Anna Jagiellon

Dafato Team | Mar 18, 2024

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Anna Jagiellonka (born October 18, 1523 in Cracow, died September 9, 1596 in Warsaw) - daughter of Sigismund I the Old and Bona Sforza, from 1575 queen of Poland, in 1576 married Stefan Batory, who became iure uxoris king of Poland and exercised actual power; the last Polish monarch of the Jagiellonian dynasty, childless, after the death of her husband (1586) led to the election of Sigismund III Vasa, her nephew, as king of Poland.

Unmarried royalty

She lived in Wawel Castle until 1548. Then, after the marriage of her brother, King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania Sigismund II Augustus, to Barbara Radziwillowna, she came into conflict with him and moved to Mazovia, and from 1558 to Vilnius. In 1564 she settled in Plock. In May 1565 Sigismund II Augustus rejected the concurrence to her hand of Prince Magnus of Denmark when he demanded the surrender of several castles in the Archbishopric of Riga as dowry. At Anna's court in Mazovia, the rightful heir to the Swedish crown, Gustav Eriksson Vasa, sent by the queen's sister, Catherine, was staying at her court for upbringing. In the last years before her brother-king's death, the royal's relations with his closest circle, in which the Mniszech brothers and Bishop Piotr Myszkowski or (to a lesser extent) Jan Zamoyski led the way, broke down. She accused them of her brother's progressive mental and moral degeneration and remained averse to them until the end of her life. She did not marry until the end of Sigismund II Augustus' life, which, after his heirless death in 1572, made her a leading figure in the state, an heiress of the family referred to as an infanta (the Spanish term for a royal daughter).

The would-be wife of Henry III of Valois

During the first election, she initially favored the candidacy of Archduke Ernest Habsburg. This was important for the outcome of the election because of its considerable popularity among the Mazovian nobility. However, on May 21, 1574, Jan Zamoyski obliged the French candidate, Henry of Valence (on whose behalf the titular bishop of Valence, Jean de Monluc, was acting), to marry her. This pledge, after all, was not, probably quite consciously, part of the pacta conventa and was written in another document that did not have as much legal force. Eventually Henry Valois became king of Poland, but he never fulfilled his matrimonial obligations. Relations with the king and with Zamoyski broke down particularly as a result of Zamoyski's seizure of the starosty of Knyszyn, which remained at Anna's disposal. This happened by royal decision at a time when she was absent from the city. Anna tried in vain to force Henry the Valezi to reverse this decision. As she lamented in one of her letters to her sister Sophie, the king himself claimed in a conversation with her that he had not made such a decision, although Anna did not doubt that his own signature appeared under this clause. She also asked Sophie to make this event known to other European rulers and send their envoys to the Diet. However, no binding decisions were made there on the issue of Knyszyn, and Anna reproached the future chancellor (unsuccessfully) for his poor stewardship of the Knyszyn estate back in June 1579. After just one year's reign, Henry Valois returned to France, where he assumed the throne after his late brother Charles IX Valesius. He never formally relinquished the Polish throne and titled himself King of Poland until the end of his life.

Marriage to Stefan Batory

An unexpected turn of events made her one of the favorites of the second election. She was a candidate for the Polish crown at the 1575 election. On December 12, 1575, Primate Jakub Uchański proclaimed Emperor Maximilian II of Habsburg as king of Poland. In his pacta conventa, the emperor pledged to marry his son Ernest to Anna. Jan Zamoyski reconciled the anti-Habsburg oriented and estranged noble camp to foreign candidacies by promoting Anna to the Polish crown, which would be overseen (i.e., have de facto royal authority) by the "Piasts," Sandomierz voivodes Jan Kostka and Kraków voivode Andrzej Tęczyński. However, as a result of the Zborowskis' counteraction, the latter's place was taken by the Duke of Transylvania, Stefan Batory. Finally, on December 15, 1575, Anna was acclaimed King of Poland at the Old Town Square in Warsaw. As deputies on behalf of the nobility, Jan Kostka, representing the pro-Habsburg party, and Jan Zamoyski, now Stefan Batory's supporters, came to ask her consent. At that time Anna is said to have uttered the phrase "that she would rather be a queen than a princess." A day later, in turn, the nobility recognized her definitively as the king's "Piast," assigning her as the spouse of a Transylvanian prince. Mikolaj Sienicki, chamberlain of Chelm and marshal of the knights' circle, announced the decision of the noble electors, "the queen for queen, and Stefan Batory for Polish king and prince of the Duchy of Lithuania nominated."

On May 1, 1576, she married Stefan Batory in Wawel, and was crowned with him by Kujawy bishop Stanislaw Karnkowski in Wawel Cathedral. On the same day she signed a deed in which she pledged to relinquish the estates inherited from her mother and brother, which she did not complete until the General Sejm in 1581. She was then granted lifetime provision on Lithuanian and Mazovian estates. Formally, as king of Poland, she occupied a position of equality with Stefan Batory, but tried to gain an advantage over him, including obliging foreign deputies to submit their letters of credence and legations to her first. The queen also initially acted as a kind of intermediary between Stefan Batory and the scholars of the Krakow Academy, who tried to reassure the king that they had always sided with Anna during the interregnum. In 1584 she visited the headquarters of the Krakow academy, and it was then that a transfer of unspecified jewels by her to the Academy took place.

Removed by her husband from the course of state affairs, she leaned toward his (Batory's) opponents in the persons of the Primate of Poland and Lithuania, Jakub Uchański, and the Referendary of the Great Crown, Stanisław Sędziwój Czarnkowski. She was also hostile to his supporters, including Grand Crown Hetman Jan Zamoyski. Despite this dislike, on January 12, 1578, at Anna's court in Ujazdów near Warsaw, on the occasion of the wedding celebration of Jan Zamoyski and Krystyna of Radziwill, the first tragedy written in Polish - Jan Kochanowski's Odprawa posłów greckich - was staged, also in the presence of the king. She also sincerely sympathized with the hetman after Krystyna's death.

Intramarital relations between Anna and Stefan were also bad. At the time of the wedding, Anna was already young (she was 53 years old at the time), in addition to which she was considered incapable of arousing interest, both as a result of her negative character traits (in the opinion of her contemporaries she was a boring and devotional old maid) and her appearance (she was considered ugly). There are surviving accounts that when they stayed in the same place, the queen was able to spend the entire night at the door to her husband's chamber awaiting his arrival. The issue was widely known because the queen, unlike Stefan Batory, did not hide her inability to communicate with her husband. There were untrue rumors of a possible divorce, which the king was supposedly urged to pursue by Jan Zamoyski.

From 1575, through Cardinal Stanislaus Hosius, who resided in Rome, she additionally obtained partial repayment of Neapolitan sums lent at one time by Bona to Philip II.

Recent years

Widowed in 1586, she could theoretically have refused an interregnum and taken the reign herself due to the fact that she was declared "king" during the 1575 election. However, she did not take advantage of this opportunity and relinquished her own rights to the crown, supporting the candidacy of her nephew, King Sigismund of Sweden. During the interregnum, she was the most important person on whose support interrex Stanislaw Karnkowski could count. However, Anna was ill during this period and helped the primate only occasionally, including on March 3, 1587, when she calmed the tumult caused by Stanislaw Zolkiewski and the Zborowskis. After consulting with Anna, the primate briefly joined a group of supporters of the Habsburg candidacy (the pro-convocation circle), then, having concluded that he would not oppose the will of the nobility, he joined a rival, so-called "black circle," bringing together those opposed to the Habsburgs and the Zborowskis. He convinced them to elect the Swedish prince Sigismund as king of Poland. Immediately after Sigismund was nominated for the office - August 19, 1587 - the Primate immediately notified Anna of his success. Anna strongly opposed the Habsburg candidacy (for there was a double election at that time - in addition to the Swedish prince, Archduke Maximilian of the Habsburg dynasty was also elected), which was particularly evident after the victory of Sigismund's supporters at Byczyna, when she even supported Hetman Jan Zamoyski on the issue of punishing Polish captives recruited from among the archduke's supporters.

Her beloved nephew was placed on the throne of Poland, with her considerable assistance. Anna assumed at the same time that the Swedes would not allow the young ruler to come to the Republic, in which case full power would rest in her hands as regent. In order to paralyze the Habsburgs' actions, she promised a marriage between Archduke Maximilian and Anna Vasa. She also opposed the king's marriage to the Protestant Holstein princess Christina, being unanimous in this regard with the Catholic senators of the Republic. While here Sigismund III acted in accordance with her wishes, in other matters, however, he proved immune to the influence of his aunt, who additionally came into sharp conflict in 1592 over the title of Queen of Poland with Anna Habsburg.

She spent the last years of her life in Warsaw, where she also died on September 9, 1596 at the hands of Sigismund III. At her funeral, a speech was delivered by Piotr Skarga, recognizing that she had given a beautiful end and closure to the Jagiellonian house. She was buried in the Sigismund Chapel, whose construction she completed in 1584, alongside her father and brother.

She was an extremely energetic person, striving at all costs to achieve her goals. At the same time, she was very pious, as emphasized by Skarga: she herself stood up to the priests of Warsaw as bishop and visitator. She supported the Counter-Reformation, making a major contribution to the disappearance of the influence of Protestantism in Mazovia. In 1579 Skarga dedicated his Lives of the Saints to her.

Anna Jagiellonka is a character in the Polish series Queen Bona (1980-1981). It depicts the Crown of the Kingdom of Poland during the reign of King Sigismund I the Old. The character of Anna Jagiellonka was played by Maria Czyż. The character of Anna Jagiellonka also appeared in the Turkish export hit The Magnificent Century, where the role was played by Turkish actress Özge Ulusoy.


  1. Anna Jagiellon
  2. Anna Jagiellonka
  3. ^ a b c Duczmal 2012, p. 380.
  4. ^ a b Duczmal 2012, p. 381.
  5. ^ Duczmal 2012, pp. 381–382.
  6. ^ a b Duczmal 2012, p. 382.
  7. ^ a b Duczmal 2012, p. 383.
  8. a b Jagoda Pawłowska: Anna Jagiellonka – ostatnia przedstawicielka dynastii Jagiellonów., 2016-06-05. [dostęp 2021-09-15].
  9. Tł. Anna, z Bożej łaski, infantka Królestwa Polskiego
  10. Grzybowski 1994 ↓, s. 208.
  11. Grzybowski 1994 ↓, s. 37–38, 117.
  12. Stone, Daniel (2001). The Polish-Lithuanian state, 1386-1795 [A History of East Central Europe, Volume IV.] Seattle: University of Washington Press. 118 páginas. ISBN 0295980931
  13. Stone, Daniel (2001). The Polish-Lithuanian state, 1386-1795 [A History of East Central Europe, Volume IV.] Seattle: University of Washington Press. 121 páginas. ISBN 0295980931
  14. a b c Stone, Daniel (2001). The Polish-Lithuanian state, 1386-1795 [A History of East Central Europe, Volume IV.] Seattle: University of Washington Press. 122 páginas. ISBN 0295980931
  15. Stone, Daniel (2001). The Polish-Lithuanian state, 1386-1795 [A History of East Central Europe, Volume IV.] Seattle: University of Washington Press. 123 páginas. ISBN 0295980931
  16. ^ a b c d e f g h i Anna Jagiellonka (1523–1596), su, Government of Poland. URL consultato il 24 agosto 2009 (archiviato dall'url originale il 3 settembre 2009).

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