Jagiełło (Władysław II)

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King of Poland and grand duke of Lithuania; b. c. 1350; d. Grodno, June 1, 1434. At his death (1377), Olgierd, the grand duke of Lithuania, left the supreme authority to his son Jagiełło. His power threatened from within by his convert cousin Witold and from without by hostile neighbors, Jagiełło accepted Polish plans to marry the young Jadwiga of Anjou, technically the "king" of Poland since Oct. 15, 1384. On Aug. 14, 1385 he signed a charter in which he promised, in order to receive Jadwiga as wife and the Polish crown, to convert to Catholicism along with the whole of Lithuania. He was baptized on Feb. 15, 1386 under the name of Władysław II. On February 18 he married Jadwiga, who gave up her original fiancé for the sake of bringing the whole nation to Catholicism. On March 4 he was crowned head of the kingdom of Poland that then included Lithuania and Ruthenia. Jagiełło returned to Lithuania in February 1387 to introduce the Catholic faith there officially and to see to the establishment of the bishopric of vilna. Jadwiga died in 1399, but none of Jagiełło's three subsequent wives could obliterate her influence on Jagiełło. The next year, according to their plans, the University of Cracow was resuscitated and expanded. The teutonic knights challenged the sincerity of the Lithuanians' conversion and kept up their inroads, until finally on July 15, 1410, at the Battle of Grunwald, Jagiełło's forces broke the power and prestige of the order. The Polish kingdom gained much respect at the Council of constance when the Poles arrived with Catholic delegates from hitherto pagan Lithuania and Samogitia, together with the Ruthenians headed by the metropolitan of Kiev. On Oct. 2, 1413 the Poles and Lithuanians signed the Union of Horodlo, which was uniquely and mystically Christian in that the elite of the two nations agreed to form a single, united family on the basis of the "Mystery of Charity," which the Polish nobility composing the document stressed as the fundamental element of public life. After Witold's death in 1430, relations between Poland and Lithuania deteriorated into a minor civil war. Jagiełło left two sons, Władysław III and Casimir, both of whom eventually came to the throne. Through the conversion of Lithuania, he was of outstanding service to the Church, and his reign saw Poland rise to the rank of a great power.

Bibliography: Podręczna encyklopedia Kościelna, v.17 (Warsaw 1909) 265269. c. kellogg, Jadwiga, Poland's Great Queen (New York 1931). l. kolankowski, Polska Jagiellonów: Dzieje polityczne (Lvov 1936). o. halecki, A History of Poland (3d ed. New York 1961). The Cambridge History of Poland, ed. w. f. reddaway et al., 2 v. (Cambridge, Eng. 194150) 1:161, 195234.

[l. siekaniec]