Post-classical history

Mateusz of Krakôw (d. 1166)

Bishop of Krakôw (1143/1144-1166) and Polish supporter of the crusade.

Mateusz was probably educated in western Europe. His appointment to the see of Krakôw occurred during the civil war (1142-1146) between the sons of Boleslaw III, prince of Poland (d. 1138). Mateusz sided with the eldest son and ruling prince, Wladyslaw II (later known as the Exile) and supported him financially. Mateusz was also closely aligned with the party of the magnate Piotr Wlostowic, and Piotr’s fall from Wladyslaw’s favor prompted a break by Mateusz from Wladyslaw’s camp in 1146 after the prince was excommunicated by Archbishop Jakub of Znin.

Mateusz’s involvement in crusading and missionary activity is only known from his correspondence with Bernard, abbot of Clairvaux, which coincided with the preaching of the Second Crusade (1147-1149). In an extant letter (dated to 1146-1148) sent to Bernard jointly by Mateusz and Piotr Wlostowic, the Cistercian abbot was encouraged to come to Poland in order to preach the crusade and give support to a mission to Rus’. The letter by the Poles was evidently a reply to Bernard’s questions, originally conveyed in a communication (which has not survived) to Poland by Achard of Clairvaux. From Mateusz’s reply, it can be deduced that Bernard had asked him about the possibility of organizing a Latin mission to the schismatic Russians situated to the east of the diocese ofKrakôw. Mateusz responded positively to this idea and suggested that such a mission would be successful, but only if Bernard himself were to come to Poland and be involved in its preparation. However, there is no evidence that Bernard travelled to Poland, and the mission to Rus’ did not take place.

During Mateusz’s episcopate and presumably with his approval, the Canons of the Holy Sepulchre were endowed and settled in his diocese by Jaksa of Miechôw around 1163. The Hospitallers received an estate from Henryk, duke of Sandomierz, in Zagossc between 1154 and 1166 and established a commandery, a convent, and a church dedicated to St. John the Baptist. Mateusz died on 18 October 1166.

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