Gallus Anonymus is the name traditionally given to the anonymous author of Gesta principum Polonorum, composed in Latin about 1115. Gallus is regarded as the first historian to have described Poland, his Chronicles are an obligatory text for university courses in Poland's history. Little is known of the author himself; the only source for Gallus' existence is a note made by Prince-Bishop of Warmia Marcin Kromer in the margin of folio 119 of the "Heilsberg manuscript." It reads: Gallus hanc historiam scripsit, opinor, aliquis, ut ex proemiis coniicere licet qui Boleslai tertii tempore vixit It is not known whether Kromer intended the word "Gallus" as a proper name or as a reference to the author's nationality, nor what he based his identification on. The Heilsberg manuscript, one of three extant witnesses of the Gesta, was written between 1469 and 1471. From the mid-16th to 18th centuries, it was kept in the town of Heilsberg, it was published at the behest of Prince-Bishop of Warmia Adam Stanisław Grabowski.
The author of the Gesta wrote little about himself and was not written about in contemporary sources. What Gallus did write about himself may be summed up as follows: Before going to Poland, he spent some time in Hungary, where he met Polish duke Bolesław III Wrymouth. Historians agree that Gallus' writing style indicates a substantial education, available only to nobles and monks; the clericus de penna vivens is suspected by Danuta Borawska and Marian Plezia to have earlier penned the Gesta Hungarorum and the Translatio Sancti Nicolai. Budapest's Vajdahunyad Castle features an evocative bronze statue of a seated Anonymus in monk's habit, the cowl obscuring his face. Gallus' place of origin is unknown. Several theories have been advanced. Traditional scholarship has assumed that he was French from France or Flanders. Plezia has suggested that he was a monk from Saint Giles' Monastery in France; the name Gallus may be related to the name of Saint Gall the Gaelic founder of the Swiss monastery. Considering the high number of European abbeys founded by wandering Irish literati, the possibility that the Chronicler of the Poles & the Hungarians was born in Ireland should at least be considered.
Some scholars have pointed out that Gallus' writing style resembles that of Hildebert of Lavardin and have thought that Gallus had been educated at Le Mans or, according to Zathey, at Chartres or Bec in Normandy. Before World War II, French historian Pierre David advanced a theory that Gallus might have been a Hungarian monk from Saint Giles' Monastery in Somogyvár who accompanied Prince Bolesław III in his return from Hungary to Poland; this theory enjoys little support. Another theory has been gaining ground in Poland. Professors Danuta Borawska and Tomasz Jasiński of Poznań University have presented a case for a Venetian origin, it has been argued that Gallus may have been a monk from St. Giles' Monastery at the Lido, Venice and Professor Plezia has subsequently concurred; the Venetian theory was first broached in 1904 by Polish historian Tadeusz Wojciechowski. In 1965 it did not win acceptance. In recent years, however, it has been revisited and has now gained positive reviews from several Polish medievalists.
It has been supported by Roman Michałowski and Wojciech Fałkowski. Fałkowski has noted that the two theories—French and Italian—may be less mutually exclusive than some think, as Gallus might have been born in Italy, been a monk at the Lido, have traveled to France and Hungary. According to Tomasz Jasiński, who in 2008 published a book on Gallus, the chronicler came to Poland over the Via Egnatia across the Slavic-speaking countries of "Epirus, Dalmatia, Istria." When Jasiński compared the Chronicle with the Transfer of St. Nicholas, he found over 100 similarities. Jasiński has concluded that Gallus, like many Venetian clergymen of the time, had a native knowledge of both Italian and Slavic languages. However, Paul W. Knoll and Frank Schaer regard the Venetian suggestion as "too weak to be considered seriously." In Poland, medievalist Professor Jacek Banaszkiewicz supports a French over an Italian origin for Gallus Anonymus. The anonymous author of the Gesta influenced the subsequent course of Poland's history, in that his version of early Polish history held the ruler's authority to be inferior to that of God, as expressed by the voice of the people.
This concept reinforced Poles' electoral traditions and their tendency to disobey and question authority. Via the Chronicles of Wincenty Kadłubek and the Sermons of Stanisław of Skarbimierz, it contributed to the development of the unique "Golden Liberty" that would characterize the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, whose kings were elected and were obliged to obey the Sejm. Anonymus Gesta Hungarorum Edmund Kotarski: Gall Anonim Gazeta Wyborcza article about Gallus Anonymus' Venetian ori
Gesta principum Polonorum
The Gesta principum Polonorum is a medieval gesta, or deeds narrative, concerned with Duke Bolesław III Wrymouth, his ancestors, the Polish principality during and before his reign. Completed between 1112 and 1118, the extant text is present in three manuscripts with two distinct traditions, its author, though anonymous, is traditionally called Gallus a non-Pole connected with the monastery of Saint-Gilles or elsewhere in western Europe. The book is one of the earliest written documents on the history of Poland, but gives a unique Eastern European perspective on the general history of Europe, supplementing what has been handed down by Western and Southern European historians, it pre-dates the Gesta Danorum and the next major source on early history of Poland, the Chronica seu originale regum et principum Poloniae, by a century. The title intended for or given to the work is not clear. In the initial capital of the text in the Zamoyski Codex, a rubric styles the work the Cronica Polonorum, while in the same manuscript the preface of Book I opens with Incipiunt Cronice et gesta ducum sive principum Polonorum.
The incipit for Book II entitles the work Liber Tertii Bolezlaui, that for Book III Liber de Gestis Boleslaui III. These however are not reliable as such things are added later; the latest editors and only English translators of the text style it Gesta principum Polonorum to acknowledge its faith with the gesta genre and to avoid confusion with the work known as the Chronica principum Poloniae. The author of the Gesta is unknown, but is referred to by historigraphic convention as "Gallus", a Latin word for a "person from France or Gaul"; the only source for Gallus' existence comes not from the text but rather from a note made by historian and Bishop of Warmia Martin Kromer in the margin of folio 119 of the "Heilsberg manuscript". It is not known. In Gottfried Lengnich's printed edition, Lengnich named the author as "Martin Gallus" based on a misreading of Jan Długosz, where Gallus was conflated with Martin of Opava. Martin Gallus became the standard name in German scholarship for some time to come, though this identification is now rejected by most historians.
Historian Maximilian Gumplowicz identified the author as Baldwin Gallus Bishop of Kruszwica, though this theory has failed to gain general acceptance. There have been frequent attempts to identify Gallus' origins from clues in the text. Marian Plezia and Pierre David both argued that Gallus came from Provence in what is now southern France, was connected with the Benedictine monastery of Saint-Gilles. Another historian, Karol Maleczyński, argued that the evidence suggests a connection with Flanders, while Danuta Borawska and Tomasz Jasiński have argued based on stylistic evidence that he was connected with Venice and that he authored an anonymous translatio of St Nicholas. Marian Plezia argued in 1984 that his writing style suggests an education in one of the schools of central France Tours or Orléans. Plezia and others further argue that Gallus' extensive knowledge of Hungary testify to connections there, postulating a connection to the Benedictine monastery of Somogyvár in Hungary, a daughter-house of St Gilles'.
He appears to have been connected to the Awdańcy clan, a kindred of Norse or Rus origin, successful under Boleslaw II, and, exiled to Hungary but returned to prominence in Polish affairs during the reign of Boleslaw III. As he stated that "the city of Gniezno... means "nest" in Slavic", it is thought that the author may have known the language of the country. All, certain is that he was a monk and a non-Slav living in Poland on a Polish benefice, it is thought that the original text was composed at some point between 1112 and 1117. The dedicatory letter on the preface of the Gesta fixes completion of the origin text between 1112 and 1118; the last event mentioned in the work is the pilgrimage of Boleslaw III to Székesfehérvár in Hungary, which occurred in either 1112 or 1113. The work was certainly completed before the revolt of Skarbimir in 1117–18. There is some evidence. For instance, there is reference to the descendants of Duke Swietobor of Pomerania; the Gesta is not extant in the original, but instead survives in three different manuscripts representing two different traditions.
The Codex Zamoyscianus and Codex Czartoryscianus represent the first, earliest documented tradition, the latter being derived from the former. The Heilsberg codex and surviving in less detail, is an independent witness to the text and constitutes the second distinct tradition; the earliest version lies in the manuscript known as the Codex Zamoyscianus or Zamoyski Codex. This was written down in the late 14th-century in Kraków between 1380 and 1392, it was located in the library of the Łaski family until the 15th century. Thereabouts Sandivogius of Czechłoj, a canon of Gniezno Cathedral and friend of the historian Jan Długosz, came into possession of it, it was in the library of the counts of Zamość, but is now in the National Library in Warsaw as Ms. BOZ cim. 28. A second version of the Gesta lies in the Codex Czartoryscianus called the Sędziwój Codex. Between 1434 and 1439 Sandivogius of Czechło h
The Piast dynasty was the first historical ruling dynasty of Poland. The first documented Polish monarch was Prince Mieszko I; the Piasts' royal rule in Poland ended in 1370 with the death of king Casimir III the Great. Branches of the Piast dynasty continued to rule in the Duchy of Masovia and in the Duchies of Silesia until the last male Silesian Piast died in 1675; the Piasts intermarried with several noble lines of Europe, possessed numerous titles, some within the Holy Roman Empire. The early dukes and kings of Poland are said to have regarded themselves as descendants of the semi-legendary Piast the Wheelwright, first mentioned in the Cronicae et gesta ducum sive principum Polonorum, written c. 1113 by Gallus Anonymus. However, the term "Piast Dynasty" was not applied until the 17th century. In a historical work the expression Piast dynasty was introduced by the Polish historian Adam Naruszewicz, it is not documented in contemporary sources. No one in over a 1000 years of Polish history bore the first name Piast.
The first "Piasts" of Polan descent, appeared around 940 in the territory of Greater Poland at the stronghold of Giecz. Shortly afterwards they relocated their residence to Gniezno, where Prince Mieszko I ruled over the Civitas Schinesghe from about 960; the name Polani, from Slavic: pole, did not appear until 1015. The Piasts temporarily ruled over Pomerania and the Lusatias, as well as Ruthenia, the Hungarian Spiš region in present-day Slovakia; the ruler bore the title of a king, depending on their position of power. The Polish monarchy had to deal with the expansionist policies of the Holy Roman Empire in the west, resulting in a chequered co-existence, with Piast rulers like Mieszko I, Casimir I the Restorer or Władysław I Herman trying to protect the Polish state by treaties, oath of allegiances and marriage politics with the Imperial Ottonian and Salian dynasties; the Bohemian Přemyslid dynasty, the Hungarian Arpads and their Anjou successors, the Kievan Rus' also the State of the Teutonic Order and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania were mighty neighbours.
The Piast position was decisively enfeebled by an era of fragmentation following the 1138 Testament of Bolesław III Krzywousty. For nearly 150 years, the Polish state shattered into several duchies, with the Piast duke against the formally valid principle of agnatic seniority fighting for the throne at Kraków, the capital of the Lesser Polish Seniorate Province. Numerous dukes like Mieszko III the Old, Władysław III Spindleshanks or Leszek I the White were crowned, only to be overthrown shortly afterwards; the senior branch of the Silesian Piasts, descendants of Bolesław III Krzywousty's eldest son Duke Władysław II the Exile, went separate ways and since the 14th century were vassals of the Bohemian Crown. After the Polish royal line and Piast junior branch had died out in 1370, the Polish crown fell to the Anjou king Louis I of Hungary, son of late King Casimir's sister Elizabeth Piast; the Masovian branch of the Piasts became extinct with the death of Duke Janusz III in 1526. The last ruling duke of the Silesian Piasts was George William of Legnica who died in 1675.
His uncle Count August of Legnica, the last male Piast, died in 1679. The last legitimate heir, Duchess Karolina of Legnica-Brieg died in 1707 and is buried in Trzebnica Abbey. Numerous families, like the illegitimate descendants of the Silesian duke Adam Wenceslaus of Cieszyn, link their genealogy to the dynasty. About 1295, Przemysł II used a coat of arms with a white eagle – a symbol referred to as the Piast coat of arms or as the Piast Eagle; the Silesian Piasts in the 14th century used an eagle modified by a crescent, which became the coat of arms of the Duchy of Silesia. Piast kings and rulers of Poland appear in list form in the following table. For a list of all rulers, see List of Polish monarchs. Świętosława, daughter of Mieszko I of Poland, Queen consort of Denmark, Norway and England, mother of Cnut the Great, King of all England and Norway Świętosława of Poland, daughter of Casimir I the Restorer, Queen consort of Bohemia Richeza of Poland, Queen of Sweden, daughter of Bolesław III Wrymouth, Queen consort of Sweden, mother of Canute V of Denmark, King of Denmark and Sophia of Minsk, Queen consort of Denmark Richeza of Poland, Queen of Castile, daughter of Władysław II the Exile, Queen consort of León and Galicia, Queen consort of Castile, Empress of All Spains Salomea of Poland, daughter of Leszek I the White, Queen consort of Halych Fenenna of Kuyavia, daughter of Ziemomysł of Kuyavia, Queen consort of Hungary Elizabeth Richeza of Poland, daughter of Przemysł II, Queen consort of Poland and Bohemia Viola of Cieszyn, daughter of Mieszko I, Duke of Cieszyn, Queen consort of Hungary and Poland Maria of Bytom, daughter of Casimir of Bytom, Queen consort of Hungary Beatrice of Silesia, daughter of Bolko I the Strict, Queen of the Romans Hedwig of Kalisz, daughter of Bolesław the Pious, Queen consort of Poland, mother of Casimir III the Great King of Poland and Elizabeth of Poland Queen consort of Hungary Elizabeth of Poland, daughter of Władysław I the Elbow-high, Queen consort of Hungary, mother of Louis I, King of Poland and Croatia and Charles I of Hungary, King of Hungary and Croatia Anna of Świdnica, daughter of Henry II, Duke of Świdnica, Queen consort of Germany, of Bohemia and Holy Roman Empress, mother of Wenceslaus IV of Bohemia, King of the Romans and of Bohemia Hedwig of Sagan, daughter of Henry V of Iron, Queen consort of Poland Bolesław of Toszek – Archbishop of Esztergom Władysław of Wroclaw – Archbishop of Salzburg Jarosław of Opole – Bishop of Wrocław Mieszko of Bytom – Bishop of Nitra and of Veszprém Henry of Mas
Siemowit was, according to the chronicles of Gallus Anonymus, the son of Piast the Wheelwright and Rzepicha. He is considered to be the first ruler of the Piast dynasty, he became the Duke of the Polans in the 9th century after his father, Piast the Wheelwright, son of Chościsko, refused to take the place of legendary Duke Popiel. Siemowit was elected as new duke by the wiec. According to a popular legend, Popiel was eaten by mice in his tower on Gopło lake; the only mention of Siemowit, along with his son and grandson, Siemomysł, comes in the medieval chronicle of Gallus Anonymus. Siemowit's great grandson, Mieszko I, was the first Christian ruler of Poland. Poland in the Early Middle Ages Ziemowit
Piast the Wheelwright
Piast Kołodziej was a semi-legendary figure in medieval Poland, the founder of the Piast dynasty that would rule the future Kingdom of Poland. Piast makes an appearance in the Polish Chronicle of Gallus Anonymus, along with his father, Chościsko, Piast's wife, Rzepicha; the chronicle tells the story of an unexpected visit paid to Piast by two strangers. They ask to join Piast's family in celebration of the 7th birthday of Siemowit. In return for the hospitality, the guests cast a spell making Piast's cellar full of plenty. Seeing this, Piast's compatriots declare to replace the late Prince Popiel. If Piast existed, he would have been the great-great-grandfather of Prince Mieszko I, the first historic ruler of Poland, the great-great-great-grandfather of Bolesław Chrobry, the first Polish king; the legendary Piasts were native of Gniezno, a well fortified castle town founded between the eighth and ninth century, within the tribal territory of the Polanie. According to legend, he died in 861 aged 120 years.
In over 1000 years of Polish history no one else bore the name Piast. Two theories explain the etymology of the word Piast; the first gives the root as piasta, a reference to his profession. The second relates Piast to piastun; this could hint at Piast's initial position as a majordomo, or a "steward of the house", in the court of another ruler, the subsequent takeover of power by Piast. This would parallel the development of the early medieval Frankish dynasties, when the Mayors of the Palace of the Merovingian kings usurped political control