The first historic mention of Żabno comes from 1274, when Bolesław Wstydliwy, the Cracow Prince, gave the village to the knight Świętosław, who descended from the Gryfit family. This information proves that the settlement must had already existed before, it might have come into being in the second half of 12th century. In 1344 Żabno was found in the hands of Tarnowski family, and in the second half of 14th century it received town rights. The settlement had favourable development conditions because of its location on the trade route from Wojnicz to Korczyn, and near to Dunajec crossing as well. In the 15th century also craft, such as: furriery, tailoring, carpentering and flour-milling, begun to develop in the town. In 1442 they built there a parish and a wooden St. Spirit Church[1.1].
In the 16th century the town was habited by 600 citizens. The 1591 tax census says that there were 42 craftsmen in Żabno. In the second half of the 16th century the reformation reached the settlement. Its representative was the Żabno heir Hieronim Bużeński, who initiated the catholic places profanation, including the parish church and the St. Cross near the Hospital of the Poor. Lack of support of the reformation among the citizens of the town made the movement went out at the beginning of the 16th century.
17th century brought with itself bad luck. In 1637 there was a fire in the town. Next, Żabno experienced Swedish invasion and an attack of army led by Jerzy the 2nd Rakoczy of Siedmiogród, which caused quite big devastation in Żabno. Among other things, they set on fire the parish church. The town has also survived the invasion of Jan Dębiński, the foreman of Nowy Korczyn. Although he sold his Żabno properties to Gabriel Ochocki, he still forced taxes from the local peasants and ravaged the soil.
The events of 17th century caused the fall of Żabno and the local population’s emigration to the country or to the neighbouring towns. The owner Ochocki tried to improve the town’s economic situation but organizing the additional fairs and trades did not help. After his death Żabno came back to the hands of Dębiński family and after that, through the marriage, the Stadnicki family took it over[1.2].
In the 18th and 19th century Żabno was an impoverished town. During the partition it was found in the Austrian annexation. Half of the citizens in this time were Jewish, Their main occupations were trade and petty craft. After 1855 Żabno became the seat of the judicial district and in 1867 all local authorities were moved to Dąbrowa, which in that time was the best developed town, both in respect of economics and the number of habitats.
On the 20th April 1888 the town experienced the biggest fire of its history. Its range reached practically the whole Żabno without several houses located near the post office. The balance of the event counted 125 buildings. 25 barns and the church were completelly burned. What is more, one of the Jewish citizens was killed. He did not have time to escape while guarding his estates and burned alive[1.3].
On the turn of 19th and 20th century the economic situation in Żabno started to get improved, they set the distillery, the mill and the brickworks. Also there were being established societies that would support both agriculture and trade, such as: loan society. The chance for the town was also building of the railway Tarnów-Żabno-Dąbrowa-Szczucin, thanks to which agricultural products were being sent to Tarnów and Szczucin, and from there to the Kingdom of Poland and Germany [1.4].
The changes for better were stopped by the outbreak of the First World War. Immediately after its start the town was captured by the Russian, who did not carry out any radical changes and did not persecute the population. The situation changed after the battle of Gorlice, which resulted in the retreat of the Russian army and withdraw among the other towns from Żabno, destroying it on their way back. During these events 15 people were killed and half of the buildings were destroyed[1.5]
Regaining of the independency brought with itself great hopes for the better future, for Żabno as well. In 1918 the town was included in the Cracovian voivodeship. Hopes for economical development during Poland’s twenty years of independence after World War I brought the opening of cellulose factory in the neighbouring Niedomice. In 1909 Żabno lost its town rights and regained it in 1934. September 1939 brought with itself the outbreak of the World War II. During the battles of 8th and 9th September the Germans captured area around Żabno. The occupants introduced their own administration on the conquered land. They divided Poland into four regions, called districts, which lines were slightly different than the earlier voivodeship borders. At the beginning, the Cracow consisted of 10 districts. In 1941 the number was broaden to 12. Their borders did not agree with the ones from before the war. The Tarnów district, called by the Hilarities Kreishauptmannschaft Tarnow, included former Brześć county, Dąbrowa county and Tarnów county.
The occupation in Żabno brought mainly the extermination of the Jewish and Gypsy population, alongside with the persecution of Polish citizens, who did not remain indifferent to the war operations. The Resistance was active in the whole area, the Home Army was its main resource. Its members did some military actions, such as the attack on the German military police post in Żabno.
After the Hitler occupation Żabno remained small town. Today it is habited by more or less 4,000 people. It has town rights and it is the seat of the commune. During the last couple of years a great effort was put into the development of Żabno.
- [1.1] Artur Bata, Hanna Lawera, Dąbrowa Tarnowska i okolice, Krosno 1998, p. 59.
- [1.2] Artur Bata, Hanna Lawera, Dąbrowa Tarnowska i okolice, Krosno 1998, p. 60.
- [1.3] Artur Bata, Hanna Lawera, Dąbrowa Tarnowska i okolice, Krosno 1998, p. 62.
- [1.4] Artur Bata, Hanna Lawera, Dąbrowa Tarnowska i okolice, Krosno 1998, p. 60-61.
- [1.5] Artur Bata, Hanna Lawera, Dąbrowa Tarnowska i okolice, Krosno 1998, p. 63.