In the early medieval times, at the place of today's Lubawa, there was an old Prussian dwelling of the Sasin tribe. At the turn of the 12th and 13th century the local area was invaded by the dukes of Mazowsze. The first mention of the place, contained in a document of Pope Innocent III confirming donation made for the benefit of Prussian missionary bishop, Christian, by the Prussian chief Surwabuno alongside his baptism, is from 1216.

Around the year 1250 the village received municipal rights and was named Lubaviae. The Teutonic Order took over the heritage of the Prussian mission of Christian and built a defensive castle there – the seat of the Chełmno bishopric. In 1269 Lubawa was destroyed by an old Prussian invasion of the Sudowia tribe. After rebuilding the town was founded again, this time under the privilege issued in the early 1400s by Herman, the bishop of Chełmno. It was confirmed in 1326 by another bishop, Otton. The town was governed under the Kulm Law. In 1410 units of the Teutonic Order set off from Lubaviae for Grunwald.

From 1440 Lubawa was a member of the Prussian Confederation fighting against the Teutonic Order. In 1466 the town was incorporated into Royal Prussia, Poland. Trade and craft thrived under Polish reign. A Jewish community was established in Lubawa in the second half of the 18th century.

In 1772 the town became a part of the Prussian partition. It lost its connection with the Polish supply base but gained a garrison status (from 1774).The presence of the military influenced Germanization increased by intensive German colonization mostly conducted by the Evangelicals.

In 1807, under the treaty of Tylża, Lubawa was annexed to the Duchy of Warsaw. Despite quite a short period the Germanization tendencies reversed and the area maintained its Polish character. It revealed in the second half of the 19th century when, during the Polish national revival period the "company of Lubawa" – a voluntary unit to take part in the uprising of 1863, was formed there. After the town was again a part of independent Poland, despite almost hundred years of partitions, Poles constituted 96.6% of the total population of the district.

At the turn of the 19th and 20th century the town benefited from the general German economic boom but it still remained the centre of services for the surrounding agricultural farms. However, from 1818 the Lubawa district existed but its real centre was Nowe Miasto Lubawskie. In 1884 a railway connection with Zajączkowo Lubawskie, within the Gdańsk – Mława line, was established.

In 1920 Lubawa, after being taken by the troops of general Józef Haller, became a part of the revived Poland. In 1939 it was annexed by Germany. The occupation brought about extermination of the local Polish population. The occupier set up a camp for minors in the town.

In 1945 Lubawa was the venue of major fights of the forces of the 2nd Belorussian Front during which about 80% of the buildings were destroyed. After 1945 Lubawa became the capital of the district for a short time due to the fact that Nowe Miasto Lubawskie had too many German inhabitants. Since 1999 Lubawa is a part of Iławski district in Warmińsko-Mazurskie Province.

 

Bibliographic note

  • Pokojski E., Lubawa: fakty, opinie, problemy, Lubawa 1998.
  • Śliwiński J., Lubawa: z dziejów miasta i okolic, Olsztyn 1982.
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