Bon Sforts

Bon Sforts D'Aragon (ital. Bona Sforza; On February 2, 1494, Vidzhevano — on November 19, 1557, Bari) — the Milan princess, the queen the Polish and grand duchess Lithuanian in 1518 — 1556, the second spouse of the king Sigismund I, the daughter of the Milan duke Gian Galeazzo Sforz and Isabella Aragonskaya.

The queen Bona - one of the most ambiguous figures in the Belarusian history. Beauty wife, good mother, angry mother-in-law. At everything at the same time it was wise state the figure who much made for the Belarusian earth.

Bon Sforts became the spouse of the head of Grand Duchy of Lithuania and the king Polish Zhigimont (Sigismund) Old in 1518. Become a widow/widower three years before, Zhigimont of I dreamed of the son. From first marriage it had two daughters, but the example of the father king Kazimir which had six sons and seven daughters haunted. Especially as absence of successors threatened to interrupt a dynasty Yagellonov (Yagayla's descendants).

Till a marriage future queen got a brilliant education, she knew the right, geography, Latin, theology, philosophy and mathematics. In her veins Medici and Borgia, Bon's blood flew met great Leonardo da Vinci who worked in the palace of her parents Gian Galeazzo Sforz and Isabella Aragonskaya. The daughter of the Milan duke was good party, besides it was twice younger than the groom, differed in beauty and rare mind.

Zhigimont met the darling near Krakow, their solemn entry into the capital was accompanied by more than 10 thousand of a shlyakhta. The road was carpeted also in the flowers. Next day in the evening guests saw royal couple to bedroom doors where the 51-year-old king sat down on a bed on the right side, 24-year-old Bona - with left. Servants served them wine and sweets, and newly married remained alone... In a year at Bona the daughter was born. Zhigimont it was very disappointed.
But at the end of the same year the queen was in the family way again, and on August 1 the long-awaited successor was born. At a baptism he received a patrimonial name of Zhigimont and ambitious - Augustus.


Bon Sforts with ability inherent in Medici's family to spin intrigues in details undertook providing to the son of the bright royal future. To it there were only two years when she achieved confirmation of birth rights of the son to antiquated Grand Duchy of Lithuania. If not aspiration of the beautiful Italian to provide a crown, not dependent on Poland, to the son, the Lublin union which united two states in one confederation would be signed half-centuries earlier.

The II August ascended to a grand-ducal throne of Zhigimont on October 18, 1529 - this day the nine-year-old boy received a sword and a cap of the grand duke and took the place between mother and the father in a throne-room of the vilensky lock. It became the most young of grand Lithuanian dukes. In a year efforts of mother during lifetime of the father he was chosen as the king of Poland. Then the senior Zhigimont also got the nickname Old.

Except the daughter Isabella, the queen gave birth to three more - Sofya, Anna, Katerina. They were enviable European brides: Isabella became the queen of Hungary, Ekaterina subsequently - the queen of Sweden, Sofia - the great duchess Braunschweig-Volfenbyutelsky. Anna - the wife of the king of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth Stefan Batory.


In spite of the fact that the Polish, Belarusian and Ukrainian historical chronicles not too flatterly spoke of the queen, meanwhile these lands are obliged to her by extraordinary cultural rise. Bon Sforts introduced the Italian luxury in the Lithuanian princely and Polish Royal Court. It brought with itself numerous suite from the Italian masters and cooks. At it on east lands it became fashionable to part many types of unknown in this party of vegetables and fruit earlier: on tables of the Krakow and vilensky magnates oranges, lemons, a fig, olives, raisin, almonds appeared. In locks voices of exotic parrots became for the first time heard. And aristocrats put on open dresses with a deep decollete... Even forks to the Polish-Lithuanian state brought Bon too.

But its contribution is much more powerful, than schooling of the Polish shlyakhta to the European etiquette. Thanks to Bona Sfortsa Europe heard "The song about a bison", with its support the well-known poem of Nikolay Gusovsky was published in 1523 in Krakow. The monument to Gusovsky who glorified the tsar of Bialowieza Forest can be seen in the center of Minsk today.

The grateful poet devoted several lines in the preface to the queen. In four years the bison sung by Gusovsky will play a fatal role in destiny of a royal couple: Bona in 1527 waited for the second boy. Despite the "interesting situation", decided to go to hunting as adored passion of this man's entertainment. From Bialowieza Forest for royal hunting specially brought in a cage of a huge bear. The animal first behaved quietly, but then got furious, lifted up about ten dogs, fell into rage and, at last, rushed on people - among the first he attacked horse Bona. It turned a horse to skip away, but the horse stumbled, and the queen took off from a saddle. As a result of this incident the queen prematurely gave birth to the son who was christened Wojciech Albrecht and who died on the same day. Bona had no more children. That ill-fated year it executed 33 years, and to the king Zhigimont Stary - 60.

Wise ruler

The beautiful Italian was generously endowed with economic thinking, dexterity, courage and extraordinary thirst of money. Its wealth increased thanks to own acquisitions and considerable gifts of the husband, especially on the Belarusian lands.

For the second year of matrimonial life Bona received from it Kobrin and Pinsky principalities. To enter possession of them, Bon it was necessary to wait for more than three years while lifelong owners used them. In 1524 Bona put the town of Sinyavka in the Kletsky starostvo (unfortunately, from historical monuments in this village there was only a building of post station of the 19th century). The same year Zhigimont Old Suprasl to Kovno through all Grodnenshchina - 200 km in length and 50 in width presented to the beloved wife a dense forest from the river. From Yury Radzivill the queen redeemed to herself the Grodno starostvo, from Gashtoldov - Belsk, Narev, Surazh. Only from the possession in Belarus and Lithuania Bona received 36 000 ducats annually - this income was called "the Neapolitan bags".

One of the most interesting places of Belarus from the point of view of tourism - the village of Motol has thousand-year history. In reign of the queen Bona it is the town acquired the Magdebourg right - for 30 years before ancient Pinsk. On her order in this place the palace which ruins at the beginning of the XX century looked very impressively was built. In the royal residence the numerous Italian servants worked... Among locals Kuzyur, Bazan are still widespread of Palto.

The queen built not only locks (by the way, thanks to her in Belarusian there was a word "palats" from Italian Renaissance "palazzo"), but also hospital, churches, schools. One of such churches - Saint Anna which fundator was Bon Sforts and can be seen today in the village of Lunna of Mostovsky district of the Grodno region. As the empress of Pinsk Bona was titled by Pinensis domina. And she was very zealous hostess. She conceived grandiose land reform which she began to carry out in the possession. At the beginning of 1550 royal lands were divided on drag (21.36 hectares). For this purpose it was necessary to try on all possession of Bona, to make detailed lists of the yards, data not only on quantity, but also quality of the soil were entered in registers.

Thanks to tireless activity of Bona the low-rendered habitable lands began to become populated. The expanding population needed for agriculture normal fields. The bond probably the first ruler who thought of large-scale melioration. Modern topographic maps inform of memory of it up to now: on east suburb of the city of Kobrin the channel of the Bond falls into the Dnepro-Bugsky canal. Its attempt to drain bogs to the south of Kobrin belongs to the same time. There are data that on its initiative one more channel - from the Pinsky lock to the village of Stytychevo is made (in 5 km from Pinsk) where there was a royal residence. The channel exists still.

During rule of Bona there comes blossoming for many Belarusian cities, there is a regular linear planning of streets, crafts and trade develop. At the queen of the second for value in Grand Duchy of Lithuania the city - Grodno receives a water supply system, at her pave streets and a floor space here. The ratushny city hours which in centuries became the Grodno symbol also are connected with a name of the beautiful Italian. The first mention of five hundred-summer hours is dated 1541 when Bona made the order to take on service of hour affairs of the master for service of their mechanism.

Construction of the stone palace in Rogachyov also is also connected with a name of the Bond. It is unknown when also who destroyed this monument, but the mention of it contains in publications about archeology in the Our Edge magazine dated in 1926. Much more the lock was lucky in Residents of Smolensk. The ruins of the lock which remained up to now demonstrate that it had strong Bramah traditional for those times, on height equal to inhabited cases of the lock. Nearby there was an impressive 5-storey tower decorated with the distinguished relief decor close on character to art style of the Renaissance. In the escaped tower the remains of a spiral staircase, numerous niches of various sizes, the remains of arch transition from the main case to a tower, details of fireplaces, a sculptural panel on a wall are visible.

Locals with pleasure tell about the legendary underpasses which are allegedly connecting the lock in Residents of Smolensk with the Kuteinsky monastery in Orsha. According to an age-old legend, one underpass conducts also in wooden Church of the Transfiguration. On it the queen Bona went by the three of horses. There is also other legend: say that in the dark autumn evenings when fog from Dernovki's small river dims everything around, and only the top of a tower towers over a white haze from where from under the earth music reaches. In tower windows in the illusive slightly glimmering light there is the woman's silhouette - the queen Bona. However experts remind that actually Bon Sforts could live here much earlier, than the palace was built.

Not favourite by magnates and shlyakhty

Despite all that good that was made by the queen for the Belarusian earth, the Italian was not too loved on the new homeland. Court did not take for it special liking as she tried to move the Italian model of management to the Polish soil. Repayment of grounds, distribution of positions especially approximate, election and juvenile Sigismund Augustus's crowning at the well father of an opolchila against Bona the Polish shlyakhta.

And though to means from a wedding dowry and to the made huge fortune, the ambitious Italian it was succeeded to organize support group in the Senate, not easy was to it in new lands. Liked to tell dirty and terrifying stories about the queen. Spoke as long as possible to remain young, Bona bathed in blood of innocent girls who were thrown out on a wheel with thorns in one of towers of the royal castle. So allegedly 300 virgins died.

One more favourite story of the local nobility about the queen-foreigner - about her officer harem. Allegedly she suited orgies with participation of several tens handsome security guards (and it generally there were Poles, Scots and Germans). On it it was immediately reported on her husband who ordered to execute all lovers. But Bona implored at Zhigimont Stary for forgiveness for the 3rd, 9th and 27th officer from the list. Some undertake to claim that after this history and the man's tradition went to lift a toast for women in such sequence!

Mother-in-law poisoner

The bond was fine and careful (sometimes to extremes) mother. At the same time she desperately did not love those women who were preferred by her son. To the favourite Bona chose the first bride itself, one of 15 children of the Czech and Hungarian king Ferdinand 17-year-old ertsgertsoginya the Austrian Elizabeth became 23-year-old Zhigimont Augustus's spouse. Crowning of the young queen took place in May, 1543, and from that minute Bona just did not hide hatred to the daughter-in-law. It did not allow Elizabeth to have the big yard, and from 114 noblewomen of Elizabeth only three were Germans. At last began to try to obtain divorce of the son with Elizabeth on the ground that they are relatives. So life of the young queen in anybody in the yard did not cause envy.

In three years after a wedding the unloved daughter-in-law died. Buried the young Polish queen and the Lithuanian princess in a vilensky church of Saint Kazimir near the grand duke and the king Alexander. Zhigimont Augustus became free for new marriage. The young king not too grieved for this death, he to a wedding had a beloved - Barbara Radzivill, the widow Gashtolda which died in 1542, without having left children. The young widow lived in a manor of the late husband, at the mother and the brother Nicolae Radziville Ryzhem in the vilensky palace. And when Bona decided to marry the son to the only daughter of Albrecht Gogenzolern princess Anna again to apply for a Prussian crown, Zhigimont Augustus rose and secretly married the beloved. His father originally forbade the citizens to recognize this marriage, but after Zhigimont Stary's death in 1548 the hour of triumph of a young royal couple came.

On April 17 Zhigimont Augustus presented to Diet Barbara as the wife, it angered not only the queen Bona, but also all Polish shlyakhta. Not once attempted upon Barbara Radzivill's life, arranging business as accident. Despite it Barbara's crowning took place on December 7, 1550. But soon after this solemn event the young queen and the grand duchess Lithuanian began to burn down as a candle, and all efforts of doctors were vain to return it to life. The king Sigismund II Augustus suspected that mother is involved in poisoning of the wife. At court there was a lot of doctors and druggists of the old queen. The highest nobility of Poland and Lithuania was convinced of it also. The rumor openly hinted at its relationship with the most famous European poisoners - Medici and Borgia. Bona did not participate in a funeral of the daughter-in-law. Though nobody received proofs of poisoning, between mother and the son long-term "cold war" began.

The sister of his first wife Ekaterina Austrian became the following queen of Zhigimont Augustus. Ekaterina, knowing sad life of the sister under oppression Bona, not strongly sought to become Zhigimont's wife. Nevertheless, marriage took place. The wedding was celebrated in Krakow, and in two weeks it became clear that the kind relations between spouses will not be.

As well as two previous wives, Ekaterina did not become pregnant, in 1558 was seriously ill, and after that sought to escape from Zhigimont Augustus home. The queen-mother wanted to return home to Italy also, but the son did not want that huge land possession of Bona, locks, the cities and places departured from his hands. He considered mother as the culprit of death of the first and second wives and openly hated it. Only protection of the English queen Maria Tudor, the sister-in-law Bony, and the daughter Isabella who was the queen of Hungary withdrew a ban on departure. The queen of Poland of Bon Sforts left Warsaw in February, 1556. The royal wagon train was accompanied by the Hungarian hussars chained in armor. They protected not only Bona's life and the 24th supplies with silver, gold and jewelry. Carts, loaded the furniture, carpets, porcelain and utensils which are taken away from locks which once she owned in this wagon train it was impossible to count.

In forty years of board the queen Bona saved up a huge fortune. Having returned home, she lent to the Spanish king Philip II from the monarchical house Gabsburgov whether 420, whether 430 thousand ducats (one such coin contained nearly 3,5 g of gold of the 986th test). It became a fatal flaw of the woman who was so well understanding intrigues. Without wishing to repay a debt, Philipp ordered to poison her. The sentence was carried out by the personal doctor Jan Antonio bribed by the Spanish king.

Bona at 63-year age all alone died. The body of the old queen was put at first in a castle chapel where it nearly burned down when captured a coffin a flame from candles. The queen Bona was buried very modestly. The beloved son did not forgive mother, even after her death.

After her daughter Anna Yagellonka, the wife of the seven-city prince Stefan Batory who in the 1576th became the king of Poland ordered for it the rich gravestone which remained in Italian Bari till our time. She disposed to grant to the former possession of Bona Sfortsa Pruzhanam the Magdebourg privileges together with the status of the city, the city press and the coat of arms which in many respects repeated the coat of arms of Milan: on the silver field coils which of mouth the baby appears. This ancient coat of arms is a symbol Pruzhan up to now.

Material is prepared by request of the Ministry of Sport and tourism
Yanina Savitskaya


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