[size=15pt]Legend of Popiel[/size]

Prince Popiel ІІ (or Duke Popiel) was a legendary 9th century ruler of the West Slavic ("proto-Polish") tribe of Goplans and Polans, the last member of the pre-Piast dynasty, the Popielids. According to the chroniclers Gallus Anonymus, Jan Długosz and Marcin Kromer, as a consequence of bad rule he was deposed, besieged by his subjects, and eaten alive by mice in a tower in Kruszwica.


As the legend goes, Prince Popiel ІІ was a cruel and corrupt ruler who cared only for wine, women, and song. He was greatly influenced by his wife, a beautiful, but power-hungry German princess. Due to Popiel's misrule and his failure to defend the land from marauding Vikings, his twelve uncles conspired to depose him; however, at his wife's instigation, he had them all poisoned during a feast (she might have done it herself). Instead of cremating their bodies, as was the custom, he had them cast into Lake Gopło.

A picture of Popiel II, legendary king of Poland, about 1578

When the commoners saw what Popiel ІІ and his wife had done, they rebelled against their rulers. The princely couple took refuge in a tower near the lake. As the story goes, a throng of mice and rats (which had been feeding on the unburnt bodies of Popiel's uncles) rushed into the tower, chewed through the walls, and devoured Popiel and his wife alive. Prince Popiel was succeeded by Piast Kolodziej and Siemowit.

On the shore of Lake Gopło stands a medieval tower, nicknamed the Mouse Tower; however, it cannot be the site of the events described in the legend as it was erected some 500 years thereafter.

The Mouse Tower in Kruszwica, constructed in 1350, incorrectly associated with Popiel (remains of a castle)

The castle was a Kruszwica sub-prefect seat. In XIII century it was a property of the Calisia prince, Boleslaw, after that it belonged to the Kujawy princes. Since 1319 it belonged to king Wladyslaw Lokietek. The Teutonic Order knights won the castle in the battle and burned it. King Kazimierz Wielki restored the castle and later he left it by his will to the Slupsk prince Kazko, but the king's will was voided and the castle with the town went to the king Ludwik Wegierski's estate. The castle was once more taken by the Swedes and burned on June 18, 1657. Since then it was just a ruin. Finally it was taken down almost entirely at the end of XVIII cent. and the brick was sent by barges to Inowroclaw. The 100 feet octagonal tower some of the adjoining walls is all what remains today. The tower was hosting prisoners in the past. Its name comes from the legend on king Popiel who was eaten by mice.

[img width=700 height=467]http://www.jerzytaton.pl/inne/polska/kruszwica-rzezby5395.jpg” />
Wooden sculptures, Kruszwica


    [li]An Ancient Tale. Novel in Polish history (in Polish Stara baśń. Powieść z dziejów Polski) – historical novel by popular in 19th century Polish writer Józef Ignacy Kraszewski published in 1876 in Warsaw. Action of the novel is taking place in late pre-Christian times, during the reign of mythological ruler Popiel. The story was adapted for the screen by director Jerzy Hoffman in 2003, as An Ancient Tale: When the Sun Was a God

Fragment of comic book about Popiel

imagehttp://www.polishcultureacpc.org/books/Popiel_1.JPG” />
[img width=517 height=700]http://www.polishcultureacpc.org/books/Popiel_2.JPG” />
[img width=499 height=700]http://www.polishcultureacpc.org/books/Popiel_3.JPG” />
[img width=499 height=700]http://www.polishcultureacpc.org/books/Popiel_4.JPG” />

King Popiel

Poem by Polish Nobel Prize winner Czeslaw Milosz

Those were not, it is certain, crimes just like ours.
It was all about dugouts carved out of linden trunks
And some beavers' pelts. He ruled over marshes
Where the moose echoes in a moon of acid frosts
And lynxes walk in springtime onto the drying holms.

His palisade, his timber fort, and the tower
Built by the fins of the gods of night
Could be seen beyond the water by the hidden hunter
Who dared not push aside the branches with his bow.
Until one of them returned with the news. Over the deep into the rushes
The wind chased the largest boat, and it was empty.

Mice have eaten Popiel. The diamond-studded crown
He got later. And to him, who vanished forever,
Who kept in his treasury three Gothic coins
And bars of bronze, to him who went away,
No one knows where, with his children and women,
To him lands and seas were left by Galileo,
Newton and Einstein. So that, for long centuries
He might smooth, on his throne, his javelin with a knife.