The medieval Kruszwica was a town of political, cultural and economic importance in Poland of the time. The town was situated on so called ‘amber’ trade trail, which connected the Adriatic in the south with the Baltic Sea in the north. The trade trail was based on the natural resources of our land: amber and salt. The prestige of Kruszwica was not incidental: its advantageous location by Lake Goplo, which was a part of the inland navigation route Warta – Goplo – Wisla (Vistula), made Kruszwica an important trade centre.
Significance of Kruszwica grew along with the territorial expansion of Gniezno state. Situated by a road junction, the town was a convenient base for beginning military operations, mainly in Pomerania, which contributed to the development of the town. In the 10th and 11th centuries, Kruszwica became a favourite family seat of the first rulers of the Piast dynasty, thus it was one of sedes regni principales. In the 12th and 13th centuries, the settlement complex consisted of the walled town, 4 open settlements and 5 burial sites; 2 of the settlements and 3 of the cemeteries were on the west shore.
Some hard times disturbed the great development of the town. As early as in 1096, the dynastic tussle between Wladyslaw Herman, the ruler and his son Zbigniew supported by the magnates, resulted in depopulation and havoc. In 1271, Kruszwica was burned by Bolesław the Pious. The early medieval town also faced another disasters (epidemics and wars). As a result, Kruszwica was destroyed.
After Kruszwica fire, the town life moved to a little hill surrounded by boggy meadows on the west shore of Lake Goplo. The market town that existed there might have been granted Magdeburg rights for the first time even before 1303. Presumably, the town law was granted by Konrad Mazowiecki’s son, Kazimierz, duke of Kuyavia and Leczyca region or Wladyslaw the Elbow-high, his hereditary successor (from 1267).
According to the German town law, the centre of the town was a newly established rectangular market square with branched town streets. To the south, there was a triangular square adjacent to the market square (now the Old Market Square). It was the remains of an earlier urban planning of the market town and its road junction (Piast and Zamkowa streets) leading to the lake crossing. There was St. Clement parish church and a cemetery at the market square. The other part of the town may have existed somewhere around today’s sugar factory. It is impossible to determine precisely the town limits of the time because it lacked embankments, fortifications or any kind of walls. Yet, the German town law certainly divided Kruszwica into two parts: the western one (‘urban’) and the eastern one (‘rural’); the latter part belonged to the church and the Crown.
On 8th June 1422 Kruszwica was granted the Magdeburg rights once more. Wladyslaw Jagiello announced the privilege in Znin. The king legislated a Saturday market and a fair starting on St. Clement’s Day and lasting for 2 days. These rights were also confirmed by the next kings of Poland: Kazimierz Jagiellonczyk, Zygmunt III and Wladyslaw IV.
Having received the Magdeburg rights, the town designed its emblem: a green pear tree on the light or silver background (in 1528 it was the pear fruit).
The etymology shows that KRUSZWICA may have its origins in kruszwa, a clay container used for evaporating water from salt water in order to obtain a lump of salt (all three old Polish words: grudka, kruszka or kruszyna mean: a lump). The town name may as well come from grusza or krusza (pear), the fruit that is a symbol of life, abundance and wealth. The connection is explained in the legend about the birth of Ziemowit, Piast and Rzepicha’s son.
Between 1422 and 1471, Kruszwica County was established and it existed until the 18th century. By the end of the Middle Ages, the castle was the seat of the municipal court. At that time, the administrative power of the town changed a lot according to various political and economic transformations.
Since the 19th century, Kruszwica has undergone economic and tourist development. Now, the town area is 664 ha and its population stands at about 10,000. Kruszwica lies within Goplo Millennium Park and it is an important centre of industrial and agricultural production as well as food processing output.