Chapter 10: Cultural Mythology and Global Leadership in Poland
Christopher Ziemnowicz and John Spillan INTRODUCTION The roots of myths and legends in Poland can be traced to its geography that made it an easy target for invaders as well as its tumultuous history. The nation has had many neighbors, which generally means problems, but also centurieslong cohabitation, annexation of its territories, and collapses as an independent nation. Not only has Poland shared its territory with other people, but also others have claimed its heroes. Examples include the poet, Adam Mickiewicz, who called himself ‘Lithuanian’ – even though he was born in Belarus. The hero of the Polish uprising as well as the American War of Independence, Tadeusz Kosciuszko, is also claimed by both nations. The famous woman ⁄ scientist and two-time Nobel Prize recipient, Maria Sklodowska who worked with her husband, Pierre Curie, is likewise claimed by both Poland and France. The heroic exploits of its people are legendary, as is their nationalism in spite of overwhelming odds as repeatedly illustrated through the willingness to put everything on the line to protect their country. Cultural mythology in Poland goes back to the country’s early history. A seminal event took place in 966 when Prince Mieszko adopted Christianity as the main religion for all of the Polish land. This also established Poland as a state within which Roman Catholicism became the primary religion of the Polish people. It became, and continues to be, a primary influence and integral component of Polish life and behavior. As Poland became the first Christian country in...
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