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Prominent Poles

Mieszko I , Duke of Poland c.962- 992, the first historic ruler of Poland, founder of the Piast dynasty

Portrait of Mieszko I,Duke

Born: 935

Died:   May 25, 992

Father (possibly) the semi-legendary Ziemomysl.
Mieszko was the first (historically known) Piast duke of the Polanians, which gave that name to a country later called Poland. Mieszko was not his actual name, but given at a later time. Mieszko was also written "Mieczislaw (Burislaf) I " . That means that he had another name possibly "Burislaf of Wendland." In either 964 or 965 (more probably) he married Dobrawa (or Dobrava/Dubrawka), a daughter of Boleslav I the Cruel, duke of Bohemia. Dubrawka died in 977. In 978 he married Oda von Haldensleben, daughter of Dietrich (Theoderic) of Haldensleben, count of the North March (965-985), after abducting her from the monastery of Kalbe. The early career of Mieszko was dominated by fighting with the Polabian Slavic tribes of Wieletes and Volinians south of the Baltic Sea, and their ally, the Saxon count Wichman. Mieszko was baptised in 966 (probably under the influence of his Christian first wife or maybe in order to avoid confrontation with the Holy Roman Empire to the west) he built a church dedicated to Saint George at Gniezno and in 968 he founded the first Polish cathedral in Poznań dedicated to Saint Peter. At the time of the reign of Mieszko there was no single place serving as the capital, instead he built several castles around his country. Of the most important were: Poznań, Gniezno and Ostrów Lednicki (about 20 miles from Poznan). It was a ring-fort some 460 feet in diameter. Inside his residence was a fine stone palace, the country's first monumental architecture.
He had probably one sister of unknown name, and two brothers: one of them, name unknown, was killed in a battle around 964; and the second, named Czcibor, died in the Battle of Cedynia in 972. Mieszko’s reign began around 962 in Greater Poland (Wielkopolska), Cuiavia (Kujawy), Masovia (Mazowsze) and possibly in eastern Pomerania (Pomorze). In the 960s he probably at least partially conquered western Pomerania, and in the 990's he conquered Silesia (Śląsk) and Little Poland (Malopolska).
Much of his military activity was along the Baltic coast, in territory later called Pomerania. He defeated Margrave Hodo of the Northern March at Cedynia in 972, and reached the mouth of the Oder/Odra river in 976. The decisive battle, fought in 979, ensured Mieszko's position as ruler of the area. The following year he celebrated his temporary conquest by dedicating a fortress at Gdańsk. Settlements there have existed for millennia and Pomeranian and Prussian territories overlap at the mouth of the Vistula River.
In 981 Mieszko I lost the land known as Grody Czerwieńskie to Vladimir I, prince of Kiev. In 986,upon death of Emperor Otto II. he pledged allegiance to the Emperor Otto III, and helped him with wars against the Polabians. Shortly before his death he placed his state under the suzerainty of the Pope in a document usually called the Dagome Iudex. This Dagome Iudex indexes the lands of Mieszko, referred as "Dagome" in document, and his wife, former nun Oda and her sons by him.
From his first marriage he had a son, his successor Boleslaw, and two daughters, Swietoslawa and the other of an unknown name. Sygryda was the wife (as queen Sigrid the Haughty) of Erik VIII Sejrsael Bjoernson (Eric the Victorious), King of Sweden and then wife (as queen Gunhild) of King Svend I Tveskaeg (Sweyn Forkbeard) of Denmark, and mother of king Knud (Canute) of Denmark and England. The name for such daughter, "Świętosława", is generally accepted amongst historians as best approximation on her Slavic name. The second daughter was most likely married to a Pomeranian Slavic Prince.
From his second marriage he had three sons; Mieszko, Lambert, and Świętopełk. On his death, he divided his state among his first born, Boleslaw, and his sons by Oda
Dagome Iudex.Dagome Iudex is a common name for one of the earliest written documents related to Poland, written originally in around 991/2. Its name came from first two words of document. One should be warned that Dagome iudex is not the original, but a summary of it, done around 1080 (it was found in a register made by one of the curial cardinals from the time of pope Gregory VII). The document is very important for Polish history, since it contains a description of the Polish state at the time. [1] There is no doubt today, that that name describes Mieszko I. Only controversy is: is this an incorrect writing of his name, or, as some (Łowmiański) think, his second, Christian name (Dago, Dagon, Dagobert) Since Vikings were responsible for founding the state of the Rus, some people have wondered if a they could have also been the founders of a Polish state.
There are some arguments for that theory:1. In one early written documents, Mieszko I is called "Dagome", which could be a Norman name, derived from Dagon.2. Some Viking weapons have been found in Poland.3 There were Viking settlements in Pomerania, the most important of which was Jomsborg.4 Several Polish noblemen had runes on their coats of arms. Most historians find these arguments tenuous and unconvincing.1 In no other chronicle or document is Mieszko called Dagome. Quite on the contrary, he is described as Msko, Mesco, and so on - both by Ibrahim ibn Jakub and the Germans. Dagome Iudex is a terribly mangled copy of a summary of document. For example, modern historians do not know the meaning of shinesghe, which is used in the Dagome Iudex. The copyists who wrote the summary did not know about whom the author was writing and could have easily made mistakes.2 This is definite proof that Vikings were merely mercenaries or invaders. What's more, the findings relating to them are few, especially compared to Russia and other countries.3 In fact, some (like Awdańcy) had signs which can be interpreted as runes, because there is slight resemblance between runes and those signs. However they could be also something else, for example special ownership-endorsing markings. And even if some Polish noblemen were of Viking descent, this could also be attributed to the Viking mercenaries of Polish kings.4 Jomsborg, as historians (at least Polish) have agreed many years ago, is a myth. The only source that tells us about Jomsburg are Iceland sagas, from the 13th century. It's more likely that a city of Slavic pirates existed at that spot.5 Dynastic tradition is straightforward in saying that Piasts originated from local population. It does not mention Vikings, contrary to dynastic tradition in Rus.6 There is no archaeological evidence of rapid changes in the making of weapons or fortresses. In fact, the evolution in their making is gradual. Fortresses were built in a style that do not resemble the Viking customs.7 There is strong evidence, both archeological and written, that the Polish state developed on its own.


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