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Henry of Sandomierz

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Title: Henry of Sandomierz  
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Subject: Lesser Poland, Bolesław III Wrymouth, Old Prussians, Sandomierz Voivodeship, Agnes of Babenberg, Wiślica, Wąbrzeźno, Territorial evolution of Poland, Collegiate church in Wiślica, Sandomierz Castle
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Henry of Sandomierz

Henry of Sandomierz (or Henry of Sandomir) (Polish: Henryk Sandomierski) (ca. 1131 – 18 October 1166) was a Duke of Sandomierz since 1138 (titulary) or 1146 (formally) until his death.

He was the fifth but third surviving son of Bolesław III Wrymouth, Duke of Poland, by his second wife Salomea, daughter of Henry, Count of Berg, from whom he received his name.


According to the Testament of his father, Henry inherited the Duchy of Sandomierz, which was at that time in the Seniorate Province of his eldest half-brother and High Duke, Władysław II. Because at the time of Bolesław III's death he was still a minor (1138) the Duchy remained in the Seniorate until he reached the proper age, when Władysław had to given him. But Henry could take formal possession of Sandomierz only when the High Duke was deposed and exiled, in 1146.

As ruler of Sandomierz, Henry appears only on the occasion of the Act of Foundation of a Church in his land. His Ducal title was rarely mentioned by the chronicles, who called him a son of Bolesław III Wrymouth or brother of Bolesław IV the Curly. Some historians (for example M. Gładysz and D. Guttner) advance a hypothesis that he was the “King of the Poles” mentioned by the Greek chronicler John Kinnamos. If the theory were to be correct, Henry would have been the commander of the Polish contingent in the Second Crusade in 1147. This possible incursion in the Crusades was short (if really occur), because in 1149, together with his older brother Bolesław IV, he took part in a military expedition in Kiev to support the Grand Prince Iziaslav II.

The first and maybe the most famous of all Sandomierz's Dukes, Henry certainly ventured to the Holy Land in 1153-1154 (a number of Polish annals reported it under the year 1154 as did Jan Długosz in his Annals) and took part in the Crusade under the command of King Baldwin III of Jerusalem. Henry close affiliation to crusading resulted in the establishment of a commandery of the Hospitallers (between 1154 and 1166) in Zagość.

After returning to Poland with an air of holiness, Henry, together with his brothers, organized a Crusade against the pagan Prussians. The military expedition, under the command of Bolesław IV and Henry, launched in the second half of 1166. He never return home.

According to the chronicles, Henry was killed in battle against the Prussians, and this fact was without doubts. The date of his death, 18 October 1166, was known through indirect sources. However, there is a legend, where Henry apparently was killed in the current Wąbrzeźno County, probably in the vicinity of Nielub or Orłowo, close to the Wieczno Lake.

Henry never married and hence left no legitimate offspring. In his will, he left his Duchy to his youngest brother, Casimir II the Just, who until that time, he remained without lands. These last will was done only partially. The destiny of the Duchy of Sandomierz could be showed in a document dated 31 December 1167:

In the year 1166 in Poland during the reign of Princes Bolesław, Mieszko and Casimir, their fourth brother, Prince Henry died without offspring. His district has been divided into three parts; the seat of his sovereignty, Sandomierz, was granted to Bolesław, the older brother. The same day and year, Mateusz, Bishop of Kraków, also died.

The other two parts were taken by the other surviving brothers: Wiślica, was given to Casimir II, and the rest to Mieszko III the Old.

His remains were probably buried in a crypt of a church in Wiślica, where his grave is marked by an ornamental tombstone donated by his younger brother Casimir II. Only in 1173, after the death of Bolesław, Casimir finally could take the title of Duke of Sandomierz.



  • Balzer, O. Genealogia Piastów, Kraków, 1895.
  • Gładysz, M. Zapomniani krzyżowcy, Warszawa, 2006.
  • Guttner, D. "Henryk of Sandomierz." [in:] The Crusades: An Encyclopedia, Santa Barbara, 2006.
  • Jasiński, K. Rodowód pierwszych Piastów, Warszawa, 1992.
  • Mitkowski, J. "Henryk książę sandomierski." [in:] Polski Słownik Biograficzny, vol. 9, Wrocław, 1960-1961.

External links

  • Polish Historiography of the Crusades
  • The Crusades: An Encyclopedia: Henryk of Sandomierz
Henry of Sandomierz
Born: ca. 1131 Died: 18 October 1166
Preceded by
new creation
Duke of Sandomierz
Succeeded by
Bolesław IV the Curly
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