Casimir I of Opole
|Duke of Opole-Racibórz|
|Spouse(s)||Viola, Duchess of Opole|
|Noble family||House of Piast|
|Father||Mieszko I Tanglefoot|
|Died||13 May 1230|
Little is known about the early years of his life, except for his own birth, which was the pretext for the agreement between his father Mieszko (at that time only Duke of Racibórz) and Casimir II the Just, then High Duke of Poland, who wanted with this to break the long-time alliance between the Duke of Racibórz and the deposed High Duke, Mieszko III the Old. After the birth of Mieszko Tanglefoot's first son and heir, Casimir II stood as the child's godfather (who was also named after him) and granted to the newborn the towns of Bytom and Oświęcim.
Coming of age
After his father's death in 1211, Casimir I was fully prepared to assume the government. Originally, he joined the coalition of the Junior Dukes (Leszek I the White, Konrad I of Masovia, and Władysław Odonic), who fought against the politics of Władysław III Spindleshanks and Henry I the Bearded. This was expressed mainly through cooperation with the Church hierarchy, especially the Wawrzyniec, Bishop of Wroclaw (for example, in 1215 at the Congress of Wolbórz, where Casimir I gave to the Church great privileges and immunity, which was the origin of the semi-independent district of Ujazd, then property of the Wroclaw Bishopric). Casimir I's extensive cooperation with the Church also provided him with security against the ambitions of his neighbors; however, this only served to protect Racibórz: Opole was in conflict with Henry I the Bearded, and the eastern states of Siewierz, Bytom and Oświęcim were disputed by the Seniorate.
Casimir I's rule
Given the increased power of the Silesian Duke Henry I the Bearded during the 1220s, Casimir I's geopolitical position became more complicated. He took the only possible decision: close cooperation with the Duke of Silesia. The content of the agreement is unknown, but certainly during the unsuccessful trip of Henry I the Bearded against Kraków in 1225, troops of Opole-Racibórz were with him. This fact attests to the presence of political emigrants from Lesser Poland after 1225 in Opole-Racibórz (for example, the Gryfici family). After this year, the help of emigrants, like Clement of Brzeźnicy (member of the Gryficis)-who took on part of the costs of building the city walls of Opole-proved to be good for Casimir I. The alliance with Henry I the Bearded also gave the Duke of Opole-Racibórz territorial benefits: in 1227 as a result of the confusion reigning in Poland following the death of Leszek I the White, Casimir I annexed the frontier fortress of Czeladź.
Another important act during Casimir I's rule was to emulate the ruling model of Henry I the Bearded and encourage German settlers in his lands. This process did not develop to a great extent, however, as in Lower Silesia. He started the process of urban locations under German law (the first of them were the Ujazd bishops in 1222), which contributed measurably to the economic development of the duchy.
Casimir I died suddenly on 13 May 1230 (although some historians put his death one year earlier) and was buried in the still unfounded Czarnowąsy monastery, which was generously patronized by him.
Marriage and issue
It's surprising that the more than thirty-year-old Duke was still unmarried. It is unknown when exactly he married, but after a reconstruction of the dates of his children's births, it is concluded that this happened after the death of his father, between 1212–1220. The exact origins of Casimir I's wife Viola (d. 7 September 1251), are unknown. The 15th-century Polish chronicler Jan Dlugosz stated that she came from Bulgaria, but it seems less than reliable. They had four children:
- Mieszko II the Fat (b. ca. 1220 – d. 22 October 1246).
- Władysław (b. 1225 – d. 27 August/13 September? 1282).
- Wenzeslawa (b. ca. 1226/28? – d. 1 July aft. 1230?), a nun in Czarnowąsy.
- Euphrosyne (b. 1228/30 – d. 4 November 1292), married firstly in 1257 to Duke Casimir I of Kuyavia and secondly in 1275 to Duke Mestwin II of Pomerania (they were divorced bef. August 1288).
After Casimir I's death, Henry I the Bearded assumed the regency and formal guardianship of his minor sons, while his widow Viola took over direct tutelage of them.
Casimir I of OpoleBorn: c. 1179/80 Died: 13 May 1230
Mieszko I Tanglefoot
|Duke of Opole-Racibórz
Mieszko II the Fat