Agnes of Poland

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Grand Princess of Kiev
Reign 1168-after 1182
Born 1137
Died after 1182
Spouse Mstislav II of Kiev
Issue Roman the Great
Vsevolod, Prince of Bielsk
Vladimir, Prince of Brest
House House of Piast
Father Bolesław III Wrymouth
Mother Salomea of Berg

Agnes of Poland (Polish: Agnieszka Bolesławówna, Russian: Агнешка Болеславовна; b. 1137 - d. aft. 1182), was a Polish princess member of the House of Piast and by marriage Princess of Pereyaslavl and Volynia and Grand Princess of Kiev since 1168.

She was the daughter of Bolesław III Wrymouth, Duke of Poland, by his second wife Salomea, daughter of Henry, Count of Berg.


Early years

Agnes was the penultimate child and youngest daughter of her parents. The date of birth is known thanks to Ortlieb, benedictine monk of Zwiefalten who visited the court of Dowager Duchess Salomea in Łęczyca between 1140 and early 1141; in his reports, he mentioned that Agnes was three years old. As in 1138 Salomea gave birth the future Casimir II the Just, Agnes was born a year earlier.[1]

She was probably named after the wife of his half-brother Władysław II, Agnes of Babenberg, even though it's unwillingness to Salomea of Berg.[2] It's also possible that she was named after his father's half-sister Agnes, Abbess of Gandersheim and Quedlinburg.[3]

In 1141 Salomea of Berg organized a meeting in Łęczyca, where his eldest sons (Bolesław IV and Mieszko III), and the lords had to decide, among other things, the future of Agnes.[4] They had two options: sent her to the Benedictine monastery in Zwiefalten (where her older sister Gertruda was already a nun) or married her with one of the ruling princes of that time. Eventually it was decided the alliance with Kievan Rus', and thus gain an ally against Władysław II. According to the majority of historians, the chosen groom was Prince Mstislav Iziaslavich.[5] This hypothesis is supported by the fact that ten years later he married Agnes. The second view as a candidate for the hand of Agnes was one of the sons of the Grand Prince of Kiev, Vsevolod II Olgovich.[6] Soon after, he reject the proposal of the Junior Dukes and their mother and choose the alliance with Władysław II, reinforced in 1142 when his eldest son Bolesław married with Vsevolod II's daughter Zvenislava.

Władysław II wasn't invited to the Łęczyca meeting, despite the fact that, as the High Duke, he had the final voice on Agnes' engagement. In retaliation for this omission, in the winter of 1142-1143 he supported Kievan military actions against Salomea and her sons. The first clash between the brothers was a complete success by the High Duke.


Probably between the end of 1149 and 1151,[7] Agnes married with Prince Mstislav Iziaslavich of Pereyaslavl, eldest son of Grand Prince Iziaslav II of Kiev. The Chronicler Wincenty Kadłubek, who knew the Piast-Rurikids affinities, explicitly described in his Chronica Poloniae that Agnes was given to Mstislav as wife. Further confirmation of this fact where: Mstislav's eldest son was called nephew of Casimir II the Just, and the relationship existing between Roman the Great and Leszek the White is described as cousins in the second degree. In addition, Roman is named jątrwią (wife's brother), of Leszek in the Hypatian Codex.[8] Therefore, is Mstislav had to marry with any of Bolesław III's daughters, the only one who could marry was Agnes.[9]

During her marriage, Agnes bore her husband three sons: Roman the Great, Vsevolod and Vladimir. Mstislav's firstborn son, Sviatoslav, is considered by the majority of historians an illegitimate child.[10]

After Grand Prince Iziaslav II's death, Mstislav lost his Principality of Pereyaslavl (1155) and took refuge with his wife in Poland. However, the next year he was able to return and conquer Lutzk (during 1155-1157) and Volynia (during 1157-1170). In May 1168, after the death of Rostislav Mstislavich, Mstislav became in the Grand Prince of Kiev and Agnes in the Grand Princess consort.

However, Mstislav II's reign was short-lived: in December 1169 a great coalition of Rurikid princes led by Prince Andrei I Bogolyubsky of Vladimir-Suzdal and his son Mstislav was created against him. Unable to defend Kiev, Mstislav II fled to Volynia, leaving his family at the mercy of his enemies. Two months later (February 1170), Mstislav II was able to recover Kiev thanks to the citizenship, who favored his rule; but in April of that year he was again expelled from Kiev, this time for good. The deposed Grand Prince retired to his domains in Volynia, where he died on 19 August 1170.[11]

Death and aftermath

The last mention of Agnes as a living person comes from the Chronica Poloniae of Wincenty Kadłubek. Sviatoslav, Prince of Brest, was exiled by his half-brothers as a result of the allegations that he was illegitimate. Then Casimir II the Just invaded Brest and restored him in his domains.[12] The Chronicle of the Chapter of Kraków informs about an expedition of Casimir II into Kievan Rus' in 1182.

Agnes' later fate is unknown. It is also unknown where she died or where she was buried.

From her three sons, only the eldest, Roman the Great and Vsevolod of Bielsk left descendants. Vsevolod's bloodline apparently ended with his four grandchildren, although it seems that one of them, Roman, was the direct ancestor of the Princely House of Drutskoy-Sokolinsky, which became extant in the 19th century.[13]

Roman the Great, Agnes' eldest son, reunited almost all the paternal heritage and in 1203 he conquered Kiev and became the Grand Prince, but two years later he was killed in battle, leaving two minor sons. The eldest of these sons, Daniel, conquered Kiev in 1239 and was named King of Galicia in 1253. Vasylko, Daniel's younger brother, succeeded him in Galicia in 1260 and his bloodline ended with his two children. Daniel's descendants maintained rule over Galicia until 1349, when Poland absorbed the Kingdom. Apparently his bloodline ended with his great-great-granddaughter Euphemia, wife of Liubartas of Lithuania.[14]



  1. Oswald Balzer, Genealogia Piastów, Kraków 1895, p. 183.
  2. This theory was the view of Stanisław Kętrzyński. The hostile relationship between Agnes and Salomea not reject this argument, because she was born after the acceptance of the prospective overlordship of Władysław II by Salomea and her sons, according to her husband's will. Perhaps at that time kept in the family, at least apparently, a cordial relationship. Thus, it's possible that Agnes was named in a very good atmosphere. K. Jasiński, Rodowód pierwszych Piastów, Second edition, Poznań 2004, p. 261.
  3. This view was stated by Jacek Hertel. K. Jasiński doubted that the half-sister of Bolesław III remained closer to her family, and particularly remained in their memory. K. Jasiński, Rodowód pierwszych Piastów, Second edition, Poznań 2004, p. 261.
  4. Roman Grodecki, Dzieje Polski do 1194 [in:] Dzieje Polski średniowiecznej, Kraków 1926, pp. 161–162, put forward the supposition that, in the meeting of Łęczyca was also decided the fate of Agnes' older sister Judith, but this view wasn't substantiated.
  5. M. Korduba, Agnieszka, [in:] Polski Słownik Biograficzny, vol. I, Kraków 1935, p. 31. (ed. by W. Konopczyński). This view is supported by Bronisław Włodarski but challenged by Janusz Bieniak. See also K. Jasiński, Rodowód pierwszych Piastów, Second edition, Poznań 2004, p. 262; another supported of Prince Mstislav as Agnes' betrothed was Jerzy Lesław Wyrozumski, Dzieje Polski piastowskiej, Kraków 1999, p. 142.
  6. It's unknown who was the son of Grand Prince Vsevolod II destined to be Agnes' fiance. Is unlikely that it was Sviatoslav (in 1140 and 1142 was already an adult) or Yaroslav (who, born ca. 1139, was two years younger than Agnes). Perhaps was another unknown son of Vsevolod II. O. Balzer, Genealogia Piastów, Kraków 1895, p. 181; Balzer hypothesis is based on the interpretation of the term "Rex Ruthenorum" (according to Ortlieb) to mean the Grand Duke of Kiev. Korduba noted that a similar title was given by Ortlieb to Volodar, Prince of Przemyśl. M. Korduba, Agnieszka, [in:] Polski Słownik Biograficzny, vol. I, Kraków 1935, p. 31. (ed. by W. Konopczyński).
  7. D. Dąbrowski, Genealogia Mścisławowiczów, Kraków 2008, pp. 225–228; O. Balzer, Genealogia Piastów, Kraków 1895, p. 183, stated that the marriage took place probably in 1151 or 1152, but his determination was based in the erroneous assumption that girls could be given in marriage at the age of at least 14 years, when in fact the lower limit to marriage during the Middle Ages was 12 years. Balzer substantiate his hypothesis with the fact that in 1151 Mstislav's father won once again the throne of Kiev, and thus an alliance with him had a real value to the Piast dynasty. Shortly afterwards, Mieszko III the Old married with the daughter of Iziaslav II, Evdokia. It's also known that during the first years of the marriage, Agnes was barren; K. Jasiński, Rodowód pierwszych Piastów, Second Edition, Poznań 2004, pp. 262–263 pointed out the error of Balzer but nevertheless he accepted that the marriage date given to him was very probable.
  8. Leszek the White and Roman the Great are not brothers-in-law; the term "jątrew" could be used in relation to a brother, cousin or distant relative.
  9. O. Balzer, Genealogia Piastów, Kraków 1895, pp. 181–183.
  10. The theory of B. Wlodarski who stated that Sviatoslav was born from the marriage of Mstislav and Agnes was now discarted; see also K. Jasiński, Rodowód pierwszych Piastów, Second Edition, Poznań 2004, p. 263. D. Dąbrowski, Rodowód Romanowiczów książąt halicko-wołyńskich, Poznań – Wrocław 2002, pp. 23–24, supported the illegitimate origin of Sviatoslav.
  11. D. Dąbrowski, Genealogia Mścisławowiczów, Kraków 2008, p. 219; in earlier literature can be found the wrong date of 13 August 1172. See also K. Jasiński, Rodowód pierwszych Piastów, Second Edition, Poznań 2004, p. 263.
  12. Wincenty Kadłubek, Kronika polska, vol. IV, cap. 14, edited by B. Kürbis, Wrocław – Warsaw – Kraków 1992, pp. 214–215. The version of Kadlubek is supported by G. Labuda, Zaginiona kronika z pierwszej połowy XIII wieku w Rocznikach Królestwa Polskiego Jana Długosza. Próba rekonstrukcji, Poznań 1983, pp. 21–22; Modern historians now discarted this passage in the chronicles. See also K. Górski, Stosunki Kazimierza Sprawiedliwego z Rusią, Lwów 1876; Alina Wilkiewicz-Wawrzyńczykowa, Ze studiów nad polityką polską na Rusi na przełomie XII i XIII wieku, [in:] "Ateneum Wileńskie", nr. 12 (year 1937), pp. 1–35.
  13. Cawley, Charles, RUSSIA, Rurikids, Medieval Lands database, FMG, retrieved August 2012 Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>,[better source needed]
  14. Marek, Miroslav. "Complete Genealogy of the House of Rurik". Genealogy.EU. External link in |publisher= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>[self-published source][better source needed]