Casimir I the Restorer

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Casimir I the Restorer
Duke of Poland
Casimir I the Restorer.jpg
Reign Duke: 1040–1058
Born 25 July 1016
Birthplace Kraków, Poland
Died 28 November 1058
Place of death Poznań, Poland
Buried Archcathedral Basilica of St. Peter and St. Paul, Poznań
Predecessor Mieszko II Lambert
Successor Bolesław II the Bold
Wife Maria Dobroniega of Kiev
Issue With Maria Dobroniega :
Bolesław II the Bold
Władysław I Herman
Mieszko
Otto
Świętosława, first Queen of Bohemia
Dynasty Piast dynasty
Father Mieszko II Lambert
Mother Richeza of Lotharingia

Casimir I the Restorer (Polish: Kazimierz I Odnowiciel; b. Kraków, 25 July 1016 – d. Poznań, 28 November 1058), was a Duke of Poland of the Piast dynasty and the de iure monarch of the entire country from 1034 until his death.

He was the only son of Mieszko II Lambert by his wife Richeza, daughter of Count Palatine Ezzo of Lotharingia (of the Ezzonids) and granddaughter of Emperor Otto II.

Casimir is known as the Restorer because he managed to reunite all parts of the Polish Kingdom after a period of turmoil. He reinstated Masovia, Silesia and Pomerania into his realm. However, he failed to crown himself King of Poland, mainly because of internal and external threats to his rule.

Life[edit]

Early years[edit]

Relatively little is known of Casimir's early life. He must have spent his childhood at the royal court of Poland in Gniezno. In order to acquire a proper education, he was sent to one of the Polish monasteries in 1026. According to some older sources he initially wanted to have a career in the Church (it is probable that he held the post of Oblate) and even asked for a dispensation to became a monk. This hypothesis, however, is not supported by modern historians. Regardless, he left church work for good in 1031.

Flight[edit]

Casimir the Restorer, by Matejko

Casimir's father, Mieszko II, was crowned King of Poland in 1025 after the death of his father Bolesław I the Brave. However, the powerful magnates of the country feared a strong central government like the one that existed under Bolesław I's rule. This led to considerable friction between the King and the nobility.

Taking advantage of the King's precarious situation, Mieszko II's brothers Bezprym and Otto turned against him and allied themselves with the Emperor Conrad II, whose forces attacked the country, regaining Lusatia. Years of chaos and conflict followed, during which Mieszko II died (1034) under suspicious circumstances, after he was forced to abdicate.

At the time of his father's death, Casimir was in Germany at the court of his uncle Hermann II, Archbishop of Köln. In 1037 both the young prince and his mother returned to Poland and attempted to seize the throne. This precipitated a rebellion by local barons, which coupled with the so-called "Pagan Reaction" of the commoners, forced Casimir and Richeza to flee to Saxony.

However, soon Casimir returned to Poland and in 1038, once again, tried to regain power with the aide of his influential mother. This also failed and he had to flee again, this time to the Kingdom of Hungary where he was imprisoned by Stephen I. The Dowager Queen remained in Germany as a nun until her death, in 1063.

Interregnum[edit]

The central parts of Poland were controlled by Bezprym. The central district of Wielkopolska revolted against the nobles and catholic clergy in a mass rebellion. A pagan revival in the area lasted for several years. The district of Masovia seceded and a local lord, Miecław, formed a state of his own. A similar situation occurred in Pomerania. Taking advantage of the chaos and his neighbour's weakness, Duke Bretislaus I of Bohemia, invaded and ravaged the country: Lesser and Greater Poland were severely pillaged, Poznań was captured and Bretislaus sacked Gniezno, taking the relics of Saint Adalbert, Radim Gaudentius and other five eremites with him. On the way back he conquered part of Silesia including Wrocław and destroyed religious buildings, which were built by Mieszko I during the feast of the conversion of Poland, and plundered Mieszko I's tomb.

Restoration[edit]

Casimir the Restorer returning to Poland, by Wojciech Gerson. The painting was made at a time when Poland had been partitioned and lost its independence, and memory of this ancient Restorer inspired Poles in the hope for a new one.

After initially escaping to Hungary, Casimir went to Germany, where in 1039 his relative the Emperor Henry III (who feared the increased power of the Bohemian ruler) gave him military and financial support. Casimir received a force of 1,000 heavy footmen and a significant amount of gold to restore his power in Poland. Casimir also signed an alliance with Yaroslav I the Wise, the Prince of Kievan Rus', who was linked with him through Casimir's marriage with Yaroslav's sister, Maria Dobronega. With this support, Casimir returned to Poland and managed to retake most of his domain. In 1041, Bretislaus, defeated in his second attempted invasion by Emperor Henry III signed a treaty at Regensburg (1042) in which he renounced his claims to all Polish lands except for Silesia, which was to be incorporated into the Bohemian Kingdom.[1] It was Casimir's success in strengthening royal power and ending internal strife that earned him the epithet of "the Restorer".

The treaty gained Casimir a period of peace on the southern border and the capital of Poland was moved to Kraków, the only major Polish city relatively untouched by the wars. It is probable that the Holy Roman Emperor was pleased with the balance of power restored in the region and forced Casimir not to crown himself the King of Poland. In 1046 Emperor Henry III held royal and imperial courts at Merseburg and Meissen, at which he ended the strife among the Dux Bomeraniorum (Duke of Pomerania), Duke Bretislaus of Bohemia, and Casimir I.

In 1047 Casimir, aided by his Kievan brother-in-law, started a war against Masovia and seized the land. It is probable that he also defeated Miecław's allies from Pomerania and attached Gdańsk to Poland. This secured his power in central Poland. Three years later, against the will of the Emperor, Casimir seized Bohemian-controlled Silesia, thus securing most of his father's domain. In 1054 in Quedlinburg, the Emperor ruled that Silesia was to remain in Poland in exchange for a yearly tribute of 117 kg. of silver and 7 kg. of gold.

At that time Casimir focused on internal matters. To strengthen his rule he re-created the bishopric in Kraków and Wrocław and erected the new Wawel Cathedral. During Casimir's rule heraldry was introduced into Poland and, unlike his predecessors, he promoted landed gentry over the drużyna as his base of power. One of his reforms was the introduction, to Poland, of a key element of feudalism: the granting of fiefdoms to his retinue of warriors, thus gradually transforming them into medieval knights.

Marriage and issue[edit]

Casimir married Maria Dobroniega (ca. 1012–1087), daughter of Grand Duke Vladimir I of Kiev. There is no consensus among historians where it was happened. Władymir D. Koroliuk said that it was in 1039, Aleksej A. Szachmatow and Iwan Linniczenko 1041, while Dymitr S. Lichaczew 1043.[2]

They had five children:

  1. Bolesław II the Bold (ca. 1043 – 2/3 April 1081/82).
  2. Władysław I Herman (ca. 1044 – 4 June 1102)
  3. Mieszko (16 April 1045 – 28 January 1065).
  4. Otto (ca. 1046–1048).
  5. Świętosława (ca. 1048 – 1 September 1126), married ca. 1062 to Duke (from 1085, King) Vratislaus II of Bohemia.

Ancestry[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Kosmas: Chronicle of the Czechs, Warsaw 1968, p. 154, note. 18, says that the rest of Silesia, included the left side of the Odra River in Wrocław and Opole remained in Bohemia; by the other hand, T. Jurek: Ryczyn biskupi, Roczniki historyczne 1994, pp. 40–44, believes that already in 1041 Poland regained the control over the rest of Silesia included Golęszyców.
  2. ^ Krzysztof Benyskiewicz, Książę Polski Władysław I Herman 1079–1102, Zielona Góra 2010, s. 34.
Casimir I the Restorer
Piast Dynasty
Born: 25 July 1016 Died: 28 November 1058
Preceded by
Mieszko II Lambert
Duke of Poland
1038–1058
with interruptions until 1040
Succeeded by
Bolesław II the Bold