Henry I the Bearded

Henry I (also: Henry I of Silesia, Henry I of Poland; Henry the Bearded, Polish :; * about 1165 in Glogau, † March 19, 1238 in Crossen an der Oder Henryk I Brodaty ) was from 1201 Duke of Silesia and from 1232 Princeps of Poland.

Origin and family

Henry came to the Silesian Piast dynasty. His parents were Bolesław I. " the tall one" of Silesia and probably Adelheid of Sulzbach, daughter of the Count Palatine Berengar I of Sulzbach or Christina. Henry had three brothers and two sisters, including:

  • Jaroslaw († 1201), duke of Opole and Bishop of Breslau and
  • Adelheid, married to Margrave Diepoldsberg III. of Moravia.

1186 Henry married to Hedwig, daughter of Count Berthold Andechs IV The couple had four sons and three daughters, including

  • Henry II († 1241 ), Duke of Silesia
  • Konrad ( † 1235/37 )
  • Gertrude, betrothed to the Count Palatine Otto von Wittelsbach, after his death she was abbess of Trebnitzgrund.


After his father's death in 1201 Henry inherited his possessions as sole heir. Already in 1202 his uncle Mieszko I conquered the region of Opole. With a comparison of 22 November of this year he was forced to resign Henry the Opole region and at the same time agree that in the future the mutual inheritance between the two Silesian duke lines should no longer apply. Thus, the lines parted in the

  • Duchy of Silesia ( Ducatus Slezie ) with Middle and Lower Silesia and
  • Duchy of Opole ( Opole Ducatus ), which consisted of the territories Opole - Ratibor, Teschen, Bytom, Pless, Auschwitz and Sewerien.

Between 1201 and 1206 Henry won, apparently in a peaceful way, a part of Great Poland with Kalisch and achieved in the next decade the country Lebus. 1222-1223 he fought with Duke Konrad I of Masovia against the pagan Prussians. He was in good agreement with the Teutonic Knights and is said to have used for the award of the Kulm country to this. Probably because of a conflict between the noble families Grzyfita and Odrowąż he moved in 1225 with an army against Cracow.

After the death of the Polish Duke Leszek I, 'the White ' in 1227 succeeded Henry, Krakow, Little Poland and Greater Poland Sandomierz and win up to Warta and thus to unite large parts of Poland in his hand. In the course of struggles for Greater Poland and the dispute over the Cracow throne Henry was captured in 1229 by Konrad of Mazovia during a religious ceremony in Spytkowice and kidnapped the castle Płock in Masovia. He was released through the mediation of the Duchess Hedwig, but had to do without Krakow. From 1230 he led the regency in Opole, since his guardianship of the underage sons Mieszko II and Władysław I the Duke Casimir I was transferred.

After the death of Vladislav III. , Who had been expelled in 1229 by Konrad I of Masovia from Krakow, Henry inherited in 1231 Wielkopolska and took over in 1232 the regency over Krakow. He was Princeps of Poland, whose reunification, he strove, so he came again into conflict with Duke Konrad I of Masovia.

Henry encouraged the German eastern settlement that was begun by his father, and a detachment of Silesia from the Polish National Association promoted in the sequence. He caused extensive clearing of woodland and founded the cities Goldberg, Neumarkt and mountain lions. The colonizing activities of the monastery Leubus was supported by him. Already existing Slavic settlements were relocated in part at the Magdeburg Law.

Probably under the influence of his wife Hedwig, who was canonized later, he founded the Cistercian monastery Trebnitzgrund and approved the establishment and colonization of the monastery Heinrichau with Cistercians. Although he was deeply religious, he was excommunicated in 1237, as he rejected the Church's demands for immunity. The Diocese of Breslau he fell into disputes over the decade achievements of the German settlers.

Henry died on March 19, 1238 in Crossen an der Oder. His body was interred before the high altar of the monastery church of Trebnitzgrund.