The City in the Times of Antanas Tyzenhauzas’s Administration

Not all coercive reforms bring merely bad consequences and offer no beneficial innovations that the country was lacking until then. Also, not all tyrants can only be narcissists thirsty for power with no innovative and progressive thinking. The increasingly rapid rise of Šiauliai city was prompted by a strict reformer.

In 1764, Stanislaw Poniatowski, the king of the Republic of Both Nations redeems the lands of Šiauliai economy and together with other lands transfers the administration of the economies of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania to Antanas Tyzenhauzas. The rise of Šiauliai is to be related to this man. In order to make Šiauliai economy, like others too, as prosperous as possible, so that it could give more money to the ruler, A. Tyzenhauzas set the main aims: to establish as many so-called palivarkai (farm and administrative complexes of the manor) as possible, where corvee workers could forcibly work with the most modern agricultural machinery of that time; establish manufactories (manual work-based workshops), using free labour force; create favourable conditions for trade by repairing roads and waterways as well as developing and expanding crafts. During the first three years, a new brickyard, a wind mill were built in the city, the townsmen were equated with peasants, except plot-holders and Jews, and had to perform corvee duties (forced labour) in the manor, to pay the pecuniary rent, the so-called činšas (taxes). Taxes were growing and new ones were emerging, soon causing the dissatisfaction of most of the city inhabitants with such Tyzenhauzas’s decisions and novelties in ruling the economy. This dissatisfaction grew to the peasants’ uprising of 1769, in which townspeople also took part. The latter did not manage to remain united, split into different groups, so the uprising was quickly suppressed, the rebels failed to achieve their aims and demands, and the reforms that triggered this uprising not only did not disappear but remained even after A. Tyzenhauzas was suspended from his duties in 1780. Whatever the situation, the significance and importance of Šiauliai as the centre of the economy was growing: the city was expanding, new institutions emerged. In 1775, the noblemen’s Pilies and Žemės Courts and the treasury of the county were transferred to Šiauliai, later taxes were brought from the territories of all economy, the noblemen’s so-called seimeliai (local authorities), which could elect and send their representative to the Seimas of the state, began to function. During A. Tyznhauzas’s governance period, from a wooden settlement Šiauliai turned into a city, where one after another durable and more luxurious brick buildings began to appear, new straight streets were laid.

All of it became possible thanks to the successfully developed Tyzenhauzas’s programme, one of the most important tasks of which was the establishment of industrial enterprises, crafts and manufactures. Šiauliai enters the stage of an industrial town. In addition to the brickyard, founded in 1767, a linen fabric manufactory under the leadership of a weaver from Switzerland who brought a dozen employees from his country was founded. Thus, it is not by accident that the place where the manufactory was built, is called Switzerland. In the end of the 18th century, Šiauliai had various craftsmen: brick workers, carpenters, glaziers, nail makers, tinsmiths, blacksmiths, metal workers, turners, wheelwrights, coopers and the like.


Antanas Tyzenhauzas

Antanas Tyzenhauzas.



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