Great Figures in Poland’s Past, Jan Henryk Rosen, oil, Polish Pavilion 1939 NY. World Fair (from the collection of the PMA)
Portrait of Queen Jadwiga Anjou, Marcello Bacciarelli, 1768-1771, oil on tin plate
On June 8, we mark the Feast Day of Saint Jadwiga, Queen of Poland. She was born October 3, 1373, in Buda, Kingdom of Hungary and died July 17, 1399, at Wawel Castle in Kraków. Jadwiga was the first female monarch of the Kingdom of Poland—interestingly enough, crowned as King of Poland (in regem Polonie coronata)—at age 10. Her additional titles were Supreme Princess of Lithuania and Heiress of Red Ruthenia. In her short reign (from 1384 to 1399), Jadwiga refunded a major teaching institution, the Kraków Academy, later named the Royal Jagiellonian University, which opened the first Chairs of Mathematics and Astronomy in the world. Queen Jadwiga sacrificed her own personal happiness in the name of safeguarding her Homeland whose security depended on a Commonwealth format with the Principality of Lithuania, as Queen Jadwiga's marriage with Prince Władyslaw Jagiełło peacefully extended Christianity eastward. The Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth was not only the largest territorial body in 15th century Europe, but Queen Jadwiga is directly credited for creating the first European union. Poland's beloved monarch was not afraid to lead Polish royal inspections to far away borderlands like Red Ruthenia while sponsoring widespread social services, churches, and charitable foundations. During renovation works at her tomb in 1887, the excavated royal jewelry was found to be made from leather and wood. Jadwiga, as stipulated by her will, designated her entire fortune, incl. every last personal jewel, to the future Jagiellonian University. Jadwiga of Poland was canonized on June 8, 1997 in Kraków by Pope St. John Paul II. Please visit the PMA collections to meet Queen Jadwiga in our tapestries and PMA Library's historical publications!