J is for Jadwiga


This is a novelty, isn’t it?  For anyone new to my blog, you won’t have a clue what I’m up to, or why.  Old friends might just remember the logo.  I’ll explain a little later.

Jadwiga is a Polish feminine name (pronounced Yad-viga).  The diminutive, or affectionate family form, is Jadzia.  The name originates from the German Hedwighadu meaning “battle” and wig meaning “fight”.  You might not realise the significance of this until I tell you about Jadwiga, Queen of Poland.

Jadwiga, "king" of Poland- image from Wikipedia

Jadwiga, “king” of Poland- image from Wikipedia

Jadwiga was queen of Poland, or rather “king”, from 1384 till her death on 17th July, 1399.  She was a sovereign in her own right rather than a mere royal consort, entitling her to the title of king.

Jadwiga was the daughter of Louis 1 of Hungary and Poland, and Elizabeth of Bosnia.  When Louis died in 1382 his eldest daughter Maria was elected queen of Hungary, but the Poles opted to end the union between the 2 countries by choosing Jadwiga as queen.  She was then just 9 years old. After 2 years of negotiations with her mother, and civil war in Poland, Jadwiga came to Kraków to be crowned.  In 1386 she was married to Jogaila, grand duke of Lithuania, to form an alliance of territories much larger than the one with Hungary, changing the balance of power in Central Europe.

Coat of arms of Jadwiga- image from Wikipedia

Jadwiga’s coat of arms- from Wikipedia

The marriage opened the way to the conversion to Christianity of the largely pagan Lithuanians.  Jogaila was baptised Władysław in Kraków before the marriage took place, and they ruled jointly, but with Jadwiga as the leading figure.  She led 2 successful military expeditions, helping Poland to regain lost territories.  When Jadwiga died from childbirth, her husband became Władysław II Jagiello, founding the Jagiellonian dynasty.

Jadwiga was a great patron of religion and scholarship.  From the sale of her jewellery she financed the restoration of the Kraków Academy, which became the world renowned Jagiellonian University.

After her death, Jadwiga was venerated throughout Poland as a saint, and was said to have performed miracles.  Details of these and more of Poland’s convoluted history are to be found in the above links to Wikipedia.  She was finally canonised by Pope John Paul II in Kraków on June 8th, 1997.

Jadwiga's tomb, in Wawel Cathedral, Krakow- from Wikipedia

Jadwiga’s sarcophagus, in Wawel Cathedral, Kraków- from Wikipedia

And now to my personal interest in the name Jadwiga. Time to meet my lovely cousin, Jadzia.  She is one of the daughters of my Dad’s older brother, Zygmunt, who died just months before the family were reunited, and so was never able to greet him on his return to Poland.  I have recounted Dad’s wonderful story in Exploring the Polish Connection, and have already introduced some of my cousins in this A-Z series.

Jadzia with some of her delicious homemade cake

Jadzia with some of her delicious homemade cake

Jadzia, Mam and brother Bolek

Jadzia, Mam and brother Bolek in her lovely dining room (Dad in foreground)

I have many times sampled Jadzia’s wonderful hospitality, and been present at the weddings of both of her children, Ania and Krzysztof.  On each occasion our time together has been too brief.  Jadzia has a little English and I have a very little Polish.  When we exchange emails we do so in our native languages and leave the other to puzzle out the meaning.  Ania is fluent in English, and of course, my Dad is an old hand at Polish.

In writing this post I am linking back to the original A-Z Personal Challenge begun by Julie Dawn Fox.  Life has overtaken me a little so I’ve been slow in reaching completion.  I have pages dedicated to my A-Z’s, both for Poland and for Portugal, at the top of the page, so you can see just how far I’ve progressed.  I would also like to enter this post in Frizz’s A-Z.  I have his permission.  When I began this challenge I hadn’t even “met” Frizz.  Since then he has enhanced my world enormously.



  1. When I lived in the States I had a friend from Poland, he talked so much about it and made me curious to visit one day. I talked to him again a week ago and just now, bumped into your post! What a funny coincidence, he will enjoy reading this as much as I did 🙂


  2. ci sono grandi donne nella storia e si può pensare che per raggiungere la grandezza debbono faticare molto più degli uomini,
    post interessante, amo la storia, anche quella delle belle famiglie come la tua che ci onori di farci conoscere, grazie cara Jo

    PS mi dici di avere problemi nel leggere l’italiano…ma non hai Google translater? con quello puoi leggere ogni lingua del mondo

    There are great women in history, and you may think that to achieve greatness must sweat much more than men,
    interesting post, I love the story, even that Nice families like yours that we honour let us know, thank you Dear Jo

    PS tell me they have problems in reading the Italian … but you didn’t Google translater? with that you can read every language of the world


    1. Ventis, sometimes I am very dumb! In fact, most of the time 🙂 I get lost in the beauty of the words and in puzzling them out, and forget all about our wonderful world of Google. I’m very “old school” sometimes.
      Thank you for your appreciation and your lovely wit. Have a wonderful day 🙂


  3. Such a beautiful post as usual Jo. These two ladies are just gorgeous and such a lovely history as well. Thanks for sharing hon. 😀 *big hugs*


  4. Such an interesting history to accompany a beautiful “king.” I know so little about Polish history, and this was a treat to read. Your cousin is lovely, and how lovely to have such a special connection to her. Personal sharing on the A to Z challenge is always interesting! Keep it up! 🙂


    1. Thanks, Debbie. I don’t know too much about it myself! It couldn’t be more complicated. I’d be lost without Wiki. I’m never sure how many people enjoy reading this kind of thing but it makes a nice change to (re)write it 🙂


  5. What a beautiful portrait of Jadwiga. She was quite a woman and obviously cared for the welfare of her subjects. I love that red wall in Jadzia’s dining room. It has given me an idea. 🙂


  6. Thank you for sharing the fascinating history of Jadwiga, Queen of Poland. I have a good friend at work, who came from Poland, occasionally, she tells me about Poland and her family in Poland.


    1. It is a beautiful country in my experience, Dietmar. I have only been visiting for six years but the warmth of my reception has always been amazing.
      Have you no possibility to go yourself? I haven’t read that book but will make a point of doing so now. Many thanks for welcoming me to the challenge, and I hope you didn’t mind to share with Julie? I maybe should have asked. 🙂


  7. Jo, the timing of this great post is so perfect – since we’re setting off to visit Poland for the first time. James and I have both perused your A-Z of Poland and learned so much. Jadwiga is truly icing on the cake. Thanks for this wonderful series. ~Terri


  8. Fascinating history lesson, dear Jo. And lovely to meet your cousin here too.
    You have a wonderful family. Thank you for letting us share with you. Bless you ♥


  9. Thank you for this post Jo 🙂 You are starting to think like me ;). I was always impressed by women in power. I appreciate your etymology research. My grandmother’s name was Hedwiga 🙂 though she fought in silence all her life. So you are Polish by your father’s side (I wonder what your maiden name was). Is your mother English?


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