Bolesław II the Bold

XI pagePolandPrincely times Kings and Queens

Bolesław II the Bold or the Generous (1039–22.03.1081) – Polish Duke (1058–1076) and King (1076–1079), representative of the Piast dynasty.

Bolesław II was a son of the Duke Kazimierz the Restorer of Poland and Maria-Dobronega, daughter of Volodymyr the Great, Grand Duke of Kyiv.

Bolesław II resumed the aggressive policy of his great-grandfather Bolesław I the Brave. The Duke repeatedly interfered in the internal affairs of neighbouring countries: thus, in Hungary he rendered military assistance to Duke Béla in his struggle against King Ándras in 1057, and later, in 1074, aided Géza I to dethrone King Solomon. In 1061, basing upon the alliance with Hungary and Kyivan Rus, Bolesław II interfered into the internecine wars in Bohemia, but suffered a defeat. In 1068, the Grand Prince Iziaslav, the ally of Poland, was banished from Kyiv and in 1069 Bolesław II waged a campaign against Kyiv, cruelly punished the enemies of Iziaslav Yaroslavych and helped him to recover the Kyivan throne.

The successful interference of Bolesław II in the struggle between the Emperor Henry IV and Pope Gregory VII for the influence upon Poland contributed to the strengthening of international prestige of the Polish state. Bolesław II took the part of the Pope: in 1072 he refused to pay tribute to the Emperor and declared the independence of Poland, and in 1074 he declared the Polish state a feoff of the Holy See. This brought its benefits: in 1075 a legate arrived to Poland to secure once and for all the rights of the Gniezno Archbishopric, and in 1076 Bolesław II was crowned King of Poland.

Thus Bolesław II managed to decide two most important issues the Polish state faced during the Controversy of the 1030 s: to restore the independence of Poland and return the title of the king to the Polish monarchs.

However, in the late 1070 s the internal and external problems of the Polish state again aggravated. Bolesław II’s endeavours to return Western Pomerania to Poland failed. In 1077, at the instance of the Pope, Bolesław II waged another campaign against Kyiv. The city was captured, Iziaslav again became the Prince of Kyiv. But as soon as the Poles returned home, Iziaslav’s brothers again came against him, and the Prince died in battle (1078). The major problem, however, was the strengthening of the independence of Polish aristocracy supported by Bohemia and the Holy Roman Empire. After the execution of Bishop Stanislaus of Krakow, accused by Bolesław II of treason, the magnates’ rebellion broke out in the country. It was headed by the younger brother of the King, Duke Władysław I Herman. In 1079 Bolesław II was deposed and forced into exile to Hungary, where he died two years later. His rebellious brother Władysław I Herman mounted the throne.

Portrait (imaginary) of Bolesław II the Bold