Polska Akademia Umieje̜tności <Krakau> / Komisja Historii Sztuki [Editor]; Polska Akademia Nauk <Warschau> / Oddział <Krakau> / Komisja Teorii i Historii Sztuki [Editor]
Folia Historiae Artium — NS: 10.2005

Page: 88
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1 cm
generally identified as a likeness of Elżbieta Łokietkówna, yet the
foundation of this statement seems to be weak. In Gadomski’s
words: “ in the decoration of the [front — M. W.] room the re-
ference was madę to various themes appearing in the Casimirian
churches, for its function was analogical; the difference lies in the
fact that instead of the emblem of the (already deceased) king,
the queen regent’s image was placed here”. However, the lack
of any heraldic references whatsoever to the Kingdom of Hun-
gary and the Angevins make me doubtful about Elżbieta’s ini-
tiative. Well-known for her strong character, for a long time in-
volved in great politics, Elżbieta stayed in Cracow not as a de-
scendant of the Piast linę, but as the mother of the King of Po-
land and Hungary. It should be remembered that the idea of
his succession to the throne did not en-joy great popularity
among the Polish elites. It is difficult to envisage the reasons
which would induce the queen to resign from the ostentation of
the Angevin foundation of her rule in the language of heraldry.
On condition we assume the interpretation of the eagle’s wing
as Casimir the Great’s ancestral crest, we could risk the opinion
that the head placed symmetrically in relation to it represents the
royal consort, in this case Casimir the Great’s last wife — Hedwig,
a daughter of the Żagań duke Henry V. A few arguments speak
in favour of this identification and the presence of Hedwig’s
effigy can be explained by the political significance of this mar-
riage, which remained in the circle of the natural lords of the
Kingdom. The circumstances of this marriage, which was iłlegal
in the light of canon law, forced the king to spread a sort of propa-
ganda of its legality. His marriage with Hedwig gave him the last
chance for a legitimate małe offspring. This aspect needed to be
stressed, even though the ruler himself had little faith in such
a solution. This would make it easier to explain why- a crown is
missing on the sculpted head. Although Hedwig had the right to
it, the tendency was not to emphasize this fact too strongly.

The political contents legible in the interior had to fmd an
essential completion in the decoration of the palace’s faęade.
Some traces suggest the existence of the decoration carved in
stone, which at least on the first floor included statues placed on
consoles. Jan Długosz, when noting down in his Annales Andrzej
Tęczyńskfs murder in 1461, mentions the house situated near
the town hall, a property of Mikołaj Krejdlar (Kreidlar,
Kridlar), adorned with sculpted images of kings: “Regum
sculptas imagines in se habentem”. There is little place for doubt
that this report concerns the pałace at no 17. The decoration of
the residential buildings with galleries of royal effigies has its
obvious prototypes in European art. The iconographic pro-
gramme and unusual dimensions of the pałace have long sińce
inclined the scholars to connect it with the king or his closest en-
vironment. This direction of research appears to me as still the
most likely one. Considering all the premises at our disposal, we
can put forward the claim that this extraordinary building ful-
filled the function of the royal pałace. Its location at the Main
Market Square and apparently limited functionality due to the
closeness of the Wawel Castle are explicable on the ideological
grounds. It seems highly probable that the building at 17 Main
Market Square was raised on the terrain of the confiscated es-
tates owned by the participants in the revolt of the Cracovian
burghers in 1312. Due to their convenient location they were not
sold but used as a plot for the huge sumptuous pałace, which
acquired the character of the town residence. In view of Wawefs
proximity, its role and significance may have been largely sym-
bolic. The building could have served the monarch during his
sojourns in the city, but above all its function was to remind the
townspeople of the rulers presence. The building was an impor-
tant element in the topography of the square and a elear coun-
terbalance to the most prominent municipal edifices, in particular
the town hall and St. Mary’s parish church.
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