Jadwiga of Poland: the beatified Hungarian Queen of Poland

Jadwiga of Poland is a symbol of the traditionally good relations between Poland and Hungary. Today, both nations regard this historical figure who became a saint with admiration.


During Poland’s interregnum in the early 1380s, the Duke of Masovia Siemowit IV became a candidate for the Polish throne. The nobility of Greater Poland favoured him and proposed that he marry Jadwiga. However, Lesser Poland’s nobility opposed him and persuaded Queen Elizabeth of Hungary to send Jadwiga to Poland.

Jadwiga was crowned king in Poland’s capital, Krakow, on the 16th of October 1384. Her coronation was marked by the Polish nobility’s opposition to her intended husband, William, becoming king without further negotiation, or simply emphasised her status as queen regnant.

With her mother’s consent, Jadwiga’s advisors opened negotiations with the Grand Duke of Lithuania Jogaila who was still a pagan at the time. The latter signed the Union of Krewo, pledging to convert to Catholicism and to work for the conversion of his fellow pagan subjects.

Meanwhile, William hastened to Krakow, hoping to marry his childhood fiancé Jadwiga, but in late August 1385 the Polish nobles expelled him. Jogaila, who took the baptismal name Władysław, married Jadwiga on the 15th of February 1386. 

Jadwiga – a born Hungarian – became very popular among Poles. Contrary to her father Louis I of Hungary, she rules Poland by being present in Krakow. She was a pious ruler who prayed a lot and an example of tolerance towards other ethnic and religious minorities. 

Jadwiga’s cultural and charitable activities were of exceptional value. She established new hospitals, schools and churches, and restored older ones. Jadwiga promoted the use of vernacular in church services, especially the singing of hymns in Polish. The Scriptures were translated into Polish on her order.

She was venerated in Poland soon after her death in 1399. In his sermon composed for her funeral, Stanisław of Skarbimierz states that she had been “the most Christian queen”. She was indeed a representative of the traditional virtues of holy women, such as mercy and benevolence. Her contribution to the restoration of the University of Krakow is also considered of great importance.

In May 1979, two days before his first pilgrimage to Poland, Pope John Paul II beatified her by approving her public worship in the Archdiocese of Krakow, and a few days later, he celebrated a solemn mass in her honour.


This article has been sponsored by the Wacław Felczak Institute of Polish-Hungarian Cooperation.

Leave a reply