The Woman King of Poland

oct-16-jadwiga-king-poland

A Brief History

On October 16, 1384, Jadwiga, a woman, was crowned KING of Poland.


Digging Deeper

Jadwiga was the daughter of Louis I the Great, who reigned simultaneously as king of Hungary and Poland.  When Louis died, his eldest daughter, Mary, inherited that particular throne.  The Polish nobility, however, instead chose the younger daughter Jadwiga as their ruler.  To make it clear that she was not a mere queen consort, but a ruler in her own right, Jadwiga was crowned as king rather than “queen”.  She is one of maybe only five or so such women in all of human history to take a masculine, rather than feminine royal title.  Moreover, she received this lofty title while still a girl (Jadwiga was born in 1373 or 1374 and became “king” in 1384).

Despite being a child ruler, Jadwiga was something of a Renaissance woman.  She could speak German, Hungarian, Latin, Polish, and Serbian, among other talents.  She personally funded the building of hospitals and even scholarships for academics.  Her charitable nature combined with various legends eventually resulted in her canonization as a patrons saint of queens.  Among the miracles attributed to her was the claim that she revived a boy who had drowned in a river.

Her  reign opened, however, with some familial tragedies.  The situation in nearby Hungary became downright horrific for Jadwiga’s mother and sister.  Their opposition within Hungary ambushed Queen Mary and her mother, kidnapped them, and imprisoned them.  Mary and Jadwiga’s mother ended up strangled before Mary’s eyes.  Although Mary was eventually rescued, she died a few years later in an apparent horse riding accident, while pregnant.

Jadwiga died in 1399 after giving birth to a daughter who died within days of her mother, one of Poland’s most celebrated Kings!

Historical Evidence

For more on the saintly king, unfortunately, just about all the books on her incorrectly refer to her as “queen”, but for a fairly concise read, you might check out Saint Jadwiga, Queen of Poland, 1374-1399 and yes, you can also like her on Facebook!  Finally, you can read her entry on the website for Encyclopedia Britannica.

Matthew Zarzeczny

Matthew graduated with a B.A. in French and history from Baldwin-Wallace College. At BW, Matthew minored in political science. He earned a Master’s in History at Kent State University and a Ph.D. in History from the Ohio State University. He teaches history at Ashland University, John Carroll University, and Kent State University at Stark.

  • Yadja

    My name is Yadwiga and my family claims to have been a part of Queen Yadwigas court thus my name and that of my mother. My grandmothers name was Olga Von Michaelson Sielski. My mothers Yadwiga and mine the same. I was told we have a castle in Latvia.

    • Dr. Matthew D. Zarzeczny, FINS

      Neat!

      • Yadja

        When I lived in Europe I did not travel to Latvia but I attempted to find out information, as did so many others who had success in finding their castles, I did not get anywhere.

        Hopefully somebody on this site can give me some clues as to where to look. Thanks for the comment.

        • Dr. Matthew D. Zarzeczny, FINS

          Dear Yadja,

          Have you tried posting on forums on Ancestry.com?

          Sincerely,

          Dr. Zarzeczny

          • Yadja

            Dear Dr. Zarzeczny, no I have not. I know so very little about my mother’s side of the family and I don’t care to spend money to find out the rest of the story.

            Thank you for answering me you are such a gentleman.