The name Pniewy was derived from the word „pniak” meaning main stem of a tree and referred to a settlement set among stems and trunks of felled trees making a stockade of a fort, primitive beehives in a hole scooped out of a log or tree or even beavers lodge.
The first historical record of Pniewy was dated 1256. Owners of Pniewy were at that time the Pniewski family of the Nałęcz coat of arms. The town received its city charter possibly in the second half of XIVth century. Available data on the settlement of 1256, 1287 and 1356 do not stand as proof of existence of a town. It could only be an assumption that the city charter took place under the reign of king Kazimierz Wielki (Casimir the Great 1333-1379) while the development processes of the urban area were getting more intense.
The city changed its owners frequently. In the XVI-th century it were the Potulicki, in XVII-th the Ostroróg, in XVIII the Rydzyński, the Szołdrski and Mielżyński family line. Since 1834 land and estate of Pniewy were taken over by the german Massenbach family.
The XVI-th century was the time when the spatial arrangement of architecture and boundaries took on a definite form. Pniewy was then within the city walls, market place with streets delineated from each corner and two gateways:Poznań and Lvov Gate. A castle was standing on the lake outside city walls.
On the XVI century city seals and bearings a coat of arms in its final design can be seen: a golden trunk with two knots, on two crossed keys and further up on the panel – the Nałęcz, i.e. a tied-up white scarf. Background changed a couple of times, at different times it was green, blue or red. Since 1698, on a particular decision of the Pniewy Council it has been sky blue.
In XV and i XVI century the city boomed. Cloth makers and tanners guilds began their activities. A school was founded. Bazaars, fair and trade shows brought considerable aliveness and animation. There were eight such country fairs yearly. In 1698 wealthy craftsmen and burghers founded a Sharpshooters Fraternity.
In the XVII-th century owing mainly to the Swedish Wars there came a decline of the city. As late as the XIX-th century Pniewy regained the conditions for development and progress. The vital point was the start-up of a mail stage service. Pniewy is an important station on the Poznań-Berlin route. Thus, in 1830 a coaching inn was built (referred to in German as “Posthaltestelle”) – on a spacious cobbled courtyard where they changed horses, fed and watered them. Twenty years later, in the very vicinity a postal hotel was built – a large tavern with rooms on the first floor providing overnight lodging, where travellers could make themselves comfortable.
Prior to 1875 under the auspices of Maksymilian Jackowski – one of the first ever Kółko Rolnicze - Farmers Circle began to function. Soon after this date, in 1883 the Popular Bank was established to provide financial support for local farmers and craftsmen.
The memorable date in the history of Pniewy is the year 1888, when a railroad track was laid for trains connecting Poznań and Miedzychód calling at Pniewy.
The turn of the century was for Pniewy a period of a progress in development organizations of different profiles but sharing one common idea: to animate the spheres of activity, meet various needs of the Pniewy inhabitants.
On the 14 of October 1893 they formed a Volunteer Firefighters Corps, two years later a Cooperative Enterprise “Rolnik” (farmer). The organizations set up toward the end of the XIX-th century aimed to achieve patriotic goals. Let us name a few: Circle of Performing Arts, Cycling and Polish Singers”, – existing without interruption to our days the Choir “Lyra”. In 1911 the Polish Gymnastics Society “Sokół” was enacted.
On the 20 of December 1918 Pniewy proclaimed on its own independence from the prussian rule. Locals have been taking part in glorious moments in the history of liberation battles of Powstanie Wielkopolskie – Greater Poland Uprising, they fought the battle of Lwówek, Sieraków, Kamionna and Zbąszyń.
In 1920 Mother Urszula Ledóchowska bought a borough land and estate in Lubocześnica, now within the city limits – and founded a nunnery, Home of Sisters of the Ursuline Order.She founded also a household school for girls.
In 1827 on an initiative of the former Society of Manufacturers and Industrialists an Industrial and Agricultural Trade Show was organized. It was held from 26 to 29 June under the auspices – as a brochure put it – of the Governor Count Bniński. In the introduction the goal and importance were spelled out – the show was to support craft and trade, merchants, farmers, vegetable growers and small time home based business. Participants are not limited to members of individual societies but embrace all manufacturers from Pniewy, Lwówek and the surroundings.
On the 25th of January 1945 Pniewy was liberated form the nazi occupation. Several dozen years have been written in the contemporary history of the city and in the complex lives of its inhabitants.