The Legend of Wanda

She chose to drown herself rather that marry a German

Krakus had three children, two sons and a daughter. His eldest son should have been a ruler upon his death, but was slain by his younger brother, who coveted power for himself. But the people were angered by such wickedness, and they banished the murderer from their country for ever.

    So the daughter of Krakus became the ruler of the country. Her name was Wanda, and she was very beautiful and although she was but a young girl when she became Queen, she had wisdom and understanding far beyond her years. She loved her country very dearly and she ruled wisely and justly over the people who looked upon her with the greatest of love and respect.

    With all her qualities, her beauty and her wisdom, many princes sought to marry her, but Wanda would accept none of them, for she had not yet found one who was pleasing in her sight and who would help her to rule wisely and well over her beloved country. Poland was dear to Wanda, above all else, and she spared no effort to make her people happy. She waged war against aggressors who tried to invade her country, herself leading her soldiers in the battlefield. Her presence inspired them to defeat many foes.

    Wanda's fame spread far and wide, and even a German prince, named Rytigier, heard of her beauty, her valour and, what was even more attractive to him, he heard that the lands of Poland were fruitful and rich. He therefore sent messengers with a letter to Wanda. The messengers were received at Wanda's court with courtesy and hospitality, as was always the custom in Poland. It was noticed that they were rough, uncivilized men who seemed surprised at the luxury and comfort of Wanda's Court. After they had rested and changed their apparel, they were ushered into Wanda's presence. Although they made their obeisance before her, with seeming respect, they looked about them with an air of apprising the value of everything they saw before them, as though it would soon be theirs.

    Wanda read the letter and turned deathly pale. The contents were clear enough; Rytigier asked her for her hand in marriage, stipulating that as her dowry she should bring him the lands of Poland, and threatening war in the event of a refusal . Now Rytigier had a very powerful army, famed all over Europe as the strongest and best equipped of any prince. Wanda's army, on the other hand, had lost heavily in recent wars. To accept Rytigier's proposal of marriage was unthinkable. Wanda could not, would not subject her country to a German rule. She looked at the to messengers and shuddered. Cruelty and rapacity were written plainly in their faces; and these, thought Wanda, were typical Germans. To wage war might be fatal with the armies so ill-matched. Defeat at the hands of the Germans would certainly bring the cruellest possible reprisals to the Poles. But, in a firm voice, Wanda made her answer. She refused to surrender herself and her country to the Germans. She had made her decision. Wanda would sacrifice her life for Poland.

        She retired to her own appartaments and there prayed to the gods that they would grant Poland freedom from the Germans in return for her sacrificing her life. Her prayer was granted, and Wanda threw herself into the Vistula. When her body was recovered, she was buried with all honours, and a mound was raised to her memory beside that of her father, Krakus.

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