Lublin 1570–1649 ENGLISH VERSION
At the end of the 16th c. Lublin citizens suffered from a string of misfortunes. In 1572 the town was hit by plague. Further epidemics struck the town many more times. In May 1575 Lublin was almost completely gutted by the raging fire. The fire destroyed the Cracow Gate, the Grodzka Gate, the Town Hall, the Church of St. Michael, the Dominican Church, and the Market Square. However, Lublin was able to rise up from the disasters quickly. At the beginning of the 17th c. the town upon the Bystrzyca river already had 12 000 citizens. The description and the picture of Lublin in Braun and Hogenberg’s Theatrum praecipuarum totius mundi urbium, published in Cologne in 1618, were placed on a par with descriptions and images of the oldest and biggest European cities. By that time, the town already had its bugle call, and the miracle of the Holy Cross Wood relic in the Dominican Church (1649) made Lublin a place of religious worship.
Without doubt, the most important event in the town at that time was the founding of the Crown Tribunal in 1578 (the last sitting took place in 1794). This was the court of appeal against all gentry courts. The prestige of Lublin increased considerably, and – as numerous representatives of nobility and gentry came to the Tribunal – handicraft, services, and urban architecture were flourishing.
Architecture of the town
The turn of the 16th and 17th c. was a period of the architectural development of the town. The Lublin Renaissance competed with the trends promoted by the Society of Jesus who arrived at Lublin in 1582. The beautiful, Baroque-style, Jesuit church of St. John the Baptist and St. John the Evangelist (currently the Lublin metropolitan cathedral) was erected according to the design by Giovanni Maria Bernardoni. Furthermore, the building of the Jesuit college was started, designed by Jesuit architects Giovanni Maria Bernardoni and Giuseppe Briccio. At the end of the 16th c. the first walls of the church were erected and services were conducted here.
The Cracow Gate was remodelled: in 1585 it was renovated and equipped with a clock and a bell ringing the hours, and in 1611 the embankments and moats in front of the Gate were removed, thus opening the town to newcomers arriving from the direction of Cracow.
At the beginning of the 17th c. the Observants Church was remodelled, as well, and the building of the Knights Hospitallers church and monastery was started in the area of the present Litewski Square in 1653.
See more>>> 3D model of 16th century Lublin
Education and printing
The end of the 16thc. was marked by the development of printing and education in Lublin. The first printing house in Poland was founded in 1593 by Paweł Konrad. It was in his printing house, in 1630, where the first Polish book had been printed: Słonecznik albo porównanie woli ludzkiej z wolą boską... (A sunflower, or a comparison between the human will and the God’s will…) by Jeremiasz Drexelivs. The book has been preserved until today. The Jesuit college was active in Lublin since 1596, and the first higher education institution in Lublin – Studium Generale at the Dominican monastery, whose rector was Father Paweł Ruszel – was opened to students in 1644.
As the seat of the Tribunal, Lublin was also the learning centre for law students, whose education was based primarily on practising in tribunal courts. As it has been aptly remarked: Lublin is Athens for a lawyer and great praxis in the Tribunal.
The Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, including Lublin, became a multinational melting-pot. The establishment of the Jewish Parliament Vaad Arba Aratzot (The Council of Four Lands) was a phenomenon on the European scale. This representation of Polish Jews was established in Lublin in 1580 (and operated until 1764). The Jewish community of Lublin was the third largest in the Commonwealth. In 1588 a group of Orthodox Church burghers founded the Orthodox Fraternity, which was not limited only to religious functions, but also ran a poorhouse and a school.
Lublin played a significant role in the history of the Polish reformation. First of all, Lublin Arians, Calvinists and Polish Brethren were among the most powerful in the country. Lublin was an attractive place, enticing talented and enterprising people with prospects for quick profits and wealth. Thus, the town attracted people of many nationalities: Russians, Germans, Scots, Italians, the French, Hungarians, and Armenians.
Lublin was one of the most active Polish towns in terms of the number of polemical documents in the 16th c. It was here where the public disputes between Jesuits, Calvinists and Arians took place (1583–1598). The development of reformation, in spite of numerous actions of secular and church authorities, was possible mainly owing to favourable attitudes or sympathetic neutrality of local aldermen. Reformation in Lublin was also strongly supported by gentry, many of whom were members of Protestant churches. However, it was not always possible to avoid bloody conflicts.