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Agnes of Poland

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Agnes of Poland (Polish: Agnieszka Bolesławówna, Russian: Агнешка Болеславовна; b. c. 1137 - d. aft. 1182) was a member of the House of Piast and by marriage princess of Pereyaslavl and Volynia and grand princess of Kiev since 1168.

Early years

Agnes was the penultimate child and youngest daughter of Duke Bolesław Wrymouth of Poland and his second wife, Salomea of Berg. The date of birth is known thanks to Ortlieb, benedictine monk of Zwiefalten who visited the court of Dowager Duchess Salomea in Łęczyca between 1140 and early 1141; in his reports, he mentioned that Agnes was three years old. As in 1138 Salomea gave birth the future Casimir II the Just, Agnes was born a year earlier.[1]

She was probably named after the wife of his half-brother Władysław II, Agnes of Babenberg.[2] It is also possible that she was named after his father's half-sister, the abbess of Gandersheim and Quedlinburg.[3]

In 1141 Salomea of Berg organized a meeting in Łęczyca, where his eldest sons (Bolesław IV and Mieszko III), and the lords had to decide, among other things, the future of Agnes.[4] They had two options: sent her to the Benedictine monastery in Zwiefalten (where her older sister Gertruda was already a nun) or married her with one of the ruling princes of that time. Eventually it was decided the alliance with Kievan Rus', and thus gain an ally against Władysław II. According to the majority of historians, the chosen groom was Prince Mstislav Iziaslavich.[5] This hypothesis is supported by the fact that ten years later he married Agnes. The second view as a candidate for the hand of Agnes was one of the sons of the Grand Prince of Kiev, Vsevolod II Olgovich.[6] Soon after, he reject the proposal of the Junior Dukes and their mother and choose the alliance with Władysław II, reinforced in 1142 when his eldest son Bolesław married with Vsevolod II's daughter Zvenislava.

Władysław II was not invited to the Łęczyca meeting, despite the fact that, as the High Duke, he had the final voice on Agnes' engagement. In retaliation for this omission, in the winter of 1142–1143 he supported Kievan military actions against Salomea and her sons. The first clash between the brothers was a complete success by the High Duke.


Probably between the end of 1149 and 1151,[7] Agnes married Prince Mstislav Iziaslavich of Pereyaslavl, the eldest son of Grand Prince Iziaslav II of Kiev. The Chronicler Wincenty Kadłubek, who knew the Piast-Rurikids affinities, explicitly described in his Chronica Poloniae that Agnes was given to Mstislav as a wife. Further confirmation of this fact is that Mstislav's eldest son was called nephew of Casimir II the Just, and the relationship existing between Roman the Great and Leszek the White is described as the second-degree cousins. In addition, Roman is named jątrew (wife's brother) of Leszek in the Hypatian Codex.[8] Therefore, if Mstislav was to marry any of Bolesław III's daughters, the only one he could marry was Agnes.[9]

During her marriage, Agnes bore her husband three sons: Roman the Great, Vsevolod and Vladimir. Mstislav's firstborn son, Sviatoslav, is considered by the majority of historians an illegitimate child.[10]

After Grand Prince Iziaslav II's death, Mstislav lost his Principality of Pereyaslavl (1155) and took refuge with his wife in Poland. However, the following year he was able to return and conquer Lutzk (during 1155–1157) and Volynia (during 1157–1170). In May 1168, after the death of Rostislav Mstislavich, Mstislav became the Grand Prince of Kiev and Agnes the Grand Princess consort.

However, Mstislav II's reign was short-lived: in December 1169 a great coalition of Rurikid princes led by Prince Andrei I Bogolyubsky of Vladimir-Suzdal and his son Mstislav was created against him. Unable to defend Kiev, Mstislav II fled to Volynia, leaving his family at the mercy of his enemies. Two months later (February 1170), Mstislav II was able to recover Kiev thanks to the citizenry, who favored his rule; but in April of that year he was again expelled from Kiev, this time for good. The deposed Grand Prince retired to his domains in Volynia, where he died on 19 August 1170.[11]

Death and aftermath

The last mention of Agnes as a living person comes from the Chronica Poloniae of Wincenty Kadłubek. Sviatoslav, Prince of Brest, was exiled by his half-brothers as a result of the allegations that he was illegitimate. Then Casimir II the Just invaded Brest and restored him in his domains.[12] The Chronicle of the Chapter of Kraków informs about an expedition of Casimir II into Kievan Rus' in 1182.


  1. ^ Oswald Balzer, Genealogia Piastów, Kraków 1895, p. 183.
  2. ^ This theory was the view of Stanisław Kętrzyński. The hostile relationship between Agnes and Salomea not reject this argument, because she was born after the acceptance of the prospective overlordship of Władysław II by Salomea and her sons, according to her husband's will. Perhaps at that time kept in the family, at least apparently, a cordial relationship. Thus, it is possible that Agnes was named in a very good atmosphere. K. Jasiński, Rodowód pierwszych Piastów, Second edition, Poznań 2004, p. 261.
  3. ^ This view was stated by Jacek Hertel. Kazimierz Jasiński doubted that the half-sister of Bolesław III remained closer to her family, and particularly remained in their memory. Kazimierz Jasiński, Rodowód pierwszych Piastów, Second edition, Poznań 2004, p. 261.
  4. ^ Roman Grodecki, Dzieje Polski do 1194 [in:] Dzieje Polski średniowiecznej, Kraków 1926, pp. 161–162, put forward the supposition that, in the meeting of Łęczyca was also decided the fate of Agnes' older sister Judith, but this view wasn't substantiated.
  5. ^ M. Korduba, Agnieszka, [in:] Polski Słownik Biograficzny, vol. I, Kraków 1935, p. 31. (ed. by Władysław Konopczyński). This view is supported by Bronisław Włodarski but challenged by Janusz Bieniak. See also Kazimierz Jasiński, Rodowód pierwszych Piastów, Second edition, Poznań 2004, p. 262; another supported of Prince Mstislav as Agnes' betrothed was Jerzy Lesław Wyrozumski, Dzieje Polski piastowskiej, Kraków 1999, p. 142.
  6. ^ It's unknown who was the son of Grand Prince Vsevolod II destined to be Agnes' fiance. Is unlikely that it was Sviatoslav (in 1140 and 1142 was already an adult) or Yaroslav (who, born ca. 1139, was two years younger than Agnes). Perhaps was another unknown son of Vsevolod II. O. Balzer, Genealogia Piastów, Kraków 1895, p. 181; Balzer hypothesis is based on the interpretation of the term "Rex Ruthenorum" (according to Ortlieb) to mean the Grand Duke of Kiev. Korduba noted that a similar title was given by Ortlieb to Volodar, Prince of Przemyśl. M. Korduba, Agnieszka, [in:] Polski Słownik Biograficzny, vol. I, Kraków 1935, p. 31. (ed. by Władysław Konopczyński).
  7. ^ Dariusz Dąbrowski, Genealogia Mścisławowiczów, Kraków 2008, pp. 225–228. Oswald Balzer, Genealogia Piastów, Kraków 1895, p. 183, stated that the marriage took place probably in 1151 or 1152, but his determination was based on the erroneous assumption that girls could be given in marriage at the age of at least 14 years, when in fact the lowest limit to marriage during the Middle Ages was 12 years. Balzer substantiates his hypothesis with the fact that in 1151 Mstislav's father won once again the throne of Kiev, and thus an alliance with him had a real value to the Piast dynasty. Shortly afterwards, Mieszko III the Old married the daughter of Iziaslav II, Evdokia. It's also known that during the first years of the marriage, Agnes was barren; K. Jasiński, Rodowód pierwszych Piastów, Second Edition, Poznań 2004, pp. 262–263 pointed out the error made by Balzer but nevertheless he accepted that the marriage date given by him was very probable.
  8. ^ Leszek the White and Roman the Great are not brothers-in-law; the term "jątrew" could be used in relation to a brother, cousin or distant relative.
  9. ^ Oswald Balzer, Genealogia Piastów, Kraków 1895, pp. 181–183.
  10. ^ The theory of Bronisław Włodarski who stated that Sviatoslav was born from the marriage of Mstislav and Agnes is now discarded; see also Kazimierz Jasiński, Rodowód pierwszych Piastów, Second Edition, Poznań 2004, p. 263. Dariusz Dąbrowski, Rodowód Romanowiczów książąt halicko-wołyńskich, Poznań – Wrocław 2002, pp. 23–24, supports the illegitimate origin of Sviatoslav.
  11. ^ Dariusz Dąbrowski, Genealogia Mścisławowiczów, Kraków 2008, p. 219; in earlier literature can be found the wrong date of 13 August 1172. See also Kazimierz Jasiński, Rodowód pierwszych Piastów, Second Edition, Poznań 2004, p. 263.
  12. ^ Wincenty Kadłubek, Kronika polska, vol. IV, cap. 14, edited by Brygida Kürbis, Wrocław – Warsaw – Kraków 1992, pp. 214–215. The version of Kadlubek is supported by Gerard Labuda, Zaginiona kronika z pierwszej połowy XIII wieku w Rocznikach Królestwa Polskiego Jana Długosza. Próba rekonstrukcji, Poznań 1983, pp. 21–22; Modern historians now discarted this passage in the chronicles. See also K. Górski, Stosunki Kazimierza Sprawiedliwego z Rusią, Lwów 1876; Alina Wilkiewicz-Wawrzyńczykowa, Ze studiów nad polityką polską na Rusi na przełomie XII i XIII wieku, [in:] "Ateneum Wileńskie", No. 12 (year 1937), pp. 1–35.

Further reading

  • Kętrzyński Stanisław: O imionach piastowskich. Życie i Myśl. 1951. No. 5–6, p. 735.
  • Włodarski Bronisław: Sojusz dwóch seniorów. In: Europa - Słowiańszczyzna - Polska. Poznań 1970, p. 350.
This page was last edited on 26 June 2021, at 11:32
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