Nicholas II of Niemodlin

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Nicholas II of Niemodlin (Polish: Mikołaj II Niemodliński; c. 1462 – 27 June 1497), was a Duke of Opole-Brzeg-Strzelce-Niemodlin in 1476 (as co-ruler of his father) and sole Duke of Niemodlin from 1476 until his death.

He was the third son of Duke Nicholas I of Opole by his wife Agnes, daughter of Duke Louis II of Brzeg.

Life[edit]

After his father's death in 1476, Nicholas II inherited Opole, Brzeg, Strzelce and Niemodlin together with his older brothers Louis and Jan II the Good as co-rulers. However, soon Louis died and Nicholas II maintained the co-government with Jan II. It's unknown the exact date of the division of the Duchy between the surviving brothers, and even if really existed this division; however indirect sources inferred that Nicholas II became in the independent ruler of Niemodlin shortly after Louis's death, maybe only as a formal rule. In any case, most of the inheritance (included Opole) was retained by Jan II. The now Duke of Niemodlin supported his brother in his politics: in 1477 the brothers bought Prudnik to Duke Konrad X of Oleśnica, in 1494 they acquired Gliwice and in 1495 Toszek. The only territorial loss was in 1481, when the Duke Frederick I of Legnica purchased Brzeg (pledged by his father in 1450) by the amounts of 8,500 fines and 1,500 ducats.

Nicholas II of Niemodlin execution in the Nysa market on 27 June 1497. Drawing by Juliusz Kossak in the Tygodnik Illustrowany magazine (N°9, 1880).
Plaque in honor of Nicholas II in Nysa.

In foreign politics, Nicholas II sought to strike a balance between the powerful King of Hungary Matthias Corvinus and competitor and eventual co-ruler in the Bohemian Kingdom, Władysław II Jagiellon. Ultimately, however, the aggressive politics towards the Hungarian ruler in favor of the Polish candidate caused in 1487 his imprisonment in Koźle. Nicholas II regained his freedom only after the huge payment of 15,000 Hungarian złoty as a ransom. Despite the participation of the Dukes of Opole in the Sejm reunited in Nuremberg later in that year, the relations with the Hungarian Kingdom remained tense until the death of Matthias Corvinus in 1490.

In June 1497, in order to ended the disputes between the Duchies of Opole and Cieszyn was arranged a meeting in Nysa (were also discuss the issue of the Turkish risk over the Hungary). At the convention assisted, among others, Nicholas II, Duke Casimir II of Cieszyn, Wiktoryn of Poděbrady and his brother Henry I, Duke of Ziębice and the Bishop of Wrocław, Jan IV Roth. During the conversations, on 26 June, the tragedy occurred. For unknown reasons (although some sources believed that the reason was the fear of the growing importance of Duke Casimir II over Nicholas I's sons) Nicholas II tried to stab both Duke Casimir II and Bishop Jan IV Roth. After the attacks, with the help of the servants and nobles, failed, Nicholas II tried to avoid the responsibility of the Town Hall and found refuge in the nearby church of St. Jakob, where he asked for sanctuary, but was taken by force from the altar and put in a dungeon. The nobles reunited (who included the victims of the Duke of Niemodlin) long wondered what to do with the prisoner; at the end, they decided to apply against him the common law of Nysa, despite of the fact that the Duke of Niemodlin was a royal prince. The attempts to obtain his freedom (which included the offer to pay the huge sum of 100,000 Hungarian złoty) gave no results, thanks to the clear opposition of the Duke of Cieszyn (at that time also Starost General of Silesia), who obtain the heaviest sentence for Nicholas II: the death. All the process was performed in the German language, which Nicholas II apparently didn't know (there is some evidence that he and his brother Jan II only knew the Polish and Czech languages). The Duke of Niemodlin was only allowed to write a letter to his brother, in which he left him all his domains. The court ruling that the sentence would took place almost immediately in order to avoid the reaction of the Opole citizens and the Duke's brother. Nicholas II was beheaded by a sword cut in the Nysa market on 27 June 1497. According to the tradition, his last words were: "Nysa! Nysa! You punish me because my ancestors had given you to the Church, and now you force me to paid the price?".

Nicholas II never married or had children. According to his last wish, he was buried in the Franciscan church in Opole. In his tombstone was written the epitaph: "Here lies who fell for his true principles and give courageously his neck under the sword".

At the news of the execution of his brother, Jan II started to collect a good army and began the preparations of a brutally retaliatory expedition against the Duchy of Cieszyn; however, the war ultimately didn't occur as a result of the diplomatic moves of King Władysław II Jagiellon, and save Silesia from the civil war.

References[edit]

This article incorporates information from the revision as of 7 June 2009 of the equivalent article on the Polish Wikipedia.
Nicholas II of Niemodlin
Born: c. 1462 Died: 27 June 1497
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Nicholas I
Duke of Niemodlin
1476–1497
With: Louis and Jan II (until 1476)
Succeeded by
Jan II the Good
Duke of Opole
1476
With: Louis and Jan II
Duke of Brzeg
1476
With: Louis and Jan II
Duke of Strzelce
1476
With: Louis and Jan II