Queen Jadwiga (1373-1399)

Queen Jadwiga ImageQueen Jadwiga was canonized a Saint by Pope John Paul II on June 8, 1997
Crowned in 1384 at the age of eleven, Queen Jadwiga was destined to become the greatest queen in Polish history. Grandniece of Casimir the Great, the last of the Piast Kings of Poland, and the youngest daughter of Louis the Great, King of Hungary, Jadwiga was selected by Polish nobles to end absentee rule by foreign monarchs.

Young Jadwiga was welcomed to Krakow with enthusiasm and extravagance. Despite the warm welcome by her people, however, she faced considerable disunion and jealousy among the landed gentry. To become a recognized power both in her own realm and throughout Europe, it was urgent that she select a spouse to share her throne. Jadwiga intended to marry Prince William, son of the Hapsburg Duke Leopold of Austria.

Her advisors, however, conspired otherwise. Their choice was the dreaded Jagiello, ruler of pagan Lithuania, who agreed to unite the vast Lithuanian territories with Poland, release Polish prisoners, defend the united countries against the Order of Teutonic Knights, and lastly, embrace the Catholic faith.

Stories are told of Prince William's arrival at the gates of Krakow, secret meetings with the Queen and Jadwiga's dramatic attempt to escape with her beloved. As the young queen struggled to ax her way through a door to freedom, her father's aging treasurer implored that she do what was best for Poland. She agreed to reign with Jagiello, never to see William again.

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