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27 Jul

Kingdom of Poland (10th – 12th c.)

Polish lands were unified at the beginning of the 10th century but the history of the Polish unification is mostly unknown because of the lack of historical sources. The first written sources of Medieval Poland date from the middle of the 10th century when Poland started expansion westwards and came into conflict with the Medieval German state. Mieszko I (962-992) payed a tribute to Otto I, Holy Roman Emperor for the territory between the Oder and Warta Rivers. He was succeeded by his son Boleslaw I the Brave (992-1025) who completed the process of unification of Poland that was started by his father and became the first crowned King of Poland in 1025.

Casimir I the Restorer

Casimir I the Restorer

Boleslaw I died in the same year of his coronation and was succeeded by his son Mieszko II (1025-1034) who had to face a strong opposition of numerous landlords. He lost Pomerania, Lusatia and the territory between the Vistula and Bug River, while the Bohemians captured Silesia in 1038. His successor Casimir I the Restorer (1037-1058) managed to reduce the opposition of the landlords and to unify Poland. Casimir’s successor Boleslaw II (1058-1079) took advantage of the conflict between the Holy Roman Emperor, Henry IV and Pope Gregory VII and proclaimed himself King of Poland in 1076 but the rebellious landlords forced him to abdicate in 1079. Boleslaw II was succeeded by his brother Wladyslaw I Herman who was forced to abdicate as well.

The Polish throne was assumed by Boleslaw III Wrymouth (1102-1138) after Wladyslaw’s abdication in 1102. On his death he divided Poland into five principalities: Silesia, Greater Poland, Mazovia, Sandomir and Krakow. The first four principalities were divided among his four sons who became independent rulers, while Krakow was given to his eldest son Wladyslaw who was as Grand Duke of Krakow the representative of whole Poland. Wladyslaw tried to unify Poland by depriving his brothers of their shares provoking a civil war which ended with Wladyslaw’s defeat and disintegration of the Kingdom of Poland. The Grand Duke of Krakow retained the title Duke of Poland but he greatly depended on the nobles and clergy exerting a constant pressure to gain more rights and privileges. In 1102, the Polish kingdom was divided on numerous smaller political units which were de factoindependent.

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