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Division of Poland in 12th century

From the very beginning of existence of Poland brothers would fight with each other over the rule. This was probably common situation in many countries when the reign was inherited – according to the tradition – by the first legitimate son. Mothers would plot to make their sons inherit the throne that was supposed to be granted to their step sons (from king’s previous marriages). Such dilemmas would cause many internal conflicts that would divide the inhabitants of the country supporting different leaders.

One of Polish kings – Beleslaw III Wrymouth – decided to change the reality and cease the fights between royal sons. He experienced already the conflicts himself as he was made to fight with his brother – Zbigniew – to become the only ruler. However, it was only repeated history of what happened between his father and his brother. As Boleslaw wanted his numerous sons to avoid this situation, he decided to divide the country between them. Right after his death, in 1138, testament of Boleslaw Wrytmouth (Krzywousty) was announced. Poland was divided into districts, while the eldest royal son became superior of his younger brothers. He was based in Krakow, city that became symbolic capital of the country. While there were 4 main districts ruled by 4 sons of Boleslaw (and the fifth – additional - that was superior one), each of princes had also sons that wanted to rule their father’s part.

The Poles very soon started to miss the unity that they had before. They felt strongly disadvantages of division caused by testament of Boleslaw – especially that creating districts did not stop the brothers to fight between themselves. As the division took place around 50 years after the death of St Stanislaw (first Polish saint and patron of the country) – whose body were cut into pieces and miraculously grew together – the Poles treated division of Poland as punishment for killing a bishop by royal member of the family. They, however, believed that as the body of the saint grew together, so Poland will once again get united. They, however, needed to wait for reunion almost 200 years during which division delivered Poland internal loss as well as partial loss of independence. Even after Ladislau the Short became king of newly united Poland, one could feel that the country was much weaker than during the rule of Boleslaw.

The history gave Poland once again a lesson, that one cannot plan a future as only the future shows the results of our decisions. The testament of Boleslaw was to grant Poland avoiding internal fights while it only intensified it.

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