How a Duke became a King – the story of Bolesław I Chrobry

Although this sounds like an introduction to a fairytale, it’s the more or less how the begining of Poland looked like. Don’t believe me? Let me tell you the story of the Boleslaw I Chrobry (meaning Bolesław I the Valiant or the Brave) and how the Kingdom of Poland was born.

The history begins in year 992, when after the death of his father Mieszko I, Boleslaw I Chrobry took the rule over Poland as its Duke. He turned Poland into a country that was not only comparable to older western monarchies, but also elevated it into the European elite. He was a remarkable politician and general, leading many military campaigns and gaining allies both among neighbour countries’ rulers and the Roman Catholic Church. Although he had a lot of alliances, it was only in 1000 when his way towards the real throne began, and only in 1025 he was officially made a King.

Boleslaw Chrobry

What happened in 1000? It’s called the Congress of Gniezno. The city was the Poland’s capital that time, and during the congress the Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire to which Poland was subordinate at that time, Otto III raised Gniezno to the rank of an archbishopric (which gave it a lot more meaning in the world political scene), and three new dioceses subordinate to Gniezno were created. Because of what he saw in Gniezno, and how powerful Poland appeared to be, and because the Emperor needed a strong ally, he placed his Imperial crown on Bolesław’s brow and invested him with the title frater et cooperator Imperii (“Brother and Partner of the Empire”). Although it didn’t give Bolesław much power, it was the begining of his way towards the Crown of Poland.

Soon enough after the Congress, though, Otto III died and the amicable relations between the two countries ended quickly. Bolesław took the opportunity and conquered some German regions, one of which after the chaos in Germay settled down, was allowed for him to keep as a fief.

The new land wasn’t the only benefit the Duke managed to snatch in the short period of problems that struck the Holy Roman Empire of Germany. In 1025, just after the new German Emperor Henry II died, Bolesław II Chrobry crowned himself a king and therefore raised Poland to the rank of a Kindgom. Sadly, he soon died himself most likely due to an illness, and the throne was handed down to his son, Mieszko II Lambert. Luckily, he was allowed by the Pope to keep the crown and therefore the Poland was kept a Kigdom.

The history of Poland as a mighty, sovereign country begins in year 1000, in Gniezno, and in Gniezno it is strenghtened on 18th April 1025, when the official, Polish crown finally rests on Bolesław’s brow. Is Poland still as strong as back then? It’s up to you do decide. One it for sure – that the history that happened in Gniezno, never died, and till this day shines bright to remind us how amazing this country can be.

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