Casimir I the Restorer (Odnowiciel)
Duke of Poland 1034-1058
At the time of his father`s death, Casimir was beyond borders of Poland, in the court of his uncle - Archbishop of Cologne. Without new ruler present, Polish magnates revolted en masse, which was also accompanied by anti-Christian 'pagan reaction'. Casimir tried to seize power two times. In 1037 he failed, and was forced to retreat to Saxony. After second failed attempt in 1038, he fled to Hungary, where he was imprisoned by king Stephen I.
With chaos continuing, one of the strongest magnates - Miecław, managed to create small state of his own in Masovia. At the same time Gdansk Pomerania broken it`s dependence from Poland. Duke of Bohemia Bretislaus I also saw this as an opportunity, and in 1039 he invaded Poland. His armies ravaged most of the country, and sacked many towns. During pillage of Polish capital - Gniezno, he took relics of Saint Adalbert back with him. Whole campaign ended with annexation of Silesia.
'Casimir returning to Poland', 19th century painting.
In year 1039 Casimir managed to brake free from imprisonment, and flee to Germany. Emperor Henry III was wary of increasing power and influence of Bohemian Duke, as well as pagan rebellion at his borders. Thus he decided to support Casimir in his attempt to regain control over country. Polish Duke received financial and military support, and in year 1040 captured Krakow, which became new capital of Poland. He also secured an alliance with Kievan Grand Prince Yaroslav the Wise, and married his sister - Dobronega. In several following years, Casimir managed to retake most of his domain, and after brief war with Bohemia, he forced Bretislaus I to renounce all claims on Polish lands, with exception of Silesia.
From top to bottom - Eastern Polish Voivode (commander), Western Polish elite cavalryman/landlord, Southern Polish tribal warrior.
After few relatively peaceful years, Casimir attacked Miecław with support of Kievans. In year 1047 he defeated rebellious magnate and brought Masovia back into his realm. Finally, in year 1050, he attacked Duchy of Bohemia, acting against will of the Emperor. He seized control over Silesia after victorious campaign, and eventually Henry III acknowledged his rights over the region. Thus Casimir restored Duchy to it`s former shape, after long period of chaos, and final years of his reign were peaceful. He rebuilt and strengthened Church structures, which suffered during pagan revolt. He also decided to limit size and significance of Druzhyna, and instead he granted land to his retinue warriors in exchange to military service. At the same time heraldry was introduced, and slowly Poland began to transform from tribalism to feudalism.