Historical story

Murder Poles in the name of God

A certain German Dominican tried to convince the whole of Christian Europe that Poles are a pagan nation who should be slaughtered ...

Wacław Potocki wrote in his Moralia that "as long as the world is around the world, Germany will never be a Pole's brother" . Relations between the two nations have left much to be desired for centuries. This is best evidenced by the case of a German Dominican who caused an international scandal. Why? He persuaded Christian Europe that we are a pagan nation that should be slaughtered ...

"While Falkenberg's German ancestry shines in its fullness and never aroused any dispute, his closer homeland, his place of birth, is still in the shadow" - wrote about the Dominican - Johannes Falkenberg - professor of the Jagiellonian University and the University of Lviv, historian Jan Nepomucen Fijałek . It was presumed that he came from Prussia, Livonia or Gdańsk. Długosz wrote directly that it is more appropriate to inquire "when this infection died than when it was born" . A was born around 1364/65. He studied in Prague, Vienna and probably Cologne, and at the turn of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, he went to Krakow, to the convent of St. Trinity. And he did not intend to pray or devote himself to the service of his neighbor.

German authority on Krakow harlots

Initially, nothing foreshadowed the fate of a gifted and ambitious monk. First, he became a teacher at the Krakow convention. He was then appointed Regent or Principal Lecturer in General Studies. He was a respected scholar and theologian. Therefore, it is not surprising that Krakow city councilors consulted him on a matter that was extremely sensitive to the Christian conscience and complex from a theological point of view. Namely in terms of public morality.

What was it about? In 1398, by a resolution of the Krakow city council the representatives of the oldest profession in the world were expelled from Krakow . The recipe turned out to be dead over time. The councilors wondered if, in view of the fact that harlotry still flourished in the city, the authorities could build and maintain dwellings of debauchery, deriving income from them. It is difficult to determine today whether Falkenberg wrote his opinion at the request of a city that found a profitable niche, or whether he approached the matter as a scholar and responded in accordance with the principles of moral theology of the time.

Whatever it was, in the document Iudicium de aedificandis prostibulis pro meretricibus was based, inter alia, on on the words of St. Augustine. He warned that the absence of riots would push righteous Christians down the road of sin and transgression . It was therefore necessary - in his opinion - to choose the lesser evil in the form of prostitution controlled by the city . Regulated shameful practices will give decent living conditions to women who work in this profession.

Hammer for heretics

Brother Jan could live peacefully in Krakow and work here for his career and authority, but he quickly made enemies. He was quarrelsome, stubborn and stubborn, and saw himself as a defender of orthodoxy. "Ego predicator" - I am a preacher, he wrote about himself, and he dealt with the charge of heresy left and right, sparing no one. As we read in the novel The Jagiellonian Throne. Bloody succession Szymon Jędrusiak:

Johannes Falkenberg - horned soul, pimple, he was constantly arguing, which caused him to get into more or less trouble . He came into sharp conflict with several scholars and theologians, and even with King Jagiełło himself. Until he was finally expelled from Poland.

The dispute with Matthew from Krakow, who accused him of heresy because of a treaty in which the theologian from Krakow called for the repair of relations in the Roman Curia, echoed widely. Falkenberg believed that only the pope had the right to reform. He refuted Matthew's claims in the treatise Monarchia mundi. The accusation scandal led to the expulsion of Falkenberg from Krakow and Poland.

Where the German stands, the grass does not grow

On July 15, 1410, one of the greatest battles of medieval Europe took place in the Fields of Grunwald. The armies of the Teutonic Order, supported by the Western European knights under the command of Grand Master Ulrich von Jungingen, and the Polish-Lithuanian, supported by by Tatars and Silesian, Czech and Moravian mercenaries under the command of the Polish king Władysław Jagiełło and the Grand Duke of Lithuania, Witold.

The text was inspired by the latest novel by Szymon Jędrusiak, "The Jagiellonian Throne", which has just been published by the Bukowy Las publishing house.

Despite the victory of the Polish and Lithuanian sides, Jagiełło and Witold did not take the chance to completely destroy the order . The siege of Malbork failed. The humiliated Teutonic Knights did not intend to let go of the insult and decided to resort to other methods. In the Polish-Lithuanian army, not only Orthodox, but also Muslims and recently converted Lithuanians fought against the Order, which the Order decided to take advantage of. The participation of the infidels in the battle against the Teutonic Knights was to prove that Jagiełło was a pagan ruler, and his rule is a threat to Christian Europe. And this is where Falkenberg enters the scene again, who is ordered by Szymon Jędrusiak to take part in an anti-Polish conspiracy commissioned by Jordan Pleskow, one of the hostile heroes to Poles:

The Dominican went to Prussia and in a few months wrote a libel treatise there entitled Satire against heresy and other wickedness of Poles and their king Jagiełło . In it, he accused the Polish monarch and all Poles, whom he called "shameless dogs", of idolatry and paganism. To gain salvation, Satyra proclaimed, one must use weapons against them, burn them and murder them; and all who fail to do so, the author threatened with torments from hell.

"Dirty and disgusting vomiting"

Professor Fijałek cites a well-known in old Poland saying about monks that they have stings sharper than hornets, and what is worse, they do not die after being stung . This saying fits perfectly with Falkenberg, who apparently had a passionate hatred towards Poles also emphasized by his German biographer Hartmut Boockmann.

Pashkwil, because this was in fact "work" by Falkenberg, which Długosz without hesitation described as "dirty and disgusting vomiting" , he presented the citizens of the Republic of Poland as "loathsome heretics", worshiping their ruler . He accused the Polish nation and the Polish king of "a nefarious crime" of leading the pagans to fight against the Order. He argued that anyone who kills a Pole will receive eternal salvation , and Christian Europe will benefit from the extermination of heretical nations, or - as a last resort - by making them slaves after the elimination of a ruler deemed by the Pope to be a tyrant and heretic.

The participation of the infidels in the battle against the Teutonic Knights was to prove that Jagiełło was a pagan ruler

If this happened, Jagiełło would be deprived of the crown, and, according to Falkenberg, Polish lands would be taken over by the order as the executor of the sentence. The call to exterminate the nation and kill the Polish king should, in his opinion, be a historical mission and task for a Christian Europe united against pagan Poland.

The political game

Falkenberg published and disseminated his lampoon Tractatus doctoris cuiusdam de Prutenis contra Polonos et paganos de potestate papae et imperatoris respectu infidelium in Paris. Perhaps he counted on the interest of the international intellectual community in the idea of ​​tyranicide, i.e. the need to kill an evil ruler, then fresh on European soil.

Długosz reported that a Dominican make his libel out of "great greed, in the hope of profit and of his own free will, as he used to say often ”. Another thesis is that he did not intend to spread it at all, but it was used as part of a political game. It was to be done by the Teutonic Knights who officially distanced themselves from Satire and its author by removing even Falkenberg from the territory of the order, presumably to protect himself from political consequences. Unofficially, the lampoon was reportedly appreciated. It was to be used as a manipulation tool at the Council of Constance, among other things, allowing the Order to avoid being accused of murdering unbelieving Balts.

What happened next with the scandalous text? As we read in the novel The Jagiellonian Throne. Bloody succession :

The Grand Master, fearing the political consequences, forbade the dissemination of satire, and even ordered Falkenberg to leave Prussia. The Dominican went to Paris. There, through the masters of the University of Paris, the lampoon was placed in the hands of Archbishop Mikołaj Trąba . The Poles were furious.

Council of Constance

In the years 1414–1416, the council of Konstanz took place, where the issue of the Polish-Teutonic conflict was the subject of two parallel so-called processes. The subject of the first, the so-called process for rules ( process doctrinalis ), were the values ​​that guided the mission of converting pagans (including the unjustified conversion by force) and in relations between Christian states. Here Poland was represented by Paweł Włodkowic.

In the years 1414–1416, the council of Constance was debated.

The second, the so-called legal process ( process sus iudicalis ), dealt with specific Polish-Teutonic territorial disputes. In this process, Poland was represented by Archbishop Mikołaj Trąba. When at the end of 1416, at a feast organized by Mikołaj Trąb for professors of the University of Paris, the lampoon fell into Polish hands, a scandal broke out. It is worth emphasizing that just a few months earlier, on July 10, the Grand Master wrote to the council assembly that he wanted nothing more than to make peace with Poland.

"Obmierzły monnich" versus the Polish school of nations

The Polish delegation was in turmoil. The matter was immediately brought to the council. Mikołaj Trąba demanded that the text be officially condemned and that the text be considered heretical. Cardinal Peter d'Ailly condemned Satire , postulated burning it and severely punishing the author . The confreres also criticized the unworthy act he had committed. During the General Council of the Dominicans in Strasbourg on May 30, the following verdict was passed on the same case:

Because Fr. Jan Falkenberg from the Polish province committed many scandalous deeds, and wading worse and worse, he issued a monstrous letter in Konstanz, inspired by an evil spirit against the brightest Polish king and his kingdom, and he himself put our order to destruction, therefore, according to our laws, we condemn it to eternal jail him.

A separate issue was the case of the accusation by the Order of supporting the pagans by Poles, against which one of the greatest minds of the Middle Ages, the rector of the Academy, Paweł Włodkowic from Brudzeń, spoke out. He presented a revolutionary idea ahead of his time, which went down in history as the Polish law school of nations . All nationalities - as he argued - have the right to self-determination and peaceful life in their own land .

Teutonic sect

He did not intend to excuse himself from the heresy, but instead accused ... the Teutonic Knights of it. He stated that the Teutonic Order "was established for deliberate killing as well as for theft, rape and smoking". He called it a "sect" and a "fault in the Church of God" that must not be tolerated. He referred to the murders in the Balts and Żmudziny, brutal displacements and robberies committed by the Teutonic Knights. He criticized conversion by force:“It is unacceptable to force pagans by force or force to adopt the Christian faith, because this is how conversion involves harm to your neighbor. You shouldn't do bad, so that there will be good. ”

The Teutonic Order "was established for deliberate killing as well as for theft, rape and smoking"

He made it clear that Christianization should not be used as an excuse for war, because forced conversion is sinful and void. Ultimately, in his opinion , "Prussian heresy" should be condemned as undermining the basic principles of Christianity. Likewise, Falkenberg's "work" full of heretical and harmful theses should be condemned. This may seem obvious to us today, but the council had many doubts. There were even questions about if Poles really profess Christianity sincerely and zealously . To some extent, the Teutonic Knights achieved their diplomatic goal, as Szymon Jędrusiak emphasizes in his novel:

Thanks to the uproar that arose around this piece, the Polish-Teutonic trial was not finally resolved. The Polish legation engaged all its efforts in the fight against satire, effectively distracting attention from the conflict with the Teutonic Knights.

Mouth and hand in defense of the king's honor

Meanwhile, after three years of fruitless trials, on November 11, 1417, a new pope was elected. It was Marcin V, who came from the Italian family of Collon, which was exceptionally useful to the Teutonic Knights. The new pope, who supported the Order, annulled the bulls of John XXIII that were favorable to Poland and confirmed the privileges of the Teutonic Knights. He took such an ambiguous stance towards Falkenberg's satire that he could not be made to be considered heretical and to condemn the slander it contained.

But the Poles were not going to give up. At the last general session of the council, on April 22, 1418, they again asked the Pope to denounce Falkenberg's libel and finally close the case. A discussion arose among the audience, which quickly turned into a quarrel. Irritated Poles, demanding the sentence, reminded the Pope that he himself - while still a cardinal - condemned the aforementioned libel . Marcin V tried to avoid taking a position. He recognized that he could not condemn anything in matters of faith without the prior resolution of the entire council. So the Poles demanded that the matter be resumed at the next council, pressing to put it in the minutes.

Falkenberg portrayed the citizens of the Commonwealth as "hideous heretics", worshiping their ruler

Eventually, the pope stepped down and returned Falkenberg's libel to a specially appointed commission of three cardinals for review. However, a colorful, though not necessarily true, anecdote about how Poles sought justice has survived. It was said that at the beginning of May an impatient Polish delegation broke the gate to the papal palace . One of our deputies, the famous knight Zawisza Czarny, was to declare in the presence of the Pope that he would defend Jagiełło with his mouth and hand.

The "jealous" guilty of everything

Whatever the case was, the Pope was forced to condemn the Falkenberg Treaty. On May 14, the commission appointed by Marcin V recognized Satire for "erroneous, good manners, contrary, scandalous, rebellious, shameless, offending the ears of the pious ”. She was condemned to be torn and trampled underfoot. Its author was imprisoned in the castle of St. Angel in Rome.

Poles had to wait for the official papal bull until January 10, 1424. The Pope confirmed the commission's verdict. He emphasized the faith of Poles and their king, calling Poland an extraordinary part of the militant Church . On January 17, a special consistory was organized, at which Falkenberg - in front of the entire congregation and in the presence of the Polish delegation - on his knees, canceled his erroneous and slanderous theses, promising repentance. He did not burden the Teutonic Knights. Perhaps because he was still counting on getting paid for his work. However, he shrugged off the responsibility for writing Satire on ... "jealousies" ( emuli ). Who could it be? We'll never know that.

We will probably not learn the truth about the death of the rebellious Dominican. It is known that after being released from prison, he went to Toruń. Perhaps he would have lived his years there in peace if he had not again confronted himself with poverty with his quarrelsome disposition. He accused the parish priest of St. John, Pfaffendorf who turned out to be a member of the Order. As a result, the Teutonic Knights expelled from the city not only Falkenberg, but the entire convent together with him.

Then the Dominican was in Wrocław, where he again had a conflict with the local clergyman, whom he mixed with mud in his own way and threatened to burn him at the stake. Eventually, he ended up in Legnica, where - according to Długosz, with whom modern historians also agree - he ended his life. We do not know under what circumstances. Perhaps former enemies or insolvent principals on whom he sharpened his pen contributed to this?


The text was inspired by the latest novel by Szymon Jędrusiak, "The Jagiellonian Throne", which has just been published by the Bukowy Las publishing house.