It is one of the oldest remains of a fortified settlement in Masovia. In the early Middle Ages, there was a fortified town in the place of today’s Zakroczym, which guarded the Vistula crossing. The oldest mention of it dates back to 1065, when a trade settlement developed near the town.
The fact that the town was located at the intersection of waterways (rivers Vistula, Bug, and Narew) and overland routes leading from Pomerania to Ruthenia had a positive impact on the development of the trade settlement.
Initially it was a settlement and finally, a town. It was famous for its trade in wood, honey, furs and grain. In the 13th century there was a Zakroczym castellany (type of Medieval district). From the 14th century onwards Zakroczym was the capital of the Zakroczym district. Since the 14th until the 16th century, the Masovian sejms and conventions debated in Zakroczym. The court was also located there. Since 1531 only local sejmiks debated there. In 1387, Duke Janusz I announced the collection of rights for Masovia in Zakroczym.
The colonisation of the right bank of Vistula and the storage of salt in Zakroczym contributed positively to the development of the settlement. In 1422, the town was founded under the law of Chełm. In 1448, a shoemakers‘ guild was formed, as were,a tailors’ guild, furriers’ guild and salt tradesmen’s guild in 1525.
Despite the 1511 and 1557 fires which destroyed the town, the 16th century could be considered the best in the history of the town. In 1564, there were 371 houses in the town and more than 1500 inhabitants. A castle was built and the Masovian dukes had their seat there.
The town started to fall into decline in the 17th century. The economic crisis of Masovia, the increasing prominence of towns near Warsaw, and the change of the Vistula river channel contributed to the decline of local trade. These problems were exacerbated by destruction caused by the Swedish army, which had been stationed near the town between 1656 and 1657. In 1662, the number of inhabitants decreased to around 400 people. The castle fell into ruin.
In the 18th century and at the beginning of the 19th century, wars, fires, epidemics and constant invasions contributed to the ultimate decline of the town. It was only after 1815 that the local economy and infrastructure began to recover. The main source of income for the local population was the provision of supplies to the Modlin Fortress which had been built close to Zakroczym.
During the 1830-1831 November Uprising, after the Russians occupied Warsaw, the Sejm and the Government were moved to Zakroczym. Towards the end of the 19th century, the first industrial enterprises were established in the town. A paper mill, chicory factory and tanneries were set up. The ceramics industry developed quickly thanks to the local brickyard, which used large amounts of clay and the town became famous for its pottery goods.
Despite certain advantages, the presence of the neighboring Modlin Fortress was not altogether favorable to the town’s development. Because of its proximity, up until 1915 it was forbidden to build brick houses in the town. In addition, due to military reasons, Zakroczym was bypassed by the iron railway. In the Interwar Period (1918-1939), the brickyard was still the town’s biggest enterprise. There were around 100 craftsman’s workshops in Zakroczym. During World War II, during the battle over the Modlin Fortress, around 70% of the buildings in Zakroczym were destroyed. Many inhabitants died. The Germans performed mass executions in a place called Fort.
After the war, the town was only partially rebuilt and its stature continued to decrease. Nowadays, it serves as a commerce-service centre for local agriculture (production is focused mainly on fruit and vegetables). There is also a local clothing and food industry. Tourism is starting to play an increasingly important role in the life of the town[1.1].
Up until the 18th century – the Kingdom of Poland, the Duchy of Masovia, Masovian Province
1807-1815 the Duchy of Warsaw, Płock Department
1815-1918 Russia (the Kingdom of Poland), Płock Province, Płock Governorate, Nowy Dwór County
1918-1939 Poland, Warsaw Province, Warsaw County
1939-1945 Germany (the Third Reich), East Prussia Province, Ciechanów District, Płońsk County
1945-1998 Warsaw Province
Since 1999 Masovia Province, Nowy Dwór County
- [1.1] Miasta polskie w tysiącleciu, vol. 2, Wrocław-Warszawa-Kraków Zakład Narodowy imienia Ossolińskich Wydawnictwo 1967, p. 523-525; Jerzy Kwiatek i Teofil Lijewski, Leksykon miast polskich, MUZA S.A., Warszawa 1998, p. 1045-1046.