The Marriage of Bolesław of the Piasts and Kinga of the Árpáds in 1239 in the Shadow of the Mongol Menace

The Marriage of Bolesław of the Piasts and Kinga of the Árpáds in 1239 in the Shadow of the Mongol Menace

By Wojciech Kozłowski

Medieval Historical Studies in Memory of Zoltan J. Kosztolnyik (Szeged: Szegedi Egyetemi Kiado, 2010)

Introduction: In 1138 Duke Boleslaw the Wrymouth made his so-called “last will,” which carved Poland into separate principalities for his numerous offsprings, after which the country gradually submerged into further internal divisions that considerably decreased its power and political effectiveness. Soon, after a few decades, there were several independent or semi-independent principalities int he former Kingdom of Poland that often fought each other and were reluctant to recognize each other’s authority. At the same time, Hungary became involved in Balkan politics and came under strong pressure from Byzantium. Later, however, the kingdom managed to escape the Byzantine domination and with the reign of Bela III (1172-1196) Hungary sailed into the political “high seas” and remained there for at least three centuries. The dynastic status of both houses at the beginning of the thirteenth century was significantly different. Whereas the Arpads could claim a truly European dynastic perspective, the Piasts were plainly confined to regional, if not local, politics.

This study deals with the generally overlooked issue of a marriage that was concluded between Boleslaw the Shy, a representative of the ruling Piast dynasty in Little Poland, and Kinga, the eldest daughter of Bela IV, king of Hungary. The fact of this marriage itself is, of course, widely known, however, the reasons for it are rather obscure and for decades they have caused problems for historians. In search of a resolution I will present a list of contemporary approaches in order to formulate my own interpretation.

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