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Casimir III realized that the nation needed a class of educated people, especially lawyers, who could codify the country's laws and administer the courts and offices.His efforts to create an institution of higher learning in Poland were finally rewarded when Pope Urban V granted him permission to open the University of Kraków.Situated between Eastern and Western European cultures and having an extensive history, Poland has developed a rich cultural heritage, including numerous historical monuments and 14 cultural UNESCO World Heritage Sites.The origin of the name Poland derives from the West Slavic tribe of Polans (Polanie) that inhabited the Warta River basin of the historic Greater Poland region starting in the 6th century.The Golden Liberty of the nobles began to develop under Casimir's rule, when in return for their military support, the king made a series of concessions to the nobility, and establishing their legal status as superior to that of the townsmen.When Casimir the Great died in 1370, leaving no legitimate male heir, the Piast dynasty came to an end.The Black Death, a plague that ravaged Europe from 1347 to 1351 did not significantly affect Poland, and the country was spared from a major outbreak of the disease.The Jagiellon dynasty spanned the late Middle Ages and early Modern Era of Polish history.
The ethnicity and linguistic affiliation of these groups have been hotly debated; the time and route of the original settlement of Slavic peoples in these regions lacks written records and can only be defined as fragmented.
The origin of the name Polanie itself derives from the early Slavic word pole (field).
In some languages, such as Hungarian, Lithuanian, Persian and Turkish, the exonym for Poland is Lechites (Lechici), which derives from the name of a semi-legendary ruler of Polans, Lech I.
In 1264, the Statute of Kalisz or the General Charter of Jewish Liberties introduced numerous right for the Jews in Poland, leading to a nearly autonomous "nation within a nation".
In the middle of the 13th century, the Silesian branch of the Piast dynasty (Henry I the Bearded and Henry II the Pious, ruled 1238–41) nearly succeeded in uniting the Polish lands, but the Mongols invaded the country from the east and defeated the combined Polish forces at the Battle of Legnica where Duke Henry II the Pious died.
In September 1939, World War II started with the invasion of Poland by Nazi Germany, followed by the Soviet Union invading Poland in accordance with the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact. In the aftermath of the Revolutions of 1989, most notably through the emergence of the Solidarity movement, Poland established itself as a democratic republic.