Reformation: King Alexander

And here is a good moment to introduce Alexander, the last of the Jagellonian kings not to like speaking Polish.

“Well, I did not expect to become king of Poland. I was perfectly happy as Grand Duke of Lithuenia. But when my brother King John died, what was I supposed to do? The family. I went to Krakow and was crowned. I stuck to Lithuanean. Why should I change? Anyway, the Poles never liked me. They thought I was stupid, though they never said it to my face. Typical.

And please don’t think the Poles were easy to govern. The problem was money, surprise, surprise.

They expected me to defend their borders from the Teutonic Knights, who, despite the myth, my great ancestor did not finish off at Grunwald. Arrogant bastards. And then there were the Russians and the Tartars, chipping away at our eastern borders. And dont talk to me about Moldavia! ‘Give me money,’ I cried. But the Senate and the szlachta were always trying to diminish my prerogatives just as our enemies were chipping at our lands. ‘Oh, we have to control the king otherwise he might get above himself. No money, for him…at least, not enough of it to do anything.’

Thank God for Pope Julius II is all I can say. He kept me going. Yes, the Pope in Rome. He gave me the money our own people wouldn’t. Peter’s Pence, they called it, to keep the Teutonic Knights at bay. He didn’t like them either. ‘Why didn’t your ancestor finish them when he could?’

“He thought he’d won, that’s why.”


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