Henry II the Pious

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Henry II the Pious (Polish: Henryk II Pobożny, German: Heinrich II der Fromme) (ca. 1196/1207 – 9 April 1241), of the Silesian line of the Piast dynasty was Duke of Silesia at Wrocław and Duke of Kraków and thus High Duke of all Poland as well as Duke of Southern Greater Poland from 1238 until his death. During 1238–1239 he also served as a regent of two other Piast duchies: Sandomierz and Upper Silesian Opole-Raciborz.



Heir of Wrocław. Co-Ruler of his father

Henry was a son of the Polish High Duke Henry I the Bearded, Duke of Silesia-Wrocław, by his wife (and later Saint) Hedwig of Andechs, daughter of Duke Berthold IV of Merania. He was the second son of the ducal couple, but soon he became the eldest child of the family when the first-born Bolesław died in 1206. Seven years later (1213) the death of his younger surviving brother Konrad the Curly during a hunt left Henry as the sole heir of Lower Silesia. Around 1218 his father arranged his marriage with Princess Anna, daughter of King Ottokar I of Bohemia; this union with the royal Přemyslid dynasty allowed Henry II to participate actively in international politics.

Henry I the Bearded quickly began his efforts to designate his sole surviving son as the universal heir of his patrimony, and from 1222, the young prince appears to have signed documents along with his father. Two years later, he had already a separate stamp and his own notary. In 1227 during a meeting of Piast Dukes in Gąsawa, Henry the Bearded and the High Duke Leszek I the White were trapped in an ambush, as a result of which Leszek was killed and the Silesian Duke was seriously wounded; this was the first time that the government rested on the shoulders of young Henry. The second time happened two years later, when Henry the Bearded was captured by Duke Konrad I of Masovia. During these regencies Henry II's performance was perfect, thanks to the early years when his father entrusted him with this type of responsibility. During 1229–30, the regent led a military expedition in order to recover and secure the possession of Lubusz Land, and in 1233–34 Henry actively supported his father's affairs in Prussia and Greater Poland. The increasing and close cooperation with his father resulted in the official nomination of Henry as co-ruler with his father in 1234. After that came a formal separation of powers: Henry the Bearded was styled as Duke of Krakow and Silesia, and Henry as Duke of Silesia and Greater Poland. However, his sole reign had to wait until the death of Henry the Bearded on 19 March 1238.

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