THORN (Polish Toran), an interesting old town in the province of West Prussia, is situated on the right bank of south of Dantzic. Its position near the frontier of at one time the only permanent bridge across the lower Vistula, has been succeeded by a massive iron railway viaduct, half a mile long. Thorn carries on an active trade in grain, timber, wine, colonial wares, and iron, and has manufactures of leather, hats, starch, candles, and numerous other articles. It is famous for its " Pfefferkuchen," a kind of gingerbread. Part of the trade is carried on by vessels on the Vistula. In 1885 the population was 23,914 (in 1816 7909), about three-fifths being Protestants and two-fifths (chiefly Poles) Roman Catholics.
Thorn, founded in 1231 by the Teutonic order as an outpost against the Poles, was colonized mainly from Westphalia. The first peace of Thorn, between the order and the Poles, was concluded in 1411. In 1454 the townspeople revolted from the knights of the order, destroyed their castle, and attached themselves to the king of Poland. This resulted in a war, which was terminated in 1466 by the second peace of Thorn. In the 15th and 16th centuries Thorn was a Hanse town of importance, and received the titles of " queen of the Vistula" and " the beautiful." It embraced the Reformation in 1557, and in 1645 it was the scene of a "colloquium charitativum," or discussion betwixt the doctors of the rival creeds, which, however, resulted in no agreement. In 1724 a riot between the Protestant and Roman Catholic inhabitants was seized upon by the Polish king as a pretext for beheading the burgomaster and nine other leading Protestant citizens, an act of oppression which is known as the " bloodbath of Thorn." The second partition of Poland conferred.Thorn upon Prussia; by the treaty of Tilsit it was assigned to the duchy of Warsaw ; but since the congress of Vienna it has again been Prussian. Copernicus was born at Thorn in 1473.