Session: Eastern Europe in the Middle Ages – May 13th
By Sebastian Bartos, Georgia College and State University
This paper dealt with the role of the Bishops of Kraków and their attempt to create a reciprocal relationship secular laity and the Church. This paper also argues that they were not Gregorian revolutionaries but conservatives who were in interested in establishing a stable dynasty.
The Polish church rose during the Piast Dynasty (10th – 14th century). When the Piast dynasty came to a close in 1370, the bishops of Kraków provided spiritual and ecclesiastical leadership. They wanted to create a reciprocal relationship between the laity and the church.They were primarily interested in a stable dynasty under Kazimierz II Sprawiedliwy (‘The Just’). Kazimierz helped increased Kraków’s spiritual status when he aided Bishop Gedko in expanding the cult of St. Florian and had the Bishop translate the saint’s remains to Kraków. Another Bishop, Iwo Odrowąż, pushed for the canonization of St. Stanislaw; who was officially canonized in 1253. Indulgences were granted to those who visited his relics and a Feast day was granted in the Polish monastic calendar in his name.
Krakowian ecclesiastics were interested in local ecclesiastical advances and stable, hereditary ducal leadership. They sought to liberate Kraków from secular dependence. Kraków competed against other cities like Wrocław for ecclesiastical distinction. Wrocławian Bishops had the same pretensions as Krakowian Bishops, and Wrocław was the stronger diocese but Kraków was historically lucky. The two cities struggled with each other for half a century. The Bishops of Kraków proved to be instrumental in bringing about Kraków’s ecclesiastical prominence during the 13th century.