- Casimir III of Poland
Infobox Polish monarch
name=Casimir III the Great
deathdate=death date and age|1370|11|5|1310|4|30
Wawel Cathedral, Kraków
coronation_date=April 25, 1333
coronation_place=Wawel Cathedral, Kraków
Władysław I the Elbow-high
Aldona of Lithuania
consort_2=Adelaide of Hesse
consort_4=Jadwiga of Żagań
children_4=Anna, Kunegunda, Jadwiga
Casimir III the Great ( _pl. Kazimierz Wielki; April 30 1310 – November 5, 1370), last King of Poland from the
Piast dynasty(1333–1370), was the son of King Władysław I the Elbow-highand Jadwiga of Gnieznoand Greater Poland.
* Royal titles in Latin: "Kazimirus, Dei gracia rex Poloniæ ac terrarum Cracoviæ, Sandomiriæ, Syradiæ, Lanciciæ, Cuyaviæ, Pomeraniæ, Russiequæ dominus et heres."
* Also known as the Peasants' King."
Kowal, Casimir (Kazimierz) the Great first married Anna, or Aldona Ona, the daughter of the prince of Lithuania, Gediminas. The daughters from this marriage were Cunigunde (d 1357), who was married to Louis VI the Roman, the son of Louis IV, Holy Roman Emperor, and Elisabeth, who was married to Duke Bogislaus V of Pomerania. Aldona died in 1339 and Kazimierz then married Adelheid of Hesse. He divorced Adelheid in 1356, married Christina, divorced her, and while Adelheid and possibly also Christina were still alive ca. 1365 married Hedwig (Jadwiga) of Głogów and Sagan.
His three daughters by his fourth wife were very young and regarded as of dubious legitimacy because of their father's bigamy. Because all of the five children he fathered with his first and fourth wife were daughters, he would have no lawful male heir to his throne.
When Kazimierz, the last Piast king of Poland, died in 1370, his nephew King
Louis I of Hungarysucceeded him to become king of Poland in personal union with Hungary.
The Great King
Kazimierz is the only Polish king who both received and kept the title of "Great" in Polish history (
Boleslaw I Chrobryis also called "the Great", but his title Chrobry (Valiant) is now more common). When he received the crown, his hold on it was in danger, as even his neighbours did not recognise his title and instead called him "king of Kraków". The economy was ruined, and the country was depopulated and exhausted by war. Upon his death, he left a country doubled in size (mostly through the addition of land in today's Ukraine, then the Duchy of Halicz), prosperous, wealthy and with great prospects for the future. Although he is depicted as a peaceful king in children's books, he in fact waged many victorious wars and was readying for others just before he died.
Kazimierz the Great built many new
castles, reformed the Polish armyand Polish civil and criminal law. At the Sejmin Wiślica, March 11, 1347, he introduced salutary legal reforms in the jurisprudence of his country. He sanctioned a code of laws for Great and Lesser Poland, which gained for him the title of "the Polish Justinian" and founded the University of Krakówwhich is the oldest Polish university, although his death temporary stalled the university's development (which is why it is today called the "Jagiellonian" rather than "Casimirian" University).
He organized a meeting of kings at Kraków (1364) in which he exhibited the wealth of the Polish kingdom.
Concession to the nobility
In order to enlist the support of the nobility, especially the military help of
pospolite ruszenie, Kazimierz was forced to give up important privileges to their caste, which made them finally clearly dominant over townsfolk (burghers or "mieszczanstwo").
In 1335, in the "treaty of
Trenčín", Kazimierz relinquished "in perpetuity" his claims to Silesia. In 1355 in BudaKazimierz designated Louis of Anjou (Louis I of Hungary) as his successor. In exchange, the szlachta's tax burden was reduced and they would no longer be required to pay for military expeditions expenses outside Poland. Those important concessions would eventually lead to the ultimately crippling rise of the unique nobles' democracy in the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth.
His second daughter, Elisabeth, Duchess of Pomerania, bore a son in 1351, named Kasimir (
Kazimierz of Pomerania) after his maternal grandfather. He was slated to become the heir, but did not succeed to the throne, dying childless in 1377, 7 years after King Kazimierz. He was the only male descendant of King Kazimierz who lived during his lifetime.
Also, his son-in-law
Louis VI the Romanof Bavaria, Margraveand Prince-electorof Brandenburg, was thought as a possible successor as king of Poland. However, he was not deemed eligible as his wife, Kazimierz's daughter Cunigunde, had died already in 1357, without children.
Kazimierz had no legal sons. Apparently he deemed his own descendants either unsuitable or too young to inherit. Thus, and in order to provide a clear line of succession and avoid dynastic uncertainty, he arranged for his sister Elisabeth, Dowager Queen of Hungary, and her son Louis king of Hungary to be his successors in Poland. Louis was proclaimed king on Kazimierz's death in 1370, and Elisabeth held much of the real power until her death in 1380.
Many of the influential lords of Poland were unsatisfied with the idea of any personal union with Hungary, and 12 years after Kazimierz's death, (and only a couple of years after Elisabeth's), they refused in 1382 to accept the succession of Louis's eldest surviving daughter Mary (Queen of Hungary) in Poland too. They therefore chose Mary's younger sister, Hedwig, as their new monarch, and she became "King" (=Queen Regnant)
Jadwiga of Poland, thus restoring the independence enjoyed until the death of Kazimierz, twelve years earlier.
Relationship with Polish Jews
King Kazimierz was favorably disposed toward
Jews. On 9 October 1334, he confirmed the privileges granted to Jewish Poles in 1264 by Bolesław V the Chaste. Under penalty of death, he prohibited the kidnapping of Jewish children for the purpose of enforced Christian baptism. He inflicted heavy punishment for the desecration of Jewish cemeteries.
Although Jews had lived in Poland since before the reign of King Kazimierz, he allowed them to settle in Poland in great numbers and protected them as "people of the king". [cite news |first= |last= |authorlink= |coauthors= |title=In Poland, a Jewish Revival Thrives—Minus Jews |url= |quote=Probably about 70 percent of the world's European Jews, or Ashkenazi, can trace their ancestry to Poland—thanks to a 14th-century king, Casimir III, the Great, who drew Jewish settlers from across Europe with his vow to protect them as "people of the king." |publisher=
New York Times|date=July 12, 2007 |accessdate=2007-07-14 ]
Marriages and children
On 30 April or 16 October, 1325, Casimir married
Aldona of Lithuania. She was a daughter of Gediminas of Lithuaniaand Jewna. They had two children:
*Elisabeth of Poland (ca. 1326–1361). She married
Bogusław V, Duke of Pomerania.
*Cunigunde of Poland (1334–1357). Married
Louis VI the Roman.
Aldona died on 26 May, 1339. Casimir remained a widower for two years. On 29 September, 1341, Casimir married his second wife Adelheid of Hesse. She was a daughter of
Henry II, Landgrave of Hesseand Elisabeth of Meissen. Her maternal grandparents were Frederick I, Margrave of Meissenand his second wife Elizabeth of Lobdeburg-Arnshaugk. They had no children.
Casimir started living separately from Adelheid soon after their marriage. Their loveless marriage lasted until 1356. Casimir effectively divorced Adelheid and married his mistress Christina. Christina was the widow of Miklusz Rokiczani, a wealthy merchant. Her own origins are unknown. Following the death of her first husband she had entered the court of
Bohemiain Pragueas a lady-in-waiting. Casimir brought her with him from Prague and convinced the abbot of the Benedictine abbeyof Tyniecto marry them. The marriage was held in a secret ceremony but soon became known. Adelheid renounced it as bigamous and returned to Hesse without permission.
Casimir continued living with Christine despite complains by
Pope Innocent VIon behalf of Adelheid. The marriage lasted until 1363/1364 when Casimir again declared himself divorced. They had no children. In about 1365, Casimir married his fourth wife Jadwiga of Głogów and Sagan. She was a daughter of Henry III, Duke of Silesia-Żagańand Anna of Mazovia. They had three children:
Anna of Poland, Countess of Celje(1366 – 9 June, 1422). Married firstly William of Celje. Their only daughter was Anna of Celje. Married secondly Ulrich, Duke of Teck. They had no children.
*Kunigunde of Poland (1367–1370).
*Jadwiga of Poland (1368 – ca. 1407). Reportedly married ca. 1382 but the details are obscure.
With Adelheid still alive and Christine possibly surviving, the marriage to Jadwiga was also considered bigamous. The legitimacy of the three last daughters was disputed. Casimir managed to have Anna and Kunigunde legitimated by
Pope Urban Von 5 December, 1369. Jadwiga the younger was legitimated by Pope Gregory XIon 11 October, 1371.
Casimir also had three illegitimate sons by his mistress Cudka, wife of a
*Niemierz (last mentioned alive in 1386). Oldest son. Survived his father, inherited lands around
*Pelka (1342–1365). Married and had two sons. Predeceased his father.
*Jan (d. 28 October, 1383). Youngest son. Survived his father, inherited lands around Stopnica.
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1= Casimir III the Great
Władysław I the Elbow-high
3= Jadwiga Kaliska
4= Casimir I of Kuyavia
5= Euphrosyne of Opole
6= Boleslaus the Pious
7= Blessed Jolenta
Konrad I of Masovia
9= Agafia of Volhynia
10=Casimir I of Opole
Viola of Bulgaria
13=Jadwiga of Gdańsk
Béla IV of Hungary
*During his reign bricks were used as a building material. There was a polish proverb about Casimir the Great: "He found Poland in wood and left her in brick" ( _pl. "Zastał Polskę drewnianą a zostawił murowaną").
*Casimir III the Great was the last king of the
Piast dynasty, as he died leaving no heir.
History of Poland (966–1385)
Kazimierz Wielki University in Bydgoszcz
* [http://fmg.ac/Projects/MedLands/POLAND.htm#KazimierzIIIdied1370 His listing in "Medieval lands" by Charles Cawley. The project "involves extracting and analysing detailed information from primary sources, including contemporary chronicles, cartularies, necrologies and testaments."]
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