|Death||May 18, 1401 (Opole, Opole Voivodeship, Poland)|
- This article is about a 14th-century noble. For the 13th-century one, see Władysław Opolski.
Vladislaus II of Opole (Polish: Władysław Opolczyk, German: Wladislaus von Oppeln, Hungarian: Oppelni László, Ukrainian: Владислав Опольчик) (ca. 1332 – 18 May 1401) was a Duke of Opole from 1356 (as a Bohemian vassal), Count palatine of Hungary during 1367–1372, ruler over Lubliniec since 1368, Duke of Wieluń during 1370–1392, ruler over Bolesławiec from 1370 (only for his life), Governor of Galicia–Volhynia during 1372–1378, ruler over Pszczyna during 1375–1396, Count palatine of Poland in 1378, Duke of Dobrzyń and Kujawy during 1378–1392 (as a Polish vassal), ruler over Głogówek from 1383 and ruler over Krnov during 1385–1392.
He was the eldest son of Duke Bolko II of Opole by his wife Elisabeth, daughter of Duke Bernard of Świdnica.
He was a descendant of the House of Piast. Little is known about his youth. As a young prince, in order to gain more political experience, he went to Hungary around 1353, where he probably remained until the death of his father (1356). There he also got married.
Duke of Opole
After Duke Bolko II's death, Vladislaus and his brothers Bolko III and Henry inherited Duchy of Opole (then fiefdom of the Bohemian Crown) as co-rulers; however, the strong personality of Vladislaus soon dominated the whole government and encourage his brothers to accept a modest part of their inheritance. Bolko III and Henry remained as co-Dukes of Opole, but only formally.
Cooperation with King Louis I the Great of Hungary
The great political career of Vladislaus began in the mid 1360s in the Hungarian court of King Louis I. Already in 1364 he took part in the famous Congress of Cracow as part of the Hungarian suite. However, the most important mission of Vladislaus on behalf of King Louis took place two years later (in 1366), when he negotiated conditions of the planned marriage between a niece of Hungarian ruler and Wenceslaus, son of Emperor Charles IV.
The faithful service to the Hungarian House of Anjou resulted in the appointment of Vladislaus as Count palatine, which made him most important man after the King in the country. The functions of this post were primarily broad judicial powers, who could be had only with the King. In this office, Vladislaus showed great commitment and capability; he created the rule of four Congregatio generalis, which handled court cases. Despite his huge income, his new post in the Hungarian affected Vladislaus' finances.
The death of Casimir III the Great. Homage to the Kingdom of Poland
During his time as Count palatine, Vladislaus didn't stop to participate in the foreign politics; the example of this was, among other things, his trip to Bulgaria in 1368. In 1370, after the death of Casimir III the Great, the Duke of Opole actively participated in preparing the succession of King Louis I of Hungary in the Polish throne. As a reward, King Louis give him the towns of Wieluń and Częstochowa.
By that time, Vladislaus' brother Bolko III inherited Strzelce Opolskie from their uncle Albert and with this, the Duke of Opole could maintain the sole government over his domains (the youngest brother, Henry, died in 1365 without issue).
In 1371 Vladislaus led an armed expedition against the Crown of Bohemia (this assault caused a terrible devastation of Moravia); however, next year Vladislaus was the head of a mediation mission to resolve dispute between the Emperor (also Bohemian King) Charles IV and King Louis I.
Ruthenia Lord and Heir
In October 1372 Vladislaus was unexpectedly deprived from the office of Count palatine. Although he retained most of his castles and goods in Hungary, his political influence was significantly decreased. As a compensation, was made Governor of Hungarian-ruled part of the Kingdom of Galicia–Volhynia. In this new position, the Duke of Opole successfully contributing to the economic development of the territories entrusted to him. Vladislaus mainly resided in Lviv, but at the end of his rule he spent more time in Halych. The only serious conflict during his time as Governor was related to his approaching to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, which caused the angry of the local boyars, who were strongly Catholics.
Probably following Vladislaus's advices, in 1374 King Louis I published a provincial privilege for the Polish nobility (szlachta) in Košice, which ensured the succession of the King's daughters after his death.
Count palatine of Poland and ruler of Kujawy
In 1378 the departure of Queen Elisabeth from Poland to Hungary, forced King Louis to release Vladislaus from his post of Governor and appointed him with the empty position of Polish Count palatine. But almost immediately Vladislaus had to face the strong resistance of the Polish nobility, dissatisfied with the decision of King Louis to named heirs to his daughters, and soon was forced to resign.
As compensation for his resignation, the Duke of Opole received from the Hungarian ruler the towns of Dobrzyń Land and part of Kujawy (with towns Bydgoszcz, Inowrocław and Gniewkowo). These territories were on the border of the Teutonic Order lands, which soon shortly Vladislaus established close contacts, who included allowed the prosecution of criminals by Teutonic knights in his domains.
In Kujawy, Vladislaus entered in a dispute over finances with the Bishop of Płock, Dobiesław Sówka, resulting in the excommunication of the Duke, who was repealed a year later by the Archbishop of Gniezno. As a gesture of reconciliation with the Church, Vladislaus founded the Pauline monastery of Our Lady at Jasna Góra in Częstochowa; also, the Duke brought the famous Black Madonna of Częstochowa, who according to oldest documents, travelled from Jerusalem, via Constantinople and Bełz, to finally reach Częstochowa in August 1382.
The deaths of his brother Bolko III (21 October 1382), leaving four minor sons, and one month later (14 September) of the Duke Henry of Niemodlin without issue, made it possible to Vladislaus extend his influence on Upper Silesia, as a rule over Strzelce and Niemodlin (although only as a regent of his nephews) and Głogówek (granted to him one year later, in 1383). The Duke of Opole also supported the Church career of the eldest son of Bolko III, Jan Kropidło trying to obtain for him, despite his young age, the dignity of the Bishop of Poznań.
Death of Louis I and relations with Vladislaus II Jagiełło
On 10 September 1382 King Louis I of Hungary, Vladislaus' protector, died. Despite the earlier support given to him to late King's daughters, Vladislaus put his own nomination to the royal crown. However, he wasn't popular among the Polish nobility, who decanted (in connection with the broken engagement between Queen Hedwig and William of Habsburg) for Duke Siemowit IV of Płock.
Contrary to the old historiography, the Duke of Opole supported the new Polish King Władysław II Jagiełło during the first period of his reign. Some historians accept the fact that in 1386 Vladislaus stood as the King's godfather when he converted to the Catholic faith. However, the cooperation between the Duke of Opole and the King was short-lived: in 1388, after the King dispossessed him from Bydgoszcz, the Duke lead a coup who planned to capture the King and Wawel Castle. Defeated and captured by the Starosta (provincial governor) Sędziwój Pałuka, Vladislaus was forced to capitulate and resign from any claim to the Polish throne. King Władysław II Jagiełło also blocked the nomination of Jan Kropidło for the post of Archbishop of Gniezno.
Cooperation with the Teutonic Order. Vladislaus' ambitions and war with Poland. Death
Further frictions with the King of Poland took place in May 1391, when Vladislaus pledged the land of Złotów to the Teutonic Order. Aware of the danger that the Teutonic Order to close to his bordes, the King ordened the deprivation of Vladislaus from his fiefs in Polish territory. Against the Royal power, the Duke of Opole capitualed, and in 1392 transferred the disputed territories to Poland (with the exception of Bolesławiec, which, completely loyal to Władysław, only accepted the annexation to the Polish Kingdom after the death of the Duke of Opole).
However, the attitude of Vladislaus was not changed and in 1393 he sold his rights over Dobrzyń to the Teutonic Order. Has also tried to encourage the Great master of the Teutonic Order, Konrad von Wallenrode, to attack the Kingdom with the combination of the troops of Teutonic knights in Poland, Hungary and Bohemia, but the conflict ended unexpectedly. The war, which began successfully (for example, with the siege to Nowy Korczyn on 26 July 1393), finally ended in 1396, when the royal army decided to attack the Silesian lands of Vladislaus. After the Polish troops took control over Strzelce, on 6 August of that year, Vladislaus' nephews decided to make peace with the King of Poland. Since then, the government of the Duchy of Opole was virtually taken over by the sons of Bolko III, and Vladislaus was relegated to a second status.
Disappointed because of his ambitions failed disastrously, Vladislaus died on 18 May 1401 in Opole, and was buried in the local Franciscan monastery.
Marriages and issue
Around 1355 and during his stay in Hungary, Vladislaus married firstly with Elisabeth (b. 1340 – d. ca. 1369), daughter of Nicolae Alexandru Basarab, Voivode of Wallachia. They had three daughters:
- Kinga (b. 1355/57 – d. aft. 1369), a nun at Alt-Buda.
- Elisabeth [Agnes] (b. 1360 – d. by 9 September 1411), married in 1372 to Margrave Jobst of Moravia, King of the Romans.
- Katharina (b. ca. 26 March 1367 – d. 6 June 1420), married in 1382 to Duke Henry VIII of Żagań-Głogów-Ścinawa.
By 1369, Vladislaus married secondly with Euphemia (b. ca. 1352 – d. by 9 December 1424), daughter of Duke Siemowit III of Masovia. They had two daughters:
- Hedwig (b. 1376/78 – d. aft. 13 May 1390), married bef. 25 January 1390 to Duke Vygantas-Alexander of Kernavė.
- Euphemia (d. young, bef. 30 March 1408).
Because he died without male heirs, Vladislaus' nephews Bolko IV and Bernard inherited the whole Duchy except Głogówek, who was given by the late Duke to his wife Euphemia as her widow's dowry (oprawa wdowia).