohemia sometimes refers to the entire Czech territory, including Moravia and Czech Silesia, especially in a historical context, such as the Lands of the Bohemian Crown ruled by Bohemian kings.
The period of rule by the Piast dynasty between the 10th and 14th centuries is the first major stage of the history of the Polish nation. The dynasty was founded by a series of dukes listed by the chronicler Gallus Anonymous in the early 12th century: Siemowit, Lestek and Siemomysł. It was Mieszko I, the son of Siemomysł, who is now considered the proper founder of the Polish state at about 960 AD. The ruling house then remained in power in the Polish lands until 1370. Mieszko converted to Christianity of the Western Latin Rite in an event known as the Baptism of Poland in 966, which established a major cultural boundary in Europe based on religion. He also completed a unification of the West Slavic tribal lands that was fundamental to the existence of the new country of Poland.
The Lands of the Bohemian Crown, sometimes called Czech lands in modern times, were a number of incorporated states in Central Europe during the medieval and early modern periods connected by feudal relations under the Bohemian kings. The crown lands primarily consisted of the Kingdom of Bohemia, an electorate of the Holy Roman Empire according to the Golden Bull of 1356, the Margraviate of Moravia, the Duchies of Silesia, and the two Lusatias, known as the Margraviate of Upper Lusatia and the Margraviate of Lower Lusatia, as well as other territories throughout its history.
Upper Silesia is situated on the upper Oder River, north of the Eastern Sudetes mountain range and the Moravian Gate, which form the southern border with the historic Moravia region. Within the adjacent Silesian Beskids to the east, the Vistula River rises and turns eastwards, the Biała and Przemsza tributaries mark the eastern border with Lesser Poland. In the north, Upper Silesia borders on Greater Poland, and in the west on the Lower Silesian lands (the adjacent region around Wrocław also referred to as Middle Silesia).
The Oder is a river in Central Europe and Poland's third-longest river after the Vistula and Warta. It rises in the Czech Republic and flows 742 kilometres (461 mi) through western Poland, later forming 187 kilometres (116 mi) of the border between Poland and Germany as part of the Oder–Neisse line. The river ultimately flows into the Szczecin Lagoon north of Szczecin and then into three branches that empty into the Bay of Pomerania of the Baltic Sea.
The Eastern Sudetes are the Eastern part of the Sudetes mountains on the border of the Czech Republic and Poland. They stretch from the Kłodzko Valley and the Nysa Kłodzka River in the west down to the Moravian Gate in the east, leading to the Outer Western Carpathians.
The Moravian Gate is a geomorphological feature in the Moravian region of the Czech Republic. It is formed by the depression between the Carpathian Mountains in the east and the Sudetes in the west. The drainage divide between the upper Oder river and the Baltic Sea in the north and the Bečva River of the Danube basin runs through it.
It is currently split into a larger Polish and the smaller Czech Silesian part, which is located within the Czech regions of Moravia-Silesia and Olomouc. The Polish Upper Silesian territory covers most of the Opole Voivodeship, except for the Lower Silesian counties of Brzeg and Namysłów, and the western half of the Silesian Voivodeship (except for the Lesser Polish counties of Będzin, Bielsko-Biała, Częstochowa with the city of Częstochowa, Kłobuck, Myszków, Zawiercie and Żywiec, as well as the cities of Dąbrowa Górnicza, Jaworzno and Sosnowiec).
Poland, officially the Republic of Poland, is a country located in Central Europe. It is divided into 16 administrative subdivisions, covering an area of 312,696 square kilometres (120,733 sq mi), and has a largely temperate seasonal climate. With a population of approximately 38.5 million people, Poland is the sixth most populous member state of the European Union. Poland's capital and largest metropolis is Warsaw. Other major cities include Kraków, Łódź, Wrocław, Poznań, Gdańsk, and Szczecin.
Czech Silesia is the name given to the part of the historical region of Silesia presently located in the Czech Republic. While not today an administrative entity in itself, Czech Silesia is, together with Bohemia and Moravia, one of the three historical Czech lands. In this context, it is often mentioned as "Silesia" even though it is only around one tenth of the area of the historic land of Silesia.
The Czech Republic, also known by its short-form name, Czechia, is a landlocked country in Central Europe bordered by Germany to the west, Austria to the south, Slovakia to the east and Poland to the northeast. The Czech Republic covers an area of 78,866 square kilometres (30,450 sq mi) with a mostly temperate continental climate and oceanic climate. It is a unitary parliamentary republic, with 10.6 million inhabitants; its capital and largest city is Prague, with 1.3 million residents. Other major cities are Brno, Ostrava, Olomouc and Pilsen. The Czech Republic is a member of the European Union (EU), NATO, the OECD, the United Nations, the OSCE, and the Council of Europe.
Divided Cieszyn Silesia as well as former Austrian Silesia are historical parts of Upper Silesia.
Cieszyn Silesia or Těšín Silesia or Teschen Silesia, is a historical region in south-eastern Silesia, centered on the towns of Cieszyn and Český Těšín and bisected by the Olza River. Since 1920 it has been divided between Poland and Czechoslovakia, and later the Czech Republic. It covers an area of about 2,280 square kilometres (880 sq mi) and has about 810,000 inhabitants, of which 1,002 square kilometres (387 sq mi) (44%) is in Poland, while 1,280 square kilometres (494 sq mi) (56%) is in the Czech Republic.
Austrian Silesia, officially the Duchy of Upper and Lower Silesia, was an autonomous region of the Kingdom of Bohemia and the Habsburg Monarchy. It is largely coterminous with the present-day region of Czech Silesia and was, historically, part of the larger Silesia region.
According to the 9th century Bavarian Geographer, the West Slavic Opolanie tribe had settled on the upper Oder River since the days of the Migration Period, centered on the gord of Opole. At the time of Prince Svatopluk I (871–894), all Silesia was a part of his Great Moravian realm. Upon its dissolution after 906, the region fell under the influence of the Přemyslid rulers of Bohemia, Duke Spytihněv I (894–915) and his son Vratislaus I (915–921), possibly the founder and name giver of the Silesian capital Wrocław (Czech : Vratislav).
The epithet "Bavarian Geographer" is the conventional name for the anonymous author of a Latin medieval text containing a list of the tribes in central-eastern Europe, headed Descriptio civitatum et regionum ad septentrionalem plagam Danubii.
The Migration Period was a period that lasted from 375 AD to 538 AD, during which there were widespread migrations of peoples within or into Europe, during and after the decline of the Western Roman Empire, mostly into Roman territory, notably the Germanic tribes and the Huns. This period has also been termed in English by the German loanword Völkerwanderung and—from the Mediterranean perspective—the Barbarian Invasions. Many of the migrations were movements of Germanic, Hunnic, Slavic and other peoples into the territory of the then declining Roman Empire, with or without accompanying invasions or war.
A gord is a medieval Slavic fortified wooden settlement, sometimes known as a burgwall after the German term for such sites. Gords were built during the late Bronze and early Iron Ages by the Lusatian culture, and later in the 8th–7th centuries CE, in what is now Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia, eastern Germany, Romania/Moldova, Belarus and western Ukraine. These settlements were usually founded on strategic sites such as hills, riverbanks, lake islands, or peninsulas.
By 990 the newly installed Piast duke Mieszko I of the Polans had conquered large parts of Silesia. From the Middle Silesia fortress of Niemcza, his son and successor Bolesław I Chrobry (992–1025), having established the Diocese of Wrocław, subdued the Upper Silesian lands of the pagan Opolanie, which for several hundred years were part of Poland, though contested by Bohemian dukes like Bretislaus I, who from 1025 invaded Silesia several times. Finally in 1137, the Polish prince Bolesław III Wrymouth (1107–1138) came to terms with Duke Soběslav I of Bohemia, when a peace was made confirming the border along the Sudetes.
However, this arrangement fell apart when upon the death of Bolesław III and his testament the fragmentation of Poland began, which decisively enfeebled its central authority. The newly established Duchy of Silesia became the ancestral homeland of the Silesian Piasts, descendants of Bolesław's eldest son Władysław II the Exile, who nevertheless saw themselves barred from the succession to the Polish throne and only were able to regain their Silesian home territory with the aid of the Holy Roman Emperor.
The failure of the Agnatic seniority principle of inheritance also led to the split-up of the Silesian province itself: in 1172 Władysław's second son Mieszko IV Tanglefoot claimed his rights and received the Upper Silesian Duchy of Racibórz as an allodium from the hands of his elder brother Duke Bolesław I the Tall of Silesia. In the struggle around the Polish throne, Mieszko additionally received the former Lesser Polish lands of Bytom, Oświęcim, Zator, Siewierz and Pszczyna from the new Polish High Duke Casimir II the Just in 1177. When in 1202 Mieszko Tanglefoot had annexed the Duchy of Opole of his deceased nephew Jarosław, he ruled over all Upper Silesia as Duke of Opole and Racibórz.
In the early 13th century the ties of the Silesian Piasts with the neighbouring Holy Roman Empire grew stronger as several dukes married scions of German nobility. Promoted by the Lower Silesian Duke Henry I the Bearded, from 1230 also regent over Upper Silesia for the minor sons of his late cousin Duke Casimir I of Opole, large parts of the Silesian lands were settled with German immigrants in the course of the Ostsiedlung , establishing numerous cities according to German town law. The plans to re-unifiy Silesia shattered upon the Mongol invasion of Poland and the death of Duke Henry II the Pious at the 1241 Battle of Legnica. Upper Silesia further fragmented upon the death of Duke Władysław Opolski in 1281 into the duchies of Bytom, Opole, Racibórz and Cieszyn. About 1269 the Duchy of Opava was established on adjacent Moravian territory, ruled by the Přemyslid duke Nicholas I, whose descendants inherited the Duchy of Racibórz in 1336. As they ruled both duchies in personal union, Opava grew into the Upper Silesian territory.
In 1327 the Upper Silesian dukes, like most of their Lower Silesian cousins, had sworn allegiance to King John of Bohemia, thereby becoming vassals of the Bohemian kingdom. During the re-establishment of Poland under King Casimir III the Great, all Silesia was specifically excluded as non-Polish land by the 1335 Treaty of Trentschin becoming a land of the Bohemian Crown and — indirectly — of the Holy Roman Empire. By the mid-14th century, the influx of German settlers into Upper Silesia was stopped by the Black Death pandemic. Unlike in Lower Silesia, the Germanization process was halted; still a majority of the population spoke Polish and Silesian as their native language, often together with German (Silesian German) as a second language. In the southernmost areas, also Lach dialects were spoken. While Latin, Czech and German language were used as official languages in towns and cities, only in the 1550s (during the Protestant Reformation) did records with Polish names start to appear.
Upper Silesia was hit by the Hussite Wars and in 1469 was conquered by King Matthias Corvinus of Hungary, while the Duchies of Oświęcim and Zator fell back to the Polish Crown. Upon the death of the Jagiellonian king Louis II in 1526, the Bohemian crown lands were inherited by the Austrian House of Habsburg. In the 16th century, large parts of Silesia had turned Protestant, promoted by reformers like Caspar Schwenckfeld. After the 1620 Battle of White Mountain, the Catholic Emperors of the Habsburg dynasty forcibly re-introduced Catholicism, led by the Jesuits.[ citation needed ]
Lower Silesia and most of Upper Silesia were occupied by the Kingdom of Prussia in 1742 during the First Silesian War and annexed by the terms of the Treaty of Breslau. A small part south of the Opava River remained within the Habsburg-ruled Bohemian Crown as the "Duchy of Upper and Lower Silesia", colloquially called Austrian Silesia. Incorporated into the Prussian Silesia Province from 1815, Upper Silesia became an industrial area taking advantage of its plentiful coal and iron ore. Prussian Upper Silesia became a part of the German Empire in 1871.
The earliest exact census figures on ethnolinguistic or national structure (Nationalverschiedenheit) of the Prussian part of Upper Silesia, come from year 1819. The last pre-WW1 general census figures available, are from 1910 (if not including the 1911 census of school children - Sprachzählung unter den Schulkindern - which revealed a higher percent of Polish-speakers among school children than the 1910 census among the general populace). Figures (Table 1.) show that large demographic changes took place between 1819 and 1910, with the region's total population quadrupling, the percent of German-speakers increasing significantly, and that of Polish-speakers declining considerably. Also the total land area in which Polish language was spoken, as well as the land area in which it was spoken by the majority, declined between 1790 and 1890.Polish authors before 1918 estimated the number of Poles in Prussian Upper Silesia as slightly higher than according to official German censuses.
|Table 1. Numbers of Polish-speaking and German-speaking inhabitants (Regierungsbezirk Oppeln)|
|Polish||377,100 (67.2%)||418,437||456,348||495,362||525,395||540,402||568,582||584,293||612,849||665,865||742,153||918,728 (58.2%)||1,048,230 (56.1%)||1,158,805 (56.9%)||Census data, monolingual Polish: 1,169,340 (53.0%)|
|German||162,600 (29.0%)||255,383||257,852||290,168||330,099||348,094||364,175||363,990||406,950||409,218||457,545||566,523 (35.9%)||684,397 (36.6%)||757,200 (37.2%)||884,045 (40.0%)|
United States Immigration Commission in 1911 classified Polish-speaking Silesians as Poles.
In 1919, after World War I, the eastern part of Prussian Upper Silesia (with a majority of ethnic Poles) came under Polish rule as the Silesian Voivodeship, while the mostly German-speaking western part remained part of the Weimar Republic as the newly established Upper Silesia Province. In early 1919, the Polish–Czechoslovak War broke out around Cieszyn Silesia, whereafter Czechoslovakia gained the Zaolzie strip in addition to the Hlučín Region.
From 1919-1921 three Silesian Uprisings occurred among the Polish-speaking populace of Upper Silesia; the Battle of Annaberg was fought in the region in 1921. In the Upper Silesia plebiscite of March 1921, a majority of 59.4% voted against merging with Poland and a minority of 40.6% voted for,with clear lines dividing Polish and German communities. The plan to divide the region was suggested by the Inter-Allied Commission on Upper Silesia, headed by the French general Henri Le Rond. The plan was decided by an ambassadors conference in Paris on 20 October 1921. The exact border, the maintenance of cross-border railway traffic and other necessary co-operations, as well as equal rights for all inhabitants in both parts of Upper Silesia, were all fixed by the German-Polish Accord on East Silesia, signed in Geneva on May 15, 1922. On June 20 1922, the Weimar Republic ceded, de facto, the East Upper Silesia region, becoming part of Silesian Voivodeship of the Second Polish Republic.
After 1945, almost all of Upper Silesia that was not ceded to Poland in 1922 was placed under the administration of the Republic of Poland. A majority of the German-speaking population had fled or were expelled, an activity that was euphemized as "transfers [to] be effected in an orderly and humane manner" in accordance with the decision of the victorious Allied powers at their 1945 meeting at Potsdam. This expulsion program also included German speaking inhabitants of Lower Silesia, eastern Brandenburg, eastern Pomerania, Gdańsk (Danzig), and East Prussia. The German expellees were transported to the present day Germany (including the former East Germany), and they were replaced with Poles, many from former Polish provinces taken over by the USSR in the east. A good many German-speaking Upper Silesians were relocated in Bavaria. A small part of Upper Silesia stayed as part of Czechoslovakia as Czech Silesia.
The expulsions of German-speakers did not totally eliminate the presence of a population that considered itself German. Upper Silesia, in 1945, had a considerable number of Roman Catholic mixed bilingual inhabitants that spoke both German and Polish dialects, and their Polish linguistic skills were considered solid enough for them to be kept in the area.
The area formally became part of the Republic of Poland by virtue of the German-Polish border treaty of 14 November 1990.
With the fall of communism and Poland's joining the European Union, there were enough of these remaining in Upper Silesia to allow for the recognition of the German minority in Poland by the Polish government.
The historical capital of Upper Silesia is Opole, nevertheless the largest towns of the region, including Katowice, are located in the Upper Silesian Industrial Region, the total population of which is about 3,000,000.
Population figures as of 1995 (all in Poland unless otherwise indicated)
Nationalverschiedenheit 1819: Polen - 377,100; Deutsche - 162,600; Mährer - 12,000; Juden - 8,000; Tschechen - 1,600; Gesamtbevölkerung: 561,203
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The Duke of Silesia was the sons and descendants of the Polish Duke Bolesław III Wrymouth. In accordance with the last will and testament of Bolesław, upon his death his lands were divided into four or five hereditary provinces distributed among his sons, and a royal province of Kraków reserved for the eldest, who was to be High Duke of all Poland. This was known as the fragmentation of Poland. Subsequent developments lead to further splintering of the duchies.
Racibórz is a town in Silesian Voivodeship in southern Poland. It is the administrative seat of Racibórz County.
The Duchy of Teschen, also Duchy of Cieszyn or Duchy of Těšín (Czech: Těšínské knížectví, was one of the Duchies of Silesia centered on Cieszyn in Upper Silesia. It was split off the Silesian Duchy of Opole and Racibórz in 1281 during the feudal division of Poland and was ruled by Silesian dukes of the Piast dynasty from 1290 until the line became extinct with the death of Duchess Elizabeth Lucretia in 1653.
Silesians are the inhabitants of Silesia, a historical region in Central Europe divided by the current national boundaries of Poland, Germany and the Czech Republic.
In the second half of the 2nd millennium B.C. Silesia belonged to the Lusatian culture. About 500 BC Scyths arrived, and later Celts in the South and Southwest. During the 1st century BC Silingi and other Germanic people settled in Silesia. For this period we have written reports of antique authors who included the area. Slavs arrived in this territory around the 6th century. The first known states in Silesia were those of Greater Moravia and Bohemia. In the 10th century, Mieszko I incorporated Silesia into the Polish state. It remained part of Poland until the Fragmentation of Poland. Afterwards it was divided between Piast dukes, descendants of Władysław II the Exile, High Duke of Poland.
The Duchy of Silesia with its capital at Wrocław was a medieval duchy located in the historic Silesian region of Poland. Soon after it was formed under the Piast dynasty in 1138, it fragmented into various Duchies of Silesia. In 1327 the remaining Duchy of Wrocław as well as most other duchies ruled by the Silesian Piasts passed to the Kingdom of Bohemia as Duchies of Silesia. The acquisition was completed, when King Casimir III the Great of Poland renounced his rights to Silesia in the 1335 Treaty of Trentschin.
Mieszko IV Tanglefoot was Duke of Kraków and High Duke of Poland from 9 June 1210 until his death one year later. He was also Duke of Silesia from 1163 to 1173, Duke of Racibórz from 1173, and Duke of Opole from 1202.
The Duchies of Silesia were the more than twenty divisions of the region of Silesia formed between the 12th and 14th centuries by the breakup of the Duchy of Silesia, then part of the Kingdom of Poland. In 1335, the duchies were ceded to the Kingdom of Bohemia under the Treaty of Trentschin. Thereafter until 1742, Silesia was one of the Bohemian crown lands and lay within the Holy Roman Empire. Most of Silesia was annexed by the King of Prussia under the Treaty of Berlin in 1742. Only the Duchy of Teschen, the Duchy of Troppau and the Duchy of Nysa remained under the control of the Bohemian crown and as such were known as the Duchy of Upper and Lower Silesia until 1918.
The Duchy of Bytom or Duchy of Beuthen was one of many Silesian duchies. It was established in Upper Silesia about 1281 during the division of the Duchy of Opole and Racibórz among the sons of Duke Władysław Opolski. The duchy's capital was Bytom (Beuthen), formerly part of Lesser Poland until in 1177 the Polish High Duke Casimir II the Just had attached it to the Silesian Duchy of Racibórz.
Biała is a river in southern Poland, a right tributary of the Vistula, around 29 km (18 mi) long. It is the main river of the city of Bielsko-Biała and used to be historically important as a border river dividing not only Bielsko and Biała but for a few hundreds of years also the states of Bohemia and Poland.
The Silesian Piasts were the elder of four lines of the Polish Piast dynasty beginning with Władysław II the Exile (1105–1159), eldest son of Duke Bolesław III of Poland. By Bolesław's testament, Władysław was granted Silesia as his hereditary province and also the Lesser Polish Seniorate Province at Kraków according to the principle of agnatic seniority.
The Duchy of Nysa or Duchy of Neisse was one of the duchies of Silesia with its capital at Nysa in Lower Silesia. Alongside the Duchy of Siewierz, it was the only ecclesiastical duchy in the Silesian region, as it was ruled by a bishop of the Catholic Church. Nowadays its territory is divided between Poland and the Czech Republic.
The Principality of Opava or Duchy of Troppau was a historic territory split off from the Margraviate of Moravia before 1269 by King Ottokar II of Bohemia to provide for his natural son, Nicholas I. The Opava territory thus had not been part of the original Polish Duchy of Silesia in 1138, and was first ruled by an illegitimate offshoot of the Bohemian Přemyslid dynasty, not by the Silesian Piasts like many of the neighbouring Silesian duchies. Its capital was Opava (Troppau) in the modern day Czech Republic.
Duchy of Racibórz was one of the duchies of Silesia. Its capital was Racibórz in Upper Silesia.
Duchy of Opole was one of the duchies of Silesia ruled by the Piast dynasty. Its capital was Opole in Upper Silesia.
The Duchy of Krnov or Duchy of Jägerndorf was one of the Duchies of Silesia, which in 1377 emerged from the Duchy of Troppau (Opava), itself a fief of the Bohemian Crown. Its capital was at Krnov in the present-day Czech Republic.
The Duchy of Opole and Racibórz was one of the numerous Duchies of Silesia ruled by the Silesian branch of the royal Polish Piast dynasty. It was formed in 1202 from the union of the Upper Silesian duchies of Opole and the Racibórz, in a rare exception to the continuing feudal fragmentation of the original Duchy of Silesia.