Monday, June 30, 2008

1.6.02


Around the castle walls resounded the cry of a hundred thousand people mixed with the gloomy sounds of the bells. Some of the people threw themselves on the ground; others tore their clothing or lacerated their faces, while others looked at the walls with silent stupefaction. Some of them were moaning; some, stretching their hands toward the church and toward the queen's room, prayed for a miracle and God's mercy. There were also heard some angry voices which were verging toward blasphemy:

"Why our dear queen has been taken from us? For what then were our processions, our prayers and our entreaties? Our gold and silver offerings were accepted and we have nothing in return for them!" Many others weeping, repeated: "Jesus! Jesus! Jesus!" The crowds wanted to enter the castle, to look once more on the face of their queen.

This was not permitted, but people were promised that the body would soon be placed in the church where everyone would be allowed to view it and to pray beside it. Consequently toward evening, the grieving crowds of people began to return to the city, talking about the queen's last moments, about the future funeral and the miracles, which will take place near her body and around her tomb. Some also said that immediately after her burial, the queen would be canonized, and when others said that they doubted if it was possible, many began to be angry and to threaten to recognize the pope in Avignon.

A gloomy sorrow fell upon the city, and upon the whole country, and everybody thought that the lucky star of the kingdom have died with the queen. Even many of the Krakow nobility saw the future in black. They began to ask themselves and others, what would happen now? Did the king have the right to remain after the queen's death and rule over the country, or whether he would return to Lithuania and be satisfied with the throne of the Grand Duke? Some of them supposed that the king himself would be willing to withdraw, and in such an event the large provinces would separate from the crown, and the Lithuanians would again begin their attacks against the inhabitants of the kingdom. The Teutonic Order would get stronger, mightier would become the Roman emperor and the Hungarian king while the Polish kingdom, one of the mightiest until yesterday, would be ruined and disgraced.

The merchants, for whom the vast territories in Lithuania and in Russia were wide open, foreseeing great losses, made pious vows, hoping that Jagiello might remain on the throne. But in that event, they predicted a war with the Order. It was known that only the queen could restrain his anger. The people recollected a previous occasion, when being indignant at the avidity and rapacity of the Knights of the Cross, she spoke to them in a prophetic vision: "As long as I live, I will restrain my husband's hand and his righteous anger; but remember that after my death, there will fall upon you the punishment for your sins."

In their pride and folly, they were not afraid of a war, calculating, that after the queen's death, the charm of her piety would no longer restrain the wish for affluence of volunteers and that thousands of warriors from Germany, Burgundia, France and other countries, would join the Knights of the Cross.

The death of Jadwiga was an event of such importance, that the envoy Lichtenstein, could wait no longer for the absent king and left immediately for Marienburg, in order to communicate as soon as possible to the grand master and to the chapter the important, and in some ways, threatening news. The Hungarian, the Austrian and the Bohemian envoys followed him or sent messengers to their monarchs.

Jagiello returned to Krakow in great despair. At first he declared to the lords, that he did not wish to rule without the queen and that he would return to Lithuania. Afterward he fell into such a stupor, that he could not attend to any affairs of state, and could not answer any questions. Sometimes he was furious with himself, because he had gone away, and had not been present at the queen's death to bid her farewell and to hear her last words and wishes. In vain priest Stanislaw of Skarbimierz and Bishop Wysz explained to him that the queen's illness came suddenly, and that according to human calculations he would have had plenty of time to go and return if the confinement had occurred at the expected time. These words did not bring him any consolation and did not lessen his grief. "Without her I am no king," he told the bishop; "only a repentant sinner, who can receive no consolation!" After that he couldn’t say even one word.
Meanwhile preparations for the queen's funeral occupied all minds. From all over the country, great number of lords, nobles and peasants, who expected alms from nobles, were coming to Krakow. The body of the queen was placed in the cathedral in the elevated coffin tilted to enable the people to see the queen's face. In the cathedral continual prayers were offered. In the glare of a thousand candles and among the flowers, she lay quiet and smiling, looking like a mystic rose. The people saw in her a saint so they brought to her possessed, crippled and sick children. From time to time there was heard in the church, the exclamation of some mother who perceived the color return to the face of her sick child or the joyful voice of some paralytic who regained the use of his limbs. Then human hearts trembled and the news of miracle spread throughout the church, the castle, and the city, and attracted more and more of human misery that only a miracle could help.

No comments: