chapter  4
16 Pages

Constructing memory: holy war in the Chronicle of the Poles by Bishop Vincentius of Cracow

WithDarius von Güttner-Sporzyński

School of Historical and Philosophical Studies, University of Melbourne, Shepparton Campus, 49 Graham Street, Shepparton VIC 3630, Australia

(Received 31 December 2013; final version received 9 March 2014)

The Chronica Polonorum, written by Bishop Vincentius of Cracow (c.1150-1223), influenced the way Polish history was written by presenting a specific memory of the participation of the Piast dynasty in wars against the Prussians. This article presents the three major references to these wars against heathen tribes of the North in 1147, 1166 and 1192. Vincentius’ account gave meaning to the Piast expeditions as holy wars and influenced court tradition by establishing the image of individual Piasts as well as their dynasty as a whole. These accounts shaped how their participants were remembered in specific historical contexts and influenced the future participation of the Poles in crusading. The article reveals the use of the term ‘Saladinistas’, not found anywhere else in the surviving twelfth-century sources. The memory created by Vincentius became inseparable from the cultural heritage of the nation forwhomhewas thefirst native historian.