King Louis I of Hungary
King Louis I of Hungary was born to
King Charles I of Hungary and his third wife, Elizabeth Lokietkówna, the daughter of King Wladyslaw I Lokietek of Poland,
in 1326. Of both the Angevian and Capetian dynasties, Louis married another Elizabeth, who was also of the Piast dynasty of
Poland that Elizabeth Lokietkówna belonged to. Upon his father's death in July of 1342, Louis became king of Poland at the
age of sixteen. He followed in his father's legacy, favoring the military. He set a law saying that all serfs were to pay
1/9 of their yearly income to their overlords. Louis' brother, Andrew, was murdered in Naples in 1345 led Louis to break off
Hungarian relations with the western branch of Louis' ancestral Angevin dynasty. Though at the time Louis was set upon gaining
Dalmatia, the excommunication slowed the conquest. Louis led two Venetian wars, gaining both Dalmatia and Ragusa and also
the rulers of Serbia, Walachia, Moldavia, and Bulgaria as vassals. By 1354, Louis had also led a campaign against the Tatars
and the Lithuanians, making him very popular in Poland. In 1370, King Casimir III of Poland, the brother of Elizabeth Lokietkówna,
died, leaving the Polish throne to Louis. Over the next four years, Louis and his wife, Elizabeth, had three children: Catherine,
(unknown), Mária ( unknown)and Jadwiga (1374). But being a father did not delay this born leader. Louis led a campaign against
the Ottomans by 1377 and by his death five years later in 1382, Louis had led a Hungarian golden age. Hence Louis became 'Louis
Love and Loss
Jadwiga (yad-veega), born in the winter
of 1374 (thought to be February 15, 1374), grew up at the court in Buda and the imperial court in Vienna starting at the age
of eight, alongside her elder sister, Mária. By this time, Catherine had died (1378), and Louis wasted no time in betrothing
his two daughters for political advantages. Jadwiga was betrothed at an early age to William (Wilhelm) of Hapsburg and she
and William took part in a marriage ceremony in 1378. Later on her father made an agreement with Sigismund, the future
Holy Roman Emperor, than either Jadwiga or Mária would marry him. The latter betrothal was the intended one by the Hungarian
Jadwiga was a bright and beautiful child.
With blue eyes and fair hair, Jadwiga was also very tall and very intelligent. Besides diplomacy and piety, Jadwiga spoke
Hungarian, Italian, Latin, and Polish. Tragedy struck the family in 1382, when King Louis I died around the age of 56. Louis
had no sons, only his two daughters, and he decided upon his death that both of his kingdoms, Poland and Hungary, should each
take one of his daughters and crown them 'king' of their countries. The Hungarians preferred the elder sister, Mária, and
so the Polish agreed to take nine-year old Jadwiga as their 'king'. Mária became the ruler of Hungary and married Sigismund
the same year that King Louis died, uniting the Holy Roman Empire and Hungary.
Upon her entry into Poland, Jadwiga was
crowned 'rex' of Poland on October 15, 1384. But the now eleven-year old girl had great troubles to deal with. The Teutonic
Knights, a group of crusaders under Roman Catholic religious vows, were attacking both Poland and Lithuania to the north,
in hope of recapturing the two lands which had been lost to King Casimir III of Poland, Jadwiga's great-uncle. Likewise, Casimir's
descendants were protesting that they should be given parts of Poland as they were related to the great king. Other forces
continued to threat Poland during this time. The Mongols and Tartars of Asia threatened to enter Polish borders while the
Germanic states, such as Muscovy, threatened to attack.
The Polish people panicked, but soon found
a way to save their kingdom. Jadwiga was still betrothed to William of Hapsburg, but if she married an Austrian the Polish
people would never accept him. Instead, the people recommended that Jadwiga marry the grand duke of Lithuania, Jagiello. Lithuania
was a pagan country, though it had been Christian in the 13th century, and if Jadwiga and Jagiello, though with a twenty-year
gap between ages, married, not only would Jagiello surely convert to Christianity and reform Lithuania to become a Christian
state, but the two kingdoms would join together against the invading forces, most importantly the Teutonic Knights. The Teutonic
Knights' original excuse for invading Lithuania was that it was pagan, but if it turned Christian than they would not be permitted
by the Church to invade.
Jadwiga was still only eleven or twelve
at the time, and the idea of marrying a much older and pagan man rather than William scared her. But she had a duty to her
kingdom and agreed to marry Jagiello.
In February of 1386, Jagiello was baptized,
taking the Christian name 'Wladyslaw'. On the 18th, he and Jadwiga were married and in March, Jagiello was crowned king of
Poland in Krakow as King Ladislaus II. His marriage and conversion to Catholicism enraged the Lithuanian people and while
Jadwiga and Wladyslaw, as he was now called, settled in Poland, his brothers in Lithuania worked to quell many uprisings.
But Lithuania's conversion soon began and the state returned to the Christian ways it followed 100 years beforehand.
'King' of Poland
Though still young at thirteen, Jadwiga
earned her reputation as the beloved king of Poland. Ruling jointly with her husband, who had been elected as the ruler of
Poland and Jadwiga as a consort, Jadwiga travelled across the continent, from Italy to Germany, on diplomatic missions and
also worked to convert Lithuania. In Poland, Jadwiga worked to set up schools and universities, her most important accomplishment
being the University of Krakow, named after the Jagiellonian University (which she reputedly gave all her jewelry to
support). Jadwiga also set up the bishopric of Wilno and a Lithuanian college in Prague.
Meanwhile the Teutonic Knights reigned
with trouble over Lithuania. Wladyslaw's cousin, Witold, was acting as a pretender to the Lithuanian throne with
the support of the knights. But Jadwiga was reputed to be a keen peacemaker and not only did she reconcile Witold and Wladyslaw
but she also met with the Master of the Teutonic Order and is widely said to have put him to shame, causing the knights to
retire from their warfare for some time.
Around 1398-1399, Jadwiga became pregnant with her first child at the age of
twenty-three or twenty-four. The child died at birth, and not soon after, Jadwiga died also. She is buried in the Wawel
Cathedral in Krakow.
Wladyslaw (Jagiello) continued to rule
Poland (as King Ladislaus II) until his death in 1434. He remarried after his Jadwiga's death, and was succeeded by his son
by his second marriage, Ladislaus III.
Almost 600 years after her death, Jadwiga
was beatified by Pope John Paul II (who was coincidentally a Polish priest and the former archbishop of Krakow) in 1987. A
decade later in 1997, Jadwiga became Saint Hedwig/Jadwiga. Her feast day is February 28.