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Legend about Lech, Czech and Rus (first Polish settlement)

Original version
In the old age, the Slavonic tribes lived in prosperity and in harmony with each other. They were ruled by brave brothers: Lech, Czech and Rus. These rulers were both brave in battle and wise in power. The subjects led a wonderful life, enjoying the prosperity that came during the reign of three brothers. The Slavic tribes quickly populated the area they ruled and began to fear of starvation. The brothers called a rally - it was decided to leave this land and look for a suitable place to settle. The journey was not easy, but despite the fears and hardships , the Slavs placed their hopes and faith in the wisdom of their kings. Weeks passed until they finally saw vast fertile plains. The numerous rivers crossing the area sparkled in the sun. When it was time to stop, Rus spoke to his brothers: - My people are tired of the hardships of this quest. I know that we will be fine here, this is where our settlement will be. Our homes will be built on these plains. Czech and Lech said goodbye to their brother, making promises that they would meet again. The other brothers went on towards the sun. They traveled for many days until great mountains appeared. They decided to camp there. Czech looked at the high mountains with admiration and said to his brother: -I fell in love with the sun, where I can be closer to it, if not on such high mountains? The land is fertile here. So go ahead brother, you must go alone, me and my people will settle here. Lech knew that he had to continue looking for a place for his people, but it was difficult to part with his brother. Finally, Lech was on his way. After many days of walking, while the camp was being set up, Lech looked carefully around the area. He liked the sight of rivers with lots of fish, forests with lots of game and fertile lands that his brothers would envy him. Looking at his people, he saw the weariness and exhaustion of the endless journey. So he decided to speak: - This is the end of our journey. We will build our settlement here. I'm sure this is our place and we should stay here. Lech's people wanted the gods to give some sign that this was in fact the end of their journey. It was then that they saw a great, majestic eagle with sparkling white feathers. A great bird had just landed in its nest on top of a great oak tree. Where the camp was initially set up, a huge stronghold finally grew. In memory of the eagle that marked the end of their journey, the settlement was shaped like an eagle's nest. The stronghold was called Gniezno, and the white eagle on a red background has since been the emblem of the Lech family, and then of the entire Polish nation, which comes from.
Alternative versions
There is a similar legend of three brothers in Silesia. In ancient times, when Silesia was overgrown with a wild forest, three brothers: Bolko, Leszko and Cieszko decided to go hunting together. When they went out into a large clearing, they saw three animals: deer, bear and wild boar, which ran in different directions at the sight of them. - Mine is the deer! Bolko shouted. - I'll kill the bear! Cieszko exclaimed. - So there is a boar for me! Leszko shouted and all three set off in pursuit of the game. However, the animals did not get caught easily but the long hours of chasing finally tired them. The brothers were experienced hunters and continued to follow the game. Bolko hunted a deer in the marshes, Cieszko knocked down a bear in a forest thicket, and Leszko caught a boar on a rocky cliff. When they managed to tie their loot to the horses, they blew their horns. However, none of the brothers heard anything but their own horn. So they started to wander through the forest, looking for a clearing where they parted. They rode through the trees all night and listened. After a few hours, they heard their horns, but still couldn't find each other. Only at dawn did they almost simultaneously go to the familiar clearing. They began to admire their hunting achievements, glad that they were able to find them. They sat down at the spring in the middle of the clearing and told the adventures they had experienced during the hunt. - I am very happy that we managed to hunt so much - said Leszko. - And I am happy about it - added Cieszko - Then we are all happy - said Bolko. "Then let's build a well here and let's build a city." We can call it Cieszyn. Soon a city was established among the forest. The well that was built in the place of the spring is called the Well of Three Brothers and is still in Cieszyn today. Today, no one draws water from it anymore, but it reminds everyone of the happy meeting of brothers.
Main characters
Lech, Czech, Rus, Slavonic tribes, eagle
Connected artistic / architectonic / historical heritage
Lech - the legendary progenitor of Poles, one of the three founding brothers of the Slavic states. The creator of the Polan state and its first capital - Gniezno. Tradition ascribes to him the creation of the name of the first capital of Poland and the designation of the state emblem - the White Eagle. The legend about him appeared, among others in the Chronicle of Greater Poland. It was important in the context of the rebirth of Polish kingdom after the period of division into districts and disputes related to the hierarchy of importance of individual lands included in Piast Poland. The myth referred largely to biblical records, which translated the names of cities or nations from human events or behavior. Some historians see in this story the awareness of our ancestors about the great migration of peoples, thanks to which the Slavs from the Don and Dnieper basins got to the areas currently inhabited by Slavic peoples.
Local traditions or historical connections
Historical truth in legend: 1. The coat of arms of Poland is a white eagle on a red background. The eagle is a royal bird, a symbol of power and might. 2. Lech's stronghold was called "The Nest" and was the first capital of Poland, the current name of this city is Gniezno. 3. Czech and Rus founded neighboring states of Lech. Czech, today's Czech Republic - neighboring us from the south. Rus - the Rus' state, today's Ukraine and Belarus, Poland's eastern neighbors. 4. The legend of the three brothers is probably not just a figment of the imagination of medieval chroniclers. According to the theory of some historians, Gniezno was founded in the 8th century by the ruler of Polans, unknown by name. 5.The first mention of the city comes from the times of Bolesław Chrobry. The inscription "Gnezdun Civitas" was stamped on the denar of the first Polish king.
Didactical Relevance
The legend sheds some light on the cultural heritage and history of the beginnings of the Polish State and the later fate of the region, as it was the cradle of Polish statehood; together with sybbols (white eagle) and common roots with Russia and Czechia
Didactical Activity
Activity: (for the whole class or group work) geographical – find Gniezno on the map, ask students what they know about the place or let them find information online historical – easily connected to geographical, especially when seeking information online. art/architecture – look for monuments, places of interest and historical sites literature – read the legend and check for proper understanding especially if any folk or regional terminology appears - read the legend again and look for connections with the geographical/historical/art information that were found trip to Gniezno (if possible) if not – a virtual trip in Muzeum Pocztków Państw Polskiego (museum of the beginnigns of Polish state)

PDF version of the legend in national language

Polish version (944,1 kb)