Today I will be going a little more in depth with the history of Banska Bystrica. Banska Bystrica was the economic, military, and political powerhouse of the Slovak National Uprising, and I don’t think that I can do justice to the history of the uprising by not including background information on the city.
I must note that I am not writing these posts in any kind of chronological order, I am just doing so to help get my thoughts together, and to share some history with those that are interested. With that being said, if you would like to read my other posts, I talk about how the uprising started generally, and I also go into more detail on the Slovak-Hungarian Little War. Before I had come to Slovakia, I wrote about the city with information that I could find online, but now that I have first hand credible sources, I have an entirely different view of the city. You can check out the post here and can see just how different I might see the city.
King Béla IV of Hungary was the ruling Monarch at the time Banska Bystrica gained its town’s rights These rights changed the city, allowing more trade and commerce, officially signed and documented in 1255. King Béla IV was the first of many different monarchies to give Banska Bystrica its town’s rights and privileges, with other kings including King Stephen V in 1271, King Ladislaus IV in 1293, King Andrew III in 1293, and Louis the Great in 1363. Even though many different powers recognized the city and gave it the rights it needed to flourish, it was not necessary as the privileges that King Béla IV granted in 1255 were sufficient for the following two centuries.
King Béla IV’s Foundation Charter in 1250
We, Bela, in God’s mercy the king of Hungary, Dalmatia, Croatia, Rashka, Serbia, and Halic, Lodomerie and Cuman, to all the Christ’s faithful, both the present ones and the future ones, willing to read this charter, we greet you in the name of the Savior.
The provident king’s foresight was to honor grant our faithful with some privileges and titles to magnify the number of the servants rightfully, because this is the way how to keep the respect of the royal nobility.
Therefore, we want to acknowledge with the content that we have granted our guests from a new settlement called Bystrica close to Lupica these privileges according to their plea.
Once the rights and privileges were granted to the city, the first mayor of Banska Bystrica was elected: a man named Ondrej (I couldn’t find this man’s full name, so I will have to do some more digging). The mayor was elected by the town’s burghers in the year 1256, and the line of mayorship continued all the way until 1760. Once a man was elected mayor, he would be known as richtar (1256-1850), mestanosta (1850-1923), starosta (1923-1938), government commissioners (1938-1944), predseda (1944-1990), and finally known as primatar (1990-Present).
Banska Bystrica’s Economic Heritage
The city of Banska Bystrica originally developed as a mining town, although over time it gradually transitioned into a town based home to skilled craftsmen and merchants. In the 18th century, the town became the administrative seat of Zvolen County, and became the new home to a new reign of bishops. The city of Banska Bystrica was very self-sufficient, with many breweries, stores, bath houses, workshops, and pharmacies. However, in 1725, the town changed when industrial production began. This came about when businessman Teofil Stertz founded his linen manufacturing and dyeing enterprise in the city. The city kept developing at a steady pace, however its progress was unfortunately halted temporarily by the Great Fire of 1761. This fire caused mass reconstruction of many buildings, allowing for the beautiful architecture you see today.
The city first began its modernization period in 1830, when the construction began on a sugar refinery. In 1837, the refinery truly was modernized when it cast off it’s old horse driven engines, and installed steam engines. Many other industries began popping up in Banska Bystrica, including a steam mill in 1881, however it was destroyed in the 1940’s. Some other products made in Banska Bystrica include linen and traditional blue-print textiles and clothes.
Czechoslovak Republic & Banska Bystrica
Once finally broken away from the Austro-Hungarian empire, the Czechoslovak Republic was formed in 1918. This allowed the city of Banska Bystrica to flourish, building many new food corporations and banking institutions. The inter-war period was a time where tourism thrived in the city, with many bath houses, spas, educational institutions, recreational facilities and a clean environment made Banska Bystrica one of the prime tourist locations in the whole of the Czechoslovak Republic.
Slovak Republic & Banska Bystrica
Things drastically changed however, when the Slovak republic was founded on March 14, 1939. Although it claimed to be its own state, it was in reality just a puppet state of Nazi Germany at the time, with fascist leader Jozef Tiso at the helm. Because of the location of the city geographically and economically, it made perfect sense for the city to become the home of Europe’s largest anti-Nazi revolution. Spoiler alert, in the end the resistance did fail, but it was not in vain, as it sparked uprising throughout the country.
And that is where I am going to leave off for today! I hope you enjoyed, because I sure did. If you liked this article, give it a share, the buttons are right down there.