Paprzyca Legend

One Baby and Eight Children

Most heraldry experts have developped a similar tale about the origines of the Paprzyca coat-of-arms. Opinions differ about the time of the Paprzyca Legend (late 11th- early 13th century) but all heraldry experts locate the story in the Kingdom of Bohemia. Long ago, this large region of Central Europe covered parts of today Eastern Germany, Southern Poland as well as the Czech Republic and Slovakia. In 965, the first King of Poland Mieszko I married Dobrawa a princess of Bohemia. Reagarding the circonstances of the Paprzyca legend, the overall tale can be summarized as follow.

 

In ancient times, when a mother gave birth to multiple babies (more than two), she was suspected of adultery. In the Paprzyca / Kuszaba story, a noble woman gives birth to 9 boys and fears a social outrage. She decides to keep only one and plans to drown the 8 others in the river.

 

On her way with a big bag containing the eight babies, the maid meets the father, a gentleman who is back from hunting.  He asks what is in the bag and she replies that she wants to get rid of some puppies. The gentleman wants to check if any of these puppy would be a good hunting dog.

 

Opening the bag, the husband discovers the babies and the terrible intention of his wife. Secretly, he asks the miller to take care of the boys. He provides for their education until they are adults.

 

One day, on the occasion of a feast in his manor, the gentleman asks his guests what would be the punishment for a mother who plans to drown her children. Everybody agree that for such crime, death would be the best punition. As a reaction, the gentleman reveals the existence of his 8 sons and proudly present them to the assembly. The gentleman thanks God for his children and declares that shame is the right divine punishment for his wife. Facing this terrible future, the wife retires in a couvent.

 

Hence the main symbols of the Paprzyca coat-of-arms: the grindstone of the miller and the eight puppies.

One of the earliest reference to the Paprzyca / Kuszaba legend wasdevelopped by Bartosz Paprocki in 1578. His armorial book Gniazdo cnoty describes the main coats-of-arms (herb) existing in the Kingdom of Poland and Polish-related territories. The long title of this book highlights the encyklopedic ambition of this author Gniazdo Cnoty, Zkąd Herby Rycerstwa slawnego Krolestwa Polskiego, Wielkiego Księstwa Litewskiego, Ruskiego, Pruskiego, Mazowieckiego, Zmudzkiego, y inszych Państw do tego Krolestwa należących Książąt, y Panow początek swoy maią. Written in 16th century Polish, the story is reported from Czech regions. The text refers to the Kuszaba herb and insist on the role of the divine providence in the legend.

Similar story

 

EN - The divine providence decided that in Bohemia, a noble Lady would give birth to nine sons at the same time. Fearing accusations from her husband, she kept one of the boy with her and ordered the maid to drown eight of them babies in the river, like puppies.

 

As luck would have it, the husband encountered the maid on the road. She was carrying a big basket with the "puppies" to the river. He absolutely wanted to see if any of them could be taken to be raised as a hunting dog. When he discovered the terrible truth, saved the babies. The desperate father took them to the miller and asked him to raise his children. Secretly, the father provided for their comfort and education.

 

When the eight boys grew up, the father organized a big feast, inviting the entire neighbourhood. He asked the guests who were present "what would a mother deserve if she had drowned her new-born children?" Death penalty was the answer from everywhere. Then the father ordered that his eight rescued sons be brought to the assembly.

 

This man was a sad husband but a happy father. He considered that revealing the truth was the greatest punishment for his wife. He left her destiny in the hands of of God. The mother retired in convent for the rest of her life.

 

The legend goes that a miller stone wheel (Paprzyca in Polish) and eight puppies became the symbols of this family in Bohemia. They were added to the coat-of-arms and the family became the Paprzyca Clan. In 1386, when Princess Jadwiga came to Poland to marry Władysław II Jagiełło, some knights of the Paprzyca Clan came with her and settled in Poland. Here begins the legend of our family.... 

 

Source : adapted from Kasper Niesiecki - Herbarz Polski, Lviv 1728, volume 7, pages. 248 - Roztocze Tourist Group, Sosna 2009.

PL - W tamtych czasach, narodziny trojaczków stanowiły osobliwość. Kiedy jedna z poddanych możnej Pani, powiła trojaczki, została przez nią oskarżona o cudzołóstwo i surowo ukarana.

 

Sprawiedliwość Boska sprawiła, że Pani powiła w niedługim czasie dziewięciu synów. Kazała służącej ośmiu z nich potopić, jak szczenięta, w obawie przed mężowskim oskarżeniem.

 

Traf chciał, że ten napotkał na drodze, kobietę niosącą rzekome szczenięta nad rzekę. Koniecznie chciał zajrzeć, czy któryś na myśliwskiego psa nie da się ułożyć. Odkrył prawdę.Kazał młynarzowi dzieci wychować, w tajemnicy łożąc na ich utrzymanie.

 

Kiedy chłopcy dorośli sprawił ucztę, spraszając całe sąsiedztwo. Zapytał wobec obecnych, na co zasłużyłby matka, która kazałaby potopić swoje nowonarodzone dzieci? Na śmierć, padła zewsząd odpowiedź. Kazał wtedy przyprowadzić swoich ośmiu uratowanych synów.

 

Uznał wyjawienie prawdy za największą karę dla żony, pozostawiając jej dalsze życie w rękach Opatrzności Bożej. Odtąd w herbie rodu, w polu młyńskie koło z żelazną paprzycą, a w klejnocie osiem szczeniąt.

 

źródłowy: Kasper Niesiecki - Herbarz Polski, Lwów 1728, tom 7, stron. 248 —  Grupa Turystyczna Roztocze, Sosna 2009.