Wednesday 21 December 2022

So Young a Queen Jadwiga of Poland - Lois Mills - Portraits in Faith and Freedom

So Young a Queen: Jadwiga of Poland
Portraits in Faith and Freedom
Lois Mills
Bethlehem Books 
ISBN 9781932350555

This book was the third I have read in the Portraits in Faith and Freedom Series. With each that I read I am more impressed and the more I want to read. The series is broken up into 6 sets, and this volume is part of set 2:

Set 2: Polish Advocates Of Hope And Nationhood
So Young a Queen: Jadwiga of Poland - Lois Mills
Cavalry Hero: Casimir Pulaski - Dorothy Adams
The Lion of Poland: The Story of Paderewski - Ruth and Paul Hume

There are 18 volumes across the sets in the series. And I cannot but hope that Bethlehem Books will extend the series, much as Ignatius Press is now adding new volumes to the Vision Books for Young Readers series. I was asked if I had ever read and reviewed any books in this series, at the time I had not. I read Joseph the Huron by Antoinette Bosco first and loved it so much I have now read two more and now I have the rest of the series in my to be read pile. Several volumes in the series grabbed my attention. I was asked by someone who had enjoyed my reviews of the Encounter the Saints books by Pauline Books and Media, and who was following now my reviews on the Vision Books for Young Readers now from Ignatius Press to read and review come books in this series. I am very thankful they did, my plan is to read about 1 a week until I have finished the 18 currently available, as mentioned I hope by then there will be more volumes in the series available. I will note these versions are not available on Amazon but are very reasonable from the publisher in print or eBook editions. This volume was originally published in 1961 by Lothrop, Lee and Shepard Co., Inc. This edition from Bethlehem Books is revised, it has added maps, and other additional material was released in 2016. 

The description of this volume is:

“Hungarian Princess Jadwiga (Yahd VEE gah) has been prepared from birth to put the peace and prosperity of nations above her own desires. Betrothed in 1378 at the age of five to Prince William of Austria, their education has included spending time in each other’s court for careful training as future rulers. When the balance of power in Central Europe unexpectedly shifts, the Council from faraway Poland demands that Jadwiga become their monarch. The eleven-year-old girl is soon traveling north to Krakow where she is crowned queen in Wawel Cathedral, swearing “to keep and maintain the rights and liberties granted by the righteous Christian kings of Poland.” And she means to do it. However, when Poland’s Council insists upon her marrying the fierce pagan Prince Jagiello of Lithuania instead of William, Jadwiga passionately resists. The intense struggle in which this young queen lays down her personal hopes and gives her entire life to the fulfillment of a peaceful union between Poland and Lithuania—long referred to as “The wedding ring of Jadwiga”—will have far-reaching consequences in her own time and in the years to come. Jadwiga, “White Dove of Poland,” was canonized a saint in 1997 by Pope John Paul II.”

The sections and chapters in this volume are:

Web Resources
Pronunciation Guide
1. The Betrothal
2. In Buda
3. In Vienna
4. The Minstrel
5. The King is Dead
6. In Krakow
7. Long Live the Queen
8. The Lessons
9. William
10. The Decision
11. Jagiello
12. Royal Journey
13. A King’s Scroll
14. The Conversion
15. The Commonwealth
16. The Peacemaker
17. The Eagle and the Dove
About the Author
Historical Insights by Daria Sockey

Those sections at the beginning of the book are excellent for helping young readers, for use in the classroom or for home schooling. The downloadable resources are top quality. And the additional information at both the beginning and end of the story are greatly beneficial for readers of all ages. There are several subjects in this series that I am familiar with a few I have read a number of books about. This was my first encounter with Jadwiga of Poland. I devoured this volume over a few sittings. I just could not put it down. It is an excellent story of the faith, devotion, and service of this woman of faith. It is a story of great faith, devotion, and sacrifice. But also a story of hope, conversion, and change.

The writing is very engaging, and the biography is wonderfully written. It was well researched, The Historical Insights section at the end of the volume is a great starting point for young readers. It is a wonderful story of faith, commitment to family, friends, country, and service to her people. In the Historical insights section, we are informed that:

“So Young a Queen is set in a time of castles, knights, banners, and jeweled crowns. So the modern reader comes to it almost expecting a storybook romance—battles won, enemies conquered, princess marrying the handsome prince and living happily ever after. Instead of this, we find our princess who must discard her beloved prince in favor of a political alliance with a much older and greatly feared ruler of a neighboring country.

Welcome to actual history.

This story of a teenage Polish monarch is one of a series of biographies presented by Bethlehem Books as “Portraits in Faith and Freedom”. There is faith in abundance in this book, which portrays a culture that took the truth, the goodness, the beauty and the necessity of the Catholic faith for granted. But what are we to make of what appears to us moderns as a sad lack of freedom in the personal life of Queen Jadwiga? Taking into consideration that the author uses some license in portraying the extent of Jadwiga’s emotional attachment to William, let us assume that her narrative overall is accurate.”

This book, and series is attempting to bring back into print a volume that is a great read for tweens and teens today. It is also an important read for us older folks. The example of Jadwiga’s faith and service is inspiring. This is a volume any Catholic would benefit from reading and it leaves you desperate to read others in the set and the series. An excellent read that I can easily recommend.

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2022 Catholic Reading Plan

Books in the Portraits in Faith and Freedom Series:
Set 1: Founding Voices For Freedom In The U.S.
Charles Carroll and the American Revolution - Milton Lomask
Priest, Patriot and Leader: The Story of Archbishop Carroll - Eva K. Betz
Mathew Carey: Pamphleteer for Freedom - Jane F. Hindman

Set 2: Polish Advocates Of Hope And Nationhood
The Lion of Poland: The Story of Paderewski - Ruth and Paul Hume

Set 3: Spanish And Mexican Heroes
The Sea Tiger: The Story of Pedro Menéndez - Frank Kolars

Set 4: Women Of Faith And Courage
Star of the Mohawk: Kateri Tekakwitha - Francis MacDonald
Margaret Haughery: Bread Woman of New Orleans - Flora Strousse
The Door of Hope: The Story of Katharine Drexel - Katherine Burton

Set 5: Missionaries On The Frontier
Simon Bruté and the Western Adventure - Elizabeth Bartelme
Frontier Priest and Congressman: Father Gabriel Richard, S.S. - Brother Alois
Black Robe Peacemaker: Pierre De Smet - J. G. E. Hopkins

Set 6: New York Ambassadors Of Brotherhood
Pierre Toussaint: Pioneer in Brotherhood - Arthur and Elizabeth Sheehan
John Hughes: Eagle of the Church - Doran Hurley
Alfred E. Smith: Sidewalk Statesman - William G. Schofield

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