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The beginning of the Polish state


pawian 161 | 9,971
12 Sep 2012 #1
,I was asking how Poland came to be,was it once feudal states or regions and then unified by a strong man or king.Please tell me in you're words?I appreciate it.

In my own words:

In 10 century AD there were a few Slavic tribes residing in Central Europe, on the territory of today`s Poland.

Polish tribes - a term used sometimes to describe the tribes of West Slavs that lived in the territories that became Polish from around the mid-7th century to the creation of Polish state by the Piast dynasty. The territory they lived on became a part of the first Polish state created by duke Mieszko I and expanded at the end of the 10th century, enlarged further by king Bolesław I at the beginning of the 11th century.

The most important Polish tribes are Polans, Masovians, Vistulans, Silesians and Pomeranians[1]. These five tribes "shared fundamentally common culture and language and were considerably more closely related to one another than were the Germanic tribes."[2]


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the leader of the strongest tribe of Polanie (field dwellers) decided to gain more power and started uniting other tribes and their lands into a greater entity, with various methods: force, persuasion, bribery etc.

In result, in 966 Mieszko was christened as a ruler of united Western Slavic tribes.

Poland was born.

PS. Correct me if I am wrong.
Barney 14 | 1,469
13 Sep 2012 #2
I always read Poland was christened in 966.

How do Polish people view the period before then, I know something of the Bronze age and Iron age but not a lot about immediately before.
strzyga 2 | 993
13 Sep 2012 #3
The most important Polish tribes are Polans, Masovians, Vistulans, Silesians and Pomeranians[1].

I'm not a historian but I've read a few times that the stories about the Polans, Vistulans etc. seen to have been invented by 19th c historians who cared more about strenghtening the sense of national identity than about historical truth.

Certainly there were Slavic tribes living in the territory of today's Poland, some of them quite powerful and significant, especially in the southern part, Wiślica being the biggest centre of power for a couple of centuries. It remains a mystery though why the centre of power shifted to Gniezno in the 10th century and how the process of unification went. There are also a lot of mysteries concerning Prince Mieszko, even his nationality (or ethnicity, if you prefer) is not clear. There are theories that he might have been a Norwegian Viking, or closely related to them.

How do Polish people view the period before then, I know something of the Bronze age and Iron age but not a lot about immediately before.

Barney, there are no written sources from the period, all we have is legends and what the archeologists manage to dig up. So it's not clear at all. Some hints are concentrated around Wiślica in the south, some other in Wielkopolska (Gniezno, Biskupin, the Gopło lake). Nobody knows what was really going on there. At school we were taught the stuff about Polans, Vistulans etc. - what Pawian wrote above, but the present date historians hold most of it in serious doubt.

Anyway, it's very probable that there existed a strong and prominent tribal state in the south of today's Poland. Some serious digging in the Krak Mound (Kopiec Kraka) in Kraków could perhaps explain a thing or two.
Ziemowit 12 | 3,606
13 Sep 2012 #4
In result, in 966 Mieszko was christened as a ruler of united Western Slavic tribes.
Poland was born.

I would. Western Slavic tribes comprise as well the Czechs, the Slovaks, and the Polabian Slavs on whom Mieszko I had no authority whatsoever (although his son Bolesław Chrobry conquered Bohemia, Slovakia, and Lausatia and Milsko).

There are also a lot of mysteries concerning Prince Mieszko, even his nationality (or ethnicity, if you prefer) is not clear. There are theories that he might have been a Norwegian Viking, or closely related to them.

Today these theories are largely dismissed by historians

It remains a mystery though why the centre of power shifted to Gniezno in the 10th century and how the process of unification went.

The Gall Anonymous chronicle tells about this shift and archeological findings confirm it. Old settlements (in the vicinity the town of Kalisz) were destroyed and new one were built in the north-east parts of Great Poland.
OP pawian 161 | 9,971
13 Sep 2012 #5
How do Polish people view the period before then, I know something of the Bronze age and Iron age but not a lot about immediately before.

Sorry, written records of that time disappeared during various tumultous events......

There are theories that he might have been a Norwegian Viking, or closely related to them.

I never heard of it.
But Russians are proud of their Viking ancestry.
Des Essientes 7 | 1,291
13 Sep 2012 #6
There is an old book on this subject written by Józef Ignacy Kraszewski that was made into a 2003 Polish film called "An Ancient Tale: When the Sun Was a God". Although it is a fictional account of events occurring in Poland right before the founding of the Piast dynasty the tale tries to accurately depict life in pre-Christian Poland and thus depicts a society that already had highly developed religious institutions including both a priesthood and a priestesshood, and it shows that people in Pagan Poland, like people in other Pagan Indo-European societies, were already quite pious before the coming of Christianity.


OP pawian 161 | 9,971
14 Sep 2012 #7
into a 2003 Polish film called "An Ancient Tale: When the Sun Was a God".

An Ancient Tale: When the Sun Was a God takes place in pre-Christian Poland, when various Slavic tribes lived in lands that would later become the nation of Poland; at a time when each tribe worshipped its own deities. A cruel prince, Popiel, and his scheming wife will do anything in their power to pass control of this land to their son. (According to legend, Popiel will ultimately be eaten by mice.) The commander of Popiel's army, Piastun, opposed to the crimes and intrigues that Popiel orders him to commit upon the people to guarantee the succession, turns on Popiel.

Popiel seeks revenge upon his old commander, but Piastun is rescued from death by a young hunter and warrior, Ziemowit Piastowic. Ziemowit has spent years living with the Vikings and has only recently returned to his former homeland. Ziemowit falls in love with Dziwa, lovely daughter of Wisz, a wealthy local merchant; he wishes to marry her, but Dziwa's fate is sealed by her father - she is to become a priestess in the local temple...
]

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boletus 30 | 1,366
15 Sep 2012 #8
There are however archeological findings of Viking graves in Poland, such as this in Bodzia, near Włocławek: antiquity.ac.uk/projgall/buko330/

The theories that Mieszko I was a Viking (Dagome iudex, 1087, at Vatican library) are highly disputed, but very few disagree that Mieszko's military unit (bodygards) were actually Vikings. In the ancient cemetery in Lutomiersk near Pabianice, there are 133 graves with axes, spearheads and swords - all characterized by Scandinavian design.

Ibrahim ibn Jakub, an Arabic traveller, estimated the size of Mieszko's military unit at 3000 armoured braves - generally unconditionally recognized as Normans.
OP pawian 161 | 9,971
15 Sep 2012 #9
[...] generally unconditionally recognized as Normans.

Wow! Revelation, indeed.
boletus 30 | 1,366
15 Sep 2012 #10
Translated from:
archeologia.com.pl/index.php/artykuly/120-mieszko-nie-byl-wikingiem

The current point of view of Polish medievalists (archeologists, historians, geneticists) regarding the issue of Normans in Poland is this:
Vikings came to Poland in three waves. They first came in VIII-IX c. to south Baltic shores: the settlement in Bardy and the cemetery Świelub, on lower Parsęta near today's Kołobrzeg, identify them as Normans from Swedish Birka; those at Janów Pomorski at Vistula mouth - as Danish Normans from Truso.

Once again, the Scandinavians visited the Polish Baltic coast, and specifically Wolin Island (Jómsborg) in the 2nd half of the tenth century. They were the Danes and probably some of them came from the British Isles. They stayed at the mouth of the Odra (Oder) river probably until 1043, a year of invasion by King Magnus the Good. Many Scandinavian sagas, known as "Jómsvikinga saga", deal with that time and location. These second-wave Scandinavians probably arrived there in about 967. The Jómsborg-Wolin colony was composed of Scandinavian warriors, craftsmen and artists, probably founded by King Harald the Bluetooth of Denmark.
Another group of Normans reached Wolin, and probably also the nearby Kamień Pomorski in the 980s, as a result of events related to the escape of King Harald the Bluetooth to Wolin or the changes that have been taking place in Denmark after his death. Most likely at this stage they started penetrating the lands further south in the Odra and Warta. It can be assumed that the appearance of the Vikings in the depths of Polish interior was the consequence of political turbulences. The Vikings from Wolin-Jomsborg - the supporters of Harald the Bluetooth and opponents of his successor Sven the Fork-bearded - have established relationships with Prince Mieszko I. Consequently the Piast could take control of the castle at the mouth of the Oder River and the Normans, in turn, were given the way to the south. Those were the favorable conditions for the establishment of dynastic contacts between the Piasts and the dynastic rulers of Sweden first and then Denmark.
...

Grzegorz_ 51 | 6,163
15 Sep 2012 #11
I'm not a historian but I've read a few times that the stories about the Polans, Vistulans etc. seen to have been invented by 19th c historians who cared more about strenghtening the sense of national identity than about historical truth.

I don't think so, stuff about Krak, Popiel etc. are tales but what was going on in 10th century is quite clear (of course general trends, not details) there are some controversies about names of tribes but not that such tribes existed.


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