Monday, October 19, 2009

War Waged Against the Naughty Wives of Wojnicz

October means many things to many people. To me it means National Family History Month, Polish American Heritage Month, and Halloween. In honor of all three, I'm going to take this opportunity to share with you some legends of the town of Wojnicz, Poland. Wojnicz is the ancestral village of one branch of my family (Mizera). It's in southern Poland, west southwest of the city of Tarnów along the road (E40) to Kraków. I've written about Wojnicz before, a number of times.

A Tribute to My Maternal Ancestors, Part I
A Tribute to My Maternal Ancestors, Part II (History of Wojnicz)
Snapshot 1908, Galician Partition of Poland (includes YouTube video)
Recipient of a Random Act of Kindness
The Good Earth, Poland

This time around I'm going to tell a series of tales of Wojnicz. These legends go back a long way and have entertained and educated many over the hundreds of years they've existed. Wojnicz is a very old town and the first of the legends takes us back to the years 1015-1018 and a war waged against the "naughty" women of the town...

The best known of Wojnicz's legends tells of the fight between the naughty wives of Wojnicz and their husbands. This "old wives" war may have given the town it's name. The fight of the unfaithful wives was alleged to have occurred in the eleventh century during the rein of Bolesław the Bold. In 1015, Bolesław went to Kiev to restore the throne to Ruthenian Prince Svyatopolk Vladimirovich (Bolesław's son in law) who was dethroned by his brother Yaroslav. After Bolesław returned to Poland, Svyatopolk's brother dethroned him again. So Bolesław went back to Kiev in 1018 with his Polish knights and this time stayed a longer time.

While they were gone, as the legend goes, the knight's wives took lovers. When the knights learned of this, they began to arbitrarily leave Bolesław's army in Kiev and rushed home to punish their adulterous wives. When Bolesław returned home, he punished both his wife (this would have been his 4th wife, Oda, who he was married to from 1018 until his death in 1025) and the knights who left him in Kiev.

Feeling threatened, the errant wives and the men they dallied with escaped into the castle 3 kilometers from the city. Armed with swords, spears, bows and axes, they desperately defended themselves from Bolesław and the knight's attacks. Many of them were dishonored, many wounded. Those who were killed were buried on a hill behind town. In the end, the women's defense was broken. The vindictive husbands severely punished their unfaithful wives. Many of them were killed in a cruel manor. The mountain on which the men and women defended themselves was named "Maiden's Mountain" in memory of those events. It is said that the castle warriors of the Tarnowski family along with Bolesław, decided to found a city on the spot to commemorate that extraordinary war and they called it Wojnicz ("Wojna" means "war" in Polish).

Sources: Legends of Wojnicz
Bolesław I Chrobry

Photo 1: Portrait of Bolesław the Brave done by Jan Matejko. Image from Wikipedia, is in the Public Domain.
Photo 2: Bolesław the Brave Entering Conquered Kiev by Jan Matejko. Image from Wikipedia, is in the Public Domain.

Legends of Wojnicz Series:
War Waged Against the Naughty Wives of Wojnicz
Legend of the Stingy Heir
Legend of the White Horse
Legend of the Devil's Transport