History

History

Surroundings of Levice had been settled over 6 000 years ago in early Bronze Age, that is indicated by findings of the Volute pottery of Želiezovce type. Later Bronze Age is proved by evidence of the Cannel pottery. Settlements of Bronze, Hallshtatt and Laten Age give evidence of another continual colonization. Silver coins, which were discovered in the area of Nová Osada ( New Colony) in 1930, refer to presence of Celts around 3 000 B.C.

At the turn of the epoch there were Germanic tribes of Quadi and Marcomanni, then Romans. In the period of Migration of the Nations in the 4th century A.D  Turkish-Tartar Huns, who were the reason of hectic movements in this territory, made a move from the Central Asia to the West and were pushing forward Goths and other East-Germanic tribes. At the end of the 4th century the first tribes of old Slavonians, who later became dependent on the Avars, had penetrated into this area. At the end of the 8th century the Avars were defeated by the army of the Frank sovereign Charles the Great, and at the beginning of the 9th century independent Slavonic principalities were coming into existence on the territory of present Moravia and Western Slovakia, as well as Slavonic hill-forts on the elevated hills in surroundings of Levice, such as Krivín, in the bounds of Rybník, Bohunice, Starý Tekov and probably on the rocky headlands of the Calvary of Levice. Hungarians settled down here at the end of the 9th century. The Ugrian kingdom came into existence which at the beginning of the 11th century erected stone castles as administrative territorial units – counties /comitatuses/. The first written records come from this period concerning the existence of villages in the territory, of which the first significant document is the charter of Beňadik Abbey from the year 1075. It mentions Rybník, Starý Tekov, Tlmače, Kozárovce, Opatová /presently part of Nová Dedina/, Mýtne Ludany and Žemliare.

The first written reference about 3 settlements on the territory of today´s Levice comes from the year 1156. That time the archbishop of Esztergom /Hungary/ Martirius consecrated the St. Martin church in  Bratka settlement, which had been built by Euzidinus, and he gifted him with real as well as personal property. Bratka was singled out as a donation property of the mentioned head of the county from the king´s property, administered from the komitas castle in Tekov. The archbishop of Esztergom annexed 3 settlements to the church. Thus a new parish was established in Bratka by taking it out of the castle parish in Tekov, which apart from Bratka also Levice /later Old Levice/ and Vitkovice village belonged to since 1156.

 Nowadays none of 3 above mentioned villages exist. Bratka and Vitkovce came to an end in the Middle Ages and Old Levice at the beginning of the 17th century. The location of Vitkovce has not yet been localized more precisely up to the present. Old Levice had been mentioned in the meantime as an unimportant subject settlement belonging to Tekov castle manor. It was situated in the east off  the present town centre, at the foot of the vineyard hill that has still kept its name Old Levice /Ó-Léva/ so far. Bratka was situated in the territory of the present  part bearing the same name, hence south - east off Levice, in the wedge between the railway Levice – Nové Zámky and Levice – Štúrovo. Exact localization of disappeared settlement Bratka was enabled by archeological exploration on this territory between the years 1958 -1960. Exploration uncovered the foundations of the St. Martin´s Roman church and a part of the cemetery, as well as the trace of Bratka settlement was found. The exploration confirmed that certain traces of colonization of the area could  be surely presumed  in the 9th - 10th century, whilst the centre of colonization was probably even in the 12th - 15th century. The results of explorations confirmed truthfulness of the document from the year 1156, since uncovered foundations of the original church in Bratka indicates the fact that it came from the half of the 12th century. Bratka was mentioned second time 2 years later, and that in the document from the year 1158 when Stefan, Euzidinus´s brother, donated Bratka settlement and its neighbouring settlement Zamto to the monastery in Hronský Beňadik. Bratka is mentioned as a property of the monastery in the document  from the year 1209 as well.

Archeological exploration, however, has brought interesting evidences about other destinies of the area. The church in Bratka had been destroyed sometime in the half, eventually in the second half of the 13th century and a new church was built on its place in the course of the second half of the 13th century. Destruction of the old church in Bratka and along with it also settlements is related to Tartar loot in the years 1241-1242, perhaps / at latest/ to invasion of the armies of Přemysl Otakar II in the year 1271. In the last quarter of the 13th century the church in Hronský Beňadik impawned it to its thrall, whose descendants were using family name deduced with regard to the locality.

Construction of the second church was probably realized at the time when Baratka family held Bratka in its possession. In 1346 the monastery in Hronský Beňadik retrieved Bratka. Afterwards Bratka was mentioned again in the year 1429 in connection with the  local monastery, but 17 years later /in 1456/ Bratka and its church are referred as already deserted. Thus Bratka definitely ceased to exist in the period limited by the years 1429 – 1456. Its destruction might be assumed to be connected with fights of Peter Čech, the owner of Levice castle, against Hussitess armies which occurred in the area of Ponitrie and Pohronie in the years 1433 – 1435. That is to say, in the first half of the 15th century Peter Čech also seized Bratka, which was also possessed along with the  neighbouring settlement Zamto by his grandson Ján, though just as depopulated properties – prediums, as the datum indicates it in the document from 1489. Bratka is then mentioned in the archival sources of the following centuries/ for example, in the list of Levice manor from 1554, also elsewhere/ always just as an unpopulated locality with cultivated soil in the territory of Old Levice, and since the time of its destruction in the area of New or Big Levice.

 „Villa Leua“, which is mentioned in the document from 1560, had also been called Old Levice since the 14th century unlike New Levice, later called Big Levice that began developing as an extramural settlement below Levice castle, probably as early as the end of the 13th century, eventually the beginning of the 14th century. Levice castle had not been built yet before the Tartar invasion. After the Tartar invasion, within the scope of stone castle constructions as strategically significant centres of defence of the country, Levice castle was built on the not high trachytic rocky hill likely in the last quarter of the 13th century. It was surrounded by marshy meadow, which was an appropriate natural defensive element. The first reference in the document about its existence as a built up castle comes from the year 1318, when Matúš Čák possessed it and it was administrated by castellanus Jule. After death of Matúš Čák in 1321 the castle was taken over by the severeign and became a residential castle of Tekov chair, as for several centuries from its origin the Old Tekov castle had had an important military and administrative function, protecting the route leading from the Danube lowland to the territory, where mining enterprise was developing. At the same time it was the administarive centre of Levice castle estate, which the properties of perished Tekov castle were annexed to.

In the document from the year 1388  the jus stapulae and toll collection was mentioned in connection with Levice. Settlement with the jus stapulae and toll collection is necessary to be considered  as the settlement unit with basic preconditions of its development towards town. Levice /Leua/ is mentioned even by its name as a townlet /oppidium/ for the first time in the document from the year 1428. Developing townlet was a subject, as a part of Levice castle estate, of the castle castellanus as an administrator of the estate, which had been the royal property as late as 1395. That year the King Zigmund donated it to Ladislav from Šárovce, an ancestor of Levický family line. His son Peter began using family name Levický /de Leva/. Levický family owned Levice castle along with the estate up to 1529 when the King Ferdinand I confiscated it, and for a short time, he donated it to his wife the Queen Anna. Afterwards Levický family possessed  the castle along with its estate again till extinction of the family line in 1553. The castle and its estate both were taken over again by the sovereign. It was administered by castle captains because due to Turkish expansion it became the frontier castle near by Turks´ occupied territory of Hungary /Uhorsko/.

In 1541 the  so-called second Turkish war began, whose disastrous effects  had a direct impact on  Slovakia since the Turks had succeeded in occupying a considerable part of  the south Slovakian territory. In 1543 Esztegom fell into the Turkish hands and Turkish offensives headed for south Slovak border with an increasingly more powerful strength, where the chain of fortified towns and castles, Levice castle among them, had protected the territory. After seizure of Esztergom in 1544 the Turks got across the river Danube and abruptly attacked Levice fort. Though they did not succeed in conquering the castle, they got hold of generous loot, many captives and massive damages caused by setting the town on fire. Levice castle  along with the town became an important strategic point in defensive system of yet not occupied northern territories of Hungary /Uhorsko/ by Turks.

In 1595  in the  western part of  Hungary Imperial troops succeeded in siezing back Vacov, Vyšegrad and Esztergom from the Turks and  they liberated Old Levice from Turkish subjection. Ending of 15 years´  war against the Turks /1593 – 1606/ did not bring peace and security either to Levice or its surroundings. Peace was often violated and the Turks, whether themselves or in connection with leaders of anti-Habsburg rebellions, made raids into Slovak inland and looted Slovak population and their  properties. In 1613 the Turks also began to trouble large surroundings  of Levice, at first  just through cautionary letters, but shortly after through robbing  incursions. Under the pressure of Turkish plunder the townlet became competely deserted.

Townlet Levice, that was also a military camp, had an individual character in the second half of the 16th century and the entire 17th century and life in it and its system were considerably different from the other communities in Levice estate. As there was not urbarium land in its bounds, literally there was not even any subjective population. Since the end of the 16th, but particularly in the 17th century, many esquires settled down here, whose occupation became military service. Esquires in Levice gained for their military service, linked with financial loans from the owner of Levice castle and its captain, inscriptions for houses which they often built at their own expense.

Townlet and Levice castle, however, along with military function also performed a very significant role of administrative and economic centre of Levice castle estate. Townlet Levice was a market-town, where craft production was centralised to a great extent as well. Since the beginning of the 17th century, along with 2 weekly markets,  annual fairs were also taking place, whose number increased up to 4 in 1733. As the market town Levice had a very important status, mainly within the context of lively corn trade and other agricultural products. In the 17th century artisan´s trade grew rapidly as well, especially those which, by means of their products, saturated needs of neighbouring villages by supplying clothes, footwear and other products of daily usage. The first written record of guild in Levice  was a boot-makers one that had existed since 1620. In 1632 furriers established their guild and before 1672 there also existed the guild of  locksmiths, girdlers and sword manufacturers in Levice. Since 1697 shoemakers had their guild as well. Other guilds grew rapidly in the 18th century. Merchants of Balkan origin, who had settled down in Levice as early as in the 17th century, owned local trade as well as draught of beverages. In the 17th century considerable part of Levice dwellers found their livelihood in trade and handicraft activities, and just a minor part of them dealt exclusively with agriculture and viniculture. Apart from those dwellers, in the 17th century even gipsies lived  in a large number in Levice. They were engaged in horse trade, manufacture of horseshoes and nails. Many of them were making their living of being a musician as well. The most disastrous days of Levice were brought by Turkish incursion  in 1663, on 2 November 1663 the castle and townlet both fell into the arms of the Turks without resistance due to the enemy´s huge numerical advantage. The Turks´ rule in Levice lasted for only 224 days and that time it was the seat of Turkish sanjak. On 12 June 1664 the Turks were expelled out of the town and on 19 June they were defeated at the big battle near Levice. However, it took a longer time until the townlet recovered from Turkish plunder. After liberation of Levice the town began developing gradually in terms of building. In 1675 Franciscan monastery and church were founded. Reconstruction works on the castle were performed by military specialists led by L. de Souchesa.

Relatively positive view of the feature of the town and castle in the 17th century is presented by some drawings of Levice as an anti- Habsburg fort. The town below the castle was protected against enemy attacks by bulwarks and wooden stockades. There were 4 gates which allowed to enter the town – internal /Imperial/, Bátovce /entry from Bátovce direction/, old or miller´s gate /near the parish – the road leading to the town from west/  and a small gate / beginning of an old road leading to Old Levice/.

Great fire in 1696 was extremely disastrous for Levice because it destroyed almost the entire town, Tax commissars, who visited the town that year to  impose both  state and regional tax, had to state that the town had been completely burnt down and ruined, that apart from partially  destroyed bulwarks there remained just a few shanties, and apart from several esquires no dwellers could have been found here.

 In 1703 Rákóczy´s rebellious troops seized both the castle and town and kept it in their hands up to 1708, when Imperial general Heisler captured the castle and town by attack, escaping rebels set the castle on fire and destroyed it. Considerable destruction to town was caused by plague which was raging in Levice and its surroundings in the years 1709 – 1710. Afterwards rapid population and economic growth followed, consequently in the second quarter of that century Levice ranked among the most important towns of the south – western part of Slovakia

Satu Mare peace in 1711 ended the period of rebellions of Hungarian aristocracy against Habsburgs. The last of them /Rákoczy/ had had a deep impact on Levice for a long time. The first half of the 18th century  is the period of reconstruction, restoration of both economy and population development of the Hungarian state badly disrupted in all areas of life by Turkish occupation. Levice, in terms of population  considerably decimated at the end of the 17th and at the beginning of the 18th century, could provide opportunities of settlement and livelihood by cultivation of abandoned lands and recovery of craft production.

 In the second decade of the 18th century consequently  life in Levice was beginning graduallly to be brought back into standard. Recovery of the town succeeded resulting in division of the town into 10 tenths in the third decade of the 18th century which included the following ones : 1.Internal town, 2.Miller´s street, 3.Curved Miller´s street, 4.Market street towards the Mill, 5.Street below the marketplace, 6.Second street, 7.Third street, 8.Gipsy street, 9.Lower town, 10.Bátovská street.

In the 18th century the town acquired a significant position among the other Slovak towns. Period of peace and renovation of the country after finishing turmoils and wars is bringing Levice unprecedented opportunities of economic development. Along with viniculture and gardening,  trade, especially corn trade and other agricultural products have constantly a growing tendency. The town is largely visited by merchants from both wide surroundings and more remote regions. In connection with its development in 1733  the town is given extended privileges of annual fairs to 4 fairs a year / Annunciation – 25 March, on Wednesday before Corpus Christi –  in May – June, on Jakub day – 25 July and on Michal day– 29 September/. In the first quarter of the 18th century another guilds were established – guild of Hungarian tailors, button – makers, butchers, and in the second quarter of the 18th century also guild of shoemakers, later smockmakers, common guild of smiths, wheelers and coopers, common guild of cabinet-makers and locksmiths.

On 12 September 1772 great fire struck Levice, resulting in 245 burnt houses including the parish church. New church was built in the years 1773 – 1780.

In 1786 the Monastery of Franciscans was closed down, those who were settled down here by Baron  Jaklin in 1675. Its premises came under the aministration of religious establishment. In 1807 Piarists moved in to establish Grammar school in Levice, which was consequently opened in 1815. Importance of Levice even grew in terms of culture at the beginning of the 19th century.

During the countrywide inventory of population in 1828 Levice had 585 houses with 4099 dwellers. Cholera, which raged all over the country in summer of 1831, left 403 casualties in Levice. In the 1830s and 1840s social and cultural life in the town was activated, especially by clerks of Levice estate who founded the Casino club and in 1846 Hungarian readers´ club, whose goal was spread and promotion of Hungarian literature. Both protestant churches were activated and started building their own churches / in 1821 Calvinists and in 1843 Evangelists of Augsburg confession. First Jews moved in to the town not as early as 1838. More mass move of Jews into Levice occurred in the 1840s, when they established an independent Jewish community along with the Jews from vicinity and in 1857 they established their own sinagogue and school.

By destruction of feudalism in 1848 Levice broke free from subjective dependence of Levice nobility and in the same year Levické podhradie  settlement joined Levice. That year Levice had a population of 4817. In the third quarter of the 19th century the town experienced a certain stagnation in its development as a result of natural calamities and plagues /fire, cholera in 1866 and 1812/. In 1867 Paul Eszerházy sold the entire Levice estate to Alexander Schoeller. Apart from real properties in the town / manor house, farm buildings, mill/ also 2 granges belonged to the property in rural area of Levice. In 1885  railway connection towards Levice by railway Štúrovo – Čata  was accomplished and 2 years later in 1887 the railway  Čata - Levice was completed. That way Levice succeeded in connecting with the most important trading centres of the former monarchy. At the end of the last century /1896/  a new service on the railway Levice – Hronská Dúbrava was put into operation, and not as early as 1914 the railway from Levice to Úľany nad Žitavou was completed. In the last quarter of the 19th century Levice grew in terms of population, urban development, economy and culture as well. Trade of corn, cattle and other cultural products reached an uprecedented level.

Traditional goose markets achieved an unprecedented strength and range at the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century. Dwellers from upper parts of Tekov region bought in geese from neighbouring villages / Čajkov, Rybník/ and they fed them at home. They mainly  focused on geese to have liver as big as possible where there was a great demand for. Traffickers bought them in at Levice markets and delivered them up to Vienna, Paris and London. Corn – fed geese were then sold to Levice marketeers who were roasting and selling  them as roast goose quarters at the markets and fairs.

Even at the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century  Levice  preserves its traditional crafts. The most numerous craftsmen were bootsmakers, tailors, shoemakers and cabinet-makers. The only industrial company was Schoeller´s mill, which was rebuilt to cylindral and later enlarged and rebuilt to steam drive.

In connection with development of business enterprise Savings Bank /Sporiteľňa/ was established as a stock company in 1865 and  in 1872 another financial institution Levická Savings bank as well as a credit institution. Finally in 1894 a branch of Tekovská bank  was established as the third financial institution in Levice. In 1888 a market place was built and in 1896 mercantile apprentices founded their own guild. After closing  the guilds in 1872 relevant craft guilds linked in certain sense to their activities. Moreover, in respect to economic development of the town, its importance in cultural and administrative area is growing. In 1870 alongside with Levice grammar school a new State pedagogical institute began its activity. New building on the mound from 1909 – 1911 has been a dominant of the town for many years. In 1872 a girl burgher´s school was established as well.

Since 1881 a regional weekly periodical Bars began to be published. In 1870 military quarters were built in Levice, which were reconstructed and extended in 1897. In the 1880s the oldest  part of the hospital  in neoclassical style had been built. At the beginning of the 20th century the town was streamlined by construction of the new Town Hall /1902/ as well as by installation of street electric lighting.

 After the end of WW 1 and after desintegration of Austro – Hungarian monarchy in 1918 the Czechoslovak Republic was established. In January 1919 Levice along with its surroundings was also integrated into it.

 After breaking the front at Ipeľ bridgehead military troops of Hungarian Red Army occupied Levice on 1 June 1919. The entire surroundings of Levice was annexed under the supremacy of the Hungarian Republic of Councils.   

The entire June 1919 intense combats between Hungarian Red Army and Czechoslovak Army were in progress. Hungarian Army withdrew behind the line of demarcation on the Danube and the Ipeľ. Last Hungarian troops left Levice on 30 June 1919, and at the beginning of July the representatives of the Czechoslovak state apparatus resumed their appointments.

After finishing combats Levice and its surroundings became a permanent part of the bourgeois – democratic Czechoslovak Republic.

In the period of the first republic Levice had the character of rural – agricultural – handicraft town.

At the end of the 1920s economic situation stabilised, what to a large extent also influenced development of the town. In 1924 Nová Osada /New Settlement/, a large part of family houses with 12 streets,  was begun to be built in the south – east border of the town. Levice became a significant agicultural and trading centre of the south Pohronie.

The years of world economic crisis /the Great Depression/ affected Levice very harshly  as well. In small industrial plants /soap factory, liquer plant, brickyards/ production was being reduced. Small craftsmen were not able to place their products on the markets, and increasingly they started farming tiny fields and vineyards that became the only source of livelihood for many of them.

In autumn of 1938 the position of the Czechoslovak Repablic began to  shudder. After the First Vienna Arbitrage  Horthy´s Hungarian army occupied south Slovakia and on 10 November 1938 Hungarian troops marched in to Levice.

6 tough years of occupation were severely marked by tough rightist police regime, national oppression and later by war. Basic food and industrial products both were at the assigned.

Fascistic terror graduated in 1944 when Hungary was being occupied by Nazi German army, especially after 15 October 1944, when   Arrowcross party /so-called Nilaši/  took over the power in the state.

 Progressive spirit of Levice population manifested itself in the period of the Slovak National Uprising, when Slovak and Hungarian citizens created intelligence service network here.  

 Before Christmas 1944 the front was drawing unstoppably close to Levice. Breaking the German lines in the area of Šahy and rapid advance of Soviet troops towards Levice was so surprising, that the enemy failed to organize more serious defence. Tank troops of the 2nd Ukrainian front had penetrated to Levice at about 15.00 o´clock on 20 December 1944 in 2 directions – on the road from Mýtne Ludany and from Kalinčiakovo – and liberated the town.

In commemoration of  liberators 2 big monuments were built, the first on the former military cemetery on the Square of Heroes, the second one in the area of the command observation point of 27th Guard Corp of  the 2nd Ukrainian front on the top of Vápnik hill.

After the end of the war drama on the Lower Pohronie life  began writing a new chapter of history. By means of a 2-year plan the war damages were removed then.

After February communist coup in 1948, despite a certain stagnation, basic communal – sanitary facilities,  water pipeline and sewerage were built up.

Significant step in the history of Levice was the exchange of population between Czechoslovakia and Hungary in accordance with the interstate agreement from 1946. Nearly 200 Slovak, mainly farmer families from  Nyíregyháza and other Slovak villages in Hungary, moved in to Levice – especially in 1947 – and  about 120 Hungarian farmer families were moved from Levice  to Hungary.   

According to the first post-war population census to 1 March 1950 in Levice there were 13 385 citizens, 52,9 %  of those were women. By progressing process of urbanization which sharply increased the proportion of the population living in the town, by industrialization of the town the growth of population considerably increased.

State property was established after seizure and nationalization of Shoeller´s country estate. Construction of  the production carp ponds system  is also worth mentioning.

Economic development  of the district has created positive conditions for constant growth of economic activities of the population, especially women. Social, qualification, occupative and industrial structure of working people have changed as well.

The oldest industry in the town is the industry of food and ingredients, that in the period of nationalization had a character of small bakeries, miller´s productions, milk  purchases and pultry productions.   

Building material industry also belongs amongst the oldest industries on the territory of Levice. More small brickyards, stone – cutting plants and crushed stone plants came under national administrations through nationalization in 1948.   

Function of Associated services of Levice town was providing services to population in the area of housing economy, public transport as well as sanitary – technical facility. Company for adjustment of Levice town operated in the sector of external adjustment of the town. In 1970 Associated services of Levice town extended its activities  by new services, such as sale of flowers and wreath production, motorcar repair shop provided for car repairs, key services,  glass grining and framing of paintings.

In 1950 there were 2961 housing units on the territory of the town. In 1987 the number rose up to 13 196 units.

Since 1948 until today the network of health care institutions of ambulatory medical – precentive care have spread substantially.

In 1960 Levice became the seat of a big district. In 1966 overbridge was constructed, the construction of textile factory, PNZZ facility, malting plant, carbonated water plant and dairy plant were beginning to be built.

     Educational system has gone through significant changes. Nationalization of schools, elimination of double-line educational system and accomplishment of united school allowed citizens the same access to education. Currently there are 7 elementary schools, of these 1 is a  church school.

Secondary schools  have had a very significant role in pedagogic – educational system. By the year 1948 one State real grammar school and Training school for preparation of teachers for vocational schools provided secondary education in the town. Starting from  economical needs of the district the number of seconary vocational schools have grown, the same with their capacity, whereby more and more youth have gained opportunities to reach wider education and higher qualification.

 After 1989 there has been an increasingly apparent growth of small entrepreneurs, the structure of state administration as well as the structure of provided services  have changed.   

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