Home | Introduction | Download e-book | Conference 2001 | Special thanks | The note of law | Contact
Articles: Poland | Małopolska | Mazowsze | Ziemia Łęczycka | Żuławy | Nizina Sartowicko-Nowska | Ziemia Kwidzyńska | Ziemia Walichnowska | Ziemia Sieradzka | Ziemia Wieluńska
Articles --> Ziemia Sieradzka

Jerzy Szałygin

Dutch colonisation in the Sieradzka and Wielunska Lands

The Sieradzka and Wielunska Lands are historical areas bordering on the Leczycka Land and on Wielkopolska, Silesia and Malopolska. They were one of destinations of the Hollander colonisation.
First villages under the Dutch (Hollander) law were founded on this territory at the end of the seventies of the 18th century, when this method of tenancy started to be very popular. It was though not the only form of tenancy. Rents were introduced also in existing villages by way of feudal charges reforms, as on the territory of the Gniezno archbishopric estate. However, due to the lack of new cities foundation on the discussed lands (between the 16th and 18th century) this process was very limited.
In this period, the areas colonised by Dutch settlers were located along the main Polish rivers - mostly Vistula and Warta - where the ability to drain periodically flooded terrains was the most demanded. However, in the second half of the 18th century, colonists started to settle also in other wet areas requiring drainage or (limited) extirpation of shrubbery, scrubs or even trees. Such areas, earlier not suitable for farming, were also located on the territory of the Sieradzka and Wielunska Lands.
On both lands, tenancy outside the Hollander settlements was more widely represented than, for example, on the territory of the neighbouring Leczyckie Voivodeship. It was certainly the result of neighbourly contacts with more developed Silesia and causative role of Piotrkow - urban centre of those lands. Also in this area the ownership of land existed and landowners were interested in tenancy agreements with peasants. Such agreements were introduced by, among others, the Marshal of the Polish Great Sejm, Stanisław Małachowski, in 1791.
Tenancy on a greater scale was introduced in crown properties of the Wielunska Land. As Jakub Goldberg writes: ?Individual examples could be observed in 1765 in the Boleslaw and Ostrzeszow Starosties and in some villages belonging to the Morksko leasehold".1
The most important reason to bring Hollanders to those lands (as well as to the remaining lands of the Republic) was the economic system represented by the colonists - they were associated with tenancy system and they propagated it. It proved to be effective mainly in Mazovia and Wielkopolska (but also in other lands), where hundreds of settlements were founded under the Dutch law. Dutch colonists were therefore very sought-after.[1] The main motivation of landowners, bringing them to their lands, was to gain profit. Through centuries they learned that Hollanders guaranteed income higher than the one obtained from other sources. Their farms were modern, productive, what was due also to the size of the farming lands colonised (larger than villein farms), dairy cattle farming on a large scale (and related milk processing) and fruit-growing.[2] The decision to bring them to their land was also influenced by one more aspect - if the landowner guaranteed additional benefits in the contract, e.g. beasts of draught, he gained additional labour force for works in his own property, e.g. grange.
The basic task of the colonists was to cultivate areas that had not been subject to farming before - wastelands, forests, shrubbery. In the first period after the settlement, the income of colonists was not very high. A lot of effort was required to bring the land into cultivation, invest in construction, organise the space of the settlement and the entire acreage. Therefore people naturally earned their living by cattle breeding and pasture, the form of farming requiring the lowest outlays. After the expiration of the "freehold" period, it also brought significant profits (including from cheese and butter production.).
The "Hollander" villages in the Wielunska and Sieradzka Lands have a lot in common with settlements in Wielkopolska. Due to certain natural conditions (soil of a lower class than for example those near Vistula), the cattle breeding developed much more intensively than farming and plant production. Thus the cattle pasture constituted the basis for this economy. However, the confirmation of this thesis is not possible due to the lack of appropriate source documents that would allow complete identification of plant production and its role in the entire economy of Hollanders in this area.[4]
The Hollander colonisation on the territory of both described lands, as well as on the remaining terrains where the colonists settled, contributed to the increase of the farming land and pastures acreage. The newcomers brought into cultivation waste grounds, as well as lands deserted as a result of wars and natural disasters. Although the colonists did not dispose of fertile lands, nonetheless they were able to make their farms profitable and modern, focusing on cattle breeding.
Large surface of their farms (in comparison with peasants' farms) also contributed to their success. The settlements contract gave them from half to one huba of the farming land (1 huba - 31 morgas of land). As much as 40% of farms had the surface of 1 huba, and the rest - half of huba.[5] It means that the Hollanders in the Sieradzka and Wielunska Lands brought c.a. 85 of wloka chelminska into cultivation.
The basic period of Dutch settlements founding may be summarised with statistical data, drawn from the article of J. Goldberg (pp. 94-95). In 1793, all the Dutch settlements included 99 peasant farms inhabited by 559 people. Out of 11 founded villages two remained in the royal lands, three in the church properties and six belonged to the nobility. Territorially, three villages were founded on the territory of the Wielunska Land and eight in the Sieradzka Land.

1 J. Goldberg, Osadnictwo olęderskie w dawnym województwie łęczyckim i sieradzkim, Zeszyty Naukowe Uniwersytetu Łódzkiego, Seria I, Nauki Humanistyczno - Społeczne, z. 5, s. 75.

Home | Introduction | Download e-book | Conference 2001 | Special thanks | The note of law | Contact
Articles: Poland | Małopolska | Mazowsze | Ziemia Łęczycka | Żuławy | Nizina Sartowicko-Nowska | Ziemia Kwidzyńska | Ziemia Walichnowska | Ziemia Sieradzka | Ziemia Wieluńska

Copyright 2005 © jerzyszalygin@wp.pl