Rajgród

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Location
53°43'59"N
022°42'00"E
Country
 Poland
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Description

Rajgród [ˈrai̯ɡrut] is a town in Grajewo County, Podlaskie Voivodeship, Poland, with 1,609 inhabitants (as of June 2016), within the historic region of Podlachia.

History

Rajgród has a long and rich history, with evidence of human habitation dating back to around 9000 BC. In the Middle Ages, the Yotvingians founded a settlement here on a hill. Known as Raj, it would become the tribe's main town. According to the chronicler Wigand of Marburg, in 1360 King Casimir III the Great of Poland ordered the castellan of Wizna to build a defensive castle nearby. The fate of the castle has not been established, but it was probably destroyed by the Teutonic Knights.The first written mention of the town of Rajgród dates from 1429, when a man named Mikołaj of Rajgród sold real estate to his brother Jan. At some time in the early 1440s, a gord (fortified wooden settlement) was established here and Rajgród emerged as a local centre of the timber trade. After the Treaty of Melno, the gord was transferred from Polish Mazovia to the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. In c. 1505 King Alexander I gave Rajgród to a nobleman named Michał Gliński, and in 1509 King Sigismund III of Poland handed the area of Rajgród and Goniądz to Mikołaj Radziwiłł.In 1568, Rajgród was granted a town charter, and a year later, following the Union of Lublin, it was returned, together with the region of Podlasie, to the Kingdom of Poland. In 1570, Rajgród became a royal town and the seat of a starosta (a senior royal administrative official). The first starosta was Marcin Dulski. In c. 1602, a large manor house was constructed for the local administration. In 1679, King John III Sobieski confirmed Rajgród's privileges and charter, and in 1764, a new church was built.

During the partitions

On 10 July 1794, during the Kościuszko Uprising, a party of patriotic nobles and townspeople was defeated here by a detachment of the Prussian Army. After the Third Partition of Poland (1795), the town was annexed by the Kingdom of Prussia, but in 1807 it returned under Polish rule as part of the short-lived Duchy of Warsaw. In 1807, Józef Sienkiewicz, the grandfather of Polish writer and Nobel Prize laureate Henryk Sienkiewicz, became the forester in the Rajgród forestry, and in 1813 the writer's father Józef Paweł Ksawery Sienkiewicz was born in the nearby village of Woźnawieś.In 1815 it became part of Congress Poland, later on forcibly annexed by the Russian Empire. During the November Uprising, a battle between Polish and Russian forces took place here on 29 May 1831. Rajgród lost its town charter in 1863, as a punishment for its residents’ support of the January Uprising. The town was again part of Poland after the country's independence in 1918. In 1924 the town rights were restored.

World War II

The 1937 population was 2,400 including 600 Jews. The town was initially occupied by the Germans in September 1939, but was then turned over by the Germans to the Soviets. The town was re-occupied by the Germans during Operation Barbarossa on 22 June 1941. During the Soviet and Nazi occupation, the local Polish underground was commanded by lieutenant Andrzej Sobolewski. No more than 10 Jews from Rajgród survived the war.
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