Aldona of Lithuania

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Aldona (baptized Ona or Anna; her pagan name Aldona is known only from the writings of Maciej Stryjkowski;[1] ca. 1309 – 26 May 1339) was the Queen of Poland (1333–1339), and the Princess of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. She was the daughter of Gediminas, Grand Duke of Lithuania.

Biography

Aldona married Casimir III of Poland, when he was 15 or 16 years old. The bride was probably of about the same age. The marriage took place on 30 April or 16 October 1325 and was a purely political maneuver to strengthen the first Polish–Lithuanian coalition against the Teutonic Knights.[2] Casimir was seeking allies over the dispute of Pomerania with the Knights. Gediminas just underwent an unsuccessful attempt at Christianization of Lithuania. This coalition was a prelude to Union of Krewo in 1385 and Union of Lublin in 1569 that resulted in the new state, Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth.[1] The details of the agreement are not known; however, it is known that Gediminas released all Polish prisoners, numbering some 25,000.[2] The importance of the marriage was attested by the fact that Casimir abandoned his earlier plans to marry Jutta of Bohemia.[3] The alliance was put in practice when joint forces organized an attack against Margraviate of Brandenburg in 1326.[3] However, the coalition was not strong and collapsed ca. 1330, but there is no evidence of fights between Poland and Lithuania while Aldona was alive.[2] The marriage into the Lithuanian dynasty that ruled since ca. 1289 might have brought some legitimacy to Władysław I from the Piast dynasty who was crowned in 1320 replacing the Přemyslid dynasty.[4] Aldona died suddenly at the end of May of 1339 and was buried in Kraków.

Aldona was remembered for her piety and devotion to music. Everywhere she went, she took court musicians with her. It was even suggested by Jan Długosz that cymbals which were played in procession before her represented some pagan Lithuanian tradition.[5] Her husband Casimir is known for his romantic affairs: after Aldona's death he married three more times. Aldona had two daughters, Cunigunde (died in 1357), who married Louis VI the Roman, the son of Louis IV, Holy Roman Emperor, on 1 January 1345, and Elisabeth (died in 1361), who was married to Duke Bogislaus V of Pomerania.[6] Elisabeth's daughter, Elizabeth of Pomerania, was the fourth wife of Charles IV, Holy Roman Emperor.

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