Opole (administrative)

The opole (Latin: vicinia)[1] is a historical unit of administration in Poland. An opole was characterised by close geographical ties between a group of settlements and common legal responsibilities collectively affecting all of them. The institution of the opole predates the Kingdom of Poland, and began disappearing around the 13th to 15th centuries. It was the lowest unit of administration in the medieval Polish kingdom, subordinate to the castellany.

A particular opole would be named after its largest, capital settlement.[2] Most notably, the term survived as a name of a major city in Poland, Opole, and is also associated with the Opolans tribe.[3]

History and function

The organization of the opole predates the first Polish state, the Kingdom of Poland.[4] Opoles were characteristic of the Slavic tribes and had their genesis in ties between neighbourhoods.[4] In the loose organizational structure of those times, the opole stood as an intermediate stage between an extended family and the wider tribe;[5] Henryk Łowmiański refers to opoles as the "constituent units of the tribe".[6] At first, depending on the density of inhabitants, an opole could cover an area of between few dozen to a few hundred square kilometers, with an average area of about 300 square kilometres (120 sq mi).[4] Opoles would comprise both larger settlements and individual manors.[4]

Opoles had several forms of collective responsibility; for example the members of the opole were required to pay certain taxes as a unit and perform services for the state (such as providing cattle or aiding in searches for fugitives).[1] In some documents, the term opole would be used to refer to those obligations.[2]

The close geographical ties between a group of settlements, and common legal responsibilities collectively affecting all of them, can be seen as the primary defining characteristics of an opole.[2] However, Bardach notes that practically nothing is known about the internal organization of the opole.[1] They were subordinate to the local castellany.[2]

Opoles began disappearing around the 13th to 15th centuries.[1] According to Bardach, the causes included a proliferation of settlements applying Magdeburg rights (German legal codes), and the advent of economic and judicial immunities among the feudal lords (nobility and clergy), which removed many settlements from the state's jurisdiction.[1][2] Those processes accelerated around the time of the fragmentation of Poland (12th to 14th centuries).[2] Opoles disappeared earliest in Silesia and Lesser Poland, and survived the longest in the Masovia region of east-central Poland.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Juliusz Bardach, Boguslaw Lesnodorski, and Michal Pietrzak, Historia panstwa i prawa polskiego (Warsaw: Państwowe Wydawnictwo Naukowe, 1987, p.42-43
  2. ^ a b c d e f Opole, Słownik geograficzny Królestwa Polskiego i innych krajów słowiańskich, Tom VII, nakł. Filipa Sulimierskiego i Władysława Walewskiego, 1886
  3. ^ Barbara Ann Kipfer (2000). Encyclopedic dictionary of archaeology. Springer. p. 406. ISBN 978-0-306-46158-3. Retrieved 5 April 2012.
  4. ^ a b c d Juliusz Bardach, Boguslaw Lesnodorski, and Michal Pietrzak, Historia panstwa i prawa polskiego (Warsaw: Państwowe Wydawnictwo Naukowe, 1987, p.19
  5. ^ Włodzimierz Sochacki (2007). Historia dla maturzystów: repetytorium. Wlodzimierz Sochacki. pp. 108–. ISBN 978-83-60186-58-9. Retrieved 5 April 2012.
  6. ^ Henryk Łowmiański, Why Did the Polanian Tribe Unite the Polish State"', in Krzysztof Brzechczyn (2009). Idealization XIII: Modeling in History. Rodopi. pp. 175–176. ISBN 978-90-420-2831-9. Retrieved 5 April 2012.

Opolans (Polish: Opolanie; Czech: Opolané; German: Opolanen) were the West Slavic tribe that lived in the region of upper Odra. Their main settlement (gord) was Opole. They were mentioned in the Bavarian Geographer, under the name Opolini, as one of the seven tribes living in Silesia (Silesian tribes). The other six were: Dziadoszanie, Golęszyce, Ślężanie, Trzebowianie, Bobrzanie and Lupiglaa (often identified with Głubczyce).

The name Opolans derives from a Slavic term opole, that meant a specific form of self-governing used among the West Slavs. Early medieval opole transformed into an administrative governing form used in Early Medieval Poland mainly to collect taxes.

According to the Geographer Opolans possessed 20 gords in what was later known as Upper Silesia such as Opole and Toszek. Presumably their place of cult was the Saint Anna mountain. Opolanie's territories were conquered by Great Moravia in 875 and were probably incorporated into the Přemyslid Bohemia in the first half of the 10th century. In 990 Opolans' territories were incorporated into the first Polish state. Due to this fact they are usually treated as part of the Polish tribes.

Opole (disambiguation)

Opole is a city in south-west Poland.

Opole may also refer to:

Opole Lubelskie, a town in eastern Poland

Opole, Łódź Voivodeship (central Poland)

Opole, Lublin Voivodeship (east Poland)

Opole, Masovian Voivodeship (east-central Poland)

Opole (administrative), a generic term for a historical Polish unit of administrative division

Oppilia, a historical region of Lviv Oblast, "Opole" is the transliteration of the Russian name

Opolye or Vladimir Opole, a historical region of Russia, a kernel of the medieval state of Vladimir-Suzdal

Opole, Minnesota

SS Opole

See also

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