Friday, October 29, 2010

Barbora Radvilaite

If you've been to my home you will have seen this batik portrait of Barbora
Radvilaite in my living room. My mother is a huge collector of Lithuanian art and brought
this home back in the late eighties. There was something so familiar to me and
this piece that really resonate strongly with me. So much so that when I finally moved out
of my parents home I had asked to take this piece of art with me. My home would not feel complete.
Since then I've been reading as much information I could get my hands on about Barbora. Who was she? Being Halloween weekend I thought I would share this posting because it's kinda creepy. While I was in Lithuania this summer I went to visit Barboras final resting place in the Vilnius Cathedral. I have to admit I was a little freaked out and
didn't know what to except. 

Barbora Radvilaite

An outside view of the crypt doors.

Now I'm inside and the gate is locked shut and 
I'm starting to freak out a little.....deep breath...

I'm told to walk down these stairs....are you kidding
me???? It's pitch black at the end of the stairs....but 
I go anyways...

We finally make a few turns and my guide turns on a light and
we enter into one of the main crypts.....shh....Barbora's coffin....

Barbora's Crown

Here is a little Wikipedia info for you to read about Barbora Radvilaite...

Barbara was the daughter of a powerful magnate of the Radziwiłł family, castellanvoivode and hetman of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania Jerzy Radziwiłł, and Barbara Koła.
According to the writings of her contemporaries, Barbara was one of the most beautiful women in Europe. She was tall for her times (162 cm, or 5' 4"), with a slim, shapely body, blonde hair and even white teeth. Moreover, Barbara had an interest in fashion and cosmetics; she used perfumes and face powder. She had been well educated by her parents and spoke LithuanianRuthenian (Old Belarusian), and Polish and could write in these languages, and most likely Latin as well. She was married on May 18, 1537, toStanislovas GoštautasVoivode of Nowogrodek and later Voivode of Trakai, who died on December 18, 1542.
Her romance and later marriage in 1547, in Vilnius, to Grand Duke of Lithuania and King of Poland Sigismund II August, the last monarch of the Jagiellon Dynasty, greatly increased the power of the Radziwiłł family in Poland and Lithuania, as may be seen in the rise to power of Mikołaj "the Black" Radziwiłł and Mikołaj "the Red" Radziwiłł.

Death of Barbara Radziwiłł. Painting byJózef Simmler.
There was substantial opposition to her marriage to the King from many nobles, as the marriage was carried out without regard to the laws governing royal marriages. It was pursued by the King, who seemed to have disregarded the political liabilities and consequences and to have been truly in love with Barbara. A divorce was demanded by the Sejm, and many political maneuvers took place around the question of the marriage, and were further inflamed by the machinations of the King's mother, Bona Sforza. This resulted in conflicts between the King and many magnates and lesser szlachta. A deadlock ensued, lasting two years. The opposition finally acquiesced, and Barbara was crowned Queen on December 7, 1550.
Barbara died on May 8, 1551, in Kraków, five months after her coronation. Her death was a severe loss to the King, and there was an unproven suspicion that she had been poisoned by the Queen Mother, Bona. It had been Barbara's wish to be buried in Lithuania, and a funeral cortege conveyed her body to Vilnius, where her crypt is found in Vilnius Cathedral.

Happy Halloween Weekend.


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