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Middle Ages & Renaissance

Vikings Touched Poland and North America

The Age of the Vikings lasted from about 800 to 1100 A.D. During this time their influence extended from their origins in Scandinavia throughout most of Europe, Byzantium in Asia Minor, and westward to North America.

There is proof of a Viking settlement on the island of Labrador off the Canadian coast, and the existence of Vinland, a Norse settlement farther south, is believed to have been in present day Nova Scotia, Rhode Island or Cape Cod. The discovery of a runestone in Minnesota with Nordic characters engraved on it, along with other purported Viking relics, seems to point to a Viking foray into interior North America.

The Viking impact on Europe was much more profound.

Read more: Vikings Touched Poland and North America

 

Polish Brethren’ Trail

bracia polscy stampThe Association (Society) SZLAK BRACI POLSKICH (Polish Brethren' Trail) - www.szlakbracipolskich.pl has many objectives, among them:

  • Collecting and archiving all available historical data and information about Polish Brethren in XVI-XVIII centuries.
  • Scientific research related to the Polish Brethrens.
  • Support for actions that promote knowledge about the achievements of the Polish Brethren.
  • Promotion of historical places, buildings and objects related to Polish Brethrens'.

Polish Brethren represented not only people of a specific religious group. They represented also the socio-cultural formation which attracted many progressive and highly educated people Kingdom of Poland for almost a hundred of years in 16th century.

Read more: Polish Brethren’ Trail

   

History of Teutonic Knights in Poland: Introduction

Teutonic knights' heritage is mixed - both negative and positive. In the eyes of Poles Teutonic knights were seen negatively. Teutonic knights were cruel fighters dressed in white coats with black crosses and they were the symbols of war and destruction. The Teutonic knights basically eradicated old Prussians - the Baltic people under the pretext of converting them to Christianity. The name Prussia was not forgotten since it was accepted as a name of the XIX century Prussian empire.

Read more: History of Teutonic Knights in Poland: Introduction

   

Teutonic Knights History

Teutonic knights were originally created in 1190 during the third Crusade to take care of the German pilgrims in the Holy Land. In the beginning of the XI century the order changed from being a hospice brotherhood to primarily military order. The head of the order became known as the Grand Master (Hochmeister). In 1211 a Hungarian king accepted their service in Transylvania but when Teutonian knights petitioned the pope to be placed directly under papal rule than the rule of the King of Hungary - they were expelled from Hungary (1225).

Read more: Teutonic Knights History

   

Brotherhood of the Rooster in Krakow (Bractwo Kurkowe)

Washington, D.C. A rare and very rewarding glimpse into the medieval society of Poland was provided here to a large audience on March 17, 2006 at the Embassy of the Republic of Poland under the auspices of Ambassador Janus Reiter and Consul General Pawel Bogdziewicz. Cultural Counselor Mariusz Brymora opened the event by introducing the Rooster King (Piotr Skalski) and his Brotherhood of the Rooster/Shooting Society of Krakow. All were colorfully attired in the complete and correct style of the 16th and 17th century Polish nobility.

Medieval Rooster King - Piotr SkalskiThe Brotherhood/Society was founded in 1257 as Kur's Fraternity and later was also know as the Krakow Shooting Society. It was comprised of craftsmen and merchants whose responsibility was to defend Krakow against the numerous and always threatening invaders. Almost every large Polish city of the times maintained such a defensive militia. They had favored permission from the royal court to wear the finery of the nobility and landed gentry (szlachta), which was not allowed for the other townspeople. They trained first with bow/arrow, then the crossbow, and finally with firearms.

The name designation of Rooster is derived from the targets used by the Brotherhood in shooting contests. Early on live chickens and roosters were used as targets and this practice eventually evolved to the shooting at a wooden rooster (kur) figure. And this is how the original name "Kur's Fraternity" was established, because 'kur' means 'rooster' in colloquial Polish. The association with Rooster became even more apropos with the introduction of firearms since the shape of the hammerlock strongly resembled a rooster/cock's head. So when the hammerlock was pulled back in preparation for firing, the descriptive term used was to "cock' the firearm" hence the moniker connection with Rooster.

From its very founding, the Brotherhood has been dedicated to the proactive participation in the multifaceted civic life and rituals of Krakow and the fostering of religious traditions of the Catholic Church. Specific major objectives include the construction of appropriate monuments, the founding of commemorative plaques, the bestowing of its coveted Brotherhood awards, and to create special and unique flags, banners and standards. Most recently, for example, they have erected sizable monuments to Pope John Paul II in Krakow's Strzelecki Park (2000) and in Rome, Italy for the 25th Anniversary of the Pontificate (2004).

The Rooster King and RetinueThere was very important and official Brotherhood ceremonies conducted at the Embassy event concerning the U.S. Department of State and elder U.S. President George W. Bush. Gifts and special mementos were presented to Michael Sessums, Poland Desk Officer, and to Ann Hall, Designated Consul General in Krakow, who will assume that office later this summer. Janet Garvey, Director for Northern and Central European Affairs, accepted a special Order of the Brotherhood of the Rooster medal on behalf of President Bush, who accepted honorary Brotherhood membership 3 years ago at Wawel Castle when he visited Krakow (many other esteemed and prominent persons have been so honored with honorary membership, including Pope John Paul II). Hannah Reiter, wife of the Ambassador, was also favored with flowers and unique gifts. The evening's closing rituals was proof positive that the Brotherhood was still dynamically upholding its original charter and altruistic mission 749 years after it's founding, and that it will continue to flourish in the future for all the uncountable years to come.

You can find out more about the Brotherhood of the Rooster at their web site: www.bractwo.kurkowe.krakow.pl.

 

   

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