14th century notable, Saint Jadwig, plus a little Dante

Also known as, getting deep in the weeds… ; )

Dante began the 14th century, dying in 1321. Saint Jadwig finished it. She died in 1399, along with her only child, when she was about twenty-five years old. Her footprint is immortalized in the walls of a Carmelite church. She was declared King [sic] of Poland when she was about 12 and she married a Lithuanian pagan shortly thereafter. That marriage, chosen when Jadwig was a young teenager, was one of the moments when a decision makes a huge difference.

Jadwig was the third daughter of King Louis of Hungary. Louis became King of Poland also, when the previous king, his uncle, died without issue. Louis had three daughters and no sons. The Polish nobility were willing to accept a daughter as King but wanted her to live in Poland, not Hungary. Hence, Jadwig.

Jadwig had been betrothed to an Austrian named William, who was a lot closer to her age, and with whom she had spent time. It cost her a lot of prayer and strength to choose Jagiello. However, Jagiello had promised to convert to Christianity if she married him and, of course, that meant a lot of Lithuanians would convert also. He also promised to help defend Poland against its enemies. One of those enemies, the Teutonic Knights, used the necessity of converting pagans as their reason for attacking both Poland and Lithuania, so that this marriage, and Jagiello’s promise of itself removed the best excuse the Knights had. They still had to be defeated militarily but eventually in 1410, Jagiello did manage this.

Biographies of Jadwig comment that she was related to Saint Elizabeth of Hungary. I thought it would be interesting to trace this connection. I also thought that since Queen Saint Elizabeth of Portugal (a contemporary of Dante) is also said to be related to Saint Elizabeth of Hungary that the two queens should be related to each other.


It’s actually fairly straightforward, in a twisty way, to trace the connection of Saint Jadwig and Saint Elizabeth of Hungary. We can begin with a guy named King Andrew II of Hungary.


Andrew II, King of Hungary was married three times. He had several children by his first wife, Gertrude. Saint Elizabeth of Hungary was one of them. She married Louis IV, Landgrave of Thuringia and went off to live there, and be a saint.

Andrew’s son, Bela (IV), became the next King of Hungary. He had seven daughters and, finally, one son, Stephen. His oldest daughter, Kunigunda, married a Polish duke (the ruler of Poland). They had no children. She was named for Saint Cunegund which caused me a LOT of confusion but she herself is, fortunately, known as Saint Kinga. Her next two sisters were also noted for their piety and holiness.

Bela IV’s son Stephen ruled Hungary next. He married a pagan woman and they had among others, a son named Ladislaus and a daughter named Mary. Both children married offspring of Charles I of Naples (also known as Charles of Anjou). Ladislaus married Elizabeth, and Mary married Charles II of Naples. Ladislaus had no children.

Mary’s son was Charles Martel, immortalized by Dante, and Charles I of Hungary was his son, her grandchild. He ascended the throne of Hungary … after some fighting and whatnot.

Charles I of Hungary married Elizabeth of Poland, who was the sister of King Casimir. Charles and Elizabeth had a son, Louis I of Hungary. But when Casimir had no children Louis became King of Poland as well. And Jadwig was his daughter. (She was named for Saint Hedwig to whom she is somehow also related.)

Although the line alternates between male and female, Jadwig was thus the great, great, great, great, great, great niece of Saint Elizabeth of Hungary. (Six greats…)


After all that I thought tracing the connection of Elizabeth of Hungary to Elizabeth of Portugal would be easier. The connection is simpler but tracing it was … intense. Never mind. I’ll just give you the answer.

Remember Andrew II of Hungary? We’ll start there again. His first wife Gertrude was murdered. He married a woman named Yolanda de Courtenay and they had a daughter named Yolanda. She’s the half-sister of Saint Elizabeth of Hungary.

Yolanda married King James I of Aragon. However, she is called Violante in this context. James and Violante had a child who became Peter III of Aragon. Peter married Constancia, daughter of King Manfred of Sicily, granddaughter of Frederick II, Holy Roman Emperor. Their child was Elizabeth also known as Isabella.

Elizabeth/Isabella was married to King Dinis of Portugal and she was canonized as Saint Elizabeth of Portugal or Queen Saint Isabella or Saint Elizabeth the Peacemaker.

If you skip the half part of the sisters, Elizabeth and Yolanda, that makes Stephen and Violante first cousins, Peter III and Mary second cousins, and Elizabeth and Charles Martel third cousins. Jadwig is three generations down from there, so she was Elizabeth of Portugal’s third cousin, three times removed.

{There seems to be another connection through the Sicilian kings but I haven’t traced it yet. ALL these people have the same name until they change it. They all have numbers that change randomly. Number 1 here but number 2 there. They are kings and queens of many different places. Extremely complex.}

Anyway back to Jadwig. Before she died, she helped resuscitate the failing University of Krakow, which is now also known as the Jagiellonian University. Pope Saint John Paul II studied there and so did Copernicus. She endowed hospitals and gave her jewels to help fund Lithuanian students at Polish universities. That footprint? She was giving a workman the gold buckle from her shoe since he needed money. He cut out the lime where she stood and cemented it into the wall. Very appropriate.


Some Dante bits … Constance is the wife of Henry VI, Holy Roman Emperor. Manfred was defeated by Charles of Anjou, and killed on the field of battle. Manfred’s ‘fair daughter’ is also named Constance. She was the wife of Peter III of Aragon, who defeated Charles of Anjou in Sicily. Therefore, her children were ruling Aragon and Sicily.

Purgatorio, Canto 3, Courtney Langdon

Then with a smile he said: “Manfred am I,

The grandson of the Empress Constance; hence

I beg that, on thy return, thou go

to my fair daughter, mother of the honor

of Sicily and Aragon, and should

aught else be told her, tell her thou the truth. (that he made it into Purgatory)

Purgatorio, Canto 7, Courtney Langdon. Large-limb is Peter III and manly nose is Charles of Anjou. Enemies on earth but singing together in Purgatory.

The one who so large-limbed appears, and joins

in song with him who hath the manly nose,

was girded with the cord of every worth;

In Paradise, Dante speaks at length with Charles Martel, who is the son of Mary of Hungary and Charles II of Naples. (A descendant four hundred years later of the original Charles Martel.)

Upon my brow already blazed the crown

of that land which the Danube irrigates,

when it abandons its Germanic banks; … (Hungary…)

2 thoughts on “14th century notable, Saint Jadwig, plus a little Dante

  1. I loved this! So that explains Jagellonian University. And let us look forward to meeting the man who immortalized her foot when she gave him her golden buckle… That was poetry too. … And…. In no way did I remotely understand those lines in Dante that you explained here.


  2. Well, I didn’t fully understand how much people fought over Sicily! Also, I used other people’s notes to figure out the “large limb” and “manly nose”. ; )


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