Frederick II of Legnica

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Frederick II
Fryderyk II legnicki.jpg
Frederick II of Legnica, engraving by Bartholomäus Strachowsky, 1733
Born(1480-02-12)12 February 1480
Died17 September 1547(1547-09-17) (aged 67)
Noble family Piast
Spouse(s)Elizabeth Jagiellon
Sophie of Brandenburg-Ansbach-Kulmbach
Father Frederick I of Legnica
Mother Ludmila of Poděbrady

Frederick II, Duke of Legnica (Polish : Fryderyk II Legnicki) (12 February 1480 – 17 September 1547), also known as the Great of Legnica (Polish : Legnicki Wielki), was a Duke of Legnica from 1488 (until 1495 and 1505 with his brothers), of Brzeg from 1521. The most notorious of all Legnica Piast rulers, thanks to his excellent financial politics his Duchy was expanded to the Oder River, and he became the founder of the Duchy of Legnica-Wołów-Brzeg (German : Herzogtum Liegnitz-Wohlau-Brieg).

Polish language West Slavic language spoken in Poland

Polish is a West Slavic language of the Lechitic group. It is spoken primarily in Poland and serves as the native language of the Poles. In addition to being an official language of Poland, it is also used by Polish minorities in other countries. There are over 50 million Polish language speakers around the world and it is one of the official languages of the European Union.

Duchy of Legnica

The Duchy of Legnica or Duchy of Liegnitz was one of the Duchies of Silesia. Its capital was Legnica (Liegnitz) in Lower Silesia.

Brzeg Place in Opole, Poland

Brzeg is a town in southwestern Poland with 36,110 inhabitants (2016) and the capital of Brzeg County. It is situated in Silesia in the Opole Voivodeship on the left bank of the Oder.


He was the second son of Frederick I, Duke of Chojnów-Oława-Legnica-Brzeg-Lubin, by his wife Ludmila, daughter of George of Poděbrady, King of Bohemia.

Chojnów Place in Lower Silesian, Poland

Chojnów(listen) is a small town in Legnica County, Lower Silesian Voivodeship, in south-western Poland. It is located on the Skora river, a tributary of the Kaczawa at an average altitude of 170 m (560 ft) above sea level. Chojnów is the administrative seat of the rural gmina called Gmina Chojnów, although the town is not part of its territory and forms a separate urban gmina. As of 2006 it had 14,389 inhabitants.

Oława Place in Lower Silesian, Poland

Oława is a town in south-western Poland with 32,674 inhabitants (2016). It is situated in Lower Silesian Voivodeship. It is the seat of Oława County, and also of the smaller administrative district of Gmina Oława.

Legnica Place in Lower Silesian, Poland

Legnica(listen) is a city in southwestern Poland, in the central part of Lower Silesia, on the Kaczawa River and the Czarna Woda. Between 1 June 1975 and 31 December 1998 Legnica was the capital of the Legnica Voivodeship. It is currently the seat of the county and since 1992 the city has been the seat of a Diocese. As of 2012, Legnica had a population of 102,708 inhabitants.


A minor at the death of his father in 1488, Frederick II and his brothers John II and George I inherited Legnica, Chojnów and Lubin under the regency of their mother, Dowager Duchess Ludmila, regnant Duchess of Brzeg and Oława as a dower. During his early years, the young Dukes spent some time in Prague, at the court of King Vladislaus II of Bohemia.


Dower is a provision accorded by law, but traditionally by a husband or his family, to a wife for her support in the event that she should become widowed. It was settled on the bride by agreement at the time of the wedding, or as provided by law.

Prague Capital city in Czech Republic

Prague is the capital and largest city in the Czech Republic, the 14th largest city in the European Union and the historical capital of Bohemia. Situated in the north-west of the country on the Vltava river, the city is home to about 1.3 million people, while its metropolitan area is estimated to have a population of 2.6 million. The city has a temperate climate, with warm summers and chilly winters.

Vladislaus II of Hungary King of Bohemia and of Hungary

Vladislaus II, also known as Vladislav II, Władysław II or Wladislas II, was King of Bohemia from 1471 to 1516, and King of Hungary and Croatia from 1490 to 1516. As the eldest son of Casimir IV Jagiellon, he was expected to inherit Poland and Lithuania. George of Poděbrady, the Hussite ruler of Bohemia, offered to make Vladislaus his heir in 1468. Poděbrady needed Casimir IV's support against the rebellious Catholic noblemen and their ally, Matthias Corvinus, king of Hungary. The Diet of Bohemia elected Vladislaus king after Poděbrady's death, but he could only rule Bohemia proper, because Matthias occupied Moravia, Silesia and Lusatia. Vladislaus tried to reconquer the three provinces with his father's assistance, but Matthias repelled them.

The premature death of his older brother John II in 1495 left Frederick II as the Head of his house, but he remained under his mother's tutelage for another three years, until 1498, when he could take over by himself the government of Legnica. When George I also reached adulthood in 1505, both brothers decided to divide their domains. Frederick II kept Legnica and all the minor Duchies, and George I obtained Brzeg (which after the death of Ludmila in 1503 reverted to them with Oława) and Lubin.

In 1507, Frederick II made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land where he is said to have been dubbed a Knight of the Holy Sepulchre.

Holy Land Term used by Jews, Christians, and Muslims to describe the Land of Israel and Palestine

The Holy Land is an area roughly located between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea that also includes the Eastern Bank of the Jordan River. Traditionally, it is synonymous both with the biblical Land of Israel and with the region of Palestine. The term "Holy Land" usually refers to a territory roughly corresponding to the modern State of Israel, the Palestinian territories, western Jordan, and parts of southern Lebanon and of southwestern Syria. Jews, Christians, and Muslims all regard it as holy.

During 1516-1526 he was Governor of Lower Silesia.

After George I's death in 1521 without issue, Frederick inherited Brzeg (Lubin was given to his sister-in-law as dower); this and the purchase of Wołów in 1523 increased his finances and brought about in all his domains a time of prosperity. In the same year he mediated between the Teutonic Grand Master Albert of Brandenburg and King Sigismund I of Poland, for the possession of Prussia, which eventually became the secular Duchy of Prussia in 1525, with Albert as its Duke but under Polish sovereignty.

Wołów Place in Lower Silesian, Poland

Wołów is a town in Lower Silesian Voivodeship in south-western Poland. It is the seat of Wołów County, and of the smaller administrative district (gmina) called Gmina Wołów. It lies approximately 38 kilometres north-west of the regional capital Wrocław. As of 2006, the town has a population of 12,286.

Albert, Duke of Prussia last Grand Master of the Teutonic Knights, first Duke of Prussia

Albert of Prussia was the 37th Grand Master of the Teutonic Knights, who after converting to Lutheranism, became the first ruler of the Duchy of Prussia, the secularized state that emerged from the former Monastic State of the Teutonic Knights. Albert was the first European ruler to establish Lutheranism, and thus Protestantism, as the official state religion of his lands. He proved instrumental in the political spread of Protestantism in its early stage, ruling the Prussian lands for nearly six decades (1510–1568).

Sigismund I the Old King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania

Sigismund I of Poland, of the Jagiellon dynasty, reigned as King of Poland and also as the Grand Duke of Lithuania from 1506 until 1548. Earlier, Sigismund had been invested as Duke of Silesia. A successful monarch and a great patron of arts, he established Polish suzerainty over Ducal Prussia and incorporated the duchy of Mazovia into the Polish state, securing the nation's wealth, culture and power.

From 1523 Frederick II was a strong supporter of the Reformation and founded in 1526 the first Protestant University in Legnica; however, because of the controversies between Luther and Caspar Schwenckfeld, it wasn't until 1530 that the University finally opened. Despite his own conversion to Protestantism, Frederick II allowed his subjects to choose their own religion.

Caspar Schwenckfeld German theologian

CasparSchwen(c)kfeld von Ossig was a German theologian, writer, and preacher who became a Protestant Reformer and spiritualist. He was one of the earliest promoters of the Protestant Reformation in Silesia.

During his reign, Frederick II worked for the order and cleanliness of his cities, established public lighting and paved streets.

His achievements also enhanced the defense of their Duchy. In his desire to change Legnica's layout he replaced numerous chapels and churches with city walls and fortress. Before the year 1521 there were in the suburbs about 15 churches and chapels, all these were demolished. Together with his wife Sophie, Frederick II also founded a bronze Army to defend the city.

From 1540 to 1544 he obtained the Duchy of Głogów as a pledge. In 1542 his nephews Joachim, Henry II, John and George of Poděbrady pledged to him their Duchy of Ziębice (Münsterberg), which after Frederick II's death was taken by Ferdinand I of Habsburg.

He is one of the figures on the Prussian Homage painting by Jan Matejko.

Marriages and Issue

On 21 November 1515 Frederick II married firstly Elisabeth (b. 13 November 1482 - 16 February 1517), daughter of King Casimir IV of Poland. They had one daughter:

  1. Hedwig (b. and d. 2 February 1517).

On 14 November 1519 Frederick II married secondly Sophie of Brandenburg-Ansbach-Kulmbach (b. Ansbach, 10 March 1485 – d. Legnica, 14 May 1537), daughter of Frederick I, Margrave of Brandenburg-Ansbach and niece of his first wife. They had three children:

  1. Frederick III (b. 22 February 1520 – d. Legnica, 15 December 1570).
  2. George II the Pious (b. Legnica, 18 July 1523 – d. Schloss Brieg, 7 May 1586).
  3. Sophie (b. 1525 – d. Berlin, 6 February 1546), married on 15 February 1545 to John George, later (1571) Elector of Brandenburg.

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Frederick II of Legnica
Born: 12 February 1480 Died: 17 September 1547
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Frederick I
Duke of Legnica
with John II (until 1495)
and George I (until 1505)

Succeeded by
Frederick III
Preceded by
Duke of Brzeg
with George I

Succeeded by
George I
Preceded by
George I
Duke of Brzeg
Succeeded by
George II the Pious
Preceded by
Casimir II
Duke of Ścinawa (Wołów)
Preceded by
Direct sovereignty of the
Kingdom of Bohemia
last holder
Casimir II
Duke of Głogów
Succeeded by
Annexed by the
Kingdom of Bohemia
Preceded by
George II, and his brothers
Henry II, Joachim, and
John of Münsterberg-Oels
Duke of Münsterberg (Ziębice)
Succeeded by
Ferdinand I