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Masovia

lowland territory in east-central Poland, located west of Podlasia in the basin of the middle Vistula and lower Bug rivers. Mazovia included the Plock-Ciechanow region (to which the name Mazovia originally referred) as well as the regions of Sochaczew, Grojec (formerly Grodziec), and Czersk. It was incorporated into the Polish state in the first half of the 10th century. After 1138, when Boleslaw III the Wry-Mouthed (ruled Poland 1102-38) divided his realm among his sons, it became one of the major principalities within the disintegrating Polish kingdom and developed a distinctive social structure characterized by a large, if not wealthy, gentry class (which constituted 25 percent of the population in the 16th century). During the 13th and 14th centuries, however, Mazovia was subdivided; the region did not become completely reincorporated into the reunified Polish state until after all its princely houses (which were descended from Ziemowit I, a great-grandson of Boleslaw III and the ruler of Mazovia from 1248 to 1262) became extinct in 1526.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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