The origins of Lębork date back to the early Middle Ages. A small settlement called Lewino, which belonged to Pomeranian Dukes, was the first settlement in the area. The settlement belonged to the Białogard Land, dominated by the central city of Białograd. When Eastern Pomerania found itself under the Teutonic rule and after the Gdańsk commander Dawid von Cammerstein destroyed gords (fortresses) in Białogard and Salin, the Białogard Land administration was replaced by the Lębork Manor Lands (Polish: Wójtostwem Lęborskim). Its center became the newly established Lębork. According to the Pomeranian chronicler Restorf, in 1285 Lębork already held town privileges. It is not known who granted them and when; however, a document from 1341 claims that the town received the Chełmo Law under the Grand Master Dietrich von Altenburg.
Lębork belonged to the State of the Teutonic Order between 1310-1454. In 1410, during the Polish-Teutonic War, Lębork shortly found itself under Polish rule, yet in 1411, under the First Treaty of Toruń, it returned to the State of the Teutonic Order. In 1440, having joined the Prussian Confederation along with Łeba and after the outbreak of the Thirteen Year’s War (1454), Casimir Jagiellon incorporated Lębork along with Eastern Pomerania into Poland. However, in 1455 the city council handed the town over to the Pomeranian duke Eric II. These territories were to be returned at every request of the king or Gdańsk in accordance with the “first hand” principle. In 1490 Lębork became the property of the Pomeranian Duke Bogislaw X. It was a dowry from his wife’s father, King Casimir Jagiellon. Its status did not change until 1637, when after the heirless death of Bogislaw IV, Lębork was again incorporated into Poland.
After 20 years, in 1657, by virtue of the Treaty of Welawa and Bydgoszcz, King John Casimir gave Lębork to the Elector of Branderburg, Frederick William. It was the beginning of German rule over this territory, uninterrupted until 1945. Until 1698 electors paid homage to Polish kings. In 1773, pursuant to Article IV of the Partition Treaty, Lębork was incorporated into the Province of Pomerania, to which it belonged until March 1945.
In the19th century, Lębork found itself within the Lębork-Bytów District, and then within the Lębork-Bytów County, Koszalin Region. In 1846 the county was divided. In the second half of the 19th century, the town’s significance and population rose, especially after the launching of a railway line to Słupsk and Gdańsk in 1807. In 1878 a hospital was established, between 1882-1884 a much bigger hospital for patients with tuberculosis, and in 1887 a psychiatric hospital. In the last decade of the 19th century, an important railway node was established along with the opening of a railway connection with Łeba (1889), and with Kartuz (1895). In 1900 a town hall was built. The development of the town encouraged the influx of German population, with Poles and Kashubians pushed to the eastern part of the county.
After World War I, the inhabitants of Lębork opposed the plans of incorporation of Lębork into Poland (proposed by Roman Dmowski). The town remained within the German territory. In the 1920s, despite unemployment, the town saw the expansion of its electricity network and public transportation. Furthermore, new schools were built. In 1932, Adolf Hitler visited Lębork, and his Nazi party won 60% of the town’s votes.
On 10 March 1945, the town was occupied by the Red Army. Following the Potsdam Conference in August 1945, Lębork was incorporated into Poland. Following the removal of German population from the town, people from central and south Poland and Poles forced to leave the territories of the Eastern Borderlands (Ukraine and Lithuania) taken by the Soviets arrived in Lębork.
In 1975 Lębork was incorporated into the newly formed Słupsk Province. Since 1999 it has been the capital of its county in Pomeranian Province.
- Heimatbuch Lauenburg/Pom, (1967).
- M. Kowalski, Z dziejów krainy nad rzeką Łebą: studia i materiały historyczne, (2008).