Władysław the White

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Władysław Biały in Dijon. Painting by Jan Matejko

Władysław (Ladislas, Ladislaus) the White or Władysław of Gniewkowo (Polish: Władysław (Włodko) Biały (Gniewkowski), Latin: Wladislaus dei gracia dux Cuyavie et dominus Gnewkovie nec non Slonensis terrarum)) (between 1327 and 1333 – 29 February 1388) was the Duke of Gniewkowo (1347/1350–1363/1364, final and official resignation in 1377) and last representative of the Kujawy Piast line.

Biography[edit]

Władysław Biały seal from 1355

Władysław was the son of Casimir II of Kuyavia; the name of his mother is unknown. Around 1357–1360 (the exact date of his father is also unknown) he inherited the Duchy of Gniewkowo — a small duchy created in 1314 by his grandfather, Ziemomysł of Kuyavia during the ongoing fragmentation of Poland. In 1359 he married Elisabeth, daughter of Duke Albert of Strzelce. After the death of his wife (c. 1360–1361) he was grief-stricken and (c. 1363–1364) decided to sell his lands to his liege, king of Poland, Casimir III the Great, for 1000 florins. Afterwards he left on a long voyage or pilgrimage; he visited Malbork, Prague, Holy Land and Jerusalem, and finally went to France, where he met Pope Urban V in Avignon and finally in 1366 entered a Cistercian monastery in Cîteaux (the Cîteaux Abbey); however after a year he moved to the Order of Saint Benedict monastery in Dijon.

After Casimir's death (1370), he decided to return to his former Duchy, even through he failed to obtain a release from his holy vows. When the new king of Poland, Louis I of Hungary, refused to support him, Władysław even claimed the Polish throne for himself and begun a civil war against Louis. Failing to win it, in the years 1375–1377 he reached and agreement with Louis, who paid him 10,000 florins (and granted him the rank of an abbot in the monastery in Pannonhalma) for the final abdication and rejection of all rights as a Duke and pretender to the crown. Władysław stayed at Pannohalma until 1379; then as Louis was failing to pay the promised amount returned to Kujawy, pressured Louis to pay up the remaining sum, and finally returned to Dijon monastery in France. Due to his adventurous life, he gained a nickname Le Roy Lancelot (King Lancelot) in France (Lelewel, p. 194). In 1382 after the death of Louis the Avignon Pope Clement VII released Władysław from his vows, but Władysław did not regain his duchy; he died Dijon in 1388.

References[edit]