.... The White Eagle ....

A thousand years ago, or maybe even more, there lived three brothers, Lech, Czech, and Rus. For many years they had been content in their villages, but the families grew larger and they needed more room to live.

The brothers decided to travel in different directions to search for new homes. Lech, Czech, and Rus traveled with their troops for many days. They rode their horses over mountains and rivers, through forests and wild country. There were no people to be found anywhere, not a town or tiny village. On the crest of a mountain top, they separated, each going in a different direction. Czech went to the left, Rus went to the right and Lech rode straight ahead, down the mountain and across vast plains.

One day Lech saw a spendid sight. He and his troops had come to a place where a meadow surrounded a small lake. They stopped at the edge of the meadow as a great eagle flew over their heads. It flew around in great swooping circles, then perched on its nest, high on a craggy rock. Lech stared in awe at the beautiful sight. As the eagle spread its wings and soared into the heavens again, a ray of sunshine from the red setting sun fell on the eagle's wings, so they appeared tipped with gold, the rest of the bird was pure white.

"Here is where we will stay!" declared Lech. "Here is our new home, and we will call this place GNIEZNO ... (the eagle's nest).

He and his people built many houses and it became the center of his territory. They called themselves Polonians, which means "People of the Field". They made a banner with a white eagle on a red field and flew it over the town of Gniezno, which became the first historical capital of Poland.

And, now you know how Poland began . . .

Historical Notes . . .
The White Eagle became the official emblem of Poland during the reigns of Kings Wladyslaw Lokietek and Kazimierz the Great. It was set on a red banner, the white eagle having gold claws, beak, and a crown on its head. It was adopted by the Piast dynasties in the 12th Century as a symbol of union within the dynasties. In 1945, the crown was removed the Polish Government.

The three brothers are thought to represent the three main geographic divisions of the Slavs.

  • South -- Serbs, Croats,Slovenes, and Bulgarians
  • East -- Great Russians, White Russians(Byelorussians), Little Russians(Ukrainians)
  • West -- Czech, Slovaks, and Poles

Pliny and Tacitus, both Roman authors, mentioned the Slavs having settled north of the Carpathian Mountains in the first and second century AD.

Gniezno became the capital of Mieszko I, and Beleslaw Chrobry. The town was walled and fortified. Foreign traders and chronicle writers were enchanted with this beautiful town.

Taken from Polish Folk Legends by Florence Waszkelewicz-Clowes

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