|Casimir III the Great|
|King of Poland|
|Coronation||25 April 1333|
|Predecessor||Ladislaus the Short|
|Successor||Louis I of Hungary|
|King of Ruthenia|
|Predecessor||Yuri II of Galicia|
|Successor||Louis I of Hungary|
|Born||30 April 1310|
Kowal, Duchy of Brześć Kujawski
|Died||5 November 1370 60) (aged|
Wawel Cathedral, Kraków
|Spouse|| Aldona of Lithuania |
Adelaide of Hesse
Hedwig of Sagan
| Elisabeth, Duchess of Pomerania |
Anna, Countess of Cilli
|Father||Władysław I Łokietek|
|Mother||Jadwiga of Kalisz|
Casimir III the Great (Polish : Kazimierz III Wielki; 30 April 1310 – 5 November 1370) reigned as the King of Poland from 1333 to 1370. He also later became King of Ruthenia in 1340, and fought to retain the title in the Galicia-Volhynia Wars. He was the third son of Ladislaus the Short and Jadwiga of Kalisz, and the last Polish king from the Piast dynasty.
Casimir inherited a kingdom weakened by war and made it prosperous and wealthy. He reformed the Polish army and doubled the size of the kingdom. He reformed the judicial system and introduced a legal code, gaining the title "the Polish Justinian".Casimir built extensively and founded the Jagiellonian University (back then simply called the University of Krakow), the oldest Polish university and one of the oldest in the world. He also confirmed privileges and protections previously granted to Jews and encouraged them to settle in Poland in great numbers.
Casimir left no sons. When he died in 1370 from an injury received while hunting, his nephew, King Louis I of Hungary, succeeded him as king of Poland in personal union with Hungary.
He was born on 30 April 1310 in Kowal, Kuyavia.He had two brothers who died in infancy and three sisters: Kunegunda, Elżbieta, and Jadwiga. When Casimir attained the throne in 1333, his position was in danger, as his neighbours did not recognise his title and instead called him "king of Kraków". The kingdom was depopulated and exhausted by war, and the economy was ruined. In 1335, in the Treaty of Trentschin, Casimir was forced to relinquish his claims to Silesia "in perpetuity".
Casimir took up to rebuild the country and strengthen its defense system. During his reign, nearly 30 towns were supplied with fortification walls and some 50 castles were constructed, including castles along the Trail of the Eagle's Nests. These achievements are celebrated until today, in the commonly-known ditty that translates as follows: inherited wooden towns and left them fortified with stone and brick (Kazimierz Wielki zastał Polskę drewnianą, a zostawił murowaną).
He organized a meeting of kings in Kraków in 1364 at which he exhibited the wealth of the Polish kingdom.Casimir is the only king in Polish history to both receive and retain the title of "Great", as Bolesław I is more commonly known as "the Brave".
Casimir ensured stability and great prospects for the future of the country. He established the Corona Regni Poloniae – the Crown of the Polish Kingdom,which certified the existence of the Polish lands independently from the monarch. Prior to that, the lands were only the property of the Piast dynasty.
At the Sejm in Wiślica, on 11 March 1347, Casimir introduced reforms to the Polish judicial system and sanctioned civil and criminal codes for Great and Lesser Poland, earning the title "the Polish Justinian".In 1364, given the permission from pope Urban V, Casimir established the University of Kraków, the oldest Polish University. It was regarded a rare distinction, since it was the second university founded in Central Europe, after the Charles University in Prague.
Casimir demonstrated competence in foreign diplomacy and managed to double the size of the kingdom. He neutralized the relations with potential enemies in the West and the North, and set on an expansion eastward. He conquered the Ruthenian kingdom of Halych and Volodymyr (a territory in the modern-day Ukraine), known in Polish history as Red Ruthenia and Volhynia. By extending the borders far south-east, the Polish kingdom gained access to the lucrative Black Sea trade.
In 1355, in Buda, Casimir designated his nephew Louis I of Hungary as his successor should he produce no male heir, just as his father had with Charles I of Hungary to gain help against Bohemia. In exchange Casimir gained a favourable Hungarian attitude, needed in disputes with the hostile Teutonic Order and the Kingdom of Bohemia. At the time Casimir was 45 years old, and so producing a son did not seem unreasonable (he already had a few children).
Casimir left no legal son, however, begetting five daughters instead. He tried to adopt his grandson, Casimir IV, Duke of Pomerania, in his last will. The child had been born to his eldest daughter, Elisabeth, Duchess of Pomerania, in 1351. This part of the testament was invalidated by Louis I of Hungary, however, who had traveled to Kraków quickly after Casimir died (in 1370) and bribed the nobles with future privileges. Casimir III also had a son-in-law, Louis VI of Bavaria, Margrave and Prince-elector of Brandenburg, who was considered a possible successor, but he was deemed ineligible as his wife, Casimir's daughter Cunigunde, had died in 1357 without issue.
Thus King Louis I of Hungary became successor in Poland. Louis was proclaimed king upon Casimir's death in 1370, though Casimir's sister Elisabeth (Louis's mother) held much of the real power until her death in 1380.
Casimir was facetiously named "the Peasants' King". He introduced the codes of law of Greater and Lesser Poland as an attempt to end the overwhelming superiority of the nobility. During his reign all three major classes — the nobility, priesthood, and bourgeoisie — were more or less counterbalanced, allowing Casimir to strengthen his monarchic position. He was known for siding with the weak when the law did not protect them from nobles and clergymen. He reportedly even supported a peasant whose house had been demolished by his own mistress, after she had ordered it to be pulled down because it disturbed her enjoyment of the beautiful landscape.[ citation needed ]
His popularity with the peasants helped to rebuild the country, as part of the reconstruction program was funded by a land tax paid by the lower social class.
On 9 October 1334, Casimir confirmed the privileges granted to Jews 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, and he inflicted heavy punishment for the desecration of Jewish cemeteries. While Jews had lived in Poland since before his reign, Casimir allowed them to settle in Poland in great numbers and protected them as people of the king.Casimir's legendary Jewish mistress Esterka remains unconfirmed by direct historical evidence.
Casimir III was married four times:
On 30 April or 16 October 1325, Casimir married Aldona of Lithuania.She was also known as Anna, possibly a baptismal name. She was a daughter of Grand Duke Gediminas of Lithuania and Jewna. They had two children:
Aldona died on 26 May 1339. Casimir remained a widower for two years.
On 29 September 1341, Casimir married his second wife, Adelaide of Hesse. She was a daughter of Henry II, Landgrave of Hesse, and Elizabeth of Meissen. They had no children. Casimir started living separately from Adelaide soon after the marriage. Their loveless marriage lasted until 1356, when he declared himself divorced.
After Casimir "divorced" Adelaide he married his mistress Christina Rokiczana, 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 Bohemia in Prague as a lady-in-waiting. Casimir brought her with him from Prague and convinced the abbot of the Benedictine abbey of Tyniec to marry them. The marriage was held in a secret ceremony but soon became known. Queen Adelaide renounced it as bigamous and returned to Hesse. Casimir continued living with Christine despite complaints by Pope Innocent VI on behalf of Queen Adelaide. This marriage lasted until 1363–64 when Casimir again declared himself divorced. They had no children.
In about 1365, Casimir married his fourth wife Hedwig of Żagań. She was a daughter of Henry V of Iron, Duke of Żagań and Anna of Mazovia. They had three children:
As Adelheid was still alive (and possibly Christina as well), the marriage to Hedwig was also considered bigamous. Because of this, the legitimacy of his three young daughters was disputed.Casimir managed to have Anna and Kunigunde legitimated by Pope Urban V on 5 December 1369. Jadwiga the younger was legitimated by Pope Gregory XI on 11 October 1371 (after Casimir's death).
Casimir's full title was: Casimir by the grace of God king of Poland and Rus' (Ruthenia), lord and heir of the land of Kraków, Sandomierz, Sieradz, Łęczyca, Kuyavia, Pomerania (Pomerelia) . The title in Latin was: Kazimirus, Dei gratia rex Polonie et Russie, nec non Cracovie, Sandomirie, Siradie, Lancicie, Cuiavie, et Pomeranieque Terrarum et Ducatuum Dominus et Heres.
Jadwiga, also known as Hedwig, was the first female monarch of the Kingdom of Poland, reigning from 16 October 1384 until her death. She was the youngest daughter of Louis the Great, King of Hungary and Poland, and his wife Elizabeth of Bosnia. Jadwiga was a member of the Capetian House of Anjou, but she had more close forebears among the Polish Piasts than among the Angevins. In 1997, she was canonized by the Catholic Church.
Casimir IV was Grand Duke of Lithuania from 1440 and King of Poland from 1447, until his death. He was one of the most active Polish-Lithuanian rulers, under whom Poland, by defeating the Teutonic Knights in the Thirteen Years' War recovered Pomerania, and the Jagiellonian dynasty became one of the leading royal houses in Europe.
Władysław I Łokietek, in English known as the "Elbow-high" or Ladislaus the Short, was King of Poland from 1320 to 1333, and duke of several of the provinces and principalities in the preceding years. He was a member of the royal Piast dynasty, the son of Duke Casimir I of Kuyavia, and great-grandson of High-Duke Casimir II the Just.
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Esterka (Estera) refers to a mythical Jewish mistress of Casimir the Great, the historical King of Poland who reigned between 1333 and 1370. Medieval Polish and Jewish chroniclers considered the legend as historical fact and report a wonderful love story between the beautiful Jewess and the great monarch.
The Galicia–Volhynia Wars were several wars fought in the years 1340–1392 over the succession in the Kingdom of Galicia–Volhynia, also known as Ruthenia. After Yuri II Boleslav was poisoned by local Ruthenian nobles in 1340, both the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and the Kingdom of Poland advanced claims over the kingdom. After a prolonged conflict, Galicia–Volhynia was partitioned between Poland (Galicia) and Lithuania (Volhynia) and Ruthenia ceased to exist as an independent state. Poland acquired a territory of approximately 52,000 square kilometres (20,000 sq mi) with 200,000 inhabitants.
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Adelaide of Hesse was a daughter of Henry II, Landgrave of Hesse, and his wife Elisabeth of Thuringia, daughter of Frederick I, margrave of Meissen. Adelaide was a member of the House of Hesse.
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The Jagiellonian dynasty, or simply Jagiellon, was a royal dynasty, founded by Jogaila, the Grand Duke of Lithuania, who in 1386 was baptized as Władysław, married Queen Jadwiga of Poland, and was crowned King of Poland as Władysław II Jagiełło. The dynasty reigned in several Central European countries between the 14th and 16th centuries. Members of the dynasty were Kings of Poland (1386–1572), Grand Dukes of Lithuania, Kings of Hungary, and Kings of Bohemia and imperial electors (1471–1526). The dynasty was a cadet branch of Gediminids.
The Privilege of Buda was a set of promises and concessions made to ensure that Louis I of Hungary would succeed to his uncle Casimir III's Polish throne, thus enabling the union of Hungary and Poland.
Personal union between the Kingdom of Hungary and the Kingdom of Poland was achieved twice: under Louis I of Hungary, in 1370–1382, and under Władysław III of Poland in 1440–1444. An earlier union was also accomplished by Wenceslaus III of Bohemia for a few months in 1305, although he was heavily resisted by local nobles in both kingdoms, and gave up the Hungarian crown soon after.
William of Celje, also William of Cilli, Count of Celje, was a Styrian nobleman who was married to Anna of Poland, daughter of the Polish king Casimir the Great. He was the co-ruler of the House of Celje together with his uncle Hermann I until 1485 and then with his cousin Hermann II until his death. William's only daughter, Anna of Celje, married the Polish King Vladislav II Jagello in order to strengthen his claim to the Polish throne.
The Duchy of Gniewkowo was a district principality and a fiefdom within the Kingdom of Poland during the era of fragmentation that was formed in 1314 from part of the Duchy of Inowrocław. The country was located in the Kuyavia and consisted of Gniewkowo and Słońsk Lands. Its capital was Gniewkowo and other important settlements were Szarlej, Złotoria and Słońsk. It was ruled by Kazimierz III of Gniewkowo and later his son, Władysław the White, from the Piast dynasty. In 1332 the duchy was conquered by the State of the Teutonic Order and was reestablished in 1343. Between 1363 and 1364, the duchy was incorporated into the Kingdom of Poland. Duke of Gniewkowo, Władysław the White, had later briefly re-established the duchy in the rebellion fought between 1373 and 1374 and later between 1375 and 1377, and eventually given up his claims to the land in 1377.
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",