Invading Mongols had pushed 40,000 Kumans into Hungary in 1239, and with gunpowder the Tatars had killed thousands of Hungarian soldiers in 1241. The Croats stopped the invasion on the Dalmatian coast. Hungary’s King Bela IV (r. 1235-70) had fled to Austria and ceded territory to Austria’s Duke Friedrich. To mollify the Kumans, Bela had his son Istvan (Stephen) marry the Kuman princess Elizabeth, who was baptized just before her wedding in 1253. After 1250 the royal soldiers who owned even small estates were included in the free nobility. The greatest barons competed with the King in building castles. The communities that developed in the castles became the new urban class (civis, burger, polgar). Bela recognized the free nobiliary lands and created county courts enforced by officials (ispans) and sheriffs. Royal cities elected their own judges and juries, and Hungarians maintained their right to elect their parish priest.
In 1252 Bela’s army invaded the Vienna basin of Austria. He campaigned against Moravia for four years before making peace with Bohemia’s Ottokar II in 1254. Bela’s son Istvan demanded part of Hungary’s government in 1257, and the next year his father granted him Transylvania. Bela had acquired Styria from Ottokar. When the Styrians rebelled, Istvan helped subdue them and was named duke of Styria. However, the Styrians offered the throne to Ottokar, and his Bohemians defeated the Hungarians on July 12, 1260 in the battle of Kroissenbrunn. In 1261 Bela and Istvan invaded Bulgaria. Istvan resented favors given to his brother Bela of Slavonia and his sister Anna. Istvan demanded a portion of Hungary, and some ambitious barons helped him get the half east of the Danube River in 1262. Two years later Istvan seized estates of his sister and mother. A civil war broke out, and after early losses Istvan won back the east in the battle of Isaszeg in March 1265. The peace was confirmed on Rabbits’ Island one year later. Istvan’s army invaded Bulgaria again, and he became its overlord. Bela’s daughter Margaret, who had become a Dominican nun, tried to reconcile Bela and Istvan but failed. In 1265 Bela had decreed that each county was to send two or three deputies to the royal assembly, and in 1267 the prelates and nobles meeting in Esztergom confirmed Istvan and Bela. Bela’s favorite son died in 1269, and not trusting Istvan, he entrusted his daughter Anna to Ottokar. Bela died on May 3, 1270.
Istvan (Stephen) V inherited all of Hungary. In August 1270 he met with his brother-in-law Boleslaw of Poland at Krakow and formed an alliance against Bohemia, and in October he agreed to a two-year truce with Ottokar II. That year Istvan’s daughter Maria married the Angevin Charles II of Naples, and Istvan’s son Ladislaus married Charles II’s sister Elisabeth. The Bohemians invaded Hungary and were defeated by Istvan’s army on May 21, 1271. Istvan was on his way to Dalmatia in 1272 when he learned that his ten-year-old son Ladislaus had been kidnapped by Joachim Gütkeled of Slavonia. Istvan besieged the castle of Koprivnica, but he became ill and died on August 6, 1272.
Istvan’s widow Elizabeth tried to rule amid palace revolutions and civil war as the barons fought among themselves. One faction appealed to Ottokar for support, and the other was allied to Rudolf Hapsburg. On May 23, 1277 the Hungarian assembly at Rakos proclaimed Ladislaus IV king, and in November he met Rudolf in Vienna. This Hungarian-Hapsburg alliance defeated Ottokar’s Bohemians on the Marchfeld on August 26, 1278. Ladislaus alienated his Angevin relatives and Hungarian nobles by associating with Kuman concubines. The Hungarian nobles tried to force the Kumans into service, but Ladislaus protected their rights. Archbishop Lodomer of Esztergom summoned a papal legate, who came in 1279 and accused Ladislaus of tolerating Kuman paganism and of refusing to make them convert. Tatars led by Nogai Khan raided eastern Hungary in 1285. In September 1286 Ladislaus arrested his wife and began living with his Kuman mistress Edua. He made his sister Elisabeth, who was a nun, marry a Bohemian magnate. Lodomer excommunicated Ladislaus and persuaded Pope Nicholas IV to proclaim a crusade against him. Ladislaus was reconciled with Lodomer and his wife temporarily in 1289, but on July 10, 1290 he was assassinated by Kumans who had been hired by some barons.
Ladislaus had no son, and so the grandson of Andras II was made Andras III. His legitimacy was questioned, and he faced several challenges to his throne. Much of Hungary was ruled independently by powerful barons. Charles Martel of Anjou had invaded Croatia in 1290 and was crowned by a papal legate, but he died in 1295. In August 1300 Charles Robert arrived from Naples, and Croatians helped him take over Zagreb. Andras became sick and died without children on January 14, 1301.
Charles Robert was descended from Charles of Anjou on his father’s side and from the Hungarian Arpad dynasty on his mother’s side. Charles went to Esztergom and was crowned Charles I, but not with the sacred crown. A majority of the nobles had Wenceslaus, son of Bohemia’s Wenceslaus II, crowned with the holy crown at Székesfehérvár. Charles withdrew to Slavonia and tried to besiege Buda in September 1302 but failed to take the capital. Charles gained support from Germany and Austria to fight the Bohemians. When young Wenceslaus inherited Bohemia, he renounced his claim to Hungary on behalf of Bela IV’s grandson, Duke Otto III of Bavaria, who was also crowned at Székesfehérvár on December 6, 1305. However, in 1306 Charles occupied Esztergom and several fortresses and Buda the next year. Ladislaus Kan of Transylvania arrested Otto in June 1307, and that month the followers of Charles captured Buda by treason and torture. Buda was given a governor and did not regain self-government until 1346. On October 10, 1307 nobles proclaimed Charles king on the field of Rakos. Otto left Hungary, and support for Charles increased. Finally on August 27, 1310 Charles received the holy crown from the archbishop of Esztergom.
Charles I insisted on royal prerogatives and came into conflict with numerous oligarchs. Matthew (Mate) Csak besieged Charles at Buda in the summer of 1311, and Charles did not defeat him until the battle of Rozgony on June 15, 1312. In 1315 Charles made Temesvar his military base, and that year he drove Matthew Csak out of Visegrad, which Charles made his capital eight years later. After King Stephen Uros II of Serbia attacked Srem in southern Hungary, Charles and his army crossed the frozen Sava and took Macva castle in early 1317. Palatine James Borsa (called Kopasz) denounced a 1315 treaty and formed an alliance with Petenye’s son Peter, whom Charles had appointed to govern Abauj and Zemplin. The King’s forces defeated Kopasz, and Charles besieged him at Adrian in June 1317, starving him into surrender. Friedrich of Austria helped Charles defeat Matthew Csak again at Komarno in October, and Matthew made a truce. Andrew Héder had to surrender all his castles not in the county of Vas; but John Héder continued to rebel in Slavonia until 1321.
Charles raised money for his military campaigns by seizing church properties, causing the prelates to form an alliance in 1318. The army of Charles conquered Transylvania between 1318 and 1321. That year Matthew Csak died, and Charles occupied all his fortresses by the end of the year, taking nearly fifty castles from Csak and his followers. In 1322 Charles pacified Slavonia, and by 1323 he had reunified Hungary. The Héder and Babonic families revolted again unsuccessfully in 1327 and 1336. One branch of the Héder family emigrated to Austria in 1339, and the others submitted. Charles took about forty castles from the Héder. In 1320 Hungary had nearly four hundred castles, but by the end of his reign the number had been reduced to less than 270 legal castles.
Charles let Venice govern the Dalmatian cities, and he did not try to subdue southern Croatia. In 1322 he sent Hungarian troops to Germany to help Friedrich III against Ludwig of Bavaria, and the next year the grateful Austrian dukes gave Pressburg back to Hungary. However, in 1328 Charles had to use force to get back Medjumurje. When the Duke of Austria helped the Héder rebels in 1336, Charles invaded Habsburg provinces the next year. On April 17, 1330 the wealthy knight Felician Zah attacked the royal family at Visegrad, wounding the Queen’s hand. Guards quickly killed him, but extreme vengeance tortured his children to death and executed many other relatives, confiscating the property of those within the seventh degree. The Franciscan chronicler of Charles castigated him for this atrocious cruelty. In 1330 Charles and his army narrowly escaped destruction while they were chastising the Wallachian ruler Basarab I. In 1335 Charles mediated a conflict between Poland and the Luxembourg rulers of Bohemia and Moravia. This alliance helped him in his border disputes with Austria.
Hungary began holding regular tournaments in 1318. Charles began granting coats of arms in 1324, and he founded the Order of Saint George two years later. Lucrative gold mines were discovered in Hungary during the 1320s, and Charles began minting florins in 1325. It has been estimated that up to 1500 Hungary supplied about three-quarters of the gold mined in Europe. Charles I died on June 16, 1342 and was succeeded by his son Lajos.
Lajos (Louis) I (r. 1342-82) and his mother Elisabeth tried to intervene to make his brother Andrew king of Naples after Andrew’s wife Giovanna inherited that throne. Elisabeth went to Naples and spent more than five tons of gold on the effort. After Andrew was killed in 1345, Lajos marched to his revenge in 1347. He conquered southern Italy and entered Naples; but after he left, it was too hard to hold. He conquered it again in 1350 but abandoned it in 1352. Lajos also conquered southern Croatia. In 1353 he married Elizabeth, the daughter of Bosnia’s ruler Stephen Kotromanic. He went to war against Venice over Dalmatia in 1357, and the next year the Treaty of Zara recognized all his claims in the Adriatic region. The plague took many lives in the Hungarian countryside in 1349, but it killed even more in the cities in 1359, including nobles. Two Hungarian armies invaded Bosnia in 1363. In 1365 Lajos captured Vidin in Bulgaria, but he accepted the homage of the Bulgarian czar in 1369. He invaded Wallachia in 1368 and 1375.
Lajos was a warrior king. He attacked Bosnia three times, Serbia five times, Wallachia four times, and Moldavia about seven times. In these campaigns he looted and made the rulers vassals. Lajos went to war against Venice in 1372, and in the 1381 treaty of Turin they agreed to pay an annual tax of 7,000 gold florins. Lajos had supported his maternal uncle, Kazimierz (Casimir) of Poland, in his wars against Lithuania in 1345 and three times in the early 1350s. When Kazimierz died in 1370, Lajos was crowned king of Poland. His putting Halicz (Galicia) under Hungarian rule was resented, as was his leaving Poland to be governed by his mother Elisabeth and Hungarians. In 1376 her Hungarian retainers were murdered in Krakow. Nicholas Garai became Palatine in 1375 and gained offices for his relatives. They prepared the way for reforms by Demetrius who became archchancellor in 1377 and archbishop of Esztergom the next year. The reformers refrained from acquiring fortunes for themselves or their relatives. A third central law court of general competence was established in 1377 at Visegrad, and Demetrius became treasurer. Lajos died on September 11, 1382, and he was succeeded by his daughter Mary.
The law code of 1351 recognized the rights of all true nobles. Those who lived on ecclesiastical estates had the status of nobles but had to serve as soldiers. Land-owning nobles did not have to pay taxes, and troops could not be quartered on their property. The true nobility were not required to provide feudal military service unless the country was invaded and the king called for a general levy. Boys inherited land, but girls had to pay for their quarter and for movable property. Charles I and Lajos I acquired more castles and estates. By 1382 the royal family owned 15% of Hungary which included about half the castles and most of the larger cities and markets. The king was advised by his council of prelates and barons who governed the country. They commanded the troops under their banners in the banderial system. With the new law code the government and the courts relied more on writing and spread literacy. Lajos founded a university at Pecs in 1367, but it closed after a few years. The Hungarian mines were mostly in the royal domain and yielded annually about 5,000 pounds of gold and 22,000 pounds of silver. Those with money tended to buy crafts imported by German and Italian merchants, who became rich.
Dominicans had established twenty-five monasteries by 1300, and the Franciscans eventually founded 115 monasteries in Hungary. A Hungarian Pauline order named after a hermit followed the rule of Augustine. The number of Pauline houses increased to 58 by 1382. Hungarian literature was limited. The Gesta Hungarorum recounted the conquest of the country by the Arpads descended from Attila the Hun. The Council of Buda had ordered Jews to wear distinctive signs on their clothes as early as 1279, and Jews could no longer collect royal revenues. About 1360 Hungary expelled the Jews; they lost their real estate but could take movable property. When they were allowed to return in 1367, they had to buy new houses. The rights of Jews were limited, and they paid higher taxes.
Lajos’s daughter Mary was only eleven years old when she crowned queen of Hungary on September 17, 1382, and so the main ruler was her mother Elizabeth. Mary was betrothed to Sigismund of Luxembourg, the son of Emperor Karl IV, but their marriage in October 1385 came too late. Charles of Durazzo, the king of Naples, was supported by the Horvati clan and nobles from the southeast, and he landed in Dalmatia in September 1385 and marched to Buda. Sigismund fled to Prague; Mary abdicated, and Charles II was crowned king on December 31. The queens said they approved, but their agents assassinated him 39 days later. The queens were captured. Palatine Miklos Garai was killed, and in January 1387 Garai’s men strangled the dowager queen Elizabeth. Some barons named Stephen Lackfi palatine and made Sigismund regent. He failed to rescue the queens but was crowned king of Hungary on March 31. As an elected king, Sigismund had to accept the conditions of the league. Their leader John Kanizsai was appointed arch-chancellor and archbishop of Esztergom. The southern counties and Slavonia were subdued in 1387, and Mary was released in June with help from the Venetian navy. She ruled with her husband Sigismund until she died in a horse accident while pregnant in 1395. By the end of the century most of the castles were held by barons. In 1407 the King held only 47 of the 230 major castles, though he later recovered ten more.
In 1395 Sigismund founded a university at Obuda with Bishop Luke Szantoi as provost; but when Luke revolted in 1403, the university was closed. Sigismund restored the university in 1410 and invited foreign scholars to teach, but it failed again in 1419.
Serbian prince Lazarus was loyal to Sigismund; but he was killed at the battle of Kosovo in June 1389, and his son Stephen Lazarevic became an Ottoman vassal. Sigismund led three expeditions to Serbia and reached Zdrelo in 1392. In the next three years he led campaigns along the southern frontier and against Moldavia and Wallachia. The Ottoman empire was advancing closer to Hungary, and in 1395 King Sigismund called for a crusade; but his 90,000 crusaders were defeated at Nicopolis on September 28, 1396 by Sultan Bayezid’s army of 140,000. Many knights were captured, and hundreds of thousands of ducats was spent on their ransoms. Sigismund barely escaped on a ship. In February 1397 the Lackfi revolted; but two were executed, and the wealth of their family and supporters was confiscated. Sigismund implemented military reforms, obliging prelates and barons to supply banderia to defend the kingdom. The nobility also had to pay for a new militia that drafted one archer for every twenty tenant holdings.
The extravagance of Bohemia’s King Wenceslaus (r. 1230-53) and his command that the nobles participate in a crusade, which Pope Innocent IV had again decreed against Emperor Friedrich II, provoked a rebellion in 1248. Premysl Ottokar (Otakar) was the second son of Wenceslaus but became their leader. In 1250 they made an agreement, ending the civil war, and Ottokar was made margrave of Moravia. In 1251 the Estates of Austria elected Ottokar as their duke, and the 25-year-old Ottokar married 46-year-old Adela, sister of the late Duke Friedrich. Ottokar claimed Styria and thus came into conflict with Hungary’s Bela IV. After becoming king of Bohemia in 1253 Ottokar II crusaded with the Teutonic Order against Prussian pagans and founded Konigsberg. He allowed eastern Styria to be ruled by Bela’s son Istvan (Stephen); but in 1259 a dispute arose with Bela, and Ottokar appointed a Bohemian to govern Styria. The Hungarians raised an army of 140,000 men with support from Russia and eastern Europe. Ottokar led an army of 100,000 men, who defeated them at the battle of Kroissenbrunn on July 12, 1260; it was reported that the Hungarians lost 18,000 men. Bela renounced Styria, and Germany’s King Richard of Cornwall granted it to Ottokar as a fief. In 1268 Ottokar became the heir of his childless kinsman Ulrich of Carinthia, and upon his death the next year Bohemia annexed Carinthia and Carniola.
After the Hapsburg Rudolf was elected king of Germany on September 29, 1273, the Diet canceled all fiefs awarded since the death of Friedrich II. In 1274 at the Diet of Regensburg the subjects in Austria, Styria, and Carinthia were urged to overthrow Bohemian domination, and the next year Ottokar was banned. In 1276 German armies invaded Styria and Carinthia. Ottokar resisted this imperial rule and with his brothers invaded Austria. While he was defending Vienna, the Bohemian nobles revolted. Desertions reduced Ottokar’s army to 20,000 men, and he made a treaty renouncing Styria, Austria, Carinthia, Carniola, and other towns. Rudolf as his overlord recognized only his claims to Bohemia and Moravia. Ottokar’s queen Kunigunda urged him to try war again two years later; but on August 26, 1278 at Dürnkrut his forces were defeated, and Ottokar was killed by an avenging cupbearer.
King Rudolf entered Moravia with his army and governed it for five years. Ottokar’s only son Wenceslaus II (r. 1278-1305) was only seven when he became king. Bohemia also suffered in this period because the King’s guardian Otto of Brandenburg, Ottokar’s nephew, was cruel and avaricious. Otto let the warlike bishop Everard of Brandenburg govern in Prague, and he ravaged Bohemia with German mercenaries. Bohemians came to hate the Germans and stopped using their language. King Rudolf mediated a truce in 1280, and a Diet at Prague ordered the Germans to leave. The next year young Wenceslaus promised to pay Otto 15,000 marks of silver so that he could return, but he did not come back until 1285. The prominent Bohemian noble Zavis of Falckenstein had married Kunigunda in 1280 after she had a son. When Zavis went to Prague to escort King Wenceslaus to a castle, he was accused of appropriating royal lands. Zavis was put in a dungeon, and his estates were confiscated. Rudolf advised Wenceslaus to subdue resistance by threatening to behead Zavis. Several nobles capitulated; but when his brother Vitek refused, Zavis was beheaded in 1290. King Wenceslaus II tried to revise the laws by summoning Gozzo of Orvieto to Prague, and in 1294 he compiled the famous mining code that helped Bohemia issue new silver coins in 1300. Young Wenceslaus conquered Poland with the help of Silesian princes and became its king as well in 1300.
In 1304 the German king Albrecht invaded eastern Bohemia to take the silver mines at Kutna Hora, but he had to retreat. While preparing to invade Austria the next year, Wenceslaus died suddenly at the age of 34. His son Wenceslaus III was only sixteen, but the next year while marching into Poland to put down an insurrection, he was assassinated at Olomouc (Olmütz), ending the Premysl dynasty that had lasted nearly six centuries. German king Albrecht appointed his oldest son Rudolf III to govern Bohemia as part of the empire, and he married Elizabeth, widow of Wenceslaus II. After Rudolf III died of dysentery in 1307, the Austrian leader Tobias and two other Austrians were murdered in the Diet for having insulted the old Bohemian dynasty. The Diet elected Heinrich of Carinthia, who had married Wenceslaus II’s daughter Anna in 1306. Friedrich of Austria renounced his claims to Bohemia and Moravia for a large sum of money in 1308.
Austrians began persecuting Waldensians in 1310, and in 1315 fourteen heretics were burned in Prague. Bishop Jan Drazice of Prague was an educated man who tolerated heretics. In 1318 he was summoned to Avignon, and he was unable to return for eleven years.
Strife between German peoples led to civil war, and in 1310 the Bohemian nobility and clergy chose Emperor Heinrich VII’s son Jan, Count of Luxembourg, to become king of Bohemia. He drove out the unpopular Heinrich of Carinthia with armed force. Jan at age 14 married Wenceslaus II’s daughter Eliska (Elizabeth), and they were crowned in 1311. Jan sided with Ludwig of Bavaria in the civil war against Friedrich of Austria, and in 1314 he assigned Jan to rule Cheb, which became part of Bohemia. Jan had military talent, and he commanded the army that won at Mühlendorf in 1322. His wife Eliska did not get along with the widow Elizabeth, and Jan had her ally Jindrich of Lipa imprisoned. While Jan was in Germany, Bohemian nobles rebelled. Jan came back, and Ludwig mediated a settlement that released Jindrich of Lipa, who governed Bohemia until his death in 1329. Jan weakened royal power in Bohemia because he spent most of his time out of the country. He visited the French court several times, intervened in the succession in Brandenburg, claimed Upper Lusatia, and returned to Bohemia in 1327 before marching off to subdue Poland. Two years later the active Jan was crusading with the Teutonic knights in Lithuania.
King Jan also campaigned in Italy and rescued Brescia from a siege on the last day of 1330. In the next three months Bergamo, Cremona, Parma, Modena, Novara, Vercelli, and many other towns submitted to Jan. Even the powerful Azzo de Visconti in Milan became his vassal. In 1332 Jan left his son Karl to govern his towns in Italy, but Verona, Naples, Mantua, Ferrara, and Milan formed an alliance against the Bohemians. Karl resided in Parma and won an indecisive battle. Jan came back but not with enough forces, and he and Karl left Italy in 1333. Karl was margrave of Moravia and resided at Prague. He married the princess Blanche of Valois, and Jan married the princess Beatrice of Bourbon.
After Duke Jindrich of Carinthia and Tyrol died in 1335, the Austrian dukes led by Ludwig of Bavaria challenged Jan’s son Jan Jindrich (John Henry), who claimed them as the husband of Margaret “Mouthpoke.” Karl became more popular than his father in Bohemia, and the jealous Jan deprived him of his revenues in Bohemia and Moravia. Karl gallantly joined his brother Jan Jindrich defending Tyrol, and King Jan led a Bohemian army against the Austrian dukes and in 1336 made a treaty with them, ceding Carinthia while retaining Tyrol for Jan Jindrich. The restless Jan immediately went on another crusade to Lithuania, where by an illness he lost an eye and then became blind. His son Karl had gone with him, and they were reconciled in 1338.
In 1344 Karl met Jan at Luxembourg, and they went to the papal court at Avignon. Pope Clement VI agreed to raise the bishop of Prague to the rank of archbishop and made him independent of the German archbishops. After witnessing the installation of Arnost of Pardubice as the new archbishop of Prague, the Bohemian royals went again to Lithuania. When Ludwig formed an alliance with Hungary, Poland, Austria, and Silesia against Bohemia, Jan defeated Poles and Hungarians in Poland before besieging Krakow. King Kazimierz (Casimir) asked for a truce, and Pope Clement VI mediated a treaty. On July 12, 1346 Jan was one of the electors who chose his son to be the German king Karl IV. The next day King Edward and the Black Prince landed in Normandy and headed for Paris. Jan and Karl with only five hundred cavalry went to Paris. Outnumbered at Crecy, the blind Jan led a heroic charge and was killed along with many Bohemian nobles. Karl was wounded, but loyal knights forced him to leave the battlefield.
Karl was crowned king of Bohemia on September 2, 1347. He organized Bohemia into thirteen judicial districts with a High Court of Law at Prague. Czech became the language of the courts, and Karl decreed equality for Czech in towns inhabited by Germans. In 1348 Karl convened the Estates of Bohemia at Prague and confirmed previous privileges. He prohibited the superstitious ordeal by hot iron. Karl founded the University of Prague and appointed Archbishop Ernest of Pardubic as the first chancellor. The faculties were in theology, law, medicine, and philosophy (liberal arts). The students were grouped into the four “nations” of Bohemia, Bavaria, Poland, and Saxony. Bohemia included Moravia, Hungary, and southern Slavs; Bavaria contained Austria, Swabia, Franconia, and the Rhineland; Poland included Silesia, Russia, and Lithuania; and Saxony took in Meissen, Thuringia, Denmark, and Sweden. By the end of Karl’s reign in 1378 the University had more than five thousand students. Half of all Bohemian land belonged to the secular clergy and the monasteries, and the wealth was very unevenly distributed. In 1352 Archbishop Ernest accepted the law that no one could give property to the Church without permission from the King.
In 1354 Karl went to Rome, where the next year he was crowned Emperor Karl IV. After he was attacked at Pisa, he punished the perpetrators and left Italy. After returning to Prague, he besieged the robber baron Jan of Smoyno at Zampach and hanged him. He attempted to impose Roman laws on Bohemia that were called Maiestas Carolina; but the nobles rejected written laws, and he had to withdraw the code. The peasants were given the right to appeal judgments by territorial lords to the royal law-courts. In 1356 the Diet of Metz published the Golden Bull to codify the election of German kings. During the Imperial Diet at Mainz he opposed the papal legate’s attempt to collect tithes from German clergy. Karl established New Town in Prague, and many Czechs lived there. Karl was a humanist, and Petrarch visited him in 1356. That year a law gave dependent peasants the right to sue their lords in the law-courts.
Karl urged the bishops to pay more attention to the morals of their clergy who neglected celibacy and were involved in wars, tournaments, hunting, and gambling. He summoned the eloquent preacher Konrad Waldhauser to Prague, where he preached in German against immorality and extravagance. Milic of Kromeriz also influenced the King to reform religion. In 1363 Milic renounced his dignities to live in poverty, and the next year he began preaching in Prague. He condemned usury and urged the clergy to live in poverty. In 1366 during a sermon he pointed at Emperor Karl and called him the Antichrist. Prague’s Archbishop Jan Ocko had Milic put in prison, but he was not convicted. Milic went to Rome, and in May 1367 he was again arrested for saying the Antichrist was in the world. In prison he wrote his “Tractate on Antichrist” and advised summoning an ecumenical council to reform the corrupt Church. After Pope Urban V came to Rome, Milic was released and returned to Prague, where he delivered four or five sermons a day in different languages.
In 1365 Karl went to Avignon to visit Pope Urban V, who agreed to transfer the Holy See to Rome after Karl’s army entered Italy. In 1368 Karl made Milan’s Bernabo de Visconti submit and then visited Pope Urban in Rome. In 1371 Karl invaded Brandenburg to settle a disputed succession that was mediated by Pope Gregory XI in 1373. Karl annexed Brandenburg, Silesia, and Lusatia, and in 1376 his son Wenceslaus was proclaimed his successor.
Emperor Karl IV died in 1378, the year a schism began in the Catholic church. During the Imperial Diet at Frankfort in 1379 Wenceslaus IV persuaded the German princes to recognize Urban VI as the legitimate Pope. Karl’s daughter Anne married Richard II of England, and he also recognized Pope Urban. Richard promised to pay Wenceslaus 80,000 golden guldens, and Anne was said to have arrived in England on December 13, 1381 with a Bible written in Latin, Czech, and German. Wenceslaus liked to hunt and drink, and he occasionally became irritable and violent. After an incident in Prague involving Jewish children on Easter in 1389, thousands of Jews were massacred. A quarrel with Jan of Jenstein, the new archbishop of Prague, led to his imprisonment in the Karlstein fortress. Jan escaped, but four other clergy were imprisoned and put on the rack; three submitted, but Jan of Pomuk was tortured and drowned on March 20, 1393. Jan of Jenstein found no help in Rome, returned to Bohemia, and resigned his position in 1393. Bohemian and Moravian nobles and bishops formed a council that had to approve the King’s decisions, and in 1397 they executed four of the King’s advisors at Karlstein.
With the clergy pacified, the nobles formed the League of the Lords that included Jodocus of Moravia, Albrecht of Austria, and the King’s younger brother Sigismund of Hungary. King Wenceslaus refused to follow their advice and was imprisoned, and the League made Jodocus dictator. Wenceslaus got a secret message to his brother, Duke Jan of Gorlitz. He and other princes persuaded the lords to release the King. Sigismund mediated an agreement acceptable to the League, and the lords were appointed to important offices. Pope Boniface IX was displeased and supported the elector Palatine Rupert. In 1400 the three ecclesiastical electors accused Wenceslaus of neglecting the empire and alienating its lands, and they replaced him with Rupert. The League took up arms against the Bohemian king, who appointed a council from the principal nobles; Wenceslaus got Jodocus on his side by giving him Lusatia for life.
Wenceslaus IV invited Sigismund to Bohemia and made him co-regent. While they were traveling to Rome for the coronation, Sigismund took his brother prisoner and appointed Bishop Jan Zelezny of Litomysl to govern Bohemia. Wenceslaus had also made Margrave Prokop regent, and Sigismund ordered him imprisoned. Bohemians revolted against Bishop Jan’s rule; but before Sigismund could punish them, he was called back to Hungary to deal with an insurrection. In 1403 Wenceslaus escaped from the prison in Vienna and was welcomed back by Bohemians who did not like Sigismund’s extortions. The League was dissolved, and Wenceslaus once again ruled Bohemia.
Matthias of Janov went beyond castigating clergy for immorality and began criticizing some Church dogmas. He condemned the excessive worship of saints, relics, miracles, and ostentatious piety. In 1388 the Prague synod forbade giving the Eucharist to laity more than once a month. The next year Matthias and two other priests were forced to recant. Matthias wrote De regulis veteris et novi testamenti, which compared true and false Christianity.
As in Bohemia, large groups of Germans emigrated into Poland, bringing their Magdeburg law. In 1253 they incorporated the city of Poznan and in 1257 Krakow (Cracow). During divided rule when Prince Boleslaw V (r. 1243-79) and Duke Leszek II (1279-88) were prominent, Poland suffered from German aggression as well as raids from Mongols and Lithuanians. A Mongol raid of Poland in 1259 sacked Lublin, Sandomierz, Bytom, and Krakow. The Jewish population also increased, and they were given a charter by Boleslaw in 1264. However, in 1269 the papal legate Philip convoked a synod at Buda that forbade Jews from farming taxes or holding public office. A law was enacted requiring Jews to wear a round red badge on their chest. A synod at Leczyca in 1285 promoted the Polish language, and only Poles could teach in Church schools. The Teutonic knights conquered all of Prussia by 1283, and it was settled by Poles and German knights who were not members of the Teutonic Order. The Teutonic knights garrisoned castles and built a stronghold at Marienburg. In 1287 Sandomierz and Krakow managed to defend themselves from Mongol attacks. German settlers also came into Silesia and Pomerania. Mazovians led by Boleslaw of Plock (r. 1262-1313) moved into Chelmno. Many princes submitted to the German emperor instead of the duke of Krakow, though Polish chronicles written in the 1280s developed Polish nationalism.
Premysl II (r. 1279-96) reunited Wielkopolska (Greater Poland). A widower again, he married Margaret of Brandenburg in 1293, inherited Eastern Pomerania from Mestvin in 1294, and was crowned king of Poland on June 26, 1295. Archbishop James Swinka supported Premysl, who was assassinated at Rogozno on February 8, 1296, apparently at the behest of the margrave of Brandenburg.
Nobles chose Wladyslaw (Ladislaus) Lokietek (the Short) as king, but he had to make concessions to his rival Henryk of Glogow. Lokietek was forced to recognize the suzerainty of Bohemian king Wenceslaus (Vaclav) II, who occupied Malopolska (Lesser Poland) in 1299. Wenceslaus drove Lokietek out and was crowned king of Poland. On June 29, 1300 Emperor Albrecht recognized Poland as a vassal of Bohemia. Wladyslaw Lokietek fled to Rome, and Pope Boniface VIII helped him get an alliance by marrying his daughter Elisabeth to Charles Robert of Anjou. On June 10, 1302 Boniface wrote a letter ordering Wenceslaus to renounce the Polish crown and stop interfering in Poland. Lokietek also gained support from the Ruthenian princes of Halicz (Galicia) and Vladimir. Amadeus of Kassa provided forces, and with an army of mostly peasants Lokietek entered Malopolska in 1304 and was welcomed as the savior of Poland. Sandomierz was the first duchy to come over to him. Wenceslaus died on June 21, 1305, and Lokietek with an army of peasants besieged and occupied Krakow the following spring. Wenceslaus III tried to claim Poland, but he was murdered at Olomouc in Moravia on August 8, 1306. Henryk of Glogow ruled Wielkopolska.
In 1308 Pomeranian rebels led by Waldemar of Brandenburg besieged Gdansk; but with the consent of Lokietek the Teutonic Order took it over on November 14 and called it Danzig, slaughtering the inhabitants. The Grand-master moved his headquarters from Venice to Marienburg castle in 1309, and the Teutonic knights ruled Danzig until 1455. By June 1311 the Order had paid Waldemar 10,000 marks to renounce Brandenburg’s claims. Severe administration oppressed the people, and the estates of knights were confiscated. The Teutonic rule of Pomerania cut Poland off from the sea and reduced their access to trade. After the death of Henryk of Glogow in 1309 his five sons submitted to German advisors, alienating the Polish community, and the local knights drove out the Glogow dukes by 1314. Germans in Poznan began rebelling in 1310, and the next year the bishop of Krakow led Germans revolting in Malopolska, but the Grand Prince crushed both revolts and punished the leaders.
Wladyslaw Lokietek controlled Malopolska by 1311, and the next year his soldiers retook Krakow again by beheading citizens who could not pronounce Polish words. Lokietek gained Gniezno in Wielkopolska in 1314, and Mazovia became his vassal. He expropriated Church property and imprisoned Bishop Jan Muskata, who excommunicated him. In the papal court Lokietek charged the Teutonic Order with invasion and rapine, and in 1317 Lokietek obtained a papal bull calling for the conversion of Lithuanian dukes. In 1318 he gained the support of Pope John XXII by agreeing to use secular power to combat heresy, maintain the Church’s authority by recalling the exiled Muskata, and increase Peter’s Pence that went to the Church from three-pence a household to a penny per person. Delegates from Wielkopolska also agreed to these in an assembly at Pyzdry. A German revolt in Krakow led by Albrecht and Bishop Muskata was suppressed. Wladyslaw Lokietek was crowned king of Poland by Archbishop Jan Janislaw of Gniezno in the Krakow cathedral on January 20, 1320. Lokietek’s daughter Elizabeth married Charles Robert on July 6, and this gave Poland an alliance with Hungary. The papal court found the Teutonic Order guilty on February 10, 1321 and awarded East Pomerania to the new Polish king. The Order was to pay court expenses and an indemnity of 30,000 marks; but the Order appealed, and the judgment was not enforced.
On October 16, 1325 Lokietek’s son Kazimierz married Aldona (Anne), the converted daughter of Lithuania’s ruler Gedymin. The Lithuanians began helping Poland fight the Teutonic knights. An armistice on February 7, 1326 enabled Lokietek to invade Brandenburg with Lithuanian allies. In July 1327 he invaded Mazovia and burned the ancient city of Plock. In February 1329 Lokietek led an army of 6,000 into Teutonic territory, but that year Bohemian king Jan of Luxembourg joined the Teutonic knights in a crusade. They ravaged both banks of the Vistula, and in 1330 they devastated Kuyavia. Lokietek fought back with Hungarian auxiliaries and restored the forts of Wyszogrod in Kuyavia and Bydogoszcz during a truce from October 18, 1330 to May 26, 1331. On that day Lokietek authorized his son Kazimierz to govern Wielkopolska, Kuyavia, and the Sieradz district. This was resented by Vincent of Szamontuly of the powerful Nalecz family; but Lokietek won him over, and he supported the war against the Teutonic Order. The knights invaded Kuyavia, Gniezno, and the districts of Leczyca and Sieradz.
In Kuyavia near Radziejowo on September 27, 1331 the Teutonic knights led by Grand-marshal Dietrich of Altenburg were badly defeated, though commander Otto of Luterberg held on in a second battle. The bishop of Wloclawek reported that he counted 4,187 dead bodies. This reduced the plundering of the knights, but in 1332 they occupied all of Kuyavia and took over Brzesc (Brest). Lokietek’s army fought back at Chelmno and accepted an armistice. The lands and men of both sides had been devastated. The Vistulan Pomerania remained occupied by the Teutonic knights. Meanwhile the Bohemians led by Jan took over territory in Silesia in 1327 and 1331.
Wladyslaw Lokietek died on March 2, 1333, and he was succeeded by his son Kazimierz (Casimir) III, who ruled Poland until his death in 1370 and was later called “the Great.” In his first year he made peace with the Teutonic Order, ending the long war over Pomerania and Kuyavia. In 1334 he made peace with Bohemia, and the next year with 400,000 silver groats he persuaded King Jan to renounce Bohemia’s claims in Poland and Mazovia. The arbitrating kings Jan and Charles Robert of Hungary restored Kuyavia and Dobrzyn to Poland, but Pomerania was given to the Teutonic Order. Bohemia also ceded Silesia in 1339. Kazimierz went to war against Lithuania and Hungary in 1340 for Red Ruthenia. In 1343 in the Treaty of Kalisz he again gave up Pomerania with Danzig to the Teutonic Order for Kuyavia and Dobrzyn, for which he paid 50,000 florins. To collect the money in taxes he convoked provincial diets. Kazimierz had fifty castles constructed, and trade increased. He fought Bohemia’s King Jan for Silesia and defeated him in 1345. When the princes of Halicz died out, he annexed it and Vladimir in 1349. Kazimierz also gained duchies in Mazovia and the city of Plock in 1351, and the last Mazovian prince Ziemowit III became his vassal in 1355. The nobles of Poland objected that the King was taking over land that had fallen into private hands, and they formed a confederation in 1352. When the high official Macko Borkowicz was found guilty of open violence, Kazimierz had him executed in 1358.
Kazimierz reformed the monetary system by introducing new coins in 1338, and in 1347 he had laws codified for Wielkopolska and Malopolska. He created a royal court of appeal in Krakow for towns under German law. Kazimierz was loved for protecting the peasants and for supplying them with food in hard times. With few urban centers sparsely populated Poland suffered much less from the bubonic plague, and scapegoated Jews fleeing from Germany were welcomed there after a period of quarantine. Jews were given their own fiscal, legal, and political organizations. Krakow and other cities were transformed from wooden towns to cities of brick and stone. In May 1363 Kazimierz’s grand-daughter Elizabeth married Karl IV in Krakow cathedral. After persuading Pope Urban V, Kazimierz founded Krakow University in 1364 with chairs in civil law, canon law, medicine, and liberal arts under the chancellor of Poland rather than a cleric. Peter of Lusignan, the king of Cyprus, wanted to raise support for a crusade, and in September 1364 Kazimierz hosted a gathering that included him and Emperor Karl, King Ladislaus of Hungary, and King Waldemar II of Denmark. During his reign 47 new cities were founded in Malopolska and 32 in Wielkopolska. He had 53 castles built and increased the size of Poland from 106,000 square kilometers to 260,000.
A hunting accident caused the death of Kazimierz III on November 5, 1370. He left his throne to his nephew Lajos (Louis) of Anjou, the king of Hungary, but he granted central Poland to his grandson Kazimierz of Stettin. Before being crowned, Lajos limited the prince to a small part of northern Poland. After attending the funeral and being crowned, Lajos went back to Hungary, leaving Elzbieta (Elisabeth), who was his mother and Kazimierz III’s sister, to govern as regent. The Polish szlachta (nobles) became more active in running the country. On September 17, 1374 they got Lajos to agree to the Privilege of Kosice, which prevented him from giving away portions of Poland. The szlachta agreed to keep their castles in repair, and he limited their obligations on land taxes and military service. The liberties of the towns were extended, and local merchants controlled the storage of goods brought into Krakow. Lands, which the nobles had acquired illegally and which Kazimierz III had seized, were redistributed. Only Poles could be appointed royal governors of the 23 most important castles, and officials had to be nobles from the province concerned.
In 1375 a Catholic archbishopric was introduced to Halicz (Galicia), but the next year a Lithuanian army led by Gedymin’s son Keistut and Lubart invaded and ravaged the province, taking thousands away as slaves. Keistut nearly reached Krakow before leaving. Elzbieta resigned in 1376 after the Krakow garrison slaughtered her Hungarian guards. In 1377 an army of Poles and Hungarians invaded Lithuania and added Chelm and Belz to Red Ruthenia, which was now governed by Hungarians. Kazimierz of Stettin was killed in 1377 while fighting against the last descendant of the Kuyavian Piasts, Ladislas of Gniewkow. When his mother died in 1380, King Lajos appointed a governing council of five nobles presided over by the bishop of Krakow, who ruled until Lajos died two years later.
Lajos had married his daughter Maria to Sigismund, but the szlachta chose her ten-year-old sister Jadwiga (Hedwig) to be crowned as “King” at Krakow on October 15, 1384. When her betrothed Wilhelm of Hapsburg tried to visit her, they kept them apart. Instead they persuaded her to marry the older Jogaila, the grand duke of Lithuania, a mostly pagan country more than twice the size of Poland on its long eastern border. In the treaty signed at Kreva castle on August 14, 1385 Jogaila agreed to convert himself and all of Lithuania to Roman Catholicism, and he released all his Polish prisoners and slaves. He came to Krakow on February 12, 1386. In the next week he was baptized Wladyslaw Jagiello and married Jadwiga. Then on March 4 he was crowned king of Poland. In 1387 Jagiello went to Vilnius and decreed that the pagan gods were abolished. The statue of Perkun was overturned, and his virgin mother became the Catholic Mary. He granted the Lithuanian nobles the right to hold property.
Young Jadwiga traveled to Lwow and granted charters to the Ruthenians. The Orthodox Ruthenians did not have to change their religion, and Lithuanian princes helped the Poles defeat the resistance of the Hungarian governor in Halicz. Hungary was suffering a civil war in which her mother Elizabeth was killed. After Sigismund became king of Hungary, he made a truce with Poland. Jagiello’s cousin Vytautas was known in Poland as Witold, and in 1392 he became Jagiello’s regent as grand duke of Lithuania. Jadwiga was admired for helping the poor. When she became ill in 1399, the castle was besieged by peasants bringing chickens, lambs, and mushrooms for her recovery. She died on July 17 and left her entire estate to finance the refounding of the Krakow Academy as the Jagiellon University. To the study of law they added theology, mathematics, and astronomy.
Mindaugas was a young duke in Lithuania when it made a treaty with Galicia (Halicz) and Volhynia in 1219. In 1248 he sent his nephews Tautvilas and Edivydas with Samogitia’s duke Vykintas to conquer Smolensk; but they were defeated, and the next year Mindaugas tried to seize their lands. Tautvilas and Edivydas formed a coalition with their brother-in-law Daniel of Galicia, Vosilko of Volhynia, Samogitians, and the Livonian Order. Daniel and Vosilko took Black Ruthenia away from Vaisvilkas, the son of Mindaugas. Tautvilas went to Riga, where the Archbishop baptized him. Then the Livonian Order raided the territories of Mindaugas, who bribed the Livonian master Andreas von Stierland, who still resented Vykintas for a defeat at Saule in 1236. Mindaugas was baptized, and Pope Innocent IV recognized him as king of Lithuania in 1251. Tautvilas attacked warriors of Mindaugas at Voruta castle, but he was defeated and retreated to Tviremet castle in Samogitia. Vykintas died, and Tautvilas went back to Daniel. Black Ruthenian lands were given to Daniel’s son Roman, and Vaisvilkas entered a monastery. Mindaugas gave Polatsk to Tautvilas as a fiefdom. Mindaugas and his wife Morta were crowned in the summer of 1253, and July 6 is still celebrated as statehood day in Lithuania. Whether Mindaugas transferred western lands to the Livonian Order has been questioned by historians.
In 1255 Mindaugas made peace with Galicia-Volhynia, and his daughter married Daniel’s son Svarn. The Livonian Order tried to take over Samogitian lands, but they were defeated at Skuodas in 1259 and at Durbe in 1260. These battles provoked the Great Prussian Rebellion by the Semigalians and the Prussians that lasted fourteen years. Treniota, the nephew of Mindaugas, led Baltic tribes against the Christian orders while Mindaugas was trying to conquer Ruthenian lands. After Morta died, Mindaugas wanted to marry the wife of Dovmont (Daumantas); but Dovmont and Treniota killed Mindaugas and two of his sons in 1263. Mindaugas’s oldest son Vaiselga formed an alliance with Galicia-Volhynia in 1264 and avenged his father’s death by killing Treniota.
After a period of disorder, Traidenis became grand duke of Lithuania about 1269. In February 1270 he led the fight against the Livonian Order in the battle on the ice at Karuse, killing the grand-master Otto von Lutterberg and six hundred soldiers. A few months later the Lithuanians also killed the vice-master Andreas von Westfalen and twenty more knights in the battle of Padaugava. When the Order built a castle at Dinaburg in 1273, Traidenis besieged it for a month but could not take it. He replaced Duke Svarn and fought from 1274 to 1276 against Mongol resistance to win control over Galicia-Volhynia. On March 5, 1279 the Lithuanians defeated the Livonian knights again near Aizkraukle, killing the master Ernst von Rassburg. The Semigalians led by Nemeitis rebelled again before submitting to Traidenis, who thus consolidated Black Ruthenia and expanded his rule over Sudovians and Semigalians. Traidenis also made incursions into Poland around Lublin and Leczyca, and his daughter Gaudemunda brought an alliance with the dukes of Masovia. In 1281 Traidenis captured Jersika castle in what is now Latvia, and he exchanged it for Dinaburg castle. Traidenis died without violence in 1282. The chronicles state that Dovmont was then grand duke until 1285, but it is not known whether he was the Dovmont who governed Pskov.
Lithuanian grand duke Butigeidis (r. 1285-91) had castles built along the Neman River, and he was succeeded by his brother Butvydas. His son Viten (Vytenis) was grand duke of Lithuania from 1295 until his death in 1316. He recaptured lands in Ruthenia that had been lost after Mindaugas was assassinated. In 1297 Viten led the intervention on behalf of citizens in Riga that destroyed the Karkus castle and defeated the Livonian knights, killing the master Bruno. He promoted trade with Riga and annexed the trading post at Polatsk. From 1298 to 1313 Viten directed eleven campaigns into territory of the Teutonic Order and was helped by his brother Gedymin (Gediminas), but in 1313 they lost the Dinaburg castle. In 1312 Viten approved a church for Franciscan monks in Navahrudak to serve German merchants.
Viten was succeeded by his brother Gedymin (r. 1316-41). In 1322 Gedymin sent a letter to Pope John XXII, asking for protection against the Teutonic and Livonian knights and noting his granting of privileges to Franciscans and Dominicans in Lithuania. After receiving a positive response, Gedymin sent out decrees on January 25, 1323 offering free access to all Christian orders. When various representatives met at Vilnius in October, Gedymin confirmed the privileges and promised to be baptized. However, after he raided the Teutonic knights at Dobrzyn, he was criticized by the knights and by his Orthodox and pagan subjects for favoring the Catholics. So he repudiated his promises and expelled the Franciscans. Gedymin made Vilnius his permanent capital in 1323. He formed an alliance with Poland’s king Wladislaus Lokietek by marrying his daughter Aldona to the King’s son Kazimierz III. Gedymin gained control over Galicia-Volhynia after his son Lubart married the daughter of the Galician prince. His daughter Anastasia married Semen, the grand duke of Moscow. Late in his reign Gedymin had two Franciscans executed for having preached against Lithuanian religion and because they would not renounce Christianity. Gedymin made a favorable trade agreement with the German knights in November 1338, the year the Nikon Chronicle recorded that the Tatars waged war on Lithuania.
Gedymin was succeeded by his son Jaunutis, who was deposed by his older brother Olgerd (Algirdas) in 1345. Olgerd was assisted by his brother Keistut (Kestutis) in the west and was grand prince until his death in 1377. He had married the Orthodox Russian princess Maria of Vitebsk in 1318. In the east Olgerd occupied Smolensk and Bryansk. In 1362 he led the Lithuanians to a victory over Tatars in the battle of Blue Waters at the Southern Bug River in the Ukraine. His army joined with forces from Tver and Smolensk in besieging Moscow in 1368, but this and another effort in 1372 failed.
Jogaila (Jagiello) was the son of Olgerd and his second wife Uliana. He became grand duke of Lithuania in 1377. Teutonic knights and the Livonian Order invaded Lithuania in 1378. Jogaila sent his brother Svitrigaila to discuss conversion, and on September 29, 1379 Jogaila and his uncle Keistut signed a ten-year truce at Trakai that protected the Christian lands in the south. Jogaila made a five-month truce with the Livonian Order in February 1380, and in May he got their support against Keistut in a secret treaty by promising to Christianize Lithuania. Jogaila supported the Mongol Mamai, but his army arrived on September 10, two days after the battle of Kulikovo was decided. While Jogaila was subduing a rebellion, in August 1381 Keistut learned of the secret treaty and seized the capital Vilnius, beginning a civil war. The returning Jogaila was taken prisoner, and his advisor Vaidila was executed. Jogaila pledged loyalty to Keistut and was given Kreva and Vitebsk.
While Keistut was off fighting Severian Novgorod, the merchant Hanul led Jogaila’s army into Vilnius on June 12, 1382. The merchants did not like the trade policy of Keistut, and Jogaila was put on the throne. In July he signed a two-month treaty with the Teutonic knights and seized Trakai. Keistut gathered an army with relatives; but his Samogitian regiment was unwilling to fight when they saw that Jogaila had the Teutonic knights. They negotiated, but Keistut and his son Vytautas (Witold) were imprisoned in Kreva, and their army disbanded. Five days later Svitrigaila found his brother Keistut dead. Vytautas escaped and asked the Teutonic knights for protection. On October 31 Jogaila made a treaty at Dubysa with the Teutonic Order, promising to become a Christian within four years and not go to war without their permission, and he ceded Samogitia. However, he invaded Masovia, and the treaty was not ratified. In September 1383 the Teutons and Vytautas took over Trakai and tried to attack Vilnius. Vytautas was baptized on October 21 and was given the New Marienburg castle. Vytautas signed a treaty with the Teutonic Order at Konigsberg on January 30, 1384. Jogaila wanted to marry Dmitri’s daughter Sofia and be baptized in the Orthodox church; so he was reconciled with Vytautas by offering him land, and they successfully besieged two Teutonic castles.
In 1385 Jogaila married Queen Jadwiga of Poland and promised to make Lithuania Catholic, and the next year he was baptized Wladyslaw and was crowned king of Poland. Andrei of Polotsk tried to take the Lithuanian throne, but he was defeated by Vytautas and Svitrigaila. Jogaila gave Polotsk and Trakai to Svitrigaila, frustrating Vytautas. The Teutonic knights waged war over Samogitia. They wanted Samogitia because it connected them to the territory of the Livonian Order. Vytautas went over to the knights and in 1389 started another civil war. They besieged Vilnius for five weeks in 1390. Jogaila sent Henryk of Masovia, the bishop of Plock, to negotiate with Vytautas, who did not turn against the knights until July 1392. Jogaila made his cousin Vytautas the grand duke of Lithuania in exchange for peace. Svitrigaila was removed from Trakai and was given Kiev. In 1395 Vytautas summoned the princes of Smolensk to his camp and replaced them, but Prince Yuri escaped. That spring Vytautas seized Smolensk. The Teutonic knights continued to invade Samogitia, but their siege of Vilnius in August 1394 failed. A truce in 1396 led to a treaty at Salynas in 1398. That year Vytautas invaded the Crimea and built a castle. Vytautas and Jogaila organized a crusade against the Mongols that was blessed by Pope Boniface IX, but their army was badly defeated at the battle of the Vorskla in 1399.
Batu was the son of Jochi and the grandson of Genghis Khan. When Jochi died in 1227, Batu was given the lands west of the Volga River. Batu founded the Blue Horde and established his capital at Sarai on the lower Volga in 1242. Named after the Turkic Kipchaks and later known as the Golden Horde, these Mongols ruled Russia for more than two centuries. Batu urged the Great Khan Mongke to invade China, and this project led to raising money and troops from Russia and other places. The Mongols divided Russia into military districts and assigned princes to collect taxes and recruit soldiers. Batu died in 1255, and his brother Berke was khan 1257-66. Berke had converted to Islam, and most of the Blue Horde became Muslims. The Mongols promoted commerce and increased the power of the princes by making them responsible for collecting taxes, but resistance was punished. The Russian princes, who accepted the yarlik (patent of office) from the Mongols, had autocratic power over their people. They collected taxes for the Mongol administration that used capital and corporal punishment as well as torture to obtain confessions and gain information.
In 1251 Daniel of Galicia (Danylo of Halych) married his daughter to Prince Andrey of Vladimir. When Andrey refused to pay homage to the Khan the next year, the Mongols sent armies against both princes. Andrey was defeated at Pereslavl-Zalessky. In 1253 Daniel was the only Russian ever to be crowned king by a legate of the Pope, and that year he asked Pope Innocent IV for help against Mongol rule. The Russian clergy failed to accept the Pope’s authority, and no troops were sent. He managed to fight off the Tatar’s attack in 1254, but Berke Khan sent an army led by Burundai and Nogai that quelled Galicia’s rebellion in 1259. Daniel died in 1264 and was succeeded by his son Lev (Leo), who married the daughter of Hungarian king Bela IV and governed Volhynia and Galicia until 1301. The Mongol general Nogai ruled over Galicia-Volhynia, and in 1275 he attacked Lithuania and the northern Russian princes. Mongols led by Khan Tulubugha caused devastation when they marched through Galicia in 1282 on their way to Poland.
Alexander Nevsky accepted Mongol sovereignty because he believed resistance was futile. Thus he preserved the prosperity of Novgorod, and he became grand prince of Russia in 1252. The next year Alexander supported his brother Vasily in a campaign against invading Lithuanians. In 1257 Novgorodians refused to cooperate with a Mongol census because they would not pay the poll tax. Alexander punished them, but the next year he was summoned to the Mongol court with the Rostov princes. When they returned, they helped the Tatars enforce the census. Clergy were exempted from this tax and another in 1275. When Suzdal, Rostov, Vladimir, and Yaroslavl drove off Tatar tax collectors in 1262, a Mongol army approached; but Alexander made his fourth journey to the Mongol court at Sarai and persuaded Khan Berke to be merciful to the Suzdalians. Alexander died while returning to Russia in 1263.
Alexander’s younger brother Yaroslav of Tver persuaded Berke to recognize him as grand duke instead of his brother Andrey. His brother Vasily (Basil) of Kostroma and his nephew Dmitri of Pereslavl also challenged Yaroslav with armies; but the metropolitan reconciled them in 1270. They went to Sarai, and Yaroslav died on the way back on September 9, 1271. He was succeeded by his sons Svyatoslav (r. 1271-85) and Mikhail, who became grand prince in 1304. After Berke died in 1266, his successor Mangu Temir (r. 1267-80) exempted the Russian Church from taxes and conscription. Novgorod gained constitutional autonomy and free trade. The Tatars devastated Ryazan in 1237 and again in 1239, 1278, 1288, and 1308.
After helping Treniota assassinate Mindaugas in 1263, Dovmont (Daumantas) fled to Pskov, where he was baptized as Timotheus in the Orthodox church and became the military leader. Yaroslav of Novgorod did not approve of Dovmont ruling Pskov; but the Novgorodians followed Dovmont in his attacks against Lithuania and the Livonian knights. Dovmont married Maria, the daughter of Dmitri of Pereslavl. When Dmitri fled from Vladimir to Koporye in 1282, Dovmont captured Dmitri’s treasure in Novgorod and took it to Koporye. In 1299 Dovmont was able to repel an invasion of Pskov by the Livonian Order, but he died later that year.
Alexander Nevsky had four sons: Vasily of Novgorod, Dmitri of Pereslavl, Andrey of Gorodets, and Daniel of Moscow. Vasily governed Novgorod 1252-58. Dmitri governed Vladimir (1276-93) and Novgorod four different times between 1260 and 1292. Dmitri invaded Karelia in 1278. Andrey had Gorodets on the Volga and added Kostroma in 1276. Andrey was backed by the Tatars in the civil war, and they expelled Dmitri from Vladimir in 1281. Andrey went to Novgorod, where the people welcomed him, and he governed there until 1285. In 1283 the powerful Mongol Nogai helped Dmitri return to Vladimir as grand duke. In the next ten years Andrey came back to Russia with Mongols three times, and he governed Novgorod again 1292-1304. Andrey became grand duke of Vladimir in 1294, but he continued to live in Gorodets. During his ten-year reign he struggled against the alliance of Daniel of Moscow, Mikhail of Tver, and Ivan of Pereyaslavl. Nogai made Tokhta khan in 1291, and two years later Tokhta punished independent Russians by plundering fourteen towns including Vladimir, Suzdal, Mourom, Moscow, and Pereyaslavl. Tokhta was a shamanist who was interested in Buddhism; he ruled until his death in 1313 and was the last khan of the Golden Horde who was not a Muslim.
In 1301 Daniel imprisoned Prince Konstantin of Ryazan and took over his fortress of Kolumna. The next year Daniel’s cousin Ivan died childless and bequeathed to him Pereslavl-Zalessky. Daniel founded the first monastery in Moscow and became a monk before he died in 1303. Daniel was succeeded by his son Yuri III (George), who attacked the prince of Mozhaisk and annexed his territory.
The Golden Horde ordered Yuri III to put Konstantin to death in 1305, and the Tatars also killed Ryazan’s next two rulers, Vasily in 1308 and Ivan in 1327. Yuri had made Ivan submit to Moscow in 1320. Ivan’s son Ivan Krotopol (r. 1327-42) joined with the Tatars in a campaign against Smolensk in 1340 during which he captured plunder from his cousin Alexander and had him executed before a Tatar authority. The Muslim Uzbek Khan (r. 1313-41) supported Yuri and Ivan Kalita. Alexander’s son Iaroslav-Dmitri appealed to the Khan and was granted the throne of Ryazan. Ivan Krotopol escaped from the siege of Pereyaslavl Ryazansky in 1342 and was killed the next year. During this dynastic change the Ryazan boyars administered the land. Ivan was succeeded by his son Oleg (r. 1350-1402). In June 1353 Ryazan troops seized Lopasnya, which had been taken over by Moscow in 1301, and the Tatars approved of Oleg’s action. Moscow’s Ivan II made a treaty with Ryazan. The Tatar prince Tagi led a raid on Ryazan in 1365 and destroyed Pereyaslavl Ryazansky; but Oleg joined with his brother-in-law Prince Tito of Kozyol and defeated them by the Voina River. Additional Tatar raids kept Ryazan from becoming independent of Moscow. Grand Prince Dmitri led an army against Ryazan in December 1371 and defeated them near Pereyaslavl. Oleg escaped but quickly regained his throne from Prince Vladimir of Pronsk.
The powerful Tatar Mamai (r. 1361-80) raided Ryazan in 1373 while Dmitri and his allies kept the Mongols from crossing the Oka into Muscovite territory. In 1377 the Tatar prince Arapsha attacked Nizhni Novgorod and Ryazan. Oleg had to flee across the Oka as Ryazan was laid waste. Oleg joined Mamai and the Lithuanian Jogaila but spied for Dmitri before the famous battle of Kulikovo. The victorious Dmitri took over Ryazan, but Oleg preserved Ryazan from Tatar retaliation in 1382 by doing homage to Khan Tokhtamysh. Oleg promised him an easy victory over Moscow; but its difficulty provoked the Tatar to devastate Ryazan once again. Then the Muscovites pillaged Ryazan “down to the last stick.” In 1385 Oleg led an attack that captured Kolomna and defeated the Muscovite prince Vladimir Andreiovich. Finally the Abbott Sergius mediated a peace agreement, and in 1387 Oleg’s son Feodor married Dmitri’s daughter Sofia. In 1394 Ryazan fought off a raid led by Tokhtamysh, and in 1400 Oleg defeated the Tatars near Chervleni Iar. In 1401 Feodor (r. 1402-27) made a treaty with Dmitri’s son Vasily I. Feodor was succeeded in Ryazan by his son Ivan (r. 1427-56), who in 1447 made treaties with Vasily II and Lithuania.
After Andrey died in 1304, Mikhail of Tver, who was Iaroslav’s son and Alexander’s nephew, became grand prince; but Mikhail promised more than he could pay to the Golden Horde. In 1304 Novgorod rejected Mikhail’s governors, but by 1307 he imposed his government on them. Yuri (r. 1303-25) succeeded his father Daniel in Moscow. He defended Pereslavl-Zalessky against Andrey, and upon Andrey’s death he struggled against Mikhail, who went to the Golden Horde and was named grand duke of Vladimir. Yuri had Prince Konstantin put to death, annexed Kolumna, and took Mozhaisk away from the princes of Smolensk. Yuri gained the support of the metropolitan Peter (1308-26) and formed an alliance with Novgorod. Yuri went to the Mongol court of Uzbek Khan (r. 1312-41) at Sarai in 1315 and stayed there for two years, marrying the Khan’s sister Konchaka, who had converted to the Orthodox church.
Novgorod rebelled against Mikhail again and expelled his agents; but while he was visiting the new khan Uzbek, Mikhail was commercially blockading Novgorod. In February 1316 his army defeated them, killing more than a thousand Novgorodians and taking their leaders hostage. They strengthened their fortifications and soon rebelled again, and in the second campaign that year the Tver army had to withdraw. Archbishop David went to Tver to negotiate a treaty, and Mikhail released his hostages for an indemnity of 12,000 grivny. Meanwhile Uzbek deposed Mikhail of Tver and named Yuri grand duke of Vladimir. Yuri returned to Russia with an army of Mongols. However, Tver defeated them in December 1317. Yuri escaped and fled to Novgorod, but his wife and his brother Boris were captured and held hostage in Tver. When Konchaka died, Yuri accused Mikhail of having poisoned her, of withholding Tatar tribute, and of fighting against the Mongol official Kavgady. Uzbek Khan summoned Yuri and Mikhail to Sarai, where Mikhail was put on trial; he was executed on November 22, 1318.
Yuri returned to Russia in 1319; but he was hated and fled to Novgorod in 1321. Mikhail’s sons Dmitri and Alexander sought revenge and told the Khan that Yuri was keeping a large portion of the taxes. Dmitri thus gained the yarlik of office and was made grand prince in 1322. Yuri attacked the Swedes with the army of Novgorod and had the fortress of Orekhov built that deterred them. King Magnus Eriksson sent envoys and made a peace treaty with Yuri and the Novgorodians on August 12, 1323. Yuri was summoned to the Mongol court for a trial in 1324, and Dmitri killed him there on November 21, 1325. Uzbek Khan had Dmitri arrested immediately, and he was executed for the murder on August 15, 1326.
Dmitri’s younger brother Alexander of Tver became grand prince in 1326 for two years. In 1327 a rebellion in Tver stimulated a Mongol expedition led by Uzbek Khan’s lieutenant Chol Khan that punished him by devastating Tver; but the inhabitants rose up and killed Chol Khan and his agents. Yuri’s younger brother Ivan Kalita went to Uzbek at Sarai and came back with 50,000 Tatars, but Alexander escaped to Pskov and became their prince. When the metropolitan Feognost excommunicated him and all the Pskovites for harboring him in 1329, he fled to Lithuania. Alexander returned to Pskov in 1331 and governed it for six more years. He sent his son Fyodor to Sarai in 1335 to ask forgiveness. Then Alexander was summoned to the Mongol court, where he and his son were executed on October 29, 1339.
After Alexander fled, Ivan Kalita, the prince of Moscow, became grand prince in 1328. Kalita means “money-bag,” and Ivan collected taxes for the Mongols until his death in 1341, using his share of the revenues to purchase more land from the bankrupt nobles. Ivan added the princedom of Vladimir to his territory, and he ransomed Russian prisoners from the Mongols and settled them on Muscovite lands. Metropolitan Peter was the head of the Russian Church, and he died in 1326 while staying in Moscow. He was canonized, and his shrine added to the sanctity of Moscow. In 1328 Ivan persuaded Peter’s successor Feognost (Theognost) to settle in Moscow. Sergius of Radonezh founded the Trinity Monastery forty miles northeast of Moscow about 1335, and it became a place of pilgrimage. Between 1332 and 1339 Ivan made at least four trips to Sarai. He tried to carry out the instructions of Uzbek Khan and collected tribute in Novgorod, which rebelled in 1337 against the appointment of the archimandrite Iosif and was left open to Swedish attacks. Ivan’s army’s attacked Smolensk in 1339 “at the behest of the Khan.” The Tatars had first attacked Smolensk in 1333 with Prince Dmitri Romanovich of Bryansk. In 1339 Ivan demanded high taxes from Novgorod, and they rebelled. The next year he removed his governors, and the conflict extended beyond his death in 1341.
Ivan Kalita left equal estates to his three sons: Semen (Simeon) the Proud, Ivan, and Andrey. The Khan confirmed Semen, who summoned all the princes of Suzdal to Moscow; only Prince Konstantin of Tver refused to punish Novgorod in 1341. Uzbek Khan died that year, and his two succeeding sons were quickly killed. During this confusion Konstantin occupied Nizhny Novgorod and Gorodets. In 1346 Jani Beg Khan (r. 1342-57) granted Alexander’s son Vsevolod the yarlik for Tver, provoking a civil war there that was not resolved until 1349. Semen visited Sarai twice and persuaded the Khan to transfer his support from Vsevolod to Vasily, the prince of Kashin, and Vsevolod handed over power to him. Yet civil war broke out in Tver again in 1352. In 1348 Sweden’s King Magnus Eriksson had invaded Novgorod and captured the Orekhov fortress. Semen expanded the Muscovite domain, but his sons and he died in the plague of 1353, as did Prince Andrey. All the princes in northeast Russia were summoned by the Golden Horde, and Jani Beg Khan gave the yarlik to Ivan Ivanovich. In his will Semen had urged his heirs to obey the Muscovite metropolitan Alexis, who dominated Semen’s weak brother Ivan II (r. 1353-58) and Ivan’s son Dmitri while he was a minor. Alexis (1354-78) often visited the Mongol court. He blessed Dmitri and his allies and used interdicts and excommunications against his enemies. After the assassination of Jani Beg in 1357, a civil war began tearing apart the Mongol court as twenty different men ruled in as many years.
Dmitri of Suzdal challenged the young Dmitri of Moscow until he gave his daughter Evdokia to him in January 1366. Grand Prince Dmitri made a second treaty with Vladimir and ruled from Moscow until his death in 1389. The wooden walls of the Kremlin were replaced by stone in 1367. Some Mongols recognized Michael of Tver as grand prince. He allied with Olgerd (r. 1345-77) of Lithuania, and they devastated the region around Moscow in 1368. Dmitri made peace with Lithuania and then defeated Tver in September 1370. He defeated Olgerd again near Liubutsk in June 1372. The Muscovite army also conquered Ryazan and the Volga Bulgars, who paid tribute to the Mongols. In 1373 the strong Mongol leader Mamai plundered Ryazan, but the next year Dmitri’s army slaughtered his envoys and 1,500 Tatars in Nizhny Novgorod. In 1378 the Mongols burned Nizhny, but Dmitri counter-attacked and defeated the Mongol army by the Vozha River. In 1379 Dmitri joined with his cousin Vladimir and Prince Andrey of Pskov to invade Chernigov; but Andrey’s brother Dmitri, his family, and the boyars left Trubchevsk to go over to the Muscovites, who granted him the domain of Pereslavl-Zalessky.
Mamai formed an alliance with Lithuania’s grand prince Jogaila and marched with 200,000 troops to the upper Don. Before the Lithuanians arrived, Dmitri led about 150,000 men across the Don, and on September 8, 1380 the Muscovites won a bloody battle on the field of Kulikovo. Mamai’s army was routed, and two days later Jogaila’s Lithuanian army arrived and retreated. Some twenty Russian princes rallied around Moscow’s victorious ruler against the Mongols, though others at Ryazan still negotiated with the Mongols. Three accounts of the “slaughter of Mamai” glorified the victory of Dmitri, who was called Donskoi.
In 1382 the Mongols led by Tokhtamysh retaliated by besieging Moscow. Tokhtamysh swore he had stopped fighting and was allowed into the city. Suddenly the Mongols charged their hosts and opened a gate to let in reinforcements. Then they sacked and burned Moscow before retreating. Dmitri resumed his vassalage to the Khan and was confirmed as grand prince. Thus he was still able to dominate the other Russian princes. In the fourteenth century the grand dukes followed the Mongol tradition of military conscription in order to raise their own armies. Under Mongol domination Russian towns were occasionally looted and burned, and people were killed or taken away as slaves. This destruction suppressed their economy, as did the deportation of skilled craftsmen to other parts of the Mongol empire.
Dmitri’s son Vasily (Basil) became grand prince in 1389 and reigned until his death in 1425. In 1391 Khan Tokhtamysh allowed Vasily to annex Nizhni-Novgorod, and he was supported by the Bulgarian metropolitan Cyprian (1390-1406). The Muscovite army occupied Dvina in 1396 and granted the local landlords autonomy under Muscovite suzerainty, but two years later the Novgorodians drove out the Muscovites. In 1391 the powerful conqueror Timur had defeated Tokhtamysh and ravaged Ryazan, but he left Russia before reaching Moscow. In 1399 Khan Edigei of the White Horde defeated Vytautas’s Lithuanians on the Vorskla.
Serapion was abbot of the Kievan Crypt Monastery when the Mongols invaded. He later became bishop of Vladimir until his death in 1275. Serapion of Vladimir is remembered for his sermons. In one on the merciless heathens he reminds Christians of God’s love for men and how he may bring them to him by chastising them with words. He interpreted the attacks by the violent heathens as the wrath of the Lord descending upon them for their trespasses and breaking the commandments. He says they brought this anger upon themselves and so were deprived of God’s merciful vigilance.
After the Tatars devastated Kiev, the metropolitan Maxim (1283-1305) and his clergy went to Vladimir in 1299. Maxim traveled to the Mongol court at Sarai and mediated disputes between the princes of northeastern Russia. In 1308 the Patriarch of Constantinople appointed Peter metropolitan, and in 1325 he moved the see from Vladimir to Moscow, where he died the next year. Many slaves existed in Russia, but Christians were more likely to free them in their wills. In 1311 a Church council condemned a priest in Novgorod for heresy because he denounced monasticism, which had not yet become popular in Russia.
Sergius (Sergei) of Radonezh was born about 1320 into a boyar family in Rostov. A venerable monk helped him learn how to read, and he studied the holy scriptures. After the Tatar war the family lost their property and moved to Radonezh near Moscow. His older brother Stephen was married; but after his wife died, Stephen renounced the world to become a monk. Sergius insisted on going with him to a forest where they prayed and worked. They agreed to name the place after the blessed trinity and built a chapel. Stephen was ordained a priest and became abbot of the monastery, and Grand Prince Semen made him his confessor. Eventually the humble Sergius was made a monk and given his name. Sergius continued to live ascetically milling grain, baking, cutting wood, sewing simple garments, and making basic furniture while praying, meditating and studying scripture.
Sergius was humble and did not want to be a priest or an abbot, but eventually the other monks and the bishop persuaded him that it was God’s will. While the metropolitan Alexius was in Constantinople, Bishop Athanasius ordained Sergius a deacon. For a while he was abbot for twelve brothers; but after Simon, the archimandrite of Smolensk, joined them, their numbers steadily increased. Sergius practiced spiritual discipline and subtly encouraged the others. If he heard monks chatting in their rooms, he gently knocked on the door and later reminded them to avoid idle talk. Sergius wore shabby clothes, and visitors often did not realize he was abbot. According to the hagiographic account by Epiphanius the Wise, Sergius performed various miracles, including multiplying food, reviving a dead child, calming a madman, and seeing visions. In 1380 he prayed that Grand Prince Dmitri Ivanovich would defeat the invading Mongols. Metropolitan Alexis consulted with Sergius but could not persuade him to be his successor. For half a century Sergius carried on his quiet work in solitude, inspiring occasional visitors. From his example the monastic movement in Russia took off. In the century prior to 1340 some thirty new monasteries were founded, but in the next century nearly five times that many were begun. Epiphanius wrote that when Sergius saw his end was near, he passed on these admonitions:
He made them promise to be steadfast in orthodoxy
and to preserve amity among men;
to keep pure in body and soul; to love truth;
to avoid all evil and carnal lusts;
to be moderate in food and drink;
above all, to be clothed with humility;
not to forget love of their neighbor;
to avoid controversy,
and on no account to set value on honor and praise in this life,
but rather to await reward from God
for the joys of heaven and eternal blessings.1
Epiphanius the Wise also wrote about the life of Stephen of Perm (1340-96), who converted the Finnic tribe of Komi Permyaks to Christianity and created the Old Permian alphabet. He described Stephen as an apostle, lawgiver, baptist, preacher, evangelist, bishop, teacher, martyr, and more.
In the second half of the fourteenth century the strigolniki in Novgorod objected to the fees for religious services, and they spread their teachings. They denied the authority of the Church and its rituals except baptism. They attempted to live like the original apostles, and the most radical even renounced Christ, praying only to God the Father. They were violently repressed by authorities in Novgorod and Pskov, and the sect faded away in the early fifteenth century. The first school of Russian icon painting developed in Suzdal at the end of the thirteenth century. They flourished in the fourteenth century, and in the early fifteenth century the Muscovite school became prominent. The most famous of the icon painters, Andrei Rublev, flourished around 1400.
1. “The Life, Acts, and Miracles of Our Revered and Holy Father Abbot Sergius” by Epiphanius the Wise in Medieval Russia’s Epics, Chronicles, and Tales ed. Serge A. Zenkovsky, p. 235.