Zawisza Czarny

Despite the fact that the knights from the Warnsdorf family belonged to the then elite of knights, it is one of the most eminent knights on a European scale at that time, namely Zawisza Czarny.

Zawisza Czarny was a character, a knight who, like few others, deserved to make him a hero of the Polish knightly epic. Jan Długosz wrote about Zawisza:

"Not only in the battle in which the captured was killed, but in all expeditions he turned out to be a brave and outstanding knight, he was famous for his courage and great deeds, in which nobody could match him. He was sweet and captivating in speech, so that not only noble and noble people, but also barbarians, he captivated with his kindness. Above all, he had this rare attribute that, as in battle, the boldest zeal, so in the council the most modest showed caution. A day worthy of praise for his heroic works, not of my weak ones, but also of Homer's own praise.

Zawisza Czarny from Garbow of Sulima coat of arms (born around 1370 in Garbowo, died 12 June 1428 near Gołąbiec) - knight, invincible in numerous tournaments, symbol of knightly virtues, delegate of the Polish king to the Council in Constance, participant of wars with the Teutonic Order, Turks and Hussites, starosta of Kruszwicki from 1417, starosta of Spiš since 1420.

Triumphant of numerous tournaments, which made him the terror of Western European knights. One of his greatest victories was the defeat of the legendary Jan Aragon tournament. His heroic attitude during the Battle of Grunwald, which undoubtedly contributed to the final victory of Jagiełło's troops, deserves admiration. It is also worth remembering his devotion to Polish affairs, when he held the office of Chęciny starost and guarded the southern border, as well as the trade route leading to the Czech Republic and Hungary. And it is impossible not to mention his death, which he suffered as befits a Christian knight during the battle with the Turks. He did not get entangled in their numerical superiority and fought to the end, although he could retreat to the other side of the river, where he could feel safe.

Already in his lifetime he enjoyed fame and respect. His participation in the Polish delegation to the Cathedral in Constance testifies to that. The German chronicler Urlich von Richental, who witnessed those events, wrote about Zawisza as one of the most famous knights who came to Constance.

He owed his nickname to his black hair and dark complexion (thinking that the name was derived from black armour was wrong). He was born in the year 1370 as the third son of Dorota and Mikołaj from Garbów - the castellan of Sieradzki. At the age of about 27, he married the younger nephew of the Bishop of Cracow, Barbara. According to one of the stories - supposedly when she was eight years old, he saved her from inevitable death. A strong young man stopped a scared mount galloping towards her.

On the Polish-Hungarian border a richly dressed, lonely rider appeared. Suddenly he was attacked by a six-person armed gang. He defended himself bravely. He killed several attackers quickly and efficiently. Unfortunately, crushed by a horse, he could no longer defend himself. He was already sure that he would lose his life when the unexpected rescue came. Three young men, brothers Jan, Piotr and Zawisza (then sixteen years old) turned out to be the saviors. And the survivors were saved by Ippolito himself - an Italian famous throughout Europe, one of the best fencing coaches. Grateful and happy, he promised to become their personal trainer. The training, which lasted two years, unleashed Zawisza's hidden potential. He was the one who grew out of all the brothers to become the most talented knight. As a teenager he was extremely strong and very well built, but it was only thanks to the teachings of Ippolit that he became invincible.

What did every day of training look like? Young Zawisza got up early in the morning. He started with jumps over ditches and jumps upwards. Then he pulled the ropes and practiced, ran and floated with a load (bags tied to his back filled with earth). Even fencing took place with the use of load. At first he fought with rods with a weight twice as heavy as the weight of the sword (thanks to that wrists and forearms were strengthened, and the real sword seemed much lighter than it was in reality).

He also had to develop the strength and method of hitting with the sword. The Italian was digging stakes into the ground, which had to be cut in one fell swoop. From time to time the stakes increased in volume to turn into rods at the end (it was not only about the well-known, classic bevel cut from top to bottom, but also about a casting cut - from left to right and on foot and from horse!). An important lesson was also to get to know the secrets of horseback riding on kicks (in the Middle Ages the competition arousing exceptional interest at knightly tournaments). In his free time Zawisza also learned Latin and German.

The last, main exam of the two-year training, Zawisza passed in an exemplary way. He beat on swords and copies of his teacher. The student surpassed the master ...

All chroniclers of the consensual choir claim that Zawisza participated in almost a hundred international tournaments! He was extremely versatile: he took part in every competition offered to him. For 25 years he has not failed at all! The crowning achievement of Zawisza Czarny's knightly deeds was a duel with the son of the King of Spain, Aragon, Prince John in 1415. This favourite of women, invincible for years in battle, had the shape of a wrestler of heavy or even super heavy weight. Apparently he was famous for the fact that when he wanted to show off his strength, he tied both pairs of legs to the horse, climbed under him, took on his back and parade with him to the delight of the gathered crowd! Everyone in Aragon heard of Zawisza, only that they imagined him as an unruly savage from the north. And nobody gave him any chance at all. All the more so because John was eleven years younger. Crowds of people from France and Spain came to the announced duel to the capital of Aragon. In the first round Jan lifted the blade of the copy high. Measuring in the upper part of Zawisza's shield, he hoped that the opponent would cover his throat and reveal his belly. Zawisza quickly turned his head back and reflected Jan's copy. In the next clash Zawisza made a mistaken move. Jan evaded, and then Zawisza hit the very centre of the shield with all his strength. The blow was so strong that a muscular Spaniard flew out of the saddle. Jan's followers were scattered, and the guard had to protect Zawisza.

Zawisza Czarny was not only a famous knight. He was a diplomat of King Władysław Jagiełło himself. In this field he was also perfect. His intelligence and oratorial skills were praised by Jan Długosz. Zawisza had considerable rights. On behalf of the king he concluded numerous international agreements and peace treaties. He sent to Hungary several times. Having stayed there, he passed on to Jagiello various information from a close environment favourable to the Teutonic Knights of Zygmunt Luxemburg and reminded Zygmunt of Polish wrongs, presenting a Polish point of view. In 1414, together with two bishops and the rector of the university, Paweł Włodkowic, he participated in the Council in Constance, later called the Parliament of the Christian world.

Zawisza earned a lot of money not thanks to diplomatic work, but thanks to the aforementioned tournaments. The rulers of countries whose court was visited by such a famous knight organized tournaments, and then handed him valuable gifts and purses filled with gold. Armors, horses, and even weapons of the defeated in the competition, also passed on to the winner. He hung all this, he collected and then he sold it. Fortune grew. The family lived in luxury. As the owner of Rožnov nad Dunajcem, he owned a fortified castle and several villages. He also had a slightly larger fortune on the Rus in the Dniester river basin. In total, as many as several dozen villages and three large castles with towers, moats, drawbridges, as well as stables, houses for servants, warehouses and garrisons of the side guards! In 1424, he issued a feast for thousands of guests who came to the coronation of Queen Sophia, the fourth wife of Wladyslaw Jagiello. Not everyone could afford such an expense.

This is not how the death of a great and brave knight should look like. It was 1428, when the fights for the fortress Gołubiec, located on the right bank of the Danube, took place. Opposite each other were the armies of Sigismund the Luxembourger and the Turks. This fortress controlling a long section of the Danube remained in the hands of the Serbs at that time. Its commander demanded 12,000 florins from Sigismund in exchange for surrendering it. He was runners up by the Turks, who paid more quickly. Sigismund's troops had to take the castle away from the Muslims by force.

Among the Hungarian troops there was also Zawisza Czarny at the head of Polish mercenaries. The Luxembourg fleet defeated Muslim ships, but soon had to retreat before the many times overwhelming Turkish forces. On the right bank of the Danube, encircled by the Turkish army, the remaining troops of the knights remained. Among them was Zawisza Czarny. Zygmunt Luxemburczyk sent him a boat, but Zawisza remained so that his people could evacuate. He killed many enemies, but fatigue became apparent. He was captured in front of two soldiers. The Turks thought that with a prince or even a king in front of them (he mistaken their coat of arms - half of the black eagle) they left him alive. They did it because they counted on a ransom from Zygmunt Luxemburg. However, the quarrel that broke out between them led to the sad ending of the life of the Polish knight. One of them, who did not want the ransom to fall to his rival, beheaded Zawisza.