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The white golden eagle
The black ducal eagle of Sagan, Lower Silesia
The coat of arms of Wladislaus II. (Opole) from Armorial de Gelre, Upper Silesia

The Piasts (named after their legendary ancestor Piast ) were a ruling dynasty in Poland including its (temporary) secession of Mazovia and Silesia , which provided numerous dukes and kings between the 10th and 17th centuries . They are said to come from the Polanen tribe , which was first mentioned in the year 1000. By marrying German princesses and the German colonization movement in the East , the Silesian Piasts gradually became a German noble family and in 1370 the Piasts died with Casimir III. in the royal line, three hundred years later the last branch line in Upper Silesia.


The first ruling center of the Piasts was a fortification in Giecz in 940 . Shortly afterwards the nearby Gnesen took over this function. The written history of Poland began with Duke Misaca, later called Mieszko I , his baptism in 966 and the development of the first state structure in the area of ​​the Polish part of Greater Poland (Posen-Gnesen-Kalisch) under the Piasts. The name "Polani" is only known from 1015 onwards.

The temporarily independent Mazovian Piasts died out in 1526 and Mazovia was reunited with Poland. The Silesian Piasts, which had been subject to the Bohemian Crown since the 14th century and at the same time to the Roman-German Empire , died out in 1675 in the male line.

As a result of conquests, Pomerania , Bohemia and the two Lausitzes were temporarily part of the dominion of the Piasts, later Ruthenia , as well as the Spiš in Upper Hungary , today's Slovakia , through seizure .

The proximity of this Poland to the Holy Roman Empire caused a sometimes tense coexistence, in which isolated Piasts (for example Mieszko I , Casimir I the Renewer, Władysław I (Herman)) through oaths of loyalty or tribute to the Roman-German emperors, marriages with representatives of the German nobility (Salier, Ottonen) and other treaties wanted to protect their state from external interference. In a papal extract mentioned around 1080, a Dagome Iudex from the year 991/2 is mentioned, where it is assumed that Mieszko I gave the kingdom of the Poles into papal custody ( Peterspfennig ). The titles of the later so-called Piasts fluctuated, depending on the position of power, between duke and king . Other influential neighbors of Piastic Poland at that time were the Kingdom of Bohemia under the Přemyslids , the Kingdom of Hungary under the Árpáden and Anjou , the Kingdom of the Kievan Rus and, from the late 13th century, the Teutonic Order and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania .

With the death of Bolesław III. Schiefmund In 1138 particularism broke out in Poland , which was to determine the fate of Poland for almost 150 years. Poland broke up into a multitude of temporarily warring piastic duchies, severely weakening Poland's political position and authority in 13th century Europe. With Bolesław's death, the seniority principle became legally effective, but did not prevent numerous armed conflicts between the Piast rulers of the Polish sub-duchies. The respective rulers of Krakow , the capital of the Seniorate Province of Lesser Poland , were "senior dukes", the family members subordinate to them were "junior dukes". Some of these territorial princes - especially Mieszko III. , Władysław III. Dünnbein , Leszek I the White and the Silesian rungs of the dynasty (see: Silesian Piasts ) - ascended the Krakow throne several times and were deposed several times.

The "Golden Age of the Piasts" ended when, in 1370, the royal and at the same time youngest line of the Piasts, founded by the youngest son of Bolesław III. descended, with King Casimir III. the great one went out. The Mazovian line died out in 1526, the Silesian, and at the same time the oldest, line flourished and continued to rule, albeit outside Poland from 1348. The Teschen branch died out in 1625. The last legitimate male descendant of the family, August Freiherr von Liegnitz , died in 1679. He came from an inappropriate marriage, which is why he was not allowed to use the title of duke and was not entitled to inheritance. The last ruling Duke of Liegnitz , Brieg and Wohlau and at the same time the last Silesian Piast was Duke Georg Wilhelm . His sister Charlotte died in 1707. She rests in the monastery church in Trebnitz next to the sarcophagus of her ancestor, St. Hedwig of Silesia .

Counting the represented in Upper line of Freiherren of Hohenstein to the Piasten, which is, however, emerged from an illegitimate connection, the great-grandchild of was Teschen Prince Adam Wenzel († 1617), Ferdinand II. Baron and Hohenstein (†. 3 April 1706), also a male Piast. However, this is controversial as he is not considered a legitimate offspring of the Piasts. Georg-Wilhelm I (Liegnitz-Brieg-Wohlau) had an illegitimate child Martin with Dorthea Thugendreich von Streit im Feld. Martin von Streit im Feld or Streitenfeld, b. January 21, 1676, continued the oldest line with his descendants, the Counts and Freiherrn von Streit, and the line still exists.

From 1370, after the death of Casimir the Great , the last king of the Piast dynasty, Poland was ruled by his nephew, the Hungarian King Louis I of Anjou (branch line of the Capetians ) in personal union. After his death (1382), his daughters should inherit the ruler. The Polish throne went to the younger Hedwig. Due to the common threat from the Order , Poland allied with Lithuania and the Queen married the Lithuanian Grand Duke Jogaila . The marriage was childless, after Hedwig's death Jogaila remained on the Polish throne as sole ruler and became the progenitor of all subsequent Jagiellonian kings . He was followed by his sons from a later marriage.

Ruler of the house of the Piasts

Legendary princes

List of piastic rulers of Poland

  1. Mieszko I. , Duke 960-992
  2. Bolesław I the Brave , Duke 992-1025, King 1025
  3. Mieszko II. Lambert , King 1025-1031, Duke 1032-1034
  4. Casimir I the Renewer , Duke 1034–1058
  5. Bolesław II the Bold , Duke 1058-1079, King 1076-1079
  6. Władysław I. Herman , Senior of Poland, Duke of Mazovia 1079–1102
  7. Zbigniew , Duke 1102-1107
  8. Bolesław III. Wrymouth , 1102-1138
  9. Władysław II. The expellee , Duke 1138–1146 SL
  10. Bolesław IV. The frizzy , Duke 1146–1173
  11. Mieszko III. der Alte , Herzog 1173–1177, 1198–1202 GL
  12. Casimir II the Just , Duke 1177–1194 JL
  13. Leszek I. the White , Duke 1194–1198, 1206–1210, 1211–1227 JL
  14. Wladyslaw III. Dünnbein , Herzog 1202–1206, 1228–1229 GL
  15. Mieszko I. Sacrum , Duke 1210–1211 SL
  16. Konrad I of Mazovia , Duke 1229–1232, 1241–1243 JL
  17. Heinrich I the Bearded , Duke 1232–1238 SL
  18. Heinrich II. The Pious , Duke 1238–1241 SL
  19. Bolesław V the Shameful , Duke 1243–1279 JL
  20. Leszek II the Black , Duke 1279–1288 JL
  21. Heinrich IV. Probus , Duke 1288–1290 SL
  22. Przemysł II (I.) , Duke 1290–1295, King 1295–1296 GL
  23. Wenceslas II , 1300–1305 King of Bohemia and Poland (GL) *
  24. Wenceslaus III , 1305–1306 King of Bohemia and Poland (GL) *
  25. Władysław IV. (I.) Ellenlang , Duke 1306–1320, King 1320–1333 JL
  26. Casimir III (I.) the Great , King 1333–1370 JL

* From the Bohemian Přemyslid dynasty, related to the Piasts on the spindle side. Wenceslaus II married a daughter of King Przemysł II.

GL - Wielkopolska line ( Wielkopolska in Posen , Kalisz and Gnesen ), descendants of Mieszko III. the old man.
JL - the youngest line ( Mazovia , Kujawy , Malopolska , Sieradz and Łęczyca ), descendants of Casimir II the Righteous.
SL - oldest line ( Silesia ), descendants of Władysław II the expellee.

List of important Kujavian-Mazovian dukes from the house of the Piasts

List of important Silesian dukes from the house of the Piasts


Other common forms of the Slavic names of the Piast princes in German historiography

  • Boleslaw, Boleslaus, Bolko
  • Leschko, Lech, Leszek
  • Mieszko, Mecislaus, Meczislaus
  • Przemysl (aw), Primislaus
  • Wladyslaw, Ladislaus, Vladislaus, Wladislaus


Web links

Single receipts

  1. Piasts. Residences Commission of the Academy of Sciences in Göttingen, accessed on July 9, 2013 .
  2. Eduard Mühle: The Piasts. Poland in the Middle Ages. 2011, p. 14.
  3. ^ Eberhard Günter Schulz : Birthday speech for Hans-Joachim Kempe on his 60th birthday. (Held on June 13, 1995 at Silesia Castle in Königswinter-Heisterbacherrott) In: Specialized prose research - Transgressions of boundaries. Volume 8/9, 2012/2013 (2014), pp. 553-557, here: pp. 553 f.
  4. ^ Manfred Alexander: Small history of Poland. Reclam-Verlag, Stuttgart 2008, p. 17.