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The Historical Development of the Town of Kamenice nad Lipou

Kamenice nad Lipou was established at the beginning of the 13th century as a settlement at a castle. According to chronicler Hájek of Libočany, its name was Kamenice at Lime Tree, later Bohemian Kamenice. After the restoration of the town walls in 1702 it was called Hrazená (Surrounded) and the attribute "nad Lipou" comes from the lime tree planted in the chateau garden in 1248. The first written documents about the town date back to 1267. The town went with the chateau, so it had the character of a serf town. The chateau changed its owners several times during the ages. The first verifiable owners of the Kamenice demesne were the members of the Benešovec Family, of whom the best known was Dobeš of Bechyně, the faithful devotee of Queen Eliška and the counsellor of her son King Charles IV, mentioned in the years 1312-1359, who built the Chapel of St. Mary Magdalene on Bradlo Hill and established a hermitage near it. He also built a hospital within the town's walls with his son Henry to take care of impoverished people. The last member of this Family, Zbyněk 1372-1389, was the nephew of the thinker of South Bohemia, Tomáš of Štítné, from whom he leased the Estate of Štítné in 1381. From the year 1397, Jan Sezima of Ústí lived in the Kamenice Region and, at the intercession of his wife Anna of Mochov, the follower of the Calixtines, offered an asylum to Master Jan Hus in his Kozí Hrádek castle. After the end of the Hussite wars, King Sigmund gave the Kamenice Demesne to John Junior of Ústí. It then went to Henry of Stráž. In the period of the rule of Henry 1452-1476, the Highest Controller of the Kingdom of Bohemia, and of John of Šelmberk 1476-1497, the Highest Chancellor of the Kingdom of Bohemia, the citizens of Kamenice received a number of privileges and rights. In 1497, Kamenice was sold to the Family of Leskovec, who lived there until 1545. After disputes concerning inheritance, the members of the Family of Malovec became the masters of the town for 76 years and under their rule the chateau was reconstructed to the greatest extent in the years 1580-1583. In the period of the Uprising of the Estates ended by the Battle at White Mountain, Zikmund Matěj Vencelík of Vrchoviště, the commissioner of the Bechyně Region, who took part in the Uprising of the Estates against Ferdinand II, became the demesne owner through his marriage with Anna Magdalena Malovcová. All his property was confiscated in 1622 and the demesne was bought in 1623 by Henry Paradies of Escheide, of Spanish origin. The seventy-year rule of the Paradies Family was the one of oppressors; the people of Kamenice were deprived of almost all their privileges and rights received from the former owners and thus of the main sources of income (such as brewing). The last of the Paradies Family, Martin de La Saga, was worst of them all. He even succeeded in erasing the citizens' privileges from the provincial records. He resolved his disputes with his subjects by selling Kamenice to the Family of Hartig. But the new owners were not much better. In 1695, however, the citizens of Kamenice achieved a relief in their conflict with Isaiah of Hartig through an Emperor's patent called Pardon, where the Emperor relieved the citizens of Kamenice and returned them their rights. In 1740, Countess Mary Theresa of Goltz, née Hartig, took over the demesne and had a picture for the main altar in the Church of All Saints painted in 1758. In 1759, the southern wing of the chateau was reconstructed, a fountain was built in front of the brewery, and Stations of the Cross were installed at Melíšek Hill. The statue of St. Wenceslaus was erected on the town square in 1765. After the lords Vratislav of Mitrovice and Ubelli, the chateau was purchased by its administrator Jan Nádherný, founder of the ironworks - tilt-hammers. The new municipal hall was built during his period. In 1805, he sold Kamenice to Count Franz Sickingen who resold it after a year to Count Jan Rilke, who kept it until 1811. In 1821, the demesne was purchased by Count Rey. He built a new school and planted birch trees along the road towards Bradlo. The last owners of Kamenice were the Family of Henry Geymüller, a banker of Vienna, from 1831 to 1945. Henry handed it over to his son Jacob Rudolf in 1835. The new lords had the chateau rebuilt and cared very well of the town. In 1923, the demesne was taken over by Richard Geymüller who administered it until 1945 when his property was nationalized.
    In the feudalism period, trades developed in the town under the castle. The oldest trades included shoemaking, cloth manufacturing and hosiery. In this period, artisans formed the core of the population. In the years 1720-1736, silver ore was mined at Melíšek Hill and iron ore was excavated at Vodná and Gabrielka in the period of the tilt-hammers of Kamenice. The establishment of ironworks gave rise to the development of production forces and to considerable stimulation of the region through the arrival of new people. Glassmaking was another industrialization feature of the region along with ironworking. Already in 1875, a glass factory was established in Včelnička by Antonín Rückl from Ostrov nad Ohří in the place of the tilt-hammers. In 1839, a wool crumpling shop employing 200-230 workers was established in one of the chateau wings. This production was stopped in 1842. The Kamenice region was predominantly agricultural and had vast forests rich in wood. Wood was lumbered and processed in three steam saw-mills of which the largest ones were owned by the large estate, along with the most fertile fields and ponds, a mill, a soda works, a brewery, and a guesthouse. At this time, the Kamenice region had enough workforce paid in both wages and kind.
     In 1906, a narrow-gauge railway line started operation from Obrataň through Kamenice nad Lipou to Jindřichův Hradec to provide for region development and connection with the world. However, it became rather a technical rarity than a track meeting the needs of the present.
    In the interwar period, the Kamenice region was in the limelight of the Ethnographic Economic Committee of South Bohemia that wanted to use the natural beauties - forests and ponds - and the extraordinarily favourable climatic conditions for recreation. The region was visited by painters such as František Daněk Sedláček and Alois Kalvoda, who should have promoted the assets and beauties of the Kamenice region through their pictures published on picture cards. In spite of this effort, the region remained poor, without any employment possibilities in bigger local enterprises. This was why a number of local people commuted for work outside the region to earn their living. During the Nazi occupation, activities of a number of associations were stopped, many people were mobilised for forced labour in the Reich, and many of them were killed in concentration camps. After the World War II, many problems in the economic exploitation of the town and its vicinity occurred.
    After confiscation, a children's sanatorium was established in the chateau and opened in 1946. Construction of municipal water mains, housing units and a new textile plant Tylex was started. In 1946, the glassworks in Včelnička were nationalized to provide labour to glass makers under a new name - Bohemian Crystal Glassworks.
    The situation in region industrialization did not improve after the Kamenice nad Lipou District was cancelled in 1960. Some institutions were closed and many people left the town. Despite all these problems, many buildings were constructed and repaired in the town with the help of the local people. Some of them did not fit in the historical centre of the town with their design and others were not suitable for the rough climatic conditions with their structures. In spite of that, they more or less continue serving the needs of the social life, culture, sports and tourism in the town.