|Boles?aw II the Generous|
Denar with Boles?aw's effigy
|Duke of Poland|
|Predecessor||Casimir I the Restorer|
|Successor||W?adys?aw I Herman|
|King of Poland|
|Coronation||26 December 1076 |
Gniezno Cathedral, Poland
|Predecessor||Mieszko II Lambert|
Kingdom of Poland
|Died||2 or 3 April 1081/1082|
Kingdom of Hungary
Ossiach Abbey (disputed)
|Spouse||Wyszes?awa of Kiev|
|Father||Casimir I the Restorer|
|Mother||Maria Dobroniega of Kiev|
Boles?aw II the Generous, also known as the Bold and the Cruel (Polish: Boles?aw II Szczodry Polish (help·info); ?mia?y; Okrutny; c. 1042 - 2 or 3 April 1081 or 1082), was Duke of Poland from 1058 to 1076 and third King of Poland from 1076 to 1079. He was the eldest son of Duke Casimir I the Restorer and Maria Dobroniega of Kiev.
Boles?aw II is considered to have been one of the most capable of the Piast rulers. In 1075 he re-established the Archdiocese of Gniezno (consecrated in 1064) and founded the Diocese of P?ock. He established Benedictine monasteries in Mogilno, Lubin and Wroc?aw. Boles?aw II was also the first Polish monarch to produce his own coinage in quantity great enough to replace the foreign coins prevalent in the country during the reigns of the first Piast kings. He established royal mints in Kraków and Wroc?aw and reformed the coinage, which brought considerable revenue into the royal coffers. All these efforts had an enormous influence on the economic and cultural development of the country.
According to the chronicler Gallus Anonymus, during his reign he was called largus ("the Generous" in English, "Szczodry" in Polish) as he founded many churches and monasteries throughout Poland. The nickname "the Bold" (?mia?y) was only given to Boles?aw II for the first time in the later Chronicle of the Polish kings, although it was considered by historiography of the 19th and 20th centuries as a contemporary nickname.
Following the death of his father Casimir in 1058, Boles?aw II, as the eldest son, inherited Greater and Lesser Poland as well as the Mazovian, Pomerelian, and Silesian lands. His younger brothers W?adys?aw Herman and Mieszko became Governors of the remaining provinces. However Mieszko died relatively early, in 1065, at which point his lands came under the authority of Boles?aw II.
His father had left him a stabilised country; Boles?aw II continued his foreign policy on surrounding his realm with allied kingdoms in order to prevail against the extensive Holy Roman Empire in the west; he aimed to have Poland eventually bordering only allied countries. This is said[by whom?] to be the main reason behind his numerous foreign interventions: in 1060-1063 he intervened in Hungary to aid his uncle King Béla I in the inheritance conflict with his nephew Solomon, who was backed by his brother-in-law King Henry IV of Germany. As a result, Béla, in 1061, with the support of Polish troops, gained power.
In Hungary, Boles?aw II pursued the policy of cooperation with the anti-Imperial faction, which allowed him to gain political independence from the Empire but put him in conflict with Imperial ally, the Duchy of Bohemia. Moreover, he escalated the conflict with the P?emyslid duke Vratislaus II by refusing to pay the annual homage for Silesia and spurring the Bohemian nobility to revolt. In 1063, Boles?aw II besieged the then Moravian town of Hradec nad Moravicí but, defeated, he had to retreat. In the end, the relations with Vratislaus II were settled to a certain extent when the latter married Princess ?wi?tos?awa, Boles?aw II's sister.
Meanwhile, in 1063, King Béla I of Hungary died. Boles?aw II could not defend the cause of his son Géza I against the German troops of Henry IV, who finally installed Solomon on the Hungarian throne. In 1069 Grand Prince Iziaslav I of Kiev and his wife Gertruda, Boles?aw's aunt, were overthrown. A Polish military campaign re-established them in power in Kiev.
In 1071 Boles?aw II attacked Bohemia again. As he refused any attempt of arbitration by King Henry IV, the question was settled by an armistice between the two belligerents; however Boles?aw II, ignoring the treaty, renewed his attack in 1072 and refused to pay the tributes for Silesia to the Holy Roman Empire. Henry IV prepared for a campaign against Poland, but was hit by the outbreak of the Saxon Rebellion in 1073.
Due to his involvement in Hungarian, Bohemian and Kievan affairs, Boles?aw II neglected Poland's interests on the Baltic coast. Therefore, in either 1060 or 1066, Gda?sk Pomerania (Pomerelia) severed its ties to the Polish Kingdom.
When Hildebrand of Sovana, an enemy of the German king, became Pope Gregory VII in 1073, Boles?aw II saw in him a natural ally; he started to apply the Pope's reforms in the Archbishopric of Gniezno and commenced negotiations to obtain the royal crown. He spurred the ongoing revolt in Saxony, which had forced Henry IV to retreat from that region (he crushed the revolt at the Battle of Langensalza soon thereafter); the Polish king seized the occasion to launch an invasion against Henry IV's vassal, Vratislaus II of Bohemia, alongside an ally from Grand Prince Vladimir II Monomakh of Kiev.
Thanks to his support of the papal cause during the investiture controversy in the Holy Roman Empire, Boles?aw II gained the royal crown of Poland: on Christmas Day of 1076 Archbishop Bogumi? crowned him in the Gniezno Cathedral in the presence of a papal legate. King Henry's IV act of contrition at the Walk to Canossa in 1077 included also the imperial recognition of Boles?aw II's royal title. Boles?aw's new authority, along with his pride, however, caused the Polish magnates to rebel, as they feared the monarchy had started to grow too powerful.
In 1077 Boles?aw II's troops helped two pretenders to assume the throne: Ladislaus I of Hungary, another son of Béla I, and again Iziaslav in Kiev. In 1078, while returning from the latter campaign, the Polish troops conquered Red Ruthenia. In 1079, however, the conflict with the Polish nobles culminated into open revolt and Boles?aw was deposed and banished from the country. The circumstances that led to the King's banishment hinge on the person of Bishop Stanislaus of Kraków, who had excommunicated the king for his infidelity.
From historical records it appears that Bishop Stanislaus was involved with the barons' opposition movement, plotting to remove the King and to place his brother W?adys?aw Herman on the throne. Boles?aw II unilaterally declared Stanislaus guilty of treason - Gallus Anonymus uses the word "traditor" meaning traitor. The historical record was first proposed by Master Wincenty Kad?ubek, writing nearly 100 years after Gallus Anonymus and a century and a half after the actual affair. Boles?aw II on 11 April 1079 assaulted and then personally wielded the sword that murdered Bishop Stanislaus of Kraków during the celebration of a Mass. Though the bishop had privately and then publicly warned the king to repent of adultery and other vices, Boles?aw chose a course of action more characteristic of his nickname, "the Bold".
He found refuge at the court of King Ladislaus, who also owed his crown to the deposed king. However, according to Gallus Anonymus, Boles?aw II's atrocious conduct towards his Hungarian hosts caused his premature death in 1081 or 1082 at the hands of an assassin, probably by poisoning. He was about 40 years old.
A popular legend holds that Boles?aw proceeded to Rome to beg forgiveness from Pope Gregory, who imposed on him to wander incognito as a mute repentant. On a summer evening in 1082, he reached the Benedictine Abbey at Ossiach in Carinthia, where he was received and did all kind of hard work until he finally was reconciled in the Sacrament of Penance and died.
At the walls of Ossiach, there exists a tomb bearing the depiction of a horse and the inscription Rex Boleslaus Polonie occisor sancti Stanislai Epi Cracoviensis ("Boles?aw, King of Poland, murderer of Saint Stanislaus, Bishop of Kraków"). Instigated by Countess Karolina Lanckoro?ska, in 1960 the tomb was opened and indeed revealed male bones and the remains of a Polish knight's armor dating from the 11th century.
The legend, however, dates from centuries after the king's death (it was first mentioned by the chronicler Maciej Miechowita in 1499). His burial place actually remains unknown. Another popular hypothesis about the fate of his remains claims that in 1086 they were transferred to the Benedictine abbey of Tyniec near Kraków.
Before 1069 Boles?aw II married Wyszes?awa (d. aft. 1089), who, according to the Chronicle of Jan D?ugosz (and supported by some sources), was a daughter of Grand Prince Sviatoslav II of Kiev by his first wife Kilikia, possibly member of the House of Dithmarschen. They had one son, Mieszko (1069 - 1089).
Modern historians, led by Oswald Balzer (in 1895), refuted the Kievan origin and name of Boles?aw II's wife and exposed the theory that his wife was the queen named Agnes whose obituary is recorded in Zwiefalten. She may have belonged to the P?emyslid dynasty.