Mieszko II, and his brother Bezprym.

Mieszko II, and his brother Bezprym.

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In the year 1025, in the moment of Mieszko II’s coronation, a monarchy system, like the one in Germany, was implemented. The kingdom’s institution also meant indivisibility of the country so the remaining sons, Bezprym and Otton, had not received any lands after their father. According to the common law, the father’s authority was inherited by his oldest son. In this case, it was Bezprym whose mother was Hungarian. However, his father chose a life in a monastery for him.

Supposedly, Otton found himself abroad, probably in Germany, at his sister Regelinda’s house. At first, the Mieszko’s ruling was not tragic, even successful. He lead the expedition to Saksonia (1028-1029) during which the eastern lands of this country were destroyed. The expedition must have also stopped off on the Veleti tribes because their legation asked the emperor for protection from the Polish king and offered him their services in battle. The German Chronicler adds a mean comment to it: “And he found their wickedness deceitful”. The army, which departed in the year 1029 without receiving any troops from the Lucice, did not succeed in breaking the Polish defense and after losing many men it had to forfeit. Mieszko II invaded Saksonia once again in 1030. This time, he attacks the empire with the help of the king of Hungary, Stefan. The German emperor lost Viena. The Germany’s emperor, Konrad, prepared himself carefully for the next campaign. He formed an alliance with Russia, left the defense of Bavaria to his son Henry and joined the Czechs, who took control of the Morawy, to a fight. The German prince, Henryk, was also successful in forming a peace with Stefan.

Now Mieszko’s brothers, mainly Bezprym, played a big role. As a result of his efforts, a coalition between Germany and Russia has been formed. The desire of both neighboring countries to regain the lost lands made the instigation to fighting the crowned brother easier for him. Otton was probably only an intermediary between Germany and Russia. In September of the year 1031, the emperor Konrad gathered a very strong, however relatively small, army in the White Mountain. Despite the strong resistance from the Poles, he succeeded in conquering Milsko and Łużyce. Mieszko, being aware of a greater threat in the east, made peace on Konrad’s terms to be able to defend the Russian border. His lot was settled in the east where Bezprym attacked him about a month later. We can read about it in “Hildesheim annals”. As a result of this raid, Mieszko had no other choice but to leave the country. As Gall Anonim writes, the Czechs treated Polish king cruelly. Now, we have to go back to Bezprym who did not have a big army, just a handful of his company. A question rises: how did he defeat his brother while having so limited military strength?

Probably, the rebellion of the people helped him very much. The Russian “Tale of the Bygone Years” tells about it. Whether Bezprym helped with this revolt or it was accidental is still unknown. In any case, people did not help Mieszko during the fight. The response from pagans have almost destroyed the new faith which was relatively easy in the country where the old gods were “hiding” in the woods. One spark is enough to light the fire of the old faith. Bezprym also received help from the Russians who attacked Cherven Cities. Their actions drew the attention of the Mieszko’s forces and that made everything easier for the Bezprym’s soldiers. They did it not as an answer to Bezprym’s request because they cared little about the Polish prince who has left the monastery. He was a good excuse to humiliate the powerful neighbor and take the lands conquered by the previous king from him. When Mieszko fled from country he left his wife Rycheza and his younger son, 17 year old Kazimierz, on Bezprym’s mercy. The queen, worrying about her son, decided to leave the country immediately. This decision was probably advantageous to random Targowica Confederate who, while looking for an understanding with the empire, decided to send the regalia through her. Then he declared the resignation from the noble title “The King of Poland”. Rycheza has also taken some of the books with her . Conrad greeted her kindly, perhaps because she was related to Ludolfingowie and after taking the regalia from her, he permanently let her use the queen title. Bezprym was probably killed by the followers of Mieszko II who have been oppressed by Bezprym. The bishops and clergy was probably among the king’s supporters but it is unknown whether they were oppressed or not.

The record in Cracow’s annals under the year 1030, where we can read about the death of two bishops, is puzzling. However, this notice is not sufficient because it does not say how did the priests die and if their death can be linked to the Bezprym’s reign. Even after so many tragic events Mieszko II did not collapsed. When he learned about the usurper’s death, he escaped the captivity and came back to Poland where he was very well greeted. However, Mieszko’s return shook the German empire. The return of the king who abdicated could mean the rebirth of the country. Emperor has immediately started to plot against the ruler. He ordered a hearing, as written in the German annals. Mieszko, being defenseless, used his influence in court to avoid the military intervention. The “Hildesheim annals” speak about him paying the tribute to the emperor. Then he abdicated . After this tribute in the 1033, there was a partition of the country. It was divided into three parts. One was given to Mieszko’s cousin, Thiedrych, the second to Otton but the German annalists do not mention it. He probably received it earlier from his brother for taking part in Bezprym’s assassination. The third part was given to Mieszko and he became the superior ruler to the remaining princes. Shortly before his death, he succeeded in uniting the Polish lands after removing Thiedryk. Mieszko II died prematurely in the year 1034, in the age of 44.


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