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This article is about a 14th century noble. For the 13th century one, see Władysław Opolski.
Portrait of Władysław Opolczyk by Jan Matejko

Władysław of Opole (Polish: Władysław Opolczyk, German: Władysław von Oppeln; b. ca. 1332 - d. 18 May 1401), was a Duke of Opole from 1356 (only formally from 1396), Count palatine of Hungary during 1367-1372, ruler over Lubliniec since 1368, Duke of Wieluń during 1370-1392, ruler over Bolesławiec from 1370 (only for his life), Governor of Galicia–Volhynia during 1372–1378, ruler over Pszczyna during 1375-1396, Count palatine of Poland in 1378, Duke of Dobrzyń and Kujawy during 1378–1392 (as a Polish vassal), ruler over Głogówek from 1383 and ruler over Karniów during 1385-1392.

He was the eldest son of Duke Bolko II of Opole by his wife Elisabeth, daughter of Duke Bernard of Świdnica.

Contents

Life

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Early Years

Little is known about Władysław's first years. As a young prince and in order to gain more political experience, he went to Hungary around 1353, where he probably remained until the death of his father in 1356.

Duke of Opole

After Duke Bolko II's death, Władysław and his brothers Bolko III and Henry inherited Opole as co-rulers; however, the strong personality of Władysław soon dominated the whole government and encourage his brothers to accept a modest part of their inheritance. Bolko III and Henry remained as co-Dukes of Opole, but only formally.

Cooperation with King Louis I the Great of Hungary

The great political career of Władysław began in the mid 1360s in the Hungarian court of King Louis I. Already in 1364 he took part in the famous Congress of Kraków as part of the Hungarian suite. However, the most important mission of Władysław on behalf of King Louis took place two years later (in 1366), when he negotiated the terms of a treaty between the Hungarian ruler and King Wenceslaus IV of Bohemia.

The faithful service to the Hungarian House of Anjou resulted in the appointment of Władysław as Count palatine, which made him most important man after the King in the country. The functions of this post were primarily broad judicial powers, who could be had only with the King. In this office, Władysław showed great commitment and capability; he created the rule of four Congregatio generalis, which handled court cases. Despite his huge income, his new post in the Hungarian affected Władysław's finances.

The death of Casimir III the Great. Homage to the Kingdom of Poland

During his time as Count palatine, Władysław didn't stop to participated in the foreign politics; the example of this was, among others things, his trip to Bulgaria in 1368. In 1370, after the death of Casimir III the Great, the Duke of Opole actively participated in preparing the succession of King Louis I of Hungary in the Polish throne. As a reward, King Louis give him the towns of Wieluń and Częstochowa.

By that time, Władysław's brother Bolko III inherited Strzelce Opolskie from their uncle Albert and with this, the Duke of Opole could maintain the sole government over his domains (the youngest brother, Henry, died in 1365 without issue).

In 1371 Władysław led an armed expedition against King John of Bohemia (who caused a terrible devastation of Moravia); however, this didn't prevent the fact, that, years later later, the Duke of Opole was the head of a mission of mediation to resolve the dispute between the Emperor Charles IV and King Louis I.

Governor of Galicia–Volhynia

Ducal seal "Ladislaus Dei Gracia Dux Opoliensis Wieloniensis et Terre Russie Domin et Heres" (ca. 1387)

In October 1372 Władysław was unexpectedly deprived from the office of Count palatine. Although he retained most of his castles and goods in Hungary, his political influence was significantly decreased. As a compensation, was made Governor of the Hungarian Galicia–Volhynia. In this new position, the Duke of Opole successfully contributing to the economic development of the territories entrusted to him. Władysław mainly resided in Lwów, but at the end of his rule he spent more time in Halicz. The only serious conflict during his time as Governor was related to his approaching to the Russian Orthodox Church, which caused the angry of the local boyards, who were strongly Catholics.

Probably following Władysław's advices, in 1374 King Louis I published an earthly privilege for the nobility in Koszyce, which ensured the succession of the King's daughters after his death.

Count palatine of Poland and ruler of Kujawy

In 1378 the departure of Queen Elisabeth from Poland to Hungary, forced King Louis to release Władysław from his post of Governor and appointed him with the empty position of Polish Count palatine. But almost immediately Władysław had to faced the strong resistance of the Polish nobility, dissatisfied with the decision of King Louis to named heirs to his daughters, and soon was forced to resign.

As compensation for his resignation, the Duke of Opole received from the Hungarian ruler the towns of Dobrzyń, part of Kujawy, Bydgoszcz, Inowrocław and Gniewkowo. These territories were on the border of the Teutonic Order lands, which soon shortly Władysław established close contacts, who included allowed the prosecution of criminals by Teutonic hnights in his domains.

In Kujawy, Władysław entered in a dispute over finances with the Bishop of Płock, Dobiesław Sówka, resulting in the excommunication of the Duke, who was repealed a year later by the Archbishop of Gniezno. As a gest of reconciliation with the Church, Władysław founded the Pauline monastery of Our Lady at Jasna Góra in Częstochowa; also, the Duke brought the famous Black Madonna of Częstochowa, who according to oldest documents, travelled from Jerusalem, via Constantinople and Bełz, to finally reach Częstochowa in August 1382.

The deaths of his brother Bolko III (21 October 1382), leaving four minor sons, and one month later (14 September) of the Duke Henry of Niemodlin without issue, made it possible to Władysław extend his influence on Upper Silesia, as a rule over Strzelce and Niemodlin (although only as a regent of his nephews) and Głogówek (granted to him one year later, in 1383). The Duke of Opole also supported the Church career of the eldest son of Bolko III, Jan (later nicknamed Kropidło) trying to obtain for him, despite his young age, the dignity of the Bishop of Poznań.

Death of Louis I and relations with Władysław II Jagiełło

Coins (1389)

On 10 September 1382 King Louis I of Hungary, Władysław's protector, died. Despite the earlier support given to him to late King's daughters, Władysław put his own nomination to the royal crown. However, he wasn't popular among the Polish nobility, who decanted (in connection with the broken engagement between Queen Hedwig and William of Habsburg) for Duke Siemowit IV of Płock.

Contrary to the old historiography, the Duke of Opole supported the new Polish King Władysław II Jagiełło during the first period of his reign. Some historians accept the fact that in 1386 Władysław stood at the King's godfather when he converted to the Catholic faith. However, the cooperation between the Duke of Opole and the King was short-lived: in 1388, after the King dispossessed him from Bydgoszcz, the Duke lead a coup who planned to capture the King and Wawel castle. Defeated and captured by the Starost General Sędziwój Pałuka, Władysław was forced to capitulate and resign from any claim to the Polish throne. King Władysław II Jagiełło also blocked the nomination of Jan Kropidło for the post of Archbishop of Gniezno.

Cooperation with the Teutonic Order. Władysław's ambitions and war with Poland. Death

Further frictions with the King of Poland took place in May 1391, when Władysław pledged the land of Złotów to the Teutonic Order. Aware of the danger that the Teutonic Order to close to his bordes, the King ordened the deprivation of Władysław from his fiefs in Polish territory. Against the Royal power, the Duke of Opole have to capitulate, and in 1392 transferred the disputed territories to Poland (with the exception of Bolesławiec, which, completely loyal to Władysław, only accepted the annexation to the Polish Kingdom after the death of the Duke of Opole).

However, the attitude of Władysław wasn't change and in 1393 he sold his rights over Dobrzyń to the Teutonic Order. Has also tried to encourage the Great master of the Teutonic Order, Konrad von Wallenrode, to attack the Kingdom with the combination of the troops of Teutonic knights in Poland, Hungary and Bohemia, but the conflict ended unexpectedly. The war, who began successfully (for example, with the siege to Nowy Korczyn on 26 July 1393), finally ended in 1396, when the royal army have decided to attack the Silesian lands of Władysław. After the Polish troops took control over Strzelce, on 6 August of that year, Władysław's nephews decided to make peace with the King of Poland. Since then, the government of the Duchy of Opole was virtually taken over by the sons of Bolko III, and Władysław was relegated to a second plan.

Disappointed because of his ambitions failed disastrously, Władysław died on 18 May 1401 in Opole, and was buried in the local Franciscan monastery.

Marriages and Issue

Around 1355 and during his stay in Hungary, Władysław married firstly with Elisabeth (b. 1340 - d. ca. 1369), who, according to some sources[1] was a daughter of Andrzej Lackfich, Voivode of Transylvania, and by others[2][3][4] she was daughter of Nicolae Alexandru Bassaraba, Voivode of Wallachia. They had three daughters:

  1. Kinga (b. 1355/57 - d. aft. 1369), a nun at Alt-Buda.
  2. Elisabeth [Agnes] (b. 1360 - d. by 9 September 1411), married in 1372 to Margrave Jobst of Moravia.
  3. Katharina (b. ca. 26 March 1367 - d. 6 June 1420), married in 1382 to Duke Henry VIII of Żagań-Głogów-Ścinawa.

By 1369, Władysław married secondly with Euphemia (b. ca. 1352 - d. by 9 December 1424), daughter of Duke Siemowit III of Masovia. They had two daughters:

  1. Hedwig (b. 1376/78 - d. aft. 13 May 1390), married bef. 25 January 1390 to Duke Vygantas-Alexander of Kernavė.
  2. Euphemia (d. young, bef. 30 March 1408).

Because he died without male heirs, Władysław's nephews Bolko IV and Bernard inherited the whole Duchy except Głogówek, who was given by the late Duke to his wife Euphemia as her Oprawa wdowia.

References

This article incorporates information from the revision as of 22 May 2009 of the equivalent article on the Polish Wikipedia.
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Bolko II
Duke of Opole
with Bolko III (until 1370)
and Henry (until 1365)

1356–1401
(formally since 1396)
Succeeded by
Jan Kropidło
Bolko IV
Bernard
Preceded by
Direct sovereignty of the
Kingdom of Bohemia
Duke of Wieluń
1370–1392
Succeeded by
Annexed by the
Kingdom of Bohemia
Preceded by
Casimir IV, Duke of Pomerania
Duke of Dobrzyń
1378–1392
Duke of Inowrocław
1378–1392
Preceded by
John II of Iron
Duke of Karniów
1385–1392
Succeeded by
John II of Iron

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