The first settlement at the future site of Radom was established in the 10th century, on a hill situated right next to an older settlement. In the 12th century, it became the capital one of the castellanies of the Sandomierz Land (from the 14th century – a province capital). Around the middle of the 13th century (before 1300) the old settlement (later called Stary Radom) located next to the castellan's residence was granted town rights. It is assumed that ca. 1340–1350, King Casimir the Great issued location privileges to Nowy Radom, situated east from the already existing town, and granted it Magdeburg rights in 1364.
The settlement quickly developed thanks to its vicinity to a number of important trade routes leading from Ruthenia to Silesia, Greater Poland and Pomerania. In the last quarter of the 14th century, the dynamically growing town became the district capital, the place of gatherings of the nobility and the Seym. The 15th and 16th centuries saw Radom's greatness in its peak; the town enjoyed numerous privileges which facilitated its economic and demographic development. During the 1505 Seym meeting held in Radom, the nobility adopted the famous Nihil novi act, one of the foundations of noble democracy. In 1613, Radom became the seat of the Crown Treasury Tribunal, which overlooked public finance management; it was dissolved in 1764.
Probably ca. 1568, and certainly at the turn of the 17th century, Jewish people started to settle in Radom. Soon, the local townspeople applied for the non tolerandis Jadaeis privilege, which effectively led to all Jews being exiled from the town in 1724. Over the course of the 17th century, the town almost came to ruin due to numerous epidemics, fires and wars (especially the Swedish Deluge); for a long time, it was unable to get back on its feet. In 1767, a radical Catholic confederation was established in Radom by Nicholas Repnin, a Russian ambassador; his aim was to block the reforms supported by King Stanisław August. In the second half of the 1880s, at the request of Aleksander Potkański, the Alderman of Radom, Jews were allowed to return to the town. It was believed that their activity would help boost Radom's economic development.
After the Third Partition of Poland, Radom became a part of the Austrian province of Western Galicia. In 1809, the town was incorporated into the Duchy of Warsaw as a district capital and finally, in 1815, it became a part of Congress Poland (it was the seat of the authorities of, first, the Sandomierskie Province and later of the Radom Governorate).
In the 19th century, most of the town's buildings were remodelled. The remains of old defensive walls were demolished, moats were filled, streets were paved and houses were renovated. In 1867, the town had its own sewerage system. In 1885, a rail line passing through Radom was constructed. It proved to be highly beneficial for the local industry, especially brewing, production of building materials, and, later on, leather and footwear industry. At the beginning of the 20th century, a power plant was built in the town and a system of electric street lighting was installed.
At the outbreak of WWI, Radom was a big, rapidly developing town, one of the most significant industrial centres in the whole country. However, the years 1914–1918 severely deteriorated the town's economy. In 1915, upon their withdrawal from Poland, Russians plundered Radom from machines and natural resources, while the impoverishment of the local community during the war contributed to a serious crisis in trade, crafts and services, especially since the town was no longer able to sell its products on the Russian market.
A year after Poland had regained independence, in 1919, Radom became a district and county capital in the Kieleckie Province. In the interwar period, the town was quickly gaining importance as an industrial centre. Among factories established at the time were: an armoury, a phone factory, a footwear factory, a tobacco factory, and a gasworks. In 1933, a newly built railway line connected Radom with Warsaw and Kraków. There were many cinemas and libraries in the town and numerous newspapers were published. A significant contribution to the town's development was made by the Jewish community. Jews, who constituted 30% of the whole town's population, took part in the activities carried out by the local government. They were also very active in social, political and cultural areas.
On the first day of WWII, on 1 September 1939, the town was hit by a Luftwaffe air strike. On 8 September, it was taken by German troops. Soon, Radom became the capital of one of the four districts of the General Government. In 1941, a ghetto was established in Radom; it housed approx. 34,000 Jews. Most of the ghetto's inhabitants died in the extermination camp in Treblinka. Radom was liberated by the Red Army on 16 January 1945.
The afterwar period was a time of Radom's dynamic development. In 1949, the Evening School of Engineering was established in the town by the Polish Central Technical Organization; later on, it was converted into the Technical University of Radom and, finally, the Kielce University of Technology. In 1951, the Polish Air Force Academy started to operate. In the years 1975–1999, Radom was the capital of the Radomskie Province.
On 25 June 1976, the events of the so-called “Radom June” took place – the local workers protested against the government policy and the Polish United Workers' Party. The protests were brutally suppressed by the Communist authorities and the entire town suffered negative consequences – the government ceased to invest in Radom's infrastructure and economy.
In 1992, the Diocese of Radom was established by Pope John Paul II. In 1999, Radom gained the status of a municipal county. It is also a centre of the large Radomski County in the Mazowieckie Province.
S. Piątkowski, Radom: zarys dziejów miasta, Radom 2000.
Translated by Natalia Kłopotek