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The Origins of the Polish Piast Dynasty as Chronicled by Bishop Vincent of Kraków (Wincenty Kadłubek) to Serve as a Political Model for His Own Contemporary Time

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Chapter Summary

Bishop Vincent of Kraków, known as Wincenty Kadłubek, was the most influential scholar in Poland in the late twelfth to early thirteen century. In his Chronica Polonorum (c. 1205) he wrote the prehistory of Poland in a very untypical way. Instead of constructing a straight lineage of the dynasty of the Piasts from ancient times up to his own day (as most of the other authors of his time did), he invented deliberately different prehistoric dynasties for the Poles and inserted artificial time gaps among them. Thus, he stressed the idea of Poland as a res publica (people of Poland), who could survive quite well without rulers, if indeed the latter turned out to be bad and egotistical. This implied a clear warning to the contemporary Piasts: they should keep the matters of the res publica in mind or they could be replaced. Poland had already managed to get by—so he argued—without rulers for various periods in the past and could, if necessary, do it again.

10.1163/9789004351875_013
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