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Saint Hyacinth of Poland and a pagan island in Kyiv

Saint Hyacinth of Poland and a pagan island in Kyiv

During several centuries of its existence, Kyiv has become home to many legends and macabre relations sometimes confirmed in reality. One of them tells about the Polish Dominican and pagans living in Kyiv. In 988, Kievan Rus was baptized. However, pagan customs, despite the conversion of the Kievans, were difficult to eradicate. Many old customs and beliefs survived the following centuries, hiding in the form of folk traditions. In 1230, Jacek Odrowąż (known in English as Saint Hyacinth of Poland)…

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ROYAL DISEASES OF KING JAN III SOBIESKI – CANIAS, RHUMATISM AND MERCURY TREATMENT

ROYAL DISEASES OF KING JAN III SOBIESKI – CANIAS, RHUMATISM AND MERCURY TREATMENT

“He was forty-five years old, and if the throne could be conquered with beautiful posture, he would have deserved it anyway. He was of the right height, full face, regular features, an eagle’s nose, eyes full of fire, with a noble and open physiognomy – he was indeed captivating.” This is the portrait of the Polish ruler on the day he ascended the throne, which Father Gabriel-François Coye drew with his pen in a three-volume work on the life of…

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Medicine in old Poland

Medicine in old Poland

As in other European countries, the Renaissance brought new trends and solutions to Polish medicine – mainly through their reception from German and Italian states. Among the higher social classes, the awareness of the need to develop medical sciences and the need to use the services of professional medics and pharmacists was growing, and the royal court itself became the model for the nobility and magnates. At the same time, faith in magic, alchemy, and astrology has increased. The increasing…

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Lazar houses in medieval Wrocław, capital of Lower Silesia

Lazar houses in medieval Wrocław, capital of Lower Silesia

Leprosy has been with people for thousands of years. This disease causes skin changes visible to the naked eye: discoloration, calluses, ulcers, and swellings, so sufferers could not hide their symptoms under a layer of clothes. Ancient Greeks associated the symptoms of this cruel disease with reptile scales. The Romans also adopted this word from their teachers, which has been used as “lepra” in Latin ever since. According to old beliefs, it was Pompey’s Roman legionaries stationed in Egypt that…

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Interesting drawbridge mechanism

Interesting drawbridge mechanism

The collection of the Gdańsk Museum includes a very interesting photo of the Wisłoujście Fortress from 1877. It shows a very characteristic element that can be found in many old engravings: the drawbridge mechanism. The performances also show the chains that were used to lift the bridge. An element of this mechanism was also a wooden structure in the middle with beams and counterweights. For comparison with the photograph of 1877, an 18th-century drawing by Deisch showing the Gate of…

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“A huge beast and very gifted”. The most famous elephant of the 17th-century visits St. Dominic’s Fair

“A huge beast and very gifted”. The most famous elephant of the 17th-century visits St. Dominic’s Fair

On August 18, 1639, at St. Dominic’s Fair in Gdańsk, townspeople, and travelers watched an astonishing curiosity – a living elephant called Hansken. For many of them, it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see such a creature. Curiosity was so strong that people were not afraid of the pandemic which was strolling through the city and taking its deadly toll…

Poland: A Travel Guide Through Time. #1 Elbląg, a great small city of old

Poland: A Travel Guide Through Time. #1 Elbląg, a great small city of old

Although many newcomers complained about the conditions of traveling in the old Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, let us not be discouraged by these reports. Let’s mount the horse, get into the carriage, or, in the case of an empty purse, set off on foot on a journey north, to the early modern Royal Prussia. Our guide will be Anton Friedrich Büsching’s geography textbook from the 18th century.

“If there was no Rome, then Kraków would be Rome.” Incredible relation of the Italian traveler from the 16th-century capital of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth

“If there was no Rome, then Kraków would be Rome.” Incredible relation of the Italian traveler from the 16th-century capital of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth

Cardinal Caetani was sent to Poland with a mission of extreme importance. This delegate of Pope Clement VIII was to persuade the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth to become involved in the activities of the Holy League against the Ottoman Empire. One of the members of the legation, the papal ceremonial master Giovanni Mucante, left a diary after this visit. Inside we can find a fantastic description of the 16th-century Kraków, so we can travel back in time to the capital of the…

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Werewolves in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth

Werewolves in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth

Our ancestors were faced with numerous dangers, hidden in the dark on the border between reality and fantasy. Witches made pacts with the devil, strigoi, or revenants returning to the world of the living were a real threat for people as a plague or the enemy’s army marching through the land. In the catalog of impure forces marauding the former Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, there is a place for a monster that rules the human imagination also today: a werewolf.