Queen Jadwiga of Poland: 1374-1399
Jadwiga was the youngest daughter of Louis I of Hungary. When he died in 1382 the Hungarian throne was inherited by his eldest surviving daughter Mary, while 10-year-old Jadwiga ascended the Polish throne, and was crowned "King," an affirmation that she was a sovereign in her own right.
Jadwiga's counselors urged her to accept the hand of Jagiello, Duke of Lithuania, who aspired to the Polish throne. Jagiello was still a pagan; but he was ready not only to become a Christian if Jadwiga would have him, but to bring all of Lithuania into the Church. Twelve-year-old Jadwiga and 26-year-old Jogaila who had earlier been baptized Wladyslaw wed in March 1385 at Kraków. This was followed by Jogaila's coronation as King of Poland, although Jadwiga retained her royal rights.
Most political responsibilities, however, were probably in Wladyslaw's hands, with Jadwiga attending to cultural and charitable activities. She sponsored writers and artists and donated much of her personal wealth, including her royal insignia, to charity, for purposes including the founding of hospitals. She financed a scholarship for twenty Lithuanians to study at Charles University in Prague to help strengthen Christianity in their country, to which purpose she also founded a bishopric in Vilnius. Among her most notable cultural legacies was the restoration of the Kraków Academy, which in 1817 was renamed Jagiellonian University in honour of the couple.
On 22 June 1399 Jadwiga gave birth to a daughter, Elizabeth Bonifacia. Within a month, both the girl and her mother had died from birth complications.
Jadwiga was canonized by Pope John Paul II in Kraków on June 8, 1997. She is the patron saint of queens and a United Europe.
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