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The history of Trzemeszno is linked to the origins of the Polish state and the cult of St. Adalbert. Oral tradition has it that the bishop, while on his mission to Prussia, was reposing in the vicinity of the local spring, which afterwards gained miraculous healing powers. After his martyrdom, St. Adalbert’s body was placed in the church in Trzemeszno before being moved to Gniezno Cathedral. This event is commemorated in the coat of arms of Trzemeszno, which depicts St. Adalbert wearing a liturgical dress, a mitre, a cope and a pallium, and holding the attributes of his martyrdom: an oar and two spears (in an earlier coat of arms - a mace). The town was destroyed during the invasion of Bretislaus I, Duke of Bohemia, in 1038. It regained its former importance thanks to the Order of the Canons Regular of St. Augustine of the Lateran Congregation, which was brought to the town by the Duke of Poland Bolesław III the Wry-Mouthed. The most important foundation documents of the monastery are: privilege issued by Cardinal Humbald, the Papal Legate, in 1146 and Pope Eugene III’s bull of confirmation of 1147. Whereas an Act of King Mieszko III the Old vesting some estates and dated 1145 is, according to researchers, a later falsification. Based on the received privileges the Canons erected monastery objects and the earlier single-spired pre-Romanesque church was replaced by a three-nave Romanesque basilica, with a presbytery, a projecting semicircular apse, a transept and two steeples. The church was re-built in the Gothic style after a fire in 1359. The verticality of the building was achieved by elevating the walls and the vaults, as well as by roofing the steeples. At the same time a well-equipped library was built within the monastery.

Trzemeszno was granted Magdeburg rights before 1382. The favourable location of the town on the route from Poznań to Toruń facilitated the development of crafts. Still, inhabitants of Trzemeszno suffered severe losses caused by numerous fires. An economic downturn commenced in the 17th century during the Swedish invasion. The Swedes stationing in the town were chased away as a result of the armed intervention of Stefan Czarniecki, during which almost half of the buildings were burnt down.

The establishment of the foundation of Michał Kosmowski (the abbot of the Canons Regular), in 1773, was a milestone in the development of Trzemeszno. Thanks to the foundation, Collegium Tremensensis - a secondary school for seminarists - was created. Half a century later the junior secondary school building was erected, which exists to the present day.

Abbot Kosmowski also reconstructed the church in the late Baroque style, which he modelled on St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. Trzemeszno basilica was considerably extended and the central part - above the tomb of St. Adalbert - was topped with a dome, surrounded by a ring of chapels. The interior was enriched by stylish architectonical and sculptural decorations, paintings and works of artistic carpentry. The church was raised to the dignity of the minor basilica of the Assumption of Mary in 1791.

Inhabitants of Trzemeszno played an important part in the history of Poland, as they participated in numerous national liberation fights. The town was the birthplace of Jan Kiliński, a hero of the Kościuszko Uprising. During the Kościuszko Uprising of 1794, the town supported insurgent troops of General Antoni Madaliński. Heavy fights were carried out here during the European Revolutions of 1848. Marian Langiewicz, the Dictator of the so-called January Uprising of 1863, graduated from the junior secondary school in Trzemeszno. Pupils of the junior secondary school paid with blood and suffered severe repressions for their support for the Uprising. The vibrant town won its independence during the Greater Poland Uprising in 1918. Trzemeszno’s inhabitants stood up for the motherland again in 1939. The church and the school building, turned into storehouses, burnt down in the fires kindled by the withdrawing occupiers. In spite of efforts, the rich equipment of the late-Baroque church has not been fully restored.

The town is located in the vicinity of picturesque moraine hills. The Popielewskie and Klasztorne Lakes also vastly contribute to the beauty of the region. Through Trzemeszno leads the so-called Piast Route, running through the Pomeranian Lake District and encompassing the areas which were the cradle of the Polish State.

Andrzej Leśniewski
Regional Museum in Trzemeszno