Monday, May 19, 2008


"Gracious king!" said the Duchess Anna, "she is the daughter of Jurand of Spychow and this unhappy knight made a vow to her. He promised her to tear three peacock tufts from the helmets of enemies, and having noticed such a tuft on the helmet of this komtur, he thought that God himself had sent him. He did not attack him, my lord, through malice, but through thoughtlessness, therefore be merciful and do not punish him, we beseech you on our knees!"

Having said that she arose, seized Danusia by the hand, and rushed with her toward the king, who seeing this stepped back. But both kneeled before him and Danusia grabed his feet and began to cry:

"Forgive Zbyszko, my king, forgive Zbyszko!"

Because she was afraid, she hid her fair head between the folds of the king's dress, kissed his knees and trembled like a leaf. Duchess Anna kneeled on the other side and clasping her hands looked hopefully at the king whose face showed great perplexity. He retired toward the chair, but did not push Danusia away, only waved his hands.

"Do not trouble me!" he cried. "The youth is guilty, he has brought disgrace on the Kingdom! They must execute him!"

But the little hands clung to his knees stronger and the child cried more and more pitifully:

"Forgive Zbyszko, my king, forgive Zbyszko!"

Now the voices of some knights were heard to exclaim:

"Jurand of Spychow is a famous knight, and the cause of awe to the Germans."

"And that youth fought bravely at Wilno!" added Powala.

But the king excused himself further, although he pitied Danusia.

"He is not guilty toward me and it is not I who can forgive him. Let the envoy of the Order pardon him, then I will pardon him too. But, if the envoy will not, then he must die."

“Forgive him Kuno!” said the knight named Black Zawisza, “the Master of your Order will approve!“

"Forgive him, sir!" exclaimed both of the princesses.

"Forgive, forgive!" repeated the voices of the knights.

Kuno closed his eyes and sat with uplifted forehead, as if he was delighted to see both princesses and such famous knights asking him for forgiveness. Then he changed, he dropped his head, crossed his hands on his chest and from a proud man became a humble one, and said with a soft, mild voice:

"Christ, our Savior, forgave his enemies and even the malefactor on the cross."

"He is a true knight!" said Bishop Wysz.

"He is, he is!" said others.

"How can I refuse to forgive," continued Kuno, "being not only a Christian, but also a monk? Therefore I forgive him with all my heart, as Christ's servant and friar!"

"Honor to him!" shouted Powala of Taczew.

"Honor!" repeated the others.

"But," said the Teutonic Knight, "I am here among you as an envoy and I carry in me the majesty of the whole Order which is Christ's Order. Whoever offends me, therefore, offends the Order; and whoever offends the Order, offends Christ himself, and such an offence, I, in the presence of God and the people, cannot forgive, and if your law does not punish it, let all Christian lords know."

After these words, there was a profound silence. Then after a while there could be heard the heavy breathing of suppressed fury and Danusia's sobbing.
By evening all sympathy was with Zbyszko. The same knights, who in the morning were ready to cut him into pieces, were now considering how they could help him. The princesses determined to see the queen, and beseech her to prevail upon Lichtenstein to withdraw his complaint or if necessary to write to the grand master of the Order, and ask him to command Kuno to give up the case. This plan seemed to be the best because Jadwiga was regarded with such unusual respect that if the grand master refused her request, it would make the pope angry and also all Christian lords. It was not likely that he would refuse because Konrad von Jungingen was a peaceful man. Unfortunately Bishop Wysz of Krakow, who was also the queen's physician, forbade them to mention even a word about this affair to the queen. "She never likes to hear about death sentences," he said, "and she takes even the question of a simple robber's death too seriously; she will worry much more if she hear about this young man who hopes to obtain mercy from her. Such anxiety would make her seriously ill, and her health is worth more to the whole kingdom than ten knightly heads." He finally said that if anyone should dare, despite what he had said, to disturb the queen he would draw the king's wrath and then he would also face excommunication.

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