Mieszko II of Poland

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Mieszko II Lambert
Missing image
Mieszko II

Reign From 1025
until 1034
Coronation On December 25, 1025 in Gniezno Cathedral, Poland
Royal House Piast
Coat of Arms Orzeł Piastowski
Parents Bolesław I Chrobry
Consorts Ryksa
Children with Ryksa
Boleslaw Zapomiany
Kazimierz I Odnowiciel
Date of Birth 990
Place of Birth  ?
Date of Death May 10, 1034
Place of Death  ?
Place of Burial Cathedral Basilica of St. Peter and St. Paul, Poznań, Poland

Mieszko II Lambert, also spelled as Miezko II, was the duke and short-term king of Poland (990 - 1034). He was the son of Boleslaw I Chrobry and Enmilda, the daughter of Dobromir Duke of Lusatia. Their children were Casimir I of Poland, Rixa of Poland, and Gertrude of Poland.

Mieszko II was very well educated for the period. He was able to read and write, and knew both Greek and Latin. He is (unjustly) known as Mieszko Gnuśny which means Lazy, Stagnant or Slothful. He received that name because of the most unfortunate end of his rule; but at the start, he acted as a skillful and talented ruler. Before he became king in 1025, he probably ruled as his father's governor in Krakw, most likely since 1013, when he supposedly built many churches.

He waged war against Germany (starting in 1028), quite successfully: he was able to repel the German army, and later he even invaded Saxony. He allied with Hungary, resulting for a while in the Hungarian occupation of Vienna. This war probably was because of family connections of Mieszko in opposition against emperor Conrad II in Germany.

To understand what happened later, it is necessary to understand Mieszko's family. His older brother, Bezprym, was the son of an unknown Hungarian wife of Boleslaw, who was later expelled by Boleslaw. He also had a younger brother, Otton. According to old Slavic custom, a father was supposed to divide his heritage between all his sons. However, since kingdoms can not be divided, Mieszko's brothers received nothing from their father's legacy. As Bezprym was the oldest son, many probably felt that he should have succeeded his father as king. However, Bezprym had always been disliked by his father, as denoted by his name (Piasts usually used names like Boleslaw, Mieszko, later also Kazimierz, Wladyslaw, or Emperor's names: Otton, Conrad, Heinrich: but Bezprym was a commoner's name, which implied that Boleslaw did not desire Bezprym to follow him in succession). He was sent to a monastery.

Both Mieszko's brothers escaped abroad: Otton to Germany, Bezprym to Kievan Rus. Soon after both the German emperor and the great duke of Kyiv, Yaroslav I the Wise, allied and made simultaneous invasions.

Facing two enemies, Germany from the west and Ruthenia from the east, Mieszko escaped to Bohemia where he was probably castrated. Bezprym started his rule by sending his crown and other king's insignia to Germany. Mieszko returned soon, but this time he was forced to pledge allegiance to the German Emperor, and Poland was divided between him, his brothers Otton and Bezprym, and a mysterious Thiedric (probably nephew or cousin). Otton was killed by one of his own men, and Mieszko was able to reunite Poland. What happened next is a great puzzle. Today modern historians think that Mieszko was killed in a plot organised by the aristocracy (1034).

After his death, the peasants revolted in the pagan reaction. The exact reasons and date are unknown. Casimir I of Poland, son of Mieszko, was either expelled by this uprising, or the uprising was caused by expelling by aristocracy. Modern historians argue that it was more probably caused by economical issues (huge new taxes for the Church, militarisation of early Polish dukedom/kingdom: almost all the male population were drafted to serve in the army etc.) than religious. Priests, monks and knights were killed; cities, churches and monasteries were burned. The chaos was even greater when the Czechs invaded unexpectedly from the south. The land became divided between local rulers, of whom one is known (Maslav, who ruled Mazovia). Greater Poland was so devastated that it ceased to be the core of the Polish kingdom. New Polish kings moved their capital to Little Poland, to Krakw.

Template:Kings and Dukes of Polandde:Mieszko II. Lambert fr:Mieszko II Lambert it:Mieszko II di Polonia pl:Mieszko II Lambert pt:Mieszko II zh:梅什科二世


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