A BRIEF HISTORY OF POLAND
Copyright 1994 - AngloPol Corporation -- Distributed by the Polonia Media Network
|Part 1 | | | |The Polish State Emerges | |10th-12th Centuries | |The name of Poland comes from the name of the Polanie tribe or people tilling land. That tribe settled down in the Warta | |River basin, an area which was later called Wielkopolska [Great Poland]. The center of authority was in Gniezno. | |Archaeological excavations permit an examination of the development of the Gniezno castle and its powerful fortifications,| |dating back to the 8th century. The tribal rulers of the Polanie who later resided in the castle were called the Piasts, | |from the name of their legendary ancestor. | |Throughout the 10th century, the Polanie and their Piast princes conquered and consolidated their rule over other Lecithic| |tribes living between the Odra and Bug Rivers, the Baltic coast and the Carpathian Mountains. The Polanie conquered | |successively the Kujawianie tribe, whose main castle was in Kruszwica, the Mazowszanie tribe and their castle of Plock, | |the Ledzianie tribe and Sandomierz, and the Pomeranian tribe and their castles of Gdansk and Wolin. Toward the end of the | |century they seized the Wislanie tribe with their castle of Krakow, as well as the Silesian tribes with Wroclaw, Opole and| |Legnica. | |Mieszko I was the first prince of the Piast dynasty to be mentioned by contemporary historical sources (ca. 960-992). We | |even know the names of his forefathers from oral tradition. Nonetheless, it is Mieszko I who is recognized as the founder | |of the Polish state. It was during his time that conquests were completed and the tribes whose languages and cultures | |showed great affinity were united. The prince reorganized the new territories and united them into a uniform state system.| |In 966, Mieszko was baptized, thus placing the Polish state in the political system of Central Europe and determining the | |European and Christian road of development of the Polish state and society. | |Poland of the 10th through 12th centuries, as many other states of the early Middle Ages, was a monarchy treated by the | |ruler as a dynastic property and heritage--a patriarchy. The duke and a small group of magnates who surrounded him (the | |erstwhile tribal chiefs or people elevated to power by the duke) commanded strong and centralized powers. The army was | |made up of an elite several- thousand-strong team, provided for and equipped by the duke, as well as of free yeomen called| |to serve whenever such need arose. | |The state was divided into provinces, but the administrative set-up had much to do with old tribal patterns. Provinces, in| |turn, were divided into castle districts, some one hundred of them altogether. In each district there was the master | |representing the duke and wielding power on his behalf: military, judicial, fiscal and administrative. He had an entourage| |of a small number of warriors. Yeomen, making up the hardcore of the population, had to pay a levy to the duke. High | |social position during these early stages of the monarchy stemmed not from personal wealth or tribal ownership, but from |...
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