Dalewski (2017 Congress)

Zbigniew Dalewski
(Tadeusz Manteffel Institute of History,
Polish Academy of Sciences

“The Piast Rulership: The Process of Building Dynastic Power”

Abstract of Paper
To be Presented at the 52nd International Congress on Medieval Studies
(Kalamazoo, 2017)

Session on “Rulership in Medieval Central Europe
(Bohemia, Hungary, and Poland):
Ideal and Practice”

Co-sponsored by the Research Group on Manuscript Evidence and
the Center for Medieval and Early Modern Studies at the University of Florida
Organized by Mildred Budny and Florin Curta
2017 Congress Program

Abstract of Paper

[Published on 15 March 2017]

Following the introduction of Christianity, the polity ruled by the Piast dynasty was included in the religious, political, and ideological order of the Latin West. The first Piast rulers very soon established close relationships with the imperial court and political elites of the empire. There is clear evidence that these rulers swiftly assimilated the concepts of Christian rulership developed under Ottonian and Salian rulers and adopted the symbols and rituals connected with those concepts. The Piast rulers commenced to use them to define their monarchal position, communicate with their subjects, and legitimize their rights to wield power.

This is not to say that the Piast modes of rulership solely imitated those western patterns and were fully based on an Ottonian‒Salian model. The Piast rulership was also strongly determined by the concepts of power rooted in the traditional notions shared by the community subordinated to the Piasts, by presenting power as the common good of the entire ruling house and not just its specific, chosen members. These notions imparted to the Piast dynasty a set of special values, justifying its distinguished position in power structures and giving its representatives the rights to participate in ruling.

The proposed paper aims to present how these two traditions both interpenetrated and overlapped with each other, how their interactions affected norms and practices of Piast rulership, and how they changed the ways that Piast power was perceived, manifested, and practiced.