Based on archaeological data, it is assumed that Częstochowa was founded before the end of the 11th century. First mentions of a ducal village come from a document issued by Bishop of Kraków Iwon in 1220. Next information on Częstochowa appeared in the Bull of Pope Innocent IV dated around 1250, where the settlement was mentioned as one of the villages paying the tithe for the cannons of Wrocław. At that time, Częstochowa belonged to the Małopolska region. In 1325, Częstochowa was referred to in the documents of the Apostolic Camera concerning the collection of Peter’s Pence; it can be concluded that towards mid-14th century, Częstochowa was one of the least populated towns of the region.
In 1356, Częstochowa was chartered as a village under Średzkie law. In 1370, the neighbouring area became part of the fiefdom of Duke Władysław Opolczyk and, within seven years, Częstochowa gained a city charter. The existence of an ironworks here dates back to 1377. By the end of the 14th century, the Częstochowa ironworks and iron ore mines were known throughout the country. In 1382, the Pauline monastery of Jasna Góra was established – an important centre of the Marian cult. In 1393, Częstochowa became a royal town.
In 1430, Czech and Moravian marauders attacked the town and plundered the monastery (among others, they stripped the picture of the Holy Mother of its gold crown and fittings). In the 14th and 15th centuries, Częstochowa was an undeveloped and less populated town. Only in the first half of the 16th century, under the reign of Zygmunt I Stary and Zygmunt August, the last members of the Jagiellonian dynasty, the town flourished. Thanks to the support of King Zygmunt I, the town was granted numerous privileges, among others, a copy of the foundation (1502), the right to collect the bridge toll on the Warta river (1504, 1512), the right to hold fairs (1508) and exemption from duties and market taxes for the townsmen for 12 years[1.1].
[1.1] Krakowski S., Czarnota A., Dzieje Częstochowy od zarania do czasów współczesnych, Katowice 1964, pp. 36-40.]]. Great contributions to the town’s development were also made by Mikołaj Szydłowiecki, the district official of Oświęcim. In 1531, a fortified wall was built around the town.
In the 16th century, the number of inhabitants amounted to 1,500; at the beginning of the 17th century – to around 2,000; and in the first half of the 17th century – to around 2,500. In that period the social division of the Częstochowa population was formed and included: the possessors (wealthy families), craftsmen belonging to guilds, and townsmen, who, apart from crafts and trade, also dealt with farming, animal husbandry and gardening. The first raid on Częstochowa took place in 1587, when Maximilian II Habsburg, a pretender to the throne, plundered the town on his way to Kraków. In 1620, the building of fortifications on Jasna Góra began. In the second half of the 17th century, the settlement of Częstochówka, attached to the monastery, was established.
Until the Swedish Invasion, Częstochowa developed without any interruptions. In 1655, the Swedish army tried to capture the Jasna Góra monastery, but with no success (the siege of the fortress lasted 40 days). The town was completely destroyed by the Swedes. It did not manage to rebuild after these events, as at the beginning of August 1665 the area staged fights between the participants of the Lubomirski’s Rebellion and the King’s army. The defeated King’s army sought shelter on Jasna Góra, but the prior of the monastery ordered to close the gates to the soldiers[[refr:|Krakowski S., Czarnota A., Dzieje Częstochowy od zarania do czasów współczesnych, Katowice 1964, pp. 60–61.
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