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Biecz

Biecz is a town and municipality in southeastern Poland, in Lesser Poland Voivodeship, Gorlice County. It is in the Carpathian Mountains, in the Doły Jasielsko Sanockie, by the Ropa River. Due to its rich history, it is often referred to as "little Kraków" or the "pearl of the Carpathians." The many preserved medieval city walls and buildings have also given rise to the nickname "Polish Carcassonne."By the mid-16th century, the city was one of the largest in Poland. Being a royal city, Biecz enjoyed an economic and social Renaissance during the 14th and 15th centuries which tapered off into a gradual decline starting during the 17th century. Today, it is a small, picturesque tourist town with numerous historical monuments.ToponymThe earliest mentions in historical sources give the name of the town as Beyech, Begech, Begecz, Begesz, Beyecz, Beecz, Beycz, Byecz and Beiech. This allows to establish that the original form of the name was Biejecz, apparently a regular possessive adjective derived from the diminutive personal name Biejek (not attested, but easily reconstructable from Biejecz and perhaps Biejków). The age of the town makes further derivation from Bieniedzikt improbable, leading linguists to hypothesize that the ultimate source is Biezdziad or some other Slavic name beginning in Bie-. (Among many other Slavic towns whose names were created with -jь suffix are e.g. Cracow and Yaroslavl). Later, in the 13th century, the nominative stem was levelled to the oblique stem Biejcz- (e.g. Loc. w Biejczu "in Biejecz"), giving Biejcz without stem alternations (attested as late as the 17th century) and then the current form, Biecz.
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