November 16, 2010

Jadwiga, a Girl Age 10, Crowned King of Poland – 1384

Yes, I did say she was a girl, and yes, I did say she was crowned king.

Jadwiga's title was meant to state that she was the ruler of Poland and not just married to the ruler of Poland. Also, Polish law didn't recognize a queen as a possible ruler—but the law did not state that a king had to be male, either.

By the way, some sources state that Jadwiga was crowned on October 16, 1384, rather than November 16. It's just one of those things that is hard for me to confirm when lots of sources say one thing but many other sources say another. I know that once a mistake happens, it gets copied by others. Nowhere did I find a warning that there are two dates floating here is your warning: There are two different dates floating around.

At any rate, here is a brief recap of Jadwiga's life:

  • Born 1374 – Jadwiga is born in Hungary. She is the daughter of king Louis I of Hungary, but she can claim royal Polish blood from both her mother's and her father's line.
  • 1374 to 1384 – Jadwiga is educated in many fields and learns six languages (Latin, Hungarian, German, Serbian, Bosnian, Polish).
  • 1384 – Jadwiga leaves her home, her family, and her country (Hungary) to go to Poland and become king.
  • 1385 – William of Austria tries to marry Jadwiga (remember, she's only 11 years old at this point), but he is expelled from Poland instead.
  • later on in 1385 – Jadwiga marries Jogaila of Lithuania (Jadwiga is now 12 years old).
  • 1399 – Jadwiga (age 25) has a baby girl but dies from childbirth complications.

Sometimes people today say that children these days grow up too fast, or that life speeds by too quickly because of modern technology. But looking at this royal's life in the Middle Ages makes me realize that, for many people throughout history, life was short, and childhood was really, really short.

Names change...

Jadwiga is the Polish version of our royal's name. In English and German she is known as Hedwig, in Lithuanian she is Jadvyga, in Hungarian she's Hedvig, and in Latin she is Hedvigis.

Also, Jadwiga's husband, Jogaila, was baptized Wladyslaw. That's a pretty big change, as far as I'm concerned!


Apparently it is thought that this young, female king had little actual power. However, she did lead two successful military expeditions to reclaim lands from Hungary. Remember, she was the daughter of the Hungarian king, and she was able to accomplish the expeditions' goals peacefully, through diplomacy. Jadwiga sponsored writers and artists and donated much of her personal wealth to charity, founding hospitals and doing other good works. She financed scholarships for university students, and she restored the Krakow Academy (a university).

So in her short life—remember, she died at 25—she accomplished a LOT!

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