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Czechs and Poles in the Middle Ages: Rivalry, Cooperation and Alliances

Czechs and Poles in the Middle Ages: Rivalry, Cooperation and Alliances

By Pavel Krafl

Czech-Polish Historical and Pedagogical Journal, Vol. 5:2 (2013)

Map of Europe, drawing of c. 1570
Map of Europe, drawing of c. 1570

Abstract: The article contains a description of the development of Czech-Polish relations in the Middle Ages. The author divides Czech-Polish relations in the Middle Ages into three periods. The first period (10th-12th centuries) is characterised by frequent conflicts and rivalry in the struggle for dominion over East-Central Europe. The second period (from the beginning of the 13th century to the 1330s) is characterized by more peaceful relations and the subsequent expansion of Czech power into Silesia and Poland. This period ends in the 1330s, when the newly-established power and political arrangements were formally accepted. The third period (from the 1330s to the beginning of the 16th century) sees a growth in mutual sympathies between the two nations and, at the same time, the rejection of the Czech “heresy” by the Poles. This resulted in the Czech throne being taken up by a Polish dynasty.

Introduction: In this article, we describe the development of Czech-Polish relations in different periods of the Middle Ages. The fundamental work on the history of Czech-Polish relations is the synthesis entitled The Czechs and Poles in the Past, which was edited in the 1960s by Josef Macůrek and Václav Žáček. The literature published after this synthesis is contained in several research reports and bibliographies.

Check out this issue of The Medieval Magazine
Check out this issue of The Medieval Magazine

We will divide Czech-Polish relations in the Middle Ages into three periods: i) the 10th–12th centuries; ii) from the beginning of the 13th century to the 1330s; iii) from the 1330s to the beginning of the 16th century. The first period is characterised by frequent conflicts and rivalry in the struggle for dominion over East-Central Europe. The second period is characterized by more peaceful relations and the subsequent expansion of Czech power into Silesia and Poland. This period ends in the 1330s, when the newly-established power and political arrangements were formally accepted. The third period, which covers the late Middle Ages, sees a growth in mutual sympathies between the two nations and, at the same time, the rejection of the Czech “heresy” by the Poles. This resulted in the Czech throne being taken up by a Polish dynasty.

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