Casimir III The Great - The Great King

The Great King

Casimir is the only Polish king who both received and kept the title of the Great in Polish history (Bolesław I Chrobry is also called the Great, but his title Chrobry (Valiant) is now more common). When he received the crown, his hold on it was in danger, as even his neighbours did not recognise his title and instead called him "king of Kraków". The economy was ruined, and the country was depopulated and exhausted by war. Upon his death, he left a country doubled in size (mostly through the addition of land in today's Ukraine, then the Duchy of Halicz), prosperous, wealthy and with great prospects for the future. Although he is depicted as a peaceful king in children's books, he in fact waged many victorious wars and was readying for others just before he died.

Casimir the Great built many new castles (including Wawel Castle), reformed the Polish army and Polish civil and criminal law. At the Sejm in Wiślica, 11 March 1347, he introduced salutary legal reforms in the jurisprudence of his country. He sanctioned a code of laws for Great and Lesser Poland, which gained for him the title of "the Polish Justinian" and founded the University of Kraków which is the oldest Polish university, although his death temporarily stalled the university's development (which is why it is today called the "Jagiellonian" rather than "Casimirian" University).

He organized a meeting of kings at Kraków (1364) in which he exhibited the wealth of the Polish kingdom.

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