Bulgaria to Erect Monument of Polish King Vladislav (Wladyslaw) III Varnenchik Who Died Fighting the Ottomans in 1444 Battle of Varna

The future monument of Polish and Hungarian King Vladislav (Wladyslaw) III Varnenchik to be erected in Bulgaria's Varna, as seen in the studio of Polish sculptor Marian Konieczny in Krakow, Poland. Photo: Ministry of Culture

The future monument of Polish and Hungarian King Vladislav (Wladyslaw) III Varnenchik to be erected in Bulgaria’s Varna, as seen in the studio of Polish sculptor Marian Konieczny in Krakow, Poland. Photo: Ministry of Culture

The Bulgarian Black Sea city of Varna is going to erect a monument of Vladislav (Wladyslaw) III Jagello, also known as Varnenchik, King of Poland and Hungary, who staged two campaigns against the Ottoman Empire (a few decades after it had conquered the Second Bulgarian Empire), perishing in the Battle of Varna in 1444 AD.

Vladislav (Wladyslaw) III Jagello was King of Poland in 1434-1444, and King of Hungary and Croatia in 1440-1444.

He launched two ultimately unsuccessful Crusades against the Ottomans: in 1443 AD, reaching Sofia before retreating for the winter, and 1444 AD reaching the Black Sea city of Varna where he perished at the age of 20 in the Battle of Varna against the forces of Ottoman Sultan Murad II (r. 1421-1451 AD).

Because of that, in Bulgaria the heroic Polish and Hungarian King is known as Vladislav Varnenchik, i.e. Vladislav of Varna.

The Second Bulgarian Empire (1185-1396) was conquered by the Ottoman Turks in 1396 (although some Bulgarian estates in the west may have survived for a few more decades).

In 1396 AD, Hungarian King Sigismund of Luxembourg (r. 1387-1437 AD, later Holy Roman Emperor in 1433-1437 AD), organized a crusade against the Ottoman Turks which, however, ended in a disaster for the Christian forces in the Battle of Nicopolis (today’s Bulgarian town of Nikopol).

The Crusades of the Polish and Hungarian King Vladislav (Wladyslaw) III Varnenchik were the last Christian campaign against the Ottoman Empire in the Late Middle Ages that had the potential to liberate Bulgaria.

With its failure, Bulgaria remained suffering for centuries, a horrific period known as the Ottoman Yoke, and was liberated only in the Russian-Turkish War of 1877-1878.

Bulgaria’s Black Sea city of Varna already has a memorial complex dedicated to the Battle of Varna in 1444 AD, and the heroism of the Polish King, known as the Vladislav Varnenchik Museum Park.

Now, however, Varna will have a monument of Vladislav Varnenchik in the city (the museum park is located outside the site, on the actual site of the 1444 Battle of Varna), Bulgaria’s Ministry of Culture has announced.

The monument will be erected at the initiative of the Bulgarian Cultural Institute in Warsaw, Poland, and will be donated by renowned Polish sculptor Prof. Marian Konieczny from Krakow.

Polish sculptor Prof. Marian Konieczny from Krakow posing with his work - the future monument of Polish and Hungarian King Vladislav (Wladyslaw) Varnenchik to be erected in Bulgaria's Varna. Photo: Ministry of Culture

Polish sculptor Prof. Marian Konieczny from Krakow posing with his work – the future monument of Polish and Hungarian King Vladislav (Wladyslaw) Varnenchik to be erected in Bulgaria’s Varna. Photo: Ministry of Culture

Konieczny made the model for a monument of King Vladislaw (Wladyslaw) III Varnenchik some 40 years ago. However, the project for the monument has not materialized yet.

“Despite the numerous efforts on part of both Bulgaria, and Poland, during the past four decades, the project was never realized, primarily for financial reasons… The idea for its realization was resurrected in March 2015 during an evening gathering that the Bulgarian Cultural Institute in Warsaw dedicated to the renowned Polish sculptor," says the Bulgarian Ministry of Culture in a statement.

During the event, the Institute presented Konieczny’s most famous works, including the Monument of the Grunwald Battle in Krakow (the 1410 battle of Poland and Lithuania against the Teutonic Knights), the Monument of the Heroes of Warsaw, 1939-1945, from World War II – also known as the Warsaw Nike, the Monument of Polish painter Jan Matejko (1838-1893) in Krakow, among others.

However, the event focused on the Polish sculptor’s favorite but still unrealized project – the monument of King Vladislav (Wladyslaw) III in Varna.

Over time Marian Konieczny is said to have given up on his original idea for an 11-meter statue of King Vladislav Varnenchik, and decided to make it a small monument, “in accordance with the current trends in contemporary sculpture", in the wording of the Bulgarian Ministry of Culture.

The bronze monument of the 15th century Polish and Hungarian King has already been cast, and is expected to be formally presented by the sculptor to the Bulgarian Cultural Institute in Warsaw in order to be shipped to Bulgaria.

Konieczny is convinced that the Black Sea city of Varna is the most suitable place for a monument of King Vladislav (Wladyslaw) III.

On June 30, 2015, the 85-year-old Prof. Marian Konieczny was awarded the Golden Age award of the Bulgarian Ministry of Culture by Culture Minister Vezhdi Rashidov at a ceremony in Warsaw.

The Ministry reminds that during his campaign against the Ottoman Empire in 1444, King Vladislav (Wladyslaw) III Jagello was in charge of an army of 20,000 European Christian warriors, including Poles, Hungarians, Czechs, Slovaks, Wallachians, Ruthenes (Rusyns), Bulgarians, Croatians, Saxons, Lithuanians, and Crusader Knights of Pope Eugene IV (r. 1431-1477).

The young Vladislav (Wladislaw) III Jagello inherited his father King Wladyslaw II Jagello as the King of Poland in 1434, at the age of 10.

In 1440, Vladislav became also the King of Hungary, after a union between the Kingdoms of Poland and Hungary designed to unite their forces against the Ottoman Turks.

Another view of the future monument of Polish and Hungarian King Vladislav (Wladyslaw) III Varnenchik to be erected in Varna. Photo: Ministry of Culture

Another view of the future monument of Polish and Hungarian King Vladislav (Wladyslaw) III Varnenchik to be erected in Varna. Photo: Ministry of Culture

In the Battle of Varna, on November 10, 1444, the European Christian army led by King Vladislav Varnenchik and the Transylvanian voivode John Hunyadi was outnumbered three to one by the forces of Ottoman Sultan Murad II.

The brave Polish and Hungarian King perished when he led a strike of his personal guard of 500 knights against the 10,000 Janissaries of the Ottoman Sultan.

Breaching the last lines of the Janissaries, the King was murdered after his horse tripped, and he fell on the ground. The loss of the King’s life disorganized the Christian army, and it retreated.

The bravery, sacrifice and tragic end of Polish and Hungarian King Vladislav (Wladyslaw) Varnenchik affected the fate of all of Central and Eastern Europe, and made him a hero in the folklore of many European nations.

In honor of the King and his Christian warriors, Bulgaria has established the Vladislav Varnenchik Park Museum on the site of the Battle of Varna.

The Museum was first opened as a mausoleum in 1935, and then turned into a park museum with an area of 30 decares (app. 7.5 acres) in 1964, on the occasion of the 520th Year since the Battle of Varna.

Background Infonotes:

The Battle of Varna occurred on November 10, 1444, near the Bulgarian Black Sea city of Varna. In it, the forces of Ottoman Turkish Sultan Murad II (r. 1421-1451 AD) defeated the Christian Crusade of the King of Poland and Hungary Vladislav (Wladyslaw) III Jagello.

Vladislav (Wladyslaw) III Jagello, also known as Varnenchik (Warnenczyk), King of Poland and Hungary, was King of Poland in 1434-1444, and King of Hungary and Croatia in 1440-1444.

He launched two ultimately unsuccessful Crusades against the Ottomans: in 1443 AD, reaching Sofia before retreating for the winter, and 1444 AD reaching the Black Sea city of Varna where he perished at the age of 20 in the Battle of Varna against the forces of Ottoman Sultan Murad II (r. 1421-1451 AD). Because of that, in Bulgaria the heroic Polish and Hungarian King is known as Vladislav Varnenchik (Wladyslaw Warnenczyk), i.e. Vladislav of Varna.

The Second Bulgarian Empire (1185-1396) was conquered by the Ottoman Turks in 1396 (although some Bulgarian estates in the west may have survived for а few more decades). In 1396 AD, Hungarian King Sigismund of Luxembourg (r. 1387-1437 AD, later Holy Roman Emperor in 1433-1437 AD), organized a crusade against the Ottoman Turks which, however, ended in a disaster for the Christian forces in the Battle of Nicopolis (today’s Bulgarian town of Nikopol).

The Crusades of the Polish and Hungarian King Vladislav (Wladyslaw) III Varnenchik were the last Christian campaign against the Ottoman Empire in the Late Middle Ages that had the potential to liberate Bulgaria. With its failure, Bulgaria remained suffering for centuries, a horrific period known as the Ottoman Yoke, and was liberated only in the Russian-Turkish War of 1877-1878.

During his campaign against the Ottoman Empire in 1444, King Vladislav (Wladyslaw) III Jagello was in charge of an army of some 20,000 European Christian warriors, including Poles, Hungarians, Czechs, Slovaks, Wallachians, Ruthenes (Rusyns), Bulgarians, Croatians, Saxons, Lithuanians, and Crusader Knights of Pope Eugene IV (r. 1431-1477).

The young Vladislav (Wladislaw) III Jagello inherited his father King Wladyslaw II Jagello as the King of Poland in 1434, at the age of 10. In 1440, Vladislav became also the King of Hungary, after a union between the Kingdoms of Poland and Hungary designed to unite their forces against the Ottoman Turks.

After the first Crusade of King Vladislav and John Hunyadi against the Ottoman Empire, which reached Sofia in the fall of 1443, the Ottoman Sultan Murad II signed a 10-year truce with Hungary, and in August 1444 resigned from the throne in favor of his 12-year-old son Mehmed II (who later became Mehmed II the Conqueror after conquering Constantinople in 1453 AD). The new Crusade was organized under the auspices of Pope Eugene IV in anticipation of a new Ottoman invasion. The preemptive Christian campaign that later became known in history literature as the Varna Crusade led the old Sultan Murad II to return to the throne.

Before reaching Varna on the Black Sea coast, the Crusaders advanced along the Danube in Northern Bulgaria, with Bulgarian rebels led by Fruzhin, the heir to the Bulgarian throne in Tarnovgrad (Veliko Tarnovo), son of Tsar Ivan Shishman (r. 1371-1395), joining along the way.

On November 9, 1444, the Ottoman army which was at least 50,000-strong approached Varna from the west catching the Christian forces between the Black Sea, the Varna Lake, and the Frangen Plateau. Thus, in the Battle of Varna, on November 10, 1444, the European Christian army led by King Vladislav Varnenchik, the Transylvanian voivode John Hunyadi, and Mircea II of Wallachia was outnumbered roughly three to one by the forces of Ottoman Sultan Murad II. The two armies faced one another on a front of about 3.5 km. In the rear of the Christian army, the Czech Hussites formed a wagon fort (Wagenburg) armed with bombards.

The brave Polish and Hungarian King perished in the midst of the battle when he led a charge of his personal guard of 500 knights against the 10,000 Janissaries of the Ottoman Sultan in an attempt to capture Murad II. Breaching the last lines of the Janissaries, the King was murdered after his horse tripped, and he fell on the ground. The loss of the King’s life disorganized the Christian army, and it retreated.

The King was beheaded on the spot by a Janissary, and neither his head, nor his body could be saved during the remainder of the battle. Transylvanian voivode John Hunyadi organized the retreat of the surviving Christian forces, with many Crusaders taken captive and sold as slaves. While the Ottomans were ultimately victorious in the Battle of Varna, their losses were so substantial that they did not realize their victory until after three days.

The bravery, sacrifice and tragic end of Polish and Hungarian King Vladislav (Wladyslaw) Varnenchik affected the fate of all of Central and Eastern Europe, and made him a hero in the folklore of many European nations.

Bulgaria’s Black Sea city of Varna has a memorial complex dedicated to the Battle of Varna in 1444 AD, and the heroism of the Polish King, known as the Vladislav Varnenchik Museum Park. The Museum was first opened on the site of the Battle of Varna as a mausoleum in 1935, and then turned into a park museum with an area of 30 decares (app. 7.5 acres) in 1964, on the occasion of the 520th Year since the Battle of Varna.

Varna is also going to have a monument of Vladislav Varnenchik in the city (the museum park is located outside the site, on the actual site of the 1444 Battle of Varna). The monument is to be erected at the initiative of the Bulgarian Cultural Institute in Warsaw, Poland, and has been donated by renowned Polish sculptor Prof. Marian Konieczny from Krakow.