Duchy of Brzeg

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Coat of arms of the Dukes of Brzeg
Ducal coat of arms Brieg and Liegnitz

The Duchy of Brieg (Czech Břežské knížectví , Polish Księstwo brzeskie ) was created in 1311 through a spin-off from the Duchy of Wroclaw and from 1329 was a fiefdom of the Bohemian Crown . It was ruled by the Silesian Piasts until 1675 when it fell back to the Bohemian rulers. This gave it the status of an hereditary principality, which fell to Prussia after the First Silesian War in 1742 . The place of residence was the city of the same name, Brzeg .


After the death of Duke Heinrich V , who left the duchies of Liegnitz and Breslau in 1296 , his sons were initially under the tutelage of their uncle Bolko I von Schweidnitz . After his death in 1301, her maternal uncle, the Bohemian King Wenceslaus, took over the guardianship. Since he died four years later, it was transferred to the Breslau bishop Heinrich von Würben . It was not until 1311 that the legacy of Henry V was divided: for the eldest son Boleslaw , the area of ​​Brieg with Grottkau was spun off from the Duchy of Breslau , while the second-born Heinrich VI. the so reduced Duchy of Breslau received. Their younger brother Wladislaus received the Duchy of Liegnitz . After Boleslaw soon tried to reduce the legacy of his brothers, Wladislaus had to cede the Duchy of Liegnitz to him, which he now linked with Brieg.

Boleslaw was on good terms with his brother-in-law, the Bohemian King John of Luxembourg . In 1315 he concluded a protective alliance with him and in 1321 led the regency for this in Bohemia. On May 9, 1329, he and his duchies of Liegnitz and Brieg came under the feudal sovereignty of Bohemia, which was confirmed in 1335 with the Treaty of Trenčín . In 1342 Boleslaw left the Duchy of Liegnitz to his two sons and kept Brieg. In 1344 he sold Grottkau and the surrounding area to the Breslau bishop Preczlaw von Pogarell , who expanded his principality of Neisse .

According to Boleslaws III. Death in 1352 the Duchy of Brieg was first ruled by his widow Katharina Šubić . In 1356 she handed over the reign to her step-sons Ludwig I and Wenceslaus I. The latter sold half of Ohlau and half of Brieg to Duke Bolko II of Schweidnitz, stipulating that both should revert to the Dukes of Liegnitz-Brieg if Bolko died without any biological descendants .

After another division in 1359, the older brother Wenzel I kept Liegnitz with Goldberg , while Ludwig I continued to own Lüben and also received Haynau and the second halves of Ohlau and Brieg. After Bolko II von Schweidnitz died childless in 1368, his halves of Brieg and Ohlau fell to Duke Ludwig I, so that from 1368 all of Ohlau and all of Brieg were in his possession.

After the death of Ludwig I in 1398, his only son Henry VIII became heir, but only survived his father by a year. Whose sons Heinrich IX. and Ludwig II. shared the inherited property in such a way that Heinrich IX. Lüben , Ohlau, Nimptsch and half of Haynau received, while Ludwig II. Brieg fell with Kreuzburg and Konstadt . In around 1419/20 he inherited the Duchy of Liegnitz, which he in turn linked to Brieg, from his great uncle, the then resigned Bishop of Wenceslas , with whom the direct line of Liegnitz was extinguished, on the basis of a total lending agreed upon and approved by the king in 1379 .

The Piast Castle in Brzeg (1885)
The Piast Castle (2000)

Ludwig II died in 1436 without male descendants. Because of the 1420 with his nephews, the sons of his brother Heinrich IX, who died in 1419. However, disputes arose which led to the Liegnitz feudal dispute that lasted until 1469 . This was only settled by Georg von Podiebrad's opposing king Matthias Corvinus , who in 1469 conquered Silesia as well as Moravia . In the same year he awarded the Duchy of Liegnitz to Duke Friedrich I , who was a great-grandson of Henry IX. was. Duke Friedrich I spun off the Duchy of Brieg again from Liegnitz and transferred it to his son of the same name Friedrich II. After his death in 1547, Brieg and Wohlau came to the second-born son Georg II , while his older brother Friedrich III. the duchy of Liegnitz fell to. After George II's death in 1586, his first-born son Joachim Friedrich received the Duchy of Brieg. After the death of his brother Johann Georg in 1592 he inherited the Duchy of Wohlau , which he now united with Brieg. Duke Joachim Friedrich died in 1602, leaving behind the sons Johann Christian , who inherited Brieg, and Georg Rudolf , who received Liegnitz and Wohlau.

After the death of Duke Johann Christian in 1639, his sons Georg III inherited . , Ludwig IV. And Christian the property they left behind, which they initially ruled together. They initially refused to split, as their relatively small inheritance was additionally burdened with a severance payment for the siblings excluded from the succession from the father's second marriage . Only after the Duchy of Liegnitz and Wohlau fell to them in 1653 after the death of their uncle Georg Rudolf, who died childless , did the division take place. George III received Brieg, Ludwig IV. Liegnitz and Christian Wohlau as well as Ohlau . Since when Christian's death in 1672 his two brothers had already died without descendants, the partial duchies of Brieg, Liegnitz, Wohlau and Ohlau all passed to his only son Georg Wilhelm I , with whom the ducal branch of the Liegnitz Piast family died out in 1675. He was at the same time the last male descendant of all Silesian Piasts and the last Piast at all. His orphaned lands fell as settled fiefdoms to the Bohemian sovereign, who had been the Habsburgs since 1526 .

On the basis of an inheritance contract that Duke Friedrich II had concluded with the Hohenzollerns in 1537 , Prussia raised inheritance claims to Liegnitz and its partial principalities in 1681. This demand was ultimately one of the reasons for the outbreak of the First Silesian War , after which, at the end of 1742, the Liegnitz duchies with almost all of Silesia fell to Prussia. In 1813 the area of ​​the Duchy of Brieg was incorporated into the administrative district of Breslau , which from 1815 belonged to the newly formed province of Silesia .

Dukes of Brzeg


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