Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Casimir III of Poland
Casimir the Great married Anna, or Aldona Ona, the daughter of the duke of Lithuania, Gediminas. (and others too...) Their daughter was Cunigunde, who was married to Louis VI the Roman, the son of Louis IV, Holy Roman Emperor. Casimir then married Adelheid of Hessen.
The Great King
Casimir is the only Polish king who did receive and maintain the title of the great in Polish history (Boleslaw I Chrobry was once also called the great, but not today), and the title is well deserved. When he received the crown, his hold on it was in danger, as even his neighbours did not recognise his title and instead called him "king of Kraków". The economy was ruined, and country was depopulated and tired with wars. When he left the country, it has doubled in size (mostly through joining lands in today's Ukraine, then duchy of Halicz ), grew prosperous, wealthy and had great prospects to the future. Although he is depicted as a peaceful king in children books, he in fact waged many victorious wars and was preparing other ones just before he died.
He built many new castles, reformed Polish army and Polish civil and criminal law. At the Sejm in Wislica , March 11, 1347, he introduced salutary legal reforms in the jurisprudence of his country. He sanctioned a code of laws for Great and Little Poland, which gained for him the title of "the Polish Justinian"; and he also limited the interest rate charged by Jewish money-lenders to Christians to 8⅓ per cent per annum. This measure was widely considered a wise act tending to the economic welfare of the country as a whole. He founded the University of Kraków, although his death stalled the development of the university (and that's why today it is called Jagiellonian instead of Casimirian).
He organised a meeting of kings in Kraków in 1364 which showed the wealth of Polish kingdom.
Concession to szlachta
In order to enlist the support of nobleman (szlachta), especially the military help of pospolite ruszenie, Casimir was forced to give up important priviliges to their caste, which made them finally clearly dominant over townsfolk (burgherss or mieszczanstwo).
In 1355 in Buda Casimir designates Louis of Anjou (Louis I of Hungary) as his successor. In exchange, szlachta's tax burden has been reduced and they would be no longer required to pay for military expeditions expences outside Poland. Those important concessions would eventually lead to the rise of unique noble's democracy in Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth.
Relationship with Polish Jews
He was favorably disposed toward Jews. On October 9, 1334, he confirmed the privileges granted to Jewish Poles in 1264 by Boleslaw the Pious. Under penalty of death, he prohibited the kidnapping of Jewish children for the purpose of forcible Christian baptism. He inflicted heavy punishment for the desecration of Jewish cemeteries .
Although Jews were present in Poland even earlier, Casimir allowed them to settle in Poland in great numbers and protected them as king's people.
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