The Wawel Dragon (Polish : Smok Wawelski), also known as the Dragon of Wawel Hill, is a famous dragon in Polish folklore. His lair was in a cave at the foot of Wawel Hill on the bank of the Vistula River. Wawel Hill is in Kraków, which was then the capital of Poland. It was defeated during the rule of Krakus, by his sons according to the earliest account; in a later work, the dragon-slaying is credited to a cobbler named Skuba.
Polish is a West Slavic language of the Lechitic group. It is spoken primarily in Poland and serves as the native language of the Poles. In addition to being an official language of Poland, it is also used by Polish minorities in other countries. There are over 50 million Polish-language speakers around the world and it is one of the official languages of the European Union.
A dragon is a large, serpent-like legendary creature that appears in the folklore of many cultures around the world. Beliefs about dragons vary drastically by region, but dragons in western cultures since the High Middle Ages have often been depicted as winged, horned, four-legged, and capable of breathing fire. Dragons in eastern cultures are usually depicted as wingless, four-legged, serpentine creatures with above-average intelligence.
Kraków, also spelled Cracow or Krakow in English, is the second largest and one of the oldest cities in Poland. Situated on the Vistula River in the Lesser Poland region, the city dates back to the 7th century. Kraków was the official capital of Poland until 1596 and has traditionally been one of the leading centres of Polish academic, economic, cultural and artistic life. Cited as one of Europe's most beautiful cities, its Old Town was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The oldest known telling of the story comes from the 13th-century work attributed to Bishop of Kraków and historian of Poland, Wincenty Kadłubek.
Wincenty Kadłubek was a Polish Roman Catholic prelate and professed Cistercian who served as the Bishop of Kraków from 1208 until his resignation in 1218. He was also a noted historian and prolific writer. His episcopal mission was to reform the diocesan priests to ensure their holiness and sought to invigorate the faithful and cultivate greater participation in ecclesial affairs on their part.
The inspiration for the name of Skuba was probably a church of St. Jacob (pol. Kuba), which was situated near the Wawel Castle. In one of the hagiographic stories about St. Jacob, he defeats a fire-breathing dragon.[ citation needed ]
The Wawel Castle is a castle residency located in central Kraków, Poland. Built at the behest of King Casimir III the Great, it consists of a number of structures situated around the Italian-styled main courtyard. The castle, being one of the largest in Poland, represents nearly all European architectural styles of medieval, renaissance and baroque periods. The Wawel Royal Castle and the Wawel Hill constitute the most historically and culturally significant site in the country. In 1978 it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site as part of the Historic Centre of Kraków.
According to Wincenty Kadłubek's Polish Chronicle , the Wawel dragon appeared during the reign of King Krakus (lat. Gracchus). The dragon required weekly offerings of cattle, if not, humans would have been devoured instead. In the hope of killing the dragon, Krakus called on his two sons, Lech and Krakus II. They could not, however, defeat the creature by hand, so they came up with a trick. They fed him a calf skin stuffed with smoldering sulfur, causing his fiery death. Then the brothers argued about who deserved the honor for slaying the dragon. The older brother killed the younger brother Grakch (Krakus), and told others that the dragon killed him. When Lech became king, his secret was revealed, and he got expelled from the country. The city was named in recognition of the brave and innocent Krakus.
Chronica seu originale regum et principum Poloniae, short name Chronica Polonorum, is a Latin history of Poland written by Wincenty Kadłubek between 1190 and 1208 CE. The work was probably commissioned by Casimir II of Poland. Consisting of four books, it describes Polish history.
Lech II was a legendary ruler of Poland mentioned by 15th century chronicler Jan Długosz. He was the son of the alleged founder of the City of Kraków, Krakus I, and he was the brother of Krakus II.
Krakus II was a ruler of Poland. He was the successor of and son of the alleged founder of the City of Kraków, Krakus I, and he was the younger brother of Lech II, according to Wincenty Kadłubek. He ties the family to the national story of the dragon of Wawel. In this, their father Krak sent them to defeat the dragon, which they managed, after an unsuccessful battle, by stuffing the tribute animals with straw which suffocated the dragon. After this, Krak threw himself upon Lech and killed him, though their father pretended that the dragon was responsible. Eventually the story was found out, and Krak II was overthrown and replaced by his daughter Wanda.
Jan Długosz in his 15th-century chronicle wrote that the one who defeated the dragon was King Krakus, who ordered his men to stuff the flesh of a calf skin with flammable substances (sulfur, tinder, wax, pitch, and tar) and set them on fire.The dragon ate the burning meal and died breathing fire just before death.
Jan Długosz, also known in Latin as Johannes Longinus, was a Polish priest, chronicler, diplomat, soldier, and secretary to Bishop Zbigniew Oleśnicki of Kraków. He is considered Poland's first historian.
Another version by Marcin Bielski from the 16th century gave credit to the shoemaker Skuba for defeating the dragon.The story still takes place in Kraków during the reign of King Krakus, the city's legendary founder, and a calf's skin filled with sulfur was used as bait to the dragon. The dragon was unable to swallow this, and drank water until it died. Afterwards, Skuba was rewarded handsomely. Bielski adds, "One can still see his cave under the castle. It is called the Dragon's Cave (Smocza Jama)"
Marcin Bielski was a Polish soldier, historian, chronicler, renaissance satirical poet, writer and translator. His son, Joachim Bielski, royal secretary to king Sigismund III Vasa, was also a historian and poet. He was born of noble parentage on the patrimonial estate of Biała, Pajęczno County, in the Polish province of Sieradz. His alternate surname Wolski derives from his estate at Wola. One of two Polish writers of the same name, he was the first to use the Polish language, hence his designation as the father of Polish prose.
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The most popular, fairytale version of the Wawel Dragon tale takes place in Kraków during the reign of King Krakus, the city's legendary founder. Each day the evil dragon would beat a path of destruction across the countryside, killing the civilians, pillaging their homes, and devouring their livestock. In many versions of the story, the dragon especially enjoyed eating young maidens. Great warriors from near and far fought for the prize and failed.A cobbler's apprentice (named Skuba ) accepted the challenge. He stuffed a lamb with sulphur and set it outside the dragon's cave. The dragon ate it and became so thirsty, it turned to the Vistula River and drank until it burst. The cobbler married the King's daughter as promised, and founded the city of Kraków.
Legends of the Wawel dragon have similarities with the biblical story about Daniel and the Babylonian dragon.Similar stories are told about Alexander the Great but it is believed that the Krakow story has its own pre-Christian origins.
In addition to attempts to explain the legend of the Wawel Dragon simply as a symbol of evil,there might be some echoes of historical events. According to some historians, the dragon is a symbol of the presence of the Avars on Wawel Hill in the second half of the sixth century, and the victims devoured by the beast symbolise the tribute pulled by them. There are also attempts to interpret the story as a reference to human sacrifices and part of an older, unknown myth.
Wawel Cathedral and Kraków's Wawel Castle stand on Wawel Hill. In front of the entrance to the cathedral, there are bones of Pleistocene creatures hanging on a chain, which were found and carried to the cathedral in medieval times as the remains of a dragon. It is believed that the world will come to its end when the bones will fall on the ground.
The Wawel Cathedral features a statue of the Wawel dragon and a plaque commemorating his defeat by Krakus, a Polish prince who, according to the plaque, founded the city and built his palace over the slain dragon's lair. The dragon's cave below the castle is now a popular tourist stop.
Szczerbiec is the coronation sword that was used in crowning ceremonies of most Polish monarchs from 1320 to 1764. It is currently on display in the treasure vault of the Royal Wawel Castle in Kraków as the only preserved piece of the medieval Polish Crown Jewels. The sword is characterized by a hilt decorated with magical formulas, Christian symbols and floral patterns, as well as a narrow slit in the blade which holds a small shield with the coat of arms of Poland. Its name, derived from the Polish word szczerba, meaning a gap, notch or chip, is sometimes rendered into English as "the Notched Sword" or "the Jagged Sword", although its blade has straight and smooth edges.
European dragons are legendary creatures in folklore and mythology among the overlapping cultures of Europe.
Coronations in Poland officially began in 1025 and continued until 1764, when the final king of an independent Poland, Stanisław August Poniatowski, was crowned at St. John's Cathedral in Warsaw. Most Polish coronations took place at the Wawel Cathedral in Kraków, but crownings also occurred in Poznań and at Gniezno Cathedral. Whenever practical, Polish coronations were conducted as close as possible as to the date of the previous sovereign's funeral. This was explained by Joachim Bielski in the sixteenth century as osoba umiera, korona nie umiera, or "the person dies, the crown dies not". With the emergence of an independent, republican Poland after World War I, coronations in the Polish state have been rendered obsolete.
Stanislaus of Szczepanów, or Stanisław Szczepanowski, was a Bishop of Kraków known chiefly for having been martyred by the Polish king Bolesław II the Bold. Stanislaus is venerated in the Roman Catholic Church as Saint Stanislaus the Martyr.
Abdank is a Polish coat of arms. It was used by several szlachta families in the times of the Kingdom of Poland and the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth.
Not to be confused with Agnes of Brandenburg
Smocza Jama is a limestone cave in the Wawel Hill in Kraków. Owing to its location in the heart of the former Polish capital and its connection to the legendary Wawel Dragon, it is the best known cave in Poland.
The Battle of Hundsfeld or Battle of Psie Pole was allegedly fought on 24 August 1109 near the Silesian capital Wrocław between the Holy Roman Empire in aid of the claims of the exiled Piast duke Zbigniew against his ruling half-brother, Bolesław III Wrymouth of Poland. It was recorded by the medieval Polish chronicler Bishop Wincenty Kadłubek of Kraków in his Chronica seu originale regum et principum Poloniae several decades later.
Kraków (Krakow) is one of the largest and oldest cities in Poland, with the urban population of 756,441 (2008). Situated on the Vistula river in the Lesser Poland region, the city dates back to the 7th century. It was the capital of Poland from 1038 to 1596, the capital of the Grand Duchy of Kraków from 1846 to 1918, and the capital of Kraków Voivodeship from the 14th century to 1999. It is now the capital of the Lesser Poland Voivodeship.
Princess Wanda was the daughter of Krakus, legendary founder of Kraków. Upon her father's death, she became queen of the Poles, but committed suicide to avoid an unwanted marriage to a German.
The legend of Esterka refers to a mythical Jewish mistress of Casimir the Great, the historical King of Poland who reigned between 1333 and 1370. Medieval Polish and Jewish chroniclers considered the legend as historical fact and report a wonderful love story between the beautiful Jewess and the great monarch.
A dragonslayer is a person or being that slays dragons. Dragonslayers and the creatures they hunt have been popular in traditional stories from around the world: they are a type of story classified as type 300 in the Aarne–Thompson classification system. They continue to be popular in modern books, films, video-games and other entertainments. Dragonslayer-themed stories are also sometimes seen as having a chaoskampf theme - in which a heroic figure struggles against a monster that epitomises chaos.
Smok is an extinct genus of large carnivorous archosaur. It lived during the latest Triassic period. Its remains have been found in Lisowice, southern Poland. The type species is Smok wawelski and was named in 2012. It is larger than any other known predatory archosaur from the Late Triassic or Early Jurassic of central Europe. The relation of Smok to other archosaurs has not yet been thoroughly studied; it may be a rauisuchid, prestosuchid or ornithosuchid crurotarsan or a theropod dinosaur.
The Wawel Chakra - a place on Wawel hill in Kraków in Poland which is believed to emanate powerful spiritual energy. Adherents believe it to be one of the world's main centers of spiritual energy . The Wawel Chakra is said to be one of a few select places of immense power on Earth, which, like a chakra point in the human body, allegedly functions as part of an (esoteric) energetic system within Earth.
Wawel Dragon Statue is a monument at the foot of the Wawel Hill in Kraków, Poland, in front of the Wawel Dragon's den, dedicated to the mythical Wawel Dragon.
Gdy w w. XVI projektodawcą sposobu uśmiercenia potwora kreowano krakowskiego szewca Skubę (Bielski) [When, in the 16th century, the architect of the means for killing the monster became the Krakow shoemaker Skuba (Bielski), the implausible tale was made to seem true.]
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