WLADISLAUS I. (1260-1333), king of Poland, called Lokietek, or " Span-long," from his diminutive stature, was the re-creator of the Polish realm, which in consequence of internal quarrels had at the end of the 13th century split up into fourteen independent principalities, and become an easy prey to her neighbours, Bohemia, Lithuania, and, most dangerous of all, the Teutonic Order. In 1296 the gentry of Great Poland elected Wladislaus, then prince of Cujavia, to reign over them; but 1 In Hungarian history the Polish Wladislaus (Mag. Ulaszl6) is distinguished from the Hungarian Ladislaus (Laszlo). They are reckoned separately for purposes of numbering. Besides the Wladislaus kings of Poland, there were three earlier dukes of this name: Wladislaus I. (d. 1102), Wladislaus II. (of Cracow, d. 1163) and Wladislaus III., duke of Great Poland and Cracow (d. 1231). By some historians these are included in the numbering of the Polish sovereigns, King Wladislaus I. being thus IV. and so on.
distrusting the capacity cf the taciturn little man, they changed their minds and placed themselves under the protection of the powerful Wenceslaus, king of Bohemia, who was crowned at Gnesen in 1300. Wladislaus thereupon went to Rome, where Pope Boniface VIII., jealous of the growing influence of Bohemia, adopted his cause; and on the death of Wenceslaus in 1305 Wladislaus succeeded in uniting beneath his sway the principalities of Little and Great Poland. From the first he was beset with great difficulties. The towns, mostly of German origin, and the prelates headed by Muskata, bishop of Cracow, were against him because he endeavoured to make use of their riches for the defence of the sorely pressed state. The rebellious magistrates of Cracow he succeeded in suppressing, but he had to invoke the aid of the Teutonic Order to save Danzig from the margraves of Brandenburg, thus saddling Poland with a far more dangerous enemy; for the Order not only proceeded to treat Danzig as a conquered city, but claimed possession of the whole of Pomerania. Wladislaus thereupon (1317) appealed to Pope John XXII., and a tribunal of local prelates appointed by the holy see ultimately (Feb. 9, 1321) pronounced judgment in favour of Wladislaus, and condemned the Order not only to restore Pomerania but also to pay heavy damages. But the knights appealed to Rome; the pope reversed the judgment of his own tribunal; and the only result of these negotiations was a long and bloody six years' war (1327-1333) between Poland and the Order, in which all the princes of Central Europe took part, Hungary and Lithuania siding with Wladislaus, and Bohemia, Masovia and Silesia with the Order. It was not till the last year but one of his life that Wladislaus succeeded with the aid of his Hungarian allies in inflicting upon the knights their first serious reverse at Plowce (27th of September 1332). In March 1333 he died. He had laid the foundations of a strong Polish monarchy, and with the consent of the pope revived the royal dignity, being solemnly crowned king of Poland at Cracow on the 20th of January 1320. His reign is remarkable for the development of the Polish constitution, the gentry and prelates being admitted to some share in the government of the country.
See Max Perlbach, Preussisch-polnische Studien zur Geschichte des Mittelalters (Halle, 1886); Julius A. G. von Pflugk-Harttung, Der deutsche Orden im Kampfe Ludwigs des Bayern mil der Kurie (Leipzig, 1900).
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)