Płock (Yiddish: Plotzk) is a city on the Vistula river, in central Poland. According to the data provided by GUS on 30 June 2009 there were 126,675 inhabitants. It is located in the Masovian Voivodeship (since 1999), having previously been the capital of the Płock Voivodeship (1975–1998).
It now is a capital of a powiat (county) at the extreme west of the Mazovian Voivodeship. From 1079 - 1138 Płock was capital of Poland, and is considered Poland's historical capital. Its cathedral has the sarcophagi of the Polish monarchy. It is the cultural, academic, scientific, administrative and transportation center of the west and north Masovian region.
Responding to the extension of rights by Polish kings, Jewish settlers came to the city by the 14th century. They built a community, and comprised a large proportion of the population through the 19th century, sometimes of more than 40%. They contributed trades and crafts, and helped industrialization. In 1939, they made up 26% of the city's population. The Nazis established a Jewish ghetto in Płock in 1940. They transported many to other areas and killed most. After war's end, 300 Jewish residents of more than 10,000 in the region had survived. None live there today.
The area was long occupied by pagan peoples. In the 10th century, a fortified location was established high of the Vistula River's bank. This location was at a junction of shipping and routes and was strategic for centuries. Its location was a great asset.
In 1009 a Benedictine monastery was established here. It became a center of science and art for the area. In 1075, a diocese seat was created here for the Christian church. Płock was the capital city during the reign of the Polish monarchs Władysław I Herman and Bolesław III Krzywousty (1079–1138). It was also a seat of several of the Dukes of Masovia.
Duke Capital City of Płock
The Duke Capital City of Płock is the official title of Płock used in ceremonial documents and for preserving traditions. It is the formal legal title included in the preamble to the City Statute of Płock. The title is based on the city's status from 1079–1138 as the capital of Poland. It served as the medieval capital during the reigns of the Polish monarchs Władysław I Herman and Bolesław III Krzywousty.
Formerly, during the rule of the first monarchs of the Piast dynasty, even prior to the Baptism of Poland, Płock served as one of the monarchial seats, including that of Prince Mieszko I and King Bolesław I Chrobry. The king built the original fortifications on Tumskie Hill, overlooking the Vistula River. From 1037–1047, Płock was capital of the independent Mazovian state of Masław. Płock has been the residence of many Mazovian princes.
17th and 18th centuries
The city suffered major losses in population due to plague, fire, and warfare, with wars between Sweden and Poland in the late 17th and early 18th centuries. At that time, the Swedes destroyed much of the city, but the people rebuilt and recovered.
In the late 18th century, it took down the old city walls, and made a New Town, filled with many German migrants.
In the 19th century, the city was included within the region controlled by the Russian Empire, when Poland was divided among it, Prussia, and Austro-Hungary. It was a seat of provincial government and an active center; its economy was closely tied to major grain trade. It laid out a new city plan in the early 19th century, as new residents continued to arrive. Many of its finest buildings were constructed in this period in the Classical style. It had a scientific society before mid-century, and in the late 19th century began to industrialize.
Germany attacked Poland in 1939, and began to take over its government. It impressed people as forced laborers for German factories, treating them harshly. During the German occupation of Poland (1941 to 1945), after the Soviets and Germans were at war, the city was named Schröttersburg, after the former Prussian Upper President Friedrich Leopold von Schrötter.