Casimir III°

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CASIMIR III ° "The Great" (Kazimierz Wielki ; 1310–1370), Polish king traditionally depicted as a protector and benefactor of the Jews. Casimir continued his father's work of uniting the Polish realms. The stimulus given to the cultural and economic life of the country, and its progressive urbanization during his reign, attracted many Jews there, and he encouraged them to pursue economic activities. There were, however, anti-Jewish outbreaks in Wroclaw and Cracow in 1349, and in Pozna in 1367. Casimir extended the rights granted to the Jews of Kalisz by the charter of *Boleslav the Pious to include the Jews throughout Poland. He had previously ratified the charter on Oct. 9, 1334, and the reconfirmed text was delivered by him on July 15, 1364, to Falk of Kalisz on behalf of his compatriots who had settled in Polish towns. On April 25, 1367, he extended this privilege to Jews in Lesser Poland and Ukraine. The special privilege granted to the Jews in Great Poland ascribed to him is forged. Casimir was on friendly terms with his Jewish banker, *Lewko of Cracow. According to tradition, Casimir had a Jewish mistress, Esterka of Opoczno, by whom he had daughters who probably remained Jewish. The affair became the theme of many legends, literary compositions, and romances.


S. Kutrzeba, Przywileje dla Żydów Kazimierza W. (1922); Z. Kaczmarczyk, Monarchia Kazimierza Wielkiego, 1 (1939); J. Sieradzki, Polska wieku xiv (1959). add. bibliography: M. Balaban, Historja i literatura zydowskaii, 336–40.

[Jacob Goldberg]