chapter  11
Byzantium in the Polish Mirror: Byzantine Motifs in Polish Literature in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries
Pages 12

The relationships between Poland and the Byzantine Empire were limited and incidental.2 They culminated in the Battle of Varna, when, on 10 November 1444, the combined forces of Poland, Hungary and Wallachia under Vladislaus III Jagiellonian were defeated by the Ottoman army. Thus, the so-called ‘Varna Crusade’ came to its bitter end. Soon the same fate met what was left of Byzantium. As Małgorzata Dąbrowska noted, ‘Only Długosz and some annalists spared a tear or two on this tragedy, but Długosz especially wrote about it after considerable time’.3 Długosz perhaps shed a tear or two, but he also used this opportunity to reproach the Byzantines for luxury, greediness and even the fact that in Constantinople there were supposedly brothels with young boys.4 Długosz’s list – luxury, greediness, lustfulness and treachery – defines a typical Byzantine as seen from the Western perspective. Yet the Polish

Constantinople in 1018 after having conquered Kiev, see O. Halecki, ‘La Pologne et l’Empire byzantine’, Byzantion 75 (1931), 298; see also M. Salamon, ‘Amicus or hostis? Boleslav the Valiant and Byzantium’, Byzantinoslavica 54 (1993), 114-20; G. Prinzing, Bizantyńskie aspekty średniowiecznej historii Polski [Byzantine Aspects of Polish Medieval History], Xenia Posnaniensia 5 (Poznań, 1994).