History of Poland (1386-1492)

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Poland and Lithuania during the reign of Ladislaus II

History of Poland (1386-1492) – history of Poland from the coronation of Ladislaus II Jagiello until the death of Casimir IV Jagiellon.

Table of contents

1 Joint reign of Jadwiga and Ladislaus II Jagiello (1386-1399)

1.1 Lithuania after the union with Poland 1.2 Jadwiga’s expedition to Halicko-Vlodzimierska Rus.

2 The independent reign of Ladislaus II Jagiello (1399-1434)

2.1 The decline of his reign

3 The reign of Ladislaus III Varna (1434-1444)

3.1 Situation in Lithuania 3.2 Struggle for the Czech throne 3.3 Ladislaus III Varnañczyk in Hungary 3.4 Civil war in Hungary

4 Reign of Casimir Jagiellon (1447-1492) 5 Notes 6 Footnotes 7 Bibliography

Joint reign of Jadwiga and Ladislaus II Jagiello (1386-1399)[edit | edit code].

Poland and Lithuania after the union of Kreva

Ladislaus Jagiello according to Jan Matejko

Jadwiga according to Jan Matejko

Tombstone of Queen Jadwiga of Anjou in Wawel Cathedral

On March 4, 1386, in Wawel Cathedral, Grand Duke of Lithuania Ladislaus Jagiello was crowned king of Poland. The event marked the beginning of the first period of his reign, in collaboration with his young wife Jadwiga, who was undoubtedly strongly influenced by the Lesser Poland’s magnanimous elite.

Lithuania after the union with Poland[edit | edit code].

Soon after his coronation, in 1387, Jagiello returned to Lithuania to begin its Christianization in the Latin rite. A bishopric subordinate to the Polish ecclesiastical province was established in Vilnius, with Andrzej Jastrzębiec as its first bishop. At the same time, Jogaila convinced the Lithuanian boyars to accept the new faith and began destroying the objects of the old cult. At the same time, the process of unification of Lithuania with the Polish Crown was progressing.

The Polish nobility interpreted the act of union in Krewa as an announcement of the incorporation of the Grand Duchy into Poland. The first actions of Jogaila, who, as a foreign ruler and neophyte, could not yet afford to enter into a dispute with the elites who had elevated him to the throne, were also heading in this direction. The king extended the powers of his chancellery to the Lithuanian lands, and replaced the grand ducal seal with the royal seal. His brothers, the Lithuanian princes, came to Krakow and paid homage to the royal couple. This, and the creation of a diocese subordinate to the archbishopric of Gniezno, may have indicated plans for the gradual incorporation of Lithuania. Such measures were opposed by Lithuanian boyars, and especially actively by Kiejstut’s son, and Jagiełło’s cousin Vytautas, who demanded the transfer to him of Trakai and Volhynia, which were due after his father. A civil war broke out in Lithuania, in which the Teutonic Knights interfered on Vytautas’ side, in return obtaining Zmudia from him. The Order organized two armed expeditions to Vilna in 1390 and 1391. At the same time, Poland’s war with Wladyslaw Opolczyk continued in 1391-96. Although the Teutonic Knights failed to capture the Lithuanian capital defended by Polish knights, Vytautas regained Grodno and a large part of the Trakai land thanks to Teutonic support. Jagiello was aware of the threat posed by internal battles in Lithuania. They strengthened the positions of the Teutonic Knights and at the same time threatened to even break up the Polish-Lithuanian union. In this situation, the Polish king decided to compromise. In August 1392, at Ostrow, he concluded an agreement with Vytautas. Under it, Kiejstut’s son, in exchange for giving up his cooperation with the Teutonic Knights, obtained the Duchy of Troki and the governorship of Lithuania. As a result, Lithuania henceforth had two grand dukes: Vytautas and Jagiello, who exercised formal sovereignty over him. The agreement was met with a violent reaction from the Teutonic Knights, who consistently renewed their expeditions to Lithuania, aiming primarily to hold the Samogitia they had just obtained from Vytautas. Their expeditions were not of a partitionary nature, allowing Vytautas to focus on centralizing power and consolidating his position – from then until his death in close cooperation with Ladislaus Jagiello. His primary goal was to continue his eastward expansion and unite all Lithuanian lands under Lithuanian sovereignty. He began implementing this plan after concluding a peace with the Teutonic Knights on the island of Salin in 1398. On its strength, he ceded Samogitia to the Order and gave up his claims to Pskov. In return, he obtained freedom of action against Greater Novgorod. In 1399 Vytautas entered into a treaty with the Khan of the Golden Horde and organized a major expedition to the east. In exchange for the restoration of the khan’s Tochtamysh, he was to take control of Rus. However, the expedition ended in defeat – in a battle on the Vorskla River fought on August 12 or 16[1], 1399, the Lithuanian army was completely smashed, which buried Vytautas’ eastern policy. It is presumed[who?] that this defeat was welcomed by the Polish magnate elite – it ensured the preservation of the union with Lithuania, which otherwise might have grown stronger and given up ties with its western neighbor.

Jadwiga’s expedition to Halicko-Vlodzimierska Rus[edit | edit code].

While Jagiello was returning to Lithuania to begin its Christianization, Queen Jadwiga set out on an expedition to Halicko-Vlodzimierska Rus with the goal of reconnecting it to Poland. The territory actually passed under Hungarian sovereignty during the reign of Ludwig of Anjou, which contradicted the provisions of the 1350 succession treaty between Casimir the Great and Ludwig. When an interregnum began in Hungary after the death of Elizabeth of Bosnia, the Lords of Lesser Poland took steps to reverse the unfavorable situation for them. An expedition of Lesser Poland’s knights entered Rus, forcing more strongholds to submit to Polish sovereignty. Wladyslaw Opolczyk, who ruled Rus from 1372 to 1378 on the authority of Louis of Hungary, tried to put up resistance. However, he failed to gain wider support and was forced to leave Rus. Recovering this territory not only strengthened Poland’s position, but at the same time led to its rapprochement with Moldavia and Wallachia. In the autumn of 1387, in Lviv, Moldavian hospodar Peter I and his brother Roman paid the Polish royal couple a fief tribute. Two years later, a military alliance was also formed between Ladislaus Jagiello and the Wallachian hospodar Mircha the Old.

continuation to be completed

The independent reign of Ladislaus II Jagiello (1399-1434)[edit | edit code].

This section is incomplete. If you can, expand it.

End of reign[edit | edit code].

On October 31, 1424, Wladyslaw Jagiello’s fourth wife, Sophia Holshanskaya, gave birth to the ruler’s firstborn son. This event led to a radical change in the policy of the old king, who henceforth focused all his energies on securing the throne for the young Prince Ladislaus. This last stage of Jogaila’s reign was criticized both by people contemporary to him and later historians. The king, who was already very old, pursued a policy that was increasingly less resolute and detrimental to both his own interests and those of the Polish Crown.

Initially, nothing foreshadowed problems with the succession to the throne. Jagiello himself recognized that his son had a hereditary right to the Polish crown, which he expressed, among other things, in his letter to Pope Martin V. Polish lords were also overwhelmingly in favor of passing the throne to Jagiellon, but on different terms. They considered that with the expiration of the Piast dynasty, the Polish throne became electoral, and thus the seating of a royal son on it was to result not from the law of blood, but from the sovereign decision of the dignitaries. Thus began a dispute in Poland to decide the nature of the royal power of the Jagiellonian dynasty. Its first stage was a general convention convened in Brest on April 25, 1425, at which the dignitaries gathered decided that Jagiello’s son would take the throne only after coming of age and approving all privileges. The king agreed to these conditions, but the following year he rescinded his decision. At the next convention in Leczyca, he refused to confirm the privileges and grant new ones. According to Dlugosz’s account, the enraged attendees were said to have cut the document signed a year earlier into small pieces with swords in response. This left the matter of the succession to the throne unresolved for a long time.

At the same time, the position of the royal camp was strengthened by the birth of Jagiello’s next two sons, of whom, although one died in infancy (1426), the other, baptized Casimir, grew up healthy. These unexpected, in a situation where the king was already about 70 years old, births caused numerous rumors and even led to a scandal at the Cracow court. Probably inspired by the Teutonic Knights or (as Dlugosz suggested) Grand Duke Vytautas, Sophia was accused of adultery in 1427, thus implying that her children were not Jagiello’s descendants. The king did not join his wife’s accusers, and she was soon cleared of all charges under oath. In 1431, the knights slandering her were also brought to trial. The episode, though violent, did not lead to a challenge to the rights of Ladislaus and Casimir to the Polish throne.

Sigismund of Luxembourg, greatly weakened by the war in Bohemia and disputes with the Electors of the Reich, was vitally interested in the question of the succession to the throne in Poland. With his participation, the idea of crowning Grand Duke Vytautas was taken up at the rulers’ convention in Lutsk in January 1429. Its initiator was probably Sigismund, while it is difficult to determine how Jagiello reacted to the idea. According to some historians, he supported it out of conviction, believing that turning Lithuania into a kingdom would improve the position of his sons, who were heirs to the grand duchy. It is also possible that the agreement was forced on old Jagiello by Sigismund and Vytautas, who had a very strong position. At least officially, Vytautas was skeptical of the idea, and was only to change his mind when Jagiello offended him with a letter to Sigismund of Luxembourg withdrawing his consent to the coronation. The Polish king later explained that the letter had been sent by the sub-chancellor without his knowledge or consent. It is very possible that this was the case – most members of the royal council and court officials openly opposed the idea of elevating Lithuania to the status of a kingdom, which was unfavorable to Poland. After all, Vytautas’ coronation would have thwarted the intention to incorporate the grand duchy into Poland. As a result of the unfortunate decisions, the king fell into a dispute with both the royal council and Vytautas. The latter’s coronation was opposed by both the Polish side and the papacy, but the grand duke, with the support of Sigismund, decided to continue his efforts to win the crown. Weakened, Jagiello gave up further disputes over the nature of the succession to the throne and in Jedlnia in 1430 accepted the terms of the Polish lords, issuing the requested privileges. At the same time he confirmed the incorporation of Lithuania into Poland. In response, Vytautas severed ties with Poland and entered into an alliance with the Teutonic Order directed against it. He also announced his coronation for August 1430, but it did not take place because the crown was stopped at the Polish border. At the same time, Jagiello sought an agreement with his uncle’s brother. They succeeded in reaching it in the autumn of 1430.The rulers decided that Vytautas would be crowned, but only for life. After his death, the crown was to be taken over by Jagiello’s sons. It is likely that Jagiello managed to convince Polish dignitaries to solve this. In the end, however, the coronation was not carried out – it was hindered by Vytautas’ serious illness, and then his death on October 27, 1430. On dying, Vytautas handed over Lithuania to Jagiello, which could have resolved the crisis situation. However, the Polish king made another fateful decision. Contrary to the stipulations of the Union of Horodło and without consulting the Polish lords, he chose his brother Svidrigiello as Grand Duke of Lithuania. The latter quickly began to push for independence from Poland and the establishment of his own dynasty. At the same time, Jogaila’s position was weakening, and political decisions were increasingly made independently by his dignitaries. It was they who, against the king’s decision, decided in November 1430 to seize castles in Podolia by Crown troops, and then refused to surrender them to the Lithuanians. In February 1431, at a convention in Sandomierz, there was open conflict between the king and the crown magnates – there were even voices for the dethronement of Jagiello. Eventually, Polish dignitaries agreed to accept Svidrigiello’s rule, but only if he would return Podolia and Volhynia with Lutsk to Poland, as well as recognize the principles of the Horeodelian Union. Svidrygiello refused and, under the auspices of Sigismund of Luxembourg, entered into an alliance with the Teutonic Order and the Moldavian hospodar. In this situation, Jagiello ordered an expedition against his brother in July 1431. This war was conducted extremely tardily, for which the king was accused. At the same time as the fighting in Ruthenia, there was a devastating Teutonic invasion of Kujawy and Dobrzyn lands.

As early as September, a truce was signed, under which Swidrygiello retained part of Podolia and Lutsk. Amid widespread discontent, a convention was called in Sieradz in the spring of 1432. At it, the king obtained unconditional consent to his son’s coronation immediately after his death. It was also decided that Svidrigelo could retain authority in Lithuania as long as he accepted the hereditary rights of Jogaila’s sons and broke the alliance with the Order. Swidrygiello again refused, which foreshadowed further Polish-Lithuanian war. This prospect was to be prevented by a coup in Lithuania. Probably at the instigation of Polish magnates, the boyars overthrew Svidrygiello and elected Sigismund Kiejstutovich as grand duke. On October 15, 1432, a new act of Polish-Lithuanian union was signed with him in Grodno. Sigismund was given Lithuania for life, and he also agreed to return Podolia to Poland. Volhynia with Lutsk was to remain with Lithuania. The coup d’état and deals with Kiejstutowicz were essentially the work of Polish dignitaries – Jagiełło himself probably did not cooperate with them, but in January 1433 he approved the Grodno union and confirmed the Jedleński privilege. Ostensibly, a victory was achieved over Svidrigail, but the Ruthenian part of the grand duchy sided with Jagiello’s brother, who was deprived of the throne, leading to a civil war in the autumn. Poland became actively involved in it, at which, by the way, the tripartite alliance of Swidrygiello, Moldavia and the Order was aimed. In 1432 the Poles occupied eastern Podolia and Lutsk, but the following year Swidrygiello launched a decisive offensive. He recaptured Lutsk, subjugated all the Ruthenian nobility and struck at Lithuania from Inflants. The attack was successfully repelled mainly because the Teutonic forces from Prussia were tied down by Polish forces. The Poles in this war were actively supported by troops of the Bohemian Taborites, with whom an alliance was concluded in Pabianice in 1432. The combined troops ravaged the New March and Prussia, forcing a truce on the Order.

Thanks to the successful fight against Svidrigelo and the Order, the Polish-Lithuanian union was saved, but the overall situation was difficult. The alliance with the Taborites very quickly lost its importance after Sigismund took power in Bohemia in 1434 after years of effort. At the same time, the war continued in Lithuania, and in Poland the old king was coming to the end of his days. He died on June 1, 1434, probably at the age of 82.

Reign of Ladislaus III Varna (1434-1444)[edit | edit code].

After the death of Wladyslaw Jagiello, Zbigniew Oleśnicki, Bishop of Cracow, became the main player on the Polish political scene. The news of the advent of the interregnum reached him during a stopover in Poznan, on his way to the Council of Basel. In view of the situation, the bishop resigned from his trip and as soon as possible convened a meeting of the Wielkopolska magnates, who decided to entrust the throne to Wladyslaw Jagiellon and set the coronation date for June 29. The decision by the elites of Greater Poland met with understandable resistance from the lords of Cracow, who, although they did not question Wladyslaw’s choice, forced a postponement of the coronation to July 25. Only a small group of magnates headed by Spytek of Melsztyn and Dzierslaw of Rytwian opposed the very idea of crowning Jagiello’s descendant, pointing primarily to his young age. The opposition proposed giving the crown to Siemowit of Mazovia, but at a hastily convened convention of Lesser Poland in Opatów (July 13) this idea did not gain support. Of great importance was the arrival of Bishop Oleśnicki at the convention, who managed to convince the participants to accept Wladyslaw’s choice. The coronation took place on the planned date – although a group centered around Spytek of Melsztyn tried to prevent it, again without gaining much support. In the end, Ladislaus became king, and regency until he came of age[a] was entrusted to a royal council. In addition, so-called “land tutors” were appointed – officials for individual provinces with administrative and treasury authority, and responsible to the royal council. As a result, the greatest influence on the authorities was retained by Bishop Oleśnicki, who was supported by most of the council members.

First of all, relations with neighbors had to be re-established, above all with Emperor Sigismund of Luxembourg. This ruler was 54 years old in 1434, and still had no male descendant. In this situation, a proposal came from the Polish side for the marriage of Ladislaus Jagiellonian to Anna, the granddaughter of Sigismund of Luxembourg. The emperor did not reject it unequivocally, instead giving an evasive answer to the Polish envoy. After all, a union of this kind would have been very beneficial to the Jagiellons, but not to Luxembourg. In the end, it was decided only to hold a meeting between representatives of Poland and Hungary to resolve the disputed issues; first and foremost, the status of the territories to which both states claimed rights: the towns in Spiš and the Ruthenian lands. It took place in Kežmarok around Whitsun of 1436, but the talks failed to produce any resolution. At the same time, Sigismund of Luxembourg developed an active anti-Polish policy in the first months after Władysław Jagiellon took the throne. He supported the Teutonic Knights, and also tried to interfere diplomatically in the internal struggles in Lithuania on the side of Svidrigelo.

Situation in Lithuania[edit | edit code].

After Wladislaw’s coronation, only one of the two contenders for the Lithuanian throne, Sigismund Kiejstutovich, recognized the supremacy of the new ruler. The number of his supporters and thus his position in Lithuania grew, thanks in part to the equality of the Ruthenian boyars and the extension of Crown rights and privileges to Halich Ruthenia and Podolia. However, this did not change the position of the Teutonic Order, which continued to support Svidrigelo militarily. In this situation, the Polish lords sent a detachment of knights to Lithuania, which sided with Sigismund. In September 1435, a great battle took place at Vilkomierz, in which Svidrigillo suffered defeat. As a result, he managed to oust him from the northern territories of the Grand Duchy, and forced the Teutonic Knights to conclude a perpetual peace in Brest in late 1435. With Swidrygiello considerably weakened, the Polish lords entered into negotiations with him, and in 1437 concluded an agreement under which Jagiello’s brother was to retain possession in the southern part of the Grand Duchy, in return agreeing to hand over all lands to the Crown before his death. These arrangements were intended to weaken Sigismund Kiejstutowicz, who, after assuming full power in Lithuania, could return to his plan to make it independent of Poland and turn it into a kingdom. They did not ultimately come into effect, as a result of the determined opposition of Sigismund, who did not accept the possibility of making any concessions to his rival. In this situation, the Polish lords stopped supporting Svidrigelo, who was soon forced out of the Lithuanian territories and forced to seek refuge in Wallachia. Instead, an agreement was concluded in 1437 in Grodno with Sigismund Kiejstutowicz, under which Lithuania, after the prince’s death, was to fall to the son of Ladislaus Jagiello.

Having come of age in 1438, Wladyslaw Jagiellon confirmed the agreements made with Sigismund in Petrograd. The Prince of Lithuania did not issue an analogous document, instead taking steps to become independent of Poland. He tried unsuccessfully to forge an alliance with Albrecht Habsburg, the Teutonic Knights and the Tatars. Faced with apparent failure, he quickly gave up his vision of independence and confirmed the acts of the Grodno Union of 1432 as early as 1439 in Troki.

On March 20, 1440, Sigismund Kiejstutowicz was killed by conspirators in Trakai. Ladislaus, who had just left for Hungary, sent his 13-year-old brother Casimir to Lithuania as governor. The Lithuanian nobles, wishing to become independent from Poland, proclaimed Casimir Grand Duke of Lithuania on June 29, 1440. The personal union of Poland and Lithuania was broken. Casimir ruled Lithuania with the help of powerful advisors including Jan Gasztold. However, he did not succumb to the influence of the Lithuanian magnates and, despite his very young age, was a skillful politician and a good steward of the state. He tamed the separatism of Smolensk and Samogitia (1442) and redeemed Podlasie from the hands of Mazovian Duke Boleslaw IV. He also concluded an alliance with the Grand Duchy of Moscow.

Struggle for the Bohemian throne[edit | edit code].

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Ladislaus III Varnañski in Hungary[edit | edit code].

Although in the 1930s the Polish side focused on unsuccessful attempts to seize the Bohemian crown, at the same time, efforts to win the Hungarian throne for one of Władysław Jagiełło’s sons were not abandoned. Already after the death of Sigismund of Luxembourg in 1437, the pro-Polish party in Hungary must have been relatively strong, for even the Holy See considered the possibility of the coronation of Ladislaus Jagiellon. In the end, Albrecht Habsburg became king – the primary argument against Jagiellonian’s candidacy was his underage status and thus his inability to personally face the Turkish invasions that threatened Hungary. The following year saw a tightening of relations due to the war for the Bohemian throne, which also involved Hungarian troops. The summer of 1438 also saw a devastating Turkish invasion of Transylvania, which some Hungarian elites believed was inspired by Poland. This led to a further deterioration of relations, but at the same time weakened the position of Albrecht Habsburg, who, fighting in Bohemia, took no defensive steps against his southern neighbor. It was not until the following year that he made an expedition against the Turks, but in view of the weak morale of the troops and the superiority of the enemy, he gave up giving them a fighting battle and ordered a retreat. On the way back, the king fell ill with dysentery and died. Once again the battle for the crown of Saint Stephen heated up, in which the best chances were Elizabeth of Luxembourg, widow of the late king, and Ladislaus Jagiellon. The former was the crowned ruler, whose rights to the throne were confirmed by the former agreements of the Hungarian states with Sigismund of Luxembourg. In addition, she was pregnant, which offered the prospect of the birth of an heir to the throne. On the other hand, Ladislaus Jagiellon was a ruler already of age, with a reputation as an excellent knight[b], additionally at the head of a strong state capable of effectively supporting the Hungarians in their fight against the Ottoman Empire. The third candidate was the son of the Serbian ruler, Lazarus, who, however, did not receive wider support. Initially, the Hungarian magnates favored waiting until after the birth of Elizabeth’s child. However, opinion quickly prevailed on the necessity of electing an adult ruler, supported by, among others, the renowned chieftain John Hunyady. In mid-December, a Polish deputation arrived in Buda and officially put forward Wladislaw’s candidacy. The Hungarian parliament, despite the resistance of the queen-widow’s partisans, decided to support her and sent a ceremonial envoy to Cracow. There the arduous negotiations continued, hampered by a number of factors. First, Elisabeth had given birth to a son, Ladislaus, who she believed was the legitimate heir to the throne. Secondly, there was resistance from some Polish dignitaries opposed to the ruler leaving the country and the necessarily favorable terms of the union with Hungary. It is presumed that the opposition may also have come from Wladislaw himself, who was to take the throne on the condition that he marry the widow of Albrecht Habsburg, who was 35 years old. According to Dlugosz, he only gave his final consent under pressure from members of the royal council, having subdued all revulsion and resentment within himself. On March 8, 1440, in Wawel Cathedral, he accepted the proposals of the Hungarian states and solemnly issued two documents. The first contained a confirmation of Hungarian laws, privileges and customs, and assured Polish support against the Turks. In return, Hungary was to support the Poles against the Tatars. The disputed territories of Ruthenia and Podolia were to remain with Poland, while Spisz was to return to Hungary. Moldavia was henceforth to remain dependent on both countries. The second document stipulated the marriage to the queen’s widow Elisabeth even before the coronation, which was set for May 1, 1440[c].

A harsh winter and subsequent snowmelt making travel difficult caused Wladislaw’s departure for Hungary to be delayed. In addition, the assassination of the Lithuanian prince Sigismund Kiejstutowicz took place in late March. In a situation where the separatist aspirations of a large part of the Lithuanian elite were known, it was necessary to establish a new ruler capable of ensuring the continuation of the Polish-Lithuanian union. It was eventually agreed that he would be Vladislav’s brother, Casimir. Together with a large retinue of mighty men and knights[d], he set out for Lithuania in May to assume the role of deputy Polish king. Importantly, he was to become not a grand duke, but a governor, which would have led to the fundamental unification of the Crown and Lithuania. This was opposed by Lithuanian boyars, who unexpectedly proclaimed Casimir grand duke on June 29, 1440. The latter agreed to take the throne, thereby violating the provisions of the Grodno Union. This development was opposed by Casimir’s Polish entourage, but they had no way to oppose his decision. Casimir presented each of his assigned retainers with insignificant gifts, after which he firmly saw them off to Poland. As a result, he assumed power in the grand duchy, although this power, due to his young age, actually rested for several years in the hands of the mighty boyars, above all the powerful Jan Gasztold.

Ladislaus, meanwhile, after deciding on Lithuania, began his journey south. On April 21, in Nowy Sącz, he made the last decisions on the rule of the state in his absence, bid farewell to his mother and brother, and then crossed the Hungarian border with his retinue. He soon arrived in Kežmarok, where the first information about the aggravated situation in Hungary reached him. Although the parliament still supported Vladislav’s candidacy, it was openly opposed by the queen-in-law. She[e] stole the Crown of St. Stephen from Visegrad, after which she began preparations for her son’s coronation. This one took place on May 15 in Bialgorod. The crown was placed on the head of the three-month-old child by the Primate of Hungary, which raised the status of the ceremony. At the same time, however, the act of coronation was incompatible with the decision of the Sejm, and information about it did not reach the wider masses of the nobility. In this situation, the deciding factor was to be which party would occupy the country’s capital first. Vladislav succeeded – his partisans manned Buda in the middle of the month, after which he himself entered it ceremoniously on May 21. Elisabeth, in this situation, retreated to Györ and then to Prešburg (today’s Bratislava). Vladislav, meanwhile, was gaining more and more supporters thanks to his lenient approach and abandonment of repression, and as the Turks besieged Belgrade and thus approached central Hungary. The Hungarian Diet decided that the coronation could only be decided by the nobility through a free election, and then annulled the coronation of Elizabeth’s son and hailed Ladislaus Jagiellon as king. His coronation took place in Bialogrod on July 16. In a situation where the Crown of St. Stephen could not be recovered, an iron crown was placed on Wladislaw’s head, which became a full-fledged coronation insignia by decision of the Sejm[f].

Civil war in Hungary[edit | edit code].

Vladislav’s coronation not only failed to end internal disputes, but led to the outbreak of civil war. Elizabeth placed her son under the protection of Emperor Frederick III of Habsburg, and pledged the Crown of St. Stephen to him. In return, she received funds that allowed her to launch an offensive against Ladislaus. The opposition army was led by the Hussite leader Jan Jiskra, who decided to launch an offensive in the region of Upper Hungary, or today’s Slovakia. This step was intended to make it possible to cut off Ladislaus from possible reinforcements from Poland. Giskra was quite successful, and Elisabeth additionally also gained the support of numerous magnates from southern and western Hungary. For the most part, these were dignitaries whom the new king had overlooked in granting positions, dignities and gifts related to the coronation. Among others, the Primate of Hungary once again went to the side of the queen-in-waiting. Opposition forces unexpectedly advanced from the south on Buda, which could have led to the fall of Ladislaus’ power. In a critical situation, he called in troops defending the southern border against the Turks. These, under the command of Jan Hunyady, clashed with Elizabeth’s troops at Batászek in late December. The even battle, in which the opposition troops were outnumbered, ended in victory for the royal troops. This halted the offensive of the queen-in-waiting, whose troops from Upper Hungary had so far ventured almost under the capital. Wladislaw’s position was further strengthened by the arrival of some 5,000 reinforcements from Malopolska. These troops managed to break through Giskra-controlled Upper Hungary and reach Buda on January 5. Despite the very harsh winter, Ladislaus launched an offensive that allowed him to take Ostrzyhom. He then moved southwest, where, despite the defeat of part of the royal forces at Sambor, he managed to subjugate the counts of Cilicia and thus eliminate one of the main centers of resistance. However, this success was not exploited, as the momentum of the royal offensive diminished significantly. Hunyady’s forces returned over the border with Turkey, while only some troops were sent to Upper Hungary. The king remained in the capital to see to the negotiations with Elizabeth. It was his overly conciliatory attitude and willingness to hold talks rather than take decisive military action that is attributed to the continued defeat of the royal forces[2]. The opposition took the initiative again, seizing the important fortress of Kežmarok. Ladislaus was left with only a few Greater Hungarian reinforcements, as the Malopolans had already returned to Poland in the summer. The main Hungarian forces were fighting the Turks, depriving the king of the means to suppress Elizabeth’s resistance. Ladislaus also failed to bring in more reinforcements from his homeland – his dramatic letters asking for support were ignored by most of the magnates, as well as Siemowit IV, Duke of Mazovia. Although small war taxes were passed, a dispute with Lithuania over the land of Drohiczyn precluded any decisive action. An additional reason for discouraging Polish knights from fighting in the south was probably the plague raging in Hungary. The civil war dragged on, which worked to Wladislaw’s disadvantage. Although he began preparations for another offensive, they proceeded very slowly, and the attack did not get underway until early January 1441. The royal forces unblocked the castle in Prešburg, which had been besieged by Elisabeth, and then laid siege to the city in Elisabeth’s hands. Jagiellonian’s great mistake was to abandon the siege, in the face of attempts by Frederick III and Elisabeth to negotiate. The talks failed, and the king’s retreat ended in defeat – the army was devastated by the plague and fighting with Elisabeth’s Bohemian mercenaries. In addition, unpaid volunteer troops hitherto fighting in the Kosice region returned to Poland. Vladislav’s campaign of late 1441/1442 also failed.

By early 1442, both sides were exhausted and the country was sinking into economic regression. Both the Polish nobility and Emperor Frederick III were unwilling to provide further financial and military support. With another Turkish offensive additionally expected, both sides in the conflict were willing to begin negotiations. They lasted from May to August with the mediation of the papal delegate, Cardinal Julian Cesarini. The peace arrangements stipulated that Wladislaw’s coronation would be annulled, but he would retain power as regent and guardian of his son Elizabeth until he reached the age of 15. Jagiellonian was also to marry Albrecht and Elisabeth’s elder daughter, Anna. The arrangement could have stabilized the situation in Hungary and even proved favorable to Ladislaus, but its approval was strongly opposed by the king’s Hungarian advisors and the parliament. Indeed, for the Hungarian nobility, it was a profound insult to negate the right of free election and annul the coronation decisions they had made. As a result, peace was not signed, and talks were held from the beginning. Finally, a new peace was signed on December 14, 1442.It did not fundamentally resolve any disputes, but only separated spheres of influence and determined which strongholds and cities would remain in the hands of the queen. The treaty was accepted by Ladislaus, even though it was highly unfavorable to him. In reality, it merely constituted an armistice, almost forcing the outbreak of another civil war. The situation was further complicated by Elizabeth’s sudden death on December 19, which de facto only restored the armistice that was to last until April. Ladislaus did not take advantage of the situation and suppress the leaderless opposition. On the contrary, he decided to prepare for a major war with Turkey despite disagreements with his opponents and the internal breakdown of the state.

Reign of Casimir Jagiellon (1447-1492)[edit | edit code].

The reign of Casimir Jagiellon as king of Poland was one of the longest in the history of the kingdom. It lasted 45 years and coincided with the twilight of the Gothic period in Poland, the crystallization of the institutions of noble democracy and the supremacy of the nobility over other states. He ascended the Polish throne only three years after the death of his brother Ladislaus III at Varna in 1444. This was to obtain from the Polish mighty better terms of union for the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, where he had ruled since 1440. It was also the period of the Thirteen Years’ War (1454-1466) with the Teutonic Order, as a result of which Poland, after signing the Peace of Torun, regained Gdansk Pomerania, Warmia and the Chelmno and Michalow lands. The history of this war is linked to the granting of the cerekwic-Nešavsk privilege to the nobility in 1454, which ordered the king to ask the nobility for permission to convene a common movement or impose new taxes, which significantly limited the king’s prerogatives and strengthened the nobility. Casimir’s reign in the Kingdom of Poland and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania was a time when the Polish-Lithuanian state achieved the status of a power in Central Europe. It was also a period of cultural and artistic development, with the names of Jan Długosz, Wit Stwosz, Kallimach and Wojciech of Brudzew being associated with it. The children of Casimir IV included Jan Olbracht, Alexander Jagiellon and Sigismund the Old, successive kings of Poland.

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