Boleslaw III the Wasteful
|Duke of Legnica, Brzeg, Wroc?aw|
|Born||23 September 1291|
|Died||21 April 1352 (aged 60)|
|Noble family||Silesian Piasts|
|Spouse(s)||Margaret of Bohemia|
Katharina ?ubi? of Croatia
|Father||Henry V the Fat|
|Mother||Elisabeth of Greater Poland|
Boleslaw III the Wasteful (Polish: Boles?aw III Rozrzutny; 23 September 1291 - Brieg, 21 April 1352), was a Duke of Legnica, Brzeg (Brieg) from 1296 until 1342, and Duke of Wroc?aw from 1296 until 1311.
Boles?aw's father died in 1296 when he was only five years old. His mother, the Duchess Elisabeth and his paternal uncle Bolko I became Regents. Both soon died, Bolko in 1301 and Elisabeth in 1304. Between 1301-02 the official guardianship of Henry V's sons was taken by Henry of Würben, Bishop of Wroc?aw, but after almost a year he was removed from this post for his alleged prodigality. By that time, King Wenceslaus II of Bohemia was determined to take advantage of the rich and strategically Duchy of Wroc?aw. In 1302 the young Boles?aw was sent to the court of Prague and was betrothed to the seven-year-old Princess Margareta (cs: Markéta; pl: Ma?gorzata), the King's youngest daughter, one year later(13 January 1303). The wedding took place five years later, in 1308.
Boles?aw was clearly favored by the King, threatening the closest male relatives of the King, who saw the young Duke of Legnica (Liegnitz) as a potential rival for the throne. When King Wenceslaus II died suddenly in 1305, his son Wenceslaus III succeeded him. When Wenceslaus III was murdered one year later, in Olomouc, Boles?aw began his fight for the Bohemian throne taking the title of "haeres Regni Poloniae" (heir of the Polish Kingdom).
Boles?aw's forces, as Duke of Legnica-Wroc?aw (Liegnitz-Breslau) were inadequate to effectively compete with the other candidates for the P?emyslid throne: Rudolph III of Austria, Henry of Carinthia and John of Luxemburg. Boles?aw lost his attempt to rule the Polish Kingdom after he failed to control Kalisz during 1306-1307, finally losing Kalisz to Duke Henry III of G?ogów. Boles?aw's only substantial gain was Opava (Troppau) in 1308 after Duke Nikolaus I surrendered to him. Boles?aw then renounced his claim two years later (11 June 1311) after a treaty in Olomouc, paying 8,000 pieces of silver. Opava was then merged with the Bohemian crown and restored to Nikolaus I's son and heir, Nikolaus II, in 1318.
Boles?aw's political ambitions exhausted his finances. In 1311, Boles?aw was pressured into dividing his lands between his younger brothers Henry and W?adys?aw. The Duchy was divided into three parts: Wroc?aw, Legnica and Brzeg (Brieg). As the eldest brother, Boles?aw got first choice. He chose the smallest and least prosperous Brzeg (Brieg), surprising everyone. The monetary compensation offered by the prince who took Brieg would have allowed Boles?aw to continue his fight for the Bohemian throne. Boles?aw tried to regain Wroc?aw (Breslau) from his brother Henry VI but was unsuccessful.
Initially, Boles?aw seemed to accept his fate, but one year later he managed to deprive his youngest brother W?adys?aw from the Duchy of Legnica (Liegnitz) because W?adys?aw wasn't able to pay his part of the monetary compensation for Brieg.
In 1312 Boles?aw and Henry VI entered into an alliance with the ruler of Lesser Poland, W?adys?aw I ?okietek and with their combined forces began an expeditionary trip against the Dukes of G?ogów, under the pretext that the late Duke Henry III was directly responsible for the premature death of Henry V, father of the Dukes of Legnica (Liegnitz) and Wroc?aw (Breslau). The war lasted five years, 1312-1317. Finally W?adys?aw I ?okietek took most of Greater Poland, his allies taking the towns of Uraz (to Henry VI), and Wo?ów and Lubi (to Boles?aw).
After this victory, Boles?aw tried to reassert himself in the succession struggle for the Kingdom of Bohemia, then in the possession of John of Luxemburg. Boles?aw received his reward in 1321-1322 when King John appointed him Governor of Bohemia during his trip to Germany and Italy.
In Silesia, Boles?aw and his brothers Henry VI, Bolko II of Opole and W?adys?aw I ?okietek formed a coalition and went to war against the Dukes of G?ogów (Glogau) in 1321. This time they were successful, primarily due to Boles?aw. On 10 August 1323, a peace treaty was signed in Wroc?aw (Breslau). Duke Konrad I of Ole?nica ceded the Duchy of Namys?ów with the fortresses of Namys?ów, Byczyna and Kluczbork.
By 1322, relations between Boles?aw and his younger brother Henry VI began to deteriorate. Henry refused to support the aggressive politics of his brother when he signed a peace treaty with Konrad of Ole?nica regarding the possession of Wroc?aw (Breslau). Boles?aw offered to exchange his district of Legnica (Liegnitz) for Wroc?aw (Breslau). Henry VI refused, and the war between the brothers was imminent. Henry established contacts with the new King of Poland W?adys?aw I ?okietek, promised him homage and was named his heir in exchange for aid. W?adys?aw declined the offer because he feared a direct confrontation with the Kingdom of Bohemia. Henry then asked the help of Emperor Louis IV. On 20 April 1324, the Duke of Wroc?aw declared himself a vassal of the Empire. In return, Louis IV guaranteed the succession of Henry VI's lands to his daughters, prompting Boles?aw to attack. Wroc?aw's defenses held, and Henry VI maintained control.
In 1327 the situation changed completely. John of Luxemburg persuaded Henry VI to break his alliance with the Emperor to become a vassal of Bohemia. In exchange, he received the County of Glatz during his lifetime and a high pension, from the King.
Boles?aw made a final attempt to capture Wroc?aw in 1327-28, during King John absence from Bohemia. Once again, he failed.
In 1329, Boles?aw's youngest brother W?adys?aw (who had been stripped of his Duchy of Legnica in 1312) unexpectedly returned to Silesia. Having been declared a vassal of Bohemia, W?adys?aw took possession of Legnica in the name of King John, leaving Boles?aw in a critical situation. Boles?aw did not have the resources for a war against King John so, on 9 May 1329 in Wroc?aw, Boles?aw declared himself a vassal of the Kingdom of Bohemia.
After losing his independence, Boles?aw ceased trying to gain territories. As a vassal of John of Luxemburg, he took part during 1329-31 in King John's military expeditions to Lusatia (Lausitz) and G?ogów (Glogau).
Boles?aw's sumptuous lifestyle and constant travel (notably to the Congress of Visegrád of 1335) put him in a difficult financial situation. He continually increased taxes in his Duchy (towns of Chocianów and Chojnów).
Boles?aw's oldest son Wenceslaus I rebelled against his father, claiming his part of the inheritance. The Duke didn't want a conflict with his son, and in 1338 he gave Wenceslaus the Duchy of Namys?ów. Four years later (1342), he finally gave his sons Wenceslaus I and Louis I the joint government of the Duchy of Legnica. In exchange, Wenceslaus returned to Namys?ów, which Boles?aw almost immediately sold to King Casimir III the Great. After his abdication, Boles?aw retired to Brieg with his second wife Katharina ?ubi?, of Croatia, to Brieg, where he remained until his death on 21 April 1352. He was buried in Lubi Abbey.
Although his coffers were now reduced, Boles?aw didn't give up to his lavish lifestyle. He attended the marriage of King Casimir III the Great and Adelaide of Hesse in Pozna? in 1341, and the coronation of Charles IV of Luxemburg, King of Bohemia, Boles?aw to sell the town of Grodków to the Bishop of Wroc?aw, Preczlaw von Pogarell on 19 January 1344.
Boles?aw was twice excommunicated by the Church: for the delay in paying the tithing in 1337, and when he sequestered Church property in 1340. The excommunication was removed on his deathbed at the insistence of his sons. Boles?aw was quite generous to the Church, despite their unstable relation, contributing to Lubi Abbey, and founding two monasteries (Franciscan and Dominican), in Brieg.
In 1326, Boles?aw married secondly Katharina (d. bef. 5 March 1358), daughter of Mladen II ?ubi?, Ban of Croatia. They had no children. In his will, Boles?aw left the Duchy of Brieg to his widow, who ruled until her own death.