Spycimierz over the centuries
In historical records, different versions of the name Spycimierz appear: starting with the earliest one, i.e. Zbuczmir (the Mogilno Falsification), through Spycimir (the times of Jan Długosz), and ending with Śpićmierz (early 16th century). At the end of the 18th century the name Śpicimierz was used. And now there is Spycimierz.
‘In bygone days, there used to be a duke’s castle and a castellany there, which protected the frontier of the Łęczyca Land in the north, and later on the eastern border of the Sieradz Land. The old castellan’s castle situated to the east of the present-day Spycimierz, of which a cone-shaped settlement has remained, was located in the fork of the Warta and Czarna Struga Rivers. The oldest reference to this stronghold (Zbuczmir) comes from the so-called Mogilno Falsification dating back to 1065. The stronghold’s antiquity is proved by the graves with urns discovered here. Gallus Anonymus wrote down in his chronicle that Duke Bolesław III Wrymouth, during his fights with his half-brother, Zbigniew, imprisoned archbishop Martin here when moving from Kalisz towards Spycimierz. It is commonly believed that this war between the two brothers dates back to autumn or winter 1106/1107. And on that basis it is often assumed that there was a church and a parish in Spycimierz at that time. For the second time, Spycimierz was referred to in this chronicle in 1108. And this is the first and the best documented record of the local church. It was a wooden structure, and, as far as construction details are concerned, it is known that there was a roofed wooden porch adjoining it. The structure was not a new one, and, therefore, the church in Spycimierz most probably existed as early as in 1106’, explained Prof. Jan Szymczak from the University of Łódź in his lecture given during the ceremony to commemorate the 900th anniversary of the establishment of the parish in Spycimierz.
According to the records, ‘the church in Spycimierz was undoubtedly of parish nature at that time, and to be precise, it was a stronghold parish. It occupies the prominent sixth position among the oldest such parishes, apart from bishops’ residences, after Giecz (1039), Cieszyn, Wiślica, Inowłódz and Krobia (all from the 11th century), and before Głogów (1109), Sandomierz and Zawichost (1148), Legnica (1149) and many other better-known parish centres’ (cited as above).
It all started with Spycimir
According to the Apostolic Tradition recorded by Paprocki, the establishment of a settlement located next to the castle was begun by a certain Spycimir, who is said to have granted it to the archbishops of Gniezno in the times of Władysław I Herman, as Spycimierz is mentioned among the archbishops’ properties in the Bull of Gniezno issued by Pope Innocent II in 1136.
In 1331, the place was burnt by the Teutonic Knights, but it managed to rise from the ashes. It is also known that, in 1347, Casimir the Great exchanged Spycimierz for the properties of archbishop Jarosław of Bogoria and Skotniki, i.e. Przedecz, Żarowo and Monice. There were favourable conditions for Spycimierz to receive an urban charter. It was located along a major trade route going from Moravia, through Sieradz, Uniejów and Łęczyna, towards Gdańsk Pomerania. There was a market here and a customs house for those crossing the Warta River. Nevertheless, Spycimierz gradually fell into decay, and it missed its chance of developing into a town. Instead, Uniejów developed at the expense of Spycimierz.
A very important and interesting element of the history of Spycimierz is the local sundial, referred to by Jan Długosz, which is the oldest one in Poland. Its present-day and, at the same time, symbolic version was created in 2014 as part of the project “Rebuilding of the Corpus Christi procession route. Phase 2”.
The 16th – 19th centuries
At the beginning of the early modern period, Spycimierz had an area of seven łan (a unit of field measurement), of which four were settled (figures as of 1512). Moreover, references were made to two cottagers and 14 fishermen. In 1728, there were around 200 parishioners in the parish of Spycimierz. In 1775, there were 30 residential buildings in the village. In 1793, as a consequence of the Second Partition of Poland, the village of Spycimierz was under Prussian rule, and, as a result of secularisation of church property in 1796, it became state property. Then, as a consequence of the decisions made by the Congress of Vienna in 1815, Spycimierz was under Russian rule (in the Kalisz Voivodeship). The figures as of 1827 show that the village was comprised of 50 houses occupied by 434 people.
In 1836, for his share in suppressing the November Uprising, Spycimierz became the property of general Karl von Toll, and, subsequently, of his heir, count Aleksander Toll. The village was in possession of the Toll family until as late as the end of World War I. In 1864, the procedure of granting land to peasants was carried out. In 1890, there were 71 houses in Spycimierz.
The 20th – 21st centuries
In the 1930s, a fire station of the Voluntary Fire Brigade was built in Spycimierz. After World War II, a new wooden temple was built in place of the devastated church, which was replaced with a brick church in 1986-1992. In the 20th century, the village was ravaged by fires (in 1937 and 1971), in which as many as 64 farms burnt down. The last great flood affected Spycimierz in August 1939.
Nowadays, Spycimierz is one of the biggest villages in the Commune of Uniejów. It has an area of 613.12 ha. As at December 31st, 2010, Spycimierz had a population of 348.