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Legends about Inowrocław

Queen Hedwig and Teutonic Knights

It is said to have taken place a very long time ago in the times when the town found itself in the borderland between Poland and the State of the Teutonic Order, as a result of an unfortunate decision of Duke Konrad of Mazovia who had invited the Order to spread and maintain the Catholic faith in the North East. Teutonic Knights soon made their neighbours’ life a misery, slandering and threatening them and conquering their land. They did not use prayers or preach the Word to persuade the locals to accept their religion, but forced it on them with fire and sword and the wailing of widows and orphans.

The struggle with the cruel neighbour in Inowrocław lasted for many years. More and more raids into the Polish territories were carried out from the castle of Marienburg (Malbork). The sight of a white cape with a black cross was not a sign of peace, but raised fear and horror. Despite a number of negotiations, discussions and suits it was impossible to come to an agreement with the Order. Władysław II Jagiełło, the gallant but peace-loving grand duke, who had come from the forests of Lithuania to marry Hedwig (Jadwiga) and rule both nations, reprimanded the Teutonic Knights and stood up to them.

Władysław used to leave the capital and his young wife in Kraków to keep an eye on the peculiar robbers inhabiting the villages of Murzynno and Orłowo, rebuke them or, if that failed, personally inflict punishment on them.

And so one day the royal couple met a Teutonic delegation in St. Nicholas church in Inowrocław. The King had detailed all the Order’s crimes, unlawful and greedy seizures, plunders and murders but the negotiations were futile. Instead, the Teutonic delegation accused and slandered Polish knights and the King.

All of a sudden, Queen Hedwig, who had been listening to the false and misleading explanations attentively for a long time, raised to her feet, her blood boiling, and addressed the Teutonic Knights with words that would turn out to be prophetic. ‘As long as I live God hesitates to punish you for all your crimes, yet when I pass away He shall raise my husband’s hand on you and strike you with a lethal blow. Your vile race shall never come back to life’, she said and left.

Years passed and the Queen died in veneration. In 1410 her prophecy came true. The Teutonic Order was defeated at the Battle of Grunwald, never to recover their former power.


A dwarf who looked after horses in Inowrocław

Once upon a time, when Inowrocław was a famous market town, something extraordinary happened. There used to be stables, full of horses, in the marketplace. They belonged to a local innkeeper. Traders and visitors to the market noticed that the owner never fed the horses, but those who had seen them claimed the animals were in good condition. So, one night a group of curious people crept up to the stables and looked inside with trembling hearts. The night was hot and sultry. It was so quiet one could hear mice stealing oats from the horses. The horses neighed quietly every now and then, chewing on the feed. Suddenly, the peeping Toms saw ‘something’ put more oats into the mangers and carry buckets to water the horses. At a closer look, they found the thing was… a drenched hen.

When the town hall clock struck midnight the innkeeper entered the stable, took a walk around to make sure all the horses were fed and watered and then stopped on his way out and reminded the hen to take good care of the animals.

After much consideration the eldest of the onlookers concluded the hen must have been a dwarf who had taken the form of the common domestic animal and helped the innkeeper for unknown reasons. He thought the dwarf stayed in its original shape at night and turned into the hen at day. Upon this conclusion he told his companions to leave the stable. No one ever came back to the stables or showed an interest in the horses.


The sunken army

They say that a Polish army troop has been drowned in the River Noteć, yet they have not died. They are merely asleep.

A local farmer saw them while he was coming to town on a market day. When the dawn broke but the mist still lingered over the marshes he was stopped on the river bank by a soldier wearing an odd, old-fashioned uniform. The soldier offered to buy the grain that the farmer wanted to sell at the marketplace if the farmer unloaded and carried the bags in himself. He agreed and then the waters in the river parted and uncovered a gate in the river bed, leading into the ground. The gate opened and the farmer saw a large hall with rows of horses standing at mangers and knights sleeping at the walls.

The farmer also saw a big bell near the entrance. When he was carrying a bag of grain he carelessly knocked the bell a little but it was enough to make it ring. At the sound of the bell the horses started neighing and the knights were slowly waking up, asking if the time had already come. Their superior calmed them down and told them to go back to sleep, because it was not the right time yet.

The farmer carried in the last bag, took his payment and left terrified. When he was back on the bank and turned around the river was flowing slowly as usual, the mist had dispersed and there was no trace of the underwater passage.


Names of nearby villages and the battle of Mątwy

All of this happened during the Swedish Deluge (17th century). In the vicinity of Mątwy three villages are situated quite close to one another: Janowice, Przedbojewice and Tupadły. When the wars spread through the whole country military actions reached the outskirts of Inowrocław, namely the village of Mątwy (now a district within the administrative borders of the city). In the area that is now the village of Janowice the Swedish clashed in a terrible battle with Polish troops led by a general whose first name was Jan. The village that was later established there was named after the general. An introductory, minor battle took place near another settlement, which has become Przedbojewice (przed bojem = before a fight).

The Swedish, pressed by the Poles, had to withdraw. Many of them fell on the fields of the contemporary village of Tupadły, also named to commemorate the fact (tu padły = here they fell). They say that so many Swedes died in the battle that the nearby branch of the River Noteć turned red and clouded with their blood. Because of that the river branch was named Mątwa (mącić się = to cloud).


References and sources: //www.dawny-inowroclaw.info/ and Sikorska, Janina - Inowrocław, Dzieje, Zabytki, Okolice, Legendy, Inowrocław:1997, pp. 126 – 130.