If you have ever heard of the battle of Varna in 1444, you know that according to the official version of the history, it was a horrible and cruel day in the history of many nations. Among the knights who died during the battle was young king Władysław III, whose body has never been identified properly. According to the chronicles, the Turkish army presented the cut off the head of the king… The problem is that the man whose head was presented to Polish belongs to a man whose hair and eye color was different than the real king had.
The legend about the death of the king was sad but very comfortable to the Crown of Poland. How could they explain that the king of their country preferred to escape from the battlefield to start a new life than to fight like a man? Although you might think that it is a nonsense story, there is an evidence that shows the surprising truth.
Was Wladysław III Portuguese Henry the German?
If the king escaped, where did he go? All the footsteps guide us straight to the island of Madeira.It was a well-known fact on the royal court in Kraków, because a few years after the battle, they’ve sent monks who visited the island to check if the gossips suggesting that Władysław lives there as Henry the German tell the truth.
According to the statement published in a book „Columbus: The Untold Story” by Manuel Rosa: “Monk of the Predicant Order, Nicolau Floris to the Grand Master of the Order, Ludwig von Erlichshausen. Notice of the residing of the King of Poland and Hungary, Vladislaus, on the Portuguese islands”… I identify the key phrase of the letter: “vladislaus, rex Poloniae et ungariae vivit in insulis regni Portugaliae” (Władysław, King of Poland and hungary, lives on an island of the kingdom of Portugal)…Brother Nicolao Floris, who identifies himself as a member of the Pilgrimage Order of the Predicant Rule, writes the following:
“Your Lordship! I am compelled to write this letter by obligations not of a personal but of a public nature… You are a special friend of King Władysław, in another time honorable Sovereign and Lord, by the Grace of God, of the kingdoms of Poland and Hungary. I wish to reveal the miraculous news that king Władysław actually lives on the islands of the Kingdom of Portugal and I am his companion and comrade hermit. therefore dispel all your doubts… the matter is urgent, and because of it I came from the islands to Lisbon on a fast boat to meet with the King of Portugal, Don Afonso, and his Princes with the intent of receiving from him his good will in this matter… Give faith to this seal of Nicolao Floris, companion of the King of Poland, Władysław.”
It seems that in the 15th century this story wasn’t a big secret. But why the historians ignored it for such a long time and allowed for cultivation of the untrue story about the death of the king?
The answer is simple
Although most f the researchers still want to believe that WladysławIII died on the battlefield of Varna, the facts are unclear. The grave of the king has always been symbolic. There is no possibility of confirming his death, but the visit of the monks on Madeira seems to be the strongest evidence to the theory that Wladysław III survived the battle and decided to start a new life.
Why did he leave the throne and escaped to live far away from home?What id he do there? The chronicles pinpoint that he had big connections of the Portuguese royal court and he was able to create an impressive fortune. He got married and had a few children. It seems that he had never come back home. The localization of tomb of Henry the German is well known so maybe someday the DNA tests will solve this mystery and we will be able to conclude what happened to the king Władysław III.