(Regensburger Hefte ...; 2) ISSN 1613-5601

The Autonomy of the City of Cracow 1866-1915 - a Study of the Significance of the Self-Governing Cities ("Statutarstädte") in the Habsburg Monarchy


During the period between the enactment of the self-governing statute "Statut tymczasowy stol. król. miasta Krakowa" in 1866 and the beginning of the First World War, Cracow made a tremendous progress on nearly all fields of municipal life. Being a "city of graves" (Walerian Kalinka in 1850) which had lost its importance as an emporium in Middle-Eastern Europe, Cracow became a centre of service, trade and administration within Habsburg's "Crown-land of Galicia and Lodomeria". On the eve of the First World War Cracow was not only one of the largest cities of the monarchy, but also an European centre of culture and science, though it belonged just to the crown-land which was regarded as the "almshouse of the Habsburg Monarchy". This positive development was the consequence of the enactment of the self-governing statutes "Statut tymczasowy stol. król. miasta Krakowa" in 1866 and "Statut gminny" in 1901. They provided the municipality of Cracow with several self-governing rights. The examples of the most famous mayors of this period, ie. Józef Dietl and Juliusz Leo show that the native politicians and citizens did not only have a better knowledge of the specific local situation than the former representatives of the central government in Vienna; they were also much more committed to the improvement of the administration and the budget. The fact that after the introduction of the municipal self-government the revenues from direct taxes as well as from indirect excise taxes were available to the local authorities, was instrumental in the consolidation of the budget. In a second step, these revenues were invested in numerous projects improving the infrastructure, health care and education in Cracow. This study focuses mainly on the aspects of the history of law which were important for Cracow during the period of its autonomy. Giving in the first chapter an overview of the development of Habsburg's constitutional and municipal law in the 19th century, the author presents in the second part of her study a detailed description and evaluation of both of the self-governing statutes of Cracow. In the third chapter, some examples illustrate the importance and consequences of this extraordinary municipal status for the city.