First English edition of the Nuremberg chronicle: being the Liber chronicarum of Dr. Hartmann Schedel…

Although the following description of Poland, and of the cities of Cracow, Lübeck, and Neiss, did not come to us until this book had been finished, we decided to include this material, as well as other memorable matters.

Of the Kingdom of Poland and Its Origin.

Inasmuch as mention will be made soon hereafter of Boleslaus, the third Sarmatian or Polish king, I will first treat briefly of the country of Sarmatia or Poland, and of the manner in which it attained the royal sceptre. Sarmatia is a large and extensive land, but is located in a wilderness and not built up. It has a severe climate. To the east are the Moscovites, and the River Tanais (Don) is to the south. Dacia and Hungary are on the west, and Bohemia, Moravia, Silesia, Germany, and the German Sea, called Mare Germanicum, are on the north. That portion alone, which bears the name of kingdom, is called Poland, and this is divided into two parts: that in which Cracow is situated, and which is called Little Poland; and that in which Posen is located, and which is called Great Poland. Until the time of Boleslaus I the rulers at Cracow were dukes. In the time of Otto I, Boleslaus was a highly renowned duke, not the one or whom we will speak in the life or St. Stanislaus; for he was a grandson, who was born of a monk, the son of this Boleslaus. This Boleslaus pursued the French king and the Germans with a victorious hand; but finally, at the request of Emperor Otto, he abandoned the war, and made a treaty with the Germans and the French. When Emperor Otto became aware of the great fame of this prince throughout Germany and Sarmatia, he proceeded to Sarmatia in order more clearly to observe his reign, power and might. The illustrious duke received him with high honors in the city of Posen; and for a distance of 3,000 paces, or more, from the city, he caused silken, woolen and costly raiment, embroidered in gold and silver, to be spread over the way of the emperor; and after the emperor had entered the city of Posen, it was regarded as fitting for every man to gather the se up and to carry them away. There he honored the emperor with magnificent and brilliant entertainments - racing, tournaments, sports, and other pastimes. Only golden dishes were used, and after each course the duke ordered these thrown into a bottomless spring and loSt. Now when the emperor observed the kindness, magnificence, and abundant riches of this highly renowned duke, he regarded him as worthy of a royal crown; and so he invested him with a royal sceptre and crown, and with the dignities appertaining to a royal throne. Not to appear ungrateful toward the emperor for these favors, this illustrious king presented to the emperor as a gift the arm of Bishop Adelbert, whom the Prussians had wickedly slain. After this kingdom had prospered until the year 1400 A.D., or shortly before, and the king of Poland died without issue, the duke who ruled over Lithuania and Russia was elected king; and although this same duke had previously worshipped idols, yet, when the royal sceptre was entrusted to him, he and all his subjects accepted the Christian faith; and the people of Lithuania and Russia joined the Polish kingdom, on certain conditions, in order that they might not be separated from the king. This most illustrious prince subjugated the Prussians in a severe and cruel war, and thus enlarged his dominion. Therein are located the renowned cities of Danzig and Thorn, as well as the noted castle of Marienburg, fortified with many and various buildings, towers and moats, preventing the enemy from gaining access thereto. The like of these have never been seen before. number of years ago this kingdom was of greater extent and power, but in consequence of persecutions on the part of the treacherous Tartars and Turks, the entire land of Poland suffered shame and decline. The region lying behind Russia, and called Padolia, was completely ravished by fire, and so devastated that it could not sustain those passing through it with the necessaries of life. Yet the soil is fertile; grass grows to the height of a man, and the region is so plentiful in bees and honey that the bees do not have sufficient places to which to carry the honey. They gather it under the trees and shrubs, and in the forests. Throughout Poland are great and noted woods, through which one may pass as far as Lithuania and Scythia. In the same forests much wild game abounds, and the northern part of the Polish Hercinian forest, among other game, has the roving Aurochs, which is antagonistic to man, but very good to eat. They have a broad forehead, and horns, and cannot be caught except by great effort and labor. This country because of the great cold, has no mines, except lead; but there is much salt, which is carried to far distant places, and from which the entire country receives much use and benefit. The king derives more revenue from this salt than from any other source. Below the surface of the earth great quantities of rock salt are mined, and in addition thereto much salt is derived from the water. This country is also very productive in fruits and in all things necessary to sustain human life. And now something is to be noted of the highly celebrated race of the most illustrious prince, Ladislaus, of whom we have already spoken. As some say, he had three wives, by whom he begot two sons. The elder was Ladislaus, the younger, Casimir. On the death of his father, Ladislaus secured the sovereignty; and he ruled over the kingdoms of Hungary, Bohemia, and Poland, and with a knightly hand performed celebrated deeds. He augmented his dominions and the Christian faith, depriving the Turkish sultan of much territory and proceeding with his army as far as Constantinople. He warred against the Turks; and they fought one another in gruesome battles; but the Hungarians fled, leaving the king with a small force of Poles in the midst of the great numbers of the enemy. But Casimir reigned as a duke over Lithuania and Russia, and after the death of his brother, the king, he was declared king of Sarmatia or Poland; and he espoused the daughter of the duke of Austria, who was a sister of king Ladislaus. By her he begot six sons and five daughters. The first was named Ladislaus. While still young he was elected king of Bohemia, and thereafter, upon the death of Matthias, the Hungarian king, he was also elected king of Hungary because of his wonderful magnanimity and good counsel. The second son, Casimir, named after his father, died of the plague. The third son, named John Albert, a future mirror of wonder for the entire world, performed many distinguished and noteworthy warlike deeds against the Turks and other peoples, and attained the royal sovereignty upon the death of his father. The fourth, Alexander, was accepted as duke by the Lithuanians in consideration of his courage and firmness. The fifth, Sigismund, followed in his father’s footsteps in virtue. The sixth, Frederick, the youngest, was first made bishop of Cracow, later archbishop of Gnesen, and in 1493 was made a cardinal by Pope Alexander. Of the five daughters one is married to Duke George of Bavaria; the second to Frederick, margrave of Brandenburg; the third to the duke of Pomerania; while the remaining two daughters, still unmarried, are staying with their mother.