Guest Author - Barbara Swiech
Mieszko I, the first ruler of Poland, had 4 sons. The first of them was born in 967 during the marriage with Dobrawa (Czech princess) while the other three came from the marriage with German princess Oda. The rule of the eldest son – Boleslaw – was endangered. Although according to tradition it was always (with some exceptions of course) the first-born son who would inherit the crown and the right to rule a given country, Oda tried to influence Mieszko to let her sons be the first ones to take over after him.
Boleslaw did not allow German princess to take away the crown of newly founded country. Although after the death of Mieszko I (in 992) she and her sons were supported by influential members of the court, young prince managed to chase away his stepmother and living stepbrothers. He remained a duke of Poland till 1025 when he was crowned in Gniezno (the capital of the country of that time). He was the first Polish ruler to be enthroned. He did not, however, have the chance to enjoy the enthronement for a long time as Boleslaw died the very same year.
The first son of Mieszko did also a lot to popularize Christianity – not only in his own country but also in the neighbouring ones. In 997 he sent a bishop of Prague – Wojciech – to the territory of Prussians. Although Adalbert’s (as that is how this saint is known in the world) mission ended with his death, his relics (bought by Boleslaw for the same amount of gold as it weighed) brought Poland attention of the Christian world. The bishop was buried in Gniezno and canonized in 999. In 1000 Boleslaw organized so called Congress in Gniezno. One of the attendees of the pilgrimage tom the burial place of St Adalbert was Otto III – Holy Roman Emperor. He visited Boleslaw also to gain his support in the idea of renewing Holy Roman Empire. It was also during the Congress in Gniezno that Gniezno was confirmed as Archbishopric and the other three Bishopric (in Kolobrzeg, Wroclaw and Krakow) were created. As Otto III, a great supporter of Boleslaw the Brave, presented the duke of Poland a copy of the lance of St Maurice, it is believed by some that 1000 year was the time of actual Boleslaw’s coronation that was only confirmed in 1025 (however, that has not been proved). The Congress in Gniezno is one of the most famous episodes of Medieval Poland.
Boleslaw the Brave (called by some in the past the Great) was a strong ruler and the first enthroned king of Poland. He not only strengthened Poland but also enlarged its territory. He popularized Christianity in Polish lands, forming new Bishopric, as well as made Poland a respected country among other Christian rulers.