Duchy of Opole

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Coat of arms of the Duchy of Opole

The Duchy of Opole ( Polish Księstwo opolskie ; Czech Opolské knížectví ) existed from 1180 to 1201 as a part of the Principality of Silesia Opoliensis of Duke Jaroslaw , the eldest son of Duke Boleslaw I of Silesia ; From 1202 it was connected to the Duchy of Ratibor and after its division in 1281 it became an independent duchy. It was ruled by the Opole branch of the Silesian Piasts until 1532 , which went out in 1532 with Duke Johann II . As the hereditary principality of the Crown of Bohemia , it was pledged several times. The place of residence was the city of the same name Opole .


After the division of Silesia in 1173, the area of ​​Opole belonged to the Silesian sub-area of ​​Duke Boleslaw I. In 1180, because of family power struggles as the Duchy of Silesia Opoliensis , he transferred it to his son Jaroslaw for his lifetime. In return, Jaroslaw had to undertake to enter the clergy. After Yaroslav's death on March 22, 1201, the Duchy of Opole fell back to his father Boleslaw in accordance with the treaty. After he died on December 8th that same year, Boleslaw's brother Mieszko conquered the Opole region in a fight against his nephew Heinrich I in 1202 and connected it permanently with his Duchy of Ratibor . Since the seniority principle applicable to Poland was given up in the same year , the constitutional connection between the Silesian territories and Poland was extinguished, whereby the Silesian duchies, which had been independent until then, also gained political independence.

After the death of Mieszko's grandson Wladislaus I in 1281, the Duchy of Ratibor-Opole was divided among his four sons. This created the duchies of Ratibor , Bytom , Teschen , Auschwitz and Opole, which Bolko I. received. After his death in 1313, the Duchy of Opole was divided among his three sons. Duke Albert received the Duchy Strehlitz and Duke Bolko / Boleslaw II. Received the Duchy of Falkenberg . His brother Bolko / Boleslaw II of the same name received the reduced Duchy of Opole. Before the Treaty of Trenčín in 1327, he submitted to the sovereignty of Bohemia , which made the Duchy of Opole and the other Upper Silesian principalities a fiefdom of the Crown of Bohemia .

Bolkos II. Son Wladislaus II. Von Opole , who initially together with his brother Bolko III. ruled the Duchy of Opole, gained high offices and extensive possessions in Poland as Palatine of Hungary , which he lost after he pursued the plan from 1391 to destroy the Kingdom of Poland and divide it between the Kingdoms of Hungary and Bohemia , the Electorate of Brandenburg and the Divide Teutonic Order . Therefore, the Polish king Władysław II Jagiełło undertook a campaign in 1392 in the Opole region and devastated it. Since Wladislaus had already sold the Duchy of Jägerndorf , which he had acquired in 1384, to Jobst von Moravia in 1390 , he subsequently lived in his Duchy of Opole, which he pledged to his nephews Johann I , Bolko IV , Heinrich († 1394) and Bernhard in 1393 , pledging it to him a lifelong usufruct was granted. After Wladislaus II's death in 1401, he was followed by nephews Johann I, Bolko IV and Bernhard as dukes of Opole. From around 1390 they led the so-called Opole feud with the council of the city of Breslau , which was led like a robber baron and lasted until the beginning of the Hussite Wars .

After the death of Duke Bolko V , who was a supporter of the Hussites , the duchies of Strehlitz and Falkenberg were reunited with Opole in 1460 under his brother Nicholas I. He was followed in 1476 by his sons Nikolaus II. , Who died in 1497, and Johann II. In 1494 he acquired the rule of Gleiwitz from Wilhelm II of Pernstein . In 1495 he enlarged his duchy by Tost , in 1498 by Beuthen and in 1509 by Cosel . After the death of Duke Valentin of Ratibor , with whom the line of the Troppauer Přemyslids expired, he acquired the Duchy of Ratibor in 1521 , which he connected with Opole. During his reign in 1528, a mining code was issued in German, which became groundbreaking for Upper Silesian mining. In 1531 he issued the great state privilege , with which, among other things, membership of the Crown of Bohemia was established and Czech was determined as the official language. After Johann's death in 1532, his duchy Opole-Ratibor fell as a settled fiefdom to the crown of Bohemia, which gave it the status of a Bohemian hereditary duchy.

The Habsburgs , who had ruled as kings of Bohemia since 1526, pledged the Duchy of Opole several times. The pledges were the Margraves of Brandenburg-Ansbach from 1532–1551 , then the Hungarian Queen Isabella until 1557 , the Transylvanian Prince Sigismund Báthory for a few months in 1598 and Prince Gábor Bethlen from 1622–1623 . 1645–1666 it was finally pledged to the Polish royal house of the Wasa as a replacement for unpaid dowries of several Austrian princesses married to Poland .

After the First Silesian War , the Duchy of Opole fell to Prussia in 1742, like most of Silesia , and from 1815 it belonged administratively to the Province of Silesia .

Dukes of Opole


Individual evidence

  1. Its princes called themselves Dukes of Opole and, in contrast to the Dukes of Silesia , who ruled in Central and Lower Silesia, did not use the term Silesia at all until the 14th century .
  2. Ludwig Petry , Josef Joachim Menzel (Hrsg.): Geschichte Schlesiens. Volume 2: The Habsburg Era, 1526–1740. 3rd unchanged edition. Thorbecke, Stuttgart 2000, ISBN 3-7995-6342-3 , p. 64.