Wincenty Kadłubek

Anonymous plate from XIX century

Wincenty Kadłubek

The Chronicle of Poland

Read by Marta Meissner, recorded by Radiofonia Association
English translation: Roksana Wolska

The Dragon of Wawel Castle

In the clefts of a rock there once lived a ferocious and ruthless monster, which was called Holofagus – the Whole-Eater. The monster was so voracious that he demanded a given amount of cattle a week. People were forced to sacrifice their animals, or else the monster would punish them by slaughtering as many people instead. [Prince] Grakch could not stand this ongoing calamity, and since he cared about his homeland even more than he cared about his sons, he secretly met with them and said, “You are both our favourites and we have raised you the best we could, therefore it is you who should slay the monster. It is only right that you should arm yourselves and take up the fight against the creature, however you mustn’t forget that you are a half of our life and the future heirs of this kingdom. For that reason you should not endanger yourselves too much.”

They answered, “It is true that we might as well be considered as poisoned by hatred and unworthy, if you did not give us such a glorious task. You have the power to command – we have to obey.”

However, after they experienced the hardships of uneven, open battle and failed in every duel, they were forced to devise a ruse. They left calf skins stuffed with ignited sulfur in the place where the cattle was brought to the monster. And when Whole-Eater gorged them down greedily, he was killed by the flames that burst inside him.
English translation: Roksana Wolska

Wincenty Kadłubek

(Master Vincent known as Kadłubek, ca. 1150/1160–1223) hailed from a magnate clan. Little is known about his life. He obtained a consummate legal education while at Bologna University in Italy or in Paris (which is why he became known as Master). Having returned to Poland, Master Vincent took up lodgings in Krakow, possibly in Wawel Castle. For many years he was a member of the Krakow Chapter of the chancellery of Prince Casimir the Just. From 1208 to 1218, he was the Bishop of Krakow, and in 1764, the Catholic Church beatified him.

Author of Kronika polska (Chronicles of the Kings and Princes of Poland). Written in Latin, this book is a history of the state from its legendary origins until 1202. It is not only a precious historical source, but also a valuable literary work. For many centuries, the Chronicle was the official handbook of the history of Poland. Moreover, it was Master Vincent who first wrote down the legends about the founder of Krakow, Prince Krakus (whom he called Gracchus), his daughter Wanda, and the Wawel Dragon. (jn)

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