Mieszko IV Tanglefoot

Mieszko IV Tanglefoot
Mieszko IV Tanglefoot
17th century portrait
High Duke of Poland
Reign 1210-1211
Predecessor Leszek I the White
Successor Leszek I the White
Duke of Silesia
Reign 1163-1173
Predecessor Bolesław IV the Curly
Successor Bolesław I the Tall
Spouse Ludmila
Casimir I of Opole
House Silesian Piasts
Father Władysław II the Exile
Mother Agnes of Babenberg
Born c.1130
Died 16 May 1211

Mieszko IV Tanglefoot (Polish: Mieszko IV Plątonogi) (ca. 1130 – 16 May 1211) was a Duke of Silesia from 1163 to 1173 (with his brother as co-ruler), Duke of Racibórz from 1173, Duke of Opole from 1202 and from 9 June 1210 until his death, Duke of Kraków and High Duke of Poland.

He was the second son of Władysław II the Exile by his wife Agnes of Babenberg, daughter of Margrave Leopold III of Austria and half-sister of King Conrad III of Germany.

His nickname "Tanglefoot" (Plątonogi) appeared in the early chronicles of the 14th and 15th centuries. By the year 1192 the following was written: "Cracovia civitas est devastate a Mescone loripede dicto Platonogi nepote ducis Kazimiriensis Filio Wladislai exulis" ("Monumenta Poloniae Historica," edd. Bielowski August, t.II, Lviv 1872, p. 876). This is the oldest preserved record of the Mieszko's nickname in the form of "Plątonogi".



Exile in Germany

From 1146, after the deposition of his father, Mieszko and his family mainly lived in the town of Altenburg in Saxony, which was granted as a temporary possession to Władysław II by his brother-in-law, King Conrad III of Germany. During his time in exile, Mieszko studied in Michaelsberg and Bamberg.

However, the supposed temporary exile was, for the deposed High Duke, for good; he died in Altenburg in 1159. His sons continued the fight to recover their inheritance, and finally three years later, in 1163, and thanks to the intervention of the Emperor Frederick Barbarossa, Mieszko and his older brother Bolesław I the Tall returned to Silesia.

Duke of Racibórz

Mieszko and Bolesław I the Tall co-ruled the Duchy of Wrocław during the period 1163-1173. At first, their rule did not extend over the major Silesian cities, which remained under the control of Bolesław IV the Curly, the current High Duke of Poland. The brothers retook them in the year 1165, taking advantage of Bolesław IV's involvement in a crusade against the Prussians.

However, soon Mieszko began his efforts to obtain his own Duchy, maybe in part because his older brother Bolesław took all the government into his hands and left little participation for Mieszko there. In 1172, Mieszko began the open rebellion against his brother; also, he supported Bolesław's eldest son, Jarosław, who was forced to became a priest thanks to the intrigues of his stepmother Christina, who wished her sons to be the only heirs. The rebellion was a complete surprise to Bolesław, who was forced to escape to Erfurt, Germany. However, the intervention of the Emperor favored the return of Bolesław soon afterwards, but he was forced to give his own separated lands to both Mieszko (who received the towns of Racibórz and Cieszyn) and Jarosław (who received Opole).

Bytom and Oświęcim

In 1177 Mieszko supported his uncle and namesake Mieszko III the Old when he had to fight to maintain his rule over the Duchy of Kraków; this renewed again the disputes between him and Bolesław I the Tall, who wished to obtain the Duchy and with this the Seniorate. However, Bolesław suffered an unexpected defeat by Mieszko and his own son Jarosław, who distracted him to advance over Kraków; in his place was his younger uncle and ally, Casimir II the Just, who captured the city and was proclaimed the new High Duke of Poland. Mieszko III the Old found himself in exile in Racibórz and it seemed that the war between Mieszko Tanglefoot and Casimir II the Just was now just a matter of time. Casimir II, however, went a different route and, in order to gain the favor of the Duke of Racibórz given him the towns of Oświęcim and Bytom (with the fortress of Oświęcim, Bytom, Mikołów, Siewierz and Pszczyna, although some historians estimate that these fortress had belonged to Mieszko only since 1179). On the other hand, Bolesław the Tall suffered a further diminution of his authority when he was compelled to give Głogów to his youngest brother Konrad, who had recently returned from Germany and claimed his part over the Silesian inheritance.

The Battle of Mozgawa

In 1195 Mieszko and his nephew Jarosław supported Mieszko III the Old in his new attempt to recover Kraków and the Seniorate. The death of Casimir II the Just and the minority of his sons had given them the opportunity to attack and regain control over Lesser Poland. However, Kraków and the nobility of Sandomierz, led by the voivode Nicholas, had other plans and decided to support Casimir II's eldest son, Leszek the White. Both sides clashed in the bloody Battle of Mozgawa near Jędrzejów (13 September 1195), where Mieszko III was seriously injured and his son Bolesław of Kuyavia died. The Silesian troops, led by Mieszko and Jarosław, arrived to the battlefield too late, soon after Mieszko III withdrew to Kalisz. Despite the forces of the Count palatine Goworek who also arrived to help Leszek's troops, the Silesians obtained a great victory; however, because Mieszko III wasn't present, this victory brought to them only benefits in terms of prestige (not counting the ransoms obtained by the Sandomierz nobles captured in the battle).

Duke of Opole

On 22 March 1201 Jarosław of Opole died. The Duchy of Opole was then inherited by his father Bolesław the Tall, with whom the late Duke was recently reconciled. Bolesław the Tall died only nine months later, on 7/8 December 1201, leaving all his lands to his eldest (and only) surviving son Henry I the Bearded.

Mieszko was determined to obtain Opole and made a surprise attack at the beginning of 1202. The Duke managed to obtain Opole, which was from then on definitely joined to his lands. Despite this victory, Mieszko wanted more lands, but this was against the wishes of the Church, which strongly supported Henry I the Bearded. Thanks to the intervention of the Archbishop of Gniezno, Henry Kietlicz and the Bishop of Wroclaw, Cyprian, Henry I maintained his frontiers, but he had to pay 1000 pieces of silver to his supporters.

High Duke of Poland. Death

On 9 June 1210 a Bull was decreed by Pope Innocent III, under which all the Seniorate rulers (included the High Duke Leszek the White) were excommunicated and deposed. Strangely, in the Bull the unnamed Duke of Silesia (who only could be Henry I the Bearded, because he actually used that title) was exempted from the ban. The country was full of consternation, because nobody knew who had real power.

Henry Ketlicz -who had returned from exile some time before- decided to call a Synod in Borzykowa, where he tried to find a solution to this delicate issue. At the convention, in addition to the Hierarchy of the Church, Henry I and the other Junior Dukes attended. Leszek the White, wanting to ensure the support of the Church, along with other Piast princes, then gave a Great Privilege, which ensured the integrity of territorial possession of the Bishops (the privilege wasn't signed by Henry and Władysław III Spindleshanks, but rather was complied with the provisions established there). Mieszko wasn't present in Borzykowa; with the support of the Gryfici family, he decided to lead his army and marched against Kraków, where the confusion among the citizens left him in total control over the capital without fighting. This was the zenith of Mieszko's career: he died almost one year later, on 16 May 1211, and, according to Jan Długosz, was probably buried in the Cathedral of Kraków. Only after Mieszko's death could Leszek the White return to Krakow without major difficulties.

Marriage and issue

By 1178, Mieszko married Ludmilla (d. aft. 20 October 1210), whose origins are unknown. Her name indicates that she maybe had a Bohemian origin, probably a member of the Přemyslid dynasty. According to the majority of historians, she could be the daughter of Otto III Detleb, Duke of Olomouc, by his wife Durantia, in turn probably daughter of Grand Prince Mstislav I of Kiev by his second wife Liubava Dmitrievna. There also minority hypotheses that put her as daughter of Sobeslaus I, Duke of Bohemia or Konrad II, Duke of Znojmo, and even as a daughter of her probably brother Vladimir, Duke of Olomouc, son of Otto III Detleb. They had five children:[1][2]

  1. Casimir I (b. ca. 1179/80 - d. 13 May 1230).
  2. Ludmilla (d. 24 January aft. 1200).
  3. Agnes (d. 9 May aft. 1200).
  4. Euphrosyne (d. 25 May aft. 1200).
  5. Ryksa (d. aft. 24 September 1239).[3]



  1. ^ Complete Genealogy of the House of Piast
  2. ^ SILESIA
  3. ^ Her parentage is uncertain, she is only known from a document of Mieszko II the Fat, who called her his aunt (Amita), which means that she could be also the sister of his mother Viola. See MIESZKO I (IV) PLĄTONOGI (LASKONOGI, RACIBORSKI)

This article incorporates information from the revision as of 7 April 2009 of the equivalent article on the Polish Wikipedia.

See also

Mieszko IV Tanglefoot
Born: ~1130 Died: 16 May 1211
Preceded by
Bolesław IV the Curly
Duke of Silesia
with Bolesław I the Tall

Succeeded by
Bolesław I the Tall
Preceded by
new creation
Duke of Racibórz
Succeeded by
Union with Opole
Preceded by
Henry I the Bearded
Duke of Opole
Succeeded by
Casimir I
Preceded by
Leszek I the White
High Duke of Poland
Succeeded by
Leszek I the White

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