City through empires. Toruń (Poland) in ontology of historical geographic information system from 10th to 20th century

At the Institute of History, Polish Academy of Sciences, the project “Ontological foundations for developing historical geographic information systems” is currently developed. The planned effect of this work is a comprehensive ontology concerning historical settlements and administrative units. The project assumes creating a database with spatial data about precisely selected cities and districts of Poland. Among them is Toruń, currently a town with approximately 200000 inhabitants and area of approximately 115 square metres, lying on both Vistula river banks.

The city was established in 13th century around the first Teutonic proto-castle built in this part of Europe. During a long history, its spatial scale, location, and supreme authority were changing. The very first location of the Old Toruń lies outside the borders of modern city. Toruń was translocated and existed as a twin city for a while. Its Old and New parts eventually melted, creating one of three great cities of the Royal Prussia, with a huge political and economic autonomy and enormous estates. The Polish king became its supervisor and main benefactor. Afterwards, as a result of partitions of Polish Commonwealth, territory of Toruń became a part of the Prussian empire. Later on, a territory of the Dutchy of Warsaw, supervised by the Napoleon Bonaparte’s empire, included the city. In 20th century Toruń became a part of Polish state. For all this years, different settlements created a territory of Toruń with its suburbs and land estates. Some of them – currently a part of the city – were separate units, cities even. Some – small villages, independent estates and manors – do not exist anymore, and only their names can be found in historical sources.

The aim of this paper is to present above mentioned project and explain how the research team deals with implementation of described changes in location, type of settlement, spatial scale, and political affiliation to the GIS. A basis of the research are: archaeological materials, historical tax registers, settlement registers, administrative acts, and cartographic sources.