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Piast the Wheelwright legend

The first dynasty, that united and ruled Polish lands, was called Piast. Among the first rulers the most popular is Mieszko. As a ruler of Polan tribe, he joined further territories that enabled him to form strong and independent country that he passed on to his son and his off-springs. But the chronicles mention the ancestors of Mieszko: Siemowit, Lestek and Siemomysl (father of Mieszko). Although there are many disputes over the existence of the three latter ones, a legend about father of Siemowit was passed on by generations. His name was Piast what gave the beginning of the dynasty.

When Gniezno (and the Poland tribe) was ruled by Popiel, two strangers came for a visit. As Popiel had two sons who were between 7 and 10 years old, he arranged ‘Postrzyzyny’ celebration for them. Postrzyzyny, meaning ‘First haircut’, was an old Slavic rite designating the moment when a small boy was becoming a man. According to the custom, no guests that wanted to take part in the feast (organized for the hair cut rite) should be left uninvited. But greedy prince Popiel chased the two strangers away.

The visitors encountered another ‘Postrzyzyny’ feast organized in the village by a poor wheelwright whose name was Piast (Piast Kolodziej). Although Piast did not have enough money and food to provide to his guests, he invited the two travelers to feed them after a long journey. Miraculously the amount of food increased during the feast. The hair cut was performed by the two guests who named the young boy Siemowit. They had foreseen that Siemowit would one day decease Popiel and rule Gniezno and its citizens. Later additions to that legend mentioned that the two visitors appeared to be angels while other would state they were St John and Paul. Other versions of the legend would state also that it was Piast personally who was elected (by the gathering of citizens) to become a prince of Gniezno, while his son – Siemowit – took over a rule after his death (that according to further legends took place when Piast was at the age of 120 years).

Throughout the years Piast became a symbol of righteous citizen and ruler who was chosen through democratic election. His example proved that it is not the status of our family but our own hard work and righteous life that decide about our future and respect from others. During elections the novelty would often encourage people to choose king-Piast, meaning that the elected ruler should be ethically Polish, in case of foreign candidates that would take part in elections.

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