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Włocławek [vwɔt​͡sˈwavɛk] ( listen) (German: Leslau from 1939–44) is a town in northern Poland on the Vistula (Wisła) and Zgłowiączka rivers, with a population of 117,785 (June 2009). It is situated in the Kuyavian-Pomeranian Voivodeship and until 1999 was the capital of Włocławek Voivodeship.



Historians have given a number of years for the establishment of the town since the 16th century. Part of the confusion is the various attribution of the city's namesake as Władysław II the Exile, his grandfather Władysław I Herman, or Vladislav II of Bohemia.

An assistant to the Archbishop of Gniezno is mentioned residing in the town in 1123 and the Diocese of Włocławek (Latin: Vladislaviensis) in Kuyavia was first mentioned in a bull issued by Pope Eugene III in 1148. The first bishop of Włocławek, whose name appears in the bull, was Warner, and he was followed by an Italian named Onoldius. The diocese was also recorded as "Włocławek and Pomerania" (Vladislaviensis et Pomeraniae).

Włocławek received its town rights in 1255. In the 14th and 15th century, the city was destroyed or captured several times by German knights, who called it Leslau[citation needed]. Peace arrived with the Treaty of Thorn in 1466 and the city prospered from its involvement in the Polish grain trade. In 1657, a Swedish invasion during the Second Northern War partially destroyed the city. After the Second Partition of Poland in 1793, Włocławek fell to Prussia. The Congress of Vienna restored it to Congress Poland, but it was occupied by Russia in 1831. The city was again destroyed during the German offensive during the First World War.

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