Pawel Kras

in Medieval Studies

ISBN: 9780195396584
Published online December 2010 | | DOI:

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  • Medieval and Renaissance History (500 to 1500)
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In the early Middle Ages the rise of Kraków paralleled the growth of the military role of the Wawel stronghold. In the 9th century the Wawel Hill became a crucial stronghold of the Vistulans, a Western Slavonic tribe who formed their state organization in southern territories of present-day Poland. At the end of the 9th century the duke of the Vistulans was converted to Christianity and his state was subjugated to the Great Moravian Empire. Some historians have argued that at that time Byzantine missionaries, followers of St. Methodius, operated in the Duchy of the Vistulans spreading Christianity, and Kraków became the center of the Old Church-Slavonic liturgy. In the first half of the 10th century Kraków was annexed to the Duchy of Bohemia. Under the Bohemian rule the first stone buildings were constructed at the Wawel Hill (churches of St. Michael and St. Wenceslas and a palatium). The expansion of the early Piast state from Great Poland to the south provoked a military conflict with Bohemia. Probably, in c. 990 Mieszko I, Duke of the Polans, extended his rule to Little Poland and made Kraków his crucial stronghold and administration center in that province. In 1000 Kraków became the seat of a new bishopric, which spread over the vast territory of southern Poland. After the pagan rebellion in 1034–1038, which overthrew the administrative structure of the early Piast monarchy state, Kraków became the main residence of Polish monarchs. See also the bibliography Medieval Poland. The fragmentation of Poland, which followed the death of Duke Boleslas III the Wrymouthed in 1138, made Kraków the residence of the senior duke and the symbol of the Polish unity. The privileged position of Kraków in the disintegrated Polish state contributed to its growing political role. The favorable location of Kraków at the crossroads of international routes made it a leading center of trade and commerce in the region. In 1257 Duke Boleslas V the Chaste granted Kraków a municipal charter, giving way to the formation of the new urban settlement north from the Wawel Hill. Since the privilege of 1257, the population of Kraków started to enjoy liberties and autonomy modeled upon the city code of Magdeburg. The space of the new town of Kraków was organized around a vast quadrangle market-square and took the form of a chessboard. By the end of the 13th century the town was surrounded by the city walls. In the process of restoring a united Polish state Kraków took a leading position. In 1320 the cathedral of Kraków became the coronation place of the Polish kings and their burial place as well. In 1364 King Casimir II the Great founded the University of Kraków. Under his rule in the direct vicinity of Kraków, the new towns of Kazimierz and Kleparz were established, in 1335 and 1366, respectively. In the middle of the 14th century, the population of Kraków within the city walls, estimated at eighteen thousand, grew to approximately twenty-eight thousand by the middle of the 16th century. Late medieval Kraków was inhabited by many ethnic groups, among which the most numerous were Poles, Germans, and Jews (see the bibliography Ethnic and Religious Groups in Medieval Poland).

Article.  10384 words. 

Subjects: Medieval and Renaissance History (500 to 1500) ; Literary Studies (Early and Medieval) ; Medieval and Renaissance Philosophy ; Byzantine and Medieval Art (500 CE to 1400) ; Anglo-Saxon and Medieval Archaeology

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