W%C5%82adys%C5%82aw I the Elbow-high
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W%C5%82adys%C5%82aw I the Elbow-high
W?adys?aw I ?okietek
Ladislaus the Short
W?adys?aw ?okietek seal 1320.PNG
Seal of King W?adys?aw
King of Poland
Coronation20 January 1320
PredecessorWenceslaus III
SuccessorCasimir III the Great
Died2 March 1333 (aged 72)
Kraków, Poland
SpouseJadwiga of Kalisz
IssueKunigunde, Duchess of ?widnica
Casimir III of Poland
Elizabeth, Queen of Hungary
HouseHouse of Piast
FatherCasimir I of Kuyavia
MotherEuphrosyne of Opole

W?adys?aw I ?okietek, in English known as the "Elbow-high" or Ladislaus the Short (c. 1260/1 – 2 March 1333) was King of Poland from 1320 to 1333, and duke of several of the provinces and principalities in the preceding years. He was a member of the royal Piast dynasty, the son of Duke Casimir I of Kuyavia, and great-grandson of High-Duke Casimir II the Just.

W?adys?aw I inherited a small portion of his father's domain, but his dominion grew as some of his brothers died young. He unsuccessfully tried to incorporate the Duchy of Krakow (the Seniorate Province) in 1289, following the death of his half-brother Leszek II the Black and the withdrawal from contention of his ally Boles?aw II of Masovia. After a period in exile during the rule of Wenceslaus II, W?adys?aw regained several duchies and then Krakow in 1306 when Wenceslaus III was murdered. He temporarily took control of part of Greater Poland after the death of his ally Przemys? II, lost it, and then subsequently regained it.

W?adys?aw was a skilled military leader, but also an administrator; he conquered Gda?sk Pomerania, and left it to familial governors. For the defense of this territory, he turned to the Teutonic Knights, who then demanded an exorbitant sum or the land itself as an alternative. This led to an extended battle with the Knights, which was not resolved after either a papal trial or W?adys?aw's own death. Perhaps his greatest achievement was gaining papal permission to be crowned king of Poland in 1320, which occurred for the first time at Wawel Cathedral in Krakow. W?adys?aw died in 1333 and was succeeded by his son, Casimir III the Great.


Edict by W?adys?aw the Short in 1325 confirming the Cistercians of Byszewo continue to have the same rights as under German law, and the continued ownership of their Abbey in Byszewo.

In 1138, the Kingdom of Poland, which had been growing in strength under the rule of the Piast dynasty, encountered an obstacle which impeded its development for nearly two hundred years. In the will of King Boles?aw III Wrymouth (Boles?aw III Krzywousty), Poland was divided into five provinces: Silesia, Mazovia with eastern Kuyavia, Greater Poland, the Sandomierz Region, and the Seniorate Province. The Seniorate Province initially comprised Kraków and western Lesser Poland, eastern Greater Poland including Gniezno and Kalisz, western Kuyavia, czyca and Sieradz (maintained by the Dowager Duchess Salomea of Berg for her lifetime), and with Pomerelia as a fiefdom. To prevent his four sons from quarreling, Boles?aw granted one province to each of them, while the Seniorate Province was to be given to the eldest brother on the grounds of primogeniture. This decision was meant to forestall dynastic feuds and prevent the disintegration of the kingdom. However, it proved inadequate, and began nearly two centuries of what it had sought to counteract: constant fighting and disorder. W?adys?aw I succeeded in re-uniting most of these lands back into the kingdom of Poland.[1]

Family and "elbow-high" nickname

W?adys?aw I ?okietek was the oldest son of Casimir I of Kuyavia (Kazimierz I Kujawski) and his third wife Eufrozyna of Opole. He was third in seniority to be Duke of Kuyavia, however, as he had two older half-brothers from Casimir's second marriage to Constance of Wroc?aw: Leszek II the Black (Leszek Czarny) and Ziemomys?. He was named after his uncle, his mother's brother W?adys?aw, Duke of Opole. As early as in the contemporary historical sources he was nicknamed ?okietek, a diminutive of the word ?okie? which means "elbow" or "ell" (a medieval unit of measure similar to a cubit, as in "elbow-high").[note 1] However, the origin and the intended meaning of the nickname are not so certain. Its earliest explanation has appeared in the 15th-century chronicle by Jan Dlugosz. According to that source, the nickname referred to the short stature of the king. However, we know, at least, that the son and immediate successor of ?okietek, Casimir the Great, was about 183 cm tall, which suggests that his father may not have been a dwarf. Some historians coined a hypothesis that the nickname ?okietek had nothing to do with the physical appearance of prince W?adys?aw, but contemptuously described the actual size and political importance of his hereditary domain among the other principalities ruled by the members of the House of Piast, at least as compared to ?okietek's exaggerated ambitions. If this hypothesis is correct, W?adys?aw ?okietek should be rather translated into English as W?adys?aw the Petty. Jan Dlugosz may have easily misinterpreted the nickname, being chronologically remote to the political context of ?okietek's era.[2]

Prince in Kuyavia (1267-1288)

In 1267, when W?adys?aw I ?okietek was seven years old, his father Casimir died. At this time, Leszek II the Black inherited czyca (he had already been given Sieradz six years earlier), Ziemomys? gained Inowroc?aw, and Brze Kujawski and Dobrzy? were held in regency by Eufrozyna on behalf of W?adys?aw and his younger brothers Casimir II and Siemowit. After the death of his father, W?adys?aw was sent to Krakow to the court of his relative, Boles?aw V the Chaste (1st cousin once removed). In 1273 W?adys?aw participated in the arbitration by Boles?aw the Pious, duke of Greater Poland, to reconcile him and his mother Eufrozyna with the Teutonic Knights. W?adys?aw took responsibility for governing these territories in 1275, but they were actually held in a "niedzial" (collective property of the family community) with his two younger brothers.

In October 1277, lands destined for his younger brother Casimir II were invaded by Lithuanians, who, after the abduction of prisoners and seizure of loot, freely returned home. This was a result of being the proteges of Boles?aw V the Chaste, who at this time was in the opposite political camp (proczeskim) from Konrad II, Duke of Mazovia, through whose land the Lithuanian invasion passed. Two years later, in 1279, W?adys?aw I ?okietek was considered to be one of the contenders to succeed in Lesser Poland after the death of Boles?aw V the Chaste, according to the Hypatian Codex.[3] However the nobility abided by Boleslaw's will, which had designated W?adys?aw's elder half-brother Leszek II the Black as his heir.

After Leszek II the Black's acquisition of power in Krakow and Sandomierz in 1279, W?adys?aw, along with his younger brothers, recognized Leszek's sovereignty. This resulted in, among other things, the adoption of a coat of arms by all of the sons of Casimir I Kujawski: half-lion, half-eagle,[4] and afterwards W?adys?aw always served as an ally to his older half-brother. In 1280, W?adys?aw militarily helped Leszek's ally, the Mazovian Prince Boles?aw II, in a battle with Boles?aw's brother, Konrad II, and during the expedition won the castle of Jazdów. It is also possible that at a meeting between Leszek II the Black and Przemys? II, Duke of Greater Poland, in Sieradz in February 1284,[5] the marriage of W?adys?aw to Jadwiga, a cousin of Przemys?, was discussed. The following year, in August, W?adys?aw was present, along with Przemysl II and Ziemomys? of Kuyavia, when finalizing the reform of the Sulejów monastery, i.e., taking in the monks from the W?chock monastic buildings. After this event W?adys?aw again appeared in Mazovia, where he supported Boles?aw II in combat with Konrad II, probably on behalf of Leszek II the Black.[6] In retaliation for this action, Konrad II once again let the Lithuanian army pass through his land, which in 1287 besieged Dobrzy?.

Death of Leszek the Black and the struggle for control of Krakow (1288-1289)

On 30 September 1288, Leszek II the Black, Duke of Krakow and Sieradz, died without issue, thus transferring power in the principality of Sieradz to his eldest half-brother, W?adys?aw I ?okietek (his full brother Ziemomys? had already died in 1287). While W?adys?aw now ruled over Brze Kujawski and Sieradz, Casimir II inherited the duchy of czyca, and Siemowit assumed control of the land of Dobrzy?.

The death of Leszek initiated a struggle for supremacy in the duchies of Krakow and Sandomierz; the main candidates were Boles?aw II, Duke of Mazovia, and Henry IV Probus, Duke of Wroc?aw. In this contest, W?adys?aw decided to support the former. Henry IV Probus, using the support of the powerful German patricians, mastered the capital city at the end of 1288. Boles?aw II did not give up however, and aided by support from W?adys?aw, W?adys?aw's brother Casimir II czycki, and perhaps troops from Przemys? II,[7] he attacked branches of the Probus coalition--Henry III of G?ogów, Bolko I of Opole, and Przemko of ?cinawa--who were returning to Silesia. On 26 February 1289, a bloody battle occurred on the fields near Siewierz (Przemko of ?cinawa died there), resulting in a great victory for the branches of Mazovia-Kuyavia.[8]

Duke of Sandomierz and war with Wenceslaus II (1289-1292)

Sulejów Abbey is the place where the decision was made to send a letter to the Pope asking for the coronation of W?adys?aw

After the Battle of Siewierz, Boles?aw II of Mazovia resigned from applying for the Seniorate Province for unknown reasons, and so W?adys?aw the Short began to style himself the Duke of Kraków and Sandomierz. He occupied the capital of Lesser Poland (but without Wawel), yet despite initial victories in the battles of Ska?a and ?wi?cica, W?adys?aw could not make it permanent. Soon Krakow was acquired by Henry IV Probus, and W?adys?aw had to escape the city with the help of the Franciscans. In the second half of 1289 the Kujavian prince managed to consolidate his rule in the Duchy of Sandomierz.[9] This resulted in a division of Lesser Poland back into the two distinct principalities (Kraków and Sandomierz), as they had been ruled by the same duke since Boles?aw V the Chaste became High Duke in 1243.[10]

On 23 June 1290, Henry IV Probus died, and Przemys? II, Duke of Greater Poland, assumed the throne of Kraków. It is not known exactly how the relationship was between Przemys? II and W?adys?aw I ?okietek, although it is very likely that they were friendly, as the division took place without bloodshed and may have been the result of a settlement between the princes.[11] It is possible, however, that these relations could have been cool, and perhaps even hostile.[12] Przemys? II mastered Wawel castle without problems, but from the beginning he faced considerable internal opposition from within the principality of Kraków - some of whom supported W?adys?aw the Short, while others supported Wenceslaus II (Václav II) of Bohemia - and by mid-September 1290 Przemys? II left Kraków to return to Greater Poland.[13] Meanwhile, in order to further increase his contemporary significance, W?adys?aw gave his niece Fenenna (daughter of his half-brother Ziemomys?) in marriage to Andrew III, the Hungarian king of the Arpad dynasty.

Przemys? II finally gave up power over Krakow in mid-January of the following year (1291), and the principality then accepted the Czech monarch Wenceslaus II as their sovereign.[note 2] W?adys?aw decided to fight for Lesser Poland with the help of Hungarian troops granted to him by Andrew III. In 1292 Bohemian troops, through numerical superiority and with support from Silesian princes and the Margrave of Brandenburg, drove W?adys?aw the Short first from Sandomierz, and in September of that same year surrounded him in a fortified Sieradz. The siege was soon successful, and W?adys?aw and his brother Casimir II found themselves in captivity. On 9 October 1292 an agreement was signed under which W?adys?aw and Casimir II were forced to renounce claims to Lesser Poland and to make fealty to the Czech ruler, in return for which they remained on their Kuyavian leases.[14]

Collaboration with Przemys? II (1293-1296)

Their recent failures and the threat of Wenceslaus II prompted Przemys? II and W?adys?aw, the existing Polish competitors for the throne of Kraków, to meet in Kalisz in January 1293 in order to develop strategies for removing the Czech government. The reconciliation of the opponents occurred as a result of the intervention of Archbishop Jakub ?winka; for his part the archbishop was promised the revenues from the salt mines after Lesser Poland was won. The secret agreement, signed 6 January 1293, committed the three princes (the arrangement was also attended by Casimir II of czyca) to mutual support in the effort to recover Krakow.[15] At that time they probably developed a survival agreement [pl] to guarantee mutual inheritance in the event of the recovery of Kraków. The occasion of this congress may have also marked the marriage of W?adys?aw the Short with Jadwiga, the daughter of Boles?aw the Pious, uncle of Przemys? II.[16]

One year later (1294), it was already necessary to revise the plans approved in Kalisz, as Casimir II was killed while fighting against the Lithuanians.[17] As a result, czyca was added to the lands of W?adys?aw the Short. On 26 June 1295, Przemys? II was crowned as the Polish king with the permission of the Pope. W?adys?aw's response to this development is unknown. Unfortunately, the new king enjoyed his coronation for only seven months, as on 8 February 1296 Przemys? II was murdered, perhaps incited by the Margraves of Brandenburg.


When Przemys? II was still alive W?adys?aw I ?okietek married Jadwiga, daughter of Boles?aw the Pious. There are three main theories among historians as to when the wedding took place. The most historic assumes that the marriage took place during the life of Jadwiga's father, and so no later than 1279.[18] The second theory, which now has the most supporters, is that the wedding took place between 1290 and 1293, possibly at the conclusion of the meeting in Kalisz in January 1293, and that in 1279 there was perhaps only an engagement (matrimonium de futuro).[19] The third theory posits a specific date of the marriage as 23 April 1289.[20]

Initial efforts in Greater Poland (1296-1298)

For wealthy Greater Poland, it became evident that the throne of Przemys? II deserved his closest ally, Prince W?adys?aw of Kuyavia. The fact that W?adys?aw the Short was known to dislike the Germans was not irrelevant, as they were generally regarded as the perpetrators of the murder of Przemsy? II. However, there was a testament of Przemys? II, written about 1290, recognizing Henry III of G?ogów as his heir. Neither party wanted bloody battles, and so an arrangement was made on 10 March 1296 in Krzywi? in which W?adys?aw agreed to give Henry III the part of Greater Poland west and south of the rivers Obra and Warta up to the mouth of the Note?. W?adys?aw also established his successor in the event he died without a male heir: Henry IV the Faithful, Henry III's eldest son. Also, regardless of the future birth of any sons of his own, W?adys?aw agreed to give the duchy of Pozna? to Henry IV Faithful when he reached adulthood.

The division of Greater Poland that was agreed upon in Krzywi? did not address all of the contentious issues, especially in light of the fact that male heirs of W?adys?aw the Short soon came into the world. The governments of W?adys?aw I ?okietek in his part of Greater Poland were not successful because banditry was spreading there and internal opposition grew stronger, headed by Andrzej Zaremba, the bishop of Pozna?. It was suspected, though denied by some historians, that Bishop Zaremba placed a curse of the church on W?adys?aw. In addition, Archbishop Jakub Swinka, seeing that the Duke of Kuyavia was having problems with proper governance, began distancing himself from his earlier protege. In 1298, a meeting between the opposition from Greater Poland and Henry III of G?ogow occurred in Ko?cian to conclude an agreement under which, in return for renewed offices for the opposition in a future reunited duchy, they would support Henry's candidacy for the throne of Greater Poland.[21]

Flight from the country (1299-1304)

The real threat to W?adys?aw's power actually came from the south. Wenceslaus II of Bohemia decided to crack down on the Duke of Kuyavia. In 1299 in Kl?ka an agreement was concluded under which W?adys?aw the Short agreed to resubmit homage to Wenceslaus II, in return for which he would receive 400 grzywnas and an eight-year income from the mines in Olkusz. W?adys?aw, however, did not keep the terms and conditions made in Kl?ka, and in July 1299 Wenceslaus II organized a military expedition that resulted in the Kujavian prince fleeing the country.

It is not known exactly where W?adys?aw the Short lived during the years 1300-1304. According to tradition, he went to Rome, where he took part in the celebration of the great jubilee of 1300 organized by Pope Boniface VIII.[22] Other places he might have stayed were Ruthenia and Hungary, with whose magnates W?adys?aw had allied relations, and most likely Slovakia, where vast areas were owned by Hungarian nobles who opposed Wenceslaus III, the son of Wenceslaus II. During that time, W?adys?aw's spouse Jadwiga and their children stayed in Kuyavia in the town of Radziejow in the guise of ordinary townspeople.

Recovery of Kuyavia, Lesser Poland, and Gda?sk Pomerania (1304-1306)

W?adys?aw I ?okietek returned to Lesser Poland in 1304 with an army of his supporters, which, according to the 15th-century historian Jan D?ugosz, consisted of more peasants than knights. He settled in Sandomierz with the help of the Hungarian magnate Amadeus Aba. Later that same year he was able to master the castles in Wi?lica and Lelów. Success for the indomitable prince would have been short-lived, if not for several favorable circumstances. On 21 June 1305, Wenceslaus II, the Czech and Polish king, died unexpectedly and his inheritance passed to his only son, Wenceslaus III. W?adys?aw took advantage of the situation perfectly, mastering the duchies of Sandomierz, Sieradz-czyca, and Brze Kujawski by the end of the year. The declining Czech government tried to support Wenceslaus III by organizing an expedition against W?adys?aw. Again luck favored W?adys?aw, as on 4 August 1306, Wenceslaus III was murdered in Olomouc in Moravia, and the Kingdom of Bohemia was without a monarch and in the heat of a civil war.

The death of the last P?emyslid on the Bohemian throne resulted in a rally of knights in Krakow, which led to an official invitation to W?adys?aw the Short to take power. There was a festive entrance to the capital of Lesser Poland on 1 September 1306, and this has been linked with the issuance of privilege for the city and for the current leading advocate of Czech rule, Jan Muskata, the bishop of Krakow.

Another goal of W?adys?aw I ?okietek was to regain the inheritance of Przemys? II: Greater Poland and Pomerelia (Gda?sk Pomerania). This unification campaign, however, encountered considerable difficulties. In Greater Poland, W?adys?aw managed to only take control of the Kuyavia-border towns of Konin, Ko?o, and Nak?o, because the rest of the duchy had accepted the rule of his old enemy Henry III of G?ogów (except Wielun which was occupied by prince Bolko I of Opole). Pomerelia, however, became subordinate to the rule of W?adys?aw the Short as a result of an expedition at the end of 1306, accepting tribute from representatives of Pomeranian society in Byszewo. Control over this remote area had to be transferred to governors. W?adys?aw no longer trusted the Pomeranian Swienca family, so despite leaving Peter Swienca, the senior family member, as voivode, the role of governor was given to his two nephews (the sons of Ziemomys?). Przemys? became governor of ?wiecie and Casimir III took Gda?sk and Tczew.

Annexation of Pomerelia by the Teutonic Knights (1307-1309)

Meanwhile, Gerward, the bishop of Kuyavia (W?oc?awek), appeared against the Peter Swienca family and demanded that they return episcopal income stolen from him when Peter was governor for the Czech Kingdom. Peter lost the arbitration process, which ordered him to return to the Bishop the enormous amount of 2,000 grzywnas. Despite a partial guarantee by W?adys?aw the Short, the Swienca family was unable to pay such a sum; therefore, on 17 July 1307 they changed their allegiance from W?adys?aw to Waldemar, Margrave of Brandenburg, and received from him in fief the towns of Dar?owo, Polanowo, S?awno, Tuchola, and Nowe, and received in perpetuity the Land of Slupsk. In August 1307, Waldemar attacked Pomerelia. Resistance to the invaders on behalf of the W?adys?aw the Short came from Bogusz, a Pomerelian judge who entrenched himself in the city of Gda?sk. It soon became clear, however, that his forces could not cope with the aggressors.

King W?adys?aw the Elbow-high breaking off agreements with the Teutonic Knights at Brze Kujawski, a painting by Jan Matejko in the National Museum in Warsaw

On the advice of the German prior of the Dominican Order in Gda?sk, W?adys?aw I ?okietek decided to bring the Teutonic Order in to help. At first it seemed that all went well, as the knights under Gunther von Schwarzburg, the commander of Che?mno, successfully drove the Brandenburgs from Gda?sk and then moved on to Tczew. However the Prussian Grand Master did not listen to Prince Casimir, W?adys?aw's governor residing in Tczew, and without a struggle took the city. Then the Knights took Nowe and in 1308 completed the campaign. Only ?wiecie remained in the hands of W?adys?aw the Short. In April 1309 in Kuyavia there was a meeting between W?adys?aw the Short and the Prussian Grand Master about the seizure of Pomerelia at which the Teutonic Order issued to the Prince an absurd bill for the relief of Gda?sk, and then offered to purchase the territory. Both proposals were rejected by Wladyslaw. Consequently, in July 1309, the Teutonic Knights began the siege of ?wiecie. The garrison surrendered the city only in September. In order to legitimize their conduct, the Knights purchased in September a questionable right to the district from Brandenburg. The annexation of Pomerelia enabled the Grand Master to finally transfer their capital from Venice to Malbork.

Coping with internal opposition - Jan Muskata and the rebellion of mayor Albert (1308-1312)

The reason that W?adys?aw the Short could not be involved directly in Pomerelian affairs was the unstable situation in Lesser Poland. The source of the unrest was Jan Muskata, the bishop of Krakow and a former follower of Wenceslaus II. Muskata began to sow discord against W?adys?aw soon after he gained the throne of Krakow by trying to establish contacts with his enemies Bolko I of Opole and Henry III of G?ogów. To help the Prince of Krakow came the venerable archbishop of Gniezno, Jakub Swinka. On 14 June 1308, Swinka deprived Muskata of his bishopric for abuse of power. Using judgment, W?adys?aw imprisoned the bishop for only half a year, and then forced him to leave the boundaries of the principality. Muskata did not return to Krakow until 1317.

In 1311, W?adys?aw the Short survived another crisis of his reign. This time the threat came from within Krakow, where the local German nobility said that they now supported and would obey John of Luxembourg, the new king of Bohemia. The reason for this state of affairs was the excessive (in their opinion) tax burden caused by the policy of unification of the Polish lands and the economic crisis associated with the loss of Pomerelia. At the head of the revolt was Albert, the mayor of Krakow, who called to the city Duke Bolko I of Opole. The rebels managed to control Krakow and gain the support of several other cities in Lesser Poland, but Wawel was saved by troops loyal to W?adys?aw, which made the chances of a successful rebellion questionable. The situation had not changed when the Duke of Opole arrived in April 1312. Historians debate whether Bolko I came to Krakow for his own purposes, or rather as a governor on behalf of the new Czech king, John of Luxembourg, who was also using the title of King of Poland. However, John could not support this militant rebellion as a result of the problems he faced in Moravia with his own rebels. In any case, attempts to capture Wawel Castle failed, and strengthened by Hungarian support, W?adys?aw the Short mastered the rebellion in Sandomierz and forced Bolko I of Opole to leave Krakow in June 1312. Upon returning to Opole, Bolko kidnapped mayor Albert and for unknown reasons had him imprisoned (perhaps to recover by ransom the costs incurred in connection with the trip to Krakow). After ending the rebellion, W?adys?aw proceeded to punish the rebels. The penalties were severe; some councilors were hanged and their property confiscated, and the town of Krakow itself lost some of its privileges (e.g., hereditary headmen). Soon after the rebellion Latin was introduced to the books of the city rather than German.

Mastering Greater Poland (1309-1315)

On 9 December 1309, Henry III of G?ogów--who had claimed to be the successor of King Przemys? II and was the main competitor of W?adys?aw the Short for the duchy of Greater Poland--died, leaving his district to be divided between his five sons. Henry, Jan, and Przemko received Pozna?, and Boles?aw and Konrad received Gniezno and Kalisz, which they divided respectively one year later. This division formed a new territorial organization based on the cities, instead of the previous castellan division. This threatened the local elite, and so in 1314 the nobility and knights raised a rebellion against the sons of Henry III of G?ogow. These events surprised the dukes such that they could not effectively stop the rebellion, and their troops sent under the command of Janusz Biberstein suffered defeat. Seeking an independent political position, the local knighthood also gained Pozna?, which was defended by the mayor Przemek and the townspeople. The knights of Greater Poland, knowing about W?adys?aw's suppression of the rebellion of mayor Albert in Krakow, discerned that he was a defender of their economic and political interests. The result was the transfer of power to W?adys?aw, who entered Pozna? in August 1314. After the events in Pozna? he began to designate himself as the prince of the Polish Kingdom.[23][note 3]

The dukes were forced to come to terms with the loss of Greater Poland, as they remained only with part of the territories bordering the rivers Obra and Note?.[24]

The recovery of Greater Poland allowed W?adys?aw entry into broader international politics. In 1315, Poland concluded an alliance against Brandenburg with the three monarchies of Scandinavia: Denmark, Sweden, and Norway, as well as the duchies of Mecklenburg and Pomerania. The war broke out a year later, however it did not bring success and only caused the destruction of frontier territories.

Coronation (1315-1320)

Around that time, Wladyslaw the Short also began efforts to obtain papal consent for a royal coronation. This plan was actively supported by the Polish church, led by Borzys?aw, the archbishop of Gniezno (the successor of Jakub Swinka who died in 1314), and Gerward, the bishop of Kuyavia (W?oc?awek). The decision about the coronation was ultimately made during two rallies of nobles and knights; the first was held from 20-23 June 1318 in Sulejow, where a special supplication was prepared with a request to the Pope, and the second on 29 June in Pyzdry. Bishop Gerward was sent to Avignon with the documents. The successful arrangement featured a replacement method of calculating the papal pence on terms favorable for the papacy.

Consent was given by Pope John XXII on 20 August 1319, though not directly due to the opposition of John of Luxembourg, king of Bohemia, who also claimed the crown of Poland. The Pope was looking for a way to preserve the rights of W?adys?aw and Poland without infringing on those of John and Bohemia, and found that the Luxembourg claims (despite their tenuous legal basis) referred to Greater Poland, the "kingdom" of Przemys? II. As such, Krakow was chosen for the coronation instead of Gniezno, in that a coronation in Krakow would not violate the rights of John of Luxembourg.[25] On 20 January 1320 in the Wawel Cathedral, Janis?aw, the Archbishop of Gniezno (succeeding Borzys?aw), crowned W?adys?aw as King of Poland. Placing the rite of Polish coronation in Krakow, however, caused John to question its legality. In light of John of Luxembourg's use of the title King of Poland, in the international arena W?adys?aw the Short was considered the King of Krakow, and not of the whole country.[26]

The year 1320 was important for the politics of W?adys?aw I ?okietek for other reasons. On 14 April 1320 in Inowroc?aw, and then in Brze Kujavia, he began deliberations with the papal court to judge the case of the annexation of Gda?sk Pomerania by the Teutonic Knights. After hearing twenty-five witnesses for the Polish side, the judges released a decision favorable to the King on 9 February 1321. According to that decision, the Teutonic Order had to return Pomerania to Poland, pay 30,000 grzywnas in compensation for the collection of income from Pomerania, and pay for the cost of the process. The Teutonic Knights did not expect that such a judgment would be surrendered and filed an appeal. Under the influence of the actions of the procurator of the Teutonic Order in the Papal Curia, the Pope did not approve of the judgment of Inowroc?aw and the case was suspended. This gave the Holy See the opportunity to use the conflict for their own purposes in the subsequent years.[27]

Alliances (1320)

W?adys?aw's kingdom was now surrounded by three hostile forces: Brandenburg, the Teutonic Order, and the Luxembourg Kingdom of Bohemia. Looking for allies during the great European conflict between Pope John XXII and Ludwig Wittelsbach (Louis of Bavaria), W?adys?aw the Short sided with the papal camp. W?adys?aw's alliance with the Charles I Robert, king of Hungary, was strengthened in 1320 by Charles I Robert's marriage to Wladyslaw's daughter Elizabeth ?okietkówn?.

Expedition to Russia and the war with Brandenburg (1323-1326)

Three years later, the Polish-Hungarian alliance proved itself in Rus' Galicia. The last two princes descended from the dynasty of Rurik, Andrew of Galicia and Lev II of Galicia, were killed in battle. The allies decided to help the closest relative of the late princes--Boles?aw George, the son of Trojden, Duke of Mazovia--in mastering the local throne. This effort led to increased Polish influence in Russia, which enabled the eventual takeover of the region by Wladyslaw's son and successor, Casimir III the Great.

The Lithuanian Duke Gediminas became another ally of the King Wladyslaw in 1325. This alliance was supported by the marriage between Gediminas's daughter Aldona (who adopted the baptismal name of Anna) and W?adys?aw's son Casimir.

In 1323, the Holy Roman Emperor Louis IV gave his son Louis V the March of Brandenburg. Pope John XXII therefore summoned his supporters to not allow the assumption of the Ascanian inheritance by the Bavarian House of Wittelsbach. With Lithuanian support, W?adys?aw invaded Brandenburg on 10 February 1326. He informed the Teutonic Knights about the participation of pagan armies in the expedition. He could, at least temporarily, count on their neutrality, since their truce was in force until the end of 1326. Approaching Brandenburg did not yield significant results, apart from some destruction, prisoners, and recovery of the castellany of Miedzyrzecz. This did not improve W?adys?aw's popularity in Germany, as it was perceived that the Polish king, together with heathens, initiated war with the Christian world. The papacy kept silent and did not support the Polish king, but it did not condemn him. The war with Brandenburg also alarmed the Silesian princes. In the same year, W?adys?aw the Short regained the land of Wielu? from Boles?aw the Elder, the Duke of Niemodlin.

Failed attempt to master Mazovia (1327-1328)

W?adys?aw I ?okietek organized another armed expedition the following year. This time the target was the subordination of Wenceslaus, the duke of P?ock. The expedition, despite the acquisition and burning of P?ock, ended in failure, mainly because the Teutonic Order joined the war on the side of Wenceslaus, and soon after John of Luxembourg, king of Bohemia, did likewise. Larger clashes with the opponents did not occur, but the King of Bohemia, taking advantage of military activity in Silesia, received a tribute from the princes of Upper Silesia in Opava in February 1327.

In connection with the outbreak of the Polish-Teutonic War in 1327 and the associated threat to border areas, possessions were exchanged between the king and his nephews. Between 28 May 1327 and 14 October 1328, Przemys? of Inowroc?aw gave Wladyslaw the Duchy of Inowroc?aw with Wyszogród and Bydgoszcz in exchange for the Duchy of Sieradz. And probably at the turn of 1327/1328, the sons of Siemowit of Dobrzy?--W?adys?aw the Hunchback and Boles?aw--exchanged the principality of Dobrzy? for the principality of czyca.[28]

Loss of Dobrzy? (1329)

In 1329 there was a resumption of warfare. John of Luxembourg, with the help of the Teutonic Knights, took Dobrzyn, which he soon gave to his allies. Another loss was John's successful coercion of Wenceslas of Plock to pay homage to him. And so the Duke of Plock refused to accept the sovereignty of the Polish monarch, and instead was dominated by a stranger. The Teutonic Knights, taking advantage of the fact that Kuyavia was not prepared for war, crossed the Vistula and burned and destroyed the bishoprics of Wloclawek, Raci, and Przedecz.

The war with the Teutonic Knights in Kuyavia and the Battle of P?owce (1330-1332)

W?adys?aw I ?okietek, by Jan Matejko

In 1330 the Teutonic Knights resumed hostilities. Crusaders successfully plundered cities in Kuyavia and Greater Poland: Radziejów, Bydgoszcz, and Nak?o. Only by a daring crossing of the Vistula River by W?adys?aw and intrusion to Che?mno with the help of Lithuanians were the allies successful in besieging the castle of Kowalewo Pomorskie in September.[29] Then, under the besieged castle of the Teutonic Knights in Lipienek, the king agreed to a seven-month truce on 18 October 1330. Unfortunately, during this trip the alliance with the Duke of Lithuania was compromised as a result of a personal quarrel between W?adys?aw and Gediminas.

In 1331, there was another armed expedition by the Teutonic Knights into Polish lands. This time, according to the action plan of the Order, the troops under the command of Dietrich von Altenburg were to coordinate with the expedition of John of Luxembourg, king of Bohemia. The two armies were to meet under the walls of Kalisz. In the middle of the year, Teutonic troops carrying out a reconnaissance effort entered Kuyavia and Greater Poland, including taking Pyzdry (where there was a skirmish with the Polish troops) and Gniezno. The main expedition was organized in September 1331. While the Knights went to meet at Kalisz as agreed, upon arrival there were no Czech troops present. John of Luxembourg had stopped in Silesia, where he effectively stopped the resistance of Bolko II of ?widnica and resolved the unsettled case of G?ogów after the death of Duke Przemko II.

Unable to deliver a decisive blow to W?adys?aw I ?okietek, the Knights decided on finally mastering Kuyavia. The night of 23-24 September saw the first major unresolved clash near Konin. Three days later, in the morning, Polish troops numbering about 5,000 and led personally by King W?adys?aw and his son Prince Casimir encountered the rear guard of the Teutonic Knights near Radziejów. Taking advantage of the surprise, the Poles defeated the enemy unit and took Dietrich von Altenburg, the commander of the expedition, as prisoner. In the afternoon, however, there was another clash near the village of P?owce. The battle was not settled because of the withdrawal of some Polish troops with Prince Casimir, and in the confusion the Teutonic commander escaped from captivity. Though inconclusive, the Battle of P?owce was important psychologically for the Poles as it convinced them that the Knights were not insurmountable.

Soon after these events, peace negotiations were initiated in Inowroc?aw. However this time it was not possible for W?adys?aw to reach an agreement with the Teutonic Knights. In 1332, the Knights organized a big military expedition under the command of Otto von Luteberg. This time the Polish forces were too thin to face the resistance of the Knights in the open field. On 20 April, after a nearly two-week siege, Brze, the capital of Kuyavia, fell. Soon the Teutonic Knights were also in the other main strongholds of province - Inowroc?aw and Gniewkowo, the latter of which was destroyed on the orders of the prince of the land, Casimir III of Gniewkowo.

The loss of Kuyavia, which was his patrimony, was certainly very painful for W?adys?aw, although in the same year, taking advantage of the death of Przemko II of G?ogow, he took Zb?szy? in Greater Poland by the river Obra, which had been held by the dukes of G?ogow.


W?adys?aw the Elbow-high died on 2 March 1333 at the Wawel Castle in Krakow, where he was buried in the cathedral, perhaps on 12 March of that year.[30] His son, Casimir III the Great, inherited Lesser Poland, the Duchy of Sandomierz, Greater Poland, Kuyavia, and the Duchies of czyca and Sieradz. However, Silesia and Lubusz Land to the west, along with Gda?sk Pomerania, Western Pomerania, and Mazovia to the north, still remained outside the kingdom's borders. Nevertheless, W?adys?aw's reign was a major step on the road to restoration of the Kingdom of Poland.

Legacy and assessment of the ruler

W?adys?aw the Short persistently pursued the goal of his life, to unite Poland. He was not, however, entirely successful, and his achievements did not come easily. Furthermore, if not for the unexpected deaths of his many stronger opponents: Leszek the Black, Henry IV Probus, Casimir II of czycka, Przemysl II of Greater Poland, Wenceslaus II, Wenceslaus III, and Henry III of G?ogow, W?adys?aw might have forever remained the prince of tiny Brze-Kuyavia. But if not for the persistent and consistent actions of W?adys?aw the Short, Poland could have become part of the Luxembourg monarchy or could have been permanently divided. It was during his reign that Poland seriously clashed for the first time with the Teutonic Order and established a surprising alliance with Lithuania that would ultimately last for centuries. With the coronation at Wawel, the King established a precedent and solidified the position of the Polish kingdom. W?adys?aw also endeavored to establish a uniform legal code throughout the land. In this code he assured the safety and freedom of Jews and placed them on an equal footing with Christians. Finally, as he initiated the unification of the country he also began to organize a nationwide administration structure and treasury. This action was successfully continued by his son and successor, Casimir III the Great.

If not for the merits of his father, Casimir III would not have been able to have the threshold rule to pay the king of Bohemia and titular Polish king John of Luxembourg the gigantic sum of 1.2 million Prague groschen to cede his rights to the Polish crown, or to speak with the biggest European rulers as equals, or develop an economically unified state. As in the case of Mieszko I and Boleslaw the Brave, the father lies in the shadow of his son and successor.

Royal titles

  • Title before coronation: Wladislaus Dei gracia, dux Regni Poloniae et dominus Pomeraniae, Cuiavie, Lanciciae ac Siradiae
    English translation: Vladislaus by the grace of God duke of the Kingdom of Poland, and lord of Pomerania, Kuyavia, czyca and Sieradz
  • Royal title after coronation: Wladislaus Dei gracia, rex Poloniae et dominus Pomeraniae, Cuiavie, Lanciciae ac Siradiae
    English translation: Vladislaus by the grace of God king of Poland, and lord of Pomerania, Kuyavia, czyca and Sieradz

Later histories refer to him also as W?adys?aw IV or W?adys?aw I. There are no records to show that he actually used any regnal number. Both numerals are retrospective assignments by later historians. "IV" comes from him being the fourth of that name to rule as overlord of the Polish, since W?adys?aw I Herman. "I" comes from him having restored the monarchy after a fragmented era of a century or more, and also backwards-counting from W?adys?aw of Varna who officially used the numeral III and W?adys?aw Vasa who used the numeral IV.


Royal seal of W?adys?aw the Elbow-high

W?adys?aw married Jadwiga of Kalisz,[31] the daughter of Boles?aw the Pious, Duke of Greater Poland, and Jolenta of Hungary. They had six known children:[32]

  • Kunigunde (born between 1295 and 1298; died 9 April 1331 or in 1333). Married first Bernard of ?widnica. Their children included Bolko II of ?widnica. Married secondly Rudolf I, Duke of Saxe-Wittenberg.
  • Stefan (born between 1296 and 1300; died 1306) - probably honoring Stefan V, uncle of Jadwiga, or possibly St. Stephen; nevertheless, this name indicates a Hungarian influence.[33] He was buried in the Franciscan Church of Kraków.
  • W?adys?aw (born between 1296 and 1311; died 1312) - named after his father; he was buried, like Stefan, in the Franciscan Church of Kraków.
  • Elizabeth (1305 – 29 December 1380) - the wife of Charles I Robert (1288-1342), King of Hungary (1308-1342).[34]
  • Casimir III the Great (30 April 1310 – 5 November 1370), King of Poland (1333-1370).[35]
  • Jadwiga (born between 1306 and 1309 or between 1311 and 1319; died 3 June between 1320 and 1335)[36] - named after her mother. Otto the Merry (1301-1339), Duke of Austria (1330-1339), may have applied for her hand in marriage, perhaps in 1331.[37]

In popular culture

He is played by Wies?aw Wójcik in Polish historical drama TV series "Korona królów" ("The Crown of the Kings"). He is a recurring character in the first season.


See also


  1. ^ . In old Polish, an ell was a measure of length: one ell equaled 0.78 meters in length.
  2. ^ The legal grounds for the reign of the Bohemian Przemy?lid dynasty were very weak, and were based on the claims of Leszek II the Black's widow Gryfina, which was not accepted by the Polish princes. But Wenceslaus II was supported by a solid military force, and so the Duke of Greater Poland preferred not to risk a dispute.
  3. ^ E. D?ugopolski (in W?adys?aw ?okietek na tle swoich czasów (en: W?adys?aw the Elbow-high against the background of his time), Wroc?aw: Ossolineum, 1951, p. 171) indicates that W?adys?aw ?okietek began to be an heir to the Polish kingdom already in 1313, among others in a document from 10 November, which announced that the parish church in Brze was being given to the Star Brethren and the hospital house of the Holy Ghost, and which was meant to be an igniter of military operations after a 5-year break in pursuing his pretensions to power in the whole of Greater Poland.


  1. ^ "W?adys?aw ?okietek". Retrieved 2020.
  2. ^ Nowak, A., Dzieje Polski. T.2. 1202-1340. Od rozbicia do nowej Polski., ISBN 978-837553-196-1. p.260.
  3. ^ Jasinski, K., 2001, p.124
  4. ^ ?mudzki, P., Studium podzielonego królestwa. Ksi Leszek Czarny (en: Study of the divided kingdom. Prince Leszek the Black), Warsaw, 2000, p.295. With the fact that, while the older brothers immediately adopted the new coat-of-arms, W?adys?aw began using it only in 1288.
  5. ^ Nowacki, B., Przemys? II. Odnowiciel korony polskiej (en: Przemys? II. Restorer of the Polish Crown), Poznan, 1997, p. 122. There is actually unanimity among historians that such a meeting took place.
  6. ^ ?mudzki, P., Studium podzielonego królestwa. Ksi Leszek Czarny (en: Study of the divided kingdom. Prince Leszek the Black), Warsaw, 2000, p. 448.
  7. ^ Nowacki, B., Przemys? II: Odnowiciel korony polskiej (en: Przemys? II: Restorer of the Polish Crown), 2007, p. 158
  8. ^ For more on this battle, see: D?ugosz, J., Roczniki, czyli Kroniki S?awnego Królestwa Polskiego (en: Annals, or Chronicles of the Famous Kingdom of Poland), vol. VII, p. 327 (under the year 1290, which was a mistake by the chronicler); Nagrobki ksit ?l?skich (en: Tombstones of Silesian princes), in: Monumenta Poloniae Historica, vol. II, p. 713; Kronika ksit polskich (en: Chronicle of Polish princes), in: Monumenta Poloniae Historica, vol. II, p. 536; and Musia?, S., Bitwa pod Siewierzem i udzia? w niej Wielkopolan (en: Battle of Siewierz and Greater Poland's participation in it), in: Krzy?aniakowa, J., ed., Przemys? II, odnowienie królestwa polskiego (en: Przemys? II, renewal of the Polish kingdom), Pozna? 1997, pp. 161-166.
  9. ^ Swie?awski, A., Przemys? II Król Polski (en: Przemys? II, Polish King), Warsaw 2006, p. 131.
  10. ^ "W?adys?aw ?okietek". Retrieved 2020.
  11. ^ Nowacki, B., Przemys? II: Odnowiciel korony polskiej (en: Przemys? II: Restorer of the Polish Crown), p. 164; Nowakowski, T., Ma?opolska elita w?adzy wobec rywalizacji o tron krakowski w latach 1288-1306 (en: Lesser Poland ruling elite in the face of rivalry for the Kraków throne in the years 1288-1306), Bydgoszcz 1992, p. 27; and Jurek, T., Dziedzic Królestwa Polskiego ksi g?ogowski Henryk (1274-1309) (en: Heir of the Kingdom of Poland, Henryk, prince of G?ogów (1274-1309)), Pozna? 1993, p. 14.
  12. ^ This derives from Pietras, T., 2001, p. 38, who claims that after the death of Henryk Probus "the struggle for Krakow between Przemysl II and W?adys?aw ?okietek flared up". Swie?awski, A., in Przemys? II Król Polski (en: Przemys? II, Polish King), Warsaw 2006, p. 135, takes an indirect position by assuming that an agreement between Przemys? II and ?okietek could not have taken place, because throughout the reign of Przemys? II in Kraków, the latter had consistently been called the prince of Kraków and Sandomierz.
  13. ^ Nowacki, B., Przemys? II. Odnowiciel korony polskiej (en: Przemys? II: Restorer of the Polish Crown), s. 171, 174.
  14. ^ Swie?awski, A., Przemys? II Król Polski (en: Przemys? II, Polish King), Warsaw 2006, p. 148; and Baszkiewicz, J., Powstanie zjednoczonego pa?stwa polskiego na prze?omie XIII i XIV wieku (en: Establishment of a united Polish state at the turn of the 13th and 14th centuries), Warsaw 1954, pp. 208-209
  15. ^ Zbiór dokumentów ma?opolskich, (en: Collection of documents from Lesser Poland), S. Kura? and I. Su?kowska-Kura?, eds., vol. IV, Wroc?aw 1969, no. 886, and Kodeks Dyplomatyczny Wielkopolski (en: Diplomatic Code of Greater Poland), vol. II, no. 692. The documents bear the date of 6 January. The secrecy of this arrangement is demonstrated by the use of the term "heirs of Krakow" by the princes. For the sake of Wenceslaus II, explicitly using this title would threaten war, see Aleksander Swie?awski, Przemys? II Król Polski (en: Przemys? II, Polish King), Warsaw 2006, p. 150.
  16. ^ "W?adys?aw ?okietek". Retrieved 2020.
  17. ^ Casimir II of czyca was killed on 10 June 1294 at the Battle of Trojanov against the Lithuanians. Balzer, Oswald, Genealogia Piastów (en: Genealogy of the Piasts), Lviv 1895, p.342; and Swie?awski, Aleksander, Przemys? II Król Polski (en: Przemys? II, Polish King), Warsaw 2006, pp.149-150.
  18. ^ Balzer, O., Genealogia Piastów [Genealogy of the Piasts], Lviv 1895, p.440.
  19. ^ Jasinski, K., 2001, pp.122-123.
  20. ^ T?gowski, J., Zabiegi ksi?cia kujawskiego W?adys?awa ?okietka o tron krakowski w latach 1288-1293 [Endeavors by the Kuyavian prince W?adys?aw ?okietek for the Kraków throne in the years 1288-1293], Zapiski Kujawsko-Dobrzy?skie 6, 1988, p. 52.
  21. ^ "W?adys?aw ?okietek". Retrieved 2020.
  22. ^  One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Wladislaus s.v. Wladislaus I.". Encyclopædia Britannica. 28 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 765.
  23. ^ Szczur S., Historia Polski. ?redniowiecze (en: History of Poland. Middle Ages), Kraków 2002, p. 343.
  24. ^ D?ugopolski, E., W?adys?aw ?okietek na tle swoich czasów (en: W?adys?aw the Elbow-high against the background of his time), Wroc?aw: Ossolineum, 1951, p. 173.
  25. ^ Jasi?ski K., Rodowód Piastów ma?opolskich i kujawskich (en: Pedigree of the Piasts of Lesser Poland and Kuyavia), Pozna?-Wroc?aw 2001, p. 118.
  26. ^ Szczur S., Historia Polski. ?redniowiecze (en: History of Poland. Middle Ages), Warsaw 2002, p. 342-343.
  27. ^ "W?adys?aw ?okietek". Retrieved 2020.
  28. ^ Jasinski, K., 2001, p.174
  29. ^ Zamek krzy?acki w Kowalewie Pomorskim (en: Teutonic castle in Kowalewo Pomorskie) https://web.archive.org/web/20160207023813/http://archeozamki.pl/?page_id=111.
  30. ^ Jasinski, K., 2001. pp. 121-122. Possible date of the funeral was deduced from an incorrect date for W?adys?aw's death as recorded in the Chronicle of Jan of Czarnków. The funeral probably took place in March, and certainly before the coronation of his son, Casimir, on April 25, 1333.
  31. ^ She was the only wife of W?adys?aw. See Jasi?ski, K. 2001, p. 122.
  32. ^ Although it is generally accepted that W?adys?aw had three sons, doubts have been raised regarding Stefan's existence. See Jasi?ski, K. 2001, p. 124.
  33. ^ Jasi?ski 2001, p. 154.
  34. ^ Engel 2005, p. 137.
  35. ^ Davies 2005, p. 77.
  36. ^ Jasi?ski 2001, p. 163.
  37. ^ Jasi?ski 2001, pp. 161-163.
  38. ^ Ro?ek Micha?, Polskie koronacje i korony, Kraków 1987. ISBN 83-03-01914-7
  39. ^ Kraków, Ma?gorzta Woszczenko


  • Davies, Norman (2005). God's Playground A History of Poland: Volume 1: The Origins to 1795. Oxford University Press.
  • Engel, Pál (2005). Realm of St. Stephen: A History of Medieval Hungary. I.B. Tauris.

External links

W?adys?aw I ?okietek
Born: 1260/1 Died: 2 March 1333
Royal titles
Preceded by
Wenceslaus III
King of Poland
Succeeded by
Casimir III the Great

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