Women of Royalty
Jadwiga of Poland
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 the Great'.
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 people.
       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.