What Happened in Polish History: Part I

THERE’S MORE LIKE THIS ON OUR NEW SITE – POLANDIAN.COM

I love it when people start telling me about Polish history. Closing my eyes, resting my chin on my hand and snoring lightly are all signs of deep concentration and interest, honestly. Over the years I’ve dozed through numerous fascinating lectures on Polish history. I’ve followed this up with literally minutes of internet research and I can now bring you my definitive version of What Happened in Polish History:

Prehistory
When early Polish humans first migrated onto the great central European plain they weren’t so very different from the Polish humans of today. The very first early Polish human to arrive immediately set up a border control and customs point and asked to the see the triple-visa-stamped passports of the all the other early Polish humans behind him. This caused some confusion and delay for a while since nobody had yet invented the passport, or writing, or paper. After a couple of thousand years, however, this was all sorted out and the early Polish humans got down to business with all their paperwork in order.

Many people ask how Poles came to be called Poles. I made this mistake once and this is what I heard, possibly: One of the early Polish humans looked around one day and said “Hey guys, you do realize we’re living in a field don’t you?” The other early Polish humans thought about this for a while and decided that this was indeed a very wise observation. From that day onwards they called this guy “Pole,” which was the early human Polish word for “guy who lives in a field.” Incidentally, Pole had a brother called Lech, who invented beer, another brother called Czech, who invented putting jam on everything, and a third brother called Russ, who invented alcoholism. They were a pretty influential family.

The Middle Ages
Later, when most of the early Polish humans were middle aged, they decided to start having kings and stuff like that. It was fashionable at the time. The first king of Poland was a chap called Mieszko the First, which was lucky, if it had been his brother Pawel the Fourteenth things would have become very confusing very quickly. Mieszko had a huge beard and was a bit of a lad. Apparently he married his second wife after abducting her from a monastery. I was under the impression that only men lived in monasteries but hey, perhaps he got confused by the frocks.

Mieszko’s first wife is credited with bringing Christianity to Poland. The story goes like this:

965 Mieszko marries some cute Czech lass who’s a Christian
966 Mieszko is baptized as a Christian, trims his beard, stops spending so much time out drinking with the lads, buys some new shirts, etc.
967 Mieszko’s wife tragically dies in a beheading/horse trampling accident. Mieszko goes looking for another wife… in a monastery.

A Bit Later
In another stroke of uncanny luck the greatest king of this period was called Kazimierz the Great. It was particularly lucky bearing in mind that his father was called Władysław Łokietek, which roughly translated into English means Vladislaus the Short Arse. All Polish people know this sentence about Kazimierz the Great: “Zastał polskę drewnianą a zostawił murowaną.” As far as I can make out this means something like “He saw Poland was made of wood and got stoned” but apparently it means that he rebuilt everything that was made of wood in bricks and mortar. This must have kept him pretty busy because, despite being king for almost 60 years, he failed to have any legitimate children. The other thing everyone knows about Kazimierz is that he invited lots of Jews to come and live in Poland. The former Jewish district of Krakow, Kazimierz, is named after him. The whole Jewish thing didn’t work out too well in the long run, but he wasn’t to know.

The Jagiellonian Dynasty
When old Kazimierz died without any legitimate heirs there was a fair amount of head scratching and late night vodka drinking until somebody came up with the genius idea of getting a 13-year-old Hungarian girl, marrying her to a bone-headed Lithuanian chap and calling the pair of them king and queen – an event in Polish history known as the Night of the Seventeen Bottles and One or Two Beer Chasers. It seemed like a good idea at the time.

The new queen was a lass called Jadwiga and the new king was a lad called Władysław Jagiełło (who still holds the world record for the most ł’s in a name). Jadwiga enjoyed flower arranging, inventing universities, and being a virgin. Władysław enjoyed killing Teutonic Knights, drinking games, and deflowering virgins. They had a rare old time and started the Jagiellonian Dynasty, or at least one of them did. Jadwiga later became a saint, but I’m not sure if this was a reward for marrying a lunatic Lithuanian or something else, like seeing Jesus or something.

The Jagiellonians trundled along for a good time having heirs and ruling and generally being historic until it all came unstuck with a chap called Zygmunt the Old. The lad Zygmunt made the mistake of marrying a bolshy Italian chick called Bona Sforza, who apparently turned up at the wedding with several shopping bags full of vegetables (that’s what they tell me). Sixteenth century Italian nobles are famous for two things: introducing people to the Renaissance and poisoning people – guess what happened next.

Having introduced drawings of impractical helicopters, hairy rhinoceroses, and the heliocentric theory to the Poles Bona Sforza set about poisoning family members just to complete the program. This was a shame because her son, Zygmunt Augustus, had just married a cracking six-foot Lithuanian blonde called Barbara Radziwiłłówna. Apparently she invented lipstick, pouting, and hot pants and was a major hottie. Bona Sforza, who was a short hairy Italian chick, didn’t take kindly to this and slipped Barbara one of her courgette-and-strychnine pizzas as a wedding present. Her evil work done she scuttled off back to Italy, where she was promptly poisoned by some other guy as part of a New Year’s Eve prank.

The Golden Szlachta (or something)
All this time a bunch of rich folk known as the szlachta had been gradually establishing the treasured Polish traditions of bribery, nepotism, and incomprehensible bureaucracy. They had all the money and various kings came to them over the centuries asking for wads of cash for projects such as killing Teutonic Knights, marrying long-legged Lithuanian blondes, or inventing universities. Typical conversations went something like this:

King: Hey szlachta, how about some cash so I can invade Bohemia and marry a smooth-faced young monk wearing a frock?
Szlachta: Well…
King: Oh go on! It’ll be a massive laugh. There’ll be pillaging and raping and all sorts of fun!
Szlachta: I suppose we could let you have a small loan in return for one or two minor favors…
King: Such as?
Szlachta: Nothing serious. You know, maybe, the right to tax the hell out of our tenant farmers and *ahem* vote for the succession to the throne.
King: What was that last part?
Szlachta: Nothing. Nothing serious. Just sign this and you can have the cash.
King: Well that’s alright then… where’s my pen.

When Zygmunt Augustus eventually retired to the pavilion without proper heirs the szlachta took it upon themselves to start ‘electing’ kings. This was a project with varying degrees of success.

The Elected Kings

The first elected king was a French chap called Henryk Walezy. Young Henry arrived in Poland, had a look around, popped into the local post office, and then buggered off back to France a few days later. “Nobody knows why he left” say the Poles, “I can have a damn good guess” says me. After that they started putting ads in Gazeta Wyborcza and on craigslist “Wanted: King of Poland, short hours, loads of Lithuanian blondes.” Another elected king was the Hungarian lad Stefan Batory. Unfortunately he completely missed out on the Lithuanian blondes and married Anna Jagiellonka who is unkindly remembered as the ugliest ever queen of Poland. She was very good at bigos though.

Another applicant was Zygmunt III Waza who made the decision to move the capital from Krakow to Warsaw. Us Krakow residents have this to say about the decision: Zygmunt Waza was Swedish, Warsaw is much closer to Sweden than Krakow is, a short while later Sweden invaded Poland and captured the capital city. Nice.

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Next week on What Happened in Polish History:

A load of Swedes turn up and cause a flood (somehow)

Poland invents partitioning

Jan Sobieski gets it on with a French chick

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74 thoughts on “What Happened in Polish History: Part I

  1. Radek says:

    Possibly the funniest, post on Polandian ever :)

  2. […] started a series on how Polish history can be interpreted, which would somehow surprise most historians. […]

  3. Romain says:

    You beat Norman Davies, guys ;)

  4. Pawel says:

    Jamie, you go on like this and soon you’ll be on ‘Europa da się lubić’, then ‘Taniec z gwiazdami’ and you’ll end up having your own talk show:)

    You are on a one way street to being more stared at, in the street in Poland, then ever before;)

  5. Oh thank god; now I don’t need to read that big Norman Davies book.

    Good post, BTW.

  6. guest says:

    ha ha ,hilarious. You should write books !

  7. Sylwia says:

    The first elected king was a French chap called Henryk Walezy. Young Henry arrived in Poland, had a look around, popped into the local post office, and then buggered off back to France a few days later. “Nobody knows why he left” say the Poles, “I can have a damn good guess” says me.

    Actually the first elected king was Władysław Jagiełło. The true story about Henryk Walezy or Henri Valois, the king of France (that’s one reason why he left), is pretty funny. He came ashore in Gdańsk only to be greeted by szlachta with a bottle of vodka. When he protested they told him to drink to the bottom or go back to France. Obviously the French can’t have too much.

    His time in Poland wasn’t completely wasted though. After coming to Paris he told his folks to install in Louvre such WCs that he spotted in Wawel. Long live Polish plumber!

    I hope you’ll give us Chmielnicki in the next episode. I so love love affairs!

  8. scatts says:

    My kind of history, at last!

  9. Lena says:

    Absolutely hilarious – I love it!! :)

  10. Romain says:

    Sylwia –> Henri de Valois remained in power in Poland for several months, and if he left, it was mainly because France’s throne became vacant and it was more attractive, as there he wouldn’t have the hands tied by the famous Henrician Articles.

  11. Sylwia says:

    Romain – I didn’t mean to say that he didn’t drink the vodka and so had to go. I’m sorry if it came off this way. He did drink it and he stayed, that’s how he had the opportunity of becoming familiar with the Wawel toilet system.

    You’re right of course about his reasons, however sources usually suggest that he was also fed up with Poles and the Polish style of life, while Poles thought his manners too missish and his French deportment too transvestite-like (in the politically incorrect Sarmatian speech). It seems that neither of the parties could get on with the other. Otherwise he might have tried keeping both thrones.

    He signed the Henrican Articles though, and bless him for that!

  12. Romain says:

    Yes, this is also true, although I would tend to be less enthusiastic about the Henrician Articles. Don’t believe my Frenchness makes me support absolutism, it’s simply that a “democracy”, even nobiliary, requires a certain sense of citizenship and raison d’État, which both quickly came to lack.

  13. guest says:

    absolutism is better for tourists.

    In Poland you have 1000 szlachta palaces and in france you have one big versiailles…

    and of course all the japanese tourists like the big versailles more than the 100 palaces in warsaw or the 1000 palaces in Poland. They even do not notice them because they are not “absolutistic” enough…

    :)

  14. island1 says:

    Very kind comments, thanks for the support :)

    Back to the history books, I find them soothing marinated in wine for 72 hours and spread on toast.

  15. Marta says:

    Hahaha :D All oh so true…

  16. Sylwia says:

    Romain, considering that there is some French absolutist blood running in my veins (some of my ancestors came to Poland in effect of the French Revolution) I might be linked to absolutism more than some French people whose forefathers made the revolution (and I hear they were in the majority). ;-)

    Of course some sense of citizenship and raison d’État is needed and wise, but would it make Poles happier? I think that our attitude to politics is like the one to vodka or cigarettes. We do know it’s bad for our health!

  17. A says:

    Hi,
    so you are alive :)

    Hope my email has arrived?

  18. Romain says:

    But is happiness the ultimate goal in life ? I expected something more flamboyant from the last Romantics ;)

  19. Sylwia says:

    Sure it is! The problem lies elsewhere. Being such Romantics, Poles are the happiest when they are on their road to happiness, and that’s what they can’t do. They can only put themselves at the end of it, and then they’re pretty hangovered. It’s better to party than wake up the next morning. Next to Dulcinea too!

    Actually, if someone translated some of Polandian articles into Polish and put them on Gazeta Wyborcza or Dziennik site then Poles might ardently unite in a very flamboyant way and be happy again. You all want us to become Positivists, while we are incorrigible Romantics without windmills. :(

  20. Tomek says:

    AWESOME, keep up the great work!!! I always had trouble with Poles trying to teach me history, now I finally feel like I’m getting it!!! :D

  21. Polander says:

    Background:
    “The recorded history of the Slavs begins at a comparatively late moment, not before the sixth century A.D. By their earliest invasions of the Eastern Roman Empire, at the turn of the fifth century, they came for the first time into contact with the Greco-Roman world. ”

    Chronicle of Nestor:
    “the famous Czech slavist DobrovskÝ wrote in 1810: ‘I am glad that such investigations are being made. But I am convinced that the Slavs are neither Dacians nor Thracians nor Illyrians. Slavs are Slavs and have a close relationship only with the Lithuanians.’
    The theory that the Slavs were originally settled in the neighbourhood of the Danube was adopted by the early Polish and Czech chroniclers. The principal source for placing the Slavs in this region is a passage in the Chronicle of Nestor, which reads as follows: ‘The Slavs were settled along the Danube, where now is the Hungarian land and the Bulgarian. From there they separated and were called by their special names wherever they settled; those who came to the river Marava were called Moravians and others Czechs. . . other Slavs settled on the Vistula and were called Liakhs; and from these Liakhs were the Polyane; other Liakhs were the Lutici, the Mazovians and the Pomeranians.’ ”

    Vlachs who were induced to settle in places such as Wislok were rapidly assimilated by the Eastern Slavs and converted to the Orthodox religion:

    “The most influential studies of Vlach impact in these parts are by Kazimierz Dobrowolski, Migracje Woloskie na ziemiach polskich (Lviv, 1930), and Dwa studia nad powstaniem kultury ludowej w Karpatach zachodnich (Cracow, 1938). However, there is no evidence in Fastnacht to suggest that the number of shepherds arriving in this part of the Carpathians from the Balkans was ever very large, and it seems clear that any Vlachs who were induced to settle in places such as Wislok were rapidly assimilated by the Eastern Slavs and converted to the Orthodox religion. For a more modern assessment of Vlach impact, see Omelian Stavrovsky, Slovatsko-polsko-ukrainskie prykordonnia do 19 stolitta (Bratislava, 1967). For an assessment of the complexity of the problems posed by the Vlachs in the Balkans see J. C. Campbell, Honour, family and patronage; a study of institutions and moral values in a Greek mountain community (Oxford, 1964), pp.1-6. ”

    “Sarmatia and England “

    AEES Internet Resources

    Legacy of Medieval Lithuania: “As for why the Lithuanians were incapable of defending these lands from the Teutonic Knights, let us ask one question: why was it the Lithuanians and not the Teutonic Knights who governed these areas?. I am at a loss as to how to suggest the author might answer this question – perhaps he should label the stroked pottery culture Slavonic”

    Yahoo! Groups : litvania

  22. Polander says:

    Lengyel regék és mondák

    I have to still wonder whether pol-ak might be from a corruption Lekh to Lakh to po-lakh to po-lak, but I can’t prove it, and it goes against the standard etymologies of the history books!
    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/sig/message/2714

    I don’t dispute that most books claim that Poland comes from “pole”, field, but i was offering a counter theory not in vogue. I have heard of the Polanie, something I will have to look up further. My developing theory, though makess me want to ask, “So where’s “Lanie,” anyway?” My hypothesis could be wrong, but if I can learn somethign in the process, I’d be happy.
    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/sig/message/2685

    Bohemian titles

    Descriptive terms:

    / : nobleman/woman, aristocrat

    : the nobility/aristocracy/peerage.

    : the minor/lesser nobility

    It is possible that the Polanie from Poland were earlier called “Le,dzice” (cf. Hungarian Lengyel, Lengyelorszag, = Pole, Poland and Lithuanian – Lenkasz = Pole) Since “la,d” means “land” in Polish the older name would have the same meaning as the later one.

    Already in the fourth century Alans were settled in Pannonia together with Goths and Huns under the leadership of Alatheus and Saphrac. They served as federates and regular soldiers and officers f.i. in the armies of Gratianus, Theodosius I and Stilicho. Groups of Alans were also settled in Italy and Gaul. The French name Alain has its roots in Alanus und Allen is the English form of it.
    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/gothic-l/message/3459
    One of the Slavic groups, the Poles, called themselves Sarmatians; this name was recorded very early in Western Medieval chronicles [27], which lends credence to the traditions recorded in Polish chronicles edited at the waning of the Middle Ages, according to which they were in touch with the Iranians. [28] In Antiquity the Sarmatians, as is well known, were the Alans. [29] The meaning of the name “Sarmata” in Iranian is the “council.” [30] It refers not to the nationality or language, but to the social organization of the Alans, ruled by a supreme council, appointing the king. [31] The role of the council in early Slavic history is well known, especially among the Western Slavs. Thus the social, or political, organization of the Iranian Alans and Polish Slavs offers evidence of their affiliation. Both groups used the Iranian word for “council” derived from the type of their ruling body. They must have been in very close proximity to affect such borrowings and exchange of influences. These were of such important nature, defining the whole structure of the society, that we are obliged to start thinking in terms of direct intermingling of population groups.
    http://members.tripod.com/~Groznijat/fadlan/lozinski.html

    Most Slavic scholars, however, argue against this, citing numerous similarities between Slavic and Iranian languages. The number of important Iranian loan words in common Slavonic argues for a “prolonged period of very close inter-ethnic relations.” This would place the original Slavic homeland further east, between the Bug and middle Dneiper rivers. The point at which the Slavic languages would have emerged as distinct from the older Indo-European koine would have been around 500 BC, quite late when compared with other European languages. The homeland would correspond roughly to modern eastern Poland and Belarus, with the Carpathian mountains as the southern border.
    http://www.facstaff.oglethorpe.edu/

    Kusi następująca hipoteza: Bałtowie (a wśród nich językowi przodkowie Słowian) są ta częścią Indoeuropejczyków Satem, którzy żyli nie na Stepie, lecz w Lasach. Ci Stepowi poszli dalej na południe i zasiedlili Iran, Azję Środkową i Indie.
    http://www.taraka.most.org.pl/slow/tajeslow.htm

    The earliest verifiable historical reference to a Slavic people comes from Pliny, who describes a group of people called Spali or Spori in this same region. The name Spori is clearly related to the names of two later Slavic groups, the Sorbs of Lusatia and the Serbs. In his Deeds of the Goths, the sixth century Gothic historian Jordanes states that during the second century AD, during their migration from the Baltic to the Black Sea, the Goths encountered and defeated the Spali after crossing the Vistula. Our next notice is from the Byzantine historian Procopius, who describes two Slavic peoples along the Balkan frontiers. The first of these are called Sklaveni and lived along the lower Danube in modern day Romania. The Antes lived further to the east, on the Pontic Steppes. These three groups might well represent the core of the three branches of the Slavic family, identifying the Spali/Spori with the Western Slavs, the Sklaveni with the Balkan Slavs, and the Antes with the Russians and Ukrainians.
    The Sklaveni and Antes began raiding into the Balkans during the reign of Justin I, but it was under Justinian that their attacks became a serious problem. The Slavs tended to act in concert with Turkic peoples of the steps, in the first place the Kutirgurs. A Slavic and Kutirgur force raided deep into the Balkans in 540, destroying thirty-two fortresses in Illyricum and plundering up to the walls of Constantinople. For the next twelve years, there was relative calm, but between 552 and 558 their attacks became a regular occurrence. In 559 came a massive assault and a siege of Constantinople, but the Byzantine fleet was able to cut off the barbarian’s retreat, and they sued for peace.

    **
    The third century A.D. witnessed the beginning of the great migrations of the Eurasian Steppes that lasted for almost a thousand years. People from the Far East moved to the west, pushing those living there and were in their way further to the west. The Sarmatians, or as they were known by the Greeks, the Sauromatae, left their homeland between the Aral Sea and the Volga river arund the third century, as other nomadic tribes, such as the Huns pushed them from the east. They came onto the land of the Scythians, who, weakened and less organized, succumbed to their fierce attacks and gave up their land. The occupation of the Pontic region marks the beginning of a relatively short, but nevertheless very significant era on the steppes, the ruling of the Sarmatians.

    utexas.edu/students/husa/origins

    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/sig/message/2677

    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/sig/messages/2655?threaded=1&expand=1

    During the 6th century the area between the Merovingian Empire and the Avar Khaganate became ill-structured in terms of power… The Slavs were not only new arrivals, but were an entirely new ethnos, which for reasons not clearly understood had formed rapidly and unexpectedly in the 4th-5th centuries somewhere between forest and steppe on the edge of the civilisational sphere of the Chernyakov culture in the Ukraine
    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/sig/message/2219

    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/sig/messagesearch/1986?query=Polanie&dir=1

  23. Polander says:

    I have to still wonder whether pol-ak might be from a corruption Lekh to Lakh to po-lakh to po-lak, but I can’t prove it, and it goes against the standard etymologies of the history books!

  24. Polander says:

    Too bad you do not allow any links

    The earliest verifiable historical reference to a Slavic people comes from Pliny, who describes a group of people called Spali or Spori in this same region. The name Spori is clearly related to the names of two later Slavic groups, the Sorbs of Lusatia and the Serbs. In his Deeds of the Goths, the sixth century Gothic historian Jordanes states that during the second century AD, during their migration from the Baltic to the Black Sea, the Goths encountered and defeated the Spali after crossing the Vistula. Our next notice is from the Byzantine historian Procopius, who describes two Slavic peoples along the Balkan frontiers. The first of these are called Sklaveni and lived along the lower Danube in modern day Romania. The Antes lived further to the east, on the Pontic Steppes. These three groups might well represent the core of the three branches of the Slavic family, identifying the Spali/Spori with the Western Slavs, the Sklaveni with the Balkan Slavs, and the Antes with the Russians and Ukrainians.
    The Sklaveni and Antes began raiding into the Balkans during the reign of Justin I, but it was under Justinian that their attacks became a serious problem. The Slavs tended to act in concert with Turkic peoples of the steps, in the first place the Kutirgurs. A Slavic and Kutirgur force raided deep into the Balkans in 540, destroying thirty-two fortresses in Illyricum and plundering up to the walls of Constantinople. For the next twelve years, there was relative calm, but between 552 and 558 their attacks became a regular occurrence. In 559 came a massive assault and a siege of Constantinople, but the Byzantine fleet was able to cut off the barbarian’s retreat, and they sued for peace.

  25. Romain says:

    Hum, the comparison with Don Quichotte may not be the most accurate, because the moral of Cervantes’s masterwork is precisely that the “enemy”, the reward, or the goal if you prefer, is not as important as the struggle by itself. The reason why Don Quichotte and other chevaleresque, if not romantic, heroes are great, in my opinion, comes from the fact they fight against fictive opponents (windmills) and seek imaginary stuff (the Graal, for example). The quest rather than the object of the quest.

    So I’m not sure at all Poles are at the end of the road to happiness ;)

  26. Sylwia says:

    Yes, that’s exactly what I meant. At the end of the road one sees that the happiness was imaginary. The object isn’t valid anymore, so the quest loses its sense.

    We are disillusioned Don Quichottes.

  27. island1 says:

    Polander: Thanks for the fulsome comments. I had to smile at the wisdom of putting detailed historical observations in the comments section of a post deliberately aimed at people who don’t like detailed historical observations, but I’ll assume it’s some kind of elaborate irony :) Good luck with the polak theory, if you say it often and loudly enough everybody will believe it.

    It’s not that we don’t allow links, we have an open comments policy (ie no moderating) but most comments with links in them get held automatically by the WordPress anti-spam system. We then have to go through these held comments and approve or delete them, which we do at least once a day. We could turn the anti-spam system off, but then the comment threads would rapidly fill up with viagra adverts and invitations to extend your anatomy. In other words, if you post a comment with links, it will probably get held up but it will appear eventually. In this case I’ve not released your original comments with the links because you posted them again without the links.

    Blimey, that was long-winded.

  28. Romain says:

    If you admit the object of the quest is more an horizon than an attainable goal, illusions won’t have to dissipate. And I don’t think it’s a bad thing to keep them. I certainly romanticize it too much, but Warsaw uprising is one of the most brilliant examples of this state of mind.

  29. A= Ann-Sophie says:

    Just an explanation. Just an “A” may be a bit anonymous.
    Looking forward to hear about the holidays.

  30. guest says:

    island1 “I had to smile at the wisdom of putting detailed historical observations in the comments section of a post deliberately aimed at people who don’t like detailed historical observations,”

    ——————

    ha, ha not only you had to smile !

  31. Polander says:

    Island1,
    I didn’t mean to be ironic
    Simply 100% Poles do not know about 556 A.D. humble beginnings of – how to say – migration of old inhabitants to Rome and immigration of Iranian (Persian) groups into the “amber trail” area.
    You do your dissing – which I tolerate more and more.
    I do, what I have to do to make you all smile :mrgreen: BTW comments don’t work the way you think they do – you made me smile as well
    Regards to all the smiling people of Polandia

  32. less than jake szela says:

    I’m waiting for installment #2. I hope you will treat my grandiddy’s historical role with all due discernment and proper respect. He still haunts people, y’know.

  33. island1 says:

    No dissing intended.

  34. […] What Happened in Polish History: Part I August 10, 2008And the Polandian award for worst organised Polish company goes to….. August 6, […]

  35. Tomek says:

    Kocham tego bloga :D

    It’s so true hehe

  36. Polander says:

    Like I said before – I do start to appreciate the unintentional dissing formula of your site. I do intend though to enhance it with my humble supplements now and then in the blue moon if you don’t mind ;)

    My best regards to all Polandians

  37. island1 says:

    Polander: I guess it’s a cross-cultural misunderstanding. Your comments are always welcome.

  38. pinolona says:

    Ah and there I was about to buy God’s Playground…
    This is hilarious. Thanks, you’ve just cheered up a Very Dull 5-hour train ride.

  39. Pawel says:

    Tomek,
    This blog loves you too:D
    LOL

  40. Polander says:

    island1,
    Peace or truce ;)
    I know that you mean well
    I leave that cross- somethingIneverHeardOf at it for now
    I just beg you to mention in your next story 3 things:
    *degradation of Cracow by capitol move
    *Moscow siege
    *That Grzymółtowski guy
    OK?

    My best regards to all Polandians even those from Cracow ;)

  41. guest says:

    island1 should mention what he wants and what HE believes is important FOR HIM. Open your own blog about “that Grzywhatever guy” or make a guest entry in polandian ,if you want.

    peace.

  42. island2 says:

    I guess this means no
    Yes?
    I shall open my own blog about what I want and what I believe is important FOR ME

    peace corps

  43. island1 says:

    Gentlemen let’s keep it civil.

    They sound like interesting subjects, I’ll have a look.

  44. […] from under “samiuśkich Tater” or is it just cross-intelligence of a sheep and a shepherd As everybody knows, the #1 phrase in Polish is: “kultury, k****”, where the second […]

  45. Sylwia says:

    Romain, I don’t know if I can explain it. I think that if history repeated we’d be ready for a Warsaw Uprising again. It’s just that this particular state of mind is possible only thanks to an illusion. This kind of Polish thinking is highly romanticized. It’s based on a myth, on faith, strong sense of justice and of what is right, on compassion, on one’s right to freedom, and on conviction of an existence of a better tomorrow and a worthy past.

    The problem of disillusion isn’t even in the millions of deaths, our allies’ betrayal, being sold to our enemy, the experience of Stalinism, communism, or in our own economical and political shortcomings. That all could be borne as long as the illusion was intact. The problem is in the present. In our disillusion with what the freedom is like. In our realization that we romanticized you – the free democratic world. We cannot move our goal forward because we don’t like what’s ahead of us.

    P.S. I like the idea of giving Island topics to write about. We might even teach him history this way. ;-) How about the Warsaw Confederation?

  46. guest says:

    OK island1 I give you an other interesting subject :D you will love it ! :D

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Micha%C5%82_Drzyma%C5%82a

  47. Łukasz says:

    to call Władysław Jagiełło “lunatic Lithuanian” is… . Author really did not understand Polish history or maybe he did not want to ?
    (ps. I’m polish)

  48. Romain says:

    I agree with you on the fact that if the Uprising had to be done again, Poles are likely to take the arms once more. Most of our newspapers didn’t notice the hint but the Polish negotiator for the treaty of Lisbon pronounced a statement last year which was, in my opinion, very meaningful : “We’re ready to die for the voting system”. Even if I haven’t studied in detail the characters of all the European nations, I can hardly imagine another country expressing its position this way. And the current news about Georgia and Russia will probably feed the theory !

    Disillusion, and lassitude, certainly. Could explain why the effects of the consumption society are so devastating there : when people live only in the present with the idea future won’t be better, if not worse, they tend to burn the candle at both ends.

    Bah, I’m sure island1 already has some ideas in mind, let’s just be patient :)

  49. Warry says:

    Wooky:

    Maybe it had something more to do with the awwiterative use of the letter “L,” a situtation in which you are wumped whether you wke it or not (unwess you understand and and abide by my “Wooky” reference.

  50. Ewa says:

    Island, one of the funnier things is, that technically, Jadwiga wasn’t a queen, she was a king (Poland never had invented the term “ruling queen”).

  51. Sylwia says:

    I wouldn’t take Kaczyński’s declaration that we’re ready to die for the Lisbon treaty literally, but the mere fact that our language is so strong, does speak about our mentality.

    The situation with Georgia and Russia now is pretty meaningful. If you consider who went there, all of the countries – Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and Ukraine – are heirs to the Henrician Articles and the Nobles’ Republic’s tradition. Only Belarus is missing from the company. I wouldn’t be surprised if the countries’ alliance grew stronger with time over various issues.

    Both they and Condoleezza Rice recalled events in Czechoslovakia – either Hitler’s taking over Sudety in 1938 or Soviet intervention in 1968. Yet, neither the Czech Republic nor Slovakia went to Tbilisi. I’m not saying that one attitude is better than the other, rather that they are typical for a particular way of thinking.

    As to our goals – I think that there are too many Poles tainted with the old illusions to be ready for a compromise. When there are more people from younger generations they might be able to set new goals. It’s just that we’re brought on the idea of the world of values, and the West offers material benefits. It’d be very sad to wake up Don Quichotte from his dream and make him an accountant. It’s not the West’s fault of course. It’s just a side effect of romanticizing. Such a woman like Don Quichotte’s Dulcinea could never exist. He’d have to live through a disappointment when confronted with reality.

    One possible scenario is also that Poles will oppose compromising to the EU at some point, and then will unite in making the country the way they wish. So perhaps we won’t die for the Lisbon treaty, but simply revolt. 2110 would be a good date – 700 years after the Battle of Grunwald. ;-) We just need one “lunatic” with many Łs in her or his name.

    Ewa is right. Anna Jagiellonka was a king too. ‘Queen’ in Polish is just a king’s wife.

  52. Romain says:

    Aleksander Lukashenko, Belarus’s president, is Russia’s puppet, so nor its absence, nor its silence, should be surprising.

    About the relative discretion of Czech Republic and Slovakia, there is also a geographical factor to take in account : the countries which have had the strongest reaction about the crisis are the ones located on the eastern border of the European Union (except Ukraine, but that’s why they should fear even more).

    A possible strengthened alliance between Baltic countries, Poland and Ukraine would somehow mean that Poles, who have the most powerful military compared to the others, don’t trust NATO or the EU. I admit you have some pretty good reasons to do so (and we French weren’t very enthusiastic to “die for Danzig” at that time) but for the European dreamer I am, this would be very disappointing. Despite the weight of history, Poland’s future is more likely to be inside a strong and united EU than behind the borders of a nation state too small to compete with the rest of the world. Isolationism is not a viable solution – you’ve experienced it a few centuries ago. Consequently I think Poles had better played the game to try to get some advantages from it, rather than taking the risk of withdrawing.

    If it doesn’t sound very romantic, remember the European Union was first born from an ideal and the fact we can hardly see it nowadays, it does not mean it has faded away.

  53. ge'ez says:

    Did Jadwiga really have a dog? If so, did the dog have a name?

    They didn’t actually entomb the freaking dog with her, did they?

  54. scatts says:

    Jadwiga’s dog was called either Rower or Patrz, I forget which one.

    They did entomb her with the dog but it couldn’t leave the bones alone so they had to take it out in the end.

    So I’m told.

  55. island1 says:

    It’s a well known fact that all Polish dogs are called ‘Hodge Two,’ my belief is that she started the trend. Wish I’d heard of this before, I would have put it in – in fact I might anyway.

  56. ge'ez says:

    Most dogs I’ve come across in Poland have been named Patryk. What’s up with that?

  57. Jim says:

    Now that is a history lesson that would keep the kids attention. Nicely done. !

  58. Sylwia says:

    Romain, no, I wouldn’t expect to see Belarus there.

    Naturally Poland doesn’t trust NATO and EU. I think it’d be silly to trust them. We do assume that our membership in NATO is protecting our safety, not that it will save us. The EU already proved that it isn’t necessarily going to protect our interests. So Poland, the Baltic states and Ukraine are likely to ally over energy for example. It doesn’t mean withdrawing from the EU, just as Germany doesn’t withdraw from it by signing a contract with Russia.

    On the other hand, the EU doesn’t seem very strong and united to me. Will it be in 100 years? I am for our membership, but I can also imagine that I wouldn’t be.

    BTW Jadwiga (whose dog simply symbolizes loyalty) is a Saint of Queens and United Europe.

  59. Romain says:

    I didn’t mean properly withdrawing from the EU, but building alternative organizations sends the same message. Why do you think Germany’s reaction was so hostile to the first draft of the Mediterranean Union ?

    By the way I completely support Poland’s position about that pipeline through the Baltic sea which bypasses its territory. That is not a smart start to envisage the creation of an Energy Common Policy. However I’m not this “alliance of the little”, in I can say so, will be very influent – you shall excuse me for this expression, this is probably how it will be perceived, and that’s the kind of thing which can mine the EU.

    The point of what I’m saying is that Poland should firmly promote a possible Energy Common Policy to tie Germany in and limit its ability to act bilaterally. And the advice is not only valid for energy. The EU isn’t a self-living organism : it depends in a large measure on the States, so the Union is above all what we make of it. If it currently looks like an old sick man, it’s not Brussels we should look at, but our national governments.

    PS : sorry island1 for going totally off-topic :p

  60. Anonymous says:

    In fact, the Russian ambassador to Belarus expressed his astonishment that the higher Belarusian authorities didn’t say anything about the conflict (source).

  61. Anonymous says:

    Here’s the (Polish) source again, this time clickable I hope.

  62. Sylwia says:

    Romain – I’m not saying that Poland and others are going to build a union within a union, only that they have more chances when they unite in common causes. Energy Common Policies will be a great thing if it ever happens. As for now every country buys their energy wherever they wish, and several Western countries don’t want to spoil their contracts with Russia, so it’s not fair to say that we should wait for the EU. Some countries, like some Baltic states, are dependant on Russian energy in nearly 100%. The EU can discuss their plans for years, during which Germany and Russia will finish their apparetnly blooming Nord Stream project, and there’s no way that the EU would tell them to abandon it then. Putin can turn off his taps this winter, and he won’t turn them in Germany or Italy. In three years, when the Nord Stream is complete, he can turn us off permanently. So while the EU can take all of the time in the world, we have only 3 years to come up with a solution. I think that all of the five states that went to Tbilisi realize that there will be consequences from Russia. Talks and negotiations look differently to countries that heard of pressures, but care only by courtesy or political correctness, and differently in ones that experience them. Sorry, but the day I begin freezing I’ll cease caring 6 pence of what the EU thinks, and whether my complaint mines the EU or not.

    It’s just like Sarkozy has been happy with himself for the last couple days, while people in Georgia are still occupied. There’s really no comparison between those two positions. Poland will never be an independent country if it’s pressed by Russia from one side and by the EU to obey Russia from the other. So yes, let’s build one strong EU together, but let’s do it from equal positions.

    Anon – yes, I saw it earlier. I think it curious. Maybe Lukashenko cares more for his own, already dubious, popularity in his country than making any diplomatic statements. After all Russia isn’t going to punish their best friend anyway.

    Island – I’m sorry for hijacking your thread too, and I’m not sure I have more anecdotes about Jadwiga to justify myself. Are you OK with this?

    Oh, there is one trivia to add – Władysław Jagiełło was a pagan, so he had several pagan wives whom he had to divorce in order to marry Jadwiga. ;-) Actually, what a pagan divorce might have looked like? Did he text them?

  63. Anonymous says:

    It looks as if it’s becoming a habit for Nord Stream to buy off former Prime Ministers to support their cause.

  64. Romain says:

    A shameful habit.

    Now to Sylwia, I don’t have much to add as I agree with most parts of your message, after all it wouldn’t be the first time Western Europe sacrifies its neighbours – especially Poland – to buy peace to Russia. Yet I hope this won’t raise a wave of Euroskepticism among Poles which would push them to get disinterested from the EU : the way it is working right now isn’t the only way, and I believe our generation has a role in trying to improve it.

  65. A says:

    Jamie, be a gentleman and reply to the e-mails people send you.

  66. ge'ez says:

    Did Jadwiga even have a dog?

    Or is the dog on her sarcophogus (sp?) just a symbol of fidelity?

    Her sarcophagus was sculpted in 1902. So the dog there was somebody’s afterthought.

    And she died within a month after her only childbirth and that daughter who also died at about the same time was also reportedly laid to rest somewhere in the Wawel.

  67. […] potop, Potop Szwedzki, Tartars | by island1 Following the success of last week’s What Happened in Polish History: Part I I’ve dedicated myself over the past seven days to doing absolutely no further research into […]

  68. Sylwia says:

    Romain: “Yet I hope this won’t raise a wave of Euroskepticism among Poles which would push them to get disinterested from the EU”

    No worry about that. Poles couldn’t become disinterested because they’re not interested in politics in general. Problems arise only when they do become interested. Last time they did the Soviet block collapsed. ;-)

    ge’ez: “Her sarcophagus was sculpted in 1902. So the dog there was somebody’s afterthought.”

    It might have been that the sculptor didn’t want to pay the dog tax any longer.

  69. zaimek says:

    ROTFL, but Mieszko wasnt the first king he acutally ceded this pleasure to his son.

  70. Michał says:

    One must mention Mieszko’s contribution to history of England as his grandson was Canute the Great:)

  71. island1 says:

    Michał: Really? Interesting. I’ve long wanted to write a post about unexpected connections between Britain and Poland, sounds like a good place to start.

  72. Michał says:

    Island1: I am looking forward to that post then. Having read Your posts on Polish history I’ve wondered if it wasn’t You who wrote screenplay for the “Blackadder” series:)
    Generally, the whole blog is very interesting and I’ve become its constant reader (I’m Polish).

    Canute’s mother was Świętosława (known as Sigrid Storrada or Gunhild in Scandinavia), Mieszko’s daughter and one fiery-tempered woman; she is quite a forgotten person in Poland though. Canute the Great (Kanut Wielki) himself did not contribute to Polish history whatsoever.

    However, starting with Canute the Great makes sense for he apparently was the first known ruler who offered jobs in England to the Polish people:) Canute wanted to, ehm, re-establish Danish management and capital in England so he talked his uncle Bolesław Chrobry amongst others into lobby/minor shareholder.
    Chrobry agreed to provide his nephew with some Polish, ehm, guest workers (definitely not medieval carpenters, waggon drivers etc.). The ones that are ultra-competitive, do not socialize with indigenous people and do not obey the law.
    Unfortunately, the then bloggers (called chroniclers) left no comments about these Polish people in England, we don’t actually know if they arrived there. They might have or not.
    What we do know is that in 1069 few hundred Poles decided to book same trip to England through a Danish job/travel agency ran by Sweyn II of Denmark.

    I hope nobody takes offence at what I’ve written.
    Best wishes

  73. island1 says:

    Michał: A Blackadder fan and a reader of Polandian — you’re clearly a man of excellent taste and great intelligence :)

    I love the idea of the first known employer of Poles in England and the Dark Ages’ bloggers and intend to steal them in the near future.

    It’s amazing how many connections there are when you start looking. Darth, late of this blog, recently told me about the connection between Lesmian and a semi-famous British actress of 1960s.

    Offense? Who would take offense?

  74. ah says:

    Pole didn’t have a brother called Lech. Lech was a Pole. Lech, Czech and Rus were brothers and founders of the three Slavic nations: Poland, Bohemia, Ruthenia. That’s not funny ;)

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