Leszek I the White

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Leszek I "the White"
Jan Matejko, Leszek Biały.jpg
19th century portrait by Jan Matejko
High Duke of Poland
Reign 1194–1198
1199–1202
1206–1210
1211–1227
Predecessor Casimir II ("the Just")
Successor Władysław III ("Spindleshanks")
Duke of Sandomierz
Reign 1194–1227
Predecessor Casimir II ("the Just")
Successor Władysław III ("Spindleshanks")
Duke of Masovia
Reign 1194–1200
Predecessor Casimir II ("the Just")
Successor Konrad I
Spouse Grzymisława of Luck
Issue Salomea
Bolesław V ("the Chaste")
Helena (married Vasylko Romanovich of Halych, son of Roman the Great)
House House of Piast
Father Casimir II ("the Just")
Mother Helen of Znojmo
Born c. 1186
Died 24 November 1227 (age c. 41)
Gąsawa, Kujawy, Poland

Leszek I "the White" (Polish: Leszek Biały) (c. 1186–1227), also listed by some sources as Leszek II "the White",[1] was Prince of Sandomierz and High Duke of Poland from 1194 until his death, except for the short periods following his deposition as Polish ruler. Both his uncle, Duke Mieszko III ("the Old"), and his cousin, Władysław III ("Spindleshanks"), from the Greater Polish branch of the royal Piast dynasty contested Leszek's right to be senior duke during this era.[1] Leszek was crowned in 1202. Other sources give a complicated picture of Leszek's rule, where between 1198 and 1210 there were three points of Leszek's removal from the throne. He is considered in this plan to have been ousted in 1198, restored in 1199, ousted in 1202 and restored again in 1206 and then ousted a third time in 1210 and restored in 1211. The third ousting involved putting Duke Mieszko IV ("Tanglefoot") of the Silesian Piasts in as the chief ruler of Poland.[citation needed]

Life[edit]

Leszek was the eldest surviving son of Casimir II the Just and his wife Helen of Znojmo. Still a minor upon his father's death in 1194, he and his younger brother Konrad made claims to the territories of Sandomierz and Masovia ruled by their mother as regent, while Leszek as the first-born son also succeeded his father in the Seniorate Province at Kraków. In 1205 Leszek defeated the Rus' army of Prince Roman the Great at the Battle of Zawichost in Lesser Poland. In 1207, Leszek placed Poland under the vasselage of the Pope, at that point Innocent III. This put Poland clearly in the camp of pro-Papal territories in opposition to the power of the Holy Roman Emperor.[2]

After that Leszek cooperated closely with Archbishop Henry Kietlicz in implementing the reforms of Innocent III.[3] Leszek battled Hungary over control of Halich Rus but was not able to extend his rule into that land.[4] Leszek did come to an agreement on eastern expansion with Hungary by which a Hungarian prince would marry one of Leszek's daughters and be set up as a vassal of Hungary with obvious benefits to Poland as well. However, Daniel of Galicia, the son of the late Roman the Great, was able to come to power in Galicia in 1214 and Polish designs in those areas, that were closely connected with attempts to spread Catholicism eastward, were thwarted.[3] In a rather famous anecdote, Leszek once explained to the Pope that Polish knights could not participate in his Crusade because there was no mead or beer to be had in Palestine.[5]

Marriage and children[edit]

In 1207, Leszek married Grzymisława of Luck, the daughter of Grand Prince Ingvar of Kiev, the ruler of Lutsk and its vicinity, a part of Galicia.

Their issue was

Assassination[edit]

Main article: Crime in Gąsawa

On 24 November 1227, during a diet of the Polish Piast dukes at Gąsawa, he was assassinated, probably on orders from Duke Swietopelk II of Pomerelia. This was the result of Leszek having attempted to force the Pomeranian duke to submit to his authority.[8] Swietopelk upon Leszek's death declared himself independent from Polish vassalship. His son Bolesław V was still a minor upon his father's death and the rule over Poland remained contested between Leszek's brother Konrad and his Greater Polish cousin Władysław III, until in 1232 Duke Henry I the Bearded of Silesia finally prevailed.

Cultural Remembrance[edit]

An opera about him Leszek biały was performed in 1809. It had been written by Józef Elsner.[9]

Gallery[edit]

Ancestry[edit]

Leszek I the White
Born: ~1186 Died: 24 November 1227
Preceded by
Casimir II the Just
Duke of Sandomierz
1194–1227
Succeeded by
Władysław III Spindleshanks
Preceded by
Casimir II the Just
Duke of Masovia
1194–1200
Succeeded by
Konrad I
Preceded by
Casimir II the Just
High Duke of Poland
1194–1198
Succeeded by
Mieszko III the Old
Preceded by
Mieszko III the Old
High Duke of Poland
1199–1202
Succeeded by
Władysław III Spindleshanks
Preceded by
Władysław III Spindleshanks
High Duke of Poland
1206–1210
Succeeded by
Mieszko IV Tanglefoot
Preceded by
Mieszko IV Tanglefoot
High Duke of Poland
1211–1227
Succeeded by
Władysław III Spindleshanks

Sources[edit]

  1. ^ a b Malcolm Barber, The Two Cities, p.368
  2. ^ Oskar Halecki and Antony Polonsky. A History of Poland p. 28
  3. ^ a b Halecki and Polonsky. Poland. p. 29
  4. ^ http://artyzm.com/matejko/poczet/e_bialy.htm
  5. ^ [1]
  6. ^ Coloman of Galicia-Lodomeria profile, thepeerage.com
  7. ^ Cawley, Charles, POLAND, Medieval Lands, Foundation for Medieval Genealogy, retrieved August 2012 ,[better source needed]
  8. ^ Halecki and Polonsky. Poland. p. 29.
  9. ^ http://www.answers.com/topic/leszek-bialy-opera