Casimir III the Great Piast of Poland, King of Poland, was born 30 April 1310 in Kowal, Poland to Władysław I the Elbow-high of Poland (1261-1333) and Hedwig of Poznań (1266-1339) and died 5 November 1370 Kraków, Poland of unspecified causes. He married Aldona of Lithuania (c1309-1339) 1325 JL . He married Adelheid von Hessen (c1323-aft1371) 29 September 1341 JL . He married Christina Rokiczanka (c1330-c1375) . He married Hedwig of Żagań (c1350-1390) 1365 JL . Charlemagne (747-814), Alfred the Great (849-899)/s, Charlemagne (747-814)/s, Hugh Capet (c940-996)/s, Rollo of Normandy (860-932)/s.

Casimir III the Great
King of Poland
Reign 1333–1370
Coronation 25 April 1333
Predecessor Vladislaus I the Elbow-high
Successor Louis the Great
House Piast POL Przemysł II 1295 COA.svg

Casimir III the Great (Polish: Kazimierz Wielki) (30 April 1310 – 5 November 1370) who reigned in 1333–1370, was the last King of Poland from the Piast dynasty, the son of King Władysław I the Elbow-high and Duchess Hedwig of Poznań.[1]

Born in Kowal, Casimir the Great first married Anna, or Aldona Ona, the daughter of the Prince Gediminas of Lithuania. The daughters from this marriage were Cunigunde (d. 1357), who was married to Louis VI the Roman, the son of Louis IV, Holy Roman Emperor, and Elisabeth, who was married to Duke Bogislaus V of Pomerania. Aldona died in 1339 and Casimir then married Adelaide of Hesse. He divorced Adelheid in 1356, married Christina, divorced her, and while Adelaide and possibly also Christina were still alive (ca. 1365) married Hedwig (Jadwiga) of Głogów and Żagań.

His three daughters by his fourth wife were very young and regarded as of dubious legitimacy because of their father's bigamy. Because all of the five children he fathered with his first and fourth wife were daughters, he would have no lawful male heir to his throne.

When Casimir, the last Piast king of Poland, died in 1370 from an injury received while hunting, his nephew King Louis I of Hungary succeeded him to become king of Poland in personal union with Hungary.

The Great king

Poland at the end of the rule of Casimir III (1370) within the dark red border; Silesia (yellow) is lost and the Kingdom is expanding to the east

Casimir is the only Polish king who both received and kept the title of the Great in Polish history (Bolesław I Chrobry is also called the Great, but his title Chrobry (Valiant) is now more common). When he received the crown, his hold on it was in danger, as even his neighbours did not recognise his title and instead called him "king of Kraków". The economy was ruined, and the country was depopulated and exhausted by war. Upon his death, he left a country doubled in size (mostly through the addition of land in today's Ukraine, then the Duchy of Halicz), prosperous, wealthy and with great prospects for the future. Although he is depicted as a peaceful king in children's books, he in fact waged many victorious wars and was readying for others just before he died.

Casimir the Great built many new castles (including Wawel Castle), reformed the Polish army and Polish civil and criminal law. At the Sejm in Wiślica, 11 March 1347, he introduced salutary legal reforms in the jurisprudence of his country. He sanctioned a code of laws for Great and Lesser Poland, which gained for him the title of "the Polish Justinian" and founded the University of Kraków which is the oldest Polish university, although his death temporarily stalled the university's development (which is why it is today called the "Jagiellonian" rather than "Casimirian" University).

He organized a meeting of kings at Kraków (1364) in which he exhibited the wealth of the Polish kingdom.

Concession to the nobility

Subjection of Ruthenia by the Crown of the Polish Kingdom (1366), by Jan Matejko

Wiec in reign of Casimir the Great

In order to enlist the support of the nobility, especially the military help of pospolite ruszenie, Casimir was forced to grant important privileges to their caste, which made them finally clearly dominant over townsfolk (burghers or mieszczaństwo).

In 1335, in the Treaty of Trentschin, Casimir relinquished "in perpetuity" his claims to Silesia. In 1355 in Buda, Casimir designated Louis I of Hungary as his successor. In exchange, the szlachta's tax burden was reduced and they would no longer be required to pay for military expeditions expenses outside Poland. Those important concessions would eventually lead to the ultimately crippling rise of the unique nobles' democracy in the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth.

His second daughter, Elisabeth, Duchess of Pomerania, bore a son in 1351, Casimir IV of Pomerania. He was slated to become the heir, but did not succeed to the throne, dying childless in 1377, 7 years after King Casimir. He was the only male descendant of King Casimir who lived during his lifetime.

Also, his son-in-law Louis VI the Roman of Bavaria, Margrave and Prince-elector of Brandenburg, was thought as a possible successor as king of Poland. However, he was not deemed eligible as his wife, Casimir's daughter Cunigunde, had died already in 1357, without children.

The Poles repulsed many raids of the Tatar-Mongols. However, Casimir III the Great submitted to the Golden Horde and undertook to pay tribute in order to avoid more conflicts.[2] The 7 Mongol princes were sent by Jani Beg khan to assist Poland.[3]

Casimir had no legitimate sons. Apparently, he deemed his own descendants either unsuitable or too young to inherit. Thus, and in order to provide a clear line of succession and avoid dynastic uncertainty, he arranged for his nephew, King Louis I of Hungary, to be his successor in Poland. Louis was proclaimed king on Casimir's death in 1370, and Casimir's sister Elisabeth (Louis's mother) held much of the real power until her death in 1380.

Relationship with Polish Jews

Wojciech Gerson, Casimir the Great and the Jews

King Casimir was favorably disposed toward Jews. On 9 October 1334, he confirmed the privileges granted to Jewish Poles in 1264 by Bolesław V the Chaste. Under penalty of death, he prohibited the kidnapping of Jewish children for the purpose of enforced Christian baptism. He inflicted heavy punishment for the desecration of Jewish cemeteries.

Although Jews had lived in Poland since before the reign of King Casimir, he allowed them to settle in Poland in great numbers and protected them as people of the king.[4]

Relationships and children

Casimir III married four times.

Aldona of Lithuania

On 30 April or 16 October 1325, Casimir married Aldona of Lithuania. She was a daughter of Gediminas of Lithuania and Jewna of Polotsk. They had two children:

Aldona died on 26 May 1339. Casimir remained a widower for two years.

Adelheid of Hesse

On 29 September 1341, Casimir married his second wife, Adelaide of Hesse. She was a daughter of Henry II, Landgrave of Hesse, and Elisabeth of Thuringia. They had no children.

Casimir started living separately from Adelaide soon after their marriage. Their loveless marriage lasted until 1356.


Casimir effectively divorced Adelaide and married his mistress Christina Rokiczana. Christina was the widow of Miklusz Rokiczani, a wealthy merchant. Her own origins are unknown. Following the death of her first husband she had entered the court of Bohemia in Prague as a lady-in-waiting. Casimir brought her with him from Prague and convinced the abbot of the Benedictine abbey of Tyniec to marry them. The marriage was held in a secret ceremony but soon became known. Queen Adelaide denounced it as bigamous and returned to Hesse without permission.

King Casimir continued living with Christine despite complaints by Pope Innocent VI on behalf of Queen Adelaide. The marriage lasted until 1363/1364 when Casimir again declared himself divorced. They had no children.

Hedwig of Żagań

In about 1365, Casimir married his fourth wife Hedwig of Żagań. She was a daughter of Henry V of Iron, Duke of Żagań and Anna of Mazovia. They had three children:

  • Anna of Poland, Countess of Celje (1366 – 9 June 1422). Married firstly William of Celje. Their only daughter was Anne of Cilli. Married secondly Ulrich, Duke of Teck. They had no children.
  • Kunigunde of Poland (1367–1370).
  • Hedwig of Poland (1368 – ca. 1407). Reportedly married ca. 1382 but the details are obscure.

With Adelaide still alive and Christine possibly surviving, the marriage to Hedwig was also considered bigamous. The legitimacy of the three last daughters was disputed. Casimir managed to have Anne and Cunigunde legitimated by Pope Urban V on 5 December 1369. Hedwig the younger was legitimated by Pope Gregory XI on 11 October 1371.


Casimir also had three illegitimate sons by his mistress Cudka, wife of a castellan.

  • Niemierz (last mentioned alive in 1386). Oldest son. Survived his father, inherited lands around Stopnica.
  • Pelka (1342–1365). Married and had two sons. Predeceased his father.
  • Jan (d. 28 October 1383). Youngest son. Survived his father, inherited lands around Stopnica.


32.Bolesław III Wrymouth of Poland
16.Casimir II the Just
33.Salomea of Berg
8.Konrad I of Masovia
34.Conrad II of Znojmo
17.Helena of Znojmo
35.Maria of Rascia
4.Casimir I of Kuyavia
36.Igor Svyatoslavich the Brave
18.Svyatoslav III Igorevich
37.Evfrosinia? Yaroslavna of Halych
9.Agafia of Rus
38.Rurik Rostislavich of Kiev
19.Yaroslava Rurikovna
39.Anna of Turaŭ
2.Władysław I the Elbow-high
40.Władysław II the Exile
20.Mieszko IV Tanglefoot
41.Agnes of Babenberg
10.Casimir I of Opole
5.Euphrosyne of Opole
1.Casimir III the Great
48.Mieszko III the Old
24.Odon of Poznań
49.Elisabeth of Hungary
12.Władysław Odonic
50.Yaroslav Osmomysl of Halych
25.Viacheslava of Halych
51.Olga Yurievna of Suzdal
6.Boleslaus the Pious of Greater Poland
13.Jadwiga of Pomerania
3.Hedwig of Kalisz
56.Béla III of Hungary
28.Andrew II of Hungary
57.Agnes of Antioch
14.Béla IV of Hungary
58.Berthold IV, Duke of Merania
29.Gertrude of Merania
59.Agnes of Wettin and Rochlitz
7.Blessed Jolenta
60.Manuel Laskaris
30.Theodore I Laskaris of Nicaea
61.Ioanna Karatzaina
15.Maria Laskarina
62.Alexios III Angelos
31.Anna Komnene Angelina
63.Euphrosyne Doukaina Kamatera

Title and style

Casimir's full title was: Casimir by the grace of God king of Poland, lord and heir of the land of Kraków, Sandomierz, Sieradz, Łęczyca, Kuyavia, Pomerania (Pomerelia) and Ruthenia.

The title in Latin was: Kazimirus, Dei gracia rex Poloniæ ac terrarum Cracoviæ, Sandomiriæ, Syradiæ, Lanciciæ, Cuyaviæ, Pomeraniæ, Russiequæ dominus et heres.


See also

  • History of Poland (966–1385)
  • Jagiellonian University
  • Kazimierz Wielki University in Bydgoszcz
  • Kazimierz
  • Kazimierz Dolny
  • List of Poles


  1. ^ Halina Lerski (1996). "Casimir III the Great". Historical Dictionary of Poland, 966–1945. ABC-CLIO Press. pp. 249–250. ISBN 0313034567. Retrieved September 8, 2012. 
  2. ^ CICO-X, pp.189
  3. ^ Peter Jackson-the Mongols and the West, p.211
  4. ^ "In Poland, a Jewish Revival Thrives—Minus Jews". New York Times. 12 July 2007. "Probably about 70 percent of the world's European Jews, or Ashkenazi, can trace their ancestry to Poland—thanks to a 14th-century king, Casimir III, the Great, who drew Jewish settlers from across Europe with his vow to protect them as "people of the king."" 
  5. ^ Zamek Ogrodzieniecki w Podzamczu (Polish)

External links

Wikimedia Commons has media related to:
Casimir III the Great of Poland (1310-1370)
House of Piast
Born: 1310 Died: 1370
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Władysław I the Elbow-high
King of Poland
Succeeded by
Louis I of Hungary
Preceded by
Boleslaw-Yuri II
King of Halych-Volhynia
Succeeded by
Louis I of Hungary


Offspring of Casimir III the Great and Aldona of Lithuania (c1309-1339)
Name Birth Death Joined with
Elisabeth of Poland (c1326-1361) 1326 1361 Bogislaw V. von Pommern-Wolgast (c1326-1374)
Cunigunde of Poland (1334-1357) 16 May 1335 26 April 1357 Berlin, Germany Ludwig VI. von Bayern (1328-1365)

Offspring of Casimir III the Great and Hedwig of Żagań (c1350-1390)
Name Birth Death Joined with
Anna of Poland (1366-1422) 1366 1422 William, Count of Cilli (c1361-1392) William, Count of Cilli (c1361-1392) Ulrich II, Duke of Teck (c1365-1432)
Kunigunde of Poland (1367-1370)
Jadwiga of Poland (1368-c1407)

Offspring of Casimir III the Great and Cudka
Name Birth Death Joined with
Niemierz of Stopnica (?-aft1386)
Pelka of Stopnica (1342-1365)
Jan of Stopnica (?-1383)



Footnotes (including sources)