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THE LEGEND OF THE LESZEKS AND POPIELS

AFTER THE DEATH OF WANDA, THE LEGENDARY HEROINE AND RULER OF
CRACOW, THERE RULED A GROUP OF TWELVE PALATINES. THEY FEARED
THAT SOME ENEMY WAS APPROACHING FROM RUMORS THAT WERE GOING AROUND
IN THE COUNTRYSIDE. THE ENEMY WAS SCARED OFF BY THE FORESIGHT
AND INGENUITY OF A YOUNG GOLDSMITH, LESZEK.
ON THE BUSHES AND TREES HE HUNG UP THE SHIELDS, SHINY ONES, AND
HELMETS OF THE ARMY. WHEN THE ENEMY SAW THE MULTITUDE OF THESE
SHIELDS AND HELMETS FROM FAR OFF, THEY QUICKLY LEFT, AFRAID OF
THE "LARGE ARMY" THAT AWAITED THEM. ABOUT 760 A.D. LESZEK BEGAN
HIS REIGN. HE IS ALSO KNOWN AS PRZEMYSTAIN, "AN INGENIOUS
PERSON."
WHEN LESZEK DIED, HE LEFT NO SON. THE KINGDOM, THEREFORE, HELD
A HORSE RACE TO SEE WHO WOULD BE THE NEXT RULER. THERE WERE
FIFTEEN OR SO BRAVE VOLUNTEERS. ONE SCHEMING PARTICIPANT COVERED
THE ROAD OF THE RACE WITH NAILS THE NIGHT BEFORE THE RACE. HE
DREW HIMSELF A PATH IN THE SAND SO THAT HE COULD FOLLOW WITHOUT
HURTING HIS OWN HORSE. ANOTHER PARTICIPANT DISCOVERED THE TRICK
AND PUT IRON HORSE SHOES ON HIS OWN HORSE. HE WON THE RACE AND
BECAME LESZEK II.
AFTER SEVERAL RULERS CAME POPIEL I WHO TRANSFERRED THE CAPITOL
OF POLAND FROM CRACOW TO GNIEZNO, FROM WHICH THE KINGDOM ORIGINA-
TED. HE THEN TRANSFERRED, IT IS SAID, TO THE CITY OF KRUSZWICZ
NEAR THE LAKE OF GOPLO. IT WAS HIS SON, POPIEL II, WHO WAS A
VERY GLUTTONOUS AND WEAK CHARACTER. IT IS SAID THAT HE WAS BALD
AND HAD A THICK BEARD CALLED "CHWOSTEK." HE HAD A GERMAN WIFE
WHO WAS SAID TO BE WICKED AND CRUEL, AND WHO TEMPTED HER HUSBAND
OFTEN TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF SITUATIONS AND DO WRONG.
IT WAS A CUSTOM AMONG THE SLAVS TO NAME THEIR SONS AFTER THEIR
SEVENTH BIRTHDAY. HIS HAIR WAS THEN CUT FOR THE FIRST TIME
AND A BIG FEAST WAS HELD WITH FRIENDS AND RELATIVES. POPIEL II
HELD SUCH A FEAST FOR HIS SON. MANY PEOPLE WERE INVITED.
AT THIS SAME TIME, TWO PILGRIMS CAME TO HIS CASTLE ASKING FOR
REFUGE, BUT POPIEL AND HIS WIFE ANGRILY CHASED THEM OUT. IN THE
EYES OF THE POLISH AND THE SLAVS IN GENERAL, SUCH BREAKING OF THE
LAWS OF HOSPITALITY WAS A SERIOUS CRIME. POPIEL SOON PAID FOR
IT.
IT IS SAID THAT THE TWO PILGRIMS WERE REALLY TWO ANGELS. OTHERS
SAY THEY WERE THE SAINTS CYRIL AND METHODIUS ON A MISSION. BUT
THIS INCIDENT DID NOT CHANGE POPIEL. HE CONTINUED IN HIS DRUNKEN
REVELRIES AND CRIMES ONLY TO ESCAPE THE PANGS OF HIS GUILTY CON-
SCIENCE.
FINALLY, WITH COUNSEL OF HIS WIFE, HE HELD A FEAST FOR ALL HIS
RELATIVES IN ORDER TO "MAKE UP" FOR THE TIMES HE DID THEM WRONG.
HE REALLY BELIEVED THAT THESE PEOPLE WERE THE CAUSE OF HIS GUILTY
FEELINGS. AT THIS FEAST, HE POISONED EVERYONE.
IMMEDIATELY HIS PUNISHMENT FOLLOWED. FROM THE BODIES OF THE DEAD
CAME OUT HUNDREDS OF MICE. THESE MICE CHASED POPIEL AND HIS WIFE.
THEY TRIED TO HIDE IN A TOWER, BUT DID NOT SUCCEED AND WERE EATEN
UP BY THE MICE AS WELL AS WERE HIS PEOPLE. THIS TOWER, CALLED
"MICE TOWER" OR "THE TOWER OF POPIEL," STANDS IN THE CITY OF
KRUSZIVICA, POLAND.

Submitter comment: THESE LEGENDS I'VE KNOWN SINCE CHILDHOOD DAYS FROM MY PARENTS AS
WELL AS FROM MY LESSONS IN POLISH HISTORY I TOOK FROM MRS. HELEN
CHMIELEWSKI OF DETROIT.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; DEARBORN

Subject headings: PROSE NARRATIVE -- Angel
PROSE NARRATIVE -- Religious hero
PROSE NARRATIVE -- Secular hero
PROSE NARRATIVE -- Explanation of a name
CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- F535
BELIEF -- Mammal
BELIEF -- Death Funeral Burial
BELIEF -- Means of Causing or Avoiding Illness

Date learned: NOT GIVEN

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