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The Duchy of Cieszyn or Duchy of Teschen or Duchy of Těšín ( ; ; ; ), was an autonomous duchy centered on Teschenmarker (Cieszyn) in Upper Silesia, one of the Duchies of Silesia.


The duchy shared the history of Cieszyn Silesia, and also in part Silesia in general; after the feudal division of Poland it was split off in 1281 and ruled by Silesian dukes from the Piast dynasty since 1290. The Duchy of Teschen was also composed of smaller Duchies at various points of time, such as Duchy of Oświęcim or Duchy of Zator. The Duchy of Oświęcim was split from the Duchy of Teschen around 1315 (The Duchy of Zator in turn split from the Duchy of Oświęcim in 1454).

In 1327 Casimir I, Duke of Teschen, swore homage to the Bohemian king John of Luxembourg. Since then, the Duchy became an autonomic fiefdom of the Bohemian crown. Local Piast rulers often possessed other lands outside the Duchy of Teschen itself, in some periods of time. They for example owned Siewierzmarker, half of Głogówmarker and some land around Bytommarker. After the death of Boleslaus I in 1431, the rule over the duchy was shared by his wife Eufemia and their four sons. In 1442 the duchy was divided between sons who were all formally Dukes of Teschen but the real control over the duchy passed Boleslaus II and Przemyslaus II who after the death of Boleslaus II in 1452 ruled alone. During the reign of Wenceslaus III Adam the duchy shifted to Protestantism according to the cuius regio, eius religio rule. The next duke, Adam Wenceslaus shifted back to Roman Catholicism. In 1572 the Duchy of Bielsko was split from the Duchy of Cieszyn. The Piast's rule continued to 1653, ending with the death of the last Piast descendant, Elizabeth Lucretia, Duchess of Teschen, after which it lapsed directly to the Kings of Bohemia, at that time the Habsburg dynasty.

The Habsburg dynasty ruled Teschen from 1653. In the early 18th century, it was given to Leopold, Duke of Lorraine, as compensation for his maternal grandmother's rights to the north-Italian Duchy of Montferrat, which the emperor had taken and given to the Dukes of Savoy as part of their alliance pact. Emperor Francis I later granted it to his eldest surviving daughter, Maria Christina, who married Prince Albert of Saxony, who thus became known colloquially as the Duke of Saxe-Teschen. Although most of Silesia passed to the Kingdom of Prussiamarker in 1742 during the First Silesian War, Teschen remained under Austrian control as part of Austrian Silesiamarker. Albert and Maria Christina's marriage remained childless, and upon the death of the widowed Albert, the duchy passed to their adopted son, Archduke Charles of Austria, who became Duke of Teschen and started the Teschen branch of the Habsburg-Lorraine Dynasty. The title passed down his line, first to his eldest son, Albert Frederick, and then, in 1895, to Albert Frederick's nephew, Archduke Frederick Maria.

The territory of the Duchy of Teschen became part of the Austrian Empiremarker in 1804 and Austria-Hungary in 1867. At the end of World War I, local Polish and Czech self-governments were established and the duchy was divided between Polandmarker and Czechoslovakiamarker by the decision of Spa Conference in July 1920.


According to the Austrian census taken in 1910, the duchy had about 350,000 inhabitants, among them (54.8%) Polish-speaking, (27.1%) Czech-speaking, (18.1%) German-speaking.

Dukes of Teschen

Silesian Piast dynasty

Polish map of the Duchy of Cieszyn, 20th century

Habsburg dynasty


  1. Panic 2002, 6.
  2. Panic 2002, 7.
  3. Panic 2002, 16.
  4. Žáček 2004, 175.
  5. Nowak 2008, 13.


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