WLEŃ MUNICIPALITY - history
The beginnings of a settlement in the territory now occupied by the Wleń Municipality are very remote. It is evidenced by archaeological research carried out in the 20th century which resulted, e.g. in the discovery of coins from Roman times in Radomice, the seat of Proto-Slavs in Marczów, or a place of sun worship in nearby Ostrzyca. The first written records come from the 10th century AD and mention the fortified settlement on the Castle Mountain. The castle became the centre of development of the area. During the reign of the Piast dynasty, it was elevated to the rank of castellany and perceived as equal with the biggest Silesian castles.
In the second half of the 12th century, the castle – as the first in the Polish territory- gained a brick construction. A few years before the event, the first records about the creation of a larger settlement called Brzozowo aka Birkenau at the foot of the Castle Mountain appeared. In 1214 the settlement gained city rights granted by Henry the Bearded.
In 1268 another Silesian ruler, Bolesław II the Rogatka, created here the so called judicial circuit which included: Bystrzyca, Nielestno, Pilchowice and Strzyżowiec. The event may be considered as the beginnings of the municipality.
After the death of the last member of the Piast dynasty, prince Bolko II (who died without issue on the 28th of July, 1368), his widow – duchess Agnieszka – sold the Wleń castellany to von Zedlitz family. Since then, the place became a private property. It also started to be dependent on the Czech crown. A peripheral district, located far away from Prague, did not develop so dynamically any more.
At the beginning of the 15th century, troops of the supporters of the Czech reformer Jan Hus came here. Lenno Castle was the only one which confronted the invaders and repulsed the long-lasting siege. The surrounding villages weren’t so lucky, and also the town was plundered and set on fire.
In 1526 Silesian lands were taken over by the Hapsburg Dynasty (Austria). The inflow of German people to the lands which were the area of Wleń municipality was so big that in a short time churches and schools were taken over and become evangelical.
The beginning of the 17th century was full of disputes concerning religion. The period of the Thirty Years War brought a lot of destruction. The imperial and the Swedish forces went through the region and they caused a lot of damages. In March 1637, the Dragoons forced people to change their religious beliefs. In 1646 General Montecucculi conquered the castle and ordered to blow it up „…to prevent it from putting up resistance”. Later he destroyed also the settlement by the Bóbr river and he robbed the local villages.
After the end of the so called three Silesian Wars between Austria and Prussia, in 1763 the agreement was signed and Silesia came under the Prussian reign.
From 1809 the administration in Wleń was run by the mayor and the city council. They were chosen by the owners of the castle and of the local lands.
Just a few years later, Napoleon’s retreating forces went through the territory of the municipality. In the town by Bóbr a battle with the Russian forces took place. A lot of brave soldiers from both fighting armies died then. Also many inhabitants were killed. The town was burnt down again. Also the local villages suffered. The time of mourning didn’t last long. In the few years’ time after the bloody events from 1813, Wleń reborn like a Phoenix from ashes. New settlers came to Wleń. The church, the town hall, the school and a lot of houses and tenement houses were rebuilt. The vibrant valley drew the attention of merchants, artisans and factory owners. New farms were created in the local villages.
By the end of the 19th century, Wleń was perceived as a valuable health resort. Sanatorium Wleń focusing on hydrotherapy was built.
After the Great Flood in 1887, a decision about building the reservoir in Pilchowice was made. This decision brought the region back to life. As a result of building the dam, a lake (about 240 ha) was formed. Under the dam a modern hydroelectric plant was created. It was also the beginning of the railway line connecting Jelenia Góra and Lwówek Śląski.
The World War I wasn’t so devastating for the region. The front was far away and the interwar period brought a decrease of economy.
During the World War II, there weren’t many warfare in the area. Only in April 1945, when everybody knew what would happen next, everything changed. Polish Army started to sabotage Polish-Soviet Army to prevent them from taking over the lands. However, in May the 31st Soviet Army strode into Wleń. Retreating German divisions destroyed a lot of important buildings, bridges and tunnels. It was a miracle that the dam was saved from blowing up.
The Potsdam Agreement caused a change in the Polish borders. Silesia and Wleń returned to the motherland. In the short time German population started to be displaced. Settlers from the East came to the municipality. The Commission for the Determination of Place Names dealt with approving the names of the town and of the village administration. In 1946 the Commission established also the borders of the town.
The period of the Polish People’s Republic had an adverse impact on Polish monuments. All palaces and manors were changed into PGRs (State Agricultural Farms). The approval concerning destruction of everything what remained after “those times and people” had a disastrous effect. In the 90s, after the change of the system, new owners renovated the objects which survived.