Przemys%C5%82 I
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Przemys%C5%82 I

Przemys? I (5 June 1220/4 June 1221[1] - 4 June 1257), a member of the Piast dynasty, was Duke of Greater Poland from 1239 until his death, from 1241 with his brother Boles?aw the Pious as co-ruler. He was able to re-acquire large parts of Greater Poland, ruling as Duke of Pozna? and Gniezno from 1247 and, upon several inheritance conflicts with his brother, as Duke of Pozna? and Kalisz from 1249, sole Duke of Greater Poland from 1250, and Duke of Pozna? from 1253 until his death.

The numeral primus ("The First") was given to him in the almost contemporary Wielkopolska Chronicle.

Life and rule

He was the eldest son of the Greater Polish duke W?adys?aw Odonic by his wife Jadwiga (Jadwiga), who was likely a daughter of the Samboride duke Mestwin I of Pomerania, or a member of the Bohemian P?emyslid dynasty (a supposition supported by the name given to her son, the first in the Piast dynasty who bears it),[2] or of the Bavarian House of Andechs. Duke W?adys?aw Odonic ordered that his son be given a comprehensive education; as attested in the Wielkopolska Chronicle, young Przemys? was able to read Latin psalms with ease.[3]

Beginning of his government

Polish duchies under the rule of Henry I and Henry II 1201-1241

Przemys? first appears in official documents signed by his father from 1232 onward, and after W?adys?aw Odonic's death on 5 June 1239 he began his own rule, during the time of Fragmentation of Poland (1138 - ca. 1314). Two years later (in 1241), Przemys? approved his younger brother Boles?aw as an official co-ruler, though this was merely a formality. In reality Przemys? reigned alone.

The principality inherited from his father was composed of northern Greater Poland, which included Uj?cie and Nak?o (although some historians believe that W?adys?aw Odonic lost Uj?cie and Nak?o before his death). Subsequently, he strove to recover the remaining part of Greater Poland. In 1241, after the death of his Silesian cousin High Duke Henry II the Pious at the 1241 Battle of Legnica, Przemys? recovered Pozna? and Gniezno, and subsequently managed to conquer also the parts of Greater Poland previously controlled by Dukes of Silesia.[4]

Reconquest of lost lands

In 1242 Przemys? I reconquered Zb?szy? and Mi?dzyrzecz from Boles?aw II the Bald.[5] The presence of Przemys? in Silesia forced the intervention of Duke Swantopolk II of Pomerania, who captured Nak?o. However Przemys? quickly took back the control of the district from the Pomeranian ruler.[6]

Despite his success, Przemys? sought to end his disputes with the Silesian Piasts and in 1244 he married Boles?aw II's sister Elizabeth,[7] at the monastery in Trzebnica. Contrary to his plans, this marriage did not calm the situation on the Silesian-Greater Poland border, but it did allow Przemys? to recover Kalisz from Duke W?adys?aw of Opole.[8] He failed however in his attempt to recover Wielu?, which was only annexed to Greater Poland in 1249.[9] The actions against the sons of Henry II the Pious were completed in 1247 when Santok was recovered.[10]

War in Greater Poland against the opposition, fight with the Silesian Piasts

In 1247 Przemys? I was forced by the local knights to give his brother Boles?aw the district of Kalisz as a separated Duchy, but in foreign policy he retained full authority over Greater Poland.[11] It was not the final division. A year later, the ruler of Greater Poland crushed the opposition by imprisoning its leaders, the Castellan of Pozna? Thomas of Naczów and his sons. Przemys? I released them in 1250, when he was involved in the conflict between Boles?aw II the Bald and his brother Konrad (husband of Przemys? I's sister Salomea). The intervention of the Greater Poland Duke helped Konrad to obtain the district of G?ogów as his own independent Duchy.[12]

In 1249 Przemys? I exchanged again territories with his brother, giving him Gniezno and becoming Duke of Pozna? and Kalisz.[13] In 1250, for unknown reasons, Przemys? had Boles?aw arrested, becoming in this way the sole ruler of Greater Poland (Pozna?, Gniezno and Kalisz).[14] Only at Easter of 1253, after the Church intervention, the brothers were finally reconciled and Boles?aw received the Duchy of Kalisz-Gniezno.[15]

During the first half of the 13th century, Przemys? I promoted a more peaceful policy, working closely with his brother-in-law Konrad I of G?ogów and giving his sister Euphemia in marriage to Duke W?adys?aw of Opole.[16] Also, he received the help of his brother Boles?aw with troops against Duke Casimir I of Kuyavia for the possession of Ladzka. In 1254 he organized an armed expedition against Henry III the White, destroying part of the Bishopric of Wroc?aw goods (i.e. Ole?nica), for which Przemys? I was excommunicated, and the penalty was only removed after the Greater Poland Duke repaired the damages in the Church states. The next campaign against Henry III was launched in September of the same year, but this time the joint expedition of Przemys? I, his brother Boles?aw and Konrad I of G?ogów avoided damages of Church goods.[17]

War against Brandenburgian expansion

In foreign policy, Duke Przemys?'s main concern was the expansionism of the Ascanian margraves of Brandenburg in the west. Although he stopped the advance of Brandenburg troops into his domains (Santok in 1247, Zb?szy? in 1251 and Drezdenko in 1252), the situation remained tense on the western border. To address this problem, between 1254-1255 Przemys? I tried to establish warmer relations with the House of Ascania through the betrothal of his eldest daughter Constance with Conrad, son of Margrave John I (the marriage took place after Przemys? I's death, in 1260). However, this strategy ultimately back-fired politically as the Ascanians used the marriage to claim rights over the western region of Greater Poland as their "New March".

Pozna?, capital of Greater Poland

In 1253 Przemys? I chose as his capital the city of Pozna?, situated on the left bank of the Warta River. He also began the building of the Royal Castle on the hill overlooking the town.

Religious policy

The political line of Przemys? was based on closer cooperation with the Church (especially the Bishops of Pozna?, Bogufa? II and Bogufa? III) which caused the opposition of the knighthood. In 1244 local knights rebelled against him and tried to abolish the judicial and tax immunity gained by the Bishops from W?adys?aw Odonic. Przemys? initially accepted the request, but in 1252 he reestablished the former privilege, and even expanded them even further.[18]

Despite periodic troubles with his lay subjects, Przemys? I had the support of a large group of trusted advisers, such as the Governor of Pozna? Przedpe?k ?ód? , the castellan of Pozna? Boguchwa?, the Judge Domarat Grzymalita, and the master of the hunt Pakos?aw Awdaniec.

Head traditionally recognised as face of Przemys? I from the Church of Holiest Heart of Jesus and Mother of God of Consolation in Pozna?.

On 8 May 1254 Przemys? took part in the national Congress of Piast princes at Kraków which convened for the canonization of St. Stanislaus. Among the princes who participated were his brother Boles?aw, Casimir I of Kuyavia, Siemowit I of Masovia, W?adys?aw of Opole and the host, Boles?aw V the Chaste.[19] The establishment of friendly contacts with his relatives proved useful one year later, when Duke Mestwin II of Pomerania captured the district of Nak?o. After the following war Przemys? was only able to recover Nak?o after paying 500 pieces of silver in 1256.[20]


Przemys? I died in Pozna? on 4 June 1257[21] and was buried in the Wawel Cathedral. The head was displayed in the vault of the Church of Holiest Heart of Jesus and Mother of God of Consolation in Pozna?. A painting in the Historical Museum of Pozna? City Hall is believed to be Przemys? I's portrait, but this has been questioned by art historians.

Marriage and children

In 1244 Przemys? I married with Elisabeth (ca. 1232 - 16 January 1265), daughter of Henry II the Pious, Duke of Wroc?aw. They had:

  1. Constance (1245/46 - 8 October 1281), married in 1260 to Conrad, Margrave of Brandenburg-Stendal.
  2. Euphrosyne (1247/50 - 17/19 February 1298), Abbess of St. Clara in Trzebnica.
  3. Anna (1253 - aft. 26 June 1295), Abbess at Owi?ska.
  4. Euphemia (1253 - 5 September 1298), twin of Anna; a nun at St. Clara, Wroc?aw.
  5. Przemys? II (posthumously, 14 October 1257 - 8 February 1296).

At the time of Przemys? I's death, his wife was five months pregnant with their last child. His brother Boles?aw took over the government of all his domains. After his birth, young Przemys? II remained under the tutelage of his uncle until 1273, when he received Pozna? as his own district. Eventually, Przemys? II inherited the whole of Greater Poland after his uncle's death in 1279, subsequently becoming King of Poland in 1295. With his death one year later, the Greater Poland branch of the Piast dynasty, descendants of Duke Mieszko III the Old became extinct.

See also

External links


  1. ^ The rank of Przemys? I's birth date is based in the Chronicle of Greater Poland, Warsaw 1965, p. 257, which specifies that he died aged 36. See Kazimierz Jasi?ski, Genealogia Piastów wielkopolskich. Potomstwo W?adys?awa Odonica, [in:] Nasi Piastowie, "Kronika Miasta Poznania" 1995, No 2, p. 40.
  2. ^ Jadwiga's Pomeranian origin is supported by: Oswald Balzer, Genealogia Piastów, Kraków 1895, p. 221; W?odzimierz Dworzaczek, Genealogia, Warszawa 1959, tab.2, p. 17; Kazimierz Jasi?ski, Uzupe?nienia do genealogii Piastów, "Studia ?ród?oznawcze" 5 (1960), p. 100. Jadwiga's Premyslid origin is supported by: Norbert Mika, Imi? Przemys? w wielkopolskiej linii Piastów. Niektóre aspekty stosunków ksit wielkopolskich z Czechami do po?owy XIII wieku, [in:] Przemys? II. Odnowienie Królestwa Polskiego ed. Jadwiga Krzy?aniakwa, Pozna? 1997, pp. 247-255.
  3. ^ Chronicle of Greater Poland, p. 258.
  4. ^ Chronicle of Greater Poland, p. 221. Not specified whose lands belonged to Boles?aw II the Generous after his father's death, but only that W?adys?aw Odonic's sons recover Przem?t.
  5. ^ Stanis?aw Zachorowski, Studja do dziejów wieku XIII wiekuw pierwszej jego po?owie, ed. J. Fija?ek, Kraków 1920, p. 117.
  6. ^ Chronicle of Greater Poland, p. 222, ref. Aleksander Swie?awski, Przemys? król Polski, Warsaw 2006, p. 35.
  7. ^ Chronicle of Greater Poland, p. 224. For unknown reasons, the Chronicle named Hedwig the princess of Wroc?aw who married Przemys? I.
  8. ^ Chronicle of Greater Poland, pp. 224-225. The Chronicle made mention regarding the obtaining of Kalisz from the Opole Dukes.
  9. ^ Chronicle of Greater Poland, p. 233, ref. Ryszard Rosin, Ziemia Wielu?ska w XII-XVI [in]: Studia z dziejów osadnictwa, ?ód? 1961, pp. 74-75.
  10. ^ Chronicle of Greater Poland, p. 228. Boles?aw II the Generous voluntary surrendered the land.
  11. ^ Chronicle of Greater Poland, pp. 227-228. See Stanis?aw Zachorowski, Wiek XIII i panowanie W?adys?awa ?okietka; Roman Grodecki, Stanis?aw Zachorowski, Jan D?browski, Dzieje Polski ?redniowiecznej w dwu tomach, Second Edition, Kraków 1995, p. 296; Gerard Labuda, Dzieje Wielkopolski, vol. I, p. 294; Bronis?aw Nowacki, Przemys? II 1257-1296. Odnowiciel korony Polskiej, Pozna? 1997, p. 18, where the authors consider that the separation of Kalisz districtas an independent Duchy was due to powerful intervention of the local nobility. In turn, Aleksander Swie?awski, Przemys? król Polski, Warsaw 2006, p. 37, considers that the idea of give a separated district to Boles?aw was fully voluntary, since none of the primary sources informed about pressures from the nobility.
  12. ^ Chronicle of Greater Poland, pp. 234-236.
  13. ^ Chronicle of Greater Poland, pp. 231-232.
  14. ^ Chronicle of Greater Poland, p. 236.
  15. ^ Chronicle of Greater Poland, p. 241. See Aleksander Swie?awski, Przemys? król Polski, Warsaw 2006, pp. 37-38.
  16. ^ Chronicle of Greater Poland, p. 237.
  17. ^ Chronicle of Greater Poland, pp. 243-244, 246.
  18. ^ Chronicle of Greater Poland, pp. 225-226.
  19. ^ Chronicle of Greater Poland, pp. 244-245.
  20. ^ Chronicle of Greater Poland, pp. 247-253.
  21. ^ Oswald Balzer, Genealogia Piastów, Kraków 1895, p. 230; W?odzimierz Dworzaczek, Genealogia, tabl 2.
Przemys? I of Greater Poland
Born: 1220/1221 Died: 45 June 1257
Preceded by
W?adys?aw Odonic
Duke of Greater Poland
Succeeded by
Boles?aw the Pious
Duke of Gniezno
with Boles?aw (1239-1247)
Preceded by
W?adys?aw Opolski
Duke of Kalisz
with Boles?aw
Duke of Wielu?
Preceded by
Boles?aw the Pious
Duke of Pozna?
Duke of Kalisz
Duke of Gniezno

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