With Movember having just passed, and the days getting colder and wintrier, it was easy to see the value of having a beard as the temperatures plunged at the beginning of December. It provoked thoughts about Polish beards and moustaches and how many kings, leaders and men in power had facial hair of some kind. Below is a quick summary of the finest and best and the power their face fuzz allowed them to yield.
The original (and best?)
Mieszko I set up the original Polish state and did so sporting a fine beard and long flowing hair. Just imagine this guy running at you with a sabre in hand! He maintained a nice simple trim on his beardline, with it probably being one of the stipulations when was baptised as a Catholic. They didn’t want him to look like just any vandal rampaging across Central Europe.
I am the Greatest
Perhaps the biggest beard in Polish history belonged to the one king allowed to be known as ‘the Great one’ – Kazimierz Wielki. He has enough facial hair there for 2 or 3 full beards! Being ‘the Great one’ as Europe was entering the Dark Ages, rumour was that he had a long flowing beard so that his mistress could find him at night when no candles were available.
Bow before my moustache, Turks!
Jan III Sobieski managed to combine the roles of King of Poland with Grand Duke of Lithuania, and even took a weekend break in 1683 to push the Ottoman Turks back from Vienna. The ‘Lion of Lechistan’ managed to do all of this while worrying about his ever-drooping moustache. In the days before hair gel, he just couldn’t get it to shape as he would like.
For a few centuries, Poland lacked in leaders with the required facial-hair fortitude, and the country suffered. It lost it’s union with Lithuania, got squeezed by the Germans, and eventually didn’t exist any more. All those clean-shaven Polish men just could not handle the likes of Otto von Bismarck, whose bushy moustache allowed him to rule Prussia and claim Pomerania and other Polish territory. By the early 20th century, Józef Piłsudski had suffered enough. With a ‘tache bigger than a paintbrush, and eyebrows to beat most regular moustaches, he used them as lures to ensnare enemies. Then, he would stare at them until their heads exploded from the pressure of being so close to such fine hair follicles. And with that, he won back Poland’s freedom and formed the Second Polish Republic.
Take that, Communism!
Communism brought dour times to Poland. While the 70’s brought long, luscious sideburns and handlebar moustaches galore to Western countries, such luxuries could just not be afforded in Polish towns and cities. A lucky few tried importing fake Groucho Marx taches, but not everyone had family in America to smuggle them over. But the new wave was lead by Lech Wałęsa. He had inherited a beautiful moustache comb from his grandmother and he was not going to let it go to waste. His fellow Polish men got in on the act, and Solidarność was born. Before long even the Kaczyńskis were involved with their own efforts at growing some face-fuzz. It was no surprise as the Communists gave in, and Prime Minister Wałęsa heralded a new age. Rubbish disposal authorities noted a huge rise in the number of razors dumped in the days following his inauguration.
A modern moustache for modern times?
Bronisław Komorowski has upheld the traditions of facial hair on the men of power in Poland. However, one criticism that has come about is that he does not inspire confidence for the international stage. The answer here is simple: Pan Prezydent – you must grow out a full beard. When the Francuskis, Niemcyks and others see you coming, they will surely recognise the resurgent new power of Poland under the might of a full bushy beard!
So, men of Poland – take pride in your beards and moustaches and take pride in Poland!