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Kingdom of Poland (1300–1320)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Kingdom of Poland
Królestwo Polskie (Polish)
Regnum Poloniae (Latin)
Official languagesPolish
Roman Catholicism (institutional)
Slavic paganism
GovernmentHereditary monarchy
• 1300–1305 (first)
Wenceslaus II of Bohemia
• 1305–1306 (last)
Wenceslaus III of Bohemia
Historical eraHigh Middle Ages
• Coronation of Wenceslaus II of Bohemia
25 July 1300
• Beginning of the interregnum period
4 August 1306
• Unification of Polish duchies
20 January 1320
ISO 3166 codePL
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Duchy of Kraków
Duchy of Masovia
Duchy of Inowrocław
Duchy of Brześć Kujawski
Duchy of Łęczyca
Duchy of Sieradz
Duchy of Dobrzyń
Duchy of Sandomierz
Duchy of Pomerelia
Duchy of Greater Poland
United Kingdom of Poland

The Kingdom of Poland[a] was a confederal kingdom in Central Europe, that consisted of various states under the rule of the king. Its capital was Kraków. It was formed on 25 July 1300, following the coronation of king Wenceslaus II of Bohemia. After the death of king Wenceslaus III in 1306, the state remained in the period of interregnum, until 20 January 1320, when Władysław I Łokietek was crowned, uniting the confederated duchies into the United Kingdom of Poland.

Upon its formation in 1300, it consisted of the following district principalities: Kraków, Greater Poland, Sandomierz, Masovia, Pomerelia, Łęczyca, Sieradz, Brześć Kujawski, Inowrocław and Dobrzyń. Additionally, during its existence, following duchies were formed under its rule: Bydgoszcz and Wyszogród, Gniewkowo, Warsaw, Rawa, Czersk and Płock.


A unification of Polish lands was accomplished by a foreign ruler, Václav II of Bohemia of the Přemyslid dynasty, who married Przemysł's daughter Richeza and became King of Poland in 1300. Václav's heavy-handed policies soon caused him to lose whatever support he had earlier in his reign; he died in 1305.[1]

An important factor in the unification process was the Polish Church, which remained a single ecclesiastical province throughout the fragmentation period. Archbishop Jakub Świnka of Gniezno was an ardent proponent of Poland's reunification; he performed the crowning ceremonies for both Przemysł II and Wenceslaus II. Świnka supported Władysław I Łokietek at various stages of the duke's career.[1]

Władysław I the Elbow-high and his son Casimir III, "the Great", were the last two rulers of the Piast dynasty of the unified kingdom of Poland of the 14th century. Their rule was not a return to the Polish state as it existed before the period of fragmentation, because of the loss of internal cohesion and territorial integrity. The regional Piast princes remained strong, and for economic and cultural reasons, some of them gravitated toward Poland's neighbors. The kingdom lost Pomerania and Silesia, the most highly developed and economically important regions of the original ethnically Polish lands, which left half of the Polish population outside the kingdom's borders. The western losses had to do with the failure of the unification efforts undertaken by the Silesian Piast dukes and the German expansion processes. These included the Piast principalities developing (or falling into) dependencies in respect to the German political structures, settler colonization and gradual Germanization of the Polish ruling circles. The lower Vistula was controlled by the Teutonic Order. Masovia was not to be fully incorporated into the Polish state in the near future. Casimir stabilized the western and northern borders, tried to regain some of the lost territories, and partially compensated the losses by new eastern expansion that placed within his kingdom regions that were East Slavic, thus ethnically non-Polish.[2][3]

Despite the territorial truncation, 14th-century Poland experienced a period of accelerated economic development and increasing prosperity. This included further expansion and modernization of agricultural settlements, the development of towns and their greater role in briskly growing trade, mining and metallurgy. A great monetary reform was implemented during the reign of Casimir III.[2][3]

Jewish settlement was taking place in Poland since very early times. In 1264, Duke Bolesław the Pious of Greater Poland granted the privileges of the Statute of Kalisz, which specified a broad range of freedoms of religious practices, movement, and trading for the Jews. It also created a legal precedent for the official protection of Jews from local harassment and exclusion. The act exempted the Jews from enslavement or serfdom and was the foundation of future Jewish prosperity in the Polish kingdom; it was later followed by many other comparable legal pronouncements.[4] Following a series of expulsions of Jews from Western Europe, Jewish communities were established in Kraków, Kalisz and elsewhere in western and southern Poland in the 13th century. Another series of communities were established at Lviv, Brest-Litovsk and Grodno further east in the 14th century.[5] King Casimir received Jewish refugees from Germany in 1349,[6] which assisted the acceleration of a Jewish expansion in Poland that was to continue until World War II. German urban and rural settlements were another long-lasting ethnic feature.

Władysław I the Elbow-high, who began as an obscure Piast duke from Kuyavia, fought a lengthy and difficult struggle with powerful adversaries with persistence and determination. When he died as the king of a partially reunited Poland, he left the kingdom in a precarious situation. Although the area under King Władysław's control was limited and many unresolved issues remained, he may have saved Poland's existence as a state.[2]

Supported by his ally Charles I of Hungary, Władysław returned from exile and challenged Václav II and his successor Václav III in the period 1304–1306. Václav III's murder in 1306 terminated the Bohemian Přemyslid dynasty and its involvement in Poland. Afterwards, Władysław completed the takeover of Lesser Poland, entering Kraków, and took the lands north of there, through Kuyavia all the way to Gdańsk Pomerania. In 1308, Pomerania was conquered by the Brandenburg state. In a recovery effort, Władysław agreed to ask for help from the Teutonic Knights; the Knights brutally took over Gdańsk Pomerania and kept it for themselves.[2]

In 1311–1312, a rebellion in Kraków instigated by the city's patrician leadership seeking rule by the House of Luxembourg was put down. This event may have had a limiting impact on the emerging political power of towns.[7]

In 1313–1314, Władysław conquered Greater Poland. In 1320, he became the first king of Poland crowned in Kraków's Wawel Cathedral instead of Gniezno. The coronation was hesitantly agreed to by Pope John XXII in spite of the opposition of King John of Bohemia, who had also claimed the Polish crown.[2][8]


  1. ^ Polish: Królestwo Polskie; Latin: Regnum Poloniae


  1. ^ a b Jerzy Wyrozumski, Historia Polski do roku 1505, pp. 129–141, 154–155
  2. ^ a b c d e Jerzy Lukowski and Hubert Zawadzki, A Concise History of Poland, pp. 15–34
  3. ^ a b Jerzy Wyrozumski, Historia Polski do roku 1505, pp. 145–154
  4. ^ Davies, Norman (2005). God's Playground: A History of Poland, Volume I. New York: Columbia University Press. ISBN 978-0-231-12817-9, p. 66
  5. ^ Richard Overy (2010), The Times Complete History of the World, Eights Edition, pp. 116–117. London: Times Books. ISBN 978-0-00-788089-8.
  6. ^ Norman Davies, Europe: A History, p. 429
  7. ^ Jerzy Lukowski and Hubert Zawadzki, A Concise History of Poland, pp. 23–24
  8. ^ Jerzy Wyrozumski, Historia Polski do roku 1505 (History of Poland until 1505), pp. 155–160
This page was last edited on 12 October 2021, at 15:13
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