Casimir IV Jagiellon

Eumenis Megalopoulos | Mar 29, 2024

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Casimir IV Andrew Jagiellon (born November 30, 1427 in Cracow, died June 7, 1492 in Grodno) - Grand Duke of Lithuania in 1440-1492, King of Poland in 1447-1492. One of the most active Polish rulers, during whose reign the Crown, defeating the Teutonic Order in the Thirteen Years' War, regained - after 158 years - Gdansk Pomerania, and the Jagiellonian dynasty became one of the leading ruling houses in Europe. A staunch opponent of the magistracy, he helped strengthen the importance of the Sejm and sejmiks, which weakened the position of the bourgeoisie.

Casimir Andrew Jagiellon was born on November 30, 1427. He was the youngest, third, son of Ladislaus Jagiello and his fourth wife, Sophia Holshanskaya, daughter of Prince Andrew Holshansky. At the time of his son's birth, Ladislaus Jagiello was 76 years old. His wife, 48 years younger than the king, was suspected of infidelity. Only a solemn oath that she was innocent cleared her of the charges.

Casimir Jagiellon was baptized on December 21, 1427. He inherited the name from his older brother Casimir, who was born and died in 1426. For the birthday of the future king, Bishop Stanislaw Ciolek composed a panegyric counterfactual Hystorigraphi aciem mentis to the work of Nicholas of Radom, praising, in addition to the newborn Casimir, the royal couple. The prince was raised under the watchful eye of his mother and guardians, mainly the sub-chancellor Wincenty Kot, and the knight Piotr of Rytro. He knew the Polish and Ruthenian languages, and exercised physical stamina. He loved hunting, so in his later years he often went hunting in the Lithuanian wilderness. As king, he often hunted bison in, among other places, the Grodzka Forest and the Bielska Forest, the remnants of which are now included in the Bialowieza Forest.

After the death of Wladyslaw Jagiello in 1434, Casimir's older brother, 10-year-old Wladyslaw, ascended the Polish throne. The deceased king's minor sons were cared for by the bishop of Cracow, Zbigniew Oleśnicki, who was reluctant towards the younger Casimir and exercised de facto power in the kingdom during the king's minor years. Oleśnicki's position was counterbalanced by the lords of Greater Poland, the queen's widow Zofia Holszańska, Jan Szafraniec and Spytek Melsztyński (1398-1439).

After the death of Emperor and King Sigismund of Bohemia and Hungary Sigismund of Luxembourg in 1437, Bishop Olesnicki, who ruled the Kingdom of Poland as regent, began negotiations with Albrecht II of Habsburg to secure the succession to Hungary for 13-year-old King Ladislaus of Varna. At the time, the pro-Hussite Bohemian opposition, which did not want Albrecht to take over Bohemia, proposed to Olesnicki that Wladislav of Varna should succeed to the Bohemian throne. Bishop Olesnicki, hostile to the Hussite movement, refused, which led to a confrontation with the opposition centered around Queen Sophia Holshanskaya, who was fighting Olesnicki. In view of this, in 1438 a section of the Bohemian states (mainly the Utraquists) led by Archbishop John of Rokycan, held an election in Kutna Hora in April 1438 and elected the 11-year-old Casimir Jagiellon as king. The moves were in line with the plans of the court party led by Queen Sophia, Jan Szafraniec and Spytek of Melsztyn, but were opposed by Bishop Oleśnicki, who was fighting the Bohemian and Polish Hussites. Casimir's rival to the Czech throne, Albrecht Habsburg, supported by Saxon and Hungarian troops, entered Prague in June and first crowned himself king. Operating in Bohemia, a 5,000-strong corps of the Polish army under the command of Sędziwój Ostroróg and Jan Tęczyński and Casimir's Czech allies did not have enough strength to drive Habsburg's more numerous army out of Bohemia and had to retreat to the town of Tabor. In the autumn, Habsburg managed to gain the upper hand thanks to his victory over the Hussites at the Battle of Zelenice, and this situation was not changed by the occupation and temporary subjugation of the principalities of Opole, Racibórz, Opava, among others, by Ladislaus Varna and Casimir Jagiellon in October. In addition, Bishop Oleśnicki's bishop's bias neutralized the influence of the queen's court when, in May 1439, the allied Polish pro-Hussite bias, after forming the Korczyna Confederation, lost at the Battle of Grotniki, during which Spytko of Melsztyn was killed. As a result, the court party had to abandon its plans to win the Bohemian crown for Casimir Jagiellon.

Assumption of the grand ducal throne

On March 20, 1440, Lithuanian Grand Duke Sigismund Kiejstutowicz was killed at the hands of conspirators, causing unrest in the Lithuanian state. The son of the assassin, Michal Boleslaw Sigismuntovich, known as Mikhail, and Svidrigelo Olgierdovich, the youngest brother of Wladyslaw Jagiello, supported by part of the Lithuanian and Ruthenian boyars, claimed the grand ducal throne. The assumption of the grand ducal throne by any of these pretenders threatened to break the union of Lithuania with Poland. The third camp, favoring the preservation of the Polish-Lithuanian union, which included influential magnates, including Vilnius Bishop Matthias of Trok, Prince George of Holshany and Jan Gasztold, who led the party, supported Vladislav III's brother, Casimir. This candidacy was also supported by Polish lords headed by Olesnicki, who sought to preserve the political and territorial division of Lithuania and the later incorporation of some of its parts, such as Volhynia, Podolia and Podlasie, into the Crown. The first stage of Olesnicki's plans was to be assisted by the Mazovian princes, Michailuska's partisans, Casimir and Boleslaw, who, on the bishop's orders, joined Casimir's retinue going to Lithuania. Their goal was to take Podlasie from Lithuania and annex it to Mazovia. The Podlasie issue was not settled until 1444.

The 12-year-old Casimir, appointed governor, arrived in Vilnius in May 1440, accompanied by the castellan of Cracow, Jan of Czyzov, and the protector Pavel Chelmski. Taking advantage of Ladislaus III's absence from Poland (he had gone to Hungary to assume the throne), the boyars of Lithuania, eager to break away from Poland, proclaimed Casimir Jagiellonian as Grand Duke of Lithuania at Vilnius Cathedral on June 29, 1440. Thus the Polish-Lithuanian union was broken. Since Casimir's election as grand duke without the consent of the Polish king and the Sejm was tantamount to breaking the agreements with Poland made by Sigismund Kiejstutowicz, some historians describe Casimir's rise to power as a state coup.

Rule in Lithuania in 1440-1444

Casimir Jagiellon ruled Lithuania as Grand Duke of Lithuania from 1440 to 1492. Taking advantage of Casimir's minority (he arrived in Lithuania at the age of 12), the Lithuanian boyars claimed power in Lithuania by filling the most important offices with members of several families: Kezgail, Gasztold and Radziwill. Gradually, however, the young prince freed himself from the influence of his advisor Jan Gasztold, who had gained a high position in the state and, in order to seize power in Lithuania, sought allies among families hostile to the prince.

In 1440-1441, Jagiellon tamed a rebellion of commoners (the so-called "black people") in Smolensk and appointed Andrei Sakovich governor of Smolensk. At the beginning of his reign, the prince recognized the administrative and judicial autonomy of Samogitia, which, under the leadership of Dowmont, a supporter of Mikhailushka, had shown separatist tendencies. Under Jagiellonian's stipulation, Samogitia was to be treated equally with the provinces of Vilnius and Troki.

After 1440, Poland and Lithuania laid claim to Podlasie. In 1444, Jagiellonian settled the dispute between Lithuania and Mazovia over the land of Drohitsa in Podlasie. He bought back the rights to this land from Duke Boleslaw IV of Mazovia for 6,000 kopecks of Prague pennies, thus preventing a war with Poland that could have broken out under the pretext of defending the rights of subordinate Mazovia. Thanks to his success in this dispute, Casimir's authority among the Lithuanian militia grew.

Under Jagiellon, the Grand Duchy of Lithuania reached from the Baltic to the Dnieper Limanes on the Black Sea and from Podlasie to the upper Volga. In 1444-1445, the prince gave armed support to Novgorod the Great in the war against the Livonian branch of the Teutonic Order. No longer fearing the Teutonic Knights, the Lithuanians meddled in civil wars in the Muscovite state. In 1444 Casimir started a war with Moscow over lands on the Vyazma River. The conflict with Moscow was not settled until 1448, when Casimir was already king of Poland.

The Lithuanian case during the 1444-1447 interregnum in Poland

For four years, the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and the Kingdom of Poland had no contact with each other. The situation changed after the death of the Polish king, Casimir's brother, Ladislaus III, on November 10, 1444, at the Battle of Varna. The crown nobility convened a convention in Sieradz, where it was decided in April 1445 that Casimir Jagiellon should become the new king. It was hoped that the prince would willingly accept the throne, confirm and extend the privileges of the nobility and subordinate Lithuania to Poland. An envoy was sent to Vilnius, which included Mikołaj Czarnocki, Piotr Oporowski, Piotr Szamotulski and Piotr Chrząstowski.

The goal of Casimir Jagiellon was to be crowned king of Poland while retaining grand ducal power in Lithuania, as well as to strengthen his position as ruler vis-à-vis the Polish magnates and preserve the status of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania independent of Poland, thus rejecting the Grodno Union of 1432. Therefore, Casimir delayed his arrival in the Crown under the pretext of waiting for the return of King Ladislaus, who, according to false rumors reaching from Hungary, had survived the pogrom at the Battle of Varna.

Bishop Oleśnicki's party tried several times to put pressure on Jagiellonian. The bishop of Cracow sought to install a Crown-dependent prince in Lithuania, which would in effect deepen the territorial and political disintegration of its neighbor and impose the supremacy of the Crown. The candidate for Grand Duke of Lithuania, supported by Olesnicki, was Mikhailushka, who was hiding in Mazovia at the time. In order to prevent Mikhailushka from coming to Lithuania, Casimir made an agreement with Grand Master Konrad von Erlichshausen. When Jagiellon continued to delay his arrival in the Crown, Olesnicki's party put forward other candidates for the Polish throne - Frederick Hohenzollern, Margrave of Brandenburg, and Boleslaw IV of Mazovia, who was even conditionally elected king of Poland on March 30, 1445.

For the next two years a compromise could not be worked out, and the turmoil of interregnum in the Crown prolonged. The breakthrough came thanks to Queen Sophia, who supported a general convention of Lesser Poland's nobility organized by Jan of Pilcza and Piotr Kurowski at the castle in Belzec. On April 24, 1446, the convention participants proclaimed Kazimierz Jagiellon, son of Wladyslaw Jagiello, Grand Duke of Lithuania, as king of Poland, and sent their deputy, Piotr Kurowski, to Lithuania, thanks to whose diplomacy Kazimierz eventually accepted the crown, but on his own terms: On September 17, 1446, he issued a document that no longer referred to Lithuania's subordinate status to the Crown. The Crown and Lithuania were henceforth to be two equal state organizations, and the Polish and Lithuanian nobility were to be equal. On May 2, 1447, he issued a privilege in Vilnius guaranteeing the inviolability of Lithuania's territory. He ensured that Lithuanians would fill all offices in the Grand Duchy and reserved the right to return freely to Lithuania if necessary:

Personal Union of Lithuania with Poland (1447-1492)

With the assumption of the Polish throne by Casimir Jagiellon in 1447, the Polish-Lithuanian union was resumed, but it was only a personal (political) union and not, as before 1440, an institutional one. The privilege, adopted in 1447, was applied after the death of the Prince of Volhynia Svidrigiello in 1452. Under the document, Polish lords could not lay claim to Volhynia and Eastern Podolia. The Ruthenian Bohemia opted to join Lithuania. Polish-Lithuanian conventions were held in 1448, 1451 and 1453, at which Polish nobles tried to convince the Lithuanian boyars of the need for union. The conventions invoked Jagiello's legacies, under which Poland had superior rights to Lithuania. Further talks were hampered by the Thirteen Years' War.

In 1448 Casimir IV Jagiellon normalized Lithuania's relations with Moscow, with which it had been at war over areas on the Vyazma River since 1444. In order to end the conflict, he attempted to install his candidate, Prince of Madzai, on the Moscow throne and sought the military support of the Polish nobility. These moves, however, did not meet with the approval of the Polish lords, so Jagiellon was forced to make peace with Prince Vasyl II the Blind. As part of the settlement, he recognized the authority of Metropolitan Iona, elected at the Moscow Council. In practice, the Moscow Orthodox Church became autocephalous, which was equivalent to Moscow's rejection of the Florentine Union.

In 1449 Mikhailushka staged a rebellion, seeking to seize the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. He was supported by Bishop Oleśnicki of Kraków and the Tatars. After making a victorious expedition against Mikhail Zygmuntovich, Casimir punished the rebel with banishment (the assassin of Zygmunt Kiejstutowicz, Ivan Czartoryski, was also exiled along with him). Mikhailushka went to the Tartars, from there to Moscow, where he was poisoned. Casimir removed all of Mikhailushka's former supporters from Lithuanian posts, and stripped the Olelkovich princes of the title of Kiev princes, appointing Olelko Vladimirovich as governor in Kiev. In 1471 he established the office of Kiev voivode.

In the middle of the 15th century, the Chernigov-Sesverian lands and the Verkhovsk principality were loosely connected with the Lithuanian state. Petty dukes ruled in Kobrin, Pinsk, Turow, Horodok; the Olelkovich family ruled in Slutsk. Podolia, Volhynia, and the lands of Polotsk, Vitebsk and Kiev had separate laws from the rest of the Lithuanian lands. The Ruthenian and Lithuanian bourgeoisie was interested in obtaining privileges from Casimir Jagiellon and preserving state unity. The aspirations of the magnates to centralize the Grand Duchy of Lithuania resulted in the formation of a central clerical apparatus. Upon assuming the Polish throne, Casimir established a Grand Ducal Council in Lithuania, whose task was to govern Lithuania in his absence. The council consisted of the bishops of Vilnius and Samogitia, state officials and selected land and court officials. From the mid-15th century, the office of chancellor was developed. The dignitary's task was to oversee the chancellery of the Grand Duke of Lithuania and to take charge of external policy. In addition, the offices of land treasurer, whose duty was to take care of the prince's treasury, and court treasurer appeared. The judiciary and envoys were in charge of land and court marshals. The General Sejm was formed from the former district assemblies. In principle, it was supposed to represent the will of the Lithuanian and Ruthenian boyars in matters of taxation and foreign policy, but in practice it became a political tool in the hands of the magnates.

The centralization of Lithuania required legal codification (until then, individual lands had their own laws, granted to them by privileges). Casimir's privilege of 1447 confirmed the principle of neminem captivabimus nisi iure victum (we will not imprison anyone without a court verdict), introduced in 1434 by Wladyslaw Jagiello. Privileges were extended to the Lithuanian boyars: taxation to the state from boyar estates was abolished (exceptions were posiedzie - state a.k.a. hospitality - and the construction and repair of castles). By virtue of the privilege, the boyars were given jurisdiction over the population in their estates. However, they were forbidden to receive fugitive subjects in their estates. The granting of the privilege in 1447 marked the beginning of the development of the noble state in Lithuania. In 1468, Casimir Jagiellon issued the Sudiebnik, consisting of 25 articles, but these only applied to theft cases.

The noble stratum enjoyed a common privilege under Casimir, but nevertheless diversified in the second half of the 15th century. The lowest in the hierarchy were the "zdymnicy" a.k.a. "podymnicy," who had no landed estates. The second, and most numerous, were the surrounding gentry (those living in "circles," neighborhoods) a.k.a. parochial, homesteaded gentry. They usually had up to a dozen peasants in their possession, but had to work the land themselves to make a living. The next layer was the middle-class nobility, owning up to a few dozen serfs. At the top of the hierarchical ladder was the least numerous group of lords and knaves. In Lithuania, there were several dozen of them in the 15th century.

In the second half of the 15th century, Casimir Jagiellonian devoted his attention mainly to matters of western politics, which resulted in Lithuania losing control over many lands in the east, seized by the Grand Duchy of Moscow and the Ottoman Empire.

Economy of Lithuania

During the reign of Casimir Jagiellon, Lithuania experienced economic development. Settlement expansion in the territory of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania continued: from the northeast, the areas abandoned after the Lithuanian-Teutonic wars were settled by Samogitians, from the south by Ruthenians, from the west by an influx of Mazurian people. It is estimated that in the middle of the 15th century Lithuania had half a million inhabitants. There was a development of cities, which were mostly agricultural in nature. Trade relations were established with neighboring countries, where grain, furs, leather, tar, wood, ash and wax were exported. Crafts and labor tools (scythes, sickles, axes, knives, cloth) and wine were imported to Lithuania. Internal trade focused on the exchange of agricultural products. In Kaunas, a Hanseatic cantor operated on behalf of Danzig merchants, buying wax. In Vilnius, a street was set aside for the trading activities of German merchants. As a result of demand in Western Europe for grain, one of the commodities that the Grand Duchy of Lithuania exported in the 15th century, a farm economy developed.

Lithuania has not minted its own coinage since the time of Vytautas. The Czech penny was used when necessary. The development of trade necessitated a shift to a commodity-money economy. In 1490, a grand ducal mint was established in Vilnius, which minted Lithuanian half-pennies and "pieniazi" (denarii).

On June 25, 1447 Casimir was crowned king of Poland at Wawel Cathedral by Gniezno Archbishop and Primate of Poland Wincenty Kot. From then on (with a break in 1492-1501, when the union was virtually broken) until the Union of Lublin concluded in 1569, a personal union existed between the two states.

The first years of his reign were very difficult for Jagiellonian. The king refused to approve privileges to the magnates several times in 1448-1449, and from the beginning of his reign he found himself in sharp conflict with this camp, so he built his political base on the middle nobility. The biggest opponent of the new ruler became the hitherto all-powerful bishop of Cracow, Zbigniew Oleśnicki. He established contacts with the Lithuanian opposition, led by Prince Michał Bolesław Zygmuntowicz. During the period when Casimir was busy suppressing Mikhailuska's rebellion in Lithuania, Olesnicki became a cardinal and, as papal legate in Poland, did not intend to go to Rome. In 1443, he purchased the Duchy of Siewierz for the Bishopric of Cracow. Oleśnicki urged the nobility to declare obedience to the king, proclaiming that the king had taken great treasures and stockpiles of weapons from Poland to Lithuania in order to seize the Lusatian land, which was one of the sources of Polish-Lithuanian discord, and which - after the death of Svidrigiello - was occupied by Lithuanians.

In order to limit Olesnicki's political influence in the state, Casimir IV made efforts to secure control over the Church in Poland. The situation along the line of relations with the Holy See was favorable, as there were disputes in Rome during the period 1447-1449 between the two contenders for the throne of Peter: Nicholas V and Felix V. In exchange for giving support to Nicholas V, Casimir demanded the right to fill benefices and church positions with his partisans. Nicholas V granted the Jagiellonian the privilege of manning 20 church dignities and permission to collect 10,000 ducats from the sacrificial toll to fight the Tartars. Olesnicki supported antipope Felix V in this dispute (for which he received a cardinal's hat). In 1449 Nicholas defeated Felix, gained widespread recognition in the Church and no longer needed Casimir, but reconciled with Olesnicki. The king, however, did not intend to give up his earlier papal privileges and continued to staff Polish bishoprics himself, for which he was cursed. He did not submit to papal policy, and the curse expired with the death of the pope. Throughout the rest of his reign, Casimir was already filling bishoprics with his own people without hindrance, and successive popes, Pius II and Paul II, were content to approve royal nominations.

On Pentecost 1452, Kazimierz convened his supporters and at the same time opponents of Olesnicki, such as Wloclawek bishop Jan Gruszczynski, Poznan voivode Lukasz Gorka, Brzeg voivode Mikołaj Szarlejski and some of the lords of Krakow, to Sandomierz. They were advised for a week, with Olesnicki's partisans not allowed. The country was on the verge of civil war, but both sides tried to avoid it. At the cardinal's request, his meeting with the king took place. However, Olesnicki only presented the king with a long list of accusations, most of them untrue. The conflict flared up again, and Oleśnicki and the governors of Krakow and Sandomierz stopped coming to the royal council meetings. The disputes between the magnates and the king ceased only in 1455, when Cardinal Zbigniew Oleśnicki died.

On June 24, 1453, at a convention of the crown nobility in Piotrków, where deputies of the Prussian Union showed up, Casimir stepped down and confirmed the privileges of the nobility, but he probably did so only because he wanted to start a war with the Teutonic Knights in the near future and needed the support of the nobility:

With this statement, he broke with his previous policy, abandoned his plan to strengthen his power and bound himself to the nobility, which was the price of extensive action on the international field for the recovery of the lost lands, especially Pomerania.

In April 1454, at a convention of Lithuanian lords in Brest, the King and representatives of the Crown announced that they were withdrawing their claims to Volhynia, and thus the phase of sharp Polish-Lithuanian disputes was over.

In 1452 Casimir IV captured Oświęcim after a short-lived war, forcing Duke John IV there to pay him a fief tribute on March 19, 1454. In 1456, Poland homaged the principality of Zator. On February 21, 1457, the Polish monarch finally purchased the Duchy of Oswiecim and incorporated it into the Crown, but this was his last success in Silesia.

One of the main tasks of the king and the state was the unification of all Polish lands, especially the taking of Gdansk Pomerania from the Order. The Teutonic Knights imposed high duties on Polish goods and inhibited contacts with Pomeranian cities. Foreign trade and the cities along the Vistula and the Baltic suffered.

Thirteen Years' War

After the defeat of Grunwald in 1410 and unfavorable peace treaties with Poland (1411, 1435) and Lithuania (1422), the monastic state was in crisis. In 1440, the Prussian Union was formed, an anti-Crusader organization of the nobility and bourgeoisie of Prussia, which turned to the Polish ruler to take over. In December 1453, after the Order intervened with Emperor Frederick III, a verdict was passed ordering the immediate liquidation of the Union of Prussia. On February 6, 1454, the Union launched a great uprising that overthrew the Order's authority over almost the entire territory of the state. After three weeks of fighting, only Malbork and Sztum remained unconquered. A delegation of the outlawed Prussian Union went to Krakow and offered to incorporate the entire territory of the Order's State into the Kingdom of Poland. After two weeks of negotiations, on March 6, 1454, the Union's delegates issued a document proclaiming the submission of all of Prussia to the Polish king as heir to the Pomeranian lands that had been detached from Poland. The king issues the act of incorporation of Prussia.

The act guaranteed the maintenance of all state privileges and local rights, and additionally granted the same rights enjoyed by the Polish nobility with the most important right: the right to participate in the election of the king. Duties and fees introduced by the Teutonic Knights were abolished, such as the pound duty in Prussian ports and the law allowing state authorities to take property from wrecked ships. Prussian merchants were gaining freedom to trade in Poland. Offices in Prussian lands were to be guaranteed only to their inhabitants. In response, the Order, with the help of enlisted troops from the Reich, recaptures Chojnice in March. In addition, it pledges the New March to Frederick II at a fair price, increasing the possibility of conducting mercenary enlistments in Germany and Bohemia. This formally took place on February 20, 1454. Two days later, the war between Poland and the Prussian states on the one hand and the Order on the other began. On March 6, 1454, Casimir issued an act of incorporation of Prussia into the Kingdom of Poland.

In the first period of the war, Pomeranian insurgents drove the Teutonic Knights out of all Prussian cities except Malbork and a few minor fortresses. However, the nobility was skeptical about the war. The popular movement did not do well in battle, and the nobility of Greater Poland itself was not very committed to the war. In addition, the Order received armed reinforcements from the knights of the Reich. In the end, the nobility threatened the king that if he did not confirm the old and grant new privileges, they would not fight. The monarch was forced to issue the so-called Statutes of Cerekwitz and Nezavis, which stipulated that the king would not convene a common movement, enact new taxes and make other important decisions without the consent of the land sejmiks. In addition, the king undertook to appoint candidates presented to the king by the nobility to the offices of land judge, sub-secretary and scribe. Higher dignitaries were to be barred from holding the office of starosta. These privileges weakened the monarch's power in favor of the nobility as a whole, but elevated the role of the land sejmiks and made the nobility politically active. The political powers of the magnates were also diminished. Three days after the privilege was issued, the armies of Wielkopolska and Prussia, as well as the enlisted troops of the Prussian states, united to form an 18,000-strong army. Among the armed forces, the equestrian commoners from Greater Poland predominated. The army was headed by the king, the Poznań voivode-Lukasz Górka, the Kalisz voivode-Stanisław Ostroróg, the Brest voivode-Mikolaj Szarlejski, and the rozpierski castellan-Dziersław of Rytwian.

On September 18, 1454, the Polish army suffered defeat at the Battle of Chojnice, and the Teutonic Knights regained a large part of the lost strongholds. Poland's big problem was the lack of money, which the Order still had in abundance. A popular movement was completely useless in capturing modern fortresses. It was necessary to hire enlisted troops. In addition, the Order still enjoyed the support of the Emperor and the Pope, which was incompatible with the provisions of the Treaty of Brest of 1435. The Pope placed a curse on Casimir Jagiellon and the Prussian Union.

In 1457, the Poles took Malbork, but only because the Order was in arrears in paying the castle crew their wages, and when the Poles paid 190,000 florins, the enlisted army surrendered the castle. Eventually, thanks to the enormous financial efforts of the Kingdom and the rich Prussian cities (Gdansk, Elblag, Torun), a conscript army was hired, with Piotr Dunin as its commander. Meanwhile, the Order also began to face financial problems. The fate of the war was decided only by the battle of Swiecin in 1462, won by Polish conscripted troops led by Dunin. In 1463 the caper fleet of Gdansk and Elblag defeated Teutonic ships in a battle on the Vistula Lagoon. In 1466 Chojnice, the last Teutonic point of resistance, fell and the Order asked for peace.

Negotiations were conducted in October 1466 in Torun. On October 19, 1466, Casimir, Teutonic Grand Master Ludwig von Erlichshausen, the papal legate, representatives of the Prussian Union, senators and magnates signed a peace treaty. Poland was obtaining Gdansk Pomerania, Malbork, Elblag, Chelmno and Michalow lands and the bishopric of Warmia as the so-called Royal Prussia. The remainder of Prussia (Order Prussia) remained with the Teutonic Knights as a fief of Poland. Each new master was obliged to pay a fief tribute to the Polish king for a maximum of six months after his election. After 158 years, Poland regained access to the sea and dominion over the entire course of the Vistula River.

Dispute with the papacy and territorial integration of the state

In 1460-1463, Casimir IV had a dispute with the papacy over the staffing of the bishopric of Cracow. Despite the support that the papal legate Jerome of Crete gave to James of Sienna, Jan Gruszczynski, the monarch's candidate, won. Jerome's mission failed, and when, in addition, he showed overt friendship to the Order during the May convention with the Teutonic Knights in Brześć Kujawski, he finally compromised himself in Poland.

In an effort to gradually incorporate Mazovia into the Crown in 1462, the ruler incorporated the principalities of Rawskie and Bełz, transforming them into provinces.

Fight for Czech succession with Matthias Corvinus

In the second half of the 15th century, the balance of power in Central and Eastern Europe changed. Austria, Turkey and the Muscovite state were emerging as new powers in the region. Bohemia, Hungary and Poland had to make deals with their stronger neighbors. Bohemia was undecided about its choice of ally. Hungary was seen as the defender of Christianity against the rising Turkish power. Poland, on the other hand, tried to take advantage of the situation to win the Czech and Hungarian crowns for the royals, the sons of Casimir IV.

In the early 1560s, Polish diplomacy began efforts to secure the crown of Bohemia for Ladislaus Jagiellon. The Hussite-friendly King of Bohemia, George of Poděbrady, had compromised the papacy and deepened the division of society in the state. The Roman Curia incited Catholics to an armed uprising and deprive the Hussite king of his throne. Poland sought to reconcile Catholics and Hussites and win their support in its dynastic aspirations. The Catholics of Bohemia turned to Matthias Corvinus, the ruler of Hungary, for protection, which he granted, declaring himself their protector on April 6, 1468. Fearing war with Poland, however, he approached Casimir with a proposal for an alliance that would seal two marriages: Matthias Corvinus with Jadwiga Jagiellonka and Emperor Frederick III Habsburg's son with Sophia Jagiellonka. Casimir Jagiellon delayed the final decision. During this time, Corvin occupied Moravia, then Silesia and Lusatia, and was proclaimed king by the Catholics of Bohemia on May 3, 1469. Polish diplomacy at the Bohemian court tried to put pressure on George of Poděbrady.

In 1469, George presented a proposal to the Bohemian Diet for the election of Ladislaus Jagiellon as heir to the throne. The Bohemian nobility agreed on several conditions, including that he was to marry George's daughter, Ludmilla. Casimir IV Jagiellon further delayed his final decision, waiting for George's death. In October 1469, at a convention in Piotrkow, where Henry VI Reuss von Plauen, the newly elected Grand Master of the Teutonic Order, paid homage to the king, Casimir accepted the crown offered by the Prague Diet to Prince Ladislaus. After the death of the Bohemian king on March 22, 1471, several candidates laid claim to the Bohemian crown, including the Jagiellonians, Matthias Corvinus and Albrecht of Saxony. The election of Vladislav the Jagiellonian took place on May 27, 1471 at the Diet of Kutna Hora, after which Vladislav was crowned King of Bohemia by the Polish bishops at St. Vitus Cathedral in Prague on August 21, 1471.

In the early 1570s, Casimir IV carried out an unsuccessful attempt to install his son Casimir on the Hungarian throne, resulting in a long-running conflict with Matthias Corvinus. Polish diplomacy, with the support of Hungarian Primate Jan Vitez, incited the nobility to overthrow Korwin and support the young Casimir in his quest for the crown of Saint Stephen. The Hungarian pro-Polish partisanship proclaimed the view that Casimir IV's son would legitimately inherit the throne, which deepened the division in society and discouraged the Jagiellonian supporters of free election. On the other hand, the opposition resented Corvin's arbitrariness and disregard for the Turkish threat. In the first half of September 1471, 16 Hungarian lords offered the crown to King Casimir. In this situation, the Polish-Hungarian war broke out on October 2, 1471. Thirteen-year-old Casimir set out for Hungary at the head of an army of enlisted troops consisting, due to the unpopularity of this initiative among the Polish nobility, mainly of Germans (according to Dlugosz, Alemanicus exertisus). The expedition failed because it reached, via Kosice and Eger, only Nitra and, as it turned out, Casimir was not as popular in Hungary as the Hungarian magnates claimed. As a result, Casimir was back in Poland as early as January 1472. The subsequent treaties of 1472-1474 did not lead to the younger Casimir taking the Hungarian throne. Jagiellonian could not continue to count on the help of Moldavia, as it had been homaged by Corvinus. As a result, on February 21, 1474, peace was concluded between Poland and Hungary in Stara Wieś Spiska.

The failure of Hungarian policy prompted Casimir Jagiellon to give military support to his son, Czech King Ladislaus Jagiellon, in the war to regain Silesia, Lusatia and Moravia, which were under Corvinus' rule. In June 1474, at the Diet of Petrograd, a mass exodus was enacted and the army set out for Silesia. The Polish army under the command of Jan Rytwiański crossed the border on September 26, 1474 and, taking the route through Kluczbork, Opole, Krapkowice, Brzeg, joined with 20,000 Czechs and Silesians loyal to Vladislav Jagiellon and then defeated the army supporting Korwin in the Battle of Swanowice. However, the Jagiellonian army was unable to capture the main point of resistance, which was Breslau, in October. As Korwin was supported by the Silesian princes and Breslau, and the Jagiellons by the knights of the Świdnica-Jaworski, Opawski and Nysa principalities (including the lords of Książ, Bolkow, Wleń, Grodno, Niesytno castles), a truce was decided. On November 15, 1474, a convention of the three kings was held in Muchobor Wielki, and on December 8 a truce was signed until May 25, 1477.

Popio's war for the bishopric of Warmia

During the period of peace with Hungary, Casimir IV devoted himself to sorting out relations with Prussia. The Roman Curia in 1468 filled the bishopric of Warmia with Nicholas Tungen, a supporter of the Teutonic Order, against the will of the Polish king. In this way, the papacy sought to motivate Casimir to go to war against the Hussites. When Rome's intention failed, as one of the Jagiellons ascended the Bohemian throne, the pope dismissed Tungen from the bishopric, transferring him to the bishopric of Kamień Pomorski; his place was to be taken by Andrzej Oporowski, who received the king's approval. Tungen did not reconcile himself to the loss of the Warmian bishopric and established contacts with Hungary, which pledged to help him retain his position. Korwin secured support for his actions from the Pope, who was hostile to Jagiellon (the papacy felt threatened by Turkey and did not want to lose an ally in Korwin, while it viewed Poland as a factor weakening Hungary in its wars with the Ottomans). In 1474 Matthias Corvinus was recognized by the Order as its superior, and Nicholas Tungen remained in the bishopric of Warmia.

In 1476, the papal nuncio Balthasar de Piscia arrived at the court of Casimir IV. He was to excommunicate the Polish king if he broke the truce with Hungary, concluded at Muchobor the Great in 1474. At the same time, he demanded that Casimir relinquish his claims to Moldavia and the Hungarian throne. Casimir IV did not break the peace. On May 25, 1477, the three-year truce expired. The nuncio, then residing in Breslau, used provocation, casting a curse on Casimir IV and Ladislaus of Bohemia, aiming to provoke an open conflict between Poland and Bohemia and Rome, while Corvin supported the Order militarily in the so-called Popish War, which was to settle the issue of Bishop Nicholas Tungen and disputes over the right to fill the bishopric of Warmia. The papal nuncio's provocation failed, as Casimir IV began negotiations with Corvinus. Hungary's situation, meanwhile, worsened, as it was in danger of losing Venetian subsidies as a result of Venice's negotiations with Turkey. Beginning in 1478, negotiations took place between Hungary on the one hand and Poland and Bohemia on the other. They ended with the signing of several treaties in 1478-1479. Under the treaty of November 21, 1478, the bishopric of Warmia and the Order returned to the rule of Casimir. In January 1479, peace was concluded between Venice and Turkey, which caused Corvin to leave his allies in Warmia and Prussia. On April 2, 1479, Corvin made peace with Casimir in Buda. On October 9, 1479, Grand Master Martin Truchsess von Wetzhausen in New Korczyna paid the Polish king a fief tribute.

Casimir made the issue of the conflict with the Teutonic Order more important than the alliance with the Mongols, and the result was a standoff over the Ugra River that ended Mongol sovereignty over Rus, which suddenly resulted in a threat to the Grand Duchy of Lithuania from the east.

Relations with Turkey and Crimea

In 1475 Turkey seized Kaffa, a Genoese colony in the Crimea. In 1484, the Turks cut off Poland from Black Sea trade by capturing the ports of Kilia and Belgorod in Moldavia. The expansion of the Turks negatively affected the economy of Poland's southern neighbor, the Moldavian Hospodardom, whose ruler, Stefan III the Great, turned to Casimir Jagiellon for military assistance. In return for his support, he paid a fief tribute to Casimir in Kolomyia on September 15, 1485, which became a stumbling block in the Polish-Turkish conflict. Casimir delayed his support for Moldavia, devoting his attention to relations with the Crimean Khanate, so just a year later Stefan the Great recognized the sovereignty of the Ottomans.

Poland's relations with the Crimean Khanate were the most difficult area of operations. Despite assurances of friendship and peaceful intentions on the part of Khan Mengli Girei, year after year a Tatar orda fell into Ruthenia and Podolia, looting, burning and taking thousands of braves. In 1482 its hordes captured and ravaged Kiev. In 1486 Casimir Jagiellon sent a war expedition to Crimea under the command of his son, Jan Olbracht. However, despite a victorious battle at Kopystrzyn in 1487, it ended in failure. In view of the growing power of Moscow, seeking expansion in the southwest, and clashes between Polish and Tatar armies, there was a political rapprochement between the Crimean Khanate and Moldavia, a fiefdom of Turkey. As a result of these political and military factors, another phase of the Polish-Turkish war took place, which ended in 1503, already after the death of Casimir Jagiellon. The Ottoman Empire subjugated the restless Crimean Tatars, and this weighed on the fate of the entire region in the following centuries.

In 1481, a conspiracy by Ruthenian princes, aiming to exterminate the entire Jagiellonian family, was put down.

The struggle for Hungary between the Jagiellonians and the Habsburgs

In 1490, Matthias Corvinus died. The Habsburgs and the Jagiellonians disputed over his succession. Casimir IV's diplomacy in Hungary succeeded in influencing the outcome of the July 7, 1490 election in favor of John Olbracht. Meanwhile, Ladislaus Jagiellon, King of Bohemia, won the support of two influential Hungarian lords, Jan Zapolya and Stefan Batory, which threatened a dispute between the brothers. On February 28, 1491, Jan Olbracht and Ladislaus Jagiellon signed a treaty in Kosice, whereby Olbracht relinquished his claim to the crown of St. Stephen to his brother in exchange for his recognition as supreme prince of Silesia. John Olbracht's seizure of power in Silesia did not take place, as he broke the Košice treaty. Ladislaus, after his coronation as King of Hungary, made an agreement with the Habsburgs, who were to take over the succession after his death.

The rise of the nobility at the expense of the cities

The last years of Casimir's reign were a period of rapid development of Polish parliamentarism. In order to enact taxes to pay off the army of enlisted men after the end of the war, deputies elected at the sejmiks came to the general assembly in Piotrków for the first time in October 1468. As a result, the separation of two chambers - the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies - began in the bosom of the General Sejm. The development of aristocratic parliamentarism resulted in the strengthening of the noble state. The bourgeoisie, on the other hand, did not take up the fight for their rights. The exception was the bourgeoisie of several cities headed by Gdansk. Toward the end of his reign, the king removed the bourgeoisie from any interference in state affairs, when the financial support of the cities should have been of particular interest to him, since cities that were rich and able to speak out in public affairs would have been a guarantor of the state's prosperity and would have given the king a strong base in his fight against the magnates.

King Casimir Jagiellon died in Grodno on June 7, 1492 at the age of 64. He was buried in Krakow, Wawel Castle, in a marble tomb chiseled by Wit Stwosz. After his death, his son Jan Olbracht succeeded him to the Polish throne, and Alexander Jagiellon became Grand Duke of Lithuania. Historians do not agree on what was the reason for the breaking of the Polish-Lithuanian personal union after 1492. They argue whether it was the result of a "political testament" of the king, who during his reign never wanted to separate the royal crown from the princely mitre, or an agreement between Lithuanian and Polish magnates after his death.

The reign of Casimir Jagiellon was prosperous for the development of culture and art in the Kingdom. The royal and magnate courts and the largest cities were their important centers. Education, conducted by monastery schools, was spreading. The sons of wealthy nobility, after acquiring the basics of education in the country, went to study abroad.

The main representatives of Polish writing were historian and tutor of royal sons Jan Długosz, political writer Jan Ostroróg, writer and diplomat Filip Kallimach, humanist Grzegorz z Sanoka, philosopher and astronomer Wojciech of Brudzew, theologian and philosopher Jakub of Paradyż, archbishop of Gniezno Maciej Drzewicki. The Cracow school of mathematics and astronomy developed excellently thanks to such personalities as Marcin Król of Zurawica, Jan of Glogow and Marcin Bylica, and, above all, thanks to the master of Nicolaus Copernicus Wojciech of Brudzew.

Sculptor Wit Stwosz completed work on the main altar in St. Mary's Church in Cracow in 1489. Gothic-style construction was developing, especially church construction (Wawel and Gniezno cathedrals), and many royal and magnate castles were built, as well as town halls in Gdansk and Torun. The University of Cracow flourished, where three new chairs were established: grammar and rhetoric, poetics, and mathematics and astronomy.

On February 10, 1454, the king married Elisabeth Rakuszanka of the Habsburgs, who was to earn the honorable title of Mother of Kings by giving him thirteen children, including six sons, four of whom became kings. The marriage was blessed by Saint John Capistrano - the founder of the Observant monasteries in Poland, known as the Bernardines. The upbringing of the royals was handled from 1467 by the chronicler Jan Długosz and the Italian humanist Filip Kallimach, Casimir IV's most skilful diplomat, who resided at the Jagiellonian court from 1470 and repeatedly represented the monarch successfully in negotiations with the papacy and Porta. Casimir probably knew only Polish and Ruthenian (she spoke only Polish with her husband and children.


In 1973, the tomb (unopened for nearly five hundred years) was opened and the remains of the ruler and his wife, Elisabeth Rakushanka, were exhumed. In the decade following this event, 15 people in contact with the tomb died. The people who died were healthy, middle-aged people - those who were closest to the tomb. A common story began to be told about the curse of Casimir the Jagiellonian, similar to the curse of 1922 Egyptian pharaoh Tutankhamun. After lengthy research, microbiologists blamed the death of the tomb's explorers on an extremely dangerous mold, yellow droplet, which thrived in the crypt. The toxin produced by the dropworm can cause aspergillosis.


  1. Casimir IV Jagiellon
  2. Kazimierz IV Jagiellończyk
  3. a b Biskup i Górski 1987 ↓, s. 9.
  4. a b Bogucka 1978 ↓, s. 5–8.
  5. ^ Frost 2015, p. 327.
  6. ^ "Casimir iv – Encyclopedia Article and More from Merriam-Webster". Archived from the original on 24 October 2014.
  7. ^ Poland - history - geography, su URL consultato il 13 febbraio 2017.
  8. ^ Marian Biskup, Karol Górski: Kazimierz Jagiellończyk: Zbiór studiów o Polsce drugiej połowy XV wieku. Warszawa: 1987. ISBN 83-01-07291-1.
  10. 1 2 3 Г. Ф. Матвеев КАЗИМИ́Р IV // Большая российская энциклопедия : [в 35 т.] / гл. ред. Ю. С. Осипов. — М. : Большая российская энциклопедия, 2004—2017.
  11. 1 2 Г. Ф. Матвеев НЕША́ВСКИЕ СТАТУ́ТЫ 1454 Архивная копия от 10 июня 2020 на Wayback Machine // Большая российская энциклопедия : [в 35 т.] / гл. ред. Ю. С. Осипов. — М. : Большая российская энциклопедия, 2004—2017.

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