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Mieszko III the Old
High Duke of Poland
Mieszko III Stary.jpg
Portrait by Jan Matejko.
Reign 1173–1177
1191
1198–1199
1201
Born ca. 1127
Died March 13, 1202 [aged 75]
Place of death Kalisz
Buried Cathedral of Saint Paul the Apostle, Kalisz
Predecessor Bolesław IV the Curly (first time)
Casimir II the Just (second time)
Leszek the White (third and fourth time)
Successor Casimir II the Just (first and second time)
Leszek the White (third time)
Władysław III Spindleshanks (fourth time)
Wives Elisabeth of Hungary
Eudoxia of Kiev
Offspring With Elisabeth:
Odon
Stephen
Elisabeth, Duchess of Bohemia and Margravine of Lusatia
Wierzchoslawa Ludmilla, Duchess of Lorraine
Judith, Countess of Anhalt and Duchess of Saxony

With Eudoxia:
Bolesław
Mieszko the Younger
Władysław III Spindleshanks
Salomea, Princess of Pomerania
Anastasia, Duchess of Pomerania
Royal House Piast
Father Bolesław III Wrymouth
Mother Salomea of Berg

Mieszko III the Old (Polish: Mieszko III Stary; b. ca. 1126/27 – d. 13 March 1202), of the Piast Dynasty, was Duke of Greater Poland, 1138-1202, and High Duke of all Poland, with interruptions, 1173-1202.

He was the fourth but second surviving son of Bolesław III Wrymouth, Duke of Poland, by his second wife Salomea, daughter of Henry, Count of Berg.

Contents

Life

Bolesław III's death. Mieszko III, ruler of Greater Poland

According to his father's testament, Mieszko received the Greater Poland Province, composed by Western Greater Poland with Poznań as his main residence. His older half-brother, Władysław II (the eldest son of the late Duke with his first Russian wife) was the High Duke and overlord of the country.

The First Conflict with Władysław II

The first major conflict with the High Duke took place during 1140-1141, when the Junior Dukes and their mother Salome, without the knowledge of Władysław, divided between them the Łęczyca province and decided to arrange the marriage of their younger sister Agnes with one of the sons of the Grand Prince of Kiev, Vsevolod II Olgovich. Only through the rapid intervention of Władysław the independence plans of the Junior Duke failed, because Grand Prince Vsevolod II, between an alliance with the strong High Duke or the weak Junior Dukes and their mother, he chose the first option, reinforced with the betrothal of Władysław's eldest son with Vsevolod's daughter.

Death of Salome of Berg. The Second Part of the conflict with Władysław II

On 27 July 1144, the Dowager Duchess Salome died. It was then that Władysław incorporated the Łęczyca province to the Seniorate; this was opposed by the Junior Dukes Bolesław and Mieszko, who had the idea to give this land to his brother Henry. Fighting took place in 1145; after an unexpectedly defeath, the High Duke, thanks to his Kievan allies, finally obtain the victory (Battle of Pilicy). Then was made an agreement, under which Władysław retain Łęczyca. However, the High Duke continued with his intentions of reunited all Poland under his rule. This originated the strong opposition of the voivode Piotr Włostowic, who decided to support the Junior Dukes in order to maintain his power and position. Władysław decided eliminate Włostowic from his way for good. The voivode is captured after an ambush; the Duchess Agnes of Babenberg, Władysław's wife, demanded his death, but the High Duke chosen a terrible punishment: Włostowic was blinded, muted and expelled from the country. This was the began of the fall of Władysław.

The Third Part of the conflict. Władysław II is exiled from the country. Bolesław IV, New High Duke of Poland

The war erupted again in early 1146. This time, Władysław couldn't count with his Kievan allies, because they were busy in his own problems (which more the High Duke sent some of their forces, led by his eldest son Bolesław, in order to support Great prince Vsevolod in Kiev). Władysław was confident of his victory and initially it seemed that the success was on his side, because Bolesław and Mieszko, fearing clashes in an open field, decided to escape to Poznan. At this time was when began the disaster to the High Duke. Władysław's cause lose support when the Archbishop of Gniezno excommunicated him for his behavior against the voivode Włostowic, and also his own subjects, who were against his tyrannical rule. The defeat of Władysław was totally; by May of 1146 all Poland was in the hands of the Junior Dukes, and the former High Duke and his family were forced to escape firstly to Bohemia and later to Germany, under the protection of King Conrad III, half-brother of Duchess Agnes.

After consolidated his rule over Poland, Bolesław and Mieszko decided his new politics. Bolesław took control over Silesia and take the title of High Duke. Mieszko, by the other hand, was really satisfied with his role of a close colleague of his older brother. Henry, the next brother, finally received his Duchy of Sandomierz. The youngest brother, Casimir, remained without lands.

The Expedition of the German King Conrad III in defense of Władysław II

In August 1146 arrived to Poland an expedition of King Conrad III of Germany, in order to restore his brother-in-law Władysław in the throne. The German army was defeated as a result of spillages of the Oder River and the opposition of the former Władysław's subjects to a German interference. Finally was an agreement, under which the King accepted the rule of Bolesław; in return, he was declared a vassal of the Empire. The dispute between Władysław and the Juniors Dukes remained unresolved, because the King Conrad III was busy with the preparations of his journey to the Holy Land.

Recognition of the Junior Duke's authority and relations with the European rulers

In the meanwhile, the Junior Dukes didn't wait passively for an arrangement who consolidated his power. In May 1147 received by the Pope Eugene III the confirmation of a foundation for a monastery in Trzemeszno, which was a clear recognition of their sovereignty.

In 1147, simultaneously with the arrival of Conrad III to the Holy Land, Mieszko joined to a crusade against the pagans Slavics, which was organized by Albert the Bear, Margrave of Brandenburg, and Margrave Conrad of Meissen. However, during this trip Mieszko sought to protect Polish interests of the Spree politically and militarily supporting some Slav tribes. This help to the pagans infuriated the Margrave of Brandenburg, who arrived in early 1148 to Kruszwica in order to improve their alliance. Finally, they made an agreement, who was confirmed by the marriage of the Junior Duke's sister Judith with Otto, eldest son of Albert the Bear.

Expedition of Emperor Frederick Barbarossa to Poland

Expeditions of Emperor Frederick Barbarossa actually began in 1157. For unknown reasons, Bolesław and Mieszko not tried to defend the traditional frontier of Oder River and instead, they burned some old castles in Głogów and Bytom (Beuthen) and began their retreat into the depths of Greater Poland. After his defeat, the humiliated High Duke asked for forgiveness to the Emperor. The Junior Dukes also paid a great tribute to Barbarossa, and also promised to send food to the Emperor's Italian expedition on Christmas Day in Magdeburg, where he was finally resolved the dispute with Władysław's sons. As a guarantee of the fulfillment of the agreement the younger brother of the Junior Dukes, Casimir, was sent to Germany as a hostage. Only through the involvement of the Emperor in the Italian affairs and death of Władysław on 30 May 1159, save the Junior Dukes to return his inheritance to Władysław's issue (however, three years later, in 1163, the High Duke finally return Silesia to his nephews).

Death of Henry of Sandomierz. Mieszko III and Casimir II the Just rebelled against Bolesław IV

In October 1166, during the Prussian expedition, Duke Henry of Sandomierz was killed in battle. Before his departure, and in case of his death, he left his duchy to his youngest brother Casimir, who until remained without lands. However, the High Duke, against the his late brother's will, he occupied Sandomierz and annexed them to the Seniorate Province.

This decision originated the rebellion of Casimir the Just, which was supported by Mieszko, the magnate Jaksa of Miechów and Sviatoslav, son of Piotr Włostowica, as well of Jan I, Archbishop of Gniezno and Gedko, Bishop of Kraków. In February 1168 the rebels gathered in Jędrzejów, were Mieszko was elected as a High Duke and Casimir was invested with Sandomierz. The final defeat of Bolesław IV didn't occur, because the High Duke accepted the demands of the rebels and divided Henry's Duchy in three parts: Wiślica was taken by Casimir, Bolesław took Sandomierz, and the rest was led to Mieszko.

The situation in Silesia. Mieszko III went to Germany and paid homage to the Emperor

In 1172 were turbulent events in Silesia. Bolesław the Tall's eldest son, Jaroslaw, forced to become a priest, return from his exile in Germany and claimed a share of the Silesian lands. Mieszko supported his grandnephew in his demands, and the civil war was reiniciated.

In order to prevent the Imperial intervention, the High Duke sent Mieszko to Magdeburg, with the sum of 8,000 pieces of silver as a tribute to the Emperor and promised to resolved this conflict soon. This time, the terms of the agreement have been strictly realized. Bolesław retained his power over Wroclaw; however, he had to agree on the division of the Silesian lands between their princes.

Death of Bolesław IV. Mieszko III, High Duke of Poland

Bolesław IV died on 3 April 1173, and Mieszko is chosen as the new High Duke of Poland ("dux Totius Poloniae"). His policy focuses on maintaining the full power on his hands, as the oldest surviving member of the dynasty. The new High Duke, despite his succession over the throne of Kraków, remained in Greater Poland. Lesser Poland was ruled by Henry Kietlicz, as a governor appointed by Mieszko.

In his foreign policy, the High Duke had several successes through the marriages of his daughters. Thanks to this dynastic arrangement, Mieszko renewed and reinforced the Polish sovereignty over the Western Pomerania.

Rebellions against Mieszko III's authority. Casimir II the Just conquest the Duchy of Kraków, Miesko's eldest son Odon took the Greater Poland

Odon, the eldest son of Mieszko by his first marriage, rebelled against his father. He was supported by Gedko, bishop of Kraków, his cousin Bolesław I the Tall and his uncle Casimir II the Just. To Odon, the main reason of his rebellion was the favoritism of Mieszko to the offspring of his second marriage and the attempts of the High Duke to force him to became a priest, in order to eliminated from the succession. To the others, the harsh and dictatorial government of the High Duke.

The rebellion was a complete surprise to Mieszko; even during the Easter of 1177 he was totally convinced of the loyalty of his relatives, especially that when the Junior Dukes organized a meeting in Gniezno, were the High Duke was received by the crowds with cheers. Greater Poland, however, remained strongly in his hands, thanks to his governor Henry Kietlicz, the most important follower of Mieszko. At the same time, Casimir, the clear head of the rebellion, made a divisionary treaty with his supporters: all Silesia was granted to Bolesław the Tall and the Greater Poland to Odon. This was a significant complication, because in Silesia Bolesław ruled alongside with his brother Mieszko I Tanglefoot and his own son Jarosław ruled in Opole. After knew this agreement, both Mieszko and Jarosław sided with the High Duke and rebelled against Bolesław, who, busy fighting with his brother and son, loss the opportunity to gain Kraków and obtain the Seniorate for himself; in his place, was Casimir the Just who took control over the Seniorate Province, and, with this, he became in the new High Duke of Poland. After seeing any possibility of continuing the resistance, Mieszko escape to Racibórz, under the protection of his nephew and namesake Miesko Tanglefoot. However, shortly afterwards the deposed High Duke decided to left Poland and seek the foreign support. Odon finally occupied all Greater Poland and was declared his Duke.

Political Exile. Mieszko III return to Poland and reconciled with his son Odon

By 1179, Mieszko went to Bohemia (where his son-in-law Sobeslav II refused to help him), Germany (here Mieszko obtain the attention of the Emperor Frederick Barbarossa, which offered his help in his restoration on the Polish throne after a payment of 10,000 pieces of silver, a sum that he can't reunited) and Western Pomerania, where his other son-in-law Bogislaw I accepted to help him. Thanks to his Pomeranian allies, Mieszko forged his links with their Polish followers, grouped around Zdzislaw, Archbishop of Gniezno; however, in 1181, he was able to take Eastern Greater Poland -provinces of Gniezno and Kalisz, who belong to the Seniorate- thanks to the aid of his forged Polish allies. At the same time, Mieszko also managed to recover the Western Greater Poland. Odon was pushed to the southern part of Obra River. In 1182 was made the formal reconciliation between father and son. During these events, and for unknown reasons, Casimir the Just remained in total passivity; thanks to this, Mieszko had the opportunity to recover all Greater Poland.

Mieszko III tried to recover the full power over Poland. Annexation of Kuyavia

In 1184 Mieszko was interested in an alliance with the German King Henry VI (with the intention to recover the overlordship over Poland), offering him a large sum of money. Casimir the Just, however, knew his intentions and send to the King more money that the Duke of Greater Poland.

After his failure with the King, Mieszko decided to take control over Masovia and Kuyavia, who was ruled by his nephew Leszek, the only surviving son of Bolesław IV. Mieszko convinced Leszek to named him his successor if he died without issue. The rude and harsh proceedings of the Greater Poland Duke were maybe the reason that in 1185, one year before his death, Leszek changed his testament and appointed his younger uncle Casimir the Just as his successor. This time, Mieszko acted quickly and, after the death of Leszek in 1186 he took Kuyavia and annexed to his Duchy. Shortly after, he ceded this land to his son Bolesław.

Brief Restoration of Mieszko III in Kraków

In 1191 the foreign policy of Casimir the Just triggered dissatisfaction in the Lesser Poland nobility, led by Henry Kietlicz. With the help of this opposition, Mieszko could finally reconquest Kraków and resumed the title of High Duke. He decided to entrusted the government of Kraków to one of his sons, Bolesław of Kuyavia or Mieszko the Younger; however, Casimir quickly regained Kraków and the overlordship and the Prince-Governor was captured; however, he soon was sent with his father. Probably after the failed expedition over Kraków, Mieszko give to his son and namesake the district of Kalisz as his own Duchy.

Division of the Greater Poland between his grandson and his son Władysław III

On 2 August 1193 Mieszko the Younger died. His Duchy of Kalisz was then reverted to Greater Poland, but shortly after, Mieszko granted the Duchy to his older son Odon, who died eight months later, on 20 April 1194. These two early deaths forced Mieszko to made a new divisionary treaty: Mieszko retained Kalisz for himself, while Southern Greater Poland was given to his son Władysław III Spindleshanks, who also assumed the guardianship of the minor son of Odon, Władysław Odonic.

Death of Casimir II the Just. Mieszko III's renewed his pretentions over Kraków. Battle of Mozgawą and death of his son Bolesław

Casimir the Just died on 5 May 1194, and Mieszko's pretentions over Lesser Poland reborn. Unfortunately, this time the local nobility prefer to see on the throne the minors sons of Casimir, Leszek and Konrad. His attempts to retake the power end in the bloody Battle of Mozgawą (13 September 1195), were Mieszko was seriously injured and his son Bolesław of Kuyavia died.

After the battle Mieszko withdraw to Kalisz without waiting for the Silesia troops who came to his aid, led by Mieszko Tanglefoot and Jarosław of Opole.

Agreement with Helena of Znojmo. Mieszko recover the power over Kraków in exchange for Kuyavia. Settlements with the nobility

The Battle of Mozgawą persuade Mieszko that to gain the throne with violence was extremely difficult, so he began the negotiations with the widow of Casimir the Just, Helena of Znojmo. In 1198 he finally was allowed to return to Lesser Poland, but he was compelled to ceded Kuyavia to Casimir's sons. In 1199, the voivode Mikołaj Gryfita and Pełka, Bishop of Kraków deposed Mieszko and restored Leszek as High Duke; however, three years later was made a new settlement and Mieszko was able to return. He retained the title of High Duke, but was forced to give up part of his powers. He died shortly afterwards; at that time, he survived all his siblings and four of his five sons.

Marriages and Issue

Around 1136, Mieszko married firstly with Elisabeth (b. ca. 1128 - d. ca. 1154), daughter of King Béla II of Hungary.[1] They had five children:[2]

  1. Odon (b. ca. 1149 - d. 20 April 1194).
  2. Stephen (b. ca. 1150 - d. 18 October 1166/77?).
  3. Elisabeth (b. 1152 - d. 2 April 1209), married firstly ca. 1173 to Soběslav II, Duke of Bohemia and secondly aft. January 1180 to Conrad II of Landsberg, Margrave of Lusatia.
  4. Wierzchoslawa Ludmilla (b. bef. 1153 - d. bef. 1223), married ca. 1167 to Frederick, Lord of Bitsch and later Duke of Lorraine.
  5. Judith (b. bef. 1154 - d. af. 12 December 1201), married ca. 1173 with Bernhard, Count of Anhalt and later Duke of Saxony.

By 1154, Mieszko married secondly with Eudoxia (b. ca. 1131 - d. aft. 1187), daughter of Grand Prince Izjaslav II of Kiev.[3] They had five children:

  1. Bolesław (b. 1159 - killed in the Battle of Mozgawą, 13 September 1195).
  2. Mieszko the Younger (b. ca. 1160/65 - d. 2 August 1193).
  3. Władysław III Spindleshanks (b. ca. 1161/67 - d. 3 November 1231).
  4. Salomea (b. ca. 1162/64 – d. 11 May ca. 1183), married bef. 1177 to Prince Ratibor (II) of Pomerania.
  5. Anastasia (b. ca. 1164 – d. aft. 31 May 1240), married on 26 April 1177 to Bogislaw I, Duke of Pomerania.

See also

References

  1. ^ Complete Genealogy of the House of Arpad
  2. ^ POLAND
  3. ^ Complete Genealogy of the House of Rurik
Mieszko III the Old
Born: ca. 1127 Died: 13 March 1202
Preceded by
new creation
Duke of Greater Poland
1138–1177
Succeeded by
Odon
Preceded by
Odon
Duke of Greater Poland
1182–1202
Succeeded by
Władysław III Spindleshanks
Preceded by
Bolesław IV the Curly
High Duke of Poland
1173–1177
Succeeded by
Casimir II the Just
Preceded by
Casimir II the Just
High Duke of Poland
1191
Preceded by
Leszek the White
High Duke of Poland
1198–1199
Succeeded by
Leszek the White
High Duke of Poland
1202
Succeeded by
Władysław III Spindleshanks
Preceded by
Odon
Duke of Poznań
1182–1202
Preceded by
Casimir II the Just
Duke of Kalisz
1182–1191
Succeeded by
Mieszko the Younger
Preceded by
Odon
Duke of Kalisz
1194–1202
Succeeded by
Władysław III Spindleshanks
Preceded by
Casimir II the Just
Duke of Gniezno
1182–1202
Preceded by
Bolesław
Duke of Kuyavia
1195–1198
Succeeded by
Leszek the White
and Konrad

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