Polish History

By | August 29, 2021

Polish history becomes tangible in the national sense after Christianization in 966/967 under the Piast dynasty. Poland has a common prehistory with Central and Eastern Europe.

Around 1500 Poland reached almost as far as the Black Sea and united many peoples under one ruler. In the 18th century it was divided among the neighboring great powers. After World War II and decades under a communist regime, Poland experienced a new era as part of the European Union at the beginning of the 21st century.

The beginnings of the piastic state

The existence of a powerful state of the Wislanes in the 9th century in the area of ​​the upper Vistula valley is as controversial as that of a tightly administered rule of the historically inconceivable Gnesen princes Siemowit, Leszek and Siemomysł up to the central Vistula and the Pilica.

Starting from the tribal area of ​​the Polanen on the middle Warta, Duke Mieszko I (around 960 to 992) from the ruling family of the Piasts was also able to subjugate the land of the Goplanes and the Goplosee as well as the Lendizi and Mazovians who lived to the east; In 963, Margrave Gero prevented a first attempt to gain a foothold west of the Oder. After Latin Christianity was adopted in 966/967, according to constructmaterials, Greater Poland (Polonia Maior) became the north-eastern outpost of the Western community and in 968 received an independent missionary diocese in Posen. Boleslaw I. Chrobry (992-1025) was able to incorporate Lesser Poland (Polonia Minor, around Krakow), Pomerania, Silesia, Moravia, western Slovakia and Lusatia into his empire and briefly occupy Prague (1003/04) and Kiev (1018). The good understanding with Emperor Otto III. , who visited Gniezno in the year 1000 and agreed to the establishment of an archdiocese there, was replaced under Emperor Heinrich IIby the battles for the Mark Meissen and Lusatia, which were only settled in the Peace of Bautzen in 1018.

Despite a loose vassal status to the empire since 986, Bolesław I acquired the royal dignity in 1025 with papal approval, which his son Mieszko II. Lambert (1025–34) had to renounce in 1033. Kazimierz (Kasimir) I. Odnowiciel (1034 / 39–58) was able to consolidate the rule again after difficult beginnings in which the eastern and western border provinces were lost; his son Bolesław II. Śmiały (1058–79 / 81) managed to renew the kingship in 1076 in view of the disintegration of imperial power under Henry IV. Family disputes under Władysław I. Herman (1079–1102) and his sons Zbigniew (1102–07) and Bolesław III. Krzywousty (1102 / 07-38) tried to useEmperor Heinrich V unsuccessfully to restore the feudal obligation. Despite the temporary reconquest of Pomerania (1102-22) and the renewed attempt to use the partly princely fragmentation of the Kievan Rus to gain territories in the east, only Greater and Lesser Poland, Mazovia and Silesia were permanently part of the Polish national territory.

The period of the partial principalities (1138-1320)

The concern of Bolesław III. , through the division of the country among his sons and the introduction of a regulated succession, which granted the oldest member of the Piast House as grand duke a certain supremacy (seniorate) to prevent the succession struggles, failed. Emperor Frederick I could therefore from Bolesław IV. Kędzierzawy (1146–73) enforce the respect of the feudal relationship. The largely separate development of the four areas – Greater Poland, Lesser Poland, Mazovia, Silesia – caused the final loss of Pomerania in 1181. The Silesian Piasts, which branched out into several lines in the 13th century, were looking for close ties to the empire or Bohemia. The constant battles for the seniority and further divisions weakened the overall feeling of responsibility, which also made the Mongol defense more difficult (defeat of a German-Polish army led by Duke Heinrich II of Silesia , the Pious, at the polling station near Liegnitz on April 9, 1241). The attempt ofPrzemysł II., the Duke of Greater Poland (1279–96), to achieve the reunification of the country through the renewal of the royal dignity in 1295, ended with his assassination. The expansion of King Wenceslas II of Bohemia to Lesser and Greater Poland remained an episode, as his son Wenceslaus III.

1306 was also murdered. The Luxembourgish Johann the Blind and his son Charles IV were able to secure the connection of Silesia to Bohemia in 1339/48. After hard battles, supported by the clergy and some minor princes, Władysław I. Łokietek(1306 / 20–33) succeeded in merging Greater Poland, Lesser Poland and Kujawia and in 1320 the permanent elevation of Poland to a kingdom.

The Teutonic Order, called by Konrad I of Mazovia (1229–32, 1241–43) to defend the Prussians in the Culmer Land, began its missionary and colonization activities in 1230 from Thorn. The illegal occupation of Pomerania with Danzig by the Teutonic Order (1308) was a constant cause of fighting between the Polish crown and the knights of the order until 1525. The order pursued a German settlement of its domain (settlement of German farmers and craftsmen).

Polish History