Monday, September 7, 2015

Krak Art Legends

While I was in the midst of telling of an adventure I had embarked upon with a friend, Wanda  in one of my Breakfast Letters I discovered that Wanda was a princess, the daughter of King Krak, and there was an amazing tale woven around her and her father in Polish history. Here is a small bit of that tale....

Krak was a prince or tribal leader of the  Lechitians, a western Slavic people who became the people of Poland. He settled his people near the Vistual River and the place was named Krakow. He built a castle, 

                                                  Wawel Castle   
Wawel Castle, and under that castle is  

                                  Wawel Hill, Castle and the River Vistula

a hill known as Wawel Hill. Under that hill are caves and guess who lived in the caves? The Wawel Dragon known as  Smok Wawelski. 

                                                          Wawel Dragon Cave
The dragon demanded weekly offerings of cattle and if he did not receive a cow he would claim a human. He was a menace and King Krakus wanted rid of him. 

So.... his two sons, Lech and Krakus II devised a plan to kill a cow remove its insides and fill it with sulfur. They offered it to Smok Wawelski and in the greed only a dragon can have he devoured it whole. Not long after this spicy meal the dragon exploded in a fiery mess leaving the two Princes to decide who would get credit. Lech turned on his brother and killed him telling all that the dragon had done it. Sometime later he became King and eventually his secret was exposed. Lech was banished from the kingdom and settlement village was named Krakow in honor of the slain brother Krakus II. 

Or maybe it went like this....

The dragon would destroy crops and kill sheep and cattle, ponies and horses but his favorite meal was young maidens. In order to keep the dragon from destroying everything an offering of a young girl was made to him once a month. Desperate a King pledged his daughter, Princess Wanda in marriage to the knight who would kill the dragon. 

Time and time again the bravest knights and greatest Warriors would challenge the dragon and always lose. A young cobbler's apprentice decided to accept the challenge and after slaughtering a sheep he removed the insides and filled the sheep with sulfur and left at at the mouth of the dragons cave. Smok Wawelski ate the sheep and soon his stomach was filled with flames. He turned to the river Vistula and drank so much water he exploded. Krak, the cobbler married the Princess Wanda and ruled with her when she became Queen. 

But then there is this brave tale of the Princess Wanda.....
After the death of her father Wanda became Queen. The ruler of a distant German tribe believing the kingdom was now weak and coveting it for himself invaded. Princess Wanda donned armor and led her troops into battle. Upon seeing her beauty and bravery the Germans refused to fight. Their leader pleaded with Queen Wanda to marry but she refused.  It was whispered  he killed himself. 

Plush toy you can buy in Krakow

Then, there is Rytygier, another leader of a German tribe who sought out Queen Wanda to marry. She refused him also and in a rage he attacked Krakus. It is after this battle that the Queen realizes that her people would never have peace as long as she was alive and so she drowns herself in the Vistula River. 

                                             Wawel Castle on the Vistula River in Krakow

Or.....maybe this goes back to a legend told in the Church of St. Jacob near the entrance to the cave of Smok Wawelski.....

                                         A Dragon gargoyle of Waza chapel of the Wawel hill in Krakow

This week enjoy the legend of Krak, his family and their legends.

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