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Poczta Polska, the Polish postal service, is founded17.10.1558

Wikipedia (10 Oct 2013, 11:50)

Poczta Polska is the Polish public postal service.


Before the postal system was established, correspondence was delivered by messengers. In the Middle Ages, such services were available only to the privileged classes - monarchs, rich merchants and some of the organised communities, like large towns, universities or monasteries. Royal couriers would use the "podwoda" - horses and carts provided at fixed points on the route for replacement.

The Polish postal service was created on October 18, 1558, when king Zygmunt August established a permanent postal route from Kraków to Venice (later also to Vilnius) in order to manage affairs in Italy that arose after the death of Queen Bona, his mother. The king assigned the supervision of the postal service to Prosper Prowana, a courtier of Italian descent. For many years the service was financed from the royal treasury, and it was not until 1647 that king Władysław IV introduced the post tax ("podatek podwodowy"). In the 17th century Poland engaged in a series of devastating conflicts, and development of the postal service languished until the reign of King Stanisław August Poniatowski. It was then made available to all the citizens at flat rates, and postmen (known as "pocztylion" or "kursor") were issued official uniforms and post horns.

The Polish postal service, at that time the most efficient postal system in Europe, was destroyed by the partitions of the country. For short periods of time the service still functioned in the Duchy of Warsaw (around 1807-1812) and the Kingdom of Poland (around 1815-1830). After regaining independence in 1918, the united territory of Poland was in need of a uniform network of communication. Thus, the interwar period saw the rapid development of the postal system as new services were introduced (e.g. money transfers, payment of pensions, delivery of magazines, air mail).

Although during national uprisings and in the course of wars communication was provided mainly through field post, which was subject to military authority, postmen always took active part in the fight for independence by secretly delivering parcels and documents, or by providing vital information about the enemy. Many important events in the history of Poland involved the postal service, like the defense of the Polish Post Office in Danzig in 1939 and the participation of the Scouts' Postal Service in the Warsaw Uprising. During the difficult times of the Second World War, the Polish Post in exile would lift up the spirits of compatriots by issuing postage stamps.

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