Boleslaw’s father, Mieszko I of Poland decreed his kingdom should be divided between several heirs, but Boleslaw outmanoeuvred his rivals ‘with fox-like cunning’ and seized the kingdom. He developed a cordial relationship with the Holy Roman Emperor, Otto III, who called him a ‘friend and ally of the Roman people’. However, Otto died in 1002, and so did the goodwill: Boleslaw disapproved of Henry’s policies in the eastern empire and 16 years of conflict ensued, with Boleslaw generally prevailing against his imperial enemy. By the Peace of Bautzen (1018), he gained Moravia, southern Poland and Lusatia, but renounced claims to Bohemia. Although he lost Pomerania to a pagan revolt, he also expanded eastward into Kievan Rus, placing his stepson (Sviatopolk ‘the Accursed’ – not a popular choice) on the throne. When Henry II died (1024), the Pope consented to Boleslaw’s coronation as King of Poland.
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