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NOTES ON POLISH HISTORY
Part One (623-1018)


Collected by Leszek z Szczytna

CAVEAT
These notes were compiled from English language resources as a personal reference for my historical re-enactment activities, were not originally intended as a formal scholarly work, or for public release.  I am not a credentialed historian, and cannot read Polish or Latin.   The bibliography may not include all sources.  When sources disagreed, I chose the best synthesis in my own judgment.  Comments and speculations are my own, and may not align with scholarly consensus. 

 


These notes have been broken into four sections for easier loading and are organized chronologically. Please indicate which section you are interested in (unless you are already there):

  • Part One (623-1018)
  • Part Two (1019-1091)
  • art Three (1092-1144)
  • Part Four (1145-1194; Bibliography)


    History

    623-661 Slavic state of Samo.

    789-811 "If a Frank is your friend, then he is clearly not your neighbor" - Greek Proverb dating from the time of Charlemagne
    ******* Check out Annales regni Francorum if possible for info on Charlemagne's Slavic campaigns. *******

    789 Charlemagne campagnes vs "Wiltzes" who Einhard says called themselves Welatabi. Einhard identifies asorted Slavs "conquered" by Charlemagne as "people almost identical in language, although differing greatly in habit and customs. Among the most notable are the Welatabi, Sorabians, Abodrites (Obodrites?), and the Bohemians.

    791-803 Charlemagne wars vs the Avars, called Huns by biographers Einhard and Notker Avars located in Pannonia, "East of Bavarians." Possibly Hungarian Magyars?

    805 Charlemagne wars vs Bohemians

    808 Welatabi revolt against Carolingians. Charlemagne fighting Linonici(?).

    811 Linonici uprising.

    822-907 State of Great Moravia founded by Mojmir. expanded by Rastislav,and Svatopluk. (included lower Elbe, Oder, Vistula and Bug rivers)

    840? Founding of Piast dynasty by Chrosciszko, Prince of Polabians. Chrosciszko followed by Ziemowit, Leszek (Leszko), and Ziemomysl.

    842 Hamburg destroyed by Slavs and Normans

    906 Moravia trashed by Magyars, Magyars ally with Slavs from Elbe and Saale to ravage Saxony and other Carolingian eastern marches

    920+ German Henry I defeats and occupies Lusatian Sorbs. Garrisons with pardoned criminals. License to rape, pillage, and burn.

    921? Birth of Mieszko I.

    928 Henry I defeats Luticians after tough defense

    929 Henry I and Prince of Bavaria blitz Czech Bohemia, Besiege Prague. Prince Vaclav accepts vassal status.

    935 Vaclav assassinated, Boleslav I remains vassal.

    936 Henry I dies fighting Polabians, Slavs and Czechs revolt. Otto I quells, occupies. Rules by encouraging tribal and sibling rivalries, and the division of territory between princes.

    963 First historical mention of Mieszko - Widukind's 'Res Gestae Saxonicae'

    Saxon Wichman allies with Radarians and wars with Mieszko I. Mieszko was invading west Pomerania, Wichman was a relative of Gero and German/Saxon rebel sent to sic the Radarians on Mieszko, keeping Wichman out of Germany, and the Radarians off of Gero while he finishes off the Lusatians. Works like a charm. Germans-1 Poles-0

    963-964 Polish-German anti-Lutician alliance frees Otto for war in Italy, and frees Mieszko to take west Pomerania. Tribute to Otto. Czechs allied to Luticians. Politics req'd.

    965 Gero dies 20 May. Mieszko marries Boleslav I's daughter, Dubrawka to cement Bohemian connection. Gero's Mark divided in fifths, cooling German expansion.

    966 Mieszko baptized. Legend says it was part of marriage deal and gives Dubrawka credit. Probably political christianization. Virtually painless, indicating large Christian population extant.

    967 With Czech help Mieszko conquers W. Pomerania, defeating Wichman's Luticians, Wichman dies. Germans-1, Poles-1, Czechs xx Luticians.

    * Mieszko's lands and retinue, as described in a letter to a Spanish Moor named al-Bekri (d. 1094): by Ibrahim ibn-Jakub, a Moorish Jew slaver from Tortosa who accompanied the Kalif of Cordoba on an embassy to central Europe, including Prague.

    "The realm of Mesko (sic) ... is the most extensive of the Slavic lands. It produces an abundance of food, meat, honey, and fish. He keeps 3000 knights, divided into detachments, and these are such warriors that ten thousand others could not equal a hundred of them. He provides ... all that they require. The dowry system is very important to the Slavs, and is similar to the customs of the Berbers. When a child is born, he contributes to its support, whether boy or girl, [arranges a suitable marriage, and provides the dowry]...

    ... the Slavs are violent, and inclined to aggression. If not for the disharmony amongst them ... no people could match their strength. They are especially energetic in agriculture... Their trade on land and sea reaches to the Ruthenians, and to Constantinople...

    Their women, when married do not commit adultery. But a girl, when she falls in love ... will go to him and quench her lust. If a husband marries a girl and finds her to be a virgin, he says to her 'If there were something good in you, men would have desired you, and you would have found someone to take your virginity'. Then he sends her back and frees himself from her.

    ... they make use of wooden huts for bathing. They heat a stone stove, and pour water ... They hold a bunch of grass (herbs?) and waft the steam around. This opens the pores, and all excess matter escapes from their bodies. This hut is called the al-istba.

    Their Kings travel in great carriages on four wheels. From the four corners of the carriage a cradle is slung on chains, so that the passengers are not shaken. Similar carriages are prepared for the sick and injured..."

    968 Birth of Boleslaw Chrobry

    972 Gero's successor, Margrave Hodo crosses Oder, vs Mieszko. Defeated at Cedynia. Barely escapes alive. Poles-2, Germans-1

    973 Otto I returns from Italy to arbitrate. Sides with Hodo. Demands Mieszko's son Boleslaw as hostage. Mieszko places Boleslaw under papal protection. beginning of long Pole-Pope axis. (sent envoy w/lock of hair). Otto dies later in year. Mieszko and Boleslav II (Czech brother-in-law) support Henry the Quarrelsome, Prince of Bavaria vs Otto II. Mieszko bails on treaty of 963 and stops paying tribute.

    973+ Henry the Quarrelsome loses. Imprisoned. Otto II tries to punish Bohemia. Loses repeatedly.

    967 Mieszko conquers to mouth of the Oder.

    977 Dubrawka dies. Polish-Czech alliance erodes.

    978 Otto II compromises with Boleslav II.

    979 Otto II and Hodo attack Poland. Lose. Poles-3 Germans-1

    980 Otto II sues for peace. Mieszko marries Oda, daughter of Dietrich, Margrave of the Nordmark as part of deal. Otto turns to appennine peninsula. Dietrich anti-Bohemian, so Mieszko takes Krakow and Przemysl. Ruled by Mieszko's son Boleslaw (also son of Dubrawka of Bohemia [gets him away from second wife?])

    Founding of Gdansk.

    981 Vladimir of Kiev, also married to a Czech princess, takes Grody Czerwienskie and Przemysl. Taking advantage of disorder to open new route to Constantinople. Dnieper route blocked by Pechenegs.

    983 Otto II dies. Polabians drive out Germans, taking a number of missionary fortresses, and destroying Hamberg. Mieszko and Boleslav II reunite behind Henry the Quarrelsome again. Boleslaw marries Rigdag, daughter of Margrave of Meissen to gain standing with Saxons, and inherit Meissen.
    Poles-4 Germans-1

    984 Henry's followers squabble, Boleslav II seizes Meissen. Mieszko swaps support to emperor vs Czechs and vs loose Polabians threatening west Pomerania.

    985 Mieszko joins Empress (regent for boy Otto III) vs Luticians. Danes establish Jomsburg at Wolin.

    986-987 Poles aid Germans to recover Meissen. new Margrave is Eckhard. Czechs lose again.

    Birth of Boleslaw Chrobry's first son, Bezprym to his second wife (Hungarian Noblewoman)

    988 Mieszko's daughter, Swietoslawa, marries Eric the Victorious of Sweden to make alliance vs the Danes. Captures Szczecin and Wolin.
    * OR - Eric was king of Sweden and Denmark, and alliance was WITH Danes? - The Polish Way -- Zamoyski *

    989-990 Poland & Germans vs Czechs & Luticians. Mieszko takes Silesia, Boleslaw takes Slovakia. Czechs lose again.

    990 Mieszko places all Poland under papal protection to consolidate gains, and requests independent metropolitan for Poland and recognition as a kingdom. Act of donation is lost. Abstract identifies Mieszko as 'Dagome' confusing historians.

    Birth of Mieszko II to Boleslaw Chrobry's third wife, Emnilda.

    991 Aids Otto III vs Brandenburg

    992 Mieszko dies 25 May. Boleslaw Chrobry [the Brave] succeeds. Aids Otto III vs Brandenburg. Stepmother Oda seeks to install her children, possibly with aid of Vladimir of Rus. Boleslav II declares for opposition, possibly due to Boleslaw's support of rival princes of Libice (vs Premyslids in Bohemia).

    994 All under control. Oda and Co exiled. Supporters blinded. Last holdouts in Pomerania subdued.

    995 Boleslaw aids Otto III vs Obodrites, as does Sobeslaw, elder prince of the Slavnikovci of Libice. Boleslav II sends troops under his son but stays home because he is reluctant to participate fully vs oft time Polabian allies.

    Boleslav II uses Imperial truce declared for Obodrite campaign, and absence of Sobeslaw to conquer principality of Libice. Slavnikovci prisoners murdered by Vrsovci (allies of Boleslav in Libice). Sobeslaw flees to Poland--founder of noble Paluk family. another of Slavnikovci, Wojciech, Bishop of Prague (Vojtech-Cz, Adalbert- Eng.) flees to Rome. seeks to retire to monastery, but is ordered back to Prague, even though ruling Premyslids had killed the rest of his family (Rome trying to test power of church?). Meets Otto III in Rome, who intercedes with Pope Sylvester I to allow him to do missionary work.

    996 Vojtech/Adalbert sets up base in Poland (hagiographies suggest friendship w/ Chrobry). Founds Benedictine abbey in Trzemeszno.

    997 Wojciech departs Gdansk for Prussia to missionary.

  • 23 April - Wojciech martyred. Chrobry ransoms body for weight in gold. Entombed in church of Holy Virgin Mary in Gniezno.
    *Legend recounts that body recovery mission was far short of gold necessary for ransom, when a poor old Christian woman whom Wojciech had blessed during his mission contributed a small piece of gold (her entire assets), which miraculously balanced the scales.*

    999 Wojciech/Adalbertus canonized with support of Otto III. Sylvester I grants independent Polish metropolitan, based in Gniezno, with Bishoprics at Wroclaw, Krakow, and Kolobrzeg, to consolidate rule and conversion of all Polish lands and conquests. Wojciech's brother, Gaudenty, made Archbishop of Saint Wojciech's cathedral.

    1000 Otto III makes pilgrimage to Saint Wojciech's. invests Bishops of Krakow, Wroclaw, and Kolobrzeg, then renounces all authority over new church (major symbol). Saxon Chronicler Thietmar records journey, and is greatly impressed by Chrobry's court, and his gifts, including all plates, utensils, hangings, rugs, etc from feast. he laments Otto's attitude, preferring the old annexationist ways. Otto releases Chrobry from annual tribute.

    "Boleslaw received him ... as befitted a King, a Roman Emperor, and a distinguished guest. ... he placed many companies of Knights of every sort, and then his dignitaries, in ranks, every different company set apart by the colors of its clothes. This was no cheap spangle of any old stuff, but the most costly things ... anywhere on Earth. In Boleslaw's day, every Knight and Lady of the court wore not linen or woolen cloth, but coats of costly weave, while furs, even if very expensive and quite new were not worn at his court unless doubled with fine stuff, and trimmed with gold tassels. For gold was as common as silver is now, and silver was as cheap as straw. ... the Roman Emperor cried out: 'By the crown of my Empire! What I see far exceeds what I have heard! It is not fit that such a man should be titled a Prince or Count ... but he should be elevated with all pomp to a throne and crowned with a crown.' Taking the Imperial diadem from his own brow, he placed it on Boleslaw's head as a sign of union and friendship, and for an ensign of state he gave him a nail from the Holy Cross, and the Lance of St. Maurice, ... Boleslaw gave him the arm of St. Adalbertus. ...the Emperor named him brother and associate in the Empire, and called him friend and ally of the Roman Nation." -- Gall(us) Anonim.

    Reported that there were negotiations at meeting to make Boleslaw next Holy Roman Emperor after Otto III in Pogonowski's 'Poland, A Historical Atlas'. (Otto, the idealist, may have considered this, but it would hardly sell in Germany)

    One source claims Boleslaw returned to Aix-la-Chapelle with Otto, where Otto had Charlemagne's tomb opened and gave Chrobry Charlemagne's own throne, and that Boleslaw gifted Otto with a bodyguard of Polish Knights

    The Chronicon Novaliciense, iii, 32, does report that Otto III opened Charlenagne's tomb in the year 1000, but says that he found the body enthroned and mostly uncorrupted. Otto tended the corpse and clothed it and resealed the vault according to the account written by one of the group present. Interestingly, in 1165 the tomb was reopened and the remains were found in a marble sarcophagus. Hmmmmmmmmmm.....

    1001 Chrobry sends legation under abbot Astryk-Anastazy to Pope to sue for a crown. Good timing, Bad personnel. Astryk sells out to Stephen of Hungary who was also crown-hunting. Stephen marries Giesel, sister of Henry of Bavaria, major opponent of Otto III's eastern detente.

    1002

  • 23 January - Otto III dies young. (assassination?)
    All hell breaks loose. In Italy, Arduin of Ivrea challenges for Imperial crown, in Germany, major rivals for throne- Henry of Bavaria (chief of Otto's line), Herman, Duke of Swabia, and Eckhard, Margrave of Meissen. Eckhard strongest- Saxons, and emperor's close family (Lotharingians [Lotharingia = modern Lorraine]) in support.
  • 30 April - Eckhard assassinated . Herman quickly defeated.

    Enter Henry II. Chrobry moves to gain buffers, takes upper Lusatia and Meissen. Travels to Merseburg in July, willing to rule new territories as German fiefs. Retains upper and lower Lusatia, Meissen given to Eckhard's brother, Guncelin friend of Chrobry. Eckhard's son, Herman, to marry Chrobry's daughter Regelinda, get Strzala as dowry. Henry seeks to kill Chrobry from ambush on way home, Chrobry escapes, conquers and burns Strzala (wedding either already done or at least not canceled). Henry II unable to react (still consolidating empire?). Meanwhile, in Bohemia... Boleslaw Chrobry wants Bohemia as buffer, and protection of upper Lusatia and Silesia from two-front invasion. Boleslav III (the Red) (Chrobry's cousin) suffers from lack of Eckhard's support in internal power struggles. Boleslav the Red becomes puppet of magnates and is exiled at end of 1002. Magnates call Vladivoj from refuge in Poland. Vladivoj, mentally and physically impaired, soon dies (naturally? probably, he couldn't have been a real threat to anyone). At request of Magnates, Chrobry negotiates return of Boleslav III to avert long war between Boleslav's half brothers.

    1003 Chrobry sends monk Anthony to Rome to work for crown.

    Pay back in Bohemia. Boleslaw the Red slaughters most of Vrsovci family (remember, from Libice?), who opposed him. Survivors turn to Chrobry, who decides he'll never make secure alliance with Premyslids, and invades claiming Boleslav planned to invade Poland. (unlikely considering tenuous grip on Bohemia, but a possible ploy to unite magnates against outsider, or for booty?) Boleslav (III), the Red blinded, Chrobry proclaimed prince by Magnates over Bohemia and Moravia. Along with Slovakia, (since 990) buffer complete. Very fast action, Henry II, busy in Italy with Arduin sends emissary demanding Czechs swear fealty, or fight. Chrobry refuses, and gathers allies in disordered empire: Henry of Schweinfurt (Margrave of Nordgau), and his cousin Ernst, Henry of Bavaria's own brother Bruno, Margrave Guncelin of Meissen. Henry II allies with pagan Luticians! (some defender of the faith)

  • August - Henry II attacks and defeats Henry of Schweinfurt, who flees to Hungary. Boleslaw tries to occupy Meissen, but Guncelin refuses to surrender capital (thanks old buddy), Chrobry, either unwilling to fight old pal, or unprepared for siege, withdraws.

    1004 Monk Anthony tries to return to Rome seeking crown for Poland. Busted in Magdeburg. Last known attempt until 1024-1025.

  • January - Henry ravages upper Lusatian border, withdraws for winter. Returns to settle problems in sunny Italy successfully.
  • August - Henry musters in Merseburg while Bavarians invade Bohemia. Henry feints attack on Lusatia (drawing off Chrobry?) and attacks thru poorly defended Bohemian forest, bringing Boleslav III's oldest brother, Jaromir, as pretender to the throne, Czechs revolt, defeat Polish garrisons, Chrobry withdraws.
  • 8 Sept - Jaromir accepts Bohemia in fief from Henry. Henry attacks upper Lusatia with Czech reinforcement, taking Budziszyn, after a short, but brutal, siege. Budziszyn garrison surrenders on condition they are free to return to Poland.

    1005

  • August- Henry II, with Czechs and Luticians invade from Magdeburg. Chrobry takes strong position at ford near Krosno. Henry finds unprotected ford, turns flank, pursues thru Miedzyrzecz towards Poznan, but is unable to pin Chrobry, and after much harassment, and loss of supplies, 'concluded an unfavorable truce and returned with his saddened army, bringing with them their dead.' - Thietmar (Saxon)

    Boleslaw Chrobry holds Moravia, but somewhere between 1003 and 1007, lost Slovakia to the Hungarians, either by invasion, or to buy their neutrality.

    1007 Chrobry involved with Czechs, Luticians, and revolt in Wolin. Henry II abrogates peace of 1005. Boleslaw Chrobry attacks Magdeburg successfully, taking many prisoners, then reoccupies upper and lower Lusatia. Henry II pinned by revolt in Lotharingia. (Chrobry's allies? planning, inside knowledge, or just luck?)

    Chrobry makes treaty with Vladimir of Rus vs Hungarians. Sviatopolk Vladimirovich marries one of Chrobry's daughters.

    1009 Henry returns to Saxony. arbitrates many disputes. Margrave Guncelin denounced by nephews, deposed, imprisoned. Nordmark given to Bernard, brother of Mieszko's widow Oda. Chrobry attacks, loses. Meissen given to Guncelin's nephew (and Boleslaw's son-in-law) Herman, a faithful German toady.

    'allow me to ask without loss of your Imperial favor, how can you reconcile persecuting a Christian and maintaining a friendship with a pagan people? What kind of agreement can there be between Christ and Belial? What likeness is there between light and darkness? How can the satanic Swarozyc join with the commander of Saints - yours and St. Mauritius? How can the holy lance be carried next to satanic banners drenched in human blood? King, do you not consider it a sin that Christian heads - it is shameful even to speak these words - should bow before satanic banners? Would it not be better to seek the fidelity of such a man, through whose aid and council you receive tribute from this pagan people and lead them toward sanctity and Christianity?'
    -St. Bruno of Querfurt

    1010 Henry, with Jaromir, but without Luticians, and several important bishops, has another go at Chrobry. Henry himself laid out sick and campaign is little more than a raid on open territory. regains part of lower Lusatia.

    1012 April 13 - Jaromir exiled by magnates and brother Oldrich returns from refuge in Poland to Bohemian throne. Germans launch new offensive without Czechs or Luticians. Henry called away to new revolt in Lotharingia. Chrobry attacks Lubusz, which is cut off from the west by flooding Elbe. Chrobry wins - much loot, many prisoners. Henry II returns too late in fall to retaliate. Turns to Bohemia. Oldrich takes oath to Henry, who imprisons Jaromir (in custody of Bishop of Utrecht, probably genteel jail). All Chrobry gains is one year of Czech quiet.

    1013 Sviatopolk and wife imprisoned by Vladimir of Rus.

  • Feb - Chrobry sends son Mieszko II to Henry II. Henry agrees to let Poland hold all conquered lands as German fiefs.
  • Pentecost - Boleslaw takes vassal oath at Merseburg, is Henry's sword bearer in procession. promises troops for Roman campaign, is promised aid vs Rus. Mieszko II marries Rycheza, Otto III's niece, daughter of Ezzo of lower Lotharingia (remember the convenient Lotharingians?)

    Chrobry attacks Rus with Germans and Pechenegs, little success but frees Sviatopolk and family. Pechenegs revolt due to meager spoils; subdued. Poles also captures Przemysl and Belz on way home.

    1014 Boleslaw stiffs Henry on troops vs Romans. Sends Mieszko to try to subvert Czechs. Czechs seize Mieszko for Henry. Chrobry ransoms him.

    Canute, son of Swein Forkbeard of Denmark, and the widowed Swietoslawa, visits Poland to receive 300 horsemen to aid in reconquest of England.

    1015 Henry attacks at Krosno with Czechs, Luticians, and Prince Bernard's Saxons. Czechs and Saxons withdraw after some light raiding and looting. Henry is harried back to Meissen. Chrobry pillages up to Jahne river and withdraws.

  • 15 July - Vladimir of Rus dies, Sviatopolk loses to brother Jaroslav, flees to Poland. Jaroslav and Stephen (Istvan) of Hungary ally with Henry II.

    1016 Henry pinned in Burgundy. Chrobry's wife dies sometime in here.

    Birth of Kazimierz I Odnowiciel (the Restorer) to Mieszko II/??

    1017

  • June 17 - Boleslaw pins Bavarians with Moravian attack on Ostmark. Henry attacks thru Krosno with Czechs and Luticians, with Hungarians, and Russians to attack separately. Russians and Hungarians only laid siege to some border cities. Details scanty, Henry II has little success, and is turned back by epidemic in troops. Henry II withdraws to Merseburg
  • Fall Jaroslav of Rus refuses peace, and refuses Chrobry his sister in marriage.
  • Oct. 1, Henry is forced into peace talks by pressure from court.

    1018

  • January 30 - Peace of Budziszyn signed with Henry II.
    'not what was desirable, but only what could be done' - Thietmar.
  • Henry concedes Moravia, both Lusatias, Poland's independence, and agrees to send troops to fight his ally Jaroslav. (Obviously he was whipped.) Boleslaw marries Oda, sister of Herman of Meissen. * check this family line out later.
  • July 22- Chrobry defeats Jaroslav at the Bug river. Pursues Jaroslav to Kiev, besieges, and wins. Establishes border at the Bug River.
  • Legendary event - Notching of the Szczerbiec (Coronation Sword of Poland) on the Golden Gate of Kiev.
  • August 14- Places son-in-law Sviatopolk on throne. Boleslaw sends 'Proclamation of Triumphant Peace and Friendship' to Roman and Byzantine emperors. Chrobry dismisses German, Hungarian, and Pecheneg allies, but stays in Kiev too long and makes Sviatopolk nervous. Chrobry withdraws in good order, retaking Grody Czerwienskie on the way home.



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