Saturday, April 19, 2008

1.3.04

His confidence increased, however, when after mass and a long rest, he heard the conversation between the abbot and duchess Anna Danuta.

At that time the wives of the reigning kings and princes, both on account of devotion as well as on account of the magnificent presents, sent by the Master of the Teutonic Order, were very kindly disposed toward the Order’s Knights. Even the pious Queen Jadwiga, as long as she lived, restrained her husband's anger against them. Duchess Anna Danuta alone, having experienced dreadful wrongs from the knights hated them with her whole soul. Therefore when the abbot asked her about Masovia and its affairs, she began to complain bitterly against the Order:

"Our affairs are in a bad condition and it cannot be otherwise with such neighbors! Supposedly it is the time of peace, the ambassadors and letters cross each other, but notwithstanding nobody can be sure of anything. The one who lives on the borders of the kingdom, never knows when he goes to bed in the evening, whether he will awaken in fetters, or with the sword on his throat, or with a burning ceiling over his head. Neither oaths, nor seals, nor parchment will protect from treachery. Thus it happened at Zlotoryja where during the time of peace, they seized the prince and imprisoned him. The Teutonic Knights claimed that the castle could pose a danger to them, but the castles are repaired for defense not for an assault; and what prince does not have the right to build and repair on his own land? Neither the weak nor the powerful can live in peace with the Order, because they despise the weak and try to ruin the mighty. Good deeds they repay with evil ones. Is there anywhere in the world another order which has received as many benefits from other kingdoms as the knights have received from Polish princes? And how have they repaid? With hate, with land grabs, with war and with treachery. And it is useless to complain, even to Holy See, because they don’t even listen to the Pope himself. Apparently they have sent diplomatic emissaries for the queen's confinement and the expected christening, but only because they wish to appease the anger of our king for what they did in Lithuania. But in their hearts they are always plotting to annihilate the Kingdom and the whole Polish nation."

The abbot listened attentively and then said:

"I know that Komtur Lichtenstein came to Krakow at the head of the diplomatic mission, brother in the Order, respected there for his bravery and intelligence. Perhaps you will see him here soon, gracious lady, because he sent me a message yesterday, saying that as he wished to pray to our holy relics, he would pay a visit to Tyniec."

Having heard this, the duchess continued:

"The people say -and they may be right - that a great war is coming, in which on one side will be the Kingdom of Poland and all the nations speaking similar languages, and on the other side will be all the Germans and the Order. There is a prophecy about this war by some saint."

"Bridget," interrupted the scholarly abbot, "eight years ago she was canonized. The pious Peter from Alvastra and Matthew from Linköping have written her revelations, in which a great war has been predicted."

Zbyszko shuddered at these words, and not being able to restrain himself, asked:

"How soon will it happen?"

But the abbot being occupied with the duchess, did not hear the question, or pretended that he didn’t.

The duchess kept talking:

"Our young knights are glad that this war is coming, but the older and prudent ones told me: 'We are not afraid of the Germans, despite their great power, but we are afraid of Order’s relics, because against those we are powerless.'"

Here Duchess Anna looked at the abbot with fear and added in a softer voice:

"They say they have a true piece of the holy cross; how then can one fight against them?"

"The French king sent it to them," answered the abbot.

There was a moment of silence, then Mikolaj of Dlugolas (Long Woods), called Martel, a man of great experience, said:

"I was in captivity among the Knights of the Cross; I saw a procession in which they carried this great relic. But beside this, there are many other relics in the monastery in Oliwa without which the order would not have acquired such power."

The Benedictines stretched their necks toward the speaker, and began to ask with great curiosity:

"Tell us, what are they?"

"There is a piece of the dress of the Holy Virgin," answered the nobleman of Dlugolas; "there is a molar tooth of Mary Magdalene and branches from the bush in which God, the Father, revealed himself to Moses; there is a hand of Saint Liborius, and as for the bones of other saints, I cannot count them on the fingers of both hands."

"How can one fight them?" repeated the duchess, sighing.

The abbot frowned, and having thought for awhile, said:

"It is difficult to fight them, because they are monks and they wear the cross on their mantles, but if they have exceeded the limit of their sins, then even those relics will refuse to protect them. In that case they will not strengthen the knights, but will take their strength away, so that the relics can pass into hands of more worthy people. May God spare Christian blood, but if a great war should come, there are relics in our kingdom which will give us strength. Bridget's revelations says: ‘I made them as useful bees and settled them on the border of Christian lands. But they turned against me. Because they don’t care about souls and don’t have mercy for the bodies of the nation which converted to Christianity and to me. And they enslaved the nation, and they don’t teach God’s Commandments, and by refusal of Holy Sacraments they condemn to suffering in hell even more then if they in paganism. They start wars because of their greed. That is why the time will come to pull their teeth and their right arm will be cut off, and their right leg will decay so the admit their sins.’"

"May God grant that to us!" exclaimed Zbyszko.

The abbot turned toward the duchess and said:

"Therefore have confidence in God, my dear lady, because their days are numbered rather than yours. In the meanwhile, please accept with your grateful heart this box, in which there is Saint Ptolemy’s finger, one of our patrons."
The duchess extended her hand and kneeling, accepted the box, which she immediately pressed to her lips. The courtiers shared the joy of their lady, because nobody had any doubts that this gift will bring prosperity for all of them and maybe even whole province. Zbyszko was happy because he thought that the war will come immediately after the Krakow’s festivals.

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