The first settlement  at Libiąż probably came to be thanks to the presence of a hillfort in the area built sometime in the 11th-12th century [[ref:|Leś-Runicka M., Historia Libiąża do 1939 roku, [Libiąż 2008–2105], p. 3 [online] http://www.libiaz.pl/index.php?option=18&action=articles_show&art_id=635&menu_id=429&page=276=pl [Accessed: 02 June 2015].]] that was located on a natural hill at a height of 313 meters above sea-level. The hillfort was studied as early as in the 19th century. It was described by Adam Kirkor, among other authors, in 1874. Kirkor had discovered traces of a defensive wall located in the eastern part of the hillfort and concluded that this had been an important point of a territorial defense[[ref:|Leś-Runicka M., Historia Libiąża do 1939 roku, [Libiąż 2008–2105], p. 5 [online] http://www.libiaz.pl/index.php?option=18&action=articles_show&art_id=635&menu_id=429&page=276=pl [Accessed: 02 June 2015].]]. The presence of the hillfort in this particular location may be associated with the Chrzanów castellany of the 13th century that was located in the nearby vicinity of Libiąż. Thus, it appears that four villages – Libiąż Wielki, Libiąż Mały, Gromiec and Żarki, which were all later incorporated into the area of today’s Libiąż, had been subject to a castellan of Chrzanów[[ref:|Leś-Runicka M., Historia Libiąża do 1939 roku, [Libiąż 2008–2105], p.8 [online] http://www.libiaz.pl/index.php?option=18&action=articles_show&art_id=635&menu_id=429&page=276=pl [Accessed: 02 June 2015].]]

The earliest mention of Libiąż dates to documents from the 13th-century. In an act of 1238, Wiesław of Kościelec, Archbishop of Cracow, confirmed that a village called Lubens belonged to the monastery of Benedictine nuns in Staniątki. Other sources claim that the first mention of the town is in an excerpt of The Annals of Jan Długosz that concerned the granting of the monastery lands to the Benedictine nuns of Libiąż Wielki and Libiąż Mały by the previous owners from the House of Griffins in 1243. A few years later, this transfer was confirmed in a document issued by Konrad, Duke of Masovia, with the added informatino that the villages were donated to the monastery by Klemens Gryfita[1.1]. The issue of ownership, however, was contested from the beginning. Finally, Duke Bolesław V the Chaste, by virtue of a privilege issued on 23 February 1254, bestowed “lands of Libiąż village along with wild beehives” to the monastery in Staniątki at the request of Wierzbit, a provost of the monastery.

In 1270, Libiąż passed into the ownership of Budziwoj and his brothers, which is confirmed by another privilege issued by Bolesław V the Chaste. It is not until 1388 that Libiąż is mentioned again in historical documents. At that time, it belonged to Dziersław Karwacjan, a pantler (Polish: stolnik) from Sandomierz. In 1408, his son sold the village to Jan Ligęza from Bobrek for 600 grivnas of Prague groshen (grivna  is a measure of weight equal to approx. 250 g; Prague groshen was a silver coin). It was a peculiar sale – the result of extortion after a series of lawsuits between neighbors. It is believed that a fortified castle in Bobrek, whose first certified owner was Mikołaj Strzała in 1390, was erected on the terrain of the former hillfort. Another heir of these lands was Jan Ligęza of the Półkozic coat of arms. In 1400-1408, there were four suits brought in court over the boundaries between Libiąż, Bobrek and Chrzanów. It was stated as late as the 15th century that Jan Ligęza was the owner of lands stretching from Bobrek to Chrzanów, and that Libiąż was located within his lands. As a result of Ligęza’s activities, he integrated his property through the purchase of Libiąż from the Karwacjan family and owned land stretching from the castle in Bobrek to Chrzanów. This included Bobrek, Bobrowniki, Chełmek, Gromiec, Libiąż Wielki, Libiąż Mały, Chrzanów, Balin and Kąty. These properties remained in the hands of the Ligęza family for over two hundred years, until the childless death of Mikołaj Spytek Ligęza in 1617. Libiąż Wielki and the remaining part of the so-called Bobrek country, including Bobrek, Bobrowniki, Gromiec, Chełmek and Gorzów, became the property of the Wielkopolscy family after a division in 1688.

In 1795, Libiąż became part of the Austrian partition. At that time, Libiąż was a part of the Chrzanowski and Bobrecki family properties. During this period, a rural self-governing commune (Polish: samorząd wiejski) led by a rural commune head (Polish: wójt) and his assistant (Polish: przysiężny) was instituted in Libiąż Mały, Libiąż Wielki and Gromiec. In their initial form, such communes (Polish: gmina) were not large. There were 17 such communes in total in the area of Libiąż. Nine were located on Chrzanów land, and the area around Lubiąż Wielki and Lubiąż Mały was home to three. The “18th commune” in Bobrek included Libiąż Wielki, Gromiec and Wymysłów; the “22nd commune” in Lipowiec included Żarki, and the “26th commune” in Chrzanów covered Libiąż Mały and Moczydło.

After the reorganization and abolition of the communes in their original form in 1839, districts led by commissioners were introduced into the region. In the area of the abovementioned lands, five districts were created with their seats in Alwernia, Chrzanów, Jaworzno and Krzeszowice. As a result, Libiąż Mały, Libiąż Wielki, Gromiec and Żarki as well as the new settlements of Wymysłów and Moczydła became part of the district in Chrzanów. Libiąż Mały and Libiąż Wielki were independent communes at that time.

The industrialization of the settlement began with the launch of a railway line in 1856 that provided the town with connections to Cracow and Vienna. At the end of the 19th century, coal deposits were discovered near Libiąż. Until the end of the 19th century, several entrepreneurs had entered the mining business. The owners of coal fields in Libiąż Mały were Jan Goetz, Oskar Schaub, Gustaw Breslauer and Hugon Bornemann. They carried out drilling operations in these areas which did not take the form of a permanent coal mine. It was not until 1907 that the area’s first coal mine, called “Janina,” was opened. Housing for workers and public utility buildings were put up near the mine.

In 1910, when the new boundaries of the communes had been established, the total geographic area of Libiąż Mały measured 1,970.9 hectares (including Kroczymiech and Skotnica) and included  333 houses. Libiąż Wielki had an area of 1,357.1 hectares (including the hamlets (Polish: przysiółek) of: Budzowy, Kosówki, Piła and Jazdówka) and 307 houses. Both Libiąż Mały and Libiąż Wielki belonged to the Cracow region, which was reflected in local traditions, rituals, dialect and material culture.

World War I effectively brought the development of Libiąż to a halt. After the war, the town was once more a part of Poland in 1918. A report from a commune council in Libiąż Mały which has survived to the present suggests that the first local election took place in January, 1919 when Marcin Bochenek was elected a head officer (Polish: naczelnik) of the commune and Władysław Kula as his deputy. Franciszek Ziemba was nominated as an assessor. An important change in the division of land into communes occurred after the signing of the parliamentary resolution in 1933, according to which the Chrzanowski District (Polish powiat) had been approved as a part of Cracow province (Polish: województwo). The following communes with municipal rights were incorporated into Chrzanowski district: Chrzanów, Jaworzno, Szczakowa, Trzebinia and Krzeszowice. Other localities were organised into ten rural collective communes (Polish: wiejskie gminy zbiorowe). As a result, a new rural collective commune of Libiąż Mały was created that included four village organisations (Polish: gromada): Libiąż Mały, Libiąż Wielki, Moczydło and Żarki. Gromiec village became a part of a collective commune in Chełmek. This meant that the collective commune of Libiąż Mały consisted of four subdivisions (Polish: sołectwo): Libiąż Mały, Libiąż Wielki, Moczydło and Żarki. Their administrators (Polish: sołtys) were subject to the council of a collective commune led by a head officer (Polish: wójt).

During the Second World War, in September, 1939, Libiąż was occupied by German forces. A forced labor camp, a subsidiary of the Nazi concentration camp Auschwitz-Birkenau, was constructed near the mine.  In January, 1945, Libiąż was occupied by Soviet troops. Soon afterwards, it was transferred to the new Polish authorities.

After 1945, Libiąż continued to grow economically. New traffic routes were built in the town and the whole area was electrified. Municipal rights were conferred on Libiąż in 1969, the highlight of the development process.

In 1975, Libiąż, which belonged to Chrzanowski district and Cracow province,  was transferred to the Katowickie province along with Chrzanów, Jaworzno, Trzebinia, Krzeszowice, Chełmko and Jeleń. After post-communist administrative changes in 1999, Libiąż and Chrzanów became headquarters of a new district, and the Trzebinia, Alwernia and Babice rural communes returned to Małopolskie province. Libiąż commune currently includes the city of Libiąż and two subdivisions, Żarki and Gromiec.

 

Bibliography:

Leś-Runicka M., Historia Libiąża do 1939 roku, [Libiąż 2008–2105] [online] http://www.libiaz.pl/index.php?option=18&action=articles_show&art_id=635&menu_id=429&page=276=pl [Accessed: 02 June 2016

 

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Footnotes
  • [1.1] Leś-Runicka M., Historia Libiąża do 1939 roku, [Libiąż 2008–2105], p. 8 [online] http://www.libiaz.pl/index.php?option=18&action=articles_show&art_id=635&menu_id=429&page=276=pl [Accessed: 02 June 2015].