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Władysław III of Poland

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Title: Władysław III of Poland  
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Subject: Władysław II Jagiełło, Casimir IV Jagiellon, Albert II of Germany, Elizabeth of Austria (1436–1505), Crusade of Varna
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Władysław III of Poland

Władysław III
Władysław III imagined by Bacciarelli
King of Poland
Reign 1434–1444
Coronation 25 July 1434, Wawel Cathedral
Predecessor Władysław II Jagiełło
Successor Interregnum (1444–1447)
Casimir IV Jagiellon (1447)
King of Hungary and Croatia
Reign 1440–1444
Coronation 15 May 1440 in Visegrád
Predecessor Albert
Successor Ladislaus the Posthumous
Dynasty Jagiellon
Father Władysław II Jagiełło
Mother Sophia of Halshany
Born (1424-10-31)31 October 1424
Kraków, Poland
Died 10 November 1444(1444-11-10) (aged 20)
Varna, present day Bulgaria

Władysław III (31 October 1424 – 10 November 1444), also known as Władysław of Varna was King of Poland from 1434, and King of Hungary from 1440, until his death at the Battle of Varna.[1]

Władysław III of Varna is known in Hungarian as I. Ulászló; in Polish as Władysław Warneńczyk; in Slovak as Vladislav I; in Czech as Vladislav Varnenčík; in Bulgarian as Владислав Варненчик (Vladislav Varnenchik); in Lithuanian as Vladislovas III; in Croatian as Vladislav I. Jagelović.

Royal title

Latin: Wladislaus Dei gracia Polonie, Hungarie, Dalmacie, Croacie, Rascia (Serbian Grand Principality) etc. rex necnon terrarum Cracouie, Sandomirie, Syradie, Lancicie, Cuyauie, Lithuanie princeps supremus, Pomeranie, Russieque dominus et heres etc.

English: Vladislaus by God's grace king of Poland, Hungary, Dalmatia, Croatia, Rascia (Serbian Grand Principality) and lands of Kraków, Sandomierz, Sieradz, Łęczyca, Kuyavia, Supreme Prince of Lithuania, lord and heir of Pomerania and Ruthenia


"King of Poland" in tournamental armour. Miniature from Armorial equestre de la Toison d'Or, made circa 1435, during Władysław III's reign.

Władysław was the first-born son of Władysław II Jagiełło and Sophia of Halshany. He ascended the throne at the age of ten and was immediately surrounded by a group of advisors headed by Cardinal Oleśnicki, who wanted to continue to enjoy his high status at court. In spite of that, the young ruler and his ambitious mother were aware that there was opposition to them. Despite the agreements signed between Władysław Jagiełło and the Polish magnates to ensure the succession for his sons, the opposition wanted another candidate for the Polish throne – Frederick of Brandenburg, who was betrothed to Hedwig, Jagiełło's daughter by his second wife. However, the conspiracy was resolved by the death of the princess, rumoured to have been poisoned by Queen Sophia.

The young king's reign was difficult from the very outset. His coronation was interrupted by a hostile nobleman, Spytko of Melsztyn. On the next day, the customary homage of the townsfolk of Kraków did not take place due to a dispute between the temporal and spiritual lords of Mazovia over their place in the retinue. Neither did Wladyslaw have much to say later about matters of state, which were run by the powerful cleric and chancellor Zbigniew Oleśnicki. The situation did not change even after the Sejm (Polish parliament) had gathered in Piotrków in 1438, and declared the fourteen-year-old king to have attained his majority.

Władysław at Battle of Varna, by Matejko

This situation continued until 1440, when Władysław was offered the crusade. The eighteen-year-old king, although thus far a king solely by title, became deeply involved in the war against the Turks, having been brought up in standard of a pious Christian monarch and ideal Christian knight, and paid no heed to the interests of Poland and of the Jagiellonian dynasty.

The "bulwark of Christianity" and other slogans put forward by the papal envoy Giuliano Cesarini, together with much more reasonable but only verbal promises of Venetian and papal fleets blockading the Dardanelles Straits, along with an enticing vision of a promise of victory in this glorious crusade carried for the glory of God and against the Turks, persuaded Władysław to engage his freshly victorious forces (long campaign) for another season of war, thus breaching the ten-year truce with the aggressive and still powerful Ottoman Empire. Despite their alleged forthcoming help the Venetian fleet carried over the Turkish army from Asia into Europe and failed to sail to Varna, a surprising move that Władysław and his most senior military commander Hunyadi failed to anticipate. The treason by the Venetians placed the huge Turkish army (60,000) under sultan Murad II in close proximity to the unsuspecting crusaders (20,000). Therefore, when the Battle of Varna began on 10 November 1444, the Polish king and his multi-ethnic subjects did not sense that this would be for many of them their final fight. Facing the desperate circumstance the king, with experienced Hunyadi fighting and breaking the Sipahi cavalry, decided to gamble and attack the very person of the sultan, protected by the guard cavalry and formidable Janissary infantry. The young king was killed while personally leading his own royal Polish heavy cavalry, 500-strong, company (banner), his charge losing impetus and coming to a standstill amongst the unyielding Janissaries, amongst whom sultan Murad II was seeking safety. The Janissaries killed the king's bodyguard and beheaded Wladyslaw, displaying his head on a pole. Disheartened by the death of their king, the Hungarian army fled the battlefield. Neither the king's body nor his armor were ever found.

Władysław III had no children and did not marry. The chronicler Jan Długosz, known for his antipathy towards the king and his father, alleged that there was something unusual about Wladyslaw's sexuality, though Dlugosz did not specify what: "(...) too subject to his carnal desires (...) he did not abandon his lewd and despicable habits" (Polish: "zbyt chuciom cielesnym podległy (...) nie porzucał wcale swych sprośnych i obrzydłych nałogów (...)" ).[2] Wladyslaw was succeeded in the Kingdom of Poland by his younger brother, Duke of Lithuania, Casimir IV Jagiellon in 1447, after a three-year interregnum. In Hungary he was succeeded by his former rival, the child-king Ladislaus the Posthumous.

His life in Portugal according to a legend

St. Joachim and St. Anne Meeting at the Golden Gate.

According to a Portuguese legend Władysław survived the Battle of Varna (although the Turks claimed to have his head, his body in royal armor was never found) and then journeyed in secrecy to the Holy Land. He became a knight of Saint Catharine of Mount Sinai (O Cavaleiro de Santa Catarina) and then he settled on Madeira.[3] King Afonso V of Portugal granted him the lands in Cabo Girão district of the Madeira Islands, rent-free for the rest of his life.[3] He was known there as Henrique Alemão (Henry the German) and married Senhorinha Anes (the King of Portugal was his best man[4]), who gave him two sons. He established a church of Saint Catherine and Saint Mary Magdalene in Madalena do Mar (1471).[5][6] There he was depicted in a painting as Saint Joachim meeting Saint Anne at the Golden Gate on a painting by Master of the Adoration of Machico (Mestre da Adoração de Machico) in the beginning of the 16th century.[3]

According to the legend, he felt his defeat at Varna was a warning sign from God (since he declared war on a false pretext, violating the truce with the Ottoman Turks). Thus he wandered as a pilgrim, seeking forgiveness, which he found in Jerusalem. For the rest of his life he would deny his identity. A delegation of Polish monks went to Madeira to question him and certified he was in fact the long lost king, now living in secrecy. He declined their suggestion to ascend the Polish throne again.

Historical places

In honor and respect, there are a main boulevard and a residential district in Varna called Vladislav Varnenchik, and there has been a successful football team named Vladislav Varna in past times. There is also a park with a symbolic cenotaph of Wladislaus III in Varna, located in an ancient Thracian burial mound.


Alexander I of Tver
Uliana of Tver
Anastasia Yuryevna of Halych
Władysław III of Varna
Ivan Olgimuntovich of Halshany
Andrew of Halshany
Sophia of Halshany
Dimitri of Drutsk (possibly Demetrius I Starshy)
Alexandra of Drutsk


See also


  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ Jan Długosz: Roczniki, czyli kroniki sławnego Królestwa Polskiego, vol. XII, page 685
  3. ^ a b c São Joaquim e Santa Ana, Museu de Arte Sacra do Funchal.
  4. ^ Rei de Portugal, D. Afonso V, foi o seu padrinho de casamento – A Lenda... Henrique Alemão ou Ladislau III
  5. ^ Henrique Alemão- Ladislau III da Polónia Lenda ou História?
  6. ^ Diocese do Funchal, Igreja Santa Maria Madalena em Madalena do Mar.


  • K. Łukasiewicz, Władysław Warneńczyk, Krzyżacy i Kawaler Św Katarzyny, Warszawa 2010

External links

Władysław III of Poland
Born: 31 October 1424 Died: 10 November 1444
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Władysław II
King of Poland
Succeeded by
Casimir IV
Preceded by
King of Hungary and Croatia
disputed by Ladislaus V

Succeeded by
Ladislaus V
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