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Casimir III of Poland

Preceded by:
Wladyslaw Lokietek
List of Polish rulers:
King of Poland 1333-1370
Succeeded by:
Louis I of Hungary

Casimir III or the Great (Kazimierz Wielki), (1310-1370), was the son of Wladyslaw Lokietek (Wladyslaw the Elbow High), King of Poland 1305-1333 and Jadwiga.

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.

When Casimir, the last Piast king of Poland, died in 1370, Louis I of Hungary succeeded him to become king of Poland and Hungary. He built many new castles, reformed Polish army and Polish civil and criminal law. He founded the University of Krakow, 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 Krakow in 1364 which showed the wealth of Polish kingdom.

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 Krakow". 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.

Relationship with Polish Jews

On Oct. 9, 1334, he confirmed the privileges granted to Jewish Poles in 1264 by Boleslaw the Pious. He was favorably disposed toward Jews. Under penalty of death he prohibited the kidnaping of Jewish children for the purpose of forcible Christian baptism. He inflicted heavy punishment for the desecration of Jewish cemeteries.

At the Diet of 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 rate of interest 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/

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.