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Cracow

polish, city, galicia, population, art, russian and austria

CRACOW (Ger. Krakau, Polish Krak6v, Lat. Cracovia or Carodunum), a city of Galicia, Austria, capital of the former Polish republic of Cracow. It stands on the left bank of the Vistula, across which it is connected since 1850 by the Franz-Joseph bridge with Podgorze. Cracow consists of the inner city, whose ram parts have long been demolished, and seven suburbs — Piasek and Kleparz in the north, Wesola east, Stradom and Kasimierz south and Wawel and Novi Sviat in the west. What re mains of the old fortifications are the Florian gate and a tower dating from 1498. According to tradition Cracow was founded A.D. 700 by the Polish duke Krak (Cracus), and built with the spoils taken from the Franks. It was the Polish capital from 1320 to 1609, when Sigismund III moved his court to Warsaw, though Cracow re mained the coronation site till 1764. Charles XII captured the city in 1702; it was taken and retaken several times by the Russians and other confederates. Formerly a wealthy city (it had joined the Hanseatic League in 1430), Cracow became gradually impoverished until, in 1787, its population had fallen below 10,000. The Russians, who had captured it in 1768, were expelled by Kosciusko in March 1794, but it surrendered to the Prussians three months later and was handed over to Austria in 1795, when Poland was dismembered for the third time. Together with western Galicia it formed part of the duchy of Warsaw 1809 to 1814. The Congress of Vienna made Cracow a republic in June 1815, with independence and neutrality guaranteed by Prussia, Austria and Russia. The constitution vested the legislative power in a house of representatives and a senate of eight members and a president. In consequence of repeated breaches of the constitution by the no bility,. the three guarantory powers sent a commission of inquiry to Cracow in 1829. Part of the population joined the Polish revolution in 1830, which led to a Russian occupation of the republic, which was restored and reorganized in 1833. Renewed disorders brought about mili tary occupation in 1836 and again in 1838 till 1841. Cracow became the headquarters of the insurrection in February 1846 and in a few days was seized by Russian and Austrian troops.

On 6 Nov. 1846 the Treaty of Vienna (1815) was abrogated and Cracow was annexed to Aus tria despite the protest of England and France. In 1849 it was incorporated with the Crown land of Galicia. A great fire on 18 July 1850 laid most of the city in ashes. Violent anti-clerical riots broke out in 1869 owing to the discovery of a nun having been secluded in a convent cell for 21 years.

There are in Cracow 40 churches, numerous chapels, 25 monasteries and cloisters and 7 syna gogues. Until 1060 it was the seat of an arch bishop; since then of a bishop. The cathedral was erected in 1320-59 and enlarged during the 16th and 17th centuries. It contains the tombs of Polish kings, bishops and national heroes, in cluding Sobieski, Poniatowsky and Kosciusko. Some fine marble statues are by Thorwaldsen. Other churches have historical relics and works of art dating back to the 12th century. The Krolevski castle, founded 1265, is used as a bar racks and military hospital. The arsenal (1257) is now a museum and art gallery. The new uni versity (1881-87) is a magnificent block of buildings and contains treasures of art, litera ture and scientific research. The old university (1364) was a renowned centre of learning dur ing the Middle Ages and boasted over 8,000 students. It has considerably revived in the last 100 years and is now conducted in the Polish language. There are numerous schools and academies, a high school for women, a con servatoire and a horticultural training college. The population is about 170,000.

During the European War the Russians reached as far as the outer line of the defenses of Cracow, which was surrounded by a triple line of fortifications consisting of 30 forts. The Russian advance on Cracow in November 1914 came after the conquest of Galicia in September. An indecisive battle in December 1914 enabled the Austrians to check the enemy and close the gate to Silesia. It was in and around Cracow that the great Austro-German concentration took place early in 1915 for the Dunajec-Biala drive of General Mackensen, which culminated in the reconquest of nearly the whole of Galicia. See POLAND; WAR, EUROPEAN - EASTERN FRONT.