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Casimir III the Great

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 was the the son of King
Wadysaw I (the Elbow-high) and Duchess Hedwig of
Kalisz, and the last Polish king from the Piast dynasty.[1]

was ruined. In 1335, in the Treaty of Trentschin, Casimir


was forced to relinquish his claims to Silesia in perpetuity.
Casimir rebuilt and his kingdom became prosperous and
wealthy, with great prospects for the future. He waged
many victorious wars and doubled the size of the kingdom, mostly through addition of lands in modern-day
Ukraine (then called the Duchy of Halych). Casimir built
extensively during his reign, including Wawel Castle and
Orle Gniazda, and he reformed the Polish army

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 through conquest.
He reformed the judicial system and introduced a legal
code, gaining the title the Polish Justinian. Casimir
built extensively and founded the University of Krakw,
the oldest Polish university. He also conrmed privileges
and protections previously granted to Jews and encouraged them to settle in Poland in great numbers.

At the Sejm in Wilica, 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. He
founded the University of Krakw, the oldest Polish University, and he organized a meeting of kings in Krakw 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 (Bolesaw I Chrobry is also called Great, but more commonly Valiant).

Casimir left no lawful male heir to his throne, producing


only daughters. When Casimir 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.

The Great King

1.1 Succession
In 1355, in Buda, Casimir designated his nephew Louis
I of Hungary as his successor should he produce no male
heir, as his father had with Charles I of Hungary to gain
his help against Bohemia. In exchange Casimir gained
Hungarian favourable attitude, needed in disputes with
the hostile Teutonic Order and Kingdom of Bohemia.
Casimir at the time was still in his early years and having a son did not seem to be a problem (he already had a
few bastard children).

Poland (red) at the end of the reign of Casimir III (1370); Silesia
(yellow) had been lost, but the Kingdom was expanding to the
east

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 Krakw". The kingdom The Second Taking of Ruthenia. Wealth and Education, Jan
was depopulated and exhausted by war, and the economy Matejko
1

4 RELATIONSHIPS AND CHILDREN

Casimir left no legal son, however, bearing ve daughters instead. He tried to adopt his grandson, Casimir
IV, Duke of Pomerania, in his last will. The child had
been born to his second daughter, Elisabeth, Duchess of
Pomerania, in 1351. This part of the testament was invalidated by Louis I of Hungary, however, who had traveled to Krakw quickly after Casimir died and bribed the
nobles with future privileges. Casimir III had a son-inlaw, Louis VI of Bavaria, Margrave and Prince-elector
of Brandenburg, who was considered a possible successor, but he was deemed ineligible as his wife, Casimirs
daughter Cunigunde, had died in 1357 without issue.
Thus King Louis I of Hungary became successor in
Poland. Louis was proclaimed king upon Casimirs
death in 1370, though Casimirs sister Elisabeth (Louiss Wojciech Gerson, Casimir the Great and the Jews
mother) held much of the real power until her death in
1380.
of death, he prohibited the kidnapping of Jewish children
for the purpose of enforced Christian baptism, and he
inicted heavy punishment for the desecration of Jewish
2 Society under the reign of cemeteries. While Jews had lived in Poland since before
his reign, Casimir allowed them to settle in Poland in great
Casimir
numbers and protected them as people of the king.[2]

4 Relationships and children


Casimir III was born in Kowal, and he married four times.
Casimir rst married Anna, or Aldona Ona, the daughter of Grand Duke Gediminas of Lithuania. The marriage produced two daughters, 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 Casimir then married Adelaide of Hesse. He
divorced Adelaide in 1356, married Christina, divorced
her, and while Adelaide and possibly Christina were still
Wiec in reign of Casimir the Great
alive (ca. 1365), he married Hedwig of Gogw and
Casimir was facetiously named the Peasants King. He Sagan. He had three daughters by his fourth wife, and
introduced the codes of law of Greater and Lesser Poland they were still very young when he died, and regarded as
as an attempt to end the overwhelming superiority of the of dubious legitimacy because of Casimirs bigamy.
nobility. During his reign all three major classes the
nobility, priesthood, and bourgeoisie were more or
less counterbalanced, allowing Casimir to strengthen his 4.1 Aldona of Lithuania
monarchic position. He was known for siding with the
weak when the law did not protect them from greedy no- On 30 April or 16 October 1325, Casimir married
bles and clergymen. He reportedly even supported a peas- Aldona of Lithuania. She was a daughter of Gediminas
ant whose house had been demolished against his own of Lithuania and Jewna. They had two children:
mistress, after she ordered it to be pulled down because
it disturbed her enjoyment of the beautiful landscape.
Elisabeth of Poland (ca. 13261361); married
Bogusaw V, Duke of Pomerania

Relationship with Polish Jews

Cunigunde of Poland (13341357); married Louis


VI the Roman

Casimir was favorably disposed toward Jews. On 9 October 1334, he conrmed the privileges granted to Jewish Aldona died on 26 May 1339. Casimir remained a widPoles in 1264 by Bolesaw V the Chaste. Under penalty ower for two years.

4.2

Adelheid of Hesse

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 thereafter. Their loveless marriage lasted until 1356.

4.3

Christina

Casimir eectively divorced Adelaide and married his


mistress Christina Rokiczana, the widow of Miklusz Rokiczani, a wealthy merchant. Her own origins are unknown. Following the death of her rst husband she
had entered the court of Bohemia in Prague as a ladyin-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 without permission. Casimir continued living with Christine despite complaints by Pope Innocent VI on behalf
of Queen Adelaide. The marriage lasted until 136364
when Casimir again declared himself divorced. They had
no children.

4.4

Hedwig of aga

In about 1365, Casimir married his fourth wife Hedwig


of aga. She was a daughter of Henry V of Iron, Duke
of aga and Anna of Mazovia. They had three children:
Anna of Poland, Countess of Celje (1366 9 June
1422); married rstly William of Celje; their only
daughter was Anne, who married Jogaila of Lithuania (later King of Poland). Anne married, secondly,
Ulrich, Duke of Teck; they had no children
Kunigunde of Poland (1367 1370)
Hedwig of Poland (1368 ca. 1407).

Pelka (13421365); married and had two sons; predeceased his father
Jan (d. 28 October 1383); youngest son; survived
his father, inherited lands around Stopnica

5 Ancestry
6 Title and style
Casimirs full title was: Casimir by the grace of God king
of Poland and Russia (Ruthenia), lord and heir of the
land of Krakw, Sandomierz, Sieradz, czyca, 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.[3]

7 Popular Culture
Featured as a playable leader in the computer strategy game Civilization V: Brave New World

8 Gallery
The Kings sarcophagus at Wawel Cathedral
Egy of Casimir from his own tomb erected by his
nephew around 1371
Kazimierz the Great, by Marcello Bacciarelli
Kazimierz the Great, by Jan Matejko
The Cracow Gate in Szydw, part of the city walls
established by the King
Bdzin Castle; in 1348 the King upgraded it from a
wooden fortress to a stone one

With Adelaide still alive and Christine possibly surviving, the marriage to Hedwig was also considered bigamous. The legitimacy of the three last daughters was disputed. Casimir managed to have Anne and Cunigunde
legitimated by Pope Urban V on 5 December 1369. Hedwig the younger was legitimated by Pope Gregory XI on
11 October 1371.

Ruins of the Ogrodzieniec Castle, built on the Kings


order[1]

4.5

Basilica in Wilica, funded by the King, and built in


the third quarter of the 14th century

Cudka

Ruins of the Castle in Kazimierz Dolny; the King


extended it in the 1340s
Statue of the King in Niepoomice near his hunting
castle

Casimir had three illegitimate sons by his mistress Cudka,


wife of a castellan.

Saint Ladislaus Church in Szydw, established by


the King in 1355

Niemierz (last mentioned alive in 1386); oldest son;


survived his father, inherited lands around Stopnica

Saint Catherine Church in Kazimierz, founded by


the King in 1363

11
Latin Cathedral, Lviv, construction began in 1360
on the Kings order
the Castle in Sanok, built on the Kings order
Herma of Saint Sigismund of Burgundy, founded by
the King for Pock Cathedral
Casimirs prole on the 50 zoty note
1. ^ [1], ogrodzieniec.pl; accessed 11 March 2014.
(Polish)

See also
History of Poland (9661385)
Jagiellonian University
Kazimierz Wielki University in Bydgoszcz
Kazimierz
Kazimierz Dolny
List of Poles

10

References

[1] Halina Lerski (1996). Casimir III the Great. Historical Dictionary of Poland, 9661945. ABC-CLIO Press.
pp. 249250. ISBN 0313034567. Retrieved 8 September 2012.
[2] In Poland, a Jewish Revival ThrivesMinus Jews. New
York Times. 12 July 2007. Probably about 70 percent
of the worlds 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,
[3] Document Nr 1340 (CODEX DIPLOMATICUS
MAIORIS POLONIA). POZNANIAE. SUMPTIBUS
BIBLIOTHECAE KORNICENSIS. TYPIS J. I.
KRASZEWSKI (Dr. W. EBISKI). 1879.

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External links

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.

EXTERNAL LINKS

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