Polish History

Middle Ages

Tribal Times

Slavic tribes did not leave behind many remains of their settlements in what is now Poland until the 8th century. From the 8th century, Slavic tribes began to build more fortified settlements and items that could pass the test of time. At 13 Kanoniczna street in Kraków, thousands of iron items have been found that were used as currency in the 9th century. Their existence shows that trade was conducted for currency and not goods, even though goods were traded for other goods as well.

A family with multiple generations was the nucleus of society during tribal times. Agriculture was mainly practiced. Property laws existed according to tradition and not to anything written down and formalized. Land was owned by families and not by individuals, although individual members had their own parts of their family’s land. There was a tradition that family members had the first right to buy land if their family put it up for sale. If land was wrongfully sold without the consent of the whole family, the land that was sold would return to the family.

With the development of settlements, populations grew in size. Surpluses were produced. Political power developed. Political power collected taxes and encouraged its citizens to produce more. The ones with political power tried to organize their communities and support economic progress. Political decisions were made to build defenses and settlements. Political decisions were also made to declare war and peace. Direct democracy was present in some small communities. Larger communities were less democratic. Some communities had tyranny. Dynasties developed in larger communities where more political power was needed. Many times the richest families in a community were ruling dynasties. Water, forests, and fields were public land that was available for all to use. Public lands were important part of communal life.

Religion of early Slavic tribes is difficult to ascertain. In the 15th century, the famous Polish historian Jan Długosz tried to write about it from what little he found, but he was unsuccessful. Długosz wrote the names of gods and demons of early Slavs. Their names included Dziedzileja, Dziewanna, Jesse, Łada, Nija, Marzanna, Pogoda, and Żywie. Długosz said that Pogoda controlled weather, while Żywie was the god of life. He says that some of the gods may have been derived from Greek and Roman gods. He says Dziedzileja was Venus, goddess of love, Dziewanna was Diana, goddess of the hunt, Jesse was Jupiter, king of the gods, Łada was Mars, god of war, Marzanna was Ceres, goddess of agriculture, and Nija was Pluto, ruler of the underworld. His conclusions may be inaccurate.

The most important god of the Slavs was probably Swaróg, god of the sky, sun, fire, and black-smithing. Swaróg probably comes from the Sanskrit word svár that means heaven or the Persian word χvar that means sun. Swarożyc was the son of Swaróg and the god of fire. Perun was the god of thunder and lightning. In today’s Polish language, lightning bolt is piorun. Weles was the god of art, magic, merchants, oaths, and wealth. Early Slavs may have worshipped streams, trees, water, and nature in general. Locations where they practiced their cult include Łysa Góra, Płock, Radogoszcz, Radunia, and Sobórka. Pagan shrines and priests appeared among Slavs before they adopted Christianity.

Some pagan gods had three or four faces that signified each of their powers. By Szczecin, there was a cult of a three-headed god. It had three heads since it ruled over heaven, hell, and earth. There were many local gods as well. In Stargardzka Land, there was a god called Prowe. Radogast was the god of the Obotrites. Siwa was the goddess of the Polabians. The Rugii worshipped Świętowit.

A sculpture of Świętowit was found in Zbrucz in 1848 that dates back to 1000. It is 8.85 feet tall (2.7 meters). It has four sides and three horizontal levels. Its lowest level has two or more characters kneeling and their arms in the air as if they were holding something or someone. The middle level has two male characters and two female characters. The top level has a character with four faces and a hat. In Witów, a similar sculpture has been found that has four faces and is 3.28 feet tall (1 meter). It was constructed around the same time as the sculpture in Zbrucz.

More remains have been found of sculptures with one head rather than several heads. One sculpture with one head has been found by Łubowo lake that is 3.93 feet tall (1.2 meters). It was probably thrown into the lake by Christians who tried to remove all pagan idolatry.

Pagan Slavs probably believed in the afterlife. They buried their dead with many items that were probably meant to be used in their next lives. Slavs both cremated their dead as well as interred them. Thietmar of Merseburg (975-1018) says that when a woman’s husband died, she would be killed or burnt in a pyre. Slavs also cut off the heads of dead bodies and hammered iron nails into their skulls in a ritual. When they buried their dead, they placed their faces eastward toward the rising run.

Slavs offered gifts to their gods. Procopius of Caesarea (500-565) says that they offered them animals and oxen. Other sources say that they offered human sacrifices. A skull of a twelve-year-old girl who may have been sacrificed has been found in Płock.

Written records about tribal times are very insubstantial and vague. It is difficult to draw an accurate map of the location of Slavic tribes in and around Poland as a result. The sources that do mention them do not speak much about them. Each source usually has one to three sentences. All of them are very poorly written. The reason why there is so little information is that major civilizations and trade routes were far away. According to documents, some parts of Poland did not have any known tribes. Gdańsk Pomerania, Greater Poland, and Mazovia are not mentioned to have any tribes.

Descriptio civitatum et regionum ad septentrionalem plagam Danubii ("Description of Cities and Lands North of the Danube"), or the Bavarian Geographer, is the best source on the geography of Slavic tribes in and around Poland. It states which tribes and settlements existed in which particular lands. From the 9th century to the 11th century, it was probably written. In 1772, it was discovered in the Bavarian State Library in Munich, Germany. The Bavarian Geographer has two parts. In the first part, thirteen tribes are mentioned, but none are Polish. In the second part, forty-three tribes are named. Nine of these forty-three tribes lived by the basins of the Oder and Vistula rivers.

Another important document about tribal Poland is one from 1086 that was proclaimed by Holy Roman Emperor Henry IV that unified the dioceses of Olomouc and Prague. Some historians believe the document may be fake. The newly unified diocese included Polish lands of Lesser Poland and Silesia. The document states that the Silesian tribes of the Dedosize (Dziadoszanie), Pobarane (Bobrzanie), Trebouane (Trzebowianie), and Zlasane (Ślężanie) belong to the newly unified diocese. It also mentions Kraków and the Bug river that are both located in Poland today.

Specific Tribes

The Goplans lived by Lake Gopło in Kujawy and around the lake region of Greater Poland. The Bavarian Geographer calls them Glopeani and says that they had 400 settlements. He does not mention their location. Their capital was Kruszwica.

The Uelunzani or Veluzani in the Bavarian Geographer may have been the Wolinians in Pomerania. The Bavarian Geographer says that they had 70 civitates (communities or towns). They lived on the island of Wolin and the mainland around it.

The Trebouane may have lived in Lower Silesia and north of the Ślężanie. Jawor and Legnica are their most important settlements. The city Trzebnica is named after the Trebouane. The Bobrzanie lived west of them.

The Pobarane (Bobrzanie) probably lived by the Bóbr river. The Bóbr river probably gets its name from the Pobarane. Bóbr means beaver in Polish. The Pobaranes’ neighbors were the Dedosizi. Both the Bavarian Geographer and Thietmar of Merseburg do not mention the Pobarane. The only document that mentions them is Henry IV’s proclamation of a newly unified diocese in 1086.

The Opolans lived in the region of the upper Oder river. Opole was their main settlement. In the Bavarian Geographer, they are called the Opolini. Their name is derived from the word opole which means a form of self-government. The Bavarian Geographer said they possessed twenty settlements. In 875, Great Moravia conquered the Opolans. In 990, the Opolans were incorporated into Mieszko I’s state.

The Golensizi lived in Opavian Silesia and around Racibórz in Upper Silesia. The Bavarian Geographer says they had five civitates (communities or towns). They were probably Grodziec, Lubomia, Międzyświeć, Racibórz, and Stary Cieszyn. The Opolans lived north of them, the Vistulans lived east of them, and the Moravians lived south of them. In the late 9th century, Svatopluk of Great Moravia fought some of them in battle and destroyed many of their settlements. In 990, Mieszko I incorporated the Golensizi into his kingdom.

The Dziadoszyce lived around the central Bóbr river by Głogów and Szprotawa. They are also known as the Dziadoszanie and Dziadosicze. Four documents mention the Dziadoszyce tribe. Thietmar of Merseburg (975-1018) mentions the Dziadoszyce and their lands three times in Chronicon Thietmari (“The Chronicle of Thietmar”). He says that Holy Roman Emperor Otto III met Bolesław I the Brave on the lands of the Diedesisi or Diedesi in 1000. The Bavarian Geographer calls the Dziadoszyce, Dadesezani/Dadosesnai. He says they had twenty settlements. Thietmar of Merseburg says that in 1015 Bolesław I the Brave brought Germanic knights by Szprotawa where the Dziedoszyce were. Henry IV’s document that unified the dioceses of Olomouc and Prague in 1086 also mentions the Dziadoszyce by the name of Dedosize.

The Lendians were a West Slavic tribe. The Lendians’ name is Lędzianie in Polish. It may be derived from the Proto-Slavic and Old-Polish word lęda that means field. It also refers to a farmer or landowner who cuts down forests and burns them to make fields for settlement. Ląd, Lake Lednica, and an island in Lake Lednica called Ostrów Lednicki may receive their names from the Lendians. The exact geography of the Lendians’ lands is unknown. From the 7th to the 11th century, the Lendians may have lived around Przemyśl, in eastern Lesser Poland, and at the Cherven Towns. It is possible that the Lendians’ farthest western boundary was the Wieprz river and Wisłok river. Their eastern border is less clear. It may have included the upper and central Bug river as well as the upper San river.

Some time after 899, the Lendians submitted to the authority of the Hungarians after their invasions of Central Europe. During the first half of the 10th century, the Lendians were paying tribute to the Varangian leader Igor of Kievan Rus’. From 930 to 940, Kievan Rus’ conquered some of the Lendians. From about 950, the Lendians were under Bohemian influence. From 970 to 979, Mieszko I conquered the Lendians. In 979, the Grand Prince of Kiev, Vladimir Sviatoslavich the Great, conquered the Cherven towns where the Lendians lived. In 1018, Bolesław I the Brave conquered the Cherven towns. In 1031, Yaroslav of Kievan Rus’ reconquered the Cherven towns and resettled the Lendians to the land by the river Ros in today’s Ukraine. In 1069, Bolesław II the Generous recovered the Cherven Towns, but Władysław I Herman lost them. In 1340, Casimir III the Great reconquered the Cherven Towns for Poland.

Many sources mention the Lendians. The Bavarian Geographer calls the Lendians the Lendizi and says they had ninety-eight settlements. Eastern Roman Emperor Constantine VII Porphyrogennetos (905-959) calls the Lendians Λενζανηνοί (Lenzeninoi or Lenzananoi) in Greek in Πρὸς τὸν ἴδιον υἱὸν Ρωμανόν ("For his own son Romanos"). In Latin, his book is more well-known as De Administrando Imperio (“On the Governance of the Empire”). Constantine VII says that the Lendians paid tribute to Kievan Rus’ every year and that their boats sailed under prince Wlodzislav to Kiev to fight against the Byzantine Empire. In the 10th century, a Jew in southern Italy named Josippon or Joseph ben Gorian who wrote a history of the Jews in Hebrew calls the Lendians, Lz’njn. Al-Masudi (896-956), an Arab historian and traveler from Baghdad in today’s Iraq, calls the Lendians, Landzaneh, in مروج الذهب ومعادن الجواهر (“The Meadows of Gold and Mines of Gems”). Widukind of Corvey (925-973), a Saxon chronicler who wrote a three-volume book entitled Res gestae saxonicae sive annalium libri tres ("The Deeds of the Saxons, or Three Books of Annals"), called Lendians, Licikavici. Nestor the Chronicler (1056-1114) calls the Lendians ляхи (Lachy) in Повѣсть времяньныхъ лѣтъ (“Tale of Bygone Years”), which is also known as the Primary Chronicle. Nestor the Chronicler also writes that the Slavs who settled above the Vistula river called themselves Lachy or Lechites. The Lachy or Lechites divided into separate groups that include the Lusatians, Mazovians, Polans, and Pomeranians. He says that the Lachy or Lechites descended from the White Croatians. He says that the Quarantani, Serbs, and White Croatians left the land from around the Danube river and settled by the Vistula river after Italian tribes attacked them. In the 11th century, Lachy was the term for all Western Slavs who were not Czech or Slovaks. There are people in Poland today who still call themselves Lachy. They are the Lachy Sądeckie who live in the region of the left basin of the Dunajec river. In Lesser Poland, there are four groups that call themselves Lachy: Lachy Limanowskie, Lachy Myślenickie, Lachy Szczyrzyckie, and Lachy of Dobrej. Poles were named after derivatives of the term Lendians outside of Poland. The Hungarians called Poles Lengyel. The Lithuanians called Poles Lenkas.

According to Byzantine Emperor Constantyn VII Porphyrogennetos in Πρὸς τὸν ἴδιον υἱὸν Ρωμανόν ("For his own son Romanos"), seven Croatian tribes left from Chrobatia (White Croatia), which was located on the territory of the Vistulans in today’s Poland, in the 7th century after being invited by Byzantine Emperor Heraclius, who ruled from 610 to 641, to defend Byzantium’s borders. They then settled on the land of today’s Croatia. Some of the tribes remained on the land of the Vistulans.

At about the half of the 8th century, the tribal union of the Vistulans arose in the borders of today’s Poland. The Vistulans were a western Slavic tribe from the group of Lechite tribes that lived in the western part of Lesser Poland in a large area by the upper Vistula river from which they derive their name. From the latter half of the 8th century, Vistulans built fortified settlements that included Demblin, Kraków, Naszczowice, Podegrodzie, Stawy, Trzcinica, and Wiślica. Some of them were over ten hectares in size. Kraków was probably the center of the Vistulans’ state. They may have built Krakus Mound and Wanda Mound in Kraków. It is not known for whom Krakus Mound was built. The 15th century Polish priest and historian, Jan Długosz, wrote that a mound was laid in honor of Krak who founded Kraków, but it is unclear if it is one of the large mounds currently in Kraków.

The Vistulans were ruled by a powerful leader and his associates whom he chose. There may have also been a council of elders whom the leader consulted with. The leader probably preferred his associates over the council of elders. No names of their leaders have been recorded.

In the 9th century, the Vistulans established a tribal state with castle-towns and defenses. Their territorial extent may have reached the basin of the Dunajec river on their eastern expanse and the Skawa river on their western expanse. Towns in their state may have included Kraków, Sandomierz, Stradów, and Wiślica. Their exact geography is unknown. Their neighbors included the Golensizi and Opolans to their northwest and the Lendians to their east. It is also possible that from 873 to 885 during Saint Methodius’ second stay in Moravia, Svatopluk I of Moravia conquered the duke of the Vistulans whose name is unknown. The duke could have been captured and baptized in Moravia. There is no evidence that the Vistulan state was annexed by Svatopluk I, but the leader of the Vistulans may have become a vassal of Great Moravia. Documents from the 10th century say that the Vistulans were under Czech rule. Al-Masudi wrote in مروج الذهب ومعادن الجواهر (“The Meadows of Gold and Mines of Gems”) that they were partly under Czech rule just like Abraham ben Jacob, a Hispano-Arabic, Sephardic Jewish traveler, did.

In the late 9th century, many fortified settlements of the Vistulans were destroyed in Lesser Poland. Greater Moravia or tribes such as the Golensizi may have destroyed them. Some time around 955, the Vistulan state was annexed by Boleslaus I the Cruel who was the duke of Bohemia. Under this union, Kraków developed economically because of trade with Kiev and Prague. Al-Bakri (1014-1094), a Muslim geographer and historian from Moorish Iberia in today’s Spain, wrote Kitāb al-Masālik wa-al-Mamālik (“Book of Highways and of Kingdoms”) in 1068 and described Boleslaus I the Cruel’s country. He says, “In regard to Boleslaus’ country, the distance from Faraga [Prague] to the city of trkw [Kraków?] takes a three week journey. Faraga [Prague] city is the most plentiful with goods in the country. Ruthenians and Slavs come to it from trkw [Kraków?] with goods.”

There are three sources that speak of the Vistulans. The first is the Pannonian Legend written by the Greek missionary Saint Methodius who was on a mission with his brother Saint Cyril to spread Christianity to the Slavs. Saint Methodius wrote, "A pagan duke, very strong, sitting in Vistula, greatly defied Christians and did them wrong. Someone was sent to him who told him: it will be good for you son to become baptized on your own will on your own land, in order to avoid being forced to be baptized in a foreign land…And so it happened." What can be extracted from this text is that Christianity was first brought to Lesser Poland and to Polish lands through Moravia. Saint Cyril’s and Saint Methodius’ mission may have spread into Lesser Poland. In the Polish song Bogurodzica, there are Old Church Slavonic words, such as sławiena and zwolena, that may have been brought by Saint Methodius and his mission. The counterargument to this hypothesis is that the text from Bogurodzica may have been written later during the 14th century. Other than the Pannonian Legend and the two Old Church Slavonic words in Bogurodzica, there is no other evidence, such as a shrine, church, book, or religious paraphernalia, that could prove that the Vistulans converted to Christianity before Mieszko I was baptized. After Saint Cyril died in 869 and Saint Methodius died in 885, Mojmir II of Moravia asked for more missionary help from the Apostolic See, since Christianity had lost its influence in Great Moravia. In 899, a papal legate renewed the Archdiocese in Moravia and established three diocesan bishops. One of the diocesan bishops was placed in Kraków. The second source on the Vistulans is the Bavarian Geographer. The Vistulans are called the Vuislane in the book. The third source is the book Germania written in the 9th century by the first king of the West Saxons, Alfred the Great. Germania was based on a book written by Paulus Orosius (375-418), a Gallaecian Christian priest, historian, and theologian. It is written in Germania that Wisle lond (Vistula land or the land of the Vistulans) is east of Moravia and Dacia is east of Wisle lond.

Not much is known about the religion of the Vistulans. They may have had cult locations in Wapienica and the mounds in Kraków. At Wawel in Kraków, the Vistulans built a shrine with a rotunda known as Rotunda A. Rotunda B and Rotunda C may have also been built during the time the Vistulans lived in Kraków.

How the Vistulan state state came under the rule of the Piast dynasty is unclear. One hypothesis says that Mieszko I annexed it with the consent and collaboration of the Vistulan elite. Another hypothesis says that Bolesław I the Brave received sovereignty over it from Boleslaus I the Cruel.

The Polans were a West Slavic tribe that was part of the Lechite group that lived by the Warta river basin in Greater Poland in the 8th century. They receive their name from the old Slavic word pole that means field or plain. Jan Długosz says that the Lechites were named Polans by others. The original name of the Lechites eventually went out of use. It led them to be just called Polans. In the 9th century, the Polans united West Slavic groups under the Piast dynasty. This union developed into the Kingdom of Poland. From 930 to 940, the Polans conquered other tribes. It is unknown if they were incorporated or just forced to pay tribute.

The Bavarian Geographer does not mention the Polans. It may be possible that West Slavic tribe of the Goplans may have conquered the Polans, since the Bavarian Geographer mentions the Glopeani. The Polans are mentioned for the first time in Vita sancti Adalberti episcopi Pragensis (“The Life of Saint Adalbert the Bishop of Prague”) or Vita prior (“Previous Life”) by John Canaparius. He calls the Polans the Polani in his work and says Bolesław I the Brave is the duke of the Polans: Bolslavo Palaniorum duce (Bolesław the duke of the Polans). Thietmar of Merseburg in Chronicon Thietmari (“The Chronicle of Thietmar”) also mentions the Polans whom he calls the Poleni and Polenia. These terms were probably used to describe the inhabitants of the basin of the Warta river. Gallus Anonymus says in Cronicae et gesta ducum sive principum Polonorum (“Chronicle and Deeds of the Princes of the Poles”) that the Polans practiced oral history that went back several generations.

A major change occurred in Greater Poland when the Polans began to build strong castle-towns from which political power emanated. The Polans began to expand southward in Greater Poland to around the Obra river and westward in Greater Poland to around Poznań. The Polans destroyed old settlements in Greater Poland and built new ones that were much bigger and possessed defenses. From 920 to 939, the towns of Grzybowo, Moraczewo, and Ostrów Lednicki were built. This period may be the beginning of a new dynasty in Greater Poland. From 940 to 949, Giecz, Gniezno, Ląd, and Poznań were built. Gniezno was the most important castle-town of the Polans. The construction of new settlements indicates that that the Polans became wealthier. From 968 to 970, the castle-town of Santok was built. Around the same time, the castle-towns of Krosno and Międzyrzecz were built. There were from sixty to eighty towns in the Polans’ early state.

The directions the Polans went on their expansion that led to ruling all of Greater Poland is unknown. It is also unknown when they conquered Pomerania and if they forced its inhabitants to pay tribute or incorporated them into their kingdom. Little is also known about the Polans’ expansion into Mazovia.

Prince Popiel II may be the earliest ruler of the Polans. Prince Popiel II lived in the 9th century and was the ruler of the West Slavic tribes of the Goplans and Polans. His twelve uncles tried to depose him, but they were poisoned at a feast. Prince Popiel II or his German wife may have done it. His subjects rebelled after they found what he and his wife did. The couple went to a tower by Lake Gopło to seek refuge. The mice and rats that ate the bodies of the twelve dead uncles rushed into the tower, chewed through the walls, and ate the couple alive.

Piast the Wheelright lived in the 9th century and founded the Piast dynasty. Piast the Wheelwright and his wife Rzepicha had a son named Siemowit. Siemowit was elected the first duke of the Polans after Piast the Wheelwright declined to become duke. Siemowit’s name can be translated as “a man of the community.” Siemowit replaced Popiel II as ruler. Siemowit may have ruled in the second half of the 9th century. Leszek ruled after Siemowit. Leszek’s name means designing and sneaky. Gallus Anonymus says that he performed victorious deeds. Leszek began to make the first structure of a state. Leszek may have ruled in the first decades of the 10th century and died around 940. Siemomysł ruled as duke of the Polans after Leszek. Siemomysł was the father of Mieszko I. Siemomysł means “thinking about house/kin/tribe.” Gallus Anonymus says that he gave his people affluence and well-being. He also says that he was a defender of his people and provider for the community.

Southern Poland Under Czech Rule

Much of today’s southern Poland was ruled by the Czechs or Bohemians during part of the 10th century. There cannot be an accurate estimate from which time southern Poland was under Czech rule. The Czechs were the first to bring Christianity to southern Poland. In 930, the Duke of Bohemia, Saint Wenceslaus, allowed a Christian Bavarian mission to evangelize in Bohemia. The missions from Bavaria may have had approval from the Holy Roman Empire. Jordan, who may have been a Benedictine monk, took part in the mission. In 968, Jordan was made a bishop of the mission. Bishop Jordan may have been subordinated to the Archdiocese of Mainz, but not much is known about him and his mission. Thietmar of Merseburg says that he expended a great deal of energy on his mission. Bishop Jordan’s successor was Bishop Unger. Bishop Unger was from Regensburg in the Holy Roman Empire. In 982, Unger was consecrated as a bishop in Magdeburg. Afterward, he became a Benedictine abbot in Memleben. In the oldest year-book of Kraków’s church, the bishops of Kraków are listed: Prohorius, Proculphus, Poppo, Gompo, Rachelinus, Aaron, Sula Lamberlus, and Saint Stanisław. Prohorius is the oldest known bishop of Kraków. From 969 to 986, Prohorius had his pontificate as bishop of Kraków. At Wawel in Kraków, seven or eight sacral edifices have been found that date to the Czech period of rule.

In 974, dioceses were established in Olomouc and Prague in Bohemia. The Diocese of Prague was subordinated to the Archdiocese of Mainz in the Holy Roman Empire. The Diocese of Olomouc was subordinated to the Diocese of Passau in the Holy Roman Empire. The Diocese of Prague had jurisdiction over Silesia and its towns of Niemcza, Opawa, Opole, and Wrocław. The Diocese of Olomouc had jurisdiction over the land of the Vistulans, Kraków, Sandomierz, and the Cherven Towns that the Lendians controlled.

Not much is known about the first churches built in Poland. It is known that a church was built in Gniezno for Bishop Jordan. Another church was probably built after the year 1000 in Poznań for Bishop Unger. In the Polish lands of Silesia and Lesser Poland that Bohemia controlled, sacred buildings were built for the Catholic Church. In Wawel at Kraków, a sacred building was built. It is difficult to uncover what it was that the Bohemians built and what the Poles built in it after they took it over. It is known that a rotunda was built in Wawel that is similar to a rotunda built in Prague for Saint Vitus Cathedral. From 980 to 989, Rotunda B was built in Wawel. Mieszko II funded three more rotundas to be built in Wawel.

Mieszko I

From 960 to 969, Mieszko I’s rule may have begun. Mieszko I followed his father, Siemomysł, as duke of the Polans. Up until the time of Mieszko I, there were only tribal organizations within the current borders of Poland. Mieszko I began to build a state by the basins of the Oder river and Vistula river with a formal leader who had ducal power over his kingdom that lasted until 1202. Larger settlements began to be built in his state in Gniezno and Poznań. These bigger settlements were a breakthrough that denote the building of a new and stronger state.

There are a few sources that speak about Mieszko I and his kingdom. Abraham ben Jacob is the first to write about Mieszko I and his kingdom. Abraham ben Jacob went with the Khalif of Cordoba on an embassy to Central Europe. In 966, Abraham ben Jacob was at the court of the Holy Roman Emperor, Otto I the Great, in Magdeburg where he learned about Mieszko I and his kingdom. He visited Prague and may have went to Kraków. Abraham ben Jacob reports many unique facts about Mieszko I’s kingdom. Mieszko I’s kingdom is stated to be the largest of all Slavic kingdoms. Abraham ben Jacob says that Mieszko I’s kingdom was bordered with Prussia and Ruthenia. Mieszko I was named “the king of the north.” Kraków was part of Bohemia and not Mieszko I’s realm. Mieszko I’s kingdom was said to produce an abundance of fish, food, honey, and meat. Abraham ben Jacob says that Mieszko I has 3,000 armed men who are divided into detachments and given clothing, horses, weapons, and everything they need. Daughters of Slavic parents were a source of wealth, while sons were a source of prestige. When one of his soldiers’ wives gives birth, the newborn receives a soldier’s pay. Slavs were described as violent and prone to aggression. He says they would be a force if they could all unite and not divide themselves according to clans and fight against one another. Lands of the Slavs were suitable for settlement, and he says the Slavs favor agriculture. Slavs traded with the Ruthenians and with Constantinople. Slavic women were stated to not cheat on their husbands. If a Slavic man would marry a woman and find that she is a virgin, he could annul their marriage, since she would not be a virgin if she was desirable. Abraham ben Jacob says that the Slavs’ lands are the coldest of all. Icicles form on the beards of men when they breath. He says the Slavs have wood huts for bathing that are called al-istbas. Slavic kings travel in carriages on four wheels. He says the Slavs fight the Byzantine Empire, Franks, and Langobards.

Widukind of Corvey (925-973) writes in Res gestae saxonicae sive annalium libri tres ("The Deeds of the Saxons, or Three Books of Annals") that the Slavs under Mieszko I are called Licikaviki. The name Licikaviki may come from the word Lestkowice that meant someone who was a vassal of Leszek who was a predecessor of Mieszko I. It has also been hypothesized that the Licikaviki may have been a tribe that lived in Western Pomerania. In 964, Mieszko I negotiated with the duke of Bohemia, Boleslaus I the Cruel, in order to forge an alliance. In 965, Mieszko I married Dobrawa of Bohemia, the daughter of Boleslaus I the Cruel, as the result of the negotiations to bring the two kingdoms together. After Mieszko I married Dobrawa of Bohemia, Christian priests went with her to Poland. In 966, Mieszko I converted to Roman Catholicism. It is unknown where he exactly converted. Gallus Anonymus and Thietmar of Merseburg both say that his wife led him to convert. Other possible reasons why he may have converted to Christianity under the tutelage of Bohemia were to join Roman civilization, avoid conflict with Christian Germans, have something in common with the Holy Roman Empire, prevent influence of the Holy Roman Empire in his kingdom by means of German missionaries usurping power, secure his kingdom’s sovereignty, make an ally in Bohemia, and to possess an ideology that could unite his people, as opposed to paganism that decentralized and divided his kingdom. At least before the year 955, Holy Roman Emperor Otto I the Great had designs of opening a new archdiocese in Magdeburg with the principal goal of converting all Slavs to Christianity. In 968, Magdeburg became an archdiocese, but only after Mieszko I converted to Christianity. It is possible that if Mieszko I did not convert to Christianity, the Holy Roman Empire would have made Poland a vassal state.

Roman Catholicism brought Latin culture and Latin script to Poland. It connected Poland to Western Europe and Westeern European culture. Poland had no written language until Roman Catholic missionaries came to Poland with Latin texts. Other Slavic countries, such as Belarus, Serbia, Russia, and Ukraine, accepted Orthodox Christianity that meant that they would accept Cyrillic script into their language. Roman script set Poland apart from much of its Slavic brethren in this sense.

Mieszko I’s reign is marked with territorial expansion. Territorial expansion during Mieszko I’s reign is called wewnętrzny podbój (internal conquest) in Polish historiography. When tribes were conquered, they were relocated to weaken them. Many of the newly conquered people were made slaves, settled on land that they were forced to pay tribute for, or compelled to perform military service. War was a method to enrich oneself with more slaves. Greater Poland and Kujawy may have been incorporated into Mieszko I’s kingdom during his tenure. The exact date when it happened is unknown. It is also unknown when Mazovia was incorporated, but it was probably before 966 or 967. It is certain that before Mieszko I died in 992, Mazovia was under his control. Mieszko I also conquered the Vistulan lands of Lesser Poland.

Widukind of Corvey writes that in 963 Mieszko I fought Wichman II the Younger twice in battle. Wichman II the Younger rebelled against Holy Roman Emperor Otto I the Great and allied himself with the Slavic Wolinians against Mieszko I. In one of the battles, one of Mieszko I’s brothers was killed. In 967, Mieszko I killed Wichman II the Younger with the help of Bohemia.

After Gero the leader of the March of Gero died, his march was divided into five or six smaller marches. After it happened, Mieszko I captured the estuary of the Oder river on the Baltic Sea that led to conflict with Odo the Margrave of the Saxon Ostmark who wanted to extend his influence and collect more tribute. It led to the Battle of Cedynia on June 24, 972. In the battle, Mieszko I’s brother Czcibor fought Odo the Margrave of the Saxon Ostmark and won. The victory at the Battle of Cedynia was not well received by Otto I the Great. After the battle, Otto I the Great told both sides to seek peaceful relations and that he would investigate their conflict. Mieszko I and Margrave Odo were both summoned to Otto I the Great’s court. In 973 at the Congress of Quedlinburg in the Holy Roman Empire, Mieszko I, his son Bolesław I the Brave, and leaders of other kingdoms were present. Bolesław I the Brave had his hair cut and sent to Rome in an act of subjection before the congress. Mieszko I probably planned this event.

From 970 to 979, Mieszko I conquered Pomerania, Gdańsk, and the land around Sandomierz along with the Cherven Towns that the Lendians controlled. In 981, Vladimir the Great of Kievan Rus’ took the Cherven towns and Przemyśl from Mieszko I after waging war on him. In 990, Mieszko I incorporated Silesia into his kingdom. War broke out with Boleslaus II the Pious who was the Duke of Bohemia as a result. Boleslaus II the Pious lost the war. Mieszko I waited for reinforcements from Theophanu who was Empress dowager of the Holy Roman Empire. Thietmar of Merseburg says that the Bohemians captured them and told Mieszko I that they would release them if he returned the lands that he stole, but Mieszko I refused. Silesia remained in the hands of Mieszko I. It is possible that Mieszko I incorporated part of southern Poland that included Kraków in 990. Cosmas of Prague (1045-1125) writes in Chronica Boëmorum ("Chronicle of Bohemians”) that in 999 Mieszko I, “whom there was no one more deceitful,” cunningly took Kraków and killed all the Czechs who lived there. Cosmas of Prague either wrote the wrong date or wrong ruler in his chronicle.

Mieszko I was in contact with the Holy Roman Empire. Widukind of Corvey says that Mieszko I was a friend of Otto I the Great of the Holy Roman Empire in 967, while Thietmar of Merseburg says that Mieszko I was faithful to him. Mieszko I paid tribute to him for the lands he had up to the Warta river.

After Otto I the Great died in 973, Mieszko I supported Henry II the Duke of Bavaria to succeed Otto I the Great along with a group of German nobles. Henry II did not become king. When Otto II became the king of the Holy Roman Empire, Mieszko I had bad relations with him. In 979, Otto II fought Mieszko I in a battle but lost. Mieszko I and Otto II struck a peaceful accord to improve relations. In 979, Mieszko I married a German noblewoman named Oda of Haldensleben to ameliorate the relationship between Otto II and himself. Oda of Haldensleben was a nun in Kalbe and the eldest child of Dietrich of Haldensleben. Thietmar of Merseburg says she married Mieszko I in order to return prisoners to her homeland.

When Otto II died in 983, Mieszko I first supported Henry II the Duke of Bavaria to be king, but then switched sides by supporting Otto III to be king. In 985, Mieszko I helped the Germanic Saxons put down the revolt of the Slavic Obotrites and Veleti. In 986, Boleslaus II of Bohemia, Mieszko I, and Otto III met in Quedlinburg. Thietmar of Merseburg says that Mieszko I subordinated himself to Otto III and gave him gifts that included a camel. It is unclear if Mieszko I became Otto III’s vassal or just honored him. Mieszko I helped Otto III to fight against the Bohemians. Otto III gave him the Margraviate of Meissen for his contribution. In 991, Mieszko I and other leaders went to Quedlinburg to honor Empress dowager Theophana of the Holy Roman Empire and give her presents. Plans may been created to organize a campaign to Połabie to take Brenna from the Stodorans. Mieszko I went on the campaign with the Holy Roman Empire. They were able to take Brenna, but they later withdrew. Mieszko I was in communion with Scandinavians. Findings from cemeteries in Greater Poland, Mazovia, and Pomerania show that Vikings may have been in Mieszko I’s forces. Remains of Vikings have also been found in Ostrów Lednicki by Poznań. Vikings were present in other European countries as well. Mieszko I gave his daughter Sigrid the Haughty to marry Eric the Victorious, the king of Sweden. Sigrid the Haughty later married Sweyn Forkbeard who was the king of Denmark, England, and parts of Norway.

Thietmar of Merseburg gives specific examples of customs practiced during the reign of Mieszko I. He says that living widows were beheaded at the funerals of their husbands and that their bodies were burnt. Thietmar of Merseburg also mentions that when a prostitute was found, her private part was cut out and hung on a door. Mieszko I placed his kingdom under the protection of the Apostolic See before he died in 992 during the pontificate of Pope John XV from 985 to 996. The exact date it happened is unknown, but it probably happened between 985 and 992. The document that transferred Mieszko I’s kingdom to the Apostolic See may have been produced in Gniezno or Quedlinburg when Mieszko I met with Otto III and Otto III’s mother, the Empress dowager Theophana. Empress dowager Theophana may have persuaded Mieszko I to transfer control over his kingdom to the Apostolic See. The original document that conferred the kingdom to the Apostolic See has not been preserved. In 1080, a cardinal by the name of Deusdedit produced an incomplete summary in Rome for the Apostolic See of the document that is known as Dagome iudex. It was found in a register made by a curial cardinal during Gregory VII’s pontificate from 1073 to 1085. Cardinal Deusdedit’s summary has not survived. Only copies of it remain. The document is called Dagome iudex after the opening words of the document.

Dagome iudex is one of Poland’s most difficult documents to interpret. The word Dagome may be the conjunction of Mieszko I’s baptismal name of Dagobert and the Slavic word Me that means Mieszko. A second possibility is that Dagome comes from the Norman name Dagon. A third possibility is that the words Dagome iudex were incorrectly transposed, and that they should be Ego mesco dux (“I leader Mieszko”). Iudex in Latin means judge, but it is probably used to mean prince in this context. Dagome iudex begins with the following words that are translated into English from Latin: "Also in another volume from the times of Pope John XV, Dagome, lord, and Ote, lady, and their sons Misico and Lambert (I do not know of which nation those people are, but I think they are Sardinians, for they are ruled by four judges) were supposed to give to Saint Peter one state in whole which is called Schinesghe…" Schinesghe is probably derived from the towns of Gniezno or Szczecin.

Important words in the Dagome iudex are misspelled. Cardinal Deusdedit did not know about the people and state he wrote about. He was only interested in the land that Mieszko I transferred to the Apostolic See. His summary begins by saying that the longum mare (long sea — probably the Baltic Sea) is one of the borders of Mieszko I’s kingdom. It then says Mieszko’s I kingdom is bordered by Przze (Prussia) up to Russe (Rus). From Russe, it goes to Craccoa (Kraków) and then to the Oddere (Oder river). From there it does to Alemure, which may be either Olomouc or Moravia. From Alemure, it goes to Milze (Milczan). From Milze, it goes to the Oder river and then to Schinesghe (possibly Szczecin). In this description, Kraków may be in Mieszko I’s kingdom. It is uncertain, since it referenced in the same way as Alemure, Milze, and Russe. Cardinal Deusdedit did not write down the name of the person donating the land. Bolesław I the Brave is not mentioned as a successor in the document. It is possible that Mieszko I did not want him to succeed and rather favored the sons of his marriage with Oda of Haldensleben. Bolesław I the Brave was Mieszko I’s son from his first wife, Dobrawa of Bohemia, who died in 977.

Bolesław I the Brave

After Mieszko I died on May 25, 992, his kingdom was divided among his three living sons: Bolesław I the Brave, Mieszko Mieszkowic, and Lambert Mieszkowic. His kingdom’s size and borders were similar to those Poland had after World War II. Thietmar of Merseburg says Bolesław I the Brave usurped the whole kingdom with the “cunning of a fox.”

Gallus Anonymus writes many details about Bolesław I the Brave and his kingdom. Bolesław I the Brave was called Bolesław the Great and not Bolesław I the Brave, as he is known today. He says that Bolesław I the Brave had feasts with twelve of his friends along with their wives. Coins minted by Bolesław I the Brave had Gnezdun civitas written on them.

There was enormous wealth in Bolesław I the Brave’s kingdom. There was as much gold in Poland as there was hay. Gallus Anonymus says low and high dignitaries wore golden chains and women wore so much golden jewelry that they could not even move. There were fowlers and hunters from several countries who gave Bolesław I the Brave meat and poultry. Bolesław I the Brave owned many farms and settlements that would supply the monarchy with the things it needed. Some farmers and even whole villages of farmers were given the obligation to produce specific foodstuffs as well as to do certain services.

Gallus Anonymus writes the specific numbers of troops that Bolesław I the Brave possessed. In Poznań, there were 1,300 cavalrymen and 4,000 shield bearers. In Gniezno, there were 1,500 cavalrymen and 5,000 shield bearers. In Włocławek, there were 800 cavalrymen and 2,000 shield bearers. In sum, there were 3,900 cavalrymen and 13,000 shield bearers. These numbers are incomplete. Kraków, Płock, Wrocław, and other towns probably had troops too. Thietmar of Merseburg says that in Bolesław I the Brave’s kingdom there were customs that were cruel as well as worthy of praise. He says that his people have to be ruled with the customs of animals and punished like stubborn donkeys. They cannot be tamed without such drastic punishments. If someone among Bolesław I the Brave’s throng cheats and sleeps with a married woman, he is nailed to a bridge by his testicles and sharp tools are placed by him. He can either be left by himself hanging by his testicles or he can cut them off. If someone eats meat after the third Sunday before Lent, his teeth are smashed. Thietmar of Merseburg says that there were worse laws in Poland that God does not tolerate, but that they do not bother Poles.

Bolesław I the Brave’s male children were educated. Mieszko II Lambert learned Greek and Latin. Bezprym was sent to Saint Romuald’s by Ravenna for education under the influence of Latin culture. Bolesław I the Brave probably did not want Bezprym to inherit political power.

Bolesław I the Brave had a daughter whose name is unknown. She married Sviatopolk I of Kiev. Thietmar of Merseburg says that she went to Kievan Rus’ with Reinbern the bishop of Kołobrzeg after his diocese demised. Bolesław I the Brave suggested to Sviatopolk I that he should depose his father, Vladimir the Great, who was the ruler of Kievan Rus’, and become ruler. Vladimir the Great found out and imprisoned Sviatopolk I, his wife, and Reinbern. Bolesław I the Brave attacked Kievan Rus’ with the help of the Holy Roman Empire in order to recover the Cherven towns and Przemysł that were lost to Kievan Rus’ in 981. Other possible intentions for the war were to vassalize Kievan Rus’ or incorporate it into Poland. The campaign was not successful. In 1015, Sviatopolk I was released from prison. Reinbern died in prison.

Bolesław I the Brave had a complex relationship with the Holy Roman Empire. In 992, Holy Roman Emperor Otto III asked for help from Bolesław I the Brave against the Slavic Veleti. Bolesław I the Brave could only send reinforcements and not participate in the battle himself, since Kievan Rus’ threatened him. When the Holy Roman Empire was weakened, Bolesław I the Brave expelled Mieszko I’s second wife, Oda of Haldensleben, along with her sons and blinded the magnates Przybywój and Odylen who were the leaders of two powerful families that could have laid a claim to inheriting the kingdom. Bolesław I the Brave also expelled three of his ex-wives. Bolesław I the Brave was now the only ruler in the kingdom. In 995, Otto III retaliated for expelling Oda of Haldensleben with her kids by granting the Diocese of Meissen jurisdiction over Silesia and northern Bohemia. In 995, Otto III and Bolesław I the Brave attacked the West Slavic Obotrites with the help of Boleslaus II of Bohemia. In 997, Otto III allied himself with Bolesław I the Brave after having trouble quelling rebellions of Slavic tribes and after the rise of enmity to him in Saxony.

In 996 or 997, Adalbert of Prague came to Poland on a mission to bring Christianity to Poland. Before he came to Poland, he was the bishop of Prague from 982, a Benedictine monk in Rome, and a missionary in Hungary. When Adalbert of Prague was in Gniezno at the court of Bolesław I the Brave, he considered either going on a mission to the Slavic Veleti or the Baltic Prussians. He chose the Prussians. Bolesław I the Brave may have influenced his decision. He went on a ship with thirty of Bolesław I the Brave’s knights to Prussia. Adalbert of Prague had success on his mission around Gdańsk. He went to Gdańsk and then to Elbląg where he was met with resistance. His mission was told by pagans to stay away from their sacred oak trees that they believed had spirits in them whom they worshipped, but missionaries cut their sacred oak trees down anyway. On April 23, 997, Adalbert of Prague was killed by pagan Prussians. The exact location of his death is unknown. It may have been in Pomesania or Sambia. Two persons from the mission survived and told about it. Adalbert of Prague’s martyrdom became known in all Catholic countries in Europe.

Bolesław I the Brave sent knights to buy Adalbert of Prague’s body back from the pagan Prussians. They offered gold and silver worth in weight to Adalbert of Prague’s body. When they put the gold and silver on the scale, it did not move. However, a miracle occurred. A poor Christian widow threw two coins on the scale that comprised all of her wealth. When she threw the two coins on the scale, the scale with the gold, silver, and two coins dropped to the ground. This miracle brought fame to Poland and Bolesław I the Brave.

Some of Adalbert of Prague’s remains are in a silver coffin in the cathedral in Gniezno. In 999, Pope Sylvester II canonized him a saint and wanted to found a new “archdiocese of Saint Adalbert of Prague” in commemoration of 1,000 years of Christianity that would include Poland. Saint Adalbert of Prague is one of the most important saints in Poland’s history. Saint Adalbert of Prague is also patron saint of Bohemia, Hungary, and Prussia.

Two hagiographies were written about Saint Adalbert of Prague. The oldest hagiography of Saint Adalbert of Prague was written in 998 or 999 by a Benedictine monk at the Aventine monastery in Rome whose name was John Canaparius. It is called Vita sancti Adalberti episcopi Pragensis (“The Life of Saint Adalbert the Bishop of Prague”) or Vita prior (“Previous Life”). It was written with the testimony of persons who came in contact with Saint Adalbert of Prague on his mission. Saint Adalbert of Prague’s half-brother, Radim Gaudentius, was on the mission and told his story to John Canaparius. Vita prior also gives important details on Poland: "There is a country on the border of Germania that is rich in treasures. It is very powerful as the result of its armed and brave warriors, whose inhabitants call Slavonia. Most of its people are conquered with mistakes of disbelief. They worship creation and not the Creator — a tree or rock instead of God. Many Christians by name live there like pagans. The result is that their salvation is in jeopardy. However, some of them are true believers…"

In 1004, the second hagiography of Saint Adalbert of Prague was written by Saint Bruno of Querfurt. It is called Vita altera (“Second Life” or “Latter Life”). Saint Bruno of Querfurt collected information about Saint Adalbert of Prague from people who knew him in the Aventine monastery in Rome. He may have started to write his hagiography on him in Hungary. When he was in Poland, he edited his work to make it shorter. Bolesław I the Brave may have persuaded him to write it.

In 1000, Otto III went on a pilgrimage to Poland at the age of about twenty after he heard about the miracle that happened with Saint Adalbert of Prague’s body and established Poland’s Catholic Church. The event is called the Congress of Gniezno and is one of the most important milestones in Polish history. Thietmar of Merseburg says that when Otto III saw Gniezno from afar, he took his shoes off and walked barefoot to show humility. Otto III was greeted by the bishop of Poznań, Unger, who had jurisdiction over all of Poland. In the Gniezno Cathedral, Otto III cried, prayed for Saint Adalbert of Prague to receive grace from God, and made an altar for Saint Adalbert of Prague’s remains.

Thietmar of Merseburg says that Otto III created the Archdiocese of Gniezno in Poland and made Saint Adalbert of Prague’s brother, Radim Gaudentius, the Archbishop of Gniezno during the Congress of Gniezno. The dioceses of Kołobrzeg, Kraków, and Wrocław were also created and were placed under the jurisdiction of the Archdiocese of Gniezno. Reinbern was appointed the bishop of Kołobrzeg. Poppo was designated the bishop of Kraków. John was announced the bishop of Wrocław. Otto III also gave Bolesław I the Brave the power to appoint bishops in his kingdom as well as in any lands that he incorporated in the future.

Gallus Anonymus says that during the Congress of Gniezno, Otto III took off his crown and put it on the head of Bolesław I the Brave to carve out a friendship and not to crown him king. Gallus Anonymus also says that Otto III gave Bolesław I the Brave a nail from the cross of Jesus Christ’s crucifixion and a copy of the spear of Saint Maurice, who was a Christian and leader of a Christian and Roman Legion that was completely executed after refusing to attack Christians. The spear was a symbol of the power of the emperor of the Holy Roman Empire. In return, Bolesław I the Brave gave Otto III an arm of Saint Adalbert of Prague. Otto III called Bolesław I the Brave a brother and ally of the Romans. Bolesław I the Brave gave Otto III feasts for three days and gave him many material gifts that included silver and gold plates. He also gave many presents to Otto III’s dignitaries that resulted in very friendly relations. Bolesław I the Brave had 300 knights escort Otto III back home. The knights went as far as Magdeburg with Otto III.

The decision to make a new archdiocese at the Congress of Gniezno was settled before Otto III came to Poland. In 999, Radim Gaudentius was a witness to a document produced in Rome that planned the opening of the Archdiocese of Gniezno. The document is named, “The Archdiocese of Saint Adalbert of Prague.” The document did not specify the geographical expanse of the new archdiocese. After the Archdiocese of Gniezno was made, much of southern Poland still belonged under the jurisdiction of Bohemia’s Catholic Church. Silesia belonged to the diocese of Prague and Lesser Poland belonged to the diocese of Olomouc. Not much is known about how the Archdiocese of Gniezno operated after it was created.

The Congress of Gniezno was a success on many levels. It gave recognition to Poland as a sovereign state. It included Poland in Catholic and Latin Europe. Bolesław I the Brave’s power was strengthened and safeguarded by giving his kingdom its own archdiocese that was independent of the Archdiocese of Magdeburg that had designs on Poland and the Slavs in general.

It is unknown how the Apostolic See reacted to the decisions at the Congress of Gniezno. The Pope had to confirm the decisions or else they would be illegal. The Apostolic See would have to give the new Archbishop of Gniezno a pallium to empower him. The archbishop had to ask for one from the Pope. It is unknown if it happened. Gallus Anonymus only says that Pope Sylvester II confirmed the privilege of Bolesław I the Brave to appoint bishops. The bishop of Poznań, Unger, did not agree with the decisions made at the Congress of Gniezno. Unger’s diocese of Poznań was not placed under the jurisdiction of the Archdiocese of Gniezno. From 1004 to 1005, the bishop of Poznań, Unger, subordinated himself to the Archdiocese of Magdeburg instead.

Bolesław I the Brave was a strong proponent of the Catholic Church. He built the first cathedral in Kraków. In 1001, Bolesław I the Brave sent a legation to the Apostolic See to ask for missionaries to be sent to Poland. He bypassed the Archdiocese of Gniezno by going directly to the Apostolic See. Many of the missionaries who came to Poland were Benedictine monks from Bavaria or Bohemia.

Saint Bruno of Querfurt (974-1009) expressed interest in going on a mission to Poland. He first went to the Pope to get permission to evangelize in Poland. Pope Sylvester II made him an archbishop and gave him a pallium, even though Poland already had an archbishop. Saint Bruno of Querfurt became the leader of the mission in Eastern Europe. He also went to Hungary, Kievan Rus’, and the Turkic Pechenegs. Bolesław I the Brave supported his mission. In 1009, Saint Bruno of Querfurt went on a mission to the Baltic Yotvingians. He died as a martyr trying to convert them near the border or Kievan Rus’ and Lithuania. Bolesław I the Brave bought the body of Saint Bruno of Querfurt after his martyrdom. He is called the Second Apostle of the Prussians.

Bolesław I the Brave’s reign is marked with conquests that were made with the intention of enrichment and making his neighbors dependent on him. After he would defeat a kingdom, it would have to pay him tribute. Bolesław I the Brave conquered and occupied the March of Lusatia and Milsco in 1002 after the death of Otto III when there was no emperor. He also invaded Meissen after the death of Eckard I, the Margrave of Meissen. Bolesław I the Brave had a claim to Meissen since he was the relative of its former ruler, Margrave Rikdag. In June 1002, a congress occurred in Merseburg in today’s Germany in which the King of Germany, Henry II, met with Bolesław I the Brave. Bolesław I the Brave paid him homage. In return, Henry II recognized Bolesław I the Brave’s new territorial acquisitions of Milsco and Lusatia as fiefs, but he refused to recognize Meissen. As Bolesław I the Brave left Merseburg, there was an attempt to assassinate him, but it failed. Thietmar of Merseburg, a German, says that Henry II did not try to assassinate him, but he also wrote with distaste that Otto III had elevated Bolesław I the Brave during the Congress of Gniezno. Henry II probably was behind the assassination attempt. When Bolesław I the Brave was returning to Poland from Merseburg, he burned down a town and took its people as prisoners in retaliation. Henry II did not react.

When there was a rebellion in Bohemia in 1003 against Boleslaus III the Red who Bolesław I the Brave helped get in power, Bolesław I the Brave invited Boleslaus III the Red to Kraków where he was blinded and imprisoned. Bolesław I the Brave proclaimed himself king of Bohemia for over a year. Henry II was ready to recognize him king of Bohemia if Bolesław I the Brave would pay him homage and become his vassal in Bohemia, since Bohemian kings were vassals of the Holy Roman Empire. Bolesław I the Brave refused, even though he ruled Milsco and Lusatia as his vassal. In 1004, Henry II attacked Bolesław I the Brave’s Bohemia with the Bavarians and Czechs as his allies. Bolesław I the Brave gave up his claim to Bohemia. Henry II and the Czechs then attacked Milsco and occupied Bautzen. Bolesław I the Brave then gave up his claim to them. In the middle of September 1005, Henry II attacked Bolesław I the Brave again. Henry II fought alongside the Slavic and pagan Veleti against Bolesław I the Brave. When his troops reached Poznań from Magdeburg, peace was settled upon, but its terms are unknown. Henry II had the Archbishop of Magdeburg, Tagino, be his representative at the peace table. Thietmar of Merseburg says that an oath was pledged in the settlements. Polish troops probably left Lusatia and Milsco after the peace settlement.

Bolesław I the Brave supported a rebellion against Henry II by Konrad of Schweinfurt by sending reinforcements. He also attacked Meissen after the margrave who ruled it, Gunzelin, would not give it to him. Bolesław I the Brave took many captives after sacking Meissen. In 1007, Bolesław I the Brave supported Oldrzych the brother of Jaromír the Duke of Bohemia who Henry II placed into power after Bolesław I the Brave gave up his claim to Bohemia.

Henry II eventually repudiated the peace of 1005. Bolesław I the Brave then attacked him by occupying Bautzen, Lusatia, Milsco, and marching to Magdeburg. The Archbishop of Magdeburg defended the town against Bolesław I the Brave with the help of noblemen. Bolesław I the Brave tried to conquer Meissen, but he was unsuccessful. In 1010, Henry II was able to gather his forces with the help of the Czechs to attack Poland. Henry II became ill and had to return to the Holy Roman Empire. There were attempts to negotiate peace, but they failed. Bolesław I the Brave strengthened his contacts with the Veleti whom his father had fought in alliance with Holy Roman Empire. The attack was limited to plunder and robbery until 1012. In January 1013, Bolesław I the Brave asked for peace, in order to start a campaign against Kievan Rus’ and possibly receive reinforcements from Henry II. Bolesław I the Brave’s son, Mieszko II Lambert, was sent to Magdeburg to pay homage to Henry II.

In May 1013, peace was settled in Merseburg. Thietmar of Merseburg says that Bolesław I the Brave became a knight of Henry II after a feudal ceremony of Henry II laying his hands over him. It is unknown if the ceremony made him a vassal in general or a vassal only in relation to Lusatia and Milsco. In Saxonicae Annales Quedlinburgenses (“The Annals of Quedlinburg”) written from 1008 to 1030 in the convent of Quedlinburg Abbey in the Holy Roman Empire by an unknown author, it is written that Bolesław I the Brave was treated like a dignitary and fairly. The guarantee to the peace was the arrangement of the marriage of Bolesław I the Brave’s son Mieszko II Lambert to Richeza of Lotharingia who was a German noblewoman and niece of the late emperor Otto III. Henry II kept Mieszko II Lambert in his court until the basics of the peace were laid. Lusatia and Milsco may have remained in Bolesław I the Brave’s hands after the peace settlement.

Bolesław I the Brave was obligated by the peace settlement struck at Merseburg to help Henry II militarily in campaigns just as Henry II was to help Bolesław I the Brave in his own military campaigns. Henry II helped Bolesław I the Brave in his campaign against Kievan Rus’, but Bolesław I the Brave did not help Henry II in his campaign in Italy in 1014. Henry II summoned Bolesław I the Brave twice to his court, but he did not go. To punish him for his disloyalty, Henry II demanded Lusatia and Milsco to be returned, but Bolesław I the Brave refused. He said that he considered Lusatia and Milsco to be his property and not fiefs.

Bolesław I the Brave also tried to get his son Mieszko II Lambert to get Oldřich the Duke of Bohemia in an alliance against Henry II, but it did not materialize. Oldřich imprisoned Mieszko II Lambert as a result. Henry II had to intervene on his behalf to release him. In July 1015, Henry II attacked Bolesław I the Brave. The Slavic Veleti attacked from the north. Henry II attacked from the west. Oldřich the Duke of Bohemia attacked from the south. Henry II tried to get Mieszko II Lambert on his side and against his father without any effect. Bolesław I the Brave repelled Henry II’s attacks and sent them retreating.

In March 1017, Henry II prepared to attack, while Bolesław I the Brave tried to offer peace proposals. Bolesław I the Brave’s chances in the war worsened, since Kievan Rus’ was now ruled by Yaroslav the Wise whom he did not support. In July 1017, Henry II’s forced began to march. The Czechs and Veleti joined his forces. Mieszko II Lambert attacked Bohemia, while Oldřich the Duke of Bohemia was away. Henry II laid siege to the settlement of Niemcza while its inhabitants defended their town for about three weeks. Bolesław I the Brave attacked Lusatia with some of the Veleti who he was able to ally with. Diseases began to spread among Henry II’s troops. In October 1017, peace talks began in Magdeburg in the Holy Roman Empire. In January 1018, peace was settled in Bautzen. The details of the peace are unknown. Bolesław I the Brave may have been able to get full control of Lusatia and Milsco. Bolesław I the Brave was to marry Oda of Meissen, who was a German noblewoman and daughter of Eckard I the Margrave of Meissen, as part of the agreement to guarantee peace.

In the summer of 1018, Bolesław I the Brave attacked Kievan Rus’ with the help of Henry II. Gallus Anonymus says he attacked, for the reason that Yaroslav I the Wise did not honor his request to marry his sister Perejasława. According to legend, Bolesław I the Brave hit the golden gate of Kiev with his sword called Szczerbiec during his campaign against Kievan Rus’. Yaroslav I the Wise was defeated in the war. Bolesław I the Brave received the Cherven towns and Przemyśl from his campaign.

Bolesław I the Brave was coronated on Christmas, December 25, 1024, or Easter on April 18, 1025, as the first King of Poland. The reason why it happened so late was that Henry II opposed it. In 1024, Henry II died and was followed by Conrad II who was too busy with problems in his kingdom to prevent Bolesław I the Brave from being coronated. It also helped that Pope Benedict VIII died and was replaced with Pope John XIX.

Not many details are known about the coronation of Bolesław I the Brave. It is unknown where it happened and who did it. It may have occurred in Gniezno at the grave of Saint Adalbert of Prague. The coronation elevated the position of Poland internationally and made the king of Poland the caretaker of the Catholic Church in Poland.

The coronation of Bolesław I the Brave was not received well in the Holy Roman Empire. It is written in Saxonicae Annales Quedlinburgenses (“The Annals of Quedlinburg”) that Bolesław I the Brave usurped the throne and died as the result of it. Wipo of Burgundy (995?-1048?) wrote in Gesta Chuonradi II imperatoris (“The Deeds of Emperor Conrad II”) that Bolesław I the Brave’s coronation was an injustice for Conrad II. On June 17, 1025, Bolesław I the Brave died just a few weeks after his coronation.

Mieszko II Lambert

On Christmas Day, December 25, 1025, Mieszko II Lambert was coronated King of Poland. Bolesław I the Brave prepared Mieszko II Lambert to inherit his kingdom. When Mieszko II Lambert became king, Germans were displeased and accused him of usurpation of power.

In 1027, a rebellion occurred in the Holy Roman Empire when Conrad II was in Italy. The leader of the rebellion, Ernest II, the Duke of Swabia, tried to get Mieszko II Lambert on his side. A German princess by the name of Matilda of Swabia also tried to get Mieszko II Lambert on Ernest II’s side. She gave Mieszko II Lambert a book of prayers called Liber officiorum quem Romanum ordinem appellant (“Book of Obligations Calling All Classes of Romans”) or Ordo Romanus (“Roman Order”) that had a picture of herself giving the book to him. Mieszko II Lambert is sitting on a throne with a scepter and crown in the picture. She wrote him a letter with many compliments. She says that he is a great king who supports spreading Christianity. She wrote that he should build more new churches and learn Greek and Latin. The appeal worked. In the autumn of 1027, Mieszko II Lambert prepared to go on a campaign to help the opposition of Conrad II. In the middle of January 1028, Mieszko II Lambert attacked eastern Saxony that supported Conrad II. In 1029, Conrad II retaliated by attacking Bautzen and Lusatia, but he was unsuccessful. In 1029, Conrad II was able to convince Oldřich the Duke of Bohemia to attack Moravia, since Mieszko II Lambert ruled it. Mieszko II Lambert lost Moravia as a result. In 1030, Mieszko II Lambert attacked the eastern part of the Holy Roman Empire. In the autumn of 1031, Conrad II attacked Mieszko II Lambert. Conrad II conquered Lusatia. Peace was settled in which Mieszko II Lambert gave up Lusatia and Milsco. Bautzen was incorporated into the Margraviate of Meissen.

A political crisis occurred when Mieszko II Lambert’s brothers laid claim to certain parts of the kingdom. They sought help from foreign countries to strengthen their claims. One brother by the name of Bezprym went to Kievan Rus’, while the second brother by the name of Otto went to the Holy Roman Empire. The brothers may have struck an agreement to collude together against Mieszko II Lambert. One source says that Mieszko II Lambert expelled Otto from the kingdom for allying himself with Conrad II. Bezprym was able to get a coalition of Kievan Rus’ and the Holy Roman Empire to attack Mieszko II Lambert and put Bezprym in power.

In 1030, Yaroslav I the Wise of Kievan Rus’ occupied Belz. In 1031, the main attack of Poland began by Kievan Rus’ and the Holy Roman Empire. Yaroslav I the Wise conquered the Cherven towns, while the Holy Roman Empire subdued Lusatia and Milsco. The Czechs and Hungarians also joined the war. The Czechs occupied Moravia and the Hungarians took Slovakia. In 1034, Pomerania separated from Poland. Otto may have taken Silesia. Mieszko II Lambert fled to Oldřich the Duke of Bohemia to get help. Mieszko II Lambert was castrated in an act of retaliation for Bolesław I the Brave blinding Boleslaus III of Bohemia.


Bezprym took over control but ruled very shortly. The royal insignia of the kingdom of Poland were sent to the Holy Roman Empire. It signaled the end of Polish sovereignty. Bezprym’s wife, Richeza of Lotharingia, controlled power over him. The Holy Roman Emperor recognized her as king of Poland. In 1031, Richeza of Lotharingia fled to the Holy Roman Empire with her children, Casimir I the Restorer, and Gertrude of Poland. She was received with honors by the Holy Roman Emperor.

Bezprym eliminated all of Mieszko II Lambert’s supporters by means of persecution. In 1031 or 1032, it led to a pagan rebellion against all people with power and anyone who was connected to the Catholic Church. The relics of saints that were in Gniezno Cathedral were stolen along with many other valuable items during the rebellion. The Catholic Church’s structure in Poland collapsed after the rebellion.

In 1032, Bezprym was killed. One or both of his brothers was behind his murder. He was killed for his brutal tactics. After his death, Mieszko II Lambert had to make arrangements with Holy Roman Emperor, Conrad II, to return to power. Mieszko II Lambert asked to meet Conrad II. The two met in Merseburg. Mieszko II Lambert was forced to resign from the kingdom’s royal insignia and give part of his kingdom to Dietrich who was the son of one of Bolesław I the Brave’s brothers. Wipo of Burgundy says that Poland was divided into three parts by Conrad II. Mieszko II Lambert’s brother Otto had one part that included Silesia. Mieszko II Lambert had the second part with Lesser Poland and Mazovia. Dietrich had the third part that the old Gniezno State encompassed. In 1033, Mieszko II Lambert may have regained power over divided Poland after the death of his brother Otto by expelling Dietrich. The exact details are unknown.

In 1034, Mieszko II Lambert died prematurely. Gallus Anonymus says that after his death, chaos erupted. Kings and princess from neighboring countries took Polish lands. Peasants rebelled against anyone who had authority, be it the nobility, bishops, or priests. They killed them with swords or stoned them to death. Cosmas of Prague (1045-1125) says that Bretislaus I, the Duke of Bohemia, invaded Poland in a sort of pilgrimage to get the body back of Saint Adalbert of Prague. His men stole the bodies of Saint Adalbert of Prague, Radim Gaudentius, and five martyrs who were monks. He says that Bretislaus I robbed and destroyed Gniezno, Gniezno Cathedral, Kraków, and Poznań. Cosmas of Prague says that the Czechs kidnapped the people from Giecz and brought them to Bohemia. He further says that the Czechs took bells, many treasures, and a heavy golden cross from Poland. Bretislaus I also annexed Silesia. Gallus Anonymus says that after the rebellion and incursions, Poland had no wealth or people. When chaos erupted, central authority, royal administration, military organization, and the Catholic Church all disintegrated. It is unknown if local authorities were established to replace the structures that were now nonexistent.

The date for the rebellion are unknown. All we know is that it happened after Mieszko II’s death. It can be estimated that it happened from 1034 to 1039. The date for Bretislaus I the duke of Bohemia’s invasion of Poland is 1039 according to Cosmas of Prague, but it is dated 1037 or 1038 according to Polish tradition. The true date may never be known.

Casimir I the Restorer

Casimir I the Restorer began his education at the age of ten. According to Kronika wielkopolska (“The Greater Poland Chronicle”), he was a monk and not the only son of Miezko II Lambert. Kronika wielkopolska says that there was a forgotten son named Bolesław who was Casimir I the Restorer’s older brother who became king after their father died, but he was a cruel ruler whose life ended tragically with him being removed as king.

Gallus Anonymus says that Casimir I the Restorer remained in Poland during the years of chaos. He says that he became king after his father Mieszko II Lambert died. When his enemies threatened him, he fled to Hungary. Peter, the King of Hungary, sent Casimir I the Restorer with an escort to the Holy Roman Empire. Casimir I the Restorer probably returned to Poland in 1039 after Bretislaus I, the Duke of Bohemia, invaded Poland. Gallus Anonymus says that Holy Roman Emperor Henry III gave him 500 knights to guard him on his return to Poland. Casimir I the Restorer probably had to recognize the authority of the Holy Roman Empire over Poland. The positive result of it was that Poland was safe on its western border. In order to attain secure eastern borders, Casimir I the Restorer married the sister of Yaroslav I the Wise, Maria Dobroniega of Kiev. The date for the marriage may have been in 1040.

Kraków was probably Casimir I the Restorer’s base for restoring his kingdom from ruin. From Kraków, he reinstituted Poland’s church, lands, law, and ruling body. His newly restored kingdom lost many of Poland’s former lands of Lusatia, Mazovia, Moravia, Pomerania, Silesia, Slovakia, and the Cherven towns. Mazovia was the first territory that Casimir I the Restorer attempted to revindicate. In 1041, Casimir I the Restorer and Yaroslav I the Wise attacked Mazovia. It was ruled by Miecław who was a cup-bearer of Mieszko II Lambert. Miecław probably took over rule of Mazovia when chaos broke out after Mieszko II Lambert died. In 1046 or 1047, Miecław died in battle. Gallus Anonymus writes that when Casimir I the Restorer fought Miecław in a battle, one of his soldiers helped him survive when he should have died. He honored the soldier by giving him a city and making him a nobleman. The Pomeranians were allied with Miecław. After killing Miecław, Casimir I the Restorer conquered the Pomeranians and returned Pomerania with Gdańsk to his kingdom.

In 1040, Casimir I the Restorer attacked Bretislaus I of Bohemia’s Silesia with the help of the Holy Roman Empire. Bretislaus I, the Duke of Bohemia, incorporated Silesia into his kingdom in 1039. A treaty between emperor Henry III and Bretislaus I allowed Silesia to be Bohemian. In 1041, the matter of Silesia was attempted to be resolved at a congress in Glosar, but it was unsuccessful. Casimir I the Restorer attacked Silesia again. In 1046, a peace treaty was settled in Merseburg. In 1050, Casimir I the Restorer conquered and occupied Silesia when Holy Roman Emepror Henry III was busy in a conflict with Hungary. When Casimir I the Restorer conquered and occupied it, emperor Henry III did not react. In 1054 at the Congress of Quedlinburg, Henry III recognized Silesia as a Polish land, but Poland would have to pay 500 grzywien of silver and thirty grzywien of gold every year for it.

Casimir I the Restorer reinstituted Poland’s state apparatus. It was filled with new people in it, but its substance did not change much. Casimir I the Restorer also reorganized Poland’s military force, but little is known about it. Gallus Anonymus says that Casimir I the Restorer had three military orders. It is known that professional warriors were paid by the king and made up the basis of Poland’s military force. This force was the main reason why Casimir I the Restorer was able to reconquer Poland’s lost lands.

Kraków was the most important town for the reorganization of the Catholic Church during the time of Casimir I the Restorer, since the cathedrals in Gniezno and Poznań were destroyed during the years of chaos. Casimir I the Restorer was able to reestablish the Archdiocese of Gniezno and the Diocese of Poznań. The Archdiocese of Gniezno was not relocated to Kraków, but Poland’s archbishop was stationed in Kraków for some time. His successors were not called archbishops.

Casimir I the Restorer invited Benedictines to Poland. Their main task was to rebuild the Catholic Church in Poland. In 1044, they may have first arrived in Poland. In 1044, they began to build an important monastery in Tyniec by Kraków. Around 1050, Casimir I the Restorer funded a Benedictine abbey in Mogilno by Gniezno.

In 1058, Casimir I the Restorer died. By the time he died, he was able to restore the borders that Poland had when Mieszko II was made king in 1025 that included Greater Poland, Kujawy, Lesser Poland, Mazovia, and Silesia. When Casimir I the Restorer died, three of his four sons were still living. Their names were Bolesław II the Generous, Mieszko, and Władysław I Herman. There is no documentation on what happened after Casimir I the Restorer’s death in relation to the kingdom. It is known that Mieszko died in 1065, leaving behind two living brothers. It is possible that Władysław I Herman controlled Mazovia, but Bolesław II the Generous was still King of Poland whom he was beneath.

Bolesław II the Generous

Bolesław II the Generous supported Pope Gregory VII during the Investiture Controversy. In return, Pope Gregory VII supported him. From 1075 to 1076, Pope Gregory VII sent legates to Poland to rebuild the structure of the Catholic Church that was created at the Congress of Gniezno in the year 1000. In 1076, fifteen bishops were present at Bolesław II the Generous’ coronation. It was a gesture from Pope Gregory VII for his support.

Bolesław II the Generous returned the position and title of king back to Poland. He followed in the tradition of Bolesław I the Brave by using the same symbology that he used. In 1069, Bolesław II the Generous hit the golden gate at Kiev in Kievan Rus’ with a sword in the memory of Bolesław I the Brave. Gallus Anonymus called Bolesław II the Generous “the most generous of all those who are generous.”

Bolesław II the Generous attempted to improve relations with the Czechs. In 1062, his sister Świętosława married Vratislaus II of Bohemia before he became king of Bohemia. In 1069, relations with the Czechs ended. Bolesław II the Generous stopped paying tribute for Silesia. In 1072, Bolesław II the Generous attacked Bohemia. In 1074, he supported the rebellion of the Saxons against emperor Henry IV.

Bolesław II the Generous affected politics in Hungary. He supported Béla I the Champion to become king after his brother Andrew I the White died in 1060. He also supported Béla I the Champion’s children’s claim to the throne. Their mother, Richeza of Poland, was the daughter of Mieszko II Lambert. Both of them were born in Poland. In 1077, Bolesław II the Generous made Saint Ladislaus I the king of Hungary.

Bolesław II the Generous influenced Kievan Rus’ just like he did Hungary. In 1043, Casimir I the Restorer had Mieszko II Lambert’s sister Gertruda marry Iziaslav I of Kiev whose father was Yaroslav I the Wise. There was an uprising that deposed Iziaslav I of Kiev after which he fled to Poland. In 1069, Bolesław II the Generous helped Iziaslav I of Kiev to get back into power in Kievan Rus’. In 1073, Iziaslav I of Kiev escaped to Poland again after a conflict with his brothers. Bolesław II the Generous was able to help in negotiating with his brothers to get him to return to Kievan Rus’. Out of all of his effort with regard to Kievan Rus’, Bolesław II the Generous was able to recover the Cherven towns.

Bolesław II the Generous lost control of Pomerania after he invaded Bohemia in 1072. Gallus Anonymus says that Bolesław II the Generous’ warriors had chainmail that caused them to drown in a river when they chased the Pomeranians in battle. Chainmail was subsequently jettisoned by Poland’s soldiers.

Bolesław II the Generous helped to continue to reestablish the Catholic Church in Poland just like his father, Casimir I the Restorer, did. A problem that occurred was Gniezno and Kraków competed for the seat of Poland’s sole archdiocese. Pope Gregory VII complained about this matter. In 1076, a diocese in Płock was created that Bolesław II the Generous furnished. He also furnished the Benedictine monastery in Tyniec that his father Casimir I the Restorer helped to establish. A document from the monastery in Tyniec says that Bolesław II the Generous and one of the wives of Władysław I Herman, both of whom were named Judith, helped found the monastery. Bolesław II the Generous helped two other Benedictine monasteries in Lubin and Mogilno by funding them. He also helped to rebuild the cathedral in Gniezno.

Pope Gregory VII wrote a letter to Bolesław II the Generous that both honored and castigated him. He first thanked him for working for God and giving him gifts, but he criticized that Polish bishops did not have a permanent residence, were independent, and were not obeying the Catholic Church. He said that Poles stole money from the king of Kievan Rus’ and that it should be given back.

Bolesław II the Generous is best known for the murder of Saint Stanisław of Szczepanów. In 1079, Saint Stanisław of Szczepanów was dismembered for betrayal. Gallus Anonymus wrote about the conflict between the two figures very ambiguously and vaguely. He stated that Bishop Stanisław of Szczepanów was a traitor. All bishops pledged an allegiance of fidelity to the king in Poland. To not agree with the king could have been enough to cast him a traitor. Wincenty Kadłubek gives more details about the foreground of the affair. He said that Bolesław II the Generous was a cruel king who mistreated his subjects during the war with Kievan Rus’. The wives of his knights were persecuted if they cheated on their husbands. Many knights escaped during the war against Kievan Rus’ because they were betrayed by their wives. Bishop Stanisław of Szczepanów told him to stop mistreating his subjects. When he did not stop, Bishop Stanisław of Szczepanów excommunicated Bolesław II the Generous. He says that Bolesław III the Generous personally killed Bishop Stanisław of Szczepanów with a sword by cutting him into pieces.

Wincenty from Kielce (1200-1262), a Dominican monk, poet, and writer, wrote Legenda sancti Stanislai (“The Legend of Saint Stanislaus) or Vita minor (“Subordinate Life” or “Unimportant Life”) in 1253 or 1254 about Saint Stanisław of Szczepanów. He wrote in illustrious words about how he was killed.

When the bishop of Kraków, Saint Stanisław, could not stop him from committing an atrocity, he first reprimanded him. He threatened him with the extinction of his kingdom, and then he threatened to excommunicate him and forbid him to enter the church. And he, like a dry and curved branch that is easier to break than to straighten, fell into greater madness and continued to be in obstinate resistance. When Saint Stanisław was preaching in the church of Saint Michael on Skałka and begging the Saints for help, he did not honor the dignity of the church for a moment. Not fearing the Saints or any divine majesty, he ordered to kidnap the bishop and drag him from the altar. But each time the brutal servants tried to throw themselves on him, they fell each time. They became more contrite each time they failed. The third time they fell on the ground, they completely softened. The tyrant chided them and cried out: “Oh, you disgraceful cowards. You could not even kidnap one priest?” Next…lifting up his criminal hand on the anointed one of God, he ripped the beloved from the bosom of the beloved, the priest from the flock, killed the father in the embrace of the sister, and the son almost in the innards of the mother. What a mournful and pitiful sight! The Godless one, struck the Saint with a sword — criminal of the pious, sacrilegious person of a bishop. He gave him terrible bruises and made him a sacrifice of Christ. This cruel man killed an innocent man with his own criminal hands, making him a martyr. He cut him into pieces. He chopped certain pieces up and threw them to all directions of the world to wild animals and birds…

A revolt occurred in Poland that caused Bolesław II the Generous, his unknown wife, and his son Mieszko to flee to Hungary. Gallus Anonymus says that his brother, Władysław I Herman, was behind it. A document from the 15th century says that Bolesław II the Generous lived in a Benedictine monastery in Hungary for ten years before he died. This story may just be legend. Gallus Anonymus says that after his death, Bolesław II the Generous’ body was sent to Poland and buried in a church in Tyniec, since he helped found it. Gallus Anonymus also says that when Bolesław II the Generous’ only son, Mieszko, returned with his mother to Poland, he was poisoned.

Władysław I Herman

Władysław I Herman ruled Poland after Bolesław II the Generous fled. Gallus Anonymus says Władysław I Herman was driven and smart. He also says that he expelled many from his kingdom. His reign was under the strong influence of powerful people in Poland. One such person was a count palatine by the name of Sieciech. Palatine Sieciech wielded a great deal of power in the kingdom. He was able to make some decisions just as a king would. From 1070 to 1089, he may have become palatine, but the exact date is unknown. He was the strongest palatine in all of Polish history. He was able to mint his own currency just like a duke could. His enemies accused him of having an affair with one of Władysław I Herman’s wives, Judith of Swabia.

Władysław I Herman had a son named Zbigniew who he had with a concubine. He sent Zbigniew to school for education in Kraków. In 1086, Władysław I Herman married Judith of Bohemia and had Bolesław III Wrymouth with her. Judith of Bohemia died after childbirth. In 1088, Władysław I Herman married Judith of Swabia who was the sister of emperor Henry IV. She sent Zbigniew to a female monastery in Quedlinburg in the Holy Roman Empire. Palatine Sieciech colluded with Władysław I Herman’s wife Judith of Swabia to remove Zbigniew and Bolesław III Wrymouth from power. Both of them made a pact to support each other if Sieciech threatened either of them. When Sieciech threatened Bolesław III Wrymouth, Zbigniew and Bolesław III Wrymouth began a campaign to remove Sieciech. They demanded that their father, Władysław I Herman, remove him from power.

An opposition group formed in Bohemia that wanted to make Zbigniew king and remove Sieciech from power. In 1093, the group took Zbigniew from his monastery and went to Silesia where they found support from Magnus who was the viceroy there. Bretislaus II of Bohemia invaded Silesia and conquered Kłodzko Land when Silesia was in rebellion against Sieciech and Władysław I Herman. Władysław I Herman agreed to continue paying tribute to Bohemia and recognized Kłodzka Land as Bohemian just to get Bohemia neutral so he could fight the rebellion in Silesia. Władysaw I Herman recognized his son and gave him Silesia to rule, but it did not last for long. Władysaw I Herman and Sieciech forced Zbigniew and his entourage out of power. They fled to Kujawy where Sieciech was conquered and Zbigniew was imprisoned. Some time between 1093 and 1096, the rebellion ended. In 1097, Zbigniew was freed when the newly rebuilt cathedral in Gniezno was consecrated.

Władysław I Herman had both of his sons lead an expedition against the Pomeranians. When they returned, he gave each of them parts of the kingdom, while keeping Mazovia for himself. His youngest son, Bolesław III Wrymouth, had supremacy over the whole kingdom. The specific lands he had were Lesser Poland and Silesia. The cities of Kraków, Sandomierz, and Wrocław were excluded. Zbigniew received Greater Poland and Kujawy. If Władysław I Herman died, Zbigniew would get Mazovia and Bolesław III Wrymouth would get Kraków, Sandomierz, and Wrocław. Bolesław III Wrymouth was assigned a caretaker named Wojsław who was the castellan of Wrocław and related to Sieciech.

The brothers met in Wrocław and pledged an oath of loyalty to their father. It was also decided that Bolesław III Wrymouth’s caretaker would be disempowered. They decided that Sieciech should be removed from power. In 1099, Władysław I Herman’s forces met with his sons’ forces at Pilica where Władysław I Herman agreed to remove Sieciech from power. His sons agreed to pay homage to their father in return. They all then attacked Sieciechowa where Sieciech was. Władysław I Herman then went onto the side of Sieciech during the battle. It was then decided to remove Władysław I Herman from power. The sons surrounded Władysław I Herman by Płock. The Archbishop of Gniezno, Martin, negotiated a peace. Władysław I Herman agreed to expel Sieciech. Sieciech probably went to the Holy Roman Empire only to return to Poland later on. It was agreed that Bolesław III Wrymouth would get Lesser Poland and Zbigniew would get Mazovia and Płock.

Władsyław I Herman gave out the first Polish document that is preserved to this day. It deals with the return of two golden crosses to the Bamberg Cathedral. He says that the two crosses came to the land he rules and that he bought them to return them. He said he did it to save his grace, his wife’s grace, and the grace of his ancestors.

Politics in Early Poland

The king was the owner of the kingdom who provided security for his subjects. His subjects paid him back with goods, military service, and/or services. The king also sold privileges to be entitled to do things that only he was allowed, such as to mint coins. These state privileges were sold to improve the king’s treasury.

The king was at the top of the hierarchy. Below the king were bishops, overlords, and soldiers. Below them were castellans. Below castellans was everyone else. This category included blacksmiths, cobblers, peasants, and many skilled tradespeople.

The military was a major entity in the state that needed the treasury to suitably apportion it. Other major institutions that needed to be funded included the administration, church, and royal court. Peasants were the only ones who mainly supplied the coffers of the state purse.

A feudal system was implemented in regard to working for the kingdom that was based on land ownership. The king gave land to his subjects in return for military service. The king could call on them to do military service at any time. The ones doing the military service were allowed to keep spoils from war and bring back prisoners of war to their land to work on it as slaves. The knights who received the land from the king received special status for their land that allowed it to be exempt from customs and laws. The king also recognized the land they inherited as their property. Military service was passed down from one generation to the next. If someone was conferred land from someone who maintained land as the result of military service, the conferee was obligated to military service. The king’s knights were allowed to pay a tithe to the any Catholic Church they wished. If a knight was harmed or killed, a heavy fine was issued.

Villagers had personal freedom and the right to inherit land. No authority was allowed to interfere in inheritance. Most were freed from obligations to the king or duke in return for provisions or special services. There were about forty categories of villagers who produced craft products and performed special services for the king. Special services included baking, blacksmithing, brewing beer, cooking, and training falcons for hunting. Usually whole villages committed one specialized service for the king or duke. Over 400 villages were named after the services they committed for the king or duke. There was a class of people in Poland called oracze or rataje. They lived on land they did not own and were obliged to till land for the owner of their land. They were freed from many obligations that ordinary villagers were to honor.

Documents Before the 12th Century

Chronicles or yearbooks are some of the earliest written materials on Poland. Polish yearbooks or chronologies began with books called tablice paschalne (Paschal books) that helped to determine movable feasts. They were also used to write down history. Only the most important events in the country and diocese were written in these books. The first Polish yearbook is Rocznik Jordana (“The Yearbook of Jordan”). Another important early yearbook was Rocznik Gaudentego (“The Yearbook of Gaudentius”). Both were probably stolen when Bretislaus I of Bohemia invaded Poland. They were used to start Bohemia’s first yearbooks. Before they were taken, excerpts from them were put into Rocznik Rychezy (“The Yearbook of Richeza”). Rocznik Rychezy was brought to Poland by Richeza of Lotharingia (995/1000-1063), a German noblewoman, member of the Ezzonen dynasty, and niece of the great Holy Roman Emperor Otto III, when she came to Poland in 1013 to marry Mieszko II Lambert. Rocznik Rychezy dates back to 730. Poles added on to the chronology she brought. In 1039, it was taken by the Czechs. Rocznik Rychezy was continued in Rocznik kapituły krakowskiej dawny (“The Yearbook of the Chapter House of Old Kraków”). It is also possible that Polish yearbooks began when they were brought to Poland from Mainz.

Around 1006, Saint Bruno of Querfurt wrote Vita quinque fratrum martyrum (“The Life of Five Brother Martyrs”) about two Italian and three Polish monks who were probably from the convent of Międzyrzecze who were killed during a robbery in 1003. Bolesław I the Brave gave the monks money to go on a trip to Rome so they could beseech the Pope for permission to become king. Saint Bruno of Querfurt also wrote a letter to Henry II that pleaded him to make peace with Bolesław I the Brave. He writes that he loves Bolesław I the Brave more than his own life.

Bolesław III Wrymouth and Zbigniew

In 1102, Władysław Herman died in Płock. He was buried in Płock’s cathedral. Zbigniew and Bolesław III Wrymouth argued over who should get their father’s lands and rule over the kingdom. Zbigniew took Mazovia, while Bolesław III Wrymouth took Kraków and Sandomierz just like was planned when Władysław I Herman was still alive. Poland was now divided into two parts. Zbigniew had the northern part, while Bolesław III Wrymouth had the southern part. Gallus Anonymus says that the two were equal.

Bolesław III Wrymouth had close relations with Kievan Rus’. In 1103, Bolesław III Wrymouth married Zbyslava of Kiev, whose father was Sviatopolk II, Grand Prince of Kiev Rus’, in order to make an alliance with Kievan Rus’. Bolesław III Wrymouth also arranged a marriage between his sister and a duke of Kievan Rus’.

Zbigniew and Bolesław III Wrymough forged an agreement in which both pledged to never make agreements with any enemies and establish peace with them. They swore to help each other, but Zbigniew did not honor the agreement. Relations between the two eventually deteriorated. Zbigniew allied with Bohemia and the Pomeranians, while Bolesław III Wrymouth allied with Hungary and Kievan Rus’. In 1106 or 1107, Bolesław III Wrymouth struck a truce with Bohemia and attacked his brother Zbigniew. Bolesław III Wrymouth accused him of conspiring with Bohemia. Bolesław III Wrymouth won and made Zbigniew his vassal. Bolesław III Wrymouth gave him Mazovia, but Bolesław III Wrymouth had ultimate authority over it as well as the whole kingdom. Poland was thus reunited and restored with one ruler.

In 1119, palatine Skarbimir rebelled against Bolesław III Wrymouth. Earlier he was loyal to Bolesław III Wrymouth. Bolesław III Wrymouth blinded him for his treachery. Skarbimir did not want Bolesław III Wrymouth to decide who should succeed him. He wanted the elite to decide. Skarbimir may have refused to take an oath to respect the succession of the throne.

Pomerania was an important region that was on Bolesław III Wrymouth’s agenda. At first, he just sent troops to plunder it. Gallus Anonymus says that he conquered Białogard, Bytów, and Kołobrzeg. He left troops in Białogard, Czarnków, and Wieleń after his campaign. In Kołobrzeg, he forced its leader to pledge to help him militarily and to stop all unfriendly relations with him. Zbigniew was supposed to help in the war against the Pomeranians, but he did not. Bolesław III Wrymouth expelled him from the kingdom as a result. When Zbigniew was expelled, Bolesław III Wrymouth tried to incorporate Pomerania. He was able to incorporate Białogard, Czarnków, Kołobrzeg, Nakło, and Ujście. In 1119, Bolesław III Wrymouth placed troops around Gdańsk in Pomerania and was able to subordinate two more leaders in Pomerania. He possibly could have taken their land. In 1122, a Pomernian leader named Warcisław, who had supremacy over a few lesser leaders in Pomerania and was the founder of the dynasty of the Gryfits, became the vassal of Bolesław III Wrymouth. He had to pay Bolesław III Wrymouth 300 grzywien of silver yearly, give him military support, and allow missionaries to come to his lands. After Warcisław died, his successors became the vassals of the High Duke of Poland, since Bolesław III Wrymouth made him his vassal. A deputy was placed in Gdańsk Pomerania to rule it who represented the High Duke of Poland, while western Pomerania had a native dynasty ruling it.

Bolesław III Wrymouth had the Bishop of Bamberg, Saint Otto, direct a mission to Gdańsk Pomerania. Bolesław III Wrymouth attempted to make Gdańsk Pomerania fall under the jurisdiction of the Archdiocese of Gniezno, but the German Catholic Church protested. The Archdiocese of Magdeburg and the German Catholic Church had a great deal of influence in Pomerania.

After Zbigniew was expelled from Poland, Zbigniew went to Bohemia and returned with soldiers who plundered Poland. Bohemia’s leader told Bolesław III Wrymouth that Zbigniew should have his land and title restored. In 1108, Bolesław III Wrymouth made an alliance with Hungary, since emperor Henry V threatened to intervene if he would not put Zbigniew back in power. Emperor Henry V attacked Hungary and Bolesław III Wrymouth attacked Bohemia, the Holy Roman Empire’s ally. In 1109, Henry V attacked Poland and demanded tribute and the restitution of Zbigniew. Bolesław III Wrymouth refused. Henry V lost the war. In 1111 or 1112, Bolesław III Wrymouth allowed Zbigniew to return to Poland. When he returned, he was imprisoned and blinded for acting pompously upon his return.

Christian missions were sent to the lands that Warcisław was in power in Pomerania. A bishop and hermit named Bernard came on the mission from Spain. His indigence made a negative impression on the rich people he tried to convert. In Wolin, he was placed on a boat with a priest and sent out to sea to evangelize among birds and fish. He went on to become a Benedictine monk in Bamberg in the Holy Roman Empire. He tried to encourage the bishop of Bamberg, Saint Otto, to go on a mission to Pomerania. In 1024, he came to Poland and began a mission with Polish priests that was funded and protected by Bolesław II Wrymouth. The mission was only in the land that Warcisław controlled in Pomerania and lasted about six months. The locations his mission visited were Białogard, Kamienie, Kołobrzeg, Lubin, Pyrzyc, Starogard, Szczecin, Ujście, and Wolin. Other than evangelizing and baptizing, the missionaries destroyed pagan objects.

Saint Otto of Bamberg was the personal priest of Judith of Swabia who was the sister of emperor Henry IV and wife of Władysław I Herman when she came to Poland. He learned Polish while he was in Poland. Saint Otto of Bamberg was a learned man who had a school for children in Poland. Wealthy people in Poland sent their kids to his school. In 1189, he was declared a saint. He is the patron saint of Pomerania for his missionary work. From 1123 to 1125, Gilles de Paris, a Cardinal-Bishop of Tusculum in Italy, came to Poland as a papal legate to organize the Catholic Church in Poland. In 1124, the dioceses of Kujawy and Lebus were established during his visit. The jurisdiction that the Diocese of Kruszwica had may have been transferred to the diocese of Kujawy with time, since it stopped functioning in the 11th century.

In 1128, Saint Otto of Bamberg went on a second mission to Pomerania with help from churches in the Holy Roman Empire. The mission left from Magdeburg in the Holy Roman Empire and its first target was western Pomerania where the first mission did not go. The towns it visited were Dymin, Szczecin, Uznam, Wołogoszcz, and towns that Warcisław ruled. After his mission, Saint Otto of Bamberg went to Gniezno to meet Bolesław III Wrymouth. He told him he wanted to make two new dioceses in Pomerania. He wanted one in Wolin that would be under Poland’s jurisdiction, while the other would be in Szczecin and under the Holy Roman Empire’s jurisdiction. A diocese in Wolin was made, but one was not approved for Szczecin. Wojciech was made the first bishop of Wolin. The Archbishop of Magdeburg, Norbert of Xanten, and Holy Roman Emperor Lothar III opposed making a diocese in Wolin and tried to use the mission in Pomerania for the interests of the Archdiocese of Magdeburg. They also tried to close down the Diocese of Wolin. Archbishop Norbert of Xanten sent claims to Pope Innocent II of the Archdiocese of Magdeburg having jurisdiction over Poland. Pope Innocent II asked twice for the Catholic Church in Poland to answer to Archbishop Norbert’s claims, but there was no response. Poland was at war at the time. In 1130, the Archbishop of Magdeburg laid claim to the Diocese of Poznań in Poland. He used a false document that said the Bishop of Poznań, Unger, was a suffragan of the Archdiocese of Magdeburg to justify his claim. In 1131, Pope Innocent II issued a bull that subordinated the Diocese of Poznań to the Archdiocese of Magdeburg. It is unknown how the Bishop of Poznań reacted. In June 1133, Pope Innocent II issued a bull that subordinated all Polish dioceses to the Archdiocese of Magdeburg. The German Catholic Church was trying to expand its influence to Denmark and Sweden as well. Denmark and Poland ignored these attempts to seize power and did not recognize them as legitimate. In 1135 at a synod at Pisa, Pope Innocent II recognized the Archdiocese of Gniezno’s jurisdiction in Poland. In July 1136, the Vatican took the Archdiocese of Gniezno under its care and confirmed all of its possessions. In 1140, the Diocese of Pomerania was given a similar privilege from the Vatican. In 1155, Pope Adrian IV placed the Diocese of Wrocław under papal protection.

In 1132, Bolesław III Wrymouth went on an expedition to support Boris and his claim to the throne in Hungary. He fought and lost against the combined forces of Austria, Bohemia, the Holy Roman Empire, and some princes of Kievan Rus’. In 1135, a congress met in Merseburg to settle matters about who should be king in Hungary and resolve the state of affairs between Bohemia and Poland. Bolesław III Wrymouth had to swear an oath of obedience and loyalty to Holy Roman Emperor Lothar III during the congress. He also had to pay him homage and tribute for twelve years for Pomerania and Rugia. After he paid him homage, Bolesław III Wrymouth went on a pilgrimage to the grave of Saint Gotehard in Hildesheim. When he went to Magdeburg, he was greeted with the ringing of a bell. Relations with the Holy Roman Empire improved after the congress. Bolesław III Wrymouth was able to send representatives to the Vatican to return Poland’s jurisdiction over the Catholic Church without hindrance from the Holy Roman Empire. The main argument that was proponed was that the fact that Pope Innocent II addressed the bull to the Archbishop of Gniezno showed that the Archbishopric was independent and existent. After the Polish church defended its independence, its autonomy was never questioned again.

Good relations with the Holy Roman Empire meant good relations with Bohemia. In 1137, Bolesław III Wrymouth normalized relations with Bohemia at a meeting in Kłodzko. The terms of agreement are unknown. Also in 1137, Bolesław III Wrymouth improved relations with Kievan Rus’ by arranging a marriage between his son Bolesław IV the Curly and Viacheslava of Novgorod, who was the daughter of the prince of Pskov, Vsevolod of Pskov. Better relations were formed with Hungary after Bolesław III Wrymouth had his other son, Mieszko, marry the daughter of the king of Hungary.

Bolesław III Wrymouth wrote a testament that divided the kingdom among four of his oldest sons. He had a fifth son, but he was not included in the testament. Bolesław III Wrymouth’s sons were, from oldest to youngest, Władysław II the Exile, Bolesław IV the Curly, Mieszko III the Old, Henry of Sandomierz, and Casimir II the Just. The testament was unclearly written and was subject to many interpretations. A copy of the testament has not survived to this day.

According to the testament, the kingdom was supposed to be united and all members of the dynasty who ruled their particular duchies were supposed to be equal. How much power each of the rulers had in their particular duchy is unknown. The oldest one of the rulers, the High Duke, was given power over foreign affairs. He could declare war, strike deals with foreign countries, and represent the kingdom. The other rulers who ruled particular duchies were allowed to partake in these matters. In internal affairs, the oldest leader could appoint the kingdom’s archbishops and palatines. It is possible that he could appoint bishops and castellans as well. The High Duke was also the highest judge of matters between the lesser dukes. This position could not be inherited, but the duchies that were ruled by dukes were subject to inheritance.

Sources give varying accounts of the testament and what happened with the succession. According to Magdeburger Schöppenchronik (“The Magdeburg Chronicle”), Bolesław III Wrymouth divided his kingdom among his five sons and that his testament was written at a meeting of bishops and dignitaries. Wincenty Kadłubek writes in Chronica seu originale regum et principum Poloniae (“Chronicles of the Kings and Princes of Poland”) that Bolesław III Wrymouth wrote the testament on his deathbed. When Wincenty Kadłubek speaks about the testament, he uses the terms of primogeniture and seniority interchangeably and without much discipline. According to seniority, the oldest in the expanded family would have inherited his title, while with primogeniture the oldest son in the immediate family would inherit it. Otto of Freising (1114-1158), a German chronicler and churchman, says that bishops swore an oath to uphold the testament. It is possible that it was also sent to the Vatican for confirmation. Rocznik poeldajski (“The Poeldajski Yearbook”) says that he divided his kingdom among three of his sons.

Feudal Fragmentation Period

In Polish, the era after Bolesław III Wrymouth’s death in 1138 up until the reign of Władysław Łokietek in 1320 is called rozdrobnienie feudalne (feudal fragmentation) or rozbicie dzielnicowe (regional atomization). In theory during this period, the High Duke of Poland had royal power, while the other dukes in Poland had ducal power. The High Duke was apportioned rights to the kingdom’s forests, watercourses, uncontrolled lands, and to control public roads. He was bestowed monopoly power to build towns, control the salt trade, exploit mines, hunt large animals, mint currency, organize markets, and seek new mines. All of these monopoly powers produced profits for the High Duke. The High Duke or King had many obligations. He had to provide for protection of the kingdom, build roads and bridges, and maintain law and order. In practice, the Feudal Fragmentation Period was filled with anarchy. Dukes fought against one another in their own kingdoms. Sometimes they honored the principles set in Bolesław III Wrymouth’s testament.

Each duke had his own duchy. Each duchy had its own bureaucracy and was semi-independent. Below the duke was a palatine. The palatine could lead the king’s armies on campaigns in his place. And he was also the leader of the king’s court. He also had general oversight over the king’s administration. Administrators of the duke’s lands and property appeared.

Władysław II the Exile, Bolesław IV the Curly, Mieszko III the Old, and Casimir II the Just

In 1138, Bolesław III Wrymouth died. His oldest son, Władysław II the Exile, became High Duke of Poland according to seniority even though he was not the oldest in the family. Three inheritable provinces arose as the result of Bolesław III Wrymouth’s testament. The first was Silesia that Władysław II the Exile received. The second was Mazovia that Bolesław IV the Curly, the second oldest son of Bolesław III Wrymouth, received. The third was Greater Poland that Mieszko III the Old, the third oldest son of Bolesław III Wrymouth, received. Henry of Sandomierz, Bolesław III Wrymouth’s fourth oldest son, received the Land of Sandomierz some time after his father’s death. He was supposed to possess this land for his whole life. After Henry of Sandomierz died, his land was divided among his brothers. Bolesław IV the Curly got the most important part with Sandomierz.

In 1141 or 1142, Bolesław IV the Curly, Mieszko III the Old, and their mother Salomea of Bert, a German noblewoman, called a meeting to Łęczyca. Władysław II the Exile was not included. His mother was Zbyslava of Kiev and not Solomea of Berg. The meeting decided to give Bolesław III Wrymouth’s and Salomea of Berg’s daughter, Agnes, to Mścisław II of Kiev. This maneuver was directed against Władysław II the Exile. Its aim was to weaken him by neutralizing his contacts with Kievan Rus’, even though his mother was from there. In 1142, Władysław II the Exile had his son, Bolesław I the Tall, marry Zvenislava, the daughter of the Grand Prince Vsevolod of Kievan Rus’, to strengthen ties with Kievan Rus’. Also in 1142, Władysław II the Exile occupied some of the towns of his brothers. It may have been executed in retaliation for disrespecting his authority with the meeting of 1141 or 1142 in Łęczyca.

In 1044, Salomea of Berg died. She received land after Bolesław III Wrymouth’s death that included Łęczyca and Sieradz. Władysław II the Exile was supposed to receive these lands, since he was the High Duke of Poland. His brothers tried to take it instead. In 1055, Władysław II the Exile attacked his brothers with the help of Kievan Rus’. Wincenty Kadłubek and Kronika wielkopolska (“The Greater Poland Chronicle”) say that his wife, Agnes of Babenberg, a German noblewoman, was the one who encouraged the attack. During the battle, Władysław II the Exile’s palatine Piotr Włostowic went over to the side of his brothers. Władysław II the Exile had him blinded and his tongue cut out. The Archbishop of Gniezno, Jacob of Żnin, excommunicated Władysław II the Exile for waging war against his brothers and his soldiers raping innocent women. He was under the influence of his brothers. In 1146, Pope Eugene III recommended that Władysław II the Exile’s excommunication should be lifted. His brothers fled to Poznań and eventually defeated Władysław II the Exile. Władysław II the Exile fled Poland to the Holy Roman Empire where he was able to get Conrad III to help and attack his brothers in 1147. Władysław II the Exile had trouble getting help from kings in Western Europe, since the Crusades were happening at the time. Conrad III was able to get the brothers to pay tribute to him and become his vassals. After Conrad III died, the younger brothers would not take an oath of loyalty to his successor, Frederick I Barbarossa. Frederick I Barbarossa went on a campaign to Poland to put Władysław II the Exile in power. Władysław II the Exile was a vassal of Frederick I Barbarossa. Frederick I Barbarossa only recognized Władysław II the Exile as a ruler in Poland and not his brothers. Frederick I Barbarossa wanted to make Władysław II the Exile king, force his younger brothers to subordinate themselves to him, and receive tribute from Poland.

In 1147, Mieszko III the Old fought in the Wendish Crusade and Bolesław IV the Curly fought in the crusade in Prussia. After the Wendish Crusade started in 1147, there were plans by the Germans in the Holy Roman Empire to take land from the people they conquered. The Margrave of Brandenburg, Albert the Bear, conquered Pribislav-Henry who was the last ruler of the Slavic Hevelli tribe in the Northern March of Brandenburg. Jaxa of Köpenick, Pribislav-Henry’s successors, was able to get back Brenna from Albert the Bear with Polish help. In 1157, Albert the Bear conquered Brenna again and Jaxa of Köpenick fled to Poland. The Margraviate of Brandenburg or Northern March is named after the Slavic Hevelli tribe’s town of Brenna. In 1124, Bolesław III Wrymouth may have placed lands of the Hevelli under Poland’s jurisdiction. In 1163, Henry the Lion, the Duke of Bavaria and Saxony, incorporated western Pomerania into his kingdom. Rugia was incorporated into Denmark around this same time. In 1148, Władysław II the Exile’s brothers struck an alliance with Saxon leaders. In order to strengthen the agreement, the brothers’ sister, Judith, married Otto, the son of the Margrave of Brandenburg. The agreement and marriage helped to legitimize the brothers’ authority.

The Holy Roman Empire influenced politics in Poland after Władysław II the Exile left Poland. Conrad III influenced Pope Eugene III to recall his legate, cardinal Guido, from intervening in the matter of Poland in favor of Władysław II the Exile’s brothers. Cardinal Guido excommunicated Władysław II the Exile’s brothers and placed an interdict on Poland, although the interdict was ignored in Poland.

In 1157, emperor Frederick I Barbarossa demanded Bolesław IV the Curly restore Władysław II the Exile to power. When he did not, he led an expedition against him and forced him to pay him homage in Krzyszków. He was forced to take an oath that said that Władysław II the Exile was not expelled from his kingdom and that he would not attack the Holy Roman Empire. He swore to give him gold and money. He was also obligated to go on a campaign to Italy. For Christmas, he had to come to Magdeburg to testify in the matter of Władysław II the Exile and Poland. Casimir II the Just and members of Poland’s elite were taken hostage by emperor Frederick I Barbarossa as the result of the agreement in Krzyszków. In 1163, they may have returned to Poland. In 1159, Władysław II the Exile died.

In 1163, Frederick I Barbarossa and Bołesław IV the Curly settled on a peace proposal. Bołesław IV the Curly agreed to recognize Frederick I Barbarossa’s authority. In return, Władsław II the Exile’s sons were allowed to return to Silesia under Bołesław IV the Curly’s terms. The oldest was Bolesław I the Tall, while the second oldest was Mieszko I Tanglefoot. When the two brothers returned to Poland, Bolesław I the Tall was the one who possessed more political power. The land they were given was Silesia as an inheritance from their father. Acrimony built among the two brothers. Mieszko I Tanglefoot allied with Bolesław I the Tall’s son, Jarosław, and Bolesław IV the Curly against Bolesław I the Tall. Bolesław I the Tall ended up being expelled. In 1173, Frederick I Barbarossa threatened to fight for Bolesław I the Tall if Bolesław IV the Curly did not let him return. After Bolesław I the Tall returned, Silesia was divided. Bolesław IV the Curly received most of it. Mieszko I Tanglefoot got lands around Racibórz, while Jarosław received the Duchy of Opole only for his lifetime.

Bołesław IV the Curly held seniority over the kingdom after Władysław II the Exile left Poland. Chronicon Polono-Silesiacum (“The Polish-Silesian Chronicle”) from the second half of the 13th century says that Bolesław IV the Curly was called a monarch. In 1173, Bolesław IV the Curly died. He had a son named Leszek who was too young to inherit his title. Casimir II the Just was made Leszek’s caretaker even though Mieszko III the Old should have been caretaker since he was older. Casimir II the Just received an assurance from Bolesław IV the Curly that he would inherit Kujawy and Mazovia if Leszek died. In 1186 when Leszek died, Casimir II the Just became the Duke of Kujawy and Mazovia.

Casimir II the Just tried to usurp power and take the position of the head of the state, but it ended up in failure. Mieszko III the Old took the title according to seniority. Mieszko III the Old may have used two titles. The first was was Duke of All Poland. The second title was Great Duke and Princeps. Mieszko III the Old ruled from Gniezno and not Kraków. Mieszko III the Old placed a representative in Kraków to rule for him there whose name is unknown.

Around 1166, Mieszko III the Old had his daughter Wierzchoslawa Ludmilla marry Frederick the Lord of Bitsch. In 1177, Mieszko III the Old tried to make stronger ties to western Pomerania by getting his daughter, Anastasia, to marry the duke of Pomerania, Bogisław I, who was the son of Warcisław. He also had another one of his daughters, Salomea, marry Racibor, who was the son of Bogisław I. When Bogisław I fought Denmark, Mieszko III the Old helped him. In 1184, Canute IV of Denmark subordinated western Pomerania to his kingdom.

In 1172, Mieszko III the Old pledged an oath of loyalty to Frederick I Barbarossa. When Frederick I Barbarossa was on a campaign to Italy thereafter, he supported Frederick I Barbarossa. Mieszko III the Old became an ally of Soběslav II of Bohemia. In 1176, Mieszko III the Old helped Soběslav II on his campaign against Austria.

In 1173, Mieszko III the Old struck an agreement with Bogisław, the duke of Western Pomerania. Pomeranians asked for help from Mieszko III the Old when Denmark attacked them. In 1077, a congress was held in Gniezno with Mieszko III the Old, the duke of Western Pomerania, and the castellan of Kołobrzeg to discuss the threat of Denmark and Saxony to Pomerania.

In 1177, Casimir II the Just rebelled against Mieszko III the Old in Kraków. He accused him of being an autocrat and allowing lawlessness. Wincenty Kadłubek wrote specific examples of the lack of justice that Casimir II the Just could not tolerate. One example was of a man who had to pay a large fine for killing a bear that attacked him. Another example was of students who first had to pay a fine for beating up a Jew, but when they went to pay the fine, their money was deemed worthless. There was a new emission of money that made their money obsolete. They were then thrown into prison. Other reasons for rebellion were Mieszko III the Old’s disregard for the ambitious elite in his kingdom.

Casimir II the Just attempted to solidify his power. In 1180, he organized a meeting in Łęczyca to which the Archbishop of Gniezno and seven bishops attended. They were forced to recognize him as High Duke of Poland and, as a result, the principle of seniority. Abuses were corrected in the meeting. No dukes were allowed forthwith to appropriate property from the Catholic Church and seize any property from a deceased bishop. After the meeting, Pope Alexander III and emperor Frederick I Barbarossa recognized Casimir II the Just as High Duke of Poland. In 1181, Pope Alexander III proclaimed a bull that confirmed the resolutions of the meeting in Łęczyca in 1180. The bull does not mention the principle of seniority. It is possible that Pope Alexander III announced another bull that recognized the law of seniority.

Mieszko III the Old fled Kraków to Greater Poland after Casimir II the Just rebelled. His son, Odon, expelled Mieszko III the Old with his wife and three sons. He also expelled his own brothers to avoid all threats to his power. Mieszko III the Old went to Frederick I Barbarossa for help. He paid him homage and received help to return to Poland. Bogisław I also helped him get back. In 1181, Mieszko III the Old was able to get a large part of Greater Poland with Gniezno after recognizing his son’s rule in southern Greater Poland.

Casimir II the Just influenced politics in the Kingdom of Galicia-Volhynia. He supported Mstislav II of Kiev’s son, Roman Mstislavich, whose mother, Agnes, was the daughter of Bolesław III Wrymouth, to become leader of the country. In 1188, Roman Mstislavich took Halych over and its leader Vladimirko escaped to Hungary. Béla III of Hungary occupied Halych and placed his son Andrew II in power. He then imprisoned Vladimirko. Roman Mstislavich appealed for help from Casimir II the Just, but it would not abound. Vladimirko went to Frederick I Barbarossa to get help. Frederick I Barbarossa told Casimir II the Just to help restore Vladimirko. In 1190, Casimir II the Just’s palatine, Michael, restored Vladimirko. In 1191, Casimir II the Just’s knights rebelled against him in Kraków. Mieszko III the Old was restored to power in Kraków.

Casimir II the Just fought the Baltic Prussians and Yotvingians who were on the borders of Poland. Wasyłko, the Duke of Drahiczyn, supported the Yotvingians against Casimir II the Just. From 1190 to 1191, Casimir II the Just conquered Wasyłko and Yotvingia. He made them pay tribute to him and maybe declare their loyalty to him.

Documents of the 12th Century

Amid the 12th century, culture bloomed. Posterity has proof of it from documents. During the 12th century, about 150 documents were published that deal with Poland or were published in Poland. One such document was the oldest Polish year-book that has survived to this day, Rocznik świętokrzyski dawny (“The Bygone Świętokrzyski Year-Book”). Other documents were codices that originated in churches. The most important were Ewangeliarz kruszwicki (“The Kruszwicki Evangel”), Ewangeliarz księżnej Anastazji (“The Evangel of the Princess Anastasia”), and Ewangeliarz Poznania (“The Evangel of Poznań”). Another important document from the 12th century is an inventory from the library of Kraków’s cathedral. It dates back to 1110. According to the inventory, there were forty-seven items.

From 1112 to 1116, Gallus Anonymus wrote a history of Poland called Cronicae et gesta ducum sive principum Polonorum (“Chronicle and Deeds of the Princes of the Poles”). It is the most historic document written on Poland during 12th century. It was written for Bolesław III Wrymouth. It is Poland’s first chronicle and one of the most important books on early Polish history. Much of Poland’s early history is known from this book. It is composed of three books. The first book is from the early Piasts to 1086. The second book is about Bolesław III Wrymouth’s early life. The third book is about Bolesław III Wrymouth’s rule. Gallus Anonymus used a book called Liber de passion martiris (“Book of the Passion of a Martyr”) as a source to write about Polish history. This book has not survived to this current day. It is unknown how much fact and legend are contained in it, although Gallus Anonymus was highly-educated and is suspected to be a reliable source. Not much is known on Gallus Anonymus, but he may have been a Benedictine monk from Venice. He also wrote an important book on early Hungarian history called Gesta Hunnorum et Hungarorum ("Deeds of the Huns and Hungarians").

Roman Catholicism During the 12th Century

Saints were venerated in Poland and became the patrons of many churches and individuals. The most important saint was perhaps Saint Adalbert of Prague. Saint Adalbert of Prague became the patron of the Catholic Church in Poland and the kingdom of Poland. Gniezno’s first cathedral was named after the Holy Trinity. Poznań’s cathedral was named after Saint Peter. Płock’s cathedral was named after the Ascension of the Most Holy Mary. Włocawek’s cathedral was named after the Most Holy Mary. Wrocław’s cathedral was named after Saint John the Baptist. Kraków’s cathedral was named after Saint Wenceslaus I. Other important saints in Poland were Saint Michael the Archangel, Saint Giles, and Saint George. In 1184, Casimir II the Just brought the body of Saint Florian from Italy to Wawel in Kraków.

The 12th century was a very productive century for monasteries in Poland. From 1136 to 1137, a Benedictine abbey was funded in Łysa Góra. Bolesław III Wrymouth was connected to this abbey. From 1166 to 1185, a Benedictine monastery was established in Jeżów. Bolesław IV the Curly or his son Leszek may have funded it.

In the 12th century, the Cistercians established nine monasteries in Poland. In 1140, the Cistercians established their first monastery in Jędrzejów. In 1143, the Cistercians built an abbey in Łekno. From 1176 to 1177, the Cistercians established a monastery in Sulejów, In 1179, the Cistercians built a monastery in Wąchock. In 1185, the Cistercians built a monastery in Koprzywnica. Dukes were the founders of the Cistercian monasteries in Ląd, Lubiąż, Oliwa, and Sulejów. Bishops founded the Cistercian monasteries in Jędrzejów, Wąchock, and partly in Lubiąż. Magnates founded the Cistercian monasteries in Kołbacz, Koprzywnica, and Łekno.

During the first half of the 12th century, the Order of Canons Regular of the Holy Cross built convents in Czerwińsk, Strzelno, Trzemeszna, and Wrocław. Their founders were bishops, dukes, and magnates. Peter Włostowic funded their first monastery on Mount Ślęża. In 1148, the Canons Regular were transferred to Wrocław. They built monasteries in Czerwińsk and Trzemeszno.

In 1166, the Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of Saint John of Jerusalem of Rhodes and of Malta, which is also known as the Knights of Malta, built its first stronghold in Zagość in Poland. It was funded by Henry of Sandomierz who went on a crusade with the order. The Knights of Malta built other chapters in Poznań, Strzegom, Tyniec, and Wrocław. In 1187, Mieszko III the Old funded a hospital that the order built at Osada Świętego Jana. Other monastic groups that participated in building monasteries in Poland during the 12th century were the Augustinians and the Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem.

Art During the 12th Century

During the 12th century, Romanesque art flourished in Poland. Two of the churches that were built with Roman influence were the church of Saint Procopius of Scythopolis in Strzelno and the church of the Most Holy Virgin Mary in Inowrocław. There were many others. In 1175, Gniezno’s cathedrals doors were constructed out of bronze. They had eighteen scenes that show the life of Saint Adalbert of Prague. In the church of the Most Holy Virgin Mary in Wrocław there is a tympanum from the 12th century that has two figures who represent the church’s founders and a throne with the Virgin Mary and Jesus Christ.

Leszek the White

In 1194, Casimir II the Just died. He may have been poisoned. After his death, Mieszko III the Old attempted to rule over the districts of Kraków and Mazovia. In 1195, at the Battle of the River Mozgawa, the palatine of Kraków, Michael, defeated him. Oligarchs then installed regents in Kraków to rule in place of Leszek the White, Casimir II the Just’s son, since he was too young. The regents were Helen of Znojmo, who was the widow of Casimir II the Just, Pełka the bishop of Kraków, and Michael the palatine of Kraków. Helen of Znojmno was pressured by Mieszko III the Old to let him return. When he returned, he had to recognize that Leszek the White had the right to become High Duke of Poland. Mieszko III the Old was only given power to rule as caretaker. In 1197, Mieszko III the Old ruled in Kraków in the name of Leszek the White. There was a rebellion against his rule as well as an attempt to usurp power from Leszek the White. Michael, the palatine of Kraków, led the rebellion. When Michael was in power, he was not favored. It led to Mieszko III the Old returning to rule in Kraków. Before he died in 1202, he may have designated his son, Władysław III Spindleshanks, to become the High Duke instead of Leszek the White.

Leszek the White began to rule in Kraków probably from 1202 and not 1206. He is the first Polish duke to allow for canonical elections of the Bishop of Kraków. It occurred in 1207 when Wincenty Kadłubek was elected. In 1207, another important event occurred in relation to the Catholic Church, Pope Innocent III took Leszek the White and his principality under the Vatican’s care.

In 1199, Leszek the White started a campaign to Kievan Rus’ after its ruler died. Leszek the White was twelve years old at the time and under the influence of Lesser Poland’s potentates. They supported Roman Mstislavich to the throne. In 1205, Roman Mstislavich attacked Leszek the White. The reason for it is unknown. In the Battle of Zawichost in 1205, Leszek the White and Konrad I of Mazovia defeated him. In 1205 or afterward, Leszek the White went to Gdańsk Pomerania and was honored by its dignitaries. After Leszek the White’s campaign to incorporate Gdańsk Pomerania, Gdańsk Pomerania tried to free itself from Polish influence. Mestwin I the Duke of Pomerania exercised a degree of autonomy. He had four sons: Swietopelk II, Sambor II, Warcisław, and Ratibor. Leszek the White made Swietopelk II his political representative in Gdańsk Pomerania. From 1222 to 1223, Swietopelk II went on the crusade to convert the pagan Prussians with Leszek the White. In 1227, Swietopelk II conspired with Władysław Odonic to kill Leszek the White. Swietopelk II gradually became independent of Poland. The Catholic Church became powerful in Gdańsk Pomerania. Monasteries acquired great amount of lands. The Cistercians in Oliwa and the Order of Canons Regular of Prémontré in Żuków were some of the earliest monasteries in Gdańsk Pomerania. Swietopelk II the Duke of Pomerania supported the spread of Christianity. In 1227, he let the Dominicans come to Gdańsk. In 1230, he funded the Order of Calatrava in Tymawa. In 1237, he fought the Teutonic Knights in small skirmishes. From 1242 to 1253, he fought a war with the Teutonic Knights who were supported by the Piasts in Greater Poland and Mazovia-Kujawy.

In 1206, Leszek the White and Konrad I of Mazovia went on a campaign to the Kingdom of Galicia-Volhynia to help the dukes there who opposed Hungarian rule. The king of Hungary, Andrew II, came to Kievan Rus’ with his army. Andrew II and Leszek the White then divided the Kingdom of Galicia-Volhynia into two spheres of influence that led to many conflicts between the rulers of each. Hungary and Poland both intervened when conflicts arose. In 1214, an agreement was struck between Hungary and Poland in which Andrew II’s six-year-old son, Kálmán, was to marry Leszek the White’s three-year-old daughter Salomea. The marriage was supposed to bring Hungary and Poland closer together. Leszek the White attempted to improve relations with the other dukes of Poland. In 1217, he met Henry I the Bearded at Danków where the two made an agreement.

In 1218, when the Fifth Crusade was being prepared in Europe, Leszek the White told the Apostolic See that he could not go, since he could only drink beer and not the water and wine found in the Middle East. Instead of going to the Middle East, he preferred going on a crusade against the pagan Prussians from 1222 to 1223. When Pope Honorius III wanted to impose an economic blockade to starve the pagan Prussians into submission. Leszek the White suggested a plan in which trade items would be sold to them, and then they would be taught about Christianity.

Many important events occurred during Leszek the White’s reign. A self-governing body formed in Kraków. Foreign miners were brought from the Holy Roman Empire and Italy to Lesser Poland. Laws were made for them that signaled the beginning of laws specifically for mining in Poland. In 1222, the Dominicans built their first chapter in Poland in Kraków.

In 1227, Leszek the White, Władysław III Spindleshanks, and Henry I the Bearded met in Gąsawa. Leszek the White wanted to restore Kraków’s sovereignty over Gdańsk Pomerania. After the meeting when Leszek the White was with Henry I the Bearded in a spa, Władysław Odonic and Swietopelk II, the Duke of Pomerania, tried to kill them. Henry I the Bearded was wounded but saved by one of his knights. Leszek the White escaped but was killed in Marcinków.

Bolesław V the Bashful

After Leszek the White died in 1227, he left behind a son named Bolesław V the Bashful who was about one and one-half years old. The regents who ruled in place of Bolesław V the Bashful were Leszek the White’s widow, Grzymislawa of Luck, the Bishop of Kraków Iwo Odrowąż, and the palatine of Kraków, Marek Gryfita. Konrad I of Mazovia wanted to rule as regent for Bolesław V the Bashful, since he was his uncle. At a meeting in Cienia, the Bishop of Kraków, Iwo Odrowąż, the palatine of Kraków, Marek Gryfita, and Władysław III Spindleshanks colluded against Konrad I of Mazovia. Władysław III Spindleshanks adopted Bolesław V the Bashful and took over ruling Kraków. He allowed Henry I the Bearded to rule in his place in Kraków when there were problems in Greater Poland. In 1239, Bolesław V the Bashful began to rule the Duchy of Sandomierz.

Bolesław V the Bashful supported Hungary when it was in a conflict with Bohemia. After the House of Babenberg’s male line disappeared in 1246, Béla IV of Hungary incorporated Styria in 1250 and Wenceslaus I of Bohemia took the rest of Austria in 1251 for his son Ottokar II of Bohemia. It led to war between Bohemia and Hungary. In 1253, Bolesław V the Bashful and Władysław Opolski attacked Opavia in Bohemia to help Béla IV of Hungary. In 1256, Władysław Opolski became an ally of Bohemia after disputes were settled with it over border claims. In 1260 when peace was being negotiated between Bohemia and Hungary, Władysław Opolski was on the side of Bohemia. The Margraviate of Brandenburg burned down the town of Międzyrzecz that Bolesław the Pious was building. Bolesław V the Bashful attacked Lubusz Land and burned Sulęcin in response. The Margraviate of Brandenburg focused its attention to Gdańsk Pomerania. When there was a conflict there among the ruling brothers, the Margraviate of Brandenburg took advantage of it by occupying Gdańsk. In 1271, Mestwin II the Duke of Pomerania formed an alliance with Bolesław V the Bashful against the Margraviate of Brandenburg. In 1273, Bolesław V the Bashful was able to get back Gdańsk for Mestwin. In 1278, Bolesław V the Bashful and Mestwin II the Duke of Pomerania attacked the Margraviate of Brandenburg. They were able to occupy Santok.

In 1273, some of Bolesław V the Bashful’s dignitaries and knights rebelled against him. They wanted to serve Władysław Opolski instead. Bolesław V the Bashful, Bolesław the Pious, Konrad II of Mazovia, and Leszek the Black attacked Władysław Opolski. Many losses were incurred by Bolesław V the Bashful’s side. It led to a peace settlement in 1274 in which Bolesław V the Bashful gave Władysław Opolski the western part of Greater Poland. Bolesław V the Bashful had a few campaigns of which little is known. Bolesław V the Bashful’s knights from Lesser Poland went on a campaign against Kievan Rus’. In 1266, Lesser Poland’s knights fought Shvarn in support of his brother Lev I after problems occurred between the two brothers over the rule of the Kingdom of Galicia-Volhynia.

Bolesław V the Bashful established control over the salt production industry and reformed law with regard to Poland’s salt mines. These new regulations may have abounded as the result of two separate incidents. The first was in 1251 when hard salt was found in Bochnia that was firmer than any salt found before. The second was in 1278 when salt was discovered in Wieliczka. Bolesław V the Bashful also granted and rented access to salt mines. Private industrialists were contracted to open new mines. There were also investors who contributed to the salt production industry.

Many municipalities were incorporated during the life of Bolesław V the Bashful. These include Bochnia in 1253, Łagów in 1253, Kraków in 1257, Skaryszew in 1264, Skała in 1267, Koprzywnica in 1268, Jędrzejów in 1271, Opatowie in 1271, Mstów in 1278, and Brzesko in 1279. Only Bochnia and Kraków had secular law out of these towns. The rest were incorporated by the Catholic Church.

Bolesław V the Bashful supported the Christianization of Lithuania and Yotvingia. The Archbishop of Gniezno consecrated a Dominican monk named Wita to become Lithuania’s bishop after Mindaugas became king of Lithuania. In 1279, Bolesław V the Bashful died. He left behind three daughters.

Władysław III Spindleshanks

After Mieszko III the Old died in 1202, Kraków’s oligarchs decided who should succeed. Leszek the White was elected by Kraków’s magnates to rule Kraków. They told Leszek the White that Goworek, the castellan of Sandomierz, had to be removed in order to rule Kraków, but he refused. Mieszko III the Old’s son, Władysław III Spindleshanks, was invited to take his place. He may have ruled in Kraków shortly or for a few years. Documents tell varying tales. Władysław III Spindleshanks received Greater Poland from his father after he died. Władysław III Spindleshanks was embroiled in a conflict with Archbishop Henryk Kietlicz who fought for privileges for the Catholic Church. Archbishop Henryk Kietlicz who also wanted to bring reforms to the Catholic Church that included canonical elections of bishops, celibacy of priests, and exemption from secular law. Archbishop Henryk Kietlicz was supported by Pope Innocent III. In 1206, Archbishop Henryk Kietlicz excommunicated Władysław III Spindleshanks after violating the Catholic Church’s sovereignty. Władysław III Spindleshanks ended up expelling Archbishop Henryk Kietlicz and Władysław Odonic. After the Bishop of Poznań, Arnold, died in 1211, Władysław III Spindleshanks let a canonical election decide who should succeed him. Paul was elected the Bishop of Poznań.

Władysław III Spindleshanks incorporated Lubusz Land. He gave Kalisz to Henry I the Bearded. Henry I the Bearded then put Władysław Odonic in Kalisz. In 1228, Władysław III Spindleshanks received the district of Kraków from Leszek the White and was forced to guarantee the Catholic Church in Kraków its freedom and privileges. In 1229, Henry I the Bearded expelled Władysław III Spindleshanks. He went to Casimir I of Opole for help. In 1231, Władysław III Spindleshanks went on a campaign to Greater Poland where be beleaguered Gniezno to no avail. In that same year in 1231, Władysław III Spindleshanks died.

Władysław Odonic

In 1206, Władysław Odonic, the grandson of Mieszko III the Old, wanted his own district by claiming a right to it through his father, Odon of Poznań, who was the Duke of Greater Poland. He was entitled to inherit northwestern Greater Poland with Kalisz and Poznań. Earlier, Mieszko III the Old expelled his son Odon of Poznań and took his land after he died in 1194.

In 1211, the Vatican took Władysław Odonic under its care. In 1216, Władysław Odonic and Władysław III Spindleshanks made an agreement in which Władysław Odonic was to get a part of Greater Poland. Władysław Odonic attempted to get new protection from the Apostolic See after this agreement. The Wielkopolska Kronika (“The Greater Poland Chronicle”) says that Władysław Odonic attacked Kalisz and was expelled by Władysław III Spindleshanks. He returned to Poland several years later specifically to Pomerania where he married Hedwig who was the daughter of Mestwin I the Duke of Pomerania. Hedwig’s brother, Świętopełk, helped Władysław Odonic occupy the town of Ujście that belonged to Greater Poland. Władysław III Spindleshanks attacked but retreated after being embarrassed in battle. Władysław Odonic took Kalisz, Poznań, and other towns.

In 1217, Władysław Odonic rebelled against his uncle, Władysław III Spindleshanks, after asking for a share of his inheritance and being denied. Władysław III Spindleshanks won and Władysław Odonic fled to Hungary. In 1232, Władysław Odonic gave the diocese of Poznań the privilege of being waived from ducal law as well as the ability to mint its own currency. Knights and secular potentates rebelled at the concessions. In 1234, Władysław Odonic gave the Archdiocese of Gniezno the privilege of being exempt from the law after Władysław III Spindleshanks died in 1231. In 1237, he gave the same privilege to the Archdiocese of Poznań. It caused Greater Poland’s knights to rebel in protest of going to far. In 1239, Władysław Odonic died leaving behind two sons: Bolesław the Pious and Przemysł I of Greater Poland.

Przemysł I and Bolesław the Pious

Przemysł I and Bolesław the Pious may have jointly ruled Greater Poland. In 1244, both of the brothers fought against the rebellion of Greater Poland’s knights who opposed the privileges that the diocese of Poznań received. The rebellion was unsuccessful in relinquishing the privileges of the diocese of Poznań. In 1245, Władysław Odonic’s son, Przemysł I, made his brother, Bolesław the Pious, a knight in Gniezno Cathedral. In 1247, Przemysł I and Bolesław the Pious divided Greater Poland amongst each other. Przemysł I received the northern part of Greater Poland with Gniezno and Poznań. Bolesław the Pious received the southern part of Greater Poland up to the Warta river. The Bishop of Gniezno stated that he could excommunicate whoever who would attempt to change the territorial division. In 1249, the two brothers divided Greater Poland again without heeding the Bishop of Gniezno’s warning. Przemysł I received the Land of Kalisz from Bolesław the Pious, while Bolesław the Pious took the province of Gniezno with the towns of Giecz, Nakło, Śrem, and Ujście. The new division of Greater Poland led to more conflicts. In 1250, Przemysł I occupied some of Bolesław the Pious’ towns and imprisoned him. On Easter in 1253, Przemysł I freed Bolesław the Pious. Greater Poland was divided up a third time. Przemysł I received the Land of Poznań and Bolesław the Pious got the Land of Gniezno and the Land of Kalisz.

From 1247 to 1261, Bolesław the Pious fought Casimir I of Kujawy over land. Bolesław the Pious asked for Ląd back after Casimir I of Kujawy took Ląd after Konrad I of Mazovia died in 1247. When he refused, Bolesław the Pious attacked. The long conflict ended with the help of the Bishop of Włocławek mediating a peace. Przemysł I was in a conflict with Swietopelk the Duke of Pomerania over bordering towns. After Henry II the Pious died in 1241, Przemysł I occupied Swietopelk’s town of Nakło. In 1249, Bolesław the Pious received Nakło, but in 1253 Przemysł I got Nakło back. In 1253, the Margraviate of Brandenburg occupied Cedynia, Kostrzyn, and lands around them. In order to improve relations with the Margraviate of Brandenburg, Przemysł I had his daughter, Constance of Greater Poland, marry Conrad, the son of John I the Margrave of Brandenburg. In 1255, Swietopelk took Nakło. Przemysł I was able to get Nakło back. He received help from Bolesław the Pious and Casimir I of Kujawy. After Nakło was taken back, Raciąż was attacked since Swietopelk occupied it. Part of Raciąż was burned with some of its inhabitants in it. In 1256, peace was established in Kcynia. Swietopelk paid Przemysł I 500 grzywien and gave him Nakło and Raciąż.

In 1257, Przemysł I died. Przemysł I’s son, Przemysł II, was born after his death. Bolesław the Pious was his caretaker. If Bolesław the Pious died, Przemysł II was to receive his land, since he had no male son.

Henry I the Bearded

In 1201, Henry I the Bearded took over Silesia after his dad Bolesław I the Tall died. In that same year in 1201, he attempted to take the Principality of Opole from Mieszko I Tanglefoot, but it ended in failure. During the beginning of his reign, Henry I the Bearded took the March of Lusatia or part of it. On June 9, 1210, Pope Innocent III issued a bull that said that the principle expressed in Bolesław III Wrymouth’s testament was supposed to be honored. Henry I the Bearded was the impetus behind Innocent III’s bull. In 1217, Henry I the Bearded and Władysław III Spindleshanks met at Sądowel where they agreed that Henry I the Bearded would hold the March of Lusatia for only a period of time.

In 1217, Henry I the Bearded allied with Leszek the White during a meeting in Danków. It may have been materialized so that Henry I the Bearded could inherit his Duchy of Kraków. From 1222 to 1223, Henry I the Bearded went with Leszek the White on the crusades to convert the pagan Prussians.

Henry I the Bearded wanted to make his son, Henry II the Pious, king. In 1222, Henry I the Bearded let Henry II the Pious rule with him in Silesia. Henry I the Bearded gave his son southern Greater Poland after he conquered it. He let him rule as his viceroy.

In 1225, Henry I the Bearded occupied Kraków for a short time. After Henry I the Bearded expelled Władysław III Spindleshanks in 1229, he fought with Konrad I of Mazovia for the right to rule the principality of Kraków. Henry I the Bearded lost his freedom but his wife, Hedwig of Silesia, was able to free him. In 1232, Konrad I of Mazovia let Henry I the Bearded have part of the Duchy of Kraków. In 1229 or 1230 after the Duke of Opole-Rabicórz, Casimir I, died, Henry I the Bearded became the caretaker of his widow, Viola the Duchess of Opole, and his two sons, Mieszko II the Fat and Władysław I. After Władysław III Spindleshanks died in 1231, Henry I the Bearded became High Duke of Poland.

In 1233, Henry I the Bearded went on an unsuccessful campaign to Greater Poland. In 1234, he went on another campaign that repelled Władysław Odonic behind the Warta river. In 1237, Henry I the Bearded fought Władysław Odonic again.

The Catholic Church tried to influence Henry I the Bearded. From 1210 to 1229, the Bishop of Wrocław, Laurentius, tried to get Henry I the Bearded to get new settlers to pay a tithe. In 1227, Henry I the Bearded bent under Bishop Laurentius’ pressure and made all people pay a tithe. The exceptions to this rule were colonists and knights. The bishops of Lubusz, Poznań, and Wrocław kneeled and begged for Henry I the Bearded to give them permission to build a monastery in Henryków. In 1236, Henry I the Bearded was in a conflict with the Archbishop of Gniezno, Pełko I, and the Bishop of Wrocław, Thomas I, over the jurisdiction of the people who lived on the lands that the Catholic Church owned. The matter went to the Apostolic See, but Henry I the Bearded died before it was concluded. His son, Henry II the Pious, had to apologize for his father or else his father would be cursed. In 1238, Henry I the Bearded died leaving behind one living son, Henry II the Pious.

Konrad I of Mazovia

Konrad I of Mazovia received Mazovia, thus starting a branch of the Piast dynasty in Mazovia-Kujawy. From 1202 to 1247, Konrad I of Mazovia ruled in Kujawy and Mazovia. In 1207, Konrad I of Mazovia married Agafia Svyatoslavna of Rus. They had five children: Boleslaus I, Casimir I, Siemowit I, Eudoxia the Countess of Wettin, and Judith the Duchess of Wrocław. Konrad I of Mazovia attempted to help Poland develop. He supported building rural settlements and built towns.

In 1217, Konrad I of Mazovia blinded and suffocated his palatine Krystyn. It is unknown why it happened. Konrad I of Mazovia had problems on the borders of his lands with the Prussians and Yotvingians. They were such a problem that he asked for help from Henry I the Bearded and in 1226 invited the Teutonic Knights to fight them. Another possibility why the Teutonic Knights came was that they had a falsified document that claimed that the Pope gave them permission to fight and colonize the Prussians and Yotvingians.

Konrad I of Mazovia was an important ally of Leszek the White. Konrad I of Mazovia participated in many memorable events with Leszek the White. He fought in the Battle of Zawichost with him and sat whim him in the meeting in Gąsawa. From 1222 to 1223, he fought in the crusade against the Prussians with Casimir II the Just and Henry I the Bearded.

After the death of Leszek the White in 1227, Konrad I of Mazovia laid claim to Kraków by becoming the caretaker of Leszek the White’s son, Bolesław V the Bashful, since he was too young to rule. In 1228, he was successful in getting Leszek the White’s widow, Grzymislawa of Luck, to concede power over her son, Bolesław V the Bashful, and rule as his regent.

Henry I the Bearded defeated Konrad I of Mazovia but Konrad I of Mazovia kidnapped Henry I the Bearded and imprisoned him in Płock. Henry I the Bearded’s wife, Hedwig of Silesia, was able to get him released in exchange for having her granddaughters marry Konrad I of Mazovia’s sons: Bolesław I and Casimir I.

In 1229, Konrad I of Mazovia took Łęczyca and Sieradz from the Duchy of Kraków. In 1232, Henry I the Bearded recognized Konrad I of Mazovia’s new lands at a meeting in Skaryszew. Henry I the Bearded then resigned as High Duke of the Duchy of Kraków. In 1229, Konrad I of Mazovia gave his son, Bolesław I, the northern part of the Land of Sandomierz. Konrad I of Mazovia gave him Mazovia and Sieradz Land later on. He also gave Kujawy to his other son, Casimir I. He did not give his third son, Siemowit I, any territory. In 1232, Konrad I of Mazovia imprisoned Grzymislawa of Luck and her son Bolesław V the Bashful. In 1233, Konrad I of Mazovia let his sons rule, but he was ultimate ruler of the lands that his sons were given.

After Henry I the Bearded died in 1238, Konrad I of Mazovia called himself the Duke of Kraków, but he did not rule the Duchy of Kraków until 1241 after Henry III the Pious died. In 1242, Konrad I of Mazovia supported the Teutonic Knights against Swietopełk the Duke of Pomerania when he attacked Chełmno Land and fought the Teutonic Knights. In 1243, Clemens of Ruszcza defeated Konrad I of Mazovia at the Battle of Suchodół. Konrad I of Mazovia lost Kraków and failed to get it returned.

In 1238 or 1239, Konrad I of Mazovia had Jan Czapla, a churchman and scholar, hanged. Konrad I of Mazovia killed him, because his son, Casimir I, was disobedient. Jan Czapla was Casimir I’s teacher who educated him. Konrad I of Mazovia was excommunicated by the Catholic Church for killing Jan Czapla. To redeem himself, Konrad I of Mazovia gave the Archdiocese of Gniezno land or a town in Łowicz. In 1239, Konrad I of Mazovia also gave privileges to the diocese of Włocławek and the diocese of Płock. After these acts, Pope Gregory IX recommended that Konrad I of Mazovia’s excommunication should be lifted.

After Henry II the Pious’ death in 1241, Konrad I of Mazovia and Bolesław V the Bashful tried to take the Duchy of Kraków. Konrad I of Mazovia was able to take control over it for less than two years. After taking political control over it, he imprisoned knights who were his enemies. He imposed heavy taxes when in power. The Bishop of Kraków, Prandot, excommunicated Konrad I of Mazovia for disservice to the Catholic Church. Dislike of Konrad I of Mazovia led to the Battle of Suchodół in 1243. Bolesław V the Bashful defeated Konrad I of Mazovia. Konrad I of Mazovia was forced to leave Kraków.

Henry II the Pious

Henry II the Pious let Władysaw Opolski and his mother Viola have the Duchy of Kalisz, while Mieszko II the Fat was given the Duchy of Opole-Racibórz and Bolesław V the Bashful was granted the Duchy of Sandomierz. Henry II the Pious let his daughter, Constance of Wrocław, marry Casimir I of Kujawy whose father was Konrad I of Mazovia. Henry II the Pious may have arranged the marriage to quell Konrad I of Mazovia’s ambitions of taking the Duchy of Kraków. In 1238, Brandenburg occupied Santok, but Henry II the Pious was able to get it back in 1239.

Henry II the Pious had problems with representatives of the Catholic Church just like his father, Henry I the Bearded, did. He had conflicts with the Archbishop of Gniezno, Pełka, and the Bishop of Wrocław, Thomas I. Even though he had problems with important people in the Catholic Church in Poland, he was able to get a bull from Pope Gregory IX to protect himself and his duchy.

In 1273 or 1274, Henry II the Pious’ son, Konrad I of Głogów, died. He left behind three sons. Their names were Henry III of Głogów, Konrad II the Hunchback, and Przemko. The Duchy of Głogów was divided among these brothers. Henry III of Głogów received Głogów. Konrad II the Hunchback got Żagań. Przemko was bestowed Ścinawa.


The Mongols were called Tartars in Western Europe. The Latin word tartarus means the underworld or hell. In 1241, 1259, and 1287, the Mongols attacked Poland in three separate campaigns.

From 1237 to 1240, the Mongols conquered Kievan Rus’. In 1241, the Mongols under the leadership of Batu Khan, the grandson of Genghis Khan, attacked, Hungary, Transylvania, and Poland. On February 13, 1241, Ash Wednesday, the Mongols destroyed Sandomierz. On March 28, 1241, the Mongols reached Kraków. They burned churches and killed everyone who they say in Kraków. Some hid, fought, and survived the battle in the church of Saint Andrew. A sentry on a tower of Saint Mary’s Church played the Hejnał to signalize to close the city gates before the Mongols ambushed the city. He was only able to play five notes before being shot with an arrow. Today, the Hejnał is played four times an hour every day in Saint Mary’s Church. On April 9, 1241, the Battle of Legnica occurred. Henry II the Pious lost and was killed. He was decapitated and his head was stuck onto a spear. After the battle, the Mongols went to Hungary to link up with Batu Khan’s main forces.

In 1259, the Mongols attacked Poland. The Mongols forced the Yotvingians and others from Eastern Europe to fight against Poland. The invaders ransacked Sandomierz and stepped into Kraków. In 1260, they massacred and enslaved many of Sandomierz’s people on their way out of Poland.

The Mongols were not the only foreign people who attacked Poland during the 13th century. In 1273, 1277, 1279, 1282, and 1283, the Yotvingians’ and Lithuanians’ had incursions that went deep into Poland. Their attacks were short-lived and did not threaten Poland’s sovereignty.

Bolesław II the Horned

After Henry II the Pious died in 1241, he left behind five sons. Mieszko was the oldest but he died in 1242. Bolesław II the Horned was the oldest of the remaining four sons. Bolesław II the Horned inherited his father’s duchy. Bolesław II the Horned did not attempt to seize the Duchy of Kraków. He had Greater Poland at first, but he lost it. Greater Poland’s knights wanted Władysław Odonic’s sons, Przemysł I of Greater Poland and Bolesław the Pious, to rule Greater Poland, since Henry II the Pious offended them. In 1243, Bolesław II the Horned took Kalisz. In 1244, Bolesław II the Horned’s sister, Elizabeth, married Władysław Odonic’s son, Przemysł I of Greater Poland. It led to peaceful relations between Bolesław II the Horned and Przemysł I of Greater Poland. It also signified that Bolesław II the Horned accepted the fact that he lost Greater Poland.

Bolesław II the Horned was a weak ruler who did not pay much attention to public matters. Opposition formed against him a result. In 1248, Bolesław II the Horned divided Silesia after being forced to by its dignitaries. Bolesław II the Horned was to keep part of Silesia with Wrocław, while Henry III the White was to receive part of Silesia with Głogów and Legnica. Bolesław II the Horned changed this arrangement soon afterward. Bolesław II the Horned was to have part of Silesia that included Głogów and Legnica, while Henry III the White was supposed to get part of Silesia with Wrocław. Bolesław II the Horned was supposed to give part of the duchy to Konrad I. In 1248, Konrad I became the Bishop of Passau, but in 1249 he left his position of bishop. He wanted Bolesław II the Horned to give him part of his duchy to rule. Przemysł I helped Konrad I get a part of Bolesław II the Horned’s land.

In 1249, Bolesław II the Horned gave half of Lubusz to the Archdiocese of Magdeburg in the Holy Roman Empire. Afterward, the other half went to the Margraviate of Brandenburg. A few years later, Lubusz Land was owned by the Margraviate of Brandenburg. Lubusz Land was the gate to Poland and Greater Poland. Its transfer was a loss for Poland and it led to German expansion into Poland. Why and how it was transferred is unknown. In 1278, Bolesław II the Horned died. He left behind three sons. Their names were Henry V the Fat, Bolko I the Strict, and Bernard the Lightsome. Henry V the Fat ruled Jawor before his father died. After his father died, he took Legnica. Henry V the Fat gave his brother Jawor and Świdnica. Bernard the Lightsome ruled Lwówek.

Henry III the White

Henry III the White revindicated a lot of the land that was taken during Bolesław II the Horned’s rule. Henry III the White allied himself with the Margrave of Meissen. Henry III the White attempted to reinstitute rule over Greater Poland. His plan was abandoned after Przemysł I died in 1257 and Bolesław the Pious came to power.

Henry IV Probus

In 1266, Henry III the White died leaving behind one son, Henry IV Probus. Henry IV Probus was too young to rule after his father. His caretaker was the Archbishop of Salzburg, Władysław. After the Bishop of Wrocław, Thomas I, died in 1268, Archbishop Władysław tried to take the Diocese of Wrocław. After Władysław died in 1270, Henry IV Probus was left under the care of Ottokar II of Bohemia until 1273 when he began to rule the Duchy of Wrocław. He was sixteen years old. From 1274 to 1287, there were problems between Henry IV Probus and the Bishop of Wrocław, Thomas II, over privileges for the Catholic Church. Henry IV Probus ending up humiliating him and placing the diocese of Wrocław under ducal law.

Przemysł II

In 1272, Przemysł II fought the Margraviate of Brandenburg. Przemysł II was able to conquer and burn Strzelce Krajeńskie. He was also able to get Drzeń back. In 1273, Przemysł II married Ludgarda of Mecklenburg whose father was Henry I the Lord of Mecklenburg. The marriage was an attempt to strengthen ties with Mecklenburg to counterpose the Margraviate of Brandenburg.

Henry IV Probus designated Przemysł II to be his successor in the Duchy of Kraków and Henry III of Głogów to be his successors in the Duchy of Wrocław. Przemysł II set forth that if he died, Gdańsk Pomerania and Greater Poland were to go to Henry III of Głogów. In 1273, Przemysł II took over control of his inheritance of Poznań by forcing Bolesław the Pious to relinquish his status as his caretaker when he was sixteen years old. After Bolesław the Pious died in 1279, Przemysł II took Greater Poland. In 1282, Przemysł II and Mestwin II the Duke of Pomerania signed a pact in Kępno that stipulated that after Mestwin II’s death, Gdańsk Pomerania would be Przemysł II’s. In 1294, Mestwin II died, and Przemysł took Gdańsk Pomerania.

In 1291, Wenceslaus II of Bohemia took Kraków from Przemysł II. In 1293, Przemysł II met with Władysław I the Elbow-high and Casimir III in Kalisz. They wanted to take Kraków away from Wenceslaus II of Bohemia. In 1295, Przemysł II tried to become king with the help of the Apostolic See. Przemysł II received approval to become king. On June 26, 1295, Przemysł II was coronated king of Poland in Gniezno by Archbishop Jakub Świnka. The bishops of Lubusz, Płock, Poznań, and Włocławek were present at the inauguration. Przemysł II was king for a little over a year. On Ash Wednesday, February 8, 1296, Przemysł II was killed in Rogoźno by the Margrave of Brandenburg with the help of the opposition in Greater Poland. The house of the Nałęcze may have helped in the assassination. Henry III of Głogów and Władysław I the Elbow-high tried to take Przemysł II’s land after his death. In 1296, Henry III of Głogów and Władysław I the Elbow-high met in Krzywiń and divided up Greater Poland. Władysław I the Elbow-high received a larger part of Greater Poland than Henry III of Głogów. It included Gniezno, Kalisz, and Poznań. Henry III of Głogów received the western part of Greater Poland. Władysław I the Elbow-high gave one-half of the Land of Kłobuck to Henry III of Głogów, while Bolesław I of Opole received the other half of it. Peace did not last long between Henry III of Głogów and Władysław I the Elbow-high. In 1297, Bolesław II of Płock and Władysław I the Elbow-high attacked the Duchy of Głogów with the help of the Hungarians.

Mieszko II the Fat and Władysław I

In 1238, Mieszko II the Fat was in charge of the Duchy of Opole-Racibórz. He allowed his brother Władysław I to rule jointly with him. In 1246, Mieszko II the Fat died. Władysław I inherited and ruled the Duchy of Opole-Racibórz. After Władysław I died in 1281 or 1282, his duchy was divided into four parts. Mieszko I received Cieszyń. Casimir received Bytom and Kozielsk. Bolesław I received Opole. Przemysł received Racibórz.

Casimir I of Kujawy

In 1239, Casimir I of Kujawy married the daughter of Henry II the Pious, Constance of Wrocław. Casimir I of Kujawy received the town of Ląd in Greater Poland as dowry for marrying her. After Casimir I of Kujawy’s father, Konrad I of Masovia, died in 1247, he received Łęczyca and Sieradz. In 1260, Casimir I of Kujawy gave his son, Leszek the Black, the Duchy of Łęczyca. It was exchanged later on for Sieradz. Another one of Casimir I of Kujawy’s sons, Ziemomysł of Kujawy, received Kujawy. Dignitaries rebelled against Ziemomysł of Kujawy for favoring the Teutonic Knights. They went to Bolesław V the Bashful for help.

Casimir I of Kujawy had problems with dignitaries. The list of people he had conflicts with include the Bishop of Włocławek, Wolimir, and Polish dukes, such as his brother Siemowit I of Mazovia. His battle over Ląd made enemies with members of the Piast dynasty in Greater Poland. Dignitaries of the Catholic Church had to devote a great deal of effort to get concessions from Casimir I of Kujawy. He also had a problem with his knights and sons.

Casimir I of Kujawy had good relations with the Teutonic Knights until 1252. He saw that the Teutonic Knights were aggressive and a threat. They were more concerned with building their own kingdom and acquiring more land than spreading Christianity.

In 1267, Casimir I of Kujawy died. He left behind five sons. They were Leszek the Black, Ziemomysł of Kujawy, Władysław I the Elbow-high, Casimir II, and Siemowit. Władysław I the Elbow-high, Casimir II, and Siemowit were all too young to rule when their father died. Their older brothers, Leszek the Black and Ziemomysł of Kujawy, were their caretakers. Władysław I the Elbow-high eventually received Sieradz and Casimir II received Łęczyca. Siemowit received Dobrzyń Land from Ziemomysł of Kujawy. In 1294, Casimir II was killed during a campaign against the Lithuanians in Kujawy.

Siemowit I

After Konrad I of Mazovia died in 1247, his oldest son, Bolesław I of Mazovia, took Mazovia. His third oldest son, Siemowit I of Mazovia, received the Land of Czersk. After Bolesław I of Mazovia died in 1248, Siemowit I received Mazovia.

In 1249 and 1253, Siemowit I went with Daniel of Galicia on a campaign against the Yotvingians. In 1253, Siemowit I helped to bring Christianity to Lithuania. Also in 1253, the Archbishop of Gniezno, Pełko, made Vitas the first Bishop of Lithuania. His seat was in Kozłów.

In 1254, Siemowit I struck an accord with the Teutonic Knights in Raciąż. Siemowit I and Daniel of Galicia were to get one-third of Yotvingia for helping in the crusades against the Balts. In 1260, another agreement materialized in Troszyn that stipulated that Siemowit would get one-sixth of Yotvingia if he would continue to help the Teutonic Knights.

In 1259, Siemowit I allied himself with Bolesław V the Bashful and Daniel of Galicia against Casimir I of Kujawy to get Ląd. Siemowit and his allies attacked the Land of Łęczyca and built a town for Siemowit there. In 1262, Mindaugas of Lithuania attacked Mazovia. Siemowit I and his son, Konrad II of Mazovia, were imprisoned in Jazdów. Siemowit I was subsequently killed. Bolesław the Pious took Mazovia after Siemowit I’s death, since Siemowit I’s sons, Konrad II of Mazovia and Bolesław II of Płock, were too young to rule.

Konrad II of Mazovia and Boles

It is unknown when Konrad II of Mazovia was released from captivity. It is known that he was given the Land of Czersk to rule when he was released. Bolesław II of Płock was given the Duchy of Płock. His share of the land of Mazovia was larger than Konrad II of Mazovia’s. It led to turmoil between the two brothers. Konrad II of Mazovia was allied with Bolesław the Pious and Bolesław V the Bashful. He was also pro-Hungarian. Bolesław II of Płock was allied with Władysław I the Elbow-high and Lithuania after marrying Daudemunda Sophia of Lithuania in 1279.

Leszek the Black

Afer Bolesław V the Bashful died in 1279, Leszek the Black was elected to be High Duke of Poland by dignitaries. In 1282, the palatine of Sandomierz and the knights of Sandomierz rebelled against Leszek the Black. They offered Radom and Sandomierz to Konrad II of Mazovia. Leszek the Black ended up expelling Konrad II of Mazovia. The Lithuanians attacked the Land of Sandomierz, but Leszek the Black was able to fend them off. In 1283, Leszek the Black imprisoned the Bishop of Kraków, Paul of Przemanków. He may have had a role in the preceding events. In 1286, Leszek the Black incorporated Sandomierz. He also gave Kraków the privilege to be freed from tariffs. In 1288, Leszek the Black died without leaving behind any male sons. His brother, Bolesław II of Płock, was elected to be the duke of the Duchy of Kraków. Henry IV Probus challenged him to the throne as a pretender. Before Leszek the Black’s death in 1288, Henry IV Probus used the title Duke of Kraków and Sandomierz. Henry IV Probus was able to conquer Kraków. In 1289, Bolesław I of Opole and Przemko of Ścinawa went to Kraków for support but were defeated by Władysław I Elbow-high. Przemko of Ścinawa was killed and Bolesław I of Opole was captured. In 1290, Henry IV Probus died from poisoning. Before Henry IV Prous died, he wrote a testament. Przemysł II was supposed to take over Kraków and Henry III the Duke of Głogów was supposed to get the Duchy of Wrocław.

Henry V the Fat and Bolko I the Strict

After Henry III of Głogów took control over Wrocław, Henry V the Fat laid claim to land of Henry IV Probus. Henry V the Fat was the cousin of Henry IV Probus. Henry V the Fat occupied Wrocław and Henry III of Głogów fled. Bolko I the Strict, the brother of Henry V the Fat, then laid claim to the Duchy of Wrocław. Bolko I the Strict received the southern part of the Duchy of Wrocław with Świdnica. A battle ensued between Henry V the Fat and Henry III of Głogów. Henry III of Głogów was able to capture Henry V the Fat and force him to make concessions. In 1294, lands were divided once again. Henry V the Fat was to have a small part of central Silesia. Bolko I the Strict and Henry III of Głogów were to also get their own parts. In 1296, Henry V the Fat died leaving behind three sons. His sons were Bolesław III the Generous, Henry VI the Good, and Władysław. Bolko I the Strict was their caretaker, since they were too young to rule. In 1301, Bolko I the Strict died. In 1311, Henry V the Fat’s sons divided up their inheritance. Bolesław III the Generous received Brzeg. Henry VI received Wrocław. Władysław received Legnica.

Wenceslaus II of Bohemia

Wenceslaus II of Bohemia was the king of Bohemia. In 1289, Władysław I’s son Bolesław I went to Prague after being invited by Wenceslaus II of Bohemia. Bolesław I was made Wenceslaus II’s vassal and was given Opole. In 1291, Władysław I’s sons, Bolesław I, Casimir, and Mieszko I went to Olomouc after being invited by Wenceslaus II. An alliance was agreed. Casimir and Mieszko I became vassals of Wenceslaus II some time afterward. In 1292, Władysław I’s last son, Przemysł, paid homage to Wenceslaus II. All of Władysław I’s sons were now vassals of Wenceslaus II of Bohemia. In 1290, Rudolf I of Germany gave Wenceslaus II his right to the Duchy of Wrocław. Rudolf I of Germany held the Duchy of Wrocław, since in 1280 Henry IV Probus became his vassal after losing the Battle on the Marchfeld in 1278.

According to Czech chronicler Přibyslav, Leszek the Black’s widow, who was the aunt of Wenceslaus II of Bohemia, gave Wenceslaus II of Bohemia Kraków and Sandomierz. In Polish law, a woman would not be allowed to do such a thing. If she really did do it, it would not be binding in Poland. In 1291, Wenceslaus II of Bohemia titled himself as the Duke of Kraków and Sandomierz. Dignitaries from Kraków went to Bohemia. In 1291, Wenceslaus II of Bohemia met them in Litomyšl in Bohemia. Wenceslaus II of Bohemia gave Kraków’s and Sandomierz’s knights freedoms and privileges. A guarantee was given to them that they would be paid for their services. In 1291, Wenceslaus II of Bohemia went on a campaign to conquer Kraków. Przemysł II was forced to relinquish his claim to Kraków from Henry IV Probus’ testament.

Wenceslaus II of Bohemia received mixed acceptance from Polish dukes. There were four Polish dukes who recognized him. Henry III of Głogów first accepted Wenceslaus II of Bohemia when he was coronated as king of Bohemia, but once he tried to take Greater Poland, his attitude changed.

Bolesław I of Opole became Wenceslaus II of Bohemia’s first deputy in Kraków. In 1292, Wenceslaus II of Bohemia went to Lesser Poland. Two of his Polish vassals, Bolesław I of Opole and Casimir, went with him. Wenceslaus II of Bohemia defeated Władysław I the Elbow-high and his brother Casimir II in battle. Both were captured. Władysław I the Elbow-high was forced to become Wenceslaus II of Bohemia’s vassal and repudiate his claim to Kraków and Sandomierz. If he reneged on the agreement, Wenceslaus II of Bohemia was to receive Kujawy and Sieradz from him. Archbishop Jacob was supposed to excommunicate Władysław I the Elbow-high if he did not honor the agreement. The townspeople of Brześć Kujawski and Brzeźnica swore an oath that if Władysław I the Elbow-high broke the agreement, that they would not be loyal to him.

Władysław I the Elbow-high

After Przemysł II was killed in 1296, Władysław I the Elbow-high’s nephew, Leszek the Duke of Inowrocław and Kujawy, laid claim to Gdańsk Pomerania, but Władysław I the Elbow-high did not let him take it. Władysław I the Elbow-high sent his followers to Gdańsk Pomerania to form a new elite. The Święców family was made Władysław I the Elbow-high’s deputies in Gdańsk Pomerania.

In 1297, Władysław I the Elbow-high attacked Silesia with the help of the Hungarians. Henry III of Głogów was the target of the attack. Wenceslaus II of Bohemia threatened to go to war with Władysław I the Elbow-high. In 1297, Władysław I the Elbow-high recognized Wenceslaus II of Bohemia’s right to Lesser Poland. Władysław I the Elbow-high was supposed to get 5,000 grzywien of silver in return. Hostilities occurred between the two soon afterward. In 1299, Wenceslaus II of Bohemia defeated Władysław I the Elbow-high and forced him to new terms. Władysław I the Elbow-high had to go to Prague to give Greater Poland, Kujawy, Łęczyca, Pomerania, and Sieradz to Wenceslaus II of Bohemia. Władysław I the Elbow-high was supposed to get these lands back as a fief from Wenceslaus II of Bohemia. He was also supposed to get 4,000 grzywien and the rights to the mine of Oklusz for eight years. If Władysław I the Elbow-reneged, his dignitaries, townspeople, and villagers were supposed to relinquish loyalty to him and become subjects of Wenceslaus II of Bohemia. When Władysław I the Elbow-high was not loyal, Wenceslaus II of Bohemia attacked him and expelled him.

In 1298, the towns of Gniezno, Kalisz, Poznań, and Pyzdry formed a confederation against Władysław I the Elbow-high for his laws on corporal punishment. In 1298, Władysław I the Elbow-high guaranteed the merchants of Lübeck security in his kingdom, granted them exemption from tariffs, and allowed the Hanseatic League to protect them in Pomerania. In 1299, Władysław I the Elbow-high and his knights committed wrongdoings against the Catholic Church in Poznań. The Bishop of Poznań, Andrew, put his diocese under an interdict as a result. There is no proof that Bishop Andrew excommunicated Władysław I the Elbow-high.

13th Century

The 13th century is marked with the rebuilding of Poland’s economy and society. Old villages were rebuilt. New villages and towns were built with better construction. New forms of settlements were employed that fostered economic growth. In the 12th century, a tradition of renting out land to free persons developed among large landowners. In the 13th century, this system began to be replaced with more advanced forms from Western Europe when people from there settled in Poland. Mining, crafts, and trade developed. They became important components to Poland’s developing economy. Poland’s elite received more political power and began to participate more in politics. Education improved. More written records were produced. A network of parishes appeared for the first time that allowed the Catholic Church to reach out to more people.

When magnates built large estates, they succeeded in excluding their lands from the kingdom’s rule of law and taxation system. This privilege began with Bolesław II the Generous. In 1136, it was mentioned in a document from Gniezno. In the 13th century, magnates and the Catholic Church had so much property that ducal power was weakened.

The Catholic Church was the main entity that fought for exclusion from state law. From 1200 to 1219, the Archbishop of Gniezno, Henryk Kietlicz, attempted to receive concessions for the Catholic Church from Poland’s dukes. In 1210, in a synod in Bożyków, Konrad I of Mazovia, Leszek the White, and Władysław Odonic rescinded the law that took away the property of a member of the clergy upon death. In 1215, Casimir I of Opole, Konrad I of Mazovia, Leszek the White, and Władysław Odonic gathered at a synod in Bożyków. They granted the Catholic Church the privilege to punish its own members according to its own law and it was exempted from paying tributes. The goal was to give the Catholic Church, its villages, and its members freedom. Silesia and the part of Greater Poland that included Gniezno and Poznań were excluded from this privilege since their rulers, Henry I the Bearded and Władysław III Spindleshanks, did not participate in the synod of 1215.

Documents of the 13th Century

In the 13th century, over 1,000 Polish documents were written. During the 13th century, the oldest source for documented Polish common law was written down in the Book of Elbląg in German. Article 1 states, "For those people who want to know Polish law, let it be known that Poles were under the Pope in the Apostolic See and not Caesar from the moment they adopted Christianity, since the Roman capital took them under its care, thanks to whom they gladly became Christians."

In 1249, the native people of Christburg in Prussia expressed the will to be under Polish law in a document written in German. In 1288, Kronika Dzierzwy (“The Chronicle of Dzierzwa”) was written in Kraków. It says that Poles descended from Jafet who son was Noah. Jafet had many sons. One of the sons was named Jawan. In Polish, it is Ivan. Jawan’s offspring was Philar.

Two important historians who lived during the 13th century in Poland were Wincenty Kadłubek and Wincenty of Kielcza. From 1189 to 1223, Wincenty Kadłubek wrote Chronica seu originale regum et principum Poloniae (“Chronicles of the Kings and Princes of Poland”) for Casimir II the Just. It is composed of four books. The first three books are from the beginning of Poland’s history up to Bolesław IV Wrymouth. They are in dialogue form between the Archbishop of Gniezno, John, and the Bishop of Kraków, Matthew. The fourth book is in narrative form, and it is from Mieszko III the Old to Casimir II the Just. His work is one of the most important documents on early Polish history.

Wincenty Kadłubek studied law at a university in Bologne or Paris. In the 1190s, he became a chaplain of Casimir II the Just. From 1207 to 1218, he was the Bishop of Kraków. In 1218, he resigned as bishop and became a monk in a monastery of the Cistercians in Jędrzejów where he died in 1223. In 1764, he was beatified. Wincenty of Kielcza helped to write the hagiographies of Saint Adalbert of Prague called Legenda sancti Stanislai (“The Legend of Saint Stanislaus”) that is also known as Vita minor (“Subordinate Life” or “Unimportant Life”) and Vita maior (“Larger Life”). He writes that Poland was split into duchies just like Saint Stanisław of Szczepanów’s body, because he was murdered. Wincenty of Kielcza also wrote the hymn Gaude Mater Polonia (“Rejoice, oh Mother Poland”).


By the 13th century, the knighthood’s or nobility’s privileges were normalized and written into law. They were given the right to own land. They were punished if they hurt someone or killed them. They were obligated to fight for the king.

The knighthood or nobility was diverse in the 13th century with some owning great lands, while others owning very little. The nobility can be divided into three groups. The first group consisted of knights who were dignitaries and descended from dynasties and houses. The second group was composed of knights who inherited property and practiced a knight’s craft. The third group was of persons who did not really belong to the knighthood and were as poor as farmers. The fine for killing someone who belonged to the first group cost sixty grzywien, while it cost thirty grzywien if you killed someone in the second class and fifteen grzywien if you killed someone in the third class. The fine for injuring someone in the first class was ten grzywien, while hurting someone in the second class was five grzywien and injuring someone in the third class was three grzywien.

German Colonization and German Law

At about the end of the 12th century and the beginning of the 13th century, new villages were built with German law in Silesia. The oldest municipality established with German law in Poland was Goldberg. It is called Złotoryja today. It was incorporated by Henry I the Bearded. Only a copy of the law in Złotoryja remains. It dates back to 1211. The second oldest municipality with German law was Lwówek Śląski. In German it was called Löwenberg. The third oldest municipality in Poland was established in 1233. It was called Naumburg, but it is now called Nowogrodziec. During the first half of the 13th century, twenty-five municipalities were established in Silesia, while about seventy-five were instituted during the second half of the 13th century.

German law gave personal freedom, the right to inherit property, immunity to ducal law, and the right to be tried only by German law. During the 13th century, German settlements with German law helped to rebuild Poland. The oldest information about possible German candidates coming to settle in Poland comes from 1175 from a Cistercian monastery in Lubiąż. A document from 1202 says that German settlers were living on the lands of the Cistercian monastery in Lubiąż. In 1206, German settlers are noted in Psim Pol and in Greater Poland in 1210. From 1218 to 1227, they are mentioned as miners in Lesser Poland. In 1234, they are recorded in a document of Henry I the Bearded as rural settlers.

German settlements were the most numerous in Silesia where Henry I the Bearded supported them. He let them keep their culture and language in Poland. They were allowed to have their own law as well. In the second half of the 13th century, German law expanded out of Silesia. A document of Henry I the Bearded in relation to two villages, Kostomłoty and Ujów, owned by a monastery of Saint Vincent shows that German settlers were given the privilege to have their own judge and village leader. German law spread to towns from villages. Self-governing organizations appeared as the result of German law. German law also helped to stimulate economies in towns. Municipal law in Poland was copied from law in Magdeburg and Lübeck. Both legal systems were established in 1188 in the Holy Roman Empire. Magdeburg Law was influenced by Flemish law. Lübeck Law was adopted by Polish cities close to the Baltic Sea, such as Gdańsk (1263), Tczew (1260), Elbląg, and Braniewo. Lübeck Law provided for self-government. It came by means of sea trade. In the 1220s, Swietopelk II gave traders from Lübeck freedoms and privileges. One of the privileges regulated the trade for salt and textiles.

There were two types of Magdeburg Law in Poland. The first was Chełmno Law that was established in Chełmno and Toruń in 1233. The second was Średzkie Law that appeared in Środa Śląska in 1235.

German law spread to other parts of Poland. In Lesser Poland, particular important towns that adopted German law were Bochnia in 1253 and Kraków in 1257. During the latter half of the 13th century, thirty municipalities were instituted in Lesser Poland. During the first half of the 13th century, two or three municipalities were constituted in Greater Poland, while thirty-five or thirty-six were originated during the second half of the 13th century. During the 13th century, nine municipalities were founded with German law in Kujawy, while four in Gdańsk Pomerania and two in Mazovia were implemented with German law.

Townspeople received their own law when municipalities were established. To get this type of law, a town had to be first recognized as a town and have been established with a privilege to be founded. Cities were given the privilege of having their own judiciary. In 1257, the principle of actor sequitur forum rei was used for the first time in Kraków’s incorporation charter. It meant that if a person who was not a townsperson accused a townsperson, he had to be tried under town law.

Christianity during the 13th Century

In the 13th century, many monasteries were built. Fourteen new monasteries were built by the Cistercians. In 1222, the Dominicans built their first monastery in Poland in Kraków. More Dominican monasteries were built afterward in Gdańsk, Płock, Sandomierz, and Wrocław. By the end of the 13th century, there were over thirty Dominican monasteries in Poland. In 1236, the Franciscans built their first monasteries in Poland in Kraków and Wrocław. By the end of the 13th century, there were over forty Franciscan monasteries.

The Catholic Church’s schools developed and expanded during the 13th century in Poland. By the end of the 13th century, there were about thirty schools the Catholic Church possessed in Poland. There were two types of schools the Catholic Church possessed. They were cathedral schools that prepared students to become priests and parish schools that taught students elementary things such as reading and writing. Parish schools could be used to move on to cathedral schools and universities. Not all parishes possessed their own schools. Usually larger town parishes possessed their own schools.

In the first half of the 13th century, the Catholic Church’s clergy was an important class that appeared in Poland. The Catholic Church had power to pick whoever it wanted in positions of power. Priests were exempt from secular law. They had their own legal system with their own judges. In 1252, Bolesław V the Bashful gave the Catholic Church in Kraków the privilege to have its own judiciary for its clergy for the first time. Afterward, this privilege spread to Poland. In 1248, the synod in Wrocław announced that some dioceses would have a judge who would take the place of a bishop to judge clergy. The Catholic Church’s laws would not all be completely independent of secular law. The matters that would not fall under Catholic Church’s judicial system would be matters of inheritance of property that belonged to a family of a churchman.

Christian missions went to Prussia from Poland during the 13th century. The Cistercians from Łekno in Greater Poland were one of the main groups that went to evangelize. In 1207, the Cistercian abbot Godfrey of Łekno went on a mission to the Prussians. After Godfrey died in 1208, another Cistercian monk from Łekno by the name of Christian of Oliva went on a mission to the Prussians with Filip-Boguchwał. Filip-Boguchwał died as a martyr on the mission. In 1215, Christian of Oliva went to the Fourth Council of the Lateran and was made the bishop for the mission to convert the pagan Prussians by Pope Innocent III. Konrad I of Mazovia, Mestwin I the Duke of Pomerania, and Władysław Odonic supported Bishop Christian of Oliva’s mission.

In 1228, Bishop Christian of Oliva supported bringing a Christian military order to Poland after attempts to begin a new crusade failed. Konrad I of Mazovia and the Bishop of Płock, Gunter, supported the idea as well. The Order of Dobrzyń was made as a corollary. There were not many candidates willing to join it. Many of the ones who joined it were German.

In 1222, Henry I the Bearded gave the Order of Brothers of the German House of Saint Mary in Jerusalem, which is known as the Teutonic Knights for short, a village called Łasusice. When Henry I the Bearded went on the crusade to Prussia in 1222, some members of the Teutonic Knights went with him. Henry I the Bearded’s wife’s brothers were friends with Hermann von Salza, who was the Grand Master of the Teutonic Knights. It may be a reason why Henry I the Bearded looked optimistically at relations with the Teutonic Knights.

In 1228, Konrad I of Mazovia proclaimed a document in Biecz that allowed the Teutonic Knights to have Chełmno Land and the village Orłowo. In 1230, Konrad I of Mazovia repeated the transfer of land to the Teutonic Knights twice more in two separate documents. A false document that was produced in the 1230s for the Teutonic Knights was the Golden Bull of Rimini. The document says that emperor Frederick II gave Hermann von Salza and the Teutonic Knights the same rights that any duchy would have in the Holy Roman Empire. There is also a document from Kruszwica that says the Teutonic Knights received Chełmno Land and ducal power it, but it may be a false document. In 1230, Pope Gregory IX confirmed that transfer of land from Konrad I of Mazovia to the Teutonic Knights. In 1231, a group of Teutonic Knights came to Chełmno Land under the leadership of Hermann Balk. Kronika wielkopolska (“The Greater Poland Chronicle”) says that Henry I the Bearded convinced Konrad I of Mazovia to let the Teutonic Knights have Chełmno Land for eternity. When Konrad I of Mazovia gave parts of Chełmno Land to Henry I the Bearded, they ended up becoming the Teutonic Knights’. After Bishop Christian died in 1234, members of the Teutonic Knights went to the Holy See to get the same privileges that he had. They were able to get the Holy See to let them build a branch of the Catholic Church and their own kingdom.

Stanisław of Szczepanów was made a saint with the help of Poles. The bishops of Kraków, Wincenty Kadłubek and Iwo Odrowąż, were supporters of the cult of Stanisław of Szczepanów. In 1251, Bolesław V the Bashful sent a legation to lobby for the canonization of Stanisław of Szczepanów. On September 8, 1253, Pope Innocent IV declared Stanisław of Szczepanów a saint. His Saint’s Day was made May 8. Wincenty of Kielce wrote the hagiography Legenda sancti Stanislai (“The Legend of Saint Stanislaus”) about Stanisław of Szczepanów to help him get beatified.

On Saint Stanisław of Szczepanów’s Saint’s Day on May 8, 1254, the remains of his body were raised in Kraków. Many Polish dignitaries attended. The list includes Bolesław V the Bashful, Casimir I of Kujawy, Przemysł I of Greater Poland, Siemowit I of Mazovia, Władysław Opolski, the Archbishop of Gniezno, the Bishop of Kraków, the Bishop of Wrocław, and the Bishop of Płock. A papal legate by the name of Obizona of Mezzano was present. Pope Innocent IV issued a bull that gave everyone who visited the grave of Saint Stanisław of Szczepanów one year and forty days of indulgence.

Other important Polish saints who lived in the 13th century included Jacek Odrowąż, Hedwig of Silesia, Anne of Bohemia, Kinga, and Yolanda. Jacek Odrowąż was a Dominican monk who died in 1257 and was canonized at the end of the 16th century. Hedwig of Silesia was Henry I the Bearded’s wife. She died in 1243 and was canonized in 1267. Anne of Bohemia was Henry II the Pious’ wife. Saint Kinga was Bolesław V the Bashful’s wife. Saint Kinga’s sister, Yolanda, was married to Bolesław the Pious.

Gothic Architecture

In the 13th century, Gothic architecture began to appear in Poland. It spread to Poland as the result of religious orders coming to Poland from Western Europe. In the 13th century, Gothic architecture was implemented in Gniezno, Kalisz, Kraków, Trzebnica, Wrocław, and Zawichost.


Jews had their own culture and usually did not assimilate much. They were a separate class who were considered to be people who served the treasury. Jews minted currency for dukes. They were involved in finance by giving out loans for interest. One grosz was taken for one grzywna per week. There were forty-eight groszy in a grzywna. In the course of a year, a usurer would make about 108% interest on such a loan. The Catholic Church did not allow Catholics to practice usury.

Mieszko III the Old first gave Jews special status in Poland. Mieszko III the Old followed the precedent of Frederick I Barbarossa’a privilege from 1157 that gave Jews special status. Mieszko III the Old and Leszek the White leased mints to Jews who were responsible for collecting bullion and striking coins. They minted coins have inscriptions in Knaanic, a West Slavic Jewish Language similar to Hebrew, of the words “Mieszko, the king of Poland, Hebrew names, Kalisz where they were minted, and the word “bracha” that means blessing in Hebrew.

Władysław I the Elbow-high and Wenceslaus II of Bohemia

In 1300, the people of Greater Poland expelled Władysław I the Elbow-high and invoked Wenceslaus II of Bohemia to come and rule in his place. In 1300, Wenceslaus II of Bohemia was coronated king of Poland in Gniezno. He was coronated without the approval of the Vatican. On June 29, 1300, Albert I of Germany gave all of Władysław I the Elbow-high’s lands to Wenceslaus II of Bohemia as a fief. In 1300, Wenceslaus II of Bohemia was betrothed to Przemysł II’s daughter, Elizabeth Richeza of Poland. In 1303, the two were married.

In 1301, Henry III of Głogów and Wenceslaus II of Bohemia tried to take Wrocław after Bolko I the Strict died. Bolko I the Strict was ruling Wrocław as caretaker before he died. Wenceslaus II of Bohemia pacified the rightful inheritors of Wrocław, Bolesław III the Generous, Henry VI, and Władysław. Wenceslaus II of Bohemia had Bolesław III the Generous marry his daughter, Margaret of Bohemia, and sent him to Prague for education. In 1303, Wenceslaus II of Bohemia placed a district head in Wrocław to rule for him. Wenceslaus II of Bohemia was able to get Bolesław III the Generous to hand him the rights to the Duchy of Wrocław.

Wenceslaus II of Bohemia tried to expand his influence in Hungary too. After the Árpád dynasty in Hungary exhausted itself in 1301, Wenceslaus II of Bohemia tried to make his son, Wenceslaus III, the king of Hungary. The Holy See protested. It regarded Hungary as its fief, and it wanted a different candidate to be king. In 1304, Wenceslaus II of Bohemia went on a campaign to Hungary and took the head of Saint Stephen, the spear of Saint Maurice that was used for coronations, and the royal crown.

Wenceslaus II of Bohemia filled many important positions in Poland with foreigners. Many were Czechs and Germans. Wenceslaus II of Bohemia was not favored by Poles as a result. Rocznik kapituły poznańskiej (“Year-Book of the Chapter House of Poznań”) tells a different story. It says that peace and justice was present when Wenceslaus II of Bohemia ruled Poland. Władysław I the Elbow-high made members of the houses of the Święców and Zarembów his deputies in Gdańsk Pomerania. Wenceslaus II of Bohemia gave part of Kujawy with Brześć to the Teutonic Knights.

In 1304, Władysław I the Elbow-high returned to Poland with help from Amadej of Hungary and occupied Wiślica. It occurred when Wenceslaus II of Bohemia was fighting Hungary. Władysław I the Elbow-high was able to get help from Amadej because of feuding over the throne of Hungary. Władysław I the Elbow-high found support in Kujawy, Kraków, Łęczyca, Lesser Poland, Sandomierz, and Sieradz from dignitaries. Archbishop Jakub Świnka is an example of an important dignitary who supported Władysław I the Elbow-high. In part of Kujawy, there was an uprising against Czech rule. In 1305, Kujawy turned against Czech rule as well.

Greater Poland supported Czech rule and was opposed to Władysław I the Elbow-high up until 1306. Possible reasons why it changed its stance was the transfer of Gdańsk Pomerania to the Margraviate of Brandenburg and the withdrawal of the pro-Bohemian deputy Sędziwój from Poznań.

On June 21, 1305, Wenceslaus II of Bohemia died. His son, Wenceslaus III, was sixteen years old at the time of his death. In August 1305, he gave Gdańsk Pomerania to the Margraviate of Brandenburg for the Land of Meissen. In October 1305, Wenceslaus III married Mieszko I of Teschen’s daughter, Viola of Teschen. On August 4, 1306, Wenceslaus III was killed. He died without leaving behind any male heirs. Władysław I the Elbow-high may have occupied Kraków before or after his death. On September 12, 1306, Władysław I the Elbow-high gave Kraków trade privileges. Władysław I the Elbow-high may have issued another document that confirmed Kraków’s privilege to have its own courts. It is possible that the document is a forgery.

In November 1306, Władysław I the Elbow-high was in contact with the House of Świeców in Gdańsk Pomerania. He recognized the family’s rule in Gdańsk Pomerania and placed some of his own candidates in positions of power there. On September 2, 1306, Władysław I the Elbow-high gave the Catholic Church in Kraków privileges. In 1308, the Margraviate of Brandenburg attacked Gdańsk Pomerania and occupied Gdańsk. Gdańsk asked for help from Władysław I the Elbow-high, but he did not help them. The Teutonic Knights under Günter von Schwarzenberg helped but eventually surrendered. Before they surrendered, they committed a massacre of all Pomeranian knights they could find. Palatine Świec, his sons, and knights in Pomerania supported the Margraviate of Brandenburg, since Władysław I the Elbow-high did not give them much political power in their own land. In 1309, the Teutonic Knights bought part of Gdańsk Pomerania from the Margraviate of Brandenburg. In 1310, the Teutonic Knights bought Kalisz from the Margraviate of Brandenburg.

In April 1309, Władysław I the Elbow-high met the Landmeister of Prussia, Heinrich von Plötzke, in a village named Grabie. Heinrich von Plötzke tried to get material help from Władysław I the Elbow-high, and he tried to sell Gdańsk Pomerania to him. Władysław I the Elbow-high was not interested. On September 13, 1309, the Teutonic Knights bought Pomerania from the Margraviate of Brandenburg.

Towns began to become political forces during the time of Władysław I the Elbow-high. Economic development led them to become important actors. Władysław I the Elbow-high balanced their power. On October 31, 1311, Władysław I the Elbow-high removed Witko and Zygfryd from power in Sandomierz. They were sacked for betrayal and crimes. On December 21, 1311, Władysław I the Elbow-high charged seven German townspeople of Kraków for treachery and crimes against Poland. They were in power on the lands of the monastery of Tyniec.

From 1311 to 1312, the rebellion of the German mayor Albert occurred in Kraków. Germans participated in the rebellion. Mayor Albert wanted John the Blind to be king. John the Blind was the son of Henry VIII, the king of Germany. Rocznik kapituły krakowskiej (“The Year-Book of the Chapter House of Kraków”) says that the townspeople of Kraków were “fired up and in a frenzy of German virulence” when they rebelled. To find out who was German and behind the rebellion, the accused persons had to say the Polish words soczewica (lentil), koło (wheel), miele (grinds), and młyn (mill). If they said it with a German accent, they were punished. Władysław I the Elbow-high imprisoned the rebellers and then dragged them on the ground with horses. They were then hanged. Their bodies were left to rot. The German Gerlach von Kulpen was removed from power in Wieliczka for being tied to the rebellion of mayor Albert in Kraków. Pieśń o wójcie Albercie (“The Song about the Mayor Albert”) says that Albert was imprisoned for five years in Opole.

Problems occurred for Władysław I the Elbow-high after Bolesław II of Mazovia died in 1313. His duchy was divided among his three sons after his death. Their names were Siemowit II, Trojden I, and Wenceslaus. Wenceslaus allied with Lithuania, since he was married to the daughter of Gediminas, the Grand Duke of Lithuania. Siemowit II allied with Władysław I the Elbow-High. Trojden I was first allied with the Teutonic Knights, but he switched to Władysław I the Elbow-High’s side later on. In 1326, Siemowit II, Trojden I, and Wenceslaus formed an alliance with the Teutonic Knights to balance power with Władysław I the Elbow-high after he forged an alliance with Western Pomerania in 1325.

From 1313 to 1320, Władysław I the Elbow-high titled himself as the inheritor of the kingdom of Poland, the duke of the kingdom of Poland, or the duke of the whole kingdom of Poland. In June 1318, a meeting took place in Sulejów of dignitaries to reinstitute the position of king of Poland. In 1319, Pope John XXII produced a bull that approved Władysław I the Elbow-high to be coronated as the king of Poland. The bull states that Czechs sent legates to him with John the Blind’s claim to be king of Poland. Pope John XXII says that Władysław I the Elbow-high could proceed to be coronated according to his own conscience. On January 20, 1320, Władysław I the Elbow-high was coronated in Wawel Cathedral by the Archbishop of Gniezno, Janisław. New royal insignia had to be created for the ceremony. Wenceslaus II of Bohemia may have taken the royal insignia to Bohemia. Kraków was selected over Gniezno for the coronation, since Kraków became the seat of the High Duke of Poland during the feudal fragmentation period.

There were some Polish dukes in Mazovia, Silesia, and western Pomerania who did not want to recognize Władysław I the Elbow-high as king of Poland. The Polish dukes of Głogów are examples of dignitaries who did not recognize Władysław I the Elbow-High. Władysław I the Elbow-high removed them from power in Greater Poland. They continued to title themselves as the inheritors of the Kingdom of Poland even though Władysław I the Elbow-High carried the same title.

Władysław I the Elbow-high allied himself with the dukes of Western Pomerania. In 1325, Władysław I the Elbow-high struck an alliance with Barnim III, Otto I, and Warcisław IV Wołogojski. The Pomeranian dukes wanted an alliance to protect themselves against the Margraviate of Brandenburg.

Władysław I the Elbow-high had complicated relations with the Polish dukes of Silesia. In 1310, Władysław I the Elbow-high had his daughter, Kunigunde, marry Bernard of Świdnica to improve relations with the Polish dukes of Silesia. The marriage led to an alliance with Hernard of Świdnica’s brothers, Bolko II and Henry I of Jawor. Władysław I the Elbow-high allied himself with foreign powers. Władysław I the Elbow-high formed a close relationship with Hungary after it helped to get him back into power. In 1320, Władysław I the Elbow-high’s daughter Elizabeth married Charles I Robert who was the king of Hungary. When conflicts arose with the Teutonic Knights in Prussia from about 1308 to 1309, Władysław I the Elbow-high allied himself with the pagan Lithuanians to counterbalance their power. In 1325, Władysław I the Elbow-high had his son Casimir III the Great marry Aldona of Lithuania whose father was Gediminas, the Grand Duke of Lithuania.

Władysław I the Elbow-high was threatened by three states led by Germans. They were the Margraviate of Brandenburg, the Teutonic Knights’ Prussia, and Bohemia led by John the Blind whose father was the Holy Roman Emperor, Henry VII. All three of these kingdoms had aspirations for Polish lands. Polish legates filed a grievance against the Teutonic Knights for their annexation of Gdańsk Pomerania In 1320. A hearing was held in Inowrocław. In 1321, the decision of the court was for the Teutonic Knights to pay 30,000 grzywien to Poland, return Gdańsk Pomerania to Poland, and pay for court fees. The Teutonic Knights protested the verdict and never honored it.

In 1326, Władysław I the Elbow-High attacked the Margraviate of Brandenburg with the support of Lithuania. His aim was to stop its territorial expansion. Władysław I the Elbow-High was able to sign a truce with the Teutonic Knights sometime afterward, but it did not last long. In 1327, Władysław I the Elbow-High attacked Wacław, the Duke of Mazovia, who was allied with the Teutonic Knights. Władysław I the Elbow-High ended up fighting the Teutonic Knights again. Another truce was settled between Władysław I the Elbow-High and the Teutonic Knights. John the Blind titled himself as the King of Bohemia and Poland. In 1327, John the Blind started a campaign to reclaim Kraków. John the Blind called Polish dukes of Silesia to Opawa where they became his vassals. They received their lands from him as fiefs. John the Blind then went to Bytom to get Jan I the Scholastic to pay him homage and become his vassal. John the Blind next went to Wrocław to get Bolesław of Opole to become his vassal. All of these dukes were forced to become John the Blind’s vassals, for the reason that they were threatened by John the Blind’s armed forces.

In 1328, Władysław I the Elbow-high sent forces to Chełmno Land to impede John the Blind’s crusade against the Lithuanians. Władysław I the Elbow-high was in an alliance with the Lithuanians. In 1329, John the Blind formed an alliance with the Teutonic Knights against Poland. John the Blind gave the Teutonic Knights Gdańsk Pomerania. The Teutonic Knights next occupied Dobrzyń Land that was controlled by Władysław I the Elbow-high’s nephew, Władysław Garbaty. On March 29, 1329, John the Blind forced Wacław, the Duke of Płock, to become his vassal. John the Blind then used persuasion and force to get other Polish dukes to become his vassals. Przemko, the Duke of Głogów, was one duke who refused to become his vassal. He ended up being poisoned.

The Teutonic Knights attacked Greater Poland and Kujawy while John the Blind was on his campaign in Poland. They massacred innocent people and burned towns to the ground. Władysław I the Elbow-high attacked Dobrzyń Land with the help of Hungary and Lithuania. A battle was fought at Płowce. It is unknown who won it. In November 1331, the Teutonic Knights attacked Poland again with the help of Bohemia. In April 1332, the Teutonic Knights attacked Kujawy. They were able to conquer Brześć, Inowrocław, and Kruszwica. They were able to get control over Kujawy. In August 1332, Władysław I the Elbow-high went with forces to Chełmno Land and was surrounded by the Teutonic Knights. Peace was settled with the help of a papal legate named Peter of Alwernia. The truce lasted until August 1333. In September 1332, John the Blind confirmed that the Teutonic Knights took Kujawy over.

Unification of Poland

The Feudal Fragmentation Period was a time of chaos for Poland. There were attempts to reinstate one king who would rule over all Polish lands and remove all dukes from power. Henry I the Bearded, Henry II the Pious, and Henry IV Probus were some of the dukes who attempted to reunite the kingdom. The royal crown was used as a symbol to reunite Poland and exemplify ultimate power in the kingdom. No one could have more power than the king. Henry IV Probus placed a crown on his firecrest first during the Feudal Fragmentation Period. He may have had plans to crown himself king. Przemysł II had a crest that had a lion in it, but he replaced it with a crowned eagle. Władysław I the Elbow-high and Casimir III the Great used this crest. After the Union of Lublin in 1569, this crest became the official symbol of the state. Kraków was the city that helped to reunite Poland. Saint Stanislaus of Szczepanów’s story helped to reunite Poland, since he was killed in Kraków. To redeem his death and reunite the kingdom that broke apart after his death, it was necessary to start from Kraków. Other reasons why Kraków was important were it was the largest city in the kingdom, it was the seat for the High Duke of Poland, and all of Poland’s kings were buried there. The Catholic Church had interests in reuniting Poland. Wars between Polish dukes had ravaged its property. Administrative divisions in the kingdom led to problems tending to the Catholic Church’s property as well as to evangelization. The Catholic Church and the Piast dynasty were the two strongest actors that helped to reunify Poland.

Casimir III the Great

On March 2, 1333, Władysław I the Elbow-high died. He was buried in Wawel Cathedral in Kraków. His only living son was Casimir. He was twenty-three years old. When Władysław I the Elbow-high was dying, he told Casimir to restore the lands the Teutonic Knights took from Poland. The lands he referred to were Dobrzyń Land, Gdańsk Pomerania, and Kujawy. On April 25, 1333, Casimir was coronated King of Poland by the Archbishop of Gniezno, Janisław. Historians have given Casimir III the sobriquet, “the Great.” He is the only Polish king with this distinction. Casimir III the Great inherited a kingdom that had two parts that were not linked to one another. They were Lesser Poland and Greater Poland. Casimir III the Great knew how to rule beforehand. In 1331, Casimir III the Great was allowed to rule in his father’s name in Greater Poland and Kujawy.

Casimir III the Great is called Poland’s greatest king. Casimir III the Great integrated his kingdom by centralizing its administration and establishing a single currency. Casimir III the Great fortified twenty-seven towns and many castles during his tenure. It was an attempt to defend them from foreign invasion, especially from Poland’s southwestern borders. Casimir III the Great fought for Poland’s interests, regained its lost lands, developed its territory, and much more. The amount of towns that appeared in Poland from the beginning of Casimir III the Great’s reign to the end of his tenure almost doubled. Before Casimir III the Great became king, there were over 100 towns in Poland. More than fifty towns were the property of the king, while the rest were private or owned by the Catholic Church. Fifty towns were built in Lesser Poland. Thirty-six of the fifty towns were the king’s. Five were built in Ruthenia. All of them were the king’s. Thirty- eight towns were built in Poland’s other parts. Six of them were the king’s. Over 1,000 villages were also established during the reign of Casimir III the Great. To establish a town, the king had to first grant a candidate town a privilege. Law had to then be established in the town. After receiving the status of a town, its inhabitants were exempt from taxes for a period of time.

Casimir III the Great reformed Poland’s monetary system. One grzywna was to be equal to forty-eight grosze. One grosz was divided into two kwartniki. Casimir III the Great’s reform did not last long. During Władysław I the Elbow-high’s reign, the office of treasurer was created. Its significance increased during the time of Casimir III the Great. After Casimir III the Great’s death in 1370, the title of treasurer was materialized and it lasted up until the end of the 18th century. Casimir III the Great also created a new tax called poradlne that was twelve grosze a year for every field.

Casimir III the Great reorganized the state’s treasury. The state treasury was based on the income from the king’s properties that his district heads administered. Other sources of income for the state treasury were taxes and services. Profits from tariffs were sometimes even more profitable than taxes on property. Other sources of income were from mines in Bochnia and Wieliczka. After Red Ruthenia was annexed, new mines were added to the king’s assets in Dolina, Drohobycz, Olkusz, Przemyśł, and Stara Sola.

Trade flourished during the time of Casimir III the Great. The king’s coffers enlarged because of the implementation of fiscalism. A better royal treasury was organized that was equipped to invest in construction and defense. Casimir III the Great implemented protectionist methods in regard to some areas of trade to benefit his kingdom.

Casimir III the Great regulated his kingdom’s salt production industry. His regulations led to profit from the industry multiplying by four times. Miners were not allowed to sell their salt outside of the land their mine was in. To buy salt straight from a mine, a privilege had to be granted from the king. When a miner’s lease of a mine ended, a miner was allowed to sell a certain amount of salt in Kraków. Merchants of Bochnia were only allowed to sell salt to bakers in Kraków, Lublin, Lithuania, Ruthenia, Sandomierz, and to foreign merchants. Casimir III the Great allowed Bohemian merchants to buy salt at mines at higher prices. Hungarian merchants were allowed to buy salt at prices lower that what it cost to produce salt if they used currency that possessed gold and sold them iron in return. In 1362, Casimir III and Rudolf IV of Austria signed a trade pact that allowed merchants from Kraków to trade with Austria and merchants from Vienna to trade with Poland. In 1365, Casimir III the Great and Nuremburg struck a pact for mutual trade. Foreign merchants were not allowed to do business with other foreign merchants in Poland. Casimir III the Great limited the amount of mining emplacements that could exist to sixty. The aim of the limit was to preserve the industry for posterity. The work year was also limited. Miners’ work year was from Saint Michael’s Day on September 29 to Pentecost or from Saint Martin’s Day on November 11 to Pentecost. Casimir III the Great helped found a hospital in Bochnia in 1357 and in Wieliczka in 1363. Miners were required to hire six almoners in Bochnia and Wieliczka. In 1368, legal statutes were issued by Casimir the Great for the salt mines by Kraków. They were protectionist.

Casimir III the Great helped to codify law in Greater Poland and Lesser Poland with the Statuty (“The Statutes”). Casimir III the Great codified law to remove outmoded and contradicting laws. Kronika katedralna krakowska (“Chronicle of the Chapter House of Kraków”) says that he codified law, since he was “enflamed with love of justice.” Lawyers wrote the The Statutes. Some time after 1357, Greater Poland received its own statutes. They may have been composed of thirty-four or fifty-one articles. Lesser Poland’s statutes may have had twenty-five, thirty-five, or 106 articles. After Casimir III the Great died, the two statutes for Greater Poland Lesser Poland were streamlined into one statute.

The Statutes only applied to the nobility and the villagers who were subject to the nobility. Townspeople and villagers who had German law were exempt. The Catholic Church’s clergy was also exempt from The Statutes, since they had their own law. The Statutes helped to form customs and civilize people. The legal principle of actor sequitur forum rei that says the plaintiff must follow the forum of the thing in dispute was used in The Statutes. The Statutes also used the principle of lex retro non agit that means that law will not be retroactive. A third principle of The Statutes was non respiciant praeterita, sed tantummodo praesentia et futura that means that law will only apply to the present tense and future tense, not the past. The Statutes did not have the death penalty, corporal punishment, or life imprisonment. The Statutes state that if someone kills their own family member, none of his or her heirs is allowed to inherit anything. The nineteenth article of Lesser Poland’s statute states that no one’s right to a proper defense could be taken away. This principle spread to the rest of the kingdom.

The Statutes were influenced by canon law. Archbishop Jarosław of Bogoria and Skotnik had a hand in The Statutes. He had a doctorate from Bologne’s university in canon law. Another person who influenced The Statutes was Janusz Suchywilk who also studied at Bologne’s University.

The Statutes had many consequences. They helped to spread German law in Poland. They also helped to build a society based on the classes of the nobility, townspeople, and village people. Some historians date the birth of a society based on classes to The Statutes. In 1334, Casimir III the Great confirmed Bolesław the Pious’ privilege for Jews that gave them the status of servicers of the treasury and protected them. They were only allowed to be placed in a court that the king assigned. More Jews began to come to Poland from the reign of Casimir III the Great. They came to escape persecution after the Black Death from 1348 to 1350 that they were accused of spreading. They settled in large towns, such as Kraków, Lwów, and Sandomierz. Casimir III the Great gave them additional privileges that included their own law, their own judicial system, and freedom of religion. They were also allowed to appeal to the king. In 1388 and 1389, Jagiełło and Vytautas the Great in Lithuania gave Jews privileges in Brześć, Grodno, and Trakai. The document that gave them privileges in 1389 was probably a falsified document. In the 14th century, there were probably several thousand Jews in Poland. By the end of the 15th century, there were around 30,000 Jews in Poland.

Casimir III the Great attempted to improve relations with his neighbors. Before his coronation, Casimir III the Great made an agreement with the Teutonic Knights to prolong their truce that was settled in 1332. Casimir III the Great continued his father’s alliance with Lithuania. Casimir III the Great made a peace settlement with the Margraviate of Brandenburg. The two agreed to both fight banditry together. On April 10, 1334, Pope John XXII helped to resolve differences between Poland and the Teutonic Knights by issuing a bull and sending a papal legate, Galhard de Carceribus, to negotiate a peace settlement. In 1335, Casimir III the Great and John of Bohemia struck a peace accord. In June 1335, Casimir III the Great and the Teutonic Knights agreed to extend peaceful relations between each other for another year. In August 1335, Polish and Bohemian legations met in Hungary for political discussions. The Bohemians wanted to resign from their claim to the throne of Poland in return for Casimir III the Great recognizing John of Bohemia’s claim to the Duchy of Wrocław, the Duchy of Głogów, and the numerous Polish duchies that had dukes who were his vassals.

In November 1335, Casimir III the Great, Charles I of Hungary, John of Bohemia, and representatives of the Teutonic Knights met in Višegrad in Hungary. It was settled that Casimir III the Great had to pay 20,000 pražský groš to John of Bohemia so he could relinquish his claim to the throne of Poland. Kujawy was to return to Poland. Gdańsk Pomerania and Chełmno Land were to remain in the hands of the Teutonic Knights. This settlement was unfavorable for Poland. After the meeting in Višegrad, Casimir III the Great issued a complaint to the Vatican about the Teutonic Knights. In March 1337, John of Bohemia and Casimir III the Great met in Inowrocław to settle the matter between Poland and the Teutonic Knights. From the end of 1337 to the beginning of 1338, Casimir III the Great asked the Vatican to begin a case against the Teutonic Knights. In July 1338, Louis IV, the Holy Roman Emperor, took the Teutonic Knights’ kingdom under his care. He also charged Poland with activities against the Teutonic Knights. On May 4, 1338, judges were called to settle the territorial dispute between Poland and the Teutonic Knights after Pope Benedict XII issued a bull to start the proceedings.

In 1338 or 1339, Casimir III the Great, John of Bohemia, and Charles I of Hungary met again in Višegrad, Hungary. Casimir III the Great confirmed the rights of the House of Anjou to the throne of Poland if he did not have a male heir. Władysław I the Elbow-high may have made such an agreement back in 1327. John of Bohemia swore to not interfere in Poland’s matter with the Teutonic Knights in exchange for Casimir III the Great’s renouncement of claims to John of Bohemia’s Polish lands.

On February 4, 1339, the case between Poland and the Teutonic Knights began in Warsaw. The judges in the case were foreigners. 126 witnesses testified. On September 15, 1339, the verdict stated that the Teutonic Knights had to give back Poland all lands it took, pay 194,500 grzywien to Poland, and pay for all court costs. The Teutonic Knights protested the results and sent an appeal to the Vatican. On July 18, 1341, Pope Benedict XII wrote a bull that told Casimir III the Great that the judgment from 1339 could not be enforced. The only way to settle the matter was through war, but Casimir III the Great did not favor this option.

Casimir III the Great created alliances and added territories to his king. After Bolesław Jerzy II of Mazovia died on April 7, 1340, Casimir III the Great took his principality of Galicia, since it was agreed in 1338 or 1339 at Višegrad that Casimir III the Great would receive it if Bolesław Jerzy II of Mazovia did not leave behind a male heir. In July 1341, John of Bohemia, Charles IV, and Casimir III the Great formed an alliance in Prague, Bohemia. Each of the parties was to help each other militarily. On September 29, 1341, John of Bohemia forced Casimir III the Great to marry Adelaide of Hesse so that they could have closer ties. Casimir III the Great went further to strengthen his alliances. In May 1343, Casimir III the Great formed a pact with the dukes of Western Pomerania. To guarantee the alliance, Casimir III the Great’s daughter, Elizabeth, was to marry Bogislaw V the Duke of Pomerania. Casimir III the Great also strengthened ties with Hungary. Casimir III the Great looked for support from the court of Hungary and was influenced by it. He brought customs from Hungary’s court to Poland. His sister, Elizabeth, was Queen of Hungary and married to Charles I, the King of Hungary. In 1344 to 1345, Casimir III the Great was able strike an alliance with the House of Wittelsbach that ruled the Margraviate of Brandenburg. In the summer of 1345, Casimir III the Great’s daughter, Cunigunde, married Louis the Roman of the House of Wittelsbach in order to strengthen ties between Poland and the Margraviate of Brandenburg.

In July 1343, a peace settlement was made in Kalisz between Casimir III the Great and the Teutonic Knights’ Rudolf König. On July 23, 1343, the two kissed each other in a sign of peace at a village by Inowrocław. Gdańsk Pomerania remained in the hands of the Teutonic Knights, but it was considered to be eternal alms of the king of Poland. Casimir III the Great agreed to not use Pomerania in his title and he agreed to recall his legation to the Vatican to confirm the peace deal. Casimir III the Great was also not allowed to seek help from the pagan Lithuanians. Poland received Kujawy and Dobrzyń Land back. The Teutonic Knights also kept Chełmno Land along with the towns of Murzyn, Nieszawa, and Orłów.

Casimir III the Great used force to impose his will. In 1343, Casimir III the Great occupied Wschowa after Henry V of Iron refused to be a vassal of Bohemia. In the spring of 1345, John of Bohemia attacked Bolko II the Small who was a duke in Silesia. In June 1345, Casimir III the Great attacked in retaliation. John of Bohemia began a campaign against Kraków as a result. He laid siege to Kraków for eight days, but was eventually forced out of Kraków. In September 1345, a truce was settled. In the spring of 1348, Casimir III the Great attacked the Duchy of Wrocław. On April 7, 1348, the king of Bohemia, Charles IV, produced several documents that reestablished his power over Silesia where the Duchy of Wrocław was. The fourth document stated that he would incorporate all of Silesia into Bohemia. In the summer of 1348, peace negotiations occurred between Bohemia and Poland in Namysłów. On November 22, 1348, peace was settled. There was to be eternal and brotherly friendship between the two powers. Casimir III the Great also paid back the rest of his debt to Bohemia. It was also agreed that Charles IV would help Poland in the eventuality of a war with the Teutonic Knights and help return land that was lost to the Margraviate of Brandenburg. After the Archdiocese of Prague was created in 1344, Charles IV tried to incorporate the Diocese of Wrocław into the new Archdiocese of Prague. The Bishop of Wrocław, Przeclaw z Pogarell, supported the idea. In 1351, Casimir III the Great, the Archbishop of Gniezno, Jarosław of Bogoria and Skotnik, and Charles IV met to disuss the matter, but an agreement could not be reached. In May 1356, Casimir III the Great disbanded his claims to the Duchy of Jawor-Świdnica to the favor of Charles IV. He then forfeited his claims to Kluczbork and Byczyna to Charles IV soon after. He hoped to get Charles IV’s help to get back the lands he lost to the Teutonic Knights.

In 1362, Louis I of Hungary, Rudolf IV of Austria, and Casimir III the Great formed an alliance against Charles IV who was Holy Roman Emperor and king of Bohemia. War almost broke out between Hungary and Bohemia. Casimir III the Great was ready to fight in it with Hungary. In 1364, peace was settled in Kraków during a meeting with Casimir III the Great, Charles IV of the Holy Roman Empire, Louis I of Hungary, and several other kings. Casimir III the Great also received a document from Louis I of Hungary during the congress that stated that the House of Anjou would not succeed to the throne of Poland if Casimir III the Great had a male heir.

In the summer of 1341, Casimir III the Great struck an alliance with the House of Luxembourg. Casimir III the Great was to marry John of Bohemia’s oldest sister Margaret, but she died before a final document was produced for the alliance on July 13, 1341. The House of Luxembourg then arranged a marriage between Casimir III the Great and Adelaide of Hesse. On September 29, 1341, the two married in Poznań. In 1356, Casimir III the Great married Christina Rokiczana in Prague. In 1365, Casimir III married Hedwig of Sagan. Casimir III the Great also had an affair with Esther, a Jewish woman. They had two sons named Niemierz and Pełka as well as two daughters. The sons were Christian while the daughters were brought up under Judaism. Casimir III the Great had a total of seven wives during his lifetime. Casimir III the Great used conquest to expand his kingdom. In 1340, Casimir III the Great went on two campaigns in Ruthenia. On his first campaign, he plundered and burned Lwów. It is written that he was able to find a piece of the Holy Cross. Casimir III the Great and Lithuania divided parts of Red Ruthenia they conquered. Casimir III the Great appointed the bojar Dymitr Detko as deputy to rule for him in the newly acquired lands. In 1349, Casimir III the Great attacked Red Ruthenia again when Lithuania was busy fighting a war with the Teutonic Knights. Casimir III the Great transferred Lubart Giedyminowicz to Łuck after the campaign. On December 5, 1349, Casimir III the Great also granted privileges to traders who would trade in the newly conquered lands. Jan Kmita became Red Ruthenia's first polish mayor.

Casimir III the Great’s Ruthenian campaigns upset relations with Louis I of Hungary. On April 4, 1350, Louis I of Hungary and Casimir III the Great settled upon an agreement that said that Ruthenia belonged to Hungary, but Poland could have it if the Polish throne was taken by the House of Anjou. If Casimir III the Great had a male heir, Hungary was given the right to buy Ruthenia for 100,000 forints from Poland.

Casimir III the Great’s Ruthenian campaigns disturbed the balance of power with Lithuania. They led to several Lithuanian attacks on Poland. In May 1350, the Lithuanians attacked the Land of Łęczyca. In August 1350, Lithuania attacked Ruthenia and the Land of Sandomierz. Peace was settled in which Casimir III the Great agreed to return the part of Ruthenia that Lithuania previously held. When Hungary and Poland wear in a union with one another after Casimir III the Great died, Red Ruthenia's borders became vague.

In 1351, Poland and Hungary attacked Lithuania. When it appeared that Casimir III the Great might die in Lublin as the result of an illness, Poles swore an oath of allegiance to Louis I of Hungary to recognize him as their next king. On August 15, 1351, Kęstutis of Lithuania agreed to accept Christianity, allow an archdiocese to open in Lithuania, and ally Lithuania with Poland as well as Hungary. In the winter of 1352, Poland and Hungary attacked Ruthenia again. Belz was conquered and the Hungarians flew their flag over it. On October 1, 1352, Casimir III the Great forced a truce on the Lithuanians that was to last for two years. The peace was unfavorable for Poland, since Lithuanians were allowed to keep part of Ruthenia with many towns that included Lutsk and Belz. It was also settled that both sides would help each other militarily in the future if they were threatened. Peace lasted until 1353 when the two sides started to fight again. In 1355, Casimir III the Great attacked Ruthenia with the help of the Hungarians and Mongols. In 1356, peace was forged between Poland and Lithuania. In 1357, Casimir III the Great attempted to bring Christianity to Lithuania. In 1358, relations between Lithuania and Poland improved after Casimir III the Great’s nephew, Casimir IV, married Algirdas of Lithuania’s daughter, Kenna of Lithuania. In 1359, Casimir III the Great went on a campaign to Moldavia. In 1366, Casimir III the Great attacked Ruthenia once more. Peace was arranged later in 1366. Minor territorial changes were made in Ruthenia with the peace.

The Franciscans and Dominicans went on a mission to Ruthenia. Spreading Roman Catholicism would help Casimir III the Great’s rule there. In 1356, Casimir III the Great granted Lwów the privilege of religious freedom. Some of the ethnic groups that lived in Lwów were Armenians, Jews, Mongols, and Muslims. In 1356, the Armenians were able to open up their own diocese in Lwów. In 1367, a metropolitan was founded in Halych. In the beginning of the 15th century, it was transferred to Lwów. Casimir III the Great also helped to make a diocese in Soroca in Moldavia.

Casimir III the Great had many conflicts with Bohemia. On September 18, 1351, Casimir III the Great took the Duchy of Płock after its duke, Bolesław III, died. Theproblem was that the Duchy of Płock was a fief of Bohemia. Casimir III the Great claimed to have full power over the duchy because he was king.

The Vatican wanted to spread Christianity to peoples who were of other faiths. In May 1352, Pope Clement VI invoked Bohemia, Hungary, and Poland to fight a crusade against the Mongols and other pagans. In 1356, Bohemia, Hungary, and Poland allied with one another and decided to help bring Christianity to Lithuania. On December 17, 1357, Casimir III the Great sent letters to the Vatican that asked for help to get Hungary and Bohemia to defend new Lithuanian Christians against pagan Lithuanians. Casimir III the Great also asked the Vatican to give the Archdiocese of Gniezno jurisdiction over Lithuania. The Vatican agreed under the condition that no one would be harmed. In 1359, it was decided that the Lithuanian Gediminids would covert to Christianity in Wrocław.

Casimir III the Great allied with Hungary. In 1355, a Polish delegation in Buda in Hungary agreed to recognize the succession of the House of Anjou in Poland. Louis I of Hungary guaranteed the rights and privileges of Poland’s knights. In 1364, Casimir III the Great made a final pact with Louis I of Hungary that allowed the House of Anjou to succeed him as king of Poland if he had no male heir. In 1355, Louis I of Hungary announced privileges for Poland’s nobility, Catholic Church, and cities that included no new taxes, respect for current Polish laws, and payment for Polish knights who would fight for him outside the borders of Poland.

Casimir III the Great went on a campaign to recover Polish lands that were lost. After Louis the Roman, who was the Duke of Bavaria and Margrave of Brandenburg, died in 1365, Casimir III the Great was able to get the four dukes of Drzeń and Santok to become his vassals on July 22, 1365. Their names were Arnold, Bartold, Dobrogost, and Holryk. In 1368, Casimir III the Great restored the land between Drawa and Gwda. Some time afterward, he took Czaplinek.

In 1355, the Treaty of Buda stated that the male line of the House of Anjou would inherit the Polish throne if Casimir III the Great died without leaving behind any male heirs. In 1364, Casimir III the Great got Louis the Great to swear that if he had a male son, he would be the king of Poland. Casimir III the Great was able to have a few daughters but no sons. In 1368, Casimir III the Great adopted his grandson Kaźka. It was Casimir III the Great’s plan for Kaźka to succeed after Louis the Great. In his testament, Casimir III the Great transferred Dobrzyń Land, Kujawy, Łęczyce, and Sieradz. He also transferred the towns of Bydgoszcz, Kruszwica, Wałcz, and Złotów.

On November 5, 1370, Casimir III the Great died in Kraków as the last Polish king of the Piast dynasty. Historians attribute the phrase to him that he found Poland made of wood when he first became king and left it made of stone. Poland is in great debt to his services to it.


Written documents were nearly all written in Latin. Only a few were written in Polish. In the 14th century, there are several thousand Polish documents. The oldest book- keeping records in Poland are from Wrocław. They are called Henricus Pauper (“Poor Henry”) and date to 1299-1358.

During the first half of the 14th century, hagiographies were written of Saint Kinga and Saint Salomea. Saint Kinga is known for the story of throwing her wedding ring into a mine. When she told her Hungarian miners to start mining for salt, they were able to find the ring in the first clump of salt they were able to dig up. Saint Salomea became a saint, for the reason that a star flew out of her mouth when she died. In the second half of the 14th century, Stanisław of Kraków wrote the hagiography of Saint Hyacinth who miraculously took the stone statue of Mary and ciborium from a chapel in Kiev during a Mongol attack after the Virgin Mary spoke to him to take her with him as he fled.

At the end of the 13th century and the beginning of the 14th century, Kronika Wielkopolska (“Chronicle of Greater Poland”) was written in Latin. It states that Poles called themselves Lechites before. It says the name Pole comes from the castle-town of Polanów in Pomerania. It states the legend of the founding of the Slavic nations by three brothers for the first time in writing. Lech founded the Lechia nation or Poland. Čech founded Bohemia, Moravia, and Silesia. Rus founded Belarus, Ruthenia, and Ukraine. The author of the Chronicle of Greater Poland may have been the custodian of the cathedral in Poznań, Godzisłaz Baszko.

The 14th century produced many important works on history. From 1380 to 1389, Kronika Jana z Czarnkowa (“The Chronicle of Jan of Czarnków”) was written. It concentrated on the House of Anjou. Kronika katedralna krakowska (“The Chronicle of the Cathedral of Kraków”) narrated history up to 1377. Kronika książąt polskich (“The Chronicle of Polish Leaders”) was written by Peter of Byczyna. It dealt with local history. Kronika wielka (“The Great Chronicle”) gave basis for Polish rights to lands it lost. Many other chronicles were written. The most important writer was Jan Długosz. He came from a family of knights. His father fought in the Battle of Grunwald along with his uncle. He studied at a parish school in Nowy Korczyn and the University of Kraków from 1428 to 1431. He started working for the bishop of Kraków, Zbigniew Oleśńicki, from the age of sixteen. He served as a notary, secretary, and chancellor. In 1440, he was ordained a priest. Casimir IV Jagiellon made him the teacher of his sons.

Jan Długosz was the most famous Polish historian of the Middle Ages. He wrote many exceptional books. He wrote Historia Polonica (“Polish History”) in twelve volumes about Polish history from its beginning up to 1480. It took him twenty-five years to write it from 1455 until he died in 1480. Historia Polonica is one of the most important Polish histories written in the Middle Ages. Długosz wrote other books. Długosz wrote Insignia seu clenodia regis et regni Poloniae (“Royal Insignia or Crown Jewels of the Monarchs of Poland”) that described the coats of arms present in Poland. He also wrote hagiographies of Saint Stanislaus of Szczepanów from 1460 to 1465 and Saint Kinga from 1471 to 1474.


Poland was made up of around 244,000 km2 of land and 1,800,000 people. Core lands of Poland were about 150,000 km2 with 1.4 million people. There were about eight to eight and one-half persons per km2. A small number of these people were German who came from the 13th century and onward. They settled mostly in Lesser Poland and Greater Poland. They were present in cities such as Bochnia, Brześć Kujawski, Inowrocław, Kościan, Kraków, Międzyrzecz, Nowy Sącz, Poznań, Pyzdry, Rogoźno, Tarnów, Wieliczka, and Zbąszyń. If they settled in villages, they were quickly Polonized. There are only a few villages with German names in Poland, such as Barwald Lanckorona, Melsztyn, and Tylmanowa.

During the 14th century, there were four classes in Poland: the clergy, nobility, townspeople, and peasants. The clergy had its own judiciary and was exempt from paying provisions to the kingdom. The Catholic Church was a great landowner in Poland. The Catholic Church brought order and morality to Poles. Nobles, townspeople, and peasants were all allowed to become priests. There were about 4,000 parishes and 200 monasteries that needed clergy. The clergy was the lifeblood of Poland’s intellectual community. Only the clergy was well educated enough to read and write. Some priests studied in foreign universities and directed schools in Poland.

The nobility was able to form in the 14th century from the knighthood, since it received immunities. Nobles who owned land under knightly rights were obligated to fight for the king. To be a member of the nobility, a person had to be born to a noble family, marry a nobleman, or ennobled. Noblemen possessed coats of arms. At the turn of the 13th and 14th centuries, coats of arms began to appear in Poland. They were based on native property symbols and styles taken from Western Europe. There were heraldic nobles who were not related to one another but lived in the same territory. There were more nobles in Poland than in Western Europe. There were great differences between noblemen in terms of wealth. The top class of nobles was composed of owners of castles, towns, and many villages. They sought to become priests and became important actors who influenced politics. This top class of nobles was a small percentage of the entire nobility.

By the end of the 15th century, there were 274 Polish coats of arms. Coats of arms were used during battles to help in strategy. One group of nobles would be called by their coat of arms at a certain time to do a certain task during a battle. Coats of arms were based on surnames that derived from topography. Examples of symbols in Polish coats of arms are animals, armor, axes, birds, buildings, crescents, decorations, fish, flowers, plants, ships, stars, and tools.

Townspeople were given their own judicial system and treasury privileges as the result of adopting German law. Some towns had their own special privileges for their inhabitants. It is for this reason that townspeople cannot be generalized during the 14th century. During the 13th and 14th centuries, many new towns were built in Poland. Many towns were built on the Polish lands of Moldavia, Lithuania, and Ruthenia. Most of the new towns were small. Poland’s most populous city was Kraków at the time. In Lesser Poland and Greater Poland, only a few towns had from one to three thousand inhabitants. The rest of Poland’s towns usually had less than 1,000 people. Germans were present in many towns in the 14th century with both political and economic power. Casimir III the Great and Louis I of Hungary gave Polish towns privileges. Some towns built protective walls around themselves. Towns were important centers of culture that had important architecture, art, ideas, and schools adopted from outside of Poland.

Village people were given the right to self-government and their own courts according to German law. German law stipulated how much peasants were to pay their lords. After a peasant paid up his dues to his lord, he was free to leave from the lord’s village. Casimir III the Great’s Statutes limited how much a peasant was due to his lord. Peasants usually had one field. They did not have political power. Some peasants were able to become nobles and priests. Village people were tried under German law in their own courts that were led by their sołtys (“village leader”). If there was Polish law in a village, they were tried in courts that the owner of the village had authority over.

In the 14th century, monarchy based on a caste-system developed. The kingdom was called Corona Regni Poloniae (“Crown of the Kingdom of Poland”). It replaced the previous system of a patrimonial state ruled by the Piast dynasty. The king was to make political decisions with an advisory council and the sejm (“parliament”). The advisory council developed out of regional meetings that were populated with officials of duchies. At the end of the 14th century, the king’s council was created. The king’s council was composed of the Archbishop of Gniezno, bishop of Kraków, bishop of Włocławek, bishop of Poznań, chancellor, castellans, vice-chancellor, treasurer, marshal, provincial governors, and district heads. The king sometimes brought wealthy persons or leaders of the nobility to his council. When representatives of cities and chapter houses came to meetings of the king’s council, they were called colloquia (“meetings”), conventa (“conventions”), or congregationes (“congregations”), and sejmy walne (“plenary parliaments”). Plenary parliaments became more frequent during the reign of Władysław II Jagiełło. Plenary parliaments implemented decisions on legislation, foreign policy, and matters concerning the administration. Resolutions of the plenary parliaments were only to help the king make decisions. The plenary parliaments helped to decide who should be placed in positions of political power, declare war, mint currency, and establish peace. During the reign of Władysław II Jagiełło, the sejmik ziemski (“regional council”) appeared with nobility participating in it. They decided on matters of self-government and legislation. In the beginning of the 15th century, regional councils spread. They monitored taxes that were greater than the tax limits created in the Koszycki privilege of 1374. Sejmiki prowincjonalne (“provincial councils”) or sejmiki generalne (“general councils”) were created to deal with matters of the nobility in specific parts of Poland. Examples of lands they dealt with were Greater Poland, Lesser Poland, and Ruthenia.

After Poland was reunified in the 14th century, the position of wojewoda (“provincial governor”) appeared. Wojewodas were to lead any pospolite ruszenie (“mobilization of armed forces”), congresses of nobles, and provincial councils. Wojewodas were given power to oversee courts and jurisdiction over Jews. Wojewodas could control measures and weights, establish tariffs in his county, and create maximum prices. The position of general district head was created who helped to mobilize armed forces, collect taxes, chair courts, and administer the king’s lands.

During the second half of the 14th century, central positions replaced district positions. These positions included the position of chancellor who controlled all documents that the chancellery produced. The position of treasurer was made out of the position of treasurer in Kraków. The position of marshal was created with the influences of Czech and Hungarian marshals. The marshal was responsible for administering the king’s court. The position of hetman was created if the king chose someone to help him lead in battle, since the king was the head of the armed forces during wars and mobilizations.

Catholic Church

The Archdiocese of Gniezno had jurisdiction over the dioceses of Kraków, Płock, Poznań, and Włocławek. After the union with Lithuania, it had jurisdiction over the diocese of Wilno and Miedno. In 1375, a new archdiocese was established in Halych. It was later moved to Łwów. The archdiocese was later given jurisdiction over the dioceses of Chełmno, Kamieniec Podolski, Kiev, Łuck, and Przemyśł.


Mining was an important activity in the 14th century in Poland and in Central Europe. Gold was mined in Złotoryja and Lwówek in Silesia. Lead was mined in Silesia and Lesser Poland. Salt was mined in Bochnia and Wieliczka in Lesser Poland. Lead was very important during the time of Casimir III the Great. It was used heavily in export as well as in construction in Poland. In order to search for lead and mine it, a license was needed from the king. The one who mined lead had to pay about 10% of the worth of his lead to the king’s coffers. Land was the largest source of income for the king.

The king was the largest landowner in Poland. During the 14th century and particularly during the reign of Casimir III the Great, royal income rose sharply from land. Other important sources of income for the king were taxes on land owned by the Catholic Church and knights, tariffs, mining, mining rights, currency, and city taxes.


Gothic architecture was adopted from Western Europe in Polish castles, churches, town halls, and town houses. Czech influence in architecture can be found in Silesia and Lesser Poland. French influences can be seen in Greater Poland. Lower Silesian influences can be seen in Pomerania. Important cathedrals were built such as the Cathedral Basilicia of Saint John the Baptist and Saint John the Evangelist in Toruń, Corpus Christi Basilica in Kraków, Gniezno’s cathedral, Saint Mary’s Basilica in Kraków, and Wrocław’s cathedral. Many remarkable paintings and sculptures were created in these churches as well as others. Memorable churches were built in Chybice, Głogów, Kraków, Kurzelów, Pelplin, Sandomierz, Stopnica, Strzegom, Świdnica, Toruń, Wiślica, and Wrocław. Churches were the center of cultural life in Poland at the time.


During the second-half of the 14th century, Poland’s economy expanded. New villages and towns were built. Forms of agricultural and artisanal production advanced. Trade flourished within Poland and with foreign countries. The raising of cows, horses, pigs, and sheep developed. Agriculture progressed. Crafts expanded and advanced. More and better mills, windmills, and furnaces were constructed. Agriculture became more efficient with the production of better tools.

Townspeople’s main occupations were crafts and trade. When trade flourished, populations grew. More types of crafts developed as the result of larger populations. Mining developed in Greater Poland, Silesia, and Zagłębie Staropolskie. It also developed around Kielce and Olkusz. Blacksmithing advanced with new techniques. It led to better production of metals. Better bricks were formed with colored glazes.

Guilds were created to regulate production of crafts. Masters were at the head of guilds. They taught apprentices their craft for several years. When they mastered their craft, they could conduct their craft independently. German law led peasants to pay to rent land and to pay lords in money and not services. It led to greater demand for products, and it increased transactions made in money as opposed to services. Villages and towns that had German law had better economies than villages and towns with Polish law.

The Catholic Church, king, and nobility owned manors that were composed of land that ranged from one to three fields. They hired labor to work on their land or allowed peasants to live on their land in exchange for produce and/or services. Poland’s major trade routes were from Noremberg and Prague to Kraków, Łwów, and Wrocław. From those Polish cities, trade went to Kilia, Caffa, and Bilhorod- Dnistrovskyi in Ukraine. Another trade route was from Hungary to Sącz, Kraków, and Toruń. From those cities the route continued to Gdańsk. A third route was from Kraków to Sandomierz and Lublin. From those cities, it went to Lithuania. Another route was from Piotrków to Pyzdry and Poznań. From Pyzdry and Poznań, it went to Frankfurt and Szczecin. Poland exported cloth eastward, salt southward, and cattle westward. Poland’s imports were metal products from the west, roots and silk from the east, and wine from the south. Items that traveled through Poland to other lands were copper from Hungary, oxen from Moldavia, and textiles and herrings from Germany.


During the 14th century, parish schools were the basis of Polish education. They taught students to read, write, and sing church songs. Cathedral and monastic schools were better than parish schools. They taught dialectics, grammar, Latin, and rhetoric.

Louis the Great

Poland was in a union with Hungary when Louis the Great was king of Hungary from 1342 to 1382. Hungary had more territory, a larger population, and a better economy than Poland. Louis the Great had supporters as well as opponents in Poland. His opponents in Poland wanted a native candidate to be king. They were willing to depose Louis the Great. The ones who supported Louis the Great reaped economic benefits from the union with Hungary. They were able to have influence in Poland, since Louis the Great’s base was in Hungary. Some of the members of the important Polish families who supported Louis the Great belonged to the Gryfits, Korczaks, Leliwits, Lises, Odrowążs, Poraje-Kurozwęks, Rawits, Śreniawits, Sulimczyks, and Toporczyk- Starżs. Many elite members of important families in Lesser Poland married with Hungarians. Reasons for these marriages may have been to improve economically or to gain political power. Poles who opposed Louis the Great wanted closer contact with Pomerania and good relations with the Luxembourg family. They also wanted to block Louis the Great’s daughters to succeed him in Poland. These opponents included the Archbishop of Gniezno, Jarosław Bogoria Skotnicki. Greater Poland was a part of Poland that had many who opposed Louis the Great. Some of the families who opposed Louis the Great included the Nałęczes, Zarębs, and Łodzes. Jan of Czarnkowa was the vice chancellor who represented these families’ stance.

When Casimir III the Great was ill, Louis the Great sent the duke of Opole, Władysław, and Piotr Czudar to ensure that he would be able to succeed him. After Casimir III the Great died on November 5, 1370, Louis the Great came to Poland on November 7, 1370. Poles wanted Louis the Great to be coronated in Gniezno, but he instead was coronated in Kraków on November 17, 1370. Louis the Great promised to go to Gniezno Cathedral in his royal garb to lay down Poland’s royal insignia, but he did not honor his promise. He took Poland’s royal insignia to Hungary. It angered many in Poland. Louis the Great titled himself simply as Rex Poloniae (“King of Poland”). He discarded all previous titles that listed the specific lands the king of Poland ruled over.

Louis the Great changed Casimir III the Great’s testament. It was done with the approval of Lesser Poland’s elite. Louis the Great annulled the part of the testament that said that Kaźka received Kujawy, Łęczyce, and Sieradz. Louis the Great only let him have Bydgoszcz, Dobrzyń Land, Kruszwica, Wałcz, and Złotów as fiefs. Kaźka did not protest the changes. He became a loyal vassal of Louis the Great. Louis the Great transferred Boblice, Land of Wieluń, and Olsztyn to the Duke of Opole, Władysław. After Kaźka resigned from his ambitions to become king of Poland, opponents of Louis the Great turned to Władysław the White who used to be duke of Gniewków and had given up his claims to his duchy to Casimir III the Great. Władysław the White was a Benedictine monk in Dijon, France. When he learned that he died, opponents of Louis the Great from Greater Poland were able to get him to come to Hungary to see if he could get his inheritance of Polish land. Jan Czarnkowa attempted to exhume Casimir III the Great’s body to retrieve the royal insignia that he was buried with in order to let Władysław the White use them to become king. The attempt was unsuccessful. Jan Czarnkowa lost his position of vice chancellor after the incident, had his property confiscated, and was expelled. He was able to return to Poland later on. He wrote an important chronicle on Poland after this affair.

Władysław the White tried to get Kujawy and other lands that his inheritance should have included with Louis the Great’s approval. When he was unable to persuade Louis the Great, he was able to get control of Gniewkowo, Inowrocław, Szarlej, and Złotoria with the help of their inhabitants in 1373. Afterward, he tried to get Greater Poland. Troops were mobilized in Kujawy and Greater Poland. Władysław the White was forced to capitulate. Władysław the White attempted to persuade Louis the Great again to grant him his patrimony to no avail. He went to Brandenburg for support and did not resign from his claims. In 1375, Władysław the White attempted to get his inheritance again. He was able to conquer Gniewkowo and Złotoria with the help of Ulrich von Osten. Louis the Great’s forces subdued them at Gniewkowa. In the spring of 1376, Louis the Great’s forces laid siege to Złotoria. Władysław the White surrendered. Zawisz of Kurozwęk mediated in peace talks. The verdict was that Louis the Great had to pay Władysław the White 10,000 forints and give him an abbey in Pannonhalma in Hungary. In return, Władysław the White would resign from his claim to the Duchy of Gniewko. In 1379, Władysław the White went to Gdańsk. Louis the Great quickly paid Władysław the White he owned him. Władysław the White then went to France.

During Louis the Great's reign, regional and local positions were liquidated. Political power was centralized. From 1370 to 1379, the positions of chancellor and vice chancellor in Kraków became royal positions that had jurisdiction over the whole country and not just Kraków. After Casimir III the Great died, many of Poland’s lands were taken even though Louis the Great swore to protect Poland’s lands. Brandenburg took Santok and Drzeń from Poland. Siemowit III repudiated being a vassal and took Płock according to an agreement settled earlier. The Lithuanian dukes Kiejstut and Lubart attacked and annexed Włodzimierz Wołyński that was ruled by Aleksander Koriatowicz. Aleksander Koriatowicz received it earlier from Casimir III the Great.

Louis the Great let Elżbieta Łokietkówna rule as his regent in Poland. She was the sister of Casimir III the Great. Her title was, Regina Poloniae (“Queen of Poland”). In 1375, Queen Elizabeth resigned from her position of regent and fled to Hungary. In January 1376, Louis the Great tried to establish order in Poland by visiting. He was unable to do much. He transferred power to the elite in Lesser Poland. Elizabeth returned to Poland, but she did not stay long. A conflict ensued between Elizabeth's entourage and Poles. It led to the mayor of Krakow, Jan Kmita, being beheaded and several Hungarians being killed. In the beginning of 1377, Elizabeth left Poland again. In the beginning of 1378, Louis the Great made Władysław Opolczyk his regent in Poland. Władysław Opolczyk received Bydgoszcz, Dobrzyń Land, and Gniewkowa after Kaźka died. Louis the Great gave him these lands to support the Angevin dynasty in Poland. On March 28, 1378, the elite of Greater Poland questioned at a meeting in Gniezno if Władysław Opolczyk could be regent according to Polish law. Under pressure, Louis the Great made Elizabeth regent for the third time, but she was powerless and a regent only in name.

In 1380, Elizabeth Łokietkowna died. In 1381, Louis the Great made the bishop of of Kraków, Zawisz of Kurozwęk, his regent in Poland. His title was vice domini regis (“Vice Lord of the King”). Louis the Greaet appointed four men to rule with him. Their names were Dobiesław of Kurozwęk, Domarat of Pierzchna, Jan Radlica, and Sędziwój of Szubin,. Zawisz of Kurozwęk had the power to fill nearly all positions of power. On January 12, 1382, Zawisz died. Louis the Great made Sigismund of Luxemburg — who was the Margrave of Brandenburg — regent in Poland. Sigismund of Luxemburg was married to Louis the Great’s daughter, Maria. Louis wanted both of them to rule in Poland as monarchs.

Louis the Great took exception to the Treaty of Buda in 1355 that only allowed for a male heir from the Angevin line to rule in Poland. The only way the treaty could be altered was by agreement with Poland's elite. Louis the Great tried to change the terms of the treaty, since he only had daughters. He found resistance in Poland's clergy. To get the nobility on his side, Louis the Great restituted its lands that it lost during Casimir III the Great's reign. In 1372, Elizabeth established courts of restitution upon the nobility's request. The courts were not very effective, but Elizabeth was able to restitute some lands for the elite in Greater Poland. Other privileges were given to the nobility such as the ability to charter towns and villages. Townspeople were won over by granting privileges that let them increase their incomes and have greater access to trade southward and eastward. It was unavailable to them before. Biecz, Bochnia, Czchòw, Kalisz, Lublin, Nowy Sącz, Poznań, and Sandomierz were given the privileges of being exempt from tariffs. They were also given access to new trade routes. In 1372, Kraków received the right of ius stapulae (“the right to block certain imports”). Louis the Great allowed Kraków to have access to trade in the Black Sea by limiting Łwòw's privileges of ius stapulae. Kraków was given the privilege of forcing merchants to come to Kraków if Kraków was on the way to their final destination. It brought Krakòw tremendous profits.

In 1376, Louis the Great allowed the townspeople of Krakòw the right to buy land that was up to two miles away from Kraków. They were also allowed to apply German law on the land they bought. On October 3, 1373, Poznan's elite received a new privilege in Koszyce. It had to recognize Louis the Great's daughter as his successor in return for the privilege. On September 17, 1374, an agreement was made in Koszyce that the nobility promised to honor Louis the Great's daughter as his successor in return for removing many taxes on the nobility. One tax it still had to pay was a two grosze per field tax. The privilege also limited the nobility's obligation to fight for only the protection of the country's borders. If the nobility had to fight in a foreign war, it was to be paid five grzywien. If a nobleman was harmed or taken prisoner, the king had to pay for his indemnification. The Koszyce Privilege weakened the monarchy. It strengthened the position of the nobility to the detriment of the kingdom. It also reduced the amount of money the king could get from taxes. It also made the nobility feel important and distinct. Louis the Great promised not to allow foreigners into positions of power in Poland and give out fiefs of Polish land to foreigners. Louis the Great also promised to honor the nobility's and cities' privileges. On September 17, 1374, Poland's elite paid homage to Louis the Great's daughter, Catherine, as his successor. On April 14, 1375, an agreement was struck in Brna that set the terms of the marriage of Sigismund of Luxemburg to Louis the Great's daughter, Maria. Sędziwòj of Szubin and Bartosz of Odolanów confirmed it. It in effect recognized Maria's right to rule Poland after her father. In 1378, Sigismund's father asked the king of France to recognize the House of Luxemburg's claim to Poland. In 1378, Catherine died. Sigismund of Luksemburg and Maria were rightful rulers of Poland. They were not recognized by some at first. In 1379 at a congress in Koszyce, opponents of Maria were locked within the gates of the city until they recognized her as ruler.

Louis the Great did not defend Polish lands as king. In 1372, Louis the Great gave the rights to Silesia to the house of Luxemburg. He did not try to take back Santok and Drzeń after Brandenburg took it. He did not demand the return of Włodzimierz Wołyński from Lithuania after it captured it. He also had good relations with the Teutonic Knights who had their sights on expanding and taking Polish land. On October 10, 1372, Louis the great made Władysław Opolczyk his deputy in Red Ruthenia. Władysław Opolczyk was related to the Angevins and was a palatine in Hungary previously. His nomination was an attempt to spread Hungarian influence. His title was terrae Russiae dominos et heres (“Lord and Heir of the Land of Ruthenia”). He had power to collect taxes for the king in his territory. In 1378, Louis the Great made Władysław Opolcyk his regent in Poland. Władysław Opolczyk supported the colonization of Red Ruthenia by Poles and Germans. He also helped to support the Catholic Church's expansion there. In 1375, he supported establishing a new archdiocese in Halych with the dioceses of Chełmno, Przemysł, and Włodzimierz Wołyński under its jurisdiction. Władysław Opolczyk ruled as regent in Poland and not just in Red Ruthenia after the campaign of 1377. He also received the lands of Kaźka after he died. Louis the Great let Hungarian mayors rule in Red Ruthenia afterward.

In 1376, Kiejstut and Lubart of Lithuania tried to capture Red Ruthenia from Poland and Hungary. Jerzy Narymuntowicz, a Polish vassal and duke, fought on their side. They devastated the Lubelskie Region. They took thousands of prisoners home. In 1377, Louis the Great retaliated. Polish forces conquered Chełm, Grabowiec, Horodło, and Sewłoż. Hungarian forces conquered Bełz. Bełz and other towns that were conquered were annexed to Red Ruthenia. Jerzy Narymuntowicz lost Lubaczowem and had to pay 100 grzywien.


On September 11, 1382, or September 12, 1382, Louis the Great died. He was buried in Hungary. After Louis the Great died, it was believed that his daughter, Maria, would rule. Her husband, Sigismund of Luxemburg, began to receive homage from towns in Greater Poland. Some noblemen did not like him or his family. They did not want to continue their union with Hungary. When Sigismund tried to come to Kraków, its guards did not let him in.

On November 25, 1382, representatives of Lesser Poland and Greater Poland met in Radomsk. They wanted one of Louis the Great's daughters to rule in Poland only if she would stay in Poland permanently. On December 6, 1382, Hungarian delegates at Wiślica told Polish delegates to not pay homage to Sigismund of Luxemburg. He was forced to leave Poland. In February 1383, Hungarians and Poles met at Sieradz and decided that Louis the Great's younger daughter, Jadwiga, should become king. They wanted to coronate her in Poland. Afterward, she would go to Hungary for three years. After three years, she would rule Poland when she was of age.

There were problems in Poland that had to be dealt with before Jadwiga came to Poland. Siemowit IV, the duke of Mazovia, had aspirations of becoming king. When there was a conflict in Greater Poland between the families of the Grzymaliks and Nałęczes, Siemowit IV supported the Grzymaliks. Pitched battles ensued. On March 8, 1383, Lesser Poland's elite was able to make a four-month truce between the two sides. They supported a union with Hungary. On March 28, 1383, it was decided at a meeting in Sieradz that Jadwiga was to come to Kraków on May 10, 1383. If she did not come, all of their agreements would lose their worth. They also demanded that Hungary return Red Ruthenia and the land that Władysław Opolczyk received from Louis the Great. Archbishop Bodzanta and some noblemen had a plan to have Jadwiga marry Siemowit IV. It was struck down by Jan of Tęczyna, who was the castellan of Wojnicz. Siemowit attempted to disguise himself to get to Jadwiga and force her to marry her. The plan was uncovered before it could happen. Siemowit IV then conquered Kujawy in an attempt to become king. On June 16, 1383, a congress composed of nobility at Sieradz made Siemowit IV king. Siemowit IV then believed that the nobles at Sieradz who wanted to make him king were not powerful enough to designate him king. Siemowit IV did not allow himself to be coronated. Siemowit IV went on a campaign with Bartosz of Odolanów and Konrad Oleśnicki to conquer some towns. Siemowit IV struck a truce with the elite of Lesser Poland, but it did not last long. They ended up attacking Siemowit IV with greater forces in Mazovia. Sigismund of Luxemburg sent 12,000 Hungarians to help them fight Siemowit IV. Sigismund of Luxemburg wanted to support Jadwiga's claim to be king of Poland. On October 6, 1383, Władysław Opolski negotiated for Siemowit IV to resign from his claim of being king.

On November 11, 1383, Jadwiga was supposed to come to Poland, but she did not appear. She demanded that Wawel Castle be turned over to Hungary. She held some Polish emissaries as hostage in Zadar until she would get the castle. Jadwiga's title was "następczynią w Królestwie Polskim pana Ludwika wymienionego króla, prawdziwą i uprawnioną, oraz dziedziczką Królestwa Polskiego" (“Successor in the Kingdom of Poland of the Enumerated King Louis the Great, Real and Entitled, and Heiress of the Kingdom of Poland”). In the winter of 1383 and 1384, it was unclear if she was really king. On March 2, 1384, a congress of nobility met at Radomsk that decided to secure the country during the interregnum. They decided to give the administrative official of a territory six advisers from the nobility and two from the townspeople. A Polish embassy went to Hungary and set the latest date for Jadwiga to come to Poland. If she did not come, someone else could become king. Jadwiga's mother Elizabeth made Sigismund of Luxemburg governor in Poland, since she wanted her daughter, Jadwiga, to remain in Hungary. Poles did not allow him to come to Poland though. He was just given a new deadline for Jadwiga to come to Poland.


In the autumn of 1384, Jadwiga came with cardinal of Esztergom, Dimitry, and the Bishop of Csanád, Jan, at the age of ten. On October 16, 1384, Jadwiga was coronated as the king of Poland, but she was addressed as the Queen of Poland. Before she was of proper age to rule, Lesser Poland's elite that was composed of Dobiesław of Kurozwęk, Dymitr of Goraj, Jan of Tęczyn, Jan of Tarnów, Krystyn of Ostrów, and Spytek of Melsztyn controlled politics in Poland for Jadwiga.

Jadwiga had the largest library in central Eastern Europe. She supported reforming the Catholic Church the way that scholars from the University of Prague wanted. Jadwiga had parts of the Bible translated along with hagiographies and other religious writings. One document that was written in Polish for her was the Floriański Psalter. It is one of the oldest documents written in Polish. There was a plan to marry Jadwiga to Wilhelm Habsburg. Kraków's important families — such as the Kurozwęckis, Melsztyńskis, and Tarnowskis — were opposed to the idea of marrying Jadwiga to Wilhelm Habsburg. Poland would not get any benefits from it. The idea of marrying Jadwiga to Jagiełło of Lithuania was another option. There were many advantages to marrying Jagiełło. Closer ties to Lithuania would end conflicts between Poland and Lithuania over Podolia, Red Ruthenia, and Volhynia. It would bring an ally to Poland's side against the Teutonic Knights. It would create the possibility of expansion eastward. Lithuania would become Roman Catholic. The Teutonic Knights would not have to go on a crusade to convert pagan Lithuania.

On January 18, 1385, Jagiełło sent an official embassy to Poland to ask to marry Jadwiga. Skirgiełło, Jagiełło's oldest brother, was at the head of the embassy. He came with the nobles Olgimunt and Boris Koriatowicz as well as Hanul who represented the townspeople of Vilnius. The embassy said that Jagiełło was ready to convert to Roman Catholicism and to bring Roman Catholicism to his country. Kraków's elite was satisfied. Some delegates also went to Hungary to speak to Jadwiga's mother to get approval, since Jadwiga was not an adult. She said that she would let Jadwiga and Poland's elite decide. In the summer of 1385, a congress was held in Kraków. A majority was in favor of a union with Lithuania. Hińczko of Roszkowice Krystyn of Ostrów, Piotr Szafraniec, and Włodek of Ogrodzieniec went as Polish emissaries to Lithuania to get an official document from Jagiełło on the marriage and union. Jadwiga's mother then changed her stance. She allowed Wilhelm Habsburg to marry Jadwiga. She was under the influence of Duke Leopold III of Austria. Earlier, on June 15, 1378, Louis the Great made the Pact of Hainburs that set forth that Wilhelm Habsburg would marry Jadwiga. There was a marriage ceremony when Wilhelm was eight and Jadwiga was four. The marriage could only be validated after the two made love. Wilhelm had to be fourteen and Jadwiga had to be twelve for it to be legal. It also had to be consensual and not forced. Saint Thomas' teachings stated that a marriage could be consummated six months before the proper age. The earliest the marriage could be consummated was in August 1385.

In August 1385, Wilhelm appeared in Kraków. Kraków's elite did not allow Wilhelm to come near Jadwiga. Jan Długosz wrote that the two met and Wilhelm forced her to consummate the marriage in a Franciscan monastery. However, it is not true. Wilhelm was forced to leave Kraków, since he had no support there. He still believed that he was to marry Jadwiga until the day he died. The Teutonic Knights and Austria created propaganda that Jadwiga had performed bigamy. It led to a delay from the Pope to recognize the marriage between Jadwiga and Jagiełło.

On August 14, 1385, Jagiełło declared the Union of Krewo in Kreva in today’s Belarus. Jagiełło stated his obligations to the kingdom of Poland. He promised that he himself, his family, and his vassals would convert to Roman Catholicism. He promised to pay back Wilhelm 200,000 florens for his dowry, return Poland's lost lands, and free all Polish captives in Lithuania. He also promised to incorporate Lithuania and Ruthenia into Poland. The document from the Union of Krewo begins with the following words translated from Latin into English, "We, Jagiełło, from God's grace, the Grand Duke of Lithuania and Ruthenia, the natural inheritor, declare the news to all to whom it concerns..." In the union, the chancellery of the king was given jurisdiction over the newly incorporated lands. The lands were treated as fiefs. The Archdiocese of Gniezno was granted jurisdiction over the new lands. Some Lithuanians lost their positions of power in Lithuania and Ruthenia as Poles took their places. Lithuanian dukes came to pay homage to the new king and queen in Kraków. From their perspective, they felt that Lithuania still had autonomy.

Władysław II Jagiełło

On January 11, 1386, Jagiełło was preelected to be king of Poland in Wołkowysku. It was stipulated that he would marry Jadwiga. On February 2, 1386, The nobility assembled at Lublin and voted to make Jagiełło king. Poland and Lithuania were officially in a union. In historiography, there is debate if Lithuania maintained its sovereignty in a union with Poland or if it became a part of Poland. On February 15, 1386, Jagiełło and his brothers converted to Roman Catholicism in Kraków. The Grand Master of the Teutonic Knights was invited to become the Godfather of Jagiełło, but he declined. Instead, Władysław Opolczyk became his Godfather. Jagiełło took his name, Władysław, as his baptismal name. Jagiełło's brother Korygiełło took the baptismal name of Kazimierz and his other brother Świdrygiełło took the baptismal name of Bolesław. On February 18, 1386, Jagiełło married Jadwiga. Jadwiga knew five languages, while Władysław II Jagiełło was illiterate. It caused difficulties for the royal couple. They also had trouble conceiving an heir. Jadwiga was able to achieve the respect of Poles and Lithuanians as she matured. Mikołaj Trąba was sent to the Apostolic See and was able to get a document that nullified the marriage between Jadwiga and Wilhelm Habsburg. In 1387, the Habsburgs brought a case on the marriage in the Roman Curia, but it was dismissed. In 1388, Pope Urban VI recognized the marriage of Władysław II Jagiełło and Jadwiga. He also approved a new diocese in Vilnius.

On March 4, 1386, Jagiełło was coronated as Władysław II Jagiełło. Jadwiga ruled as a joint king after Władysław II Jagiełło was coronated. Her powers were not lessened, but she was only allowed to use them when she became an adult. On the day that Władysław II was married to Jadwiga, he expanded the privilege of 1374 that was granted in Koszyce. More privileges were given on August 29, 1386, in Kraków and on February 29, 1388, in Piotrków. He agreed to pay the ransom to free knights who were captured during an invasion. In 1387, Władysław II Jagiełło gave Lithuanian boyars a privilege to inherit and pass down property. Some of their property was also exempt from taxes. Only Catholic boyars were given these privileges. Władysław II Jagiełło and Jadwiga gave privileges to towns in Ruthenia, such as Lwów. Władysław II Jagiełło gave Siemowit IV the Land of Belz in return for resigning from claims to the crown of Poland. Siemowit IV ended up marrying Władysław II Jagiełło's sister, Aleksandra.

The Polish-Lithuanian union produced a kingdom that was about 497,096 mi2 (800,000 km2) in size. Its existence balanced power with the Teutonic Knights state that was set on expansion. A negative aspect of the union was the fact that Hungary lost an ally in Poland and relations with the Germans and Czechs became tense. Polish merchants were granted access to a bigger market with the union that included the Black Sea.

Evangelization of Lithuania was Władysław II Jagiełło's first task as king of Poland. On February 17, 1387, Władysław II Jagiełło granted a privilege for the new diocese in Vilnius on his first trip to Lithuania after being coronated. He gave it an estate composed of fifty to sixty villages. The diocese was exempt from taxes and it was given its own law. It was also given jurisdiction over the people on its lands. The first bishop of Vilnius was Andrzej. His coat of arms was Jastrzębiec. Seven parishes were first established. New churches were built in Vilnius and other towns. A few days later he gave the same privileges he gave to the diocese of Vilnius to the Catholic Church in all of Lithuania. Władysław II Jagiełło tried to convert all Lithuanians. If someone resisted, he or she was forced to convert. Symbols of paganism in Lithuania were destroyed. Some pagan relics remained up until the 16th century. In 1387, Jadwiga went on a campaign to Red Ruthenia to remove Hungarians in power there and annex it to Poland. Hungary could not intervene, since it was in a succession crisis. Most of the Hungarians in Red Ruthenia gave up without a fight. Halych was the only area that resisted. Jan of Tarnów was made the first mayor in Red Ruthenia by Jadwiga after it was annexed. In autumn 1387, the hospodar of Moldovia, Peter, paid homage to Władysław II Jagiełło and Jadwiga in Lwów. He swore fidelity to their successors before Moldavia was under Hungary's influence. In 1389, the hospodar of Wallachia, Mircza the Old, allied with Poland.

In 1387, the opposition to Władysław II Jagiełło was suppressed in Lithuania. Władysław II Jagiełło's brother, Skirgiełło, defeated the Duke of Płock, Andrzej, and imprisoned him. On April 28, 1387, Władysław II Jagiełło gave the Duke of Trakai, Skirgiełło, jurisdiction over the districts of Lithuania that were divided among the descendants of Jawnuta, Kiejstut, Koriat, Narymunt, and Olgierd. Vytautas the Great was a major problem for Władysław II Jagiełło. Vytautas the Great was unhappy with the land he inherited. He wanted Trakai but would be satisfied if he received Lutsk and Volhynia that are in today's Ukraine. Vytautas the Great conspired with the Teutonic Knights. The Teutonic Knights would help get back the lands he wanted in return for giving them Grodno, Samogitia, and paying for the expenses of the war. Władysław II Jagiełło went on a campaign and ended up conquering Brześć, Grodno, and Kamyanyets. In the summer of 1390, Vytautas the Great and the Teutonic Knights organized a large campaign against Lithuania. Henry Bolingbroke was at the head of the campaign. In 1399, he ended up becoming Henry IV, the king of England. His forces laid siege to Vilnius that was defended by Polish forces. The grand master of the Teutonic Knights along with Władysław II Jagiełło's brother, Korygiełło-Kazimierz, and Vytautas the Great's brother, Towciwiłł-Konrad, died. The Teutonic Knights escaped. Władysław II Jagiełło stationed Polish troops in Vilnius and gave the city arms for defense. In 1391, the new grand master of the Teutonic Knights, Konrad Wallenrod, attacked Lithuania. He was able to subdue Wiłkomierz and several other towns in Lithuania. When Władysław II Jagiełło sent troops into Dobrzyń Land, where the Teutonic Knights had troops, Konrad Wallenrod pulled his troops out of Lithuania. Vytautas the Great was able to conquer Grodno and some other land that he claimed with the help of the Teutonic Knights. Samogitia remained as a possession of the Teutonic Knights.

Władysław II Jagiełło decided to make peace with Vytautas the Great, since he believed a victory could not be produced in the war. He sent the Duke of Mazovia, Henryk, to start secret negotiations with Vytautas the Great. Vytautas the Great agreed to end his alliance with the Teutonic Knights in exchange for getting the lands he demanded as his inheritance from his father. On August 4, 1392, Władysław II Jagiełło and Vytautas the Great struck an agreement in Ostrów. Vytautas the Great received control over the principality of Trakai and the ability to rule over all of Lithuania as Władysław II Jagiełło's deputy. Władysław II Jagiełło's brother Skirgiełło who held the position before was given the principality of Kiev for stepping down. Vytautas the Great's title was Dux Lithuaniae (“Duke of Lithuania”).

Vytautas the Great had many troubles with the Teutonic Knights as the viceroy in Lithuania. They accused him of betrayal and attacked his lands. From 1392 to 1394, they attacked Lithuania six times. After 1394, they gave up their aspirations of conquering all of Lithuania and focused on controlling Samogitia. Vytautas the Great tried to centralize power in Lithuania by removing most of the dukes who had power in Lithuania and by taking direct control of Ruthenia. Vytautas the Great had ambitions of spreading eastward all the way to the Ural Mountains and Caspian Sea. Vytautas the Great may have had ambitions to become king. Władysław II Jagiełło may have supported the idea, since he had no male sons. Kraków's elite did not favor Vytautas the Great becoming independent. In 1398, Jadwiga tried to get Vytautas the Great to pay her yearly tributes that she was owed according to the marriage agreement she had with Władysław II Jagiełło, but Vytautas the Great denied her.

In October 1398, Vytautas the Great made peace with the Teutonic Knights on the island of Salina. He did it without Poland. Vytautas the Great let them have Samogitia and promised to help them conquer it. He also let them have Pskov in return for letting them not interfere in Veliky Novgorod. Lithuanian boyars declared Vytautas the Great king at Salina, but he did not coronate himself. Vytautas the Great also set forth plans at Salina to expand into the lands the Mongols controlled. Władysław II Jagiełło agreed to send Polish troops to help him. Bishop Wojciech Jastrzębiec was able to get papal approval to start a crusade against the Mongols for Vytautas the Great. In 1399, Vytautas the Great was helped in his campaign by Marquard von Salzbach of the Teutonic Knights and Spytek of Melsztyn. On August 12, 1399, the Mongols won the Battle of the Vorskla River. Spytek of Melsztyn and Władysław II Jagiełło's brothers, Andrzej and Dymitr, died. The project of uniting all of Ruthenia ended with the loss in the battle. It also weakened Lithuania's position internationally. At the end of 1400, talks were held in Grodno between Poles and Lithuanians to strengthen ties. On January 18, 1401, an agreement was struck at Vilnius between Poland and Lithuania. Vytautas the Great was allowed to rule in Lithuania for the rest of his life, but he had to recognize that Władysław II Jagiełło was his superior. Vytautas the Great swore allegiance to Poland and to help it in all its battles. Lithuania would return to Poland after Vytautas the Great died. On January 18, 1401, Lithuanian boyars confirmed the agreement in Vilnius. On March 11, 1401, elite Poles confirmed the agreement at Radom. It is called the Union of Vilnius and Radom. According to the agreement, if Władysław II Jagiełło died, Vytautas the Great and the Lithuanians were not allowed to pick who would be his successor.

In 1401, an uprising occurred in Samogitia against the Teutonic Knights. Vytautas the Great supported the uprising militarily. It led to war between Lithuania and the Teutonic Knights. Władysław II Jagiełło supported Vytautas the Great diplomatically. In 1403, Pope Bonifatius IX issued a bull that prohibited the Teutonic Knights from waging war against Lithuania, since it had just recently adopted Roman Catholicism. The Pope had superiority over the Teutonic Knights. The bull was the result of Władysław II Jagiełło's diplomatic efforts.

Świdrygiełło had the ambition to replace Vytautas the Great and take his position in Lithuania. He was able to find allies in Smoleńsk, Ryazan, and Vyazma to support him. They were Orthodox boyars who were displeased that boyars who converted to Roman Catholicism were given special privileges. In 1402, Świdrygiełło met with the Teutonic Knights in Malbork and formed an alliance against Vytautas the Great. If Świdrygiełło would take Vytautas the Great's place, Świdrygiełło was to give Samogitia to the Teutonic Knights. From 1402 to 1403, war ensued. The Teutonic Knights had many losses. At the end of 1403, the Teutonic Knights began to seek peace. A truce was struck for six months. Świdrygiełło lost Podole. He received Bryansk, Czernihiv, and Nowogród. On May 22, 1404, Władysław II Jagiełło met the Grand Master of the Teutonic Knights, Konrad von Jungingen, and settled on a peace agreement in Raciąż. Poland gave Samogitia to the Teutonic Knights and the Teutonic Knights let Poland have Dobrzyń Land. Polish nobles met at Nowy Korczyn and decided to raise a tax on land by six times from two grosze to twelve grosze per field to finance the deal. On June 10, 1405, Dobrzyń Land returned to Poland. Vytautas the Great began to expand eastward after the peace settlement in Raciąż. In 1404, Vytautas the Great conquered Smoleńsk. Polish troops where subsequently stationed there. Veliky Novgorod and Pskov were attacked next. In 1406, 1407, and 1408, Vytautas the Great attacked Moscow. Vytautas the Great was supported by Polish troops led by Poland's marshal, Zbigniew of Brzezie. After the attack on Moscow in 1408, Świdrygiełło conspired with opponents in Ruthenia who were against Lithuanian expansion eastward. He may have been under the influence of the Teutonic Knights.

Władysław II Jagiełło and Jadwiga had difficult relations with Władysław Opolczyk. He possessed part of Kujawy and Dobrzyń Land. In 1387, Władysław Opolczyk protested when Jadwiga took over Red Ruthenia. Władysław Opolczyk was disillusioned with Władysław II Jagiełło after he opposed appointing his nephew, Jan Kropidło, to become the Archbishop of Gniezno. In 1391, Władysław Opolczyk pawned Złotoria to the Teutonic Knights against the principles of Polish law. In 1391, Władysław II Jagiełło ended up occupying many of Władysław Opolczyk's towns. Złotoria was not occupied.

In 1392, Władysław Opolczyk presented a plan to the Grand Master of the Teutonic Knights, Konrad Wallenrod, about partitioning Poland. It was the first time that partitioning Poland was planned. The Teutonic Knights were supposed to get Dobrzyń Land, Kujawy, and Mazovia according to the plan. Sigismund of Luxemburg was to get Ruthenia and Lesser Poland. Wacław, Jost, and Jan were to get Greater Poland that was west of the Warta river. Konrad Wallenrod did not want to fight Poland, since he was already fighting Lithuania. He also believed that the plan was really Sigismund of Luxemburg;s and not Władysław Opolczyk's. Władysław Opolczyk ended up giving the Teutonic Knights Kujawy and Dobrzyń Land for 72,900 Hungarian florins. Poland protested the move. In 1393, Sigismund of Luxemburg gave Władysław Opolczyk Dobrzyń Land illegally. After Władysław Opolczyk sold the land, Poland occupied some of his lands and annexed them. Dobrzyń Land remained under the control of the Teutonic Knights.

Władysław II Jagiełło struck an alliance with Wenceslaus IV of Bohemia. He was the king of Germany since 1376. The alliance was aimed against Hungary and the Teutonic Knights. In 1395, Władysław II Jagiełło joined the alliance that Wenceslaus IV of Bohemia created that comprised of the dukes of Pomerania and the towns in the Hanseatic League. In 1396, Vytautas the Great joined the alliance. Wenceslaus IV and Pope Bonifatius IX ended up telling the Teutonic Knights to not attack Lithuania. It was a result of the alliance. The alliance also helped with Hungary. Sigismund of Luxemburg was supposed to meet in Nowy Sącz with Jadwiga and Władysław II Jagiełło to settle differences, but the meeting never materialized. A threat from Turkey materialized.

Jadwiga laid claim to the throne in Hungary as the only living Angevin. She used her claim in order to negotiate a trade for Hungary to relinquish Ruthenia and Moldovia. When Sigismund of Luxemburg was busy, Władysław II Jagiełło and Jadwiga occupied Kujawy and Wieluń that were controlled by Władysław Opolczyk. Władysław Opolczyk retreated to Silesia where he died in 1401. In 1395, Tokhtamysh, the former khan of the Golden Horde, sought support from Władysław II Jagiełło after he was ousted by Timur, who is also known as Tamerlane. In 1397, Vytautas the Great went on a campaign to the Black Sea. He put Tokhtamysh back into power in part of the Golden Horde. The plan was to defeat Timur and put in Tokhtamysh in his place. Tokhtamysh would give Ruthenia to Vytautas the Great in return.

In 1397, Sigismund of Luxemburg and Władysław II Jagiełło struck a peace accord for sixteen years. Sigismund of Luxemburg wanted peace with his northern neighbor, since he had so many troubles with Turkey. Władysław II Jagiełło received rights to Red Ruthenia for his lifetime in return for giving up his claims to Moldovia and Podole. Jadwiga also had to stop assuming the title of queen of Hungary. Jadwiga attempted to return Dobrzyń Land to Poland. In 1397, Jadwiga met the Grand Master of the Teutonic Knights, Konrad von Jungingen, in Włocławek. He said he could return it, but he wanted the money back that was paid for it. Władysław Opolczyk would not return it. In 1398, Jadwiga attempted to get the land back at a meeting in Toruń, but it was an unsuccessful attempt. She also stated that the Teutonic Knights will have peaceful relations with Poland during her lifetime, but that they would worsen after her death.

In 1399, it was known that Jadwiga was pregnant. Pope Bonifatius IX was invited to be her child's Godfather. On June 22, 1399, Jadwiga gave birth to Elizabeth Bonifacia. On July 13, 1399, Elizabeth Bonifacia died. On July 17, 1399, Jadwiga died. After Jadwiga died, Kraków's elite proposed that Władysław II Jagiełło marry Casimir III the Great's granddaughter who was the daughter of Wilhelm von Cilly. Jadwiga may have had a part in planning the marriage before she died in order to save the kingdom. On January 29, 1402, Władysław II Jagiełło married Anna in Poland. In 1408, Anna gave birth to Jadwiga. Some believe that Anna cheated on Władysław II Jagiełło with Jakub of Kobylan or Mikołaj Chrząstowski. Others believed that these allegations should be withdrawn. In 1416, Anna died. In May 1417, Władysław II Jagiełło married a widow who had three failed marriages and was named Elizabeth of Pilcz. Władysław II Jagiełło married her without any consultation with his advisers. Critics of the marriage criticized her background. Stanisław Ciołka, a secretary of the chancellery, wrote a libel and ended up being removed from his position for it. In 1420, Elizabeth of Pilcz died from a pulmonary disease.

In 1414, homage was paid to Władysław II Jagiełło's sole daughter, Jadwiga, since Władysław II Jagiełło's heir was to succeed him according to the Union of Horodło. If there was no heir, a king was to be elected. There were attempts to wed Jadwiga. In 1419, the king of the Union of Kalmar, Eric, tried to wed Jadwiga to Bogusław IX who was the Duke of Pomerania, but it never was actuated. In 1421, Jadwiga married Frederick who was the son of Frederick the Elector of Brandenburg. Their marriage contract stated that if they gave birth to a male son, he would be king.

In February 1422, Władysław II Jagiełło married Sophia of Halshany who was an Orthodox Christian and Lithuanian princess. He married her against the will of his advisers. Sigismund of Luxemburg proposed that he marry Ofka who was the widow of the king of Bohemia, but his idea was ignored. In 1424, Sophia of Halshany was made queen. On October 31, 1424, Sophia of Halshany gave birth to Władysław. By the terms of the Union of Horodło, he was to be the next king, but Poland's nobility wanted an election and for their privileges to be reconfirmed instead. In July 1422, Władysław II Jagiełło gave the nobility the Czerwiński Privilege that made it illegal to confiscate the property of the nobility without a court order. Moreover, it forbid to simultaneously hold the positions of mayor and judge in a given land. It also made it obligatory for a royal council to decide if money should be minted. On October 28, 1423, Władysław II Jagiełło issued the Warecki Statute that limited mayors' power to judge cases of arson, mugging, rape, and robbery. It also blocked peasants from leaving their village and helped nobles' manors expand. In the spring of 1421, Władysław II Jagiełło formed an alliance with Frederick I the Elector of Brandenburg against the Teutonic Knights. Władysław II Jagiełło gave his only daughter, Jadwiga, who was the heir to the throne, to marry Frederick I's son, Frederick, to form the alliance. The two were to rule Poland in the future.

A document was produced that confirmed the right of Władysław II Jagiełło's son to become king. If he were to die, Sophia of Halshany and Vytautas the Great were to be regents. Towns and Poland's elite produced a document that also confirmed that he had the right to be king. On April 25, 1425, a general sejm met in Brześć to accept the conditions. On April 30, 1425, the sejm recognized Władysław II Jagiełło's son as his successor upon the condition that Władysław II Jagiełło would confirm the privileges of the nobility and clergy. The document that was produced for it also expanded Polish law into Ruthenia, Kujawy, and Dobrzyń. It also exempted property of the Catholic Church from having troops stationed on it. Władysław II Jagiełło's son had to confirm these new privileges as well as all old privileges before becoming king. At the general sejm, the idea of making Vytautas the Great and Sophia of Halshany rule Lithuania was not well received. Władysław II Jagiełło's son was also to become the ruler of Lithuania. Władysław II Jagiełło made agreements with Polish tons towns and lands to ensure that his son would succeed him.

In 1428, a plan was pondered of making Vytautas the Great king. If Vytautas the Great would die without leaving behind any heirs, Władysław II Jagiełło's kids would succeed. Poles opposed it, but Sigismund of Luxemburg supported it. He wanted to weaken the Angevin dynasty.

In 1426 and 1427, Sophia of Halshany gave birth two sons who were both named Casimir. There were some who questioned the legitimacy of her sons. They claimed that Sophia of Halshany's sons were conceived as the result of affairs with Polish knights by the name of Hińcz of Rogów, Jan Kraska, Jan of Koniecpol, Piotr Kurowski, Dobiesław of Szczekocin, Piotr of Szczekocin, and Wawrzyniec Zaręba. She was forced to swear an oath that she did not commit any affairs. Jan Strasz of Białaczów was imprisoned for writing that Sophia of Halshany had affairs. The knights who were accused of the affair were freed and returned to the positions they held before.

Hungary attempted to make a new union with Poland. On June 11, 1401, Hungarians proposed a project at a congress in Tapolca, Hungary, to offer the crown of Hungary to Władysław II Jagiełło. The project was never realized. Weneslaus IV tried to ally with Władysław II Jagiełło. In 1404, Wenceslaus IV met with Władysław IV Jagiełło after he lost his German crown. Wenceslaus IV asked for military help. Władysław II Jagiełło would get Śląsk in return. The trade never materialized, since Czechs opposed it.

In 1402, Sigismund of Luxemburg attempted to sell Brandenburg to Władysław II Jagiełło, since he had financial troubles. The Teutonic Knights offered more and were able to buy it. The new land helped to strengthen the Teutonic Knights' territorial expanse and created a route from which Western Europe could send support to them. The annexation of Brandenburg made the Teutonic Knights' kingdom the largest it would ever be in its history.

Poland was affected when Lithuania and Moscow settled on spheres of influence. In 1408, Vytautas the Great and Vasily I Dmitriyevich, the Grand Prince of Moscow, his son-in-law, divided up spheres of influence between their two states. Lithuania was given predominance in Eastern Europe that reached into Novgogod, Pskov, and Smoleńsk. Władysław II Jagiełło's brother, Lingwen, was put in Novgorod as his representative and a Lithuanian deputy was placed in Pskov.

The Teutonic Knights were a constant threat to Władysław II Jagiełło. Conflicts continued to arise between Poland and the Teutonic Knights. After Ulrich von der Osten paid homage to Władysław II Jagiełło in 1403, he allied himself with the Teutonic Knights in 1403 or 1404. He ended up attacking Greater Poland. His castle in Drzeń ended up being taken by the Teutonic Knights. Vytautas tried to get Drzeń back to Polandunsuccessfully. In 1408, the Grand Master of the Teutonic Knights, Ulrich von Jungingen, bought Drzeń. The Teutonic aknights also tried to get Santok from Poland, since they believed it was part of Nowa Marchia (“New March”) that is known as Eastern Brandenburg. The Teutonic Knights discredited the union between Lithuania and Poland, since it threatened their existence. If there were no more people to evangelize, they could be disbanded. They stated that Lithuania's conversion to Roman Catholicism was false in order to expand eastward.

Relations with the Teutonic Knights slowly deteriorated. When Poland sent grain on the Vistula River to Lithuania, the Teutonic Knights unlawfully seized it. In 1409, Vytautas supported an uprising against the Teutonic Knights in Samogitia. The Teutonic Knights asked for Poland to be neutral in the matter. Władysław II Jagiełło was at first neutral, but after a congress in Łęczyce Władysław II Jagiełło decided to help Lithuania. On August 6, 1409, Ulrich von Jungingen declared war on Poland. The Teutonic Knights attacked Dobrzyń Land and occupied Bobrowniki, Dobrzyń, Lipno, and Rypin. A truce was declared from October 8, 1409, to June 24, 1410, after both sides found that they were not fully prepared to wage war. Wenceslaus IV of Bohemia was to mediate peace for the two sides.

The Teutonic Knights produced more propaganda during the truce that stated that the Lithuanians were pagans who had to be converted in order to get support from Western Europe. They ended up paying Sigismund of Luxemburg 300,000 Hungarian forints to get him on their side in the war. This deal was secret. The plan was for Sigismund of Luxemburg to attack southern Poland with the Teutonic Knights. He would get Moldavia, Podole, and Ruthenia if they won the war. On February 15, 1410, Wenceslaus IV of Bohemia declared the terms of the truce in Prague. On May 14, 1410, the terms were declared in Wrocław. They were favorable for the Teutonic Knights. The Teutonic Knights were to get Samogitia and Dobrzyń Land. Wenceslaus IV of Bohemia was on the side of the Teutonic Knights.

On October 2, 1409, Świdrygiełło struck an alliance with the Teutonic Knights again. For his help, the Teutonic Knights would help him to get his patrimony back. Vytautas the Great imprisoned Świdrygiełło before he waged war. His accomplices were reprieved. The Teutonic Knights were also able to pay the dukes of Western Pomerania, Świętobor, and Bogusław 2,000 Czech groschen to get them in an alliance in the war against Poland. Another ally the Teutonic Knights were to get was Konrad the White who was the Duke of Oleśnica. The Teutonic Knights were not able to get much military help from Western Europe.

Poland went on its own diplomatic trips to Rupert, the king of Germany, Henry IV, the king of England, German dukes, and Pope Alexander V. Poland's argument was that the Teutonic Knights were just set on expansion and not Christianity. Their diplomatic efforts were effective. On January 23, 1410, Pope Alexander V called on the Teutonic Knights to make peace with Władysław II Jagiełło. Poland was able to get the hospodar of Moldavia, Alexander, to fight against the Teutonic Knights. Mercenaries were hired from Bohemia, Moravia, and Silesia, The Mongols under the pretender to the Mongol throne, Jalal al-Din, supported Vytautas the Great in the war. The Duke of Szczecin, Casimir V, also helped the Teutonic Knights in the war.

Sigismund of Luxemburg attempted to disunite the alliance between Lithuania and Poland. Vytautas met with Sigismund of Luxemburg in Kieżmark. Sigismund tried to offer him a royal crown in Lithuania in return for leaving the alliance with Poland, but his attempt failed. The Hungarian emissaries, Mikołaj Gara and Ścibor of Ścibórz, went to the Teutonic Knights to try to make peace, but they could only prolong peace for a few days. On July 12, 1410, Hungarian emissaries declared war on Władysław II Jagiełło for Sigismund of Luxemburg.

On July 15, 1410, the Battle of Grunwald took place. It is Poland's most famous battle. Jan Długosz drew schematics of the battle in his book, Historia Polski (“History of Poland”). There may have been from 15,000 to 21,000 Teutonic Knights, 20,000 to 30,000 Poles, and 10,000 to 20,000 Lithuanians in the battle. Władysław II Jagiełło was the supreme commander in the battle, while Vytautas led Lithuanian and Ruthenian troops. Władysław II directed his troops from a hill. When his life was in danger, his secretary, Zbigniew Oleśnicki, saved him. The battle was a huge loss for the Teutonic Knights. The Grand Master, Ulrich von Jungingen, and all important officials of the Teutonic Knights were killed. The day of the battle was the day Jesus sent out his Apostles. The holiday was to be celebrated in all of Poland thereafter.

The Teutonic Knights' banners were taken and hanged in the cathedrals in Kraków and Vilnius. Jan Długosz produced a manuscript in 1466 called, Banderia Prutenorum (“Banners of the Prussians”), that displayed all of the banners. Fifty-one of the banners the Teutonic Knights brought to the Battle of Grunwald were taken. In 1448, Jan Długosz recommended to the artist Stanisław Durink to make copies of all the banners.

The Teutonic Knights said that Mongols and Orthodox Rusyns helped to win the battle and that it was a loss for Roman Catholicism. In 1410, Stanisław of Skarbimierz wrote O wojnach sprawiedliwych (“On Just Wars”) in defense of pagan countries' sovereignty as well as their right to be allied with Christians. The bishop of Płock, Jakub Kurdwanowski, told troops in Czerwińsk these same matters before the Battle of Grunwald.

After the outcome of the battle was known, most of the towns in the Teutonic Knights' state opened their gates to Polish and Lithuanian troops. On July 25, 1410, Władysław II Jagiełło and Vytautas the Great reached Malbork and laid siege to its castle. Heinrich von Plauen defended it. Germans and Livonians came to help the Teutonic Knights in the battle.

The siege of the castle in Malbork was called off after funds dried up. On September 18, 1410, Lithuanian forces began to return home. On September 19, 1410, Polish forces left for home. The towns that surrendered to Poland returned to the Teutonic Knights, such as Elbląg and Gdańsk. Mayors and others who went to Poland's side were killed.

In October 1410, Sigismund of Luxemburg's troops attacked Poland but were defeated at Bardejov. Michael Küchmeister von Sternberg attacked from Neumark, but on October 10, 1410, he lost in a battle at Koronowo. Important towns that Władysław II Jagiełło still held were Toruń and Nieszawa. After Heinrich von Plauen became the Grand Master of the Teutonic Knights, he reorganized his administration. It led Poland to seek peace. On December 9, 1410, a truce was settled. From December 10 to December 13, 1940, Władysław II Jagiełło met with Heinrich von Plauen at Raciążek to discuss peace terms. On February 1, 1411, peace was signed at Toruń. Dobrzyń Land was to return to Poland. Samogitia was to be Lithuanian for the lifetimes of Władysław II Jagiełło and Vytautas the Great. The cases of the towns of Santok and Drzeń were to be settled according to arbitrage. The Teutonic Knights were to buy back their prisoners of war for 100,000 Czech groschen. The peace terms were not very favorable for Poland.

The victory in the war brought respect to Poland in Europe. It also led to Sigismund of Luxemburg to seek peaceful means to improve relations with Poland and Lithuania, but his new attitude was temporary. In January 1412, Sigismund of Luxemburg told the Grand Master of the Teutonic Knights that he could help them militarily in return for money. The Teutonic Knights would get Dobrzyń Land, Kujawy, and Samogitia. In April 1411, Władysław II Jagiełło sought help from the Republic of Venice. In May 1411, Władysław II Jagiełło made an alliance with the voivode of Wallachia, Mircza, and the hospodar of Moldavia, Alexander, against Sigismund of Luxemburg. In the spring of 1402, emissaries of the Republic of Venice came to Kraków and proposed an alliance against Sigismund of Luxemburg. They also proposed that Władysław II Jagiełło become king of Germany. Ernest the Iron, the Duke of Austria, married Cymbarka, the daughter of Siemowit IV, and made a pact with Władysław II Jagiełło against Sigismund of Luxemburg. All of these political maneuverings led Sigismund of Luxemburg's to change his relations with Poland. On March 15, 1412, Sigismund of Luxemburg and Władysław II Jagiełło signed the Treaty of Lubowla that created an alliance between the two. It also made Red Ruthenia and Podole be under Poland's sovereignty during the lifetimes of Sigismund of Luxemburg and Władysław II Jagiełło as well as for five years after their deaths. A court would decide the fate of Red Ruthenia and Podole afterward. The hospodar of Moldavia would be under Polish jurisdiction, but he was obligated to help Sigismund of Luxemburg to fight in a war against Turkey if it ever occurred. His country would be partitioned by Poland and Hungary if he did not honor his obligation. The alliance with Sigismund of Luxemburg was not very favorable for Poland, but it did end the alliance between Sigismund of Luxemburg and the Teutonic Knights. Sigismund of Luxemburg sent a letter to the Grand Master of the Teutonic Knights that exhorted him to seek peaceful relations with Poland and Lithuania.

The Teutonic Knights did not honor the peace of Toruń. They tried to continue to expand. Poland tried to get Chełmno Land, Michałowo Land, and Pomerania from the Teutonic Knights. Sigismund of Luxemburg influenced the Teutonic Knights to make a deal with Poland on the contentious lands. Pope John XXIII sent Branda Castiglione to participate in negotiations. Sigismund of Luxemburg sent a lawyer named Benedykt Makraia for the negotiations. On November 8, 1412, Sigismund of Luxemburg gave Poland thirteen towns in Spiš. In return, he was to get 37,000 Czech groschen that the Teutonic Knights were to first pay Poland for reparations for the war.

Benedict Makraia stated that the Teutonic Knights were trying to expand their borders and that Vytautas honored the peace of Toruń. Benedict Makraia did not support Poland's claim to Chełmno Land, Michałowo Land, and Pomerania. The Grand Master of the Teutonic Knights, Heinrich von Plauen, ended up being replaced with Michael Küchmeister in 1413, since they feared Heinrich von Plauen would start another war.

From 1412, Poland and Lithuania attempted to strengthen themselves, since conflict with the Teutonic Knights seemed unavoidable. On October 2, 1413, Władysław II Jagiełło, Vytautas the Great, and the elite of Poland and Lithuania promulgated the Union of Horodło. The terms of the union stated that Lithuania was to be completely incorporated into Poland, but Lithuania in reality kept its disparity. According to the terms of the union, Vytautas was to be the Grand Duke of Lithuania, while Władysław II Jagiełło was to be the Most High Duke of Lithuania. After Vytautas would die, a successor would be elected by the king with the help of religious and secular authorities in Poland and Lithuania. Lithuanian boyars who converted to Roman Catholicism were given the same privileges as Polish nobles. Forty-seven Lithuanian boyars' houses with their coats of arms were brought into Poland's nobility. Lithuania was to adopt Poland's positions of castellans, mayors, and voivodes. Matters between Lithuania and Poland were to be settled in congresses in Lublin and Parczew. The union was a loss for the Teutonic Knights.

After the union, Władysław II Jagiełło began a campaign of intensive evangelization of Samogitia. Poland and Lithuania also began to demand the return of Chełmno Land, Gdańsk Pomerania, and Michałowo Land. Negotiations were held with the Teutonic Knights in Grabia. Władysław II Jagiełło also met with the Grand Master to settle the matter, but it was a failure. In June 1414, Władysław II Jagiełło declared war on the Teutonic Knights. Poland and Lithuania gathered greater forces that they had in the Battle of Grunwald. After conquering Nidzica, Olsztyn, and Olsztynek, Polish and Lithuanian forces retreated due to lack of nourishment. On October 7, 1414, Władysław II Jagiełło made a two-year truce with the Teutonic Knights after being persuaded by Pope John XXIII's legate, Wilhelm de Challant. At the Council of Constance in 1414, many Poles participated. Archbishop of Gniezno, Mikołaj Trąba, was at the head of the delegation sent from Kraków. Along with him were the Bishop of Płock, Jakub Kurdwanowski, and the electee of Poznań, Andrzej Łaskarz, both of whom were in favor of Conciliarism. Knights and diplomats who went with him were Andrzej Balicki, Jan of Tuliszków, and Zawisz the Black of Garbów. The rector of University of Kraków came as an expert on the relations between Poland and the Teutonic Knights. Another Pole at the council was Piotr Wolfram who represented the Bishop of Kraków and was the secretary of Mikołaj Trąba. The participants of the Council were divided info five nations. They were English, French, German, Italian, and Spanish. Poland belonged to the German nation at the council. During the trial of Jan Hus at the council, Poles criticized how Jan Hus was treated. Poland brought its case against the Teutonic Knights by saying that they used brutal and deadly force to convert Pagans. Polish representatives also stated particular facts on the territorial disputes Poland had with the Teutonic Knights. Cardinal Francis Zabarella was at the head of the commission that judged the case. In the summer of 1415, Sigismund of Luxemburg left the council. His absence suspended the trial. While he was in Paris, he met with Mikołaj Trąba and representatives of the Teutonic Knights. They decided to prolong the truce. In May 1416, it was made official at Inowrocław by both sides.

At the end of 1415, the newly christened inhabitants of Samogitia were presented at the council by the Polish delegation to show that evangelization was truly happening under Władysław II Jagiełło. The Samogitians said they only wanted to be converted by Polish and Lithuanian bishops. In February 1416, the Samogitians presented a list of abuses the Teutonic Knights were guilty of that included prohibiting evangelization. The Samogitians also asked for the Archbishop of Lwów to take over the mission in Samogitia. The Samogitians testimony was grounds for liquidating the Teutonic Knights' state and relocating them to the south to fight the Turks and Mongols. In 1416, Paweł Włodkowic presented text from his book, O władzy papieża I cesarza wobec niewiernych (“On the Power of the Pope and Caesar in Regards to Infidels”). He states that it is against natural law and God's law for Christians to wage war on pagans just because they are pagans. They have to be treated equally. He also states that the Teutonic Knights are using false arguments and text to justify holy wars. Jan Auerbach, Jakub Balardi, and Ardicinus de Navaria argued against him in favor of holy wars. John of Falkenberg, a German Dominican monk, wrote a book called Liber de doctrina (“Book of Doctrine”) in which he argued against Paweł Włodkowic and Poland. He stated that Władysław II Jagiełło was not intelligent and not a real Christian. He stated that he was a pagan and that his kingdom was pagan. He advocated killing him and enslaving everyone in his kingdom. John of Falkenberg also wrote Satira (“Satire”) that stated that Władysław II Jagiełło was a dog and his nation should be exterminated for heresy. He is attributed to be the first author to write in favor of genocide. Polish bishops and Paweł Włodkowic influenced the council to imprison John of Falkenberg. The Dominicans sentenced him to life imprisonment. The commission that reviewed his works judged his works heretical. On May 14, 1418, a commission of cardinals deplored John of Falkenerg's works. John of Falkenberg ended up being imprisoned in a papal prison.

The Council of Constance did not resolve the conflict between Poland and the Teutonic Knights. Both sides agreed to continue the truce until July 13, 1418. In April 1418, a congress confirmed the truce in Brześć.

Many positive things resulted from the Council of Constance. The Teutonic Knights were discredited and Poland's reputation as a Christian country was elevated. Western Europe learned that the Teutonic Knights were insincere and manipulative. Mikołaj Trąba was made the primate of Poland by Pope Martin V. The primate of Poland was to be the Archbishop of Gniezno from then and onward.

In 1419, Pope Martin V sent his legates, Jacob the bishop of Spoleto and Ferdinand the bishop of Lugano, to Inowrocław to settle the matter between Poland and the Teutonic Knights. Władysław II Jagiełło ended up meeting Sigismund of Luxemburg at Koszyce and agreed to his idea of letting his court arbitrate. Sigismund of Luxemburg had plans of partitioning Prussia by taking some of it and giving part of it to Poland. Michael Küchmeister, the Grand Master of the Teutonic Knights, did not honor Sigismund of Luxemburg's peace proposals. Poland decided to fight again. In July 1419, an alliance was forged between Poland and Eric who ruled the Union of Kalmar that was north of the Teutonic Knights' kingdom. Poland's troops were ready to attack when Sigismund of Luxemburg sent the Archbishop of Milan, Bartholomew Capra, to Michael Küchmeister and convinced him to submit to Sigismund's arbitration. The truce was prolonged by a year. On January 6, 1420, Sigismund of Luxemburg confirmed the peace terms established in Toruń that recognized the Teutonic Knights' kingdom's territorial integrity and gave them Murzynno, Nowa Wieś, and Orłowo. Sigismund changed his stance, because he made an agreement with the Catholic Church to eliminate Hussites in Bohemia. The Catholic Church still supported the Teutonic Knights. Poland rejected the verdict. Zbigniew Oleśnicki and Mikołaj Cebulka were sent to Sigismund of Luxemburg to tell him that he betrayed his promises to Poland. Vytautas the Great went a step further by declaring him his enemy.

Władysław II Jagiełło prepared for another campaign against the Teutonic Knights by drawing closer to Sigismund Luxemburg. It led to a public debate in Kraków in 1431 between the professors of Kraków’s university and Czech theologians. The closer ties led to an alliance in July 1432 that was forged in Pabianice in Poland that was against the Teutonic Knights. War with the Teutonic Knights followed. During the Council of Basel in 1431, Władysław II Jagiełło sent representatives to battle against the representatives of the Teutonic Knights and Švitrigaila over a favorable settlement to their conflict. Władysław II Jagiełło’s representatives were Zbigniew Oleśnicki, the bishop of Poznań, Stanisław Ciołek, the rector of Kraków, Mikołaj Lasocki, and Jan Lutek of Brzezie. Representatives of Kraków’s university were Mikołaj Kozłowski and Stanisław Sobniowski. In 1434 and 1435, Poland’s representatives accused the Teutonic Knights of having an alliance with the Ruthenians, while the Teutonic Knights accused Poland of having an alliance with Czechs. The problem with the alliance with the Ruthenians was that they were Orthodox Christians, and the problem with an alliance with the Czechs was that they were Hussites. Mikołaj Lasocki questioned why the Teutonic Knights existed and stated that they brought disrepute to the Catholic Church. Lasocki also argued that Poland guarded Christianity from the Tartars. The Polish delegation at the Council of Basel helped to gain respect for Poland in Europe. After the Council of Basel, Lasocki was sent to the Congress of Arras in 1435 to help in peace negotiations between France and Burgundy, since he impressed so many at the Council of Basel. Lasocki also wrote a description of the conflict between Poland and the Teutonic Knights for John II of Castile.

In May 1433, Polish forces under the leadership of Sędziwój Ostroróg and Mikołaj of Michałów linked up with Hussite forces led by Jan Čapek of Sán. They attacked Pomeranian Gdańsk and Neumark that the Teutonic Knights controlled. They were able to conquer Tczew and reach to the shore of the Baltic Sea in Gdańsk. The Teutonic Knights were forced to seek peace after Hussite forces sacked a Cistercian monastery in Oliwa. On December 15, 1433, a truce was agreed upon in Łęczyca in central Poland. Peace negotiations were to follow in 1434.

Hussitism had a degree of influence among a few Poles. Poles who believed in Hussitism include Spytek of Melsztyń and a judge named Abraham of Zbąszyń. Magnates in Greater Poland who sympathized with Hussitism include Sędziwój Ostroróg and Wincenty of Szamotuł. Sophia of Halshany, a Lithuanian princess, also sympathized with it. Others who sympathized with Hussitism include poor clergy, nobility, townspeople, and some village people. Some Hussites attacked Polish churches and monasteries. In 1430, Hussites attacked Jasna Góra Monastery in Częstochowa and harmed the painting of the famous Black Madonna. Andrzej Gałka of Dobczyń, a professor from the University of Kraków, collected texts written by Hussites and created works for Hussitism. One of his works, Cantilena vulgaris (“Song of Wiklef”), became famous. It was a satire of the Pope and Catholic clergy.

Poland took steps to eliminate Hussites and their influence. The Archbishop of Gniezno, Mikołaj Trąba, intensified oversight on people who had ties to Hussites. Schools that had texts of the Hussites were ordered to burn them. It was recommended that secular authorities were to help to capture Hussites. In April 1424, the Edict of Wieluń restricted Hussites and their doctrine in Poland. Secular authorities were ordered to help to fight them. Nobles who fled to Bohemia to join the Hussites were ordered to return to Poland or else they would be banned and have their property taken away. Czechs asked Władysław II Jagiełło and Vytautas the Great to let Zygmunt Korybutowicz return to rule in Prague, but they were opposed. In the spring of 1424, Władysław II Jagiełło declared war on the Hussites after Sigismund of Luxemburg's negotiations failed. When Polish and Lithuanian troops came to fight, Sigismund of Luxemburg's son-in-law, Albrecht Habsburg, sent them back home, since he feared they would go to the Hussites' side. Zygmunt Korybutowicz came to Bohemia with Polish and Lithuanian knights. Zygmunt Korybutowicz began to hold talks between Catholic and conservative Hussites when he realized that there was no hope to become king. In 1427, he was imprisoned once it was found out that the Pope would support him to be king if he would bring the Hussites into the Catholic Church. The Hussites would only possess a few liturgical differences under this scenario. In July 1420, accusations were leveled against promoters of the Hussites' doctrine in Poland at a congress in Łęczyce. The adherents were Jan of Tuliszków, Wojciech Jastrzębiec, and Zbigniew of Brzezie. Wojciech Jastrzębiec was also accused of falsely editing the text of the truce with Sigismund of Luxemburg. His dismissal was called for, but he was proven to be innocent. He ended up keeping his position.

In the summer of 1420, some Czech Hussites in Bohemia wanted to make Władysław II Jagiełło king. They sent Hynek of Holštejn to Poland to explore this matter. Władysław II Jagiełło did not want to become king of Bohemia, since it would only cause conflict with Roman Catholic countries. At the end of 1420, an official Czech delegation offered Władysław II Jagiełło the crown of Bohemia, but he did not accept it. In the beginning of 1421, Vytautas the Great expressed interest in the Bohemian crown. Vytautas the Great would only become king of Bohemia if Hussites would adopt more Roman Catholicism and only maintain some liturgical practices of their Hussite doctrine. The Hussites wanted him to pledge loyalty to the Four Articles of Prague that stated their doctrine. Vytautas the Great refused. Czechs and Poles debated at the university of Kraków on how to handle this matter, but no consensus could be made.

Sigismund of Luxemburg offered Silesia and the hand of his widowed sister-in-law, Ofka, to Władysław II Jagiełło if he would help fight the Hussites. It never materialized, since Vytautas the Great opposed it and Sigismund of Luxemburg was dealt defeats in the war against the Hussites. Władysław II Jagiełło sought to bring the Hussites into the Catholic Church by negotiations. Pope Martin V supported the negotiations. Pope Martin V prolonged the truce between Poland and the Teutonic Knights twice and agreed to start hearings on the disputes between Poland and the Teutonic Knights. Paweł Włodkowic represented Poland in the hearings. At the end of 1421, Pope Martin V sent a legate to Poland to investigate the matter. The Teutonic Knights protested and tried to sabotage the mission. In July 1422, the hearing began and lasted until February 1423.

In the spring of 1422, Zygmunt Korybutowicz was made Vytautas the Great's viceroy in Bohemia. Vytautas the Great was Bohemia's king. Zygmunt Korybutowicz was placed in the position with the help of thousands of Polish and Lithuanian knights. Zygmunt Korybutowicz swore to the Four Articles of Prague, but not all Hussites recognized him. Pope Martin V disapproved of Władysław II Jagiełło's support for Zygmunt Korybutowicz, since he was guilty of heresy. Pope Martin V told Władysław II Jagiełło to remove Zygmunt Korybutowicz from power and stopped the hearing on the disputes between the Teutonic Knights and Poland as a result. Sigismund of Luxemburg wanted the Teutonic Knights to attack Poland. In July 1422, Poland and Lithuania attacked the Teutonic Knights after their truce exhausted. On September 27, 1422, a pact of peace was signed at Melno. Poland received Murzynno, Nieszawa, and Orłowo. It wanted Chełmno Land, Michałowo Land, and Pomerania, but it was unable to negotiate for them. The Teutonic Knights gave up their claim to Samogitia. The peace put the Teutonic Knights on a defensive stance, for the reason that their vassals were to repudiate allegiance to them if they broke the peace terms. In November 1422, a decision was at made at the congress in Niepołomice to pull out of Bohemia and join the side of Sigismund of Luxemburg. Zygmunt Korybutowicz was removed from power. The King's secretary, Zbigniew Oleśnicki, and members of the Polish Catholic Church were behind the change in politics. They were enemies of the Hussites and heresy in general.

In March 1423, Władysław II Jagiełło met with Sigismund of Luxemburg at a congress in Kieżmark that renewed the alliance the two made in Lubowla in 1412. Władysław II pledged to stop supporting the Hussites. Władysław II Jagiełło and Sigismund of Luxemburg produced texts that disproved the belief that Władysław II Jagiełło supported heresy. Pope Martin V stopped stating that Władysław II Jagiełło supported heretics.

In 1429 at the Congress of Lutsk, Władysław II Jagiełło, Sigismund of Luxemburg, and Vytautas the Great discussed elevating Lithuania to the position of a kingdom. Zbigniew Oleśnicki protested against the idea on behalf of Polish dignitaries, since it violated all of the agreements that dealt with the union of Poland and Lithuania. Władysław II Jagiełło was forced to abnegate his plan as a result of their pressure. In 1429 and 1430, Pope Martin V told Vytautas the Great to not accept Sigismund of Luxemburg's plan to be crowned king. In the autumn of 1430, Władysław II Jagiełło continued to plan for the coronation of Vytautas the Great, but on October 27, 1430, Vytautas the Great died. Władysław II Jagiełło made his brother Świdrygiełło the ruler of Lithuania against the terms of the Union of Horodło. The king's royal council ordered troops to take Podole without the knowledge of Władysław II Jagiełło. In February 1431, the king's royal council met at a congress in Sandomierz. Its members stated that they would accept Świdrygiełło as ruler of Lithuania in return for possession of Podole and Łuck. However, Świdrygiełło did not accept it. In the summer of 1431, Świdrygiełło made an alliance with the Teutonic Knights and Moldavia against Poland. In July 1431, Poland and Lithuania fought. Świdrygiełło was able to recover part of Podole. Poland was unable to get back Łuck. In the summer of 1431, Lithuania and the Teutonic Knights attacked the borderland of Kujawy and Greater Poland. On September 1, 1431, a truce was settled. In the spring of 1432, Polish representatives agreed to make Władysław II Jagiełło’s son king of Poland at the congress in Sieradź. Švitrigaila was to rule Lithuania, but Władsyław II Jagiełło’s sons would get to rule Lithuania after Švitrigaila died. Švitrigaila did not agree.

On August 31, 1432, and September 1, 1432, Catholic and Lithuanian boyars seized power in Lithuania. Švitrigaila escaped and lost control over Lithuania. Sigismund Kęstutaitis, the brother of Vytautas the Great, was made Grand Duke of Lithuania. Švitrigaila attempted to regain power. On October 15, 1432, a Polish embassy with Zbigniew Oleśnicki was able to get Sigismund Kęstutaitis to sign the Union of Grodno in Grodno, Lithuania. Sigismund Kęstutaitis was to rule Lithuania for the rest of his life, but he had to pledge allegiance to Władysław II Jagiełło and Poland. He also could not transfer power to any of his heirs. Lithuania ended its alliance with the Teutonic Knights. It also gave Poland Podole, but it kept Wołyń. In January 1433, Władsyław II Jagiełło confirmed the Union of Grodno and its terms. Orthodox Christians in Lithuania were given equal rights in Lithuania. On May 6, 1434, Sigismund Kęstutaitis confirmed at Trakai that Orthodox Christians would have equal rights just like Catholics in Lithuania. Even though Orthodox Christians were made equal, Catholic Lithuanians were more prevalent in positions of powers.

On March 4, 1430, Władysław II Jagiełło issued the Jedlneński Privilege that confirmed the rights and privileges of the nobility to be exempt from taxes other than the two grosze per field tax. It made Władysław II Jagiełło pay for the return of knights who were taken prisoner, and it also blocked foreigners from being in positions of power. Polish law was to be applied to Red Ruthenia. The privilege stated the following famous phrase, "neminem captivabimus nisi iure victum" (“we shall not arrest anyone without a court verdict”). The nobility in return promised to recognize Władysław II Jagiełło’s son, Władysław, as king after he died. In 1433, these terms were confirmed again in Kraków.

University of Kraków

Casimir III the Great worked to found a university in Poland. On April 6, 1363, Casimir III the Great wrote to the Vatican for permission to establish a university. He wrote that the nearest university was more than forty days away. Casimir III the Great wanted four departments. They were liberal arts, law, medicine, and theology. On October 15, 1363, Pope Urban V wrote to the Archbishop of Gniezno, Jarosław of Bogoria and Skotnik, to get him to learn about the politics of establishing a new university in Kraków. Jarosław of Bogoria and Skotnik helped to found the university. On May 12, 1364, Casimir III the Great produced two documents. The first document was a royal charter of foundation that defined the form of the planned university, its endowment, and its privileges. The second document was a municipal document that gave the university rights of incorporation. The university was set up with one department of liberal arts, two departments of medicine, and eight departments of law. Three of the law departments were to deal with canon law and five departments were to deal with Roman law. The position of university president was created. The president was empowered to act as a judge in minor legal matters. Legal protection was granted to scholars, professors, and university workers. Dormitories were built that were controlled by a commission of two scholars and two townspeople. A Jewish usurer who could lend money to students at 25% interest yearly was assigned in the privilege for the university.

On September 1, 1364, Pope Urban V issued a bull that gave the university rights and privileges. Pope Urban V did not give the university the privilege to have a theology department. The university was similar to Bologne’s, Naples’, and Padua’s universities. It allowed students to form a corporation, pick their rector, and hire professors. Funds for the university were to come from Kraków’s salt mines. The kingdom’s emblem of an eagle with a crown was placed on the university’s logo. Some of the known locations for classes were by Saint Mary’s Basilica and at Wawel.

The University of Kraków was established to bring esteem to the monarchy and educate officials for the king. University education also allowed people to work for the king’s chancellery and become priests. Lawyers with university education helped to unify and standardize law in Poland. They also helped to establish the legal basis for Poland’s sovereignty and king.

After Casimir II the Great died, the University of Kraków stopped functioning, since its funds dried up. In 1390, it was attempted to be restored. The bishop of Kraków, Jan Radlica, and others tried to restore it. In 1392, Jadwiga was influenced by the new bishop of Kraków, Piotr Wysz, to rebuild it. In 1396, attempts were made in Rome to get permission to start a department of theology, since the university was not privileged to have one. In 1397, Pope Bonifatius IX allowed it to have a department of theology on the condition that Lithuania and Samogitia would be Christianized. In 1397, Jadwiga funded a dormitory for Lithuanians studying theology at the University of Prague.

On July 26, 1400, Władysław II Jagiełło produced a document that renewed the university in Kraków. It was called Studium powszechne (“General Studies”) at Uniwersytet Krakowski (“Cracovian University or University of Kraków”). Jadwiga wrote in her final testament that the university should be renewed. She donated her vestments, jewels, and money to renew the university.

When the University of Kraków was renewed, it took the Parisian model that had professors living with students and professors picking rectors. The Catholic Church ran the university. Its law applied to it. The chancellor of the renewed university was the bishop of Kraków. He managed its administration and finances. It was based on Paris’ model with the departments of philosophy, law, medicine, and theology. A student had to first study and finish philosophy in order to study the other fields. In order to get accepted to study philosophy, potential students did not need any earlier education, but many students who finished at parish schools and other types of schools were accepted. There was a small fee to attend. Latin was the language used in classes. In the 15th century, dormitories were built for professors and students to live together. The lowest degree a student could get was a bachelor’s degree after finishing an intermediate class in philosophy. A master’s degree in philosophy was available after it. A doctorate was given to students who finished law. A doctorate in medicine or theology was given after finishing several exams. Professors of liberal arts only had a master’s degree. There were dress requirements for students and professors that were expensive. Only a minority was able to ever attain a degree because of material reasons. In the 15th century, only about 25% of students was able to get a bachelor’s degree and only about 5% was able to get a master’s degree. Students who were able to get a bachelor’s degree usually entered seminaries to become priests, taught in parish schools, or worked at courts and chancelleries.

When the University of Kraków was renewed, many professors came from Charles University in Prague. After going through a period of financial crisis, the University of Kraków began to develop after about 1410 when private grants were received. Its law department received international fame after its rectors, Stanisław of Skarbimierz and Paweł Włodkowic, wrote important scholarly tracts. Stanisław of Skarbimierz wrote O wojnach sprawiedliwych (“On Just Wars”) against aggressive warfare. Paweł Włodkowic wrote O władzy papieża I cesarza wobec niewiernych (“On the Power of the Pope and King in Relation to Infidels”) that questioned the authority of the Pope and Catholic Church to rule over pagans and to transfer authority over their lands.

During the first half of the 15th century, many associated with the University of Kraków wrote tracts in favor of conciliarism. Their names were Mateusz of Kraków, Jan Elgot, Benedykt Hess, and Jakub of Paradyż. The University of Kraków’s mathematics and astronomy departments grew during the 15th century. Their most famous pupil was Nicolaus Copernicus who attended from 1491 to 1495 and discovered that the universe was heliocentric.

Poles were not the only ones who studied at the university. Germans, Lithuanians, Hungarians, and Czechs also studied there. Several professors at the University of Kraków were foreigners. The largest ethnic groups in descending order of numbers were Hungarians, Czechs, Lithuanians, and Germans. There were also other ethnic groups present. From the 1470s and onward, humanism was popularized at the University of Kraków. Humanists, such as Francesco Filelfo Horace, Julius Pomponius Laetus, Juvenal, Lucan, Leonardo Bruni, Marcus Antonius Coccius Sabellicus Martial, Ovid, Plautus, Propertius, Statius, Terence, and Vergil were taught. The University of Kraków became an important university in Central Eastern Europe.

University of Padua

The University of Padua was an important institution that educated many important Poles and Lithuanians in the 15th century. About 1,000 were educated there in the 15th century. They became abbots, bishops, castellans, diplomats, poets,m royal secretaries, and voivodes. Some of the most notable people who studied there were Nicolaus Copernius, Stanisław Orzechowski, Marcin Kromer, Klemens Janicki, Stanisław Hozjusz, Andrzej Czarnkowski, and Jan Kochanowski. Some Poles still go to the University of Padua to this day.

Władysław III of Varna

After Władysław II Jagiełło died on June 1, 1434, a faction led by Spytek of Melsztyń did not want to elect Władysław II Jagiełło’s son, Władysław, since he was only ten years old. The group used the Jedlneński Privilege in their defense that stated that Władysław could only become king after becoming fifteen years old. It was preferred to have Zbigniew Oleśnicki as a temporary ruler until Władysław would be old enough to rule. Zbigniew Oleśnicki went to great lengths to become a temporary ruler. In Poznań, he was able to convince his opposition in Greater Poland to let him accede. At a congress in Opatów, he debated with Lesser Poland’s nobility. On July 25, 1434, during the congress that would coronate Władysław, Zbigniew Oleśnicki prevented attempts to block Władysław from being ruler. At the coronation, Władysław II Jagiełło’s wife, Sophia of Halshany, Polish dignitaries, and representatives of Polish cities swore that they would relinquish power once Władysław was fifteen years old. Sigismund Kęstutaitis recognized that he was subordinate to Władysław, but Švitrigaila did not. Halicz, Podole, and Ruthenia were given Polish law and privileges on the day of the coronation. Voivodeships were made out of Ruthenia and Podole. The nobility that lived on those lands was given rights and privileges that Polish nobles had.

After the coronation, leaders of Lithuania’s bojars who supported Švitrigaila went to Władysław III of Varna’s side. They gave him Łuck and part of the borderland of Wołyń. After this development, Švitrigaila burned Hierasim, Lithuania’s metropolitan, on a stake for being in favor of Poland. In the summer of 1435, when it appeared that war was about to be waged by Švitrigaila and his ally in the Teutonic Knights against Poland, 12,000 Polish knights were sent to aid Sigismund Kęstutaitis. On September 1, 1435, the Polish and Lithuanian forces defeated the forces of Švitrigaila and the Teutonic Knights at Wiłkomierz. Later in 1435, Švitrigaila lost Smoleńsk. On December 31, 1435, peace was settled at Brześć Kujawska. Poland only received Nieszawa from the settlement. According to the settlement’s terms, the estates in the Teutonic Knights’ kingdom were to repudiate their loyalty to their rulers if the peace settlement was not honored. The Teutonic Knights were also to promise to not look for the pope or Holy Roman Emperor to mediate in future conflicts. They also had to end their alliance with Švitrigaila and buy their prisoners of war back.

In 1436, Polish representatives began to hold discussions with Švitrigaila that led to an agreement on September 4, 1437, in Łwów that obligated Švitrigaila to transfer all of the lands he ruled to Poland after his death in return for recognition of his authority and his lands. Polish representatives then went to Sigismund Kęstutaitis to try to get him to improve relations with Švitrigaila, but they were unsuccessful. They were able to get Sigismund Kęstutaitis to get closer to Poland. The result was a document that Sigismund Kęstutaitis promulgated on December 6, 1437, in Grodno that obligated his representatives who managed his castles to surrender control of them to Poland after he died. In return, Poland gave Łuck to Sigismund Kęstutaitis and resigned from interfering with Švitrigaila. By the end of 1438, Švitrigaila forfeited his claims to all his lands in Lithuania and moved to Pokuttya. Zbigniew Oleśnicki tried to improve relations between Poland and Sigismund of Luxemburg, since he believed that he might try to make an alliance with the Teutonic Knights and anti-Polish elements in Lithuania. His plan was for the Władysław III of Varna and Casimir of the Jagiellonian dynasty to marry into Sigismund of Luxemburg’s family. Oleśńicki’s candidates were Sigismund of Luxemburg’s daughter, Elizabeth, and Elizabeth’s two daughers, Anna and Elizabeth. Spytek of Melsztyn was in favor of this plan.

In 1434, an embassy composed of chancellor Jan Koniecpolski and marshall Jan Glowacz of Oleśnica was sent to Sigismund of Luxemburg, who was crowned Holy Roman Emperor in 1433, to attempt to marry Anna with the newly coronated Władysław III of Varna. Sigismund of Luxemburg would agree only if he would rule over Władysław III of Varna and the disputes over Ruthenia and Spiš would be settled in his favor. Poland’s embassy could not agree. In 1435, it led to Sigismund of Luxemburg becoming an ally of the Teutonic Knights and Švitrigaila. In the spring of 1436, a congress met in Kežmarok. The Hungarians at the congress wanted thirteen towns in Spiš to be returned. Polish representatives would not give them up. In 1436, Mikołaj Powała and Paweł Dobiesławowicz of Sienna went to Sigismund of Luxemburg to attempt to marry Casimir and Władysław III of Varna. Discussions were held up to 1437. Sigismund of Luxemburg had interest, but no agreement was ever materialized.

A conflict between Alexander I of Moldavia’s sons during the reign of Władsyław II Jagiełło and Władysław III of Varna led Poland to become involved in Moldavian politics. Alexander I’s sons, Stephen II and Iliaş, fought for control of Moldavia. Stephen II was able to get control first. He also recognized Poland’s supremacy over Moldavia. After Władysław II Jagiełło died in 1434, Iliaş, who married the sister of Sophia of Halshany, Maria, was able to get control over Moldavia. On September 19, 1436, Iliaş paid homage to Władysław III of Varna in Łwów.

After Sigismund of Luxemburg died on December 9, 1437, Poland vied for the crown to rule over Bohemia. The problem was that Albrecht II Habsburg had a strong claim to Bohemia. Poland sought support among Albrecht II Habsburg’s enemies in Hungary. When Sigismund of Luxemburg was still alive, his wife, Barbara of Cilli, had a plan to marry Władysław III of Varna and rule over Bohemia and Poland. Once Sigismund of Luxemburg found out about it, he imprisoned her. After Sigismund of Luxemburg died, she went to Poland to try to realize her plan, but she was not treated seriously.

In March 1438, Hussites with Bedřich of Strážnice at their head offered the Bohemian crown to Casimir. He was eleven-years old. They offered it to him, since Albrecht II Habsburg was against Hussitism. On April 20, 1438, a congress met in Nowy Korczyn to discuss the offer and accepted it. The conditions were that Czech could not be subordinated to German, Czechs were to be allowed to receive communion in two forms, Silesia was to be under Polish rule, Germans could not be allowed access to trade routes to Kiliya and Caffa, and Czech merchants were to be given access to the trade routes of Kiliya and Caffa. On April 25, 1438, Zbigniew Oleśńicki organized a confederation in Korczyn to keep peace in Poland and prevent heresy of Hussitism.

On May 29, 1438, Casimir was elected at a congress in Mělník by Czech Hussites. To confirm that he would be king, knights were sent. In the middle of June 1438, Dziersław of Rytwian went with 2,000 knights to Bohemia to conduct reconnaissance. 5,000 more men were sent under Sędziwój Ostroróg and Jan Tęczyński. Some Czech towns opened their gates for them. Propaganda was produced by Albrecht II Habsburg’s side and Poland side.

Albrecht II Habsburg occupied Prague with his troops and was coronated on June 29, 1438. Albrecht II Habsburg had 27,000 Czechs and Germans in his army. Poland was outnumbered. Polish troops retreated to Tabor where they fought Albrecht II Habsburg’s men. On September 23, 1438, Friderich, the duke of Saxony, won a battle that ended the war and settled the matter of who ruled Bohemia. Attempts were made to forge an alliance between Albrecht II Habsburg and Sigismund Kęstutaitis, but they never ended up in success. After Tartars attacked Poland in 1438, Poland went to Sigismund Kęstutaitis and pressured him into renewing the Union of Grodno. On October 3, 1439, it ended up in success after Sigismund Kęstutaitis agreed.

After the Turks attacked Hungary in August and November 1438, Germans accused Poland of provoking them. In 1439, a Turkish embassy went to Kraków to make an alliance with Poland against Albrecht II Habsburg. It led Germans to be more suspicious of Poland.

In September 1438, Władysław III and his brother, Casimir, went with 22,000 troops on a campaign to Bohemia. When they reached Silesia, they tried to make Silesia subordinate itself to Casimir as the king of Bohemia. His campaign shortly fell apart after he lost support from the Czechs.

Peace was to be settled at a congress in Piotrków. Poland wanted to invalidate the two elections in Bohemia and hold new elections as part of the settlement. Albrecht II Habsburg disagreed. No agreement could be made. A truce was settled upon at Namysłów that lasted until June 24, 1439. It was stipulated that Albrecht II Habsburg would meet Władysław III of Varna during the truce, but it never happened. The truce was then prolonged to September 1439. A congress was to meet at Bardejov on September 8, 1439, but Albrecht II Habsburg was unable to attend. He was occupied with a war with Turkey. On October 27, 1439, Albrecht II Habsburg died without ever settling the matter. When a peace settlement was being formulated at a congress in Piotrków, Władysław was recognized as being old enough to rule on December 16, 1438.

Antipathy increased toward Zbigniew Oleśńicki in general. Polish nobles detested his influence on Władysław III of Varna and his ineffective attempts to control Bohemia. It led to a confederation. On May 3, 1439, Spytek of Melsztyn organized a confederation that had 168 members of the nobility in it. The official reason for the confederation was to improve justice in Poland. They also demanded that their own members should made judges in equal proportion to members of the king’s circle. In May 1439, the king’s armed forces easily won against the confederation at the Battle of Grotniki. The victory meant that Zbigniew Oleśnicki’s politics would continue. At the end of 1439, chancellor Jan Koniecpolski and castellan Piotr Kurowski went as Polish emissaries to Buda to try to get Hungary to offer its crown to Władysław III, since Albrecht II Habsburg died and there was an interregnum. In January 1440, Hungary’s parliament decided to offer Hungary’s crown to Władysław III. Hungary’s parliament then pressured Queen Elizabeth to marry Władysław III. One of the several reasons why she resisted was that she was more than twice his age. After Queen Elizabeth gave birth to a son on February 21, 1440, she reneged on her agreement to marry Władysław III of Varna. Hungary then asked to receive Spiš, get help against Turkey, and start a legal inquiry into the conflict over Moldavia, Podole, and Ruthenia. In return, Władysław III of Varna would get the right to Hungary’s throne. Under this plan, Władysław III of Varna would marry Elizabeth, find a successor in Hungary if he would not have an heir to the throne, and help Elizabeth’s newborn son to get back power in Bohemia and Austria. The terms of the agreement did not seem advantageous for Poland, but Zbigniew Oleśnicki believed otherwise. On March 8, 1440, the terms were agreed upon at Kraków’s cathedral in a celebration. On May 1, 1440, Władysław III of Varna was to be crowned as king of Hungary. During Władysław III’s stay in Hungary, the castellan of Kraków, Jan of Czyżów, was to rule over Lesser Poland and Ruthenia, while the voivode of Łęczycy, Wojciech Malski, was to rule over Greater Poland.

When Władysław III of Varna went to Hungary, the situation in Lithuania changed for the worst for Poland. On March 20, 1440, Sigismund Kęstutaitis was killed by Ivan Czartoryjski, the voivode of Wilno Dowgird, and the voivode of Troki, Lelusz. Ties between Lithuania and Poland were then severed by a faction led by Jan Gasztołd and relatives of the Jagiellonian dynasty. Lithuanians sent an embassy to Władysław III to try to break ties with Poland. Władysław III of Varna retorted by sending his thirteen-year- old brother, Casimir, to rule Lithuania as his deputy. On June 29, 1440, Casimir was made king of Lithuania by Lithuania’s council. It was against the terms of the Union of Grodno. The result was the dissolution of the union between Poland and Lithuania.

On May 15, 1440, Queen Elizabeth wanted to make her son, Ladislaus the Posthumous, the king of Hungary after the Crown of Saint Stephen was stolen for her plot. The problem was that she did not have much support in Hungary, but she was able to get help from Holy Roman Emperor Frederick III who was recognized as Ladislaus the Posthumous’ caretaker. Frederick III gave Ladislaus the Posthumous loans and took the Crown of Saint Stephen as collateral for them. The possession of the Crown of Saint Stephen allowed him to intervene in Hungary in the future.

On July 17, 1440, Władysław III was crowned as king of Hungary at Székesfehérvár with a replacement for the Crown of Saint Stephen that was taken from Saint Stephen’s reliquary. The coronation occurred, since Hungary’s parliament did not recognize Ladislaus the Posthumous as king of Hungary. Chancellor Jan Koniecpolski and vice-chancellor Piotr Woda of Szczekocin came to help Władysław III of Varna rule in Hungary. Hungary remained divided between towns loyal either to Władysław III of Varna or Queen Elizabeth. Władysław III of Varna had to wage war to win over towns that were loyal to Queen Elizabeth. To fund the war, Władysław III of Varna relied on Poland’s treasury. This state of anarchy and civil war was worsened when Turkey began to attack Hungary from the south. John Hunyadi led Hungarian troops to several victories over the Turks. At the end of 1440, John Hunyadi won the Battle of Bátaszék against Ladislaus the Posthumous’ troops that led to his supporters pledging allegiance to Władysław III of Varna on April 19, 1441. This triumph was balanced by a drawback when Jiskra occupied Kežmarok. On April 1442, Polish nobility at a congress in Sieradź appealed to Hungary’s nobility to stop the civil war and fight Turkey together instead.

Pope Eugene IV sent a legate named cardinal Julian Cesarini in order to recruit Poland and Hungary to fight against Turkey and stop the conflict between the two. Cesarini was able to lessen Zbigniew Oleśńicki’s influence on Władysław III of Varna and to get Poland to stop intervening in Hungary. On August 8, 1442, Cesarini was able to get an agreement in Bratislava between Queen Elizabeth and Władysław III of Varna with the help of Mikołaj Lasocki. Władysław III of Varna was to rule Hungary until Ladislaus the Posthumous would turn fifteen-years old. If Ladislaus the Posthumous would die, Władysław III of Varna would be king. Władysław III of Varna was to marry an older sister of Albrecht II Habsburg whose name was Anna. Anna was to give Silesia as her dowry to Władysław III of Varna and Poland was to keep it. Spiš was to remain under Poland and Hungary was to give up its claim to Ruthenia and Moldavia. This agreement was auspicious for Poland. However, it was not accepted by Hungary. Cesarini then sought a settlement but without Polish representatives. On December 14, 1442, Cesarini was able to get a truce settled in Győr that let both sides keep what they currently controlled and allowed both sides to have equal rights to the crown of Hungary. Władysław III of Varna was to marry the sister of Ladislaus the Posthumous. After the settlement was made, Cesarini and Hunyadi began to prepare for a crusade against Turkey. The problem with a crusade was that too much money was spent on the civil war and Holy Roman Emperor Frederick III sabotaged it. Poland was only able to send small forces. Władysław III of Varna only mobilized a few thousand men for the crusade. His forces linked up with Serbian forces led by Jerzy I Branković whose kingdom was taken over by the Turks. The whole army numbered about 25,000. In October 1443, the campaign began with many successes. John Hunyadi was behind the victories. In the beginning of February 1444, Hungarian forces returned to Buda after running out of supplies. In April 1444, Hungary’s parliament decided to continue the war until Turks were removed from Europe. Władysław III of Varna promised Cesarini that he would wage war against the Turks until he won. A breakthrough came when Murad II, the sultan of the Ottoman Empire, wanted to give his son his own position and make peace. On June 12, 1444, peace was signed at Adrianople for ten years between the Ottoman Empire and Hungary. The Ottoman Empire had to pay 100,000 ducats for reparations, give Hungary all of the lands it took from it, and return Jerzy I Branković’s kingdom. All of these conditions were favorable to Poland. On August 1444, the peace settlement was signed. Cesarini convinced Władysław III of Varna to continue the war. On September 4, 1444, Władysław III of Varna stated that he was ready to go back to war, even though it was not in Hungary’s advantage. Władysław III of Varna’s time out of Poland produced a crisis. Jan Długosz states that people only tried to make money off of Władysław III of Varna’s absence. In 1444, a congress met at Piotrków that condemned Władysław III of Varna’s practice of using Polish money to fund his politics in Hungary and his absence from Poland.

Casimir took over control of Lithuania when Władysław III of Varna was in Hungary. On June 29, 1440, Casimir made himself Grand Duke of Lithuania. Władysław III of Varna had this same title, because of the union between Poland and Lithuania. Władysław III of Varna ignored Casimir and the situation in Lithuania, since he was still involved in affairs in Hungary. There were seven attempts to murder Casimir. All of them were unsuccessful. Casimir was a very capable ruler in Lithuania. He was able to suppress decentralizing influences in Kijów, Smoleńsk, and Samogitia. In 1442, he made a new administrative district out of Samogitia. In 1443, he was able to quell Polish pretenses to Wołyń and Podole.

Poland began to support other figures in Lithuania to control it easier and better. In Mstislaw, Jerzy Lingwenowicz was supported. In Kijów, Olelko Włodzimierzowicz was supported. On June 6, 1440, Švitrigaila pledged allegiance to the Jagiellonian dynasty. In 1442, Švitrigaila returned to Volhynia. Sigismund Kęstutaitis’s son, Michael, was also supported. In November 1441, a congress met in Parczew with Polish and Lithuanian representatives to arbitrate over Drohiczyn Land, but it was unable to produce a settlement. Lithuanians ended up taking Drohiczyn Land with force and compelling Bolesław IV to settle for an indemnity for it.

There was a conflict between Poland and Lithuania over Podlasie. In November 1441, Polish and Lithuanian representatives met at Parczew to arbitrate. They were unable to make an agreement at Parczew and during the next two years.

In the beginning of 1444, Lithuanian forces entered Podlasie and Mazovia. In August 1444, Polish and Lithuanian representatives met at a congress in Piotrków. Casimir was able to take the contentious lands in Podlasie in return for 6,000 Czech groschen.

When supporters of Ladislaus the Posthumous began to seek support in Greater Poland, Polish representatives tried and were successful in getting dukes from Silesia to be on Władysław III of Varna’s side. The bishop of Wrocław, Konrad, supported Ladislaus the Posthumous and the Habsburgs. The duke of Olesno, Konrad the White, made an alliance with Poland. Wacław of Oświęcim gave Poland his castle of Barwalk. He was ready to recognize Poland’s supremacy. Talks were held for all of Silesia to subordinate itself to Poland, but they failed. In December 1443, Zbigniew Oleśnicki was only able to buy the duchy of Cieszn, which later became a possession of the diocese of Kraków. After Władysław III of Varna came back from the successful campaign against Turkey, Polish representratives went to Buda to get him to return to Poland. Władysław III of Varna promised to return in May or June, but he never honored his promise. On August 26, 1444, a congress met at Piotrków that asked for the war with Turkey to end and for Władysław III of Varna to return to Poland. Władysław III of Varna promised to return only after another victory against the Ottoman Empire.

In the autumn of 1444, Władysław III went on a campaign with John Hunyadi and Cesarini against the Ottoman Empire. Poland sent only a few hundred men for the war.Most Hungarians did not want to support the war. One of the few who did support the war was the Wallachian hospodar Vlad II Dracul who gave 4,000 cavalry for the war. Władysław III of Varna had about 20,000 men for the war. On November 10, 1444, Władysław III of Varna died during the Battle of Varna. He was decapitated and his head was impaled. It went to the Ottoman Empire’s sultan as a spoil of the war. Władysław III of Varna was twenty when he was killed.

Casimir IV Jagiellon

On April 23, 1445, Poland’s nobility and its most powerful members met in Sieradź to elect a new king. At the time of the meeting, many still believed Władsyław III of Varna was still alive. Casimir was elected on the condition that he would be confirmed in Piotrków. On August 24, 1445, plenipotentiaries met in Piotrków to confirm the decision, but Casimir’s representatives said that they could not without completely knowing the fate of Władsyław III of Varna. On January 6, 1446, another meeting took place in Piotrków. From March 27, 1446, to March 30, 1446, a decision was made to make another election. Zbigniew Oleśńicki’s faction wanted Friderich of Brandeburg to be king. Another group wanted Bolesław IV, the duke of Mazovia. On June 30, 1446, Bolesław IV was made king on the condition that Casimir would revoke his claim to be king. Casimir declared that he would treat anyone who tried to threaten his position as an enemy and that he would attack them.

In the autumn of 1446 in Parczew and Brześć, talks were held again that reached a compromise. On September 17, 1446, Casimir agreed to become king of Poland in June as long as all of the terms of the union between Lithuania and Poland would be rendered null. Casimir would rule Lithuania just as before and he was to confirm the privileges of Poland’s nobility. On May 2, 1447, Casimir gave a privilege that secured Lithuania’s borders and reserved the right to appoint all people to sacred and secular positions in Lithuania. The nobility was given complete power over its land and to rule over its subjects.

On June 25, 1447, Casimir was coronated in Kraków, but he did not confirm the privileges that Władysław II Jagiełło and Władysław III of Varna produced. Casimir IV Jagiellon made many enemies in Poland after he denied giving Poland’s nobility the privileges it possessed previously. Casimir IV Jagiellon sought allies among Greater Poland’s elite and those who were against Zbigniew Oleśńicki. Casimir IV Jagiellon had an enemy in Zbigniew Oleśnicki who supported Michael Zygmuntowicz’s claim to rule Lithuania.

On May 2, 1447, Casimir IV Jagiellon gave Lithuania’s nobility personal freedom and the right to trial before being indicted. He removed some required tributes from its obligations to the kingdom, and guaranteed that Lithuanians would be in positions of power within Lithuania. In 1492, a statute was made in Lithuania that required the Grand Duke of Lithuania to first seek council with his advisers before making diplomatic relations with other counties and appointing dignitaries in the kingdom. He also had to seek council to take money out of the treasury, and he could not reverse the decisions that he made with his council.

After Casimir IV Jagiellon became king of Poland, he returned to Lithuania and tried to arbitrate on a border dispute with Moscow in Lithuania’s favor. He also tried to put in a vassal on Moscow’s throne, but he needed to get Poland’s support to do it. In May 1448, Polish and Lithuanian representatives met in Lublin to try to realize these plans. The Lithuanians wanted to remove all aspects of a union between Poland and Lithuania, while Poles wanted the opposite. The Lithuanians also wanted western Podole and Wołyń returned from Poland. No agreement was made, but Polish forces aided Lithuanian forces when there was a skirmish with Moscow on the border of Lithuania. On August 31, 1449, Casimir IV Jagiellon was forced to make peace with Vasily II of Moscow. Casimir IV Jagiellon promised not to support Vasily II of Moscow’s rivals, while Vasily II of Moscow swore to not support Michael Zygmuntowicz.

In 1449, Casimir IV Jagiellon was involved in a conflict with Zbigniew Oleśnicki over who should have more power in the king’s council. Casimir IV Jagiellon and Greater Poland’s elite wanted the archbishop of Gniezno, Władysław Oporowski, to have more power in the council than Zbigniew Oleśnicki, who was made a cardinal in 1449. The conflict led to the failure of the congress in Piotrków in 1449. In June 1451, another congress met at Piotrków that decided that Zbigniew Oleśnicki should have more power in the king’s council, but the archbishop of Gniezno should coronate the king.

After Švitrigaila died on February 10, 1452, Lithuanians occupied Łuck, the capital of Wołyń, with help of Casimir IV Jagiellon. Polish representatives threatened to dethrone Casimir IV Jagiellon for supporting the occupation. It led to many political battles through the rest of 1452. Casimir IV Jagiellon attempted and succeeded in bringing many important individuals in Greater Poland to aid him. Many members of the king’s council did not appear at important meetings. Poland’s nobility was able to get Casimir IV Jagiellon to promise to confirm the privileges it previously had. Lithuanians did not support it, since it could lead to a union with Poland. Jan Gasztold and other Lithuanians conspired to dethrone Casimir IV Jagiellon, but loyalists were able to tell the king of their plans before they attempted to remove him. On June 30, 1453, Casimir IV Jagiellon confirmed the privileges of Poland’s nobility in Piotrków. No territorial changes were made. Wołyń and eastern Podole remained under Lithuanian dominion.

From 1490 to 1435, Poland and the Teutonic Knights were engaged in a series of wars that left the Teutonic Knights in financial ruin. The Teutonic Knights confiscated the property of their knights whose loyalty was suspect in order to improve their finances. They also increased tariffs and taxes. Villagers were most affected with increased taxes. Peasants were required to do additional work for the Teutonic Knights.

Poland was in contact with the Teutonic Knights’ opposition. One group that opposed the Teutonic Knights’ rule was the Lizard Union, which was a semi-secret organization. It was accused of having relations with Poland. In 1452, Poland was in contact with the Prussian Confederation that asked for help against the Teutonic Knights. At the end of 1453 and the beginning of 1454, Mikołaj Szarlejski and Hińcz of Rogów made a secret agreement with Jan Bażyński, who was the leader of the opposition to the Teutonic Knights. A conspiracy began to rebel against the Teutonic Knights. On February 4, 1454, the Prussian Confederation renounced its loyalty to the Grand Master of the Teutonic Knights. An uprising ensued. Nearly all of the towns in the Teutonic Knights’ kingdom were taken over in the rebellion. The only towns that were not affected were Chojnice, Malbork, and Sztum.

On February 22, 1454, Poland declared war on the Teutonic Knights. The Thirteen Years’ War officially began. The Grand Master of Teutonic Knights did not get the official declaration until April 21, 1454. The declaration of war stated that the Teutonic Knights betrayed the Treaty of Brześć and that the inhabitants of the Teutonic Knights’ kingdom asked to have themselves and their kingdom incorporated into Poland. After initial success by the Prussian Confederation, the Teutonic Knights were able to regain control of many castles and fortresses that they lost. The reason that the Prussian Confederation was able to be successful in the beginning of the rebellion was that the Teutonic Knights were caught by surprise.

On March 6, 1454, the Teutonic Knights’ kingdom was incorporated into Poland after Jan Bażyński and the Prussian Confederation discussed incorporation. The privileges that the Prussians held were to be honored and remain in effect. Poles were given privileges in Prussia. On March 9, 1454, Jan Bażyński was made the governor of Prussia. He was to govern Prussia with a council. A separate sejm was planned for Prussia in the future.

The Thirteen Years’ War was very expensive for both sides. The cost of the war was the reason why the Teutonic Knights capitulated in the end. Some knights and townspeople who initially supported the rebellion against the Teutonic Knights switched sides when the war dragged on and costs accrued.

In 1454, Poland sent emissaries to England and Bohemia to dissuade them from supporting the Teutonic Knights in the war. In April 1454, Poland’s diplomat Jan Lutek of Brzeź and the Teutonic Knights’ representative fought in Regensburg in the Holy Roman Empire’s parliament over support in the war. Jan Lutek of Brzeź was able to get Pope Michael V to have a neutral stance and support a truce. Pope Michael V’s successor, Callixtus III, was persuaded by the Teutonic Knights’ Jost von Hohensetein to support the Teutonic Knights. On July 26, 1455, Pope Callixtus III confirmed a falsified bull of Michael V that excommunicated the Prussian Confederation and its followers. On September 24, Pope Callixtus III ordered the Prussian Confederation to subordinate itself to the Teutonic Knights in sixty days. He also excommunicated the allies of the Prussian Confederation. Casimir V Jagiellon was excommunicated, but no sanctions were made against him. Normal diplomatic relations continued with him.

The Holy Roman Empire aided the Teutonic Knights. On March 24, 1455, the Holy Roman Emperor’s court gave out a verdict in Wiener Neustadt that banished the towns that were loyal to Casimir IV Jagiellon and permitted the seizure of its inhabitants’ property in the Holy Roman Empire. On October 5, 1455, the king of Denmark, Christian I, declared war on Poland after the Teutonic Knights promised to recompense him financially. It led Poland to make an alliance with the king of Sweden, Charles VIII, who was the enemy of Christian I. In the spring of 1457, Casimir IV Jagiellon received a loan from Charles VIII to fight the Teutonic Knights.

In the summer of 1455, Poland tried to purchase the fortresses that Bohemian and German tenants were renting from the Grand Master of the Teutonic Knights, Ludwig von Erlichshausen. On July 29, 1456, an agreement was settled upon. Poland would buy twenty-one castles from them for 436,000 Hungarian forints. One of the castles was in Malbork. On September 28, 1457, the Teutonic Knights were able to capture the city of Malbork with the help of its townspeople, but its castle was still in Polish hands.

In October 1458, a nine-month truce was agreed upon in Prabuty between Poland and the Teutonic Knights. A thirteen-month truce was made with Denmark that was later prolonged for four years. It took Christian I out of the war as an ally of the Teutonic Knights. In 1459, Pope Pius II renewed the excommunication against the Prussian Confederation and Poland that Pope Callixtus III issued. In November 1459, Pope Pius II lifted the excommunication, but he did not remove the excommunication off of Casimir IV Jagiellon. When Pope Pius II sent Hieronim Lando as his legate to Poland on a peace mission, Casimir IV blocked him from entering. On June 3, 1460, Pope Pius IV reenacted the excommunication.

After the truce ended, Poland laid siege to Malbork. On August 5, 1460, Malbork capitulated. Both sides depleted almost all of their resources. The Pope’s legate, Hieronim Lando, was sent to mediate in the affair, but he was forced to leave Poland. Casimir IV Jagiellon was able to forge a truce with Denmark. In the summer of 1464, the Hanseatic League attempted to arbitrate a peace deal in Toruń, but it failed. One of Poland’s conditions for peace was to move the Teutonic Knights to Podole.

The war continued. In September 1464, Poland conquered Puck and Działdowo. On February 1, 1465, Poland captured Dunin. In April 1465, Poland began peace negotiations in Mierzeja Wiślana after Poland’s nobility refused to be taxed more and its mercenaries were not paid. Despite the peace negotiations, the war continued. Pope Paul II tried to restart peace negotiations in Toruń with his legate, Rudolf of Rüdesheim, who was the bishop of Breslau. Casimir IV Jagiellon and grand master Ludwik von Erlichshausen were present.

On October 19, 1466, the Second Peace of Toruń was signed. Poland received Royal Prussia that was composed of Gdańsk-Pomerania, Chełmno Land, Michałów Land, Elbląg, Tolkmicko, and northwestern Prussia with Malbork. Royal Prussia was allowed to have its own sejm. The Teutonic Knights were allowed to keep the remaining lands, but they were not allowed to have a sovereign kingdom. All Grand Masters were to swear an oath of loyalty to the king of Poland within six months of their appointment. They were made dukes in the king’s council. The Teutonic Knights were also obligated to help Poland in military affairs. The Teutonic Knights were allowed to have complete control over their justice system. The dioceses of Chełmno and Warmia were put under the jurisdiction of the Archdiocese of Gniezno. Casimir IV Jagiellon’s victory in the Thirteen Years’ War helped Poland’s standing in Europe. The Pope attempted to recruit Poland into the crusade against the Ottoman Empire and the Hussites. German dukes attempted to marry the daughters of Casimir IV Jagiellon. The king of England inducted Casimir IV Jagiellon into the Most Noble Order of the Garter, which is England’s highest order of chivalry. Casimir IV Jagiellon centralized Royal Prussia to Poland’s favor. In 1476, Casimir IV Jagiellon standardized law in Royal Prussia. In 1485, he created the position of a starosta to rule over Royal Prussia. The starosta would rule from Malbork. In 1485, he also asked to tax Royal Prussia in order to fund the coming war with the Ottoman Empire. The tax was not welcomed, since Royal Prussia was absolved from paying taxes for twenty years from the end of the Thirteen Years’ War. The reason was that the war was too costly. Casimir IV Jagiellon’s politics and reforms were not well received in Royal Prussia. In 1485, a confederation was formed in Royal Prussia against Casimir IV Jagiellon.

After the Second Peace of Toruń was signed, Rudolf of Rüdesheim tried to get Casimir IV Jagiellon involved in a war with Bohemia to remove the Hussite George of Poděbrady from power, but Casimir IV Jagiellon’s finances were ruined from the Thirteen Years’ War. Casimir IV Jagiellon wanted to rather work with George of Poděbrady and get an agreement that one of his sons would succeed George of Poděbrady. George of Poděbrady wanted Casimir IV Jagiellon to be his intermediary with the Pope to make peaceful relations between the two. In July 1467, the people of Wrocław and Catholics in Bohemia invited Casimir IV Jagiellon to become king of Bohemia. Pope Paul II wanted Casimir IV Jagiellon to become king of Bohemia, since he was Catholic. When Casimir IV Jagiellon supported Wincenty Kiełbasa to be the next bishop of Warmia, Pope Paul II did not support him, since he Casimir IV Jagiellon did not want to become king of Bohemia. In December 1467, Catholics met in a congress at Wrocław and expressed interest in Casimir IV Jagiellon to enter the conflict in Bohemia. In the spring of 1468, they turned their attention to Matthias Corvinus to intervene.

On May 27, 1471, Casimir IV Jagiellon was elected as king of Bohemia. On June 16, 1471, he was coronated in Kraków as king of Bohemia. On July 25, 1471, Casimir IV Jagiellon went to Bohemia with an army of 10,000 men. On August 22, 1471, he received Bohemia’s royal crown from Wincenty Kiełbasa, the bishop of Chełmno, and Mikołaj Próchnicki, the bishop of Kamieniec.

At the beginning of October 1471, Casimir IV Jagiellon’s son, Saint Casimir Jagiellon, went on a campaign to Hungary with an army of 12,000 men that was led by Piotr Dunin of Prawkowice. Saint Casimir Jagiellon claimed to have a right to be king in Hungary. He was thirteen-years old. A manifesto was produced that stated that Maciej Korwin usurped the throne in Hungary. Hungary’s parliament invalidated Saint Casimir V Jagiellon’s claim to rule. Casimir IV Jagiellon’s men ended up deserting him. Casimir IV Jagiellon housed Saint Casimir Jagiellon in a castle in Dobczyce. He had hope that one day the situation in Hungary would change, and Saint Casimir Jagiellon would become king in Hungary. The situation changed on March 31, 1472, when a truce was produced with Hungary. The Pope pressured Casimir IV Jagiellon into the deal. A permanent peace was to be settled in a meeting in Olomouc by June 24, 1472, but it never occurred. From March 13, 1473, to April 14, 1473, a congress met at Nysa with Polish, Bohemian, and Hungarian representatives attending. There was an attempt to have Matthias Corvinus marry Jadwiga Jagiellon to help make peace, but Poland did not support it. The congress prolonged peace and agreed to meet at Opava to settle differences. On September 1473, a congress met at Opava, but it was unproductive. In 1473, discussions began between the Habsburgs and Jagiellons on making an alliance. In September 1473, Casimir IV Jagiellon’s mercenaries went to Slovakia to rob in order to balance their accounts, since Casimir IV Jagiellon ran out of money to pay them. Casimir IV Jagiellon quietly approved of their actions. In December 1474, Matthias Corvinus attacked the mercenaries when they were near Hungary’s border. On January 12, 1474, Tomasz Tarczay attacked Podkarpacie in Poland with 6,000 men for Hungary. Casimir IV Jagiellon attempted to mobilize troops, but he failed. On February 21, 1474, peace was struck in Spišská Stará Ves between Poland and Hungary. Poland was obligated to resign from attempting to take the Hungarian crown while Matthias Corvinus was living. The deal also settled their borders and stipulated the relationship each country was to have with Moldavia. On March 11, 1474, and March 13, 1474, Casimir IV Jagiellon made an alliance with the Holy Roman Empire in Nuremburg against Matthias Corvinus. According to the plan, Poland was to attack Hungary by June 24, 1474, while the Habsburgs would attack by July 25, 1474. On July 6, 1474, the pact was modified in Augsburg, since the deadline for the mobilization of troops was unrealistic.

On June 15, 1474, Poland’s nobility agreed to mobilize at Opatowiec for Casimir IV Jagiellon. About 60,000 men were mobilized. Matthias Corvinus only had about 10,000 men. On September 26, 1474, Casimir IV Jagiellons’ troops entered Silesia. A very cold winter followed that forced the war to end. On November 15, 1474, Matthias Corvinus and Casimir IV Jagiellon met at Muchobór Wielki. On December 8, 1474, a three-year peace was reached that was to last until May 25, 1477. The peace let both sides keep the territories they controlled before the war.

In 1475, the Ottoman Empire began an offensive campaign in the region of the Black Sea when Moldavia was attacked. Poland sent 2,000 of its men to help Stephen III of Moldavia against the attack. On June 6, 1475, the Ottoman Empire conquered Caffa that was under Casimir IV Jagiellon’s protection since 1462. After Stephen III of Moldavia’s emissaries pledged allegiance to Casimir IV Jagiellon, Casimir IV Jagiellon’s diplomats attempted to stop the Ottoman Empire from attacking Moldavia. Their attempts ended in failure. The Ottoman Empire ended up attacking Moldavia and Podole in Poland that was bordered with Moldavia.

Some of the Jagiellonian dynasty married Germans to improve their standing. On November 14, 1475, Sophia Jagiellon, Casimir IV Jagiellon’s daughter, married Friedrich Hohenzollern in Landshut. It led Poland to have a relationship with Bavaria. On August 19, 1476, or August 20, 1476, a marriage occurred in Frankfurt between Casimir IV Jagiellon’s son, Władsyław Jagiellon, and the daughter of Albrecht III Achilles, Barbara.

Casimir IV Jagiellon’s son, Władysław Jagiellon, fought for control of Austria. Władysław Jagiellon led an army of 10,000 Bohemians into Austria. On June 10, 1477, Władysław Jagiellon received Bohemia’s regalia to become king. On June 12, 1477, Matthias Corvinus declared war on Władysław II Jagiellon and his allies. Władysław II Jagiellon lost the war. On December 2, 1477, Władysław II Jagiellon recognized Matthias Corvinus in Gmunden as the king of Bohemia. On January 15, 1478, the Pope’s nuncio, Baltazar of Pescia, excommunicated Casimir IV Jagiellon and Władysław II Jagiellon. Casimir IV Jagiellon threatened to recall all priests in his kingdom. The Teutonic Knights’ new Grand Master, Martin Truchseß von Wetzhausen, took advantage of the excommunication. He did not pledge an oath of loyalty to Poland. He also started the War of the Priests with a campaign that conquered Chełmno, Brodnica, and Starogród. Poland began a campaign in Warmia and the lands that the Teutonic Knights controlled. He had success in the war from 1478 to 1479, but the Teutonic Knights’ allies helped to end the war before they were completely defeated.

On March 28, 1478, a preliminary treaty in Brna declared that Władysław II Jagiellon would have Bohemia, while Matthias Corvinus would have Moravia, Lusatia, and Silesia. The Bohemians were allowed to purchase Moravia, Lusatia, and Silesia for 400,000 ducats. Władysław II Jagiellon and Matthias Corvinus were both to hold the title of the king of Bohemia. A general amnesty was given to all. From September 30, 1478, to October 27, 1478, the terms of the treaty were changed in Buda. The new terms favored Matthias Corvinus. On December 7, 1478, the terms were made public in Olomouc. In July 1479, Władysław II Jagiellon and Matthias Corvinus met in Olomouc and ratified the treaty.

Casimir IV Jagiellon and Matthias Corvinus arbitrated on other matters. On April 2, 1479, an agreement was made in Buda that obligated Casimir IV Jagiellon to not intervene in Bohemia in return for Matthias Corvinus not supporting Martin Truchseß von Wetzhausen of the Teutonic Knights. On October 9, 1479, Martin Truchseß von Wetzhausen pledged loyalty to Casimir IV Jagiellon in Nowy Korczyn. The War of the Priests ended.

Casimir IV Jagiellon’s rule helped Lithuania to develop. In the middle of the 15th century, Lithuania had a population of 500,000. In 1492, it had 600,000. Parts of Lithuania that did not have many people were colonized. New villages and towns were established that helped to spread trade. Exports increased to Poland and Western Europe through Gdańsk, Królewiec, and Riga. Exports included ash, cloth, iron, salt, tar, and wood. Lithuania’s most important families that owned great amounts of land in Lithuania and helped it to develop were the Holszańskis, Gasztolds, Kiezgajls, Oginskis, Radziwills, Sanguszeks, andSapiehas. In 1479, a conspiracy formed to remove Casimir IV Jagiellon and his family from power in Lithuania. The goal was to make Lithuania independent and ruled by Michael Olelkowicz. On August 30, 1481, Mikhailo Olelkovich and Ivan Jurjewicz Holszański were beheaded when the conspiracy was uncovered. After the Ottoman Empire conquered Kiliya and Bilhorod in July 1484, Poland and Lithuania mobilized troops. Casimir IV Jagiellon went on a campaign with 20,000 men to Kołomyja. The hospodar of Moldavia, Stepehn III, pledged loyalty to Casimir IV Jagiellon. Casimir IV Jagiellon then gave Stefan 3,000 men who helped him to win a battle at Katlabuga. When Stephen III did not get any support from Poland in 1485, he turned to Poland’s enemies.

In 1486, emissaries of Poland and the Habsburgs went to Venetia to negotiate the return of ports in the Black Sea from the Ottoman Empire. The negotiations were ineffectual. In 1487, Kallicha went to Constantinople for more negotiations, but he was unsuccessful. In 1489, Poland sent Mikołaj Firlej to ask for the return of Kiliya and Bilhorod. He could not get them returned, but he was able to make a two-year truce with the Ottoman Empire.

Stephen III of Moldovia turned against Poland. In 1488, he claimed Pokuttya from Poland. In 1490, Stephen III of Moldovia sent a representative to Pokuttya to get its people to turn against Poland’s nobility. A rebellion resulted that spread from Pokuttya into Podole and northern Moldavia. Poland put Aaron, who was a son of Peter who was Stephen III’s predecessor, in Chocim as a contender to Stephen III in Moldavia. On July 19, 1490, he promised to pay Poland a yearly tribute of 1,000 ducats if he would be made ruler in Moldavia.

After Matthias Corvinus died in 1490, Casimir IV Jagiellon supported John I Albert to be king of Hungary, while the Habsburgs supported Maximilian I and some Bohemians supported Ladislaus Jagiellon. In the beginning of 1490, John I Albert entered Hungary at the head of an army of several thousand. On June 7, 1490, some of Hungary’s nobility declared John I Albert king in Rákos, but Hungary’s potentates in its court did not recognize him. Ladislaus Jagiellon entered Hungary with many more men than John I Albert and occupied Buda. On July 15, 1490, Ladislaus Jagiellon was declared king. At the end of September 1490, Ladislaus Jagiellon was coronated in Székesfehérvár. John I Albert did not recognize the election of his brother.

In October 1490, Maximilian I entered Hungary with 16,000 men. His mercenaries ended up rebelling. Maxilimian I was forced to end his campaign. On February 20, 1491, John I Albert was forced to sign a peace deal in Koszyce after a few unsuccessful battles with Ladislaus Jagiellon’s troops. John I Albert was obligated to resign from his claims to rule Hungary. He was able to receive Głogów. In the summer of 1491, John I Albert restarted the war against Ladislaus Jagiellon when he was busy removing troops of the Habsburgs from western Hungary. His war was unsuccessful. Casimir IV Jagiellon supported Ladislaus Jagiellon and would not give any help to John I Albert. On November 7, 1491, a treaty was signed in Bratislava that allowed the Habsburg to rule after Ladislaus Jagiellon or his male descendants would die. Stefan Zapolya led Hungary’s nobility in a revolt against John I Albert. On January 1, 1492, Stefan Zapolya defeated John I Albert’s army at Prešov and took John I Albert captive. John I Albert was freed after he promised to give up his claim to Hungary’s throne.

When Casimir IV Jagiellon was on his deathbed, he recommended that Poles elect John I Albert and that Lithuanians make Alexander king. In July 1492, Lithuanians made Alexander king. It was against previous treaties of the union between Poland and Lithuania, since it was stipulated that the decision had to be made in conjunction with Poles. On June 7, 1492, Casimir IV Jagiellon died in Grodno. The union between Poland and Lithuania ended as a result.


Local trade was usually within a radius of 125 miles. Important cities in Poland’s international trade were Bruges, Cologne, Frankfurt, London, Lübeck Stralsund, and Veliky Novgorod. Kraków and Gdańsk were the two cities that usually had more possibilities internationally in their trade. International trade was in Poland’s favor in a ratio of 100 to sixty-six. There were several Polish exports that helped Poland to develop. Salt and lead were exported to Bohemia. Salt, wax, herrings, and leather were exported to Hungary. Cloth and metal products were exported to Ruthenia and Lithuania. Ash, honey, leather, lumber, tar, wax, and wheat were exported to countries around the Baltic Sea.

Poland imported many items from all over Europe. Metal objects were imported from Nuremburg. Cloth, salt, and herrings were imported from the Netherlands. Spices were imported from countries around the Black Sea. Oxen were imported from Moldavia. After the Ottoman Empire conquered Bilhorod, Caffa, and Kilia in the second half of the 15th century, Poland had limited trade with countries around the Black Sea.

During the 15th century, Poland’s economy expanded and its population increased as the result of international peace and the increase of goods and services being exchanged for money. The groups that were particularly active in expanding the economy were the nobility, townspeople, and wealthy peasantry. The process of German colonization nearly ended. It was replaced with Polish colonization from Ruthenia and Wallachia. These Polish colonists came with their herds and moved west. Particular areas where they ended up were the Carpathian Mountains.

Credit was used to finance trade. Jews and Polish nobles were the most common creditors in Poland. Hungarian forints and Czech groschen were used in many transactions in Poland.

During the 15th century, many small cities were founded. They were made out of larger villages. They became important centers for trade. Towns in Ruthenia and Lithuania developed as the result of the need for craft goods in western and central Poland during the 15th century. Guilds were present in cities to protect their members and maintain the quality of the products that their members produced. Guilds were made for a variety of professions that included cobblers, bakers, brewers, and carpenters. Brotherhoods were formed to find ore and salt to satisfy the needs of markets in cities. Their members were present in ironworks and mines. Wealthy merchants funded many of these enterprises.

The three-field system of agriculture began to be used more in Poland. It relied upon three separate fields that were rotated each year to keep the soil nutritious. One field would have spring wheat. A second field would have winter wheat. A third field would lie fallow. Animals would graze it and fertilize it with their manure. The fields would be rorated every year. The main crops that were cultivated were buckwheat, millet, oats, rye, spelt, and wheat. The livestock that was raised included cattle, pigs, poultry, and sheep.

Polish nobility expanded its manors to increase profits by taking land that was unused and cutting down forests. Polish nobility also increased its requirements for its peasants. It led to many peasants fleeing. As the number of manors increased, there was a greater need for workers. In 1496, the Piotrkowski Statute outlawed villagers from working in cities and banned the sons of peasants to study in cities or to work in any craft. The Piotrkowski Statute originated out of the needs and power of the Polish nobility. Poland’s nobility was able to strengthen its position with several privileges. In 1422, it received the Czerwiński privilege that made its property inviolable without a court verdict. In 1425 and 1430, they received the Brzeski Privilege and Jedlneński Privilege that barred any noblemen from being imprisoned with a court verdict.