The following article is a direct translation from the classic Genealogical and Heraldic reference "Herbarz Polski" by Kasper Niesiecki S.J., (Lipsk) edition 1839-46.
The Belina coat of arms is composed of three white horsehoes, the backs of which are turned to each other, so that one is on the left, the other on the right, and the third below them, on which stands a German sword, its hilt at the top, all in a field of blue. Raised above the helmet and crown is a golden arm holding a sword, aimed to the right. Many families in France and Britain enjoy three horseshoes in their coats of arms, differently arranged.
Długosz claims that all coats of arms bearing horseshoes originated in Jastrzebiec, including BELINA. Paprocki corroborates this by relating how King Boleslaw Smialy granted it to Zelislaw Jastrzebczyk. The King's battle with Ruthenia, which he began, did not go well. Zelislaw, under cover of darkness, surprised the sentry and beat the rest of the Ruthenians who had been sound asleep. For this action, the King added two horseshoes to the one Zelislaw already had, and assigned him the sword, also.
In their retreat, the frightened Ruthenians hid in fields of "bylina" (a perennial), which is why the name given to the coat of arms is BELINA. Paprocki repeats this story in another book on heraldry, and others, like Okolski, follow suit. And yet, in a later book, which he named THE GARDEN, Paprocki rejects this tale as not supported by historical fact, and states that all of the BELINAS, in the Czech and Polish kingdoms, are descended from Bila Tetka, daughter of the Czech Prince Krok, granddaughter of Krok I, sister of Libussa, who took the crown after the death of her father, and who was so strong physically, that she wrestled a bear to death. The surname was taken from the town of Belina, where the title of count was inherited by a long line of successors.
After her death, Bila's son, STOMIR, ascended to the throne of the Czech empire, but was overthrown by the Czech Hetman Hostywita. For a long time, he hid in Bavaria under the name, Stylfryd. The Czechs then recalled him to the throne in opposition to Prince Borzywoj. However, Stomir was again removed because he did not know, or forgot, the Slovenian language. He departed for Bavaria with costly gifts. This transpired around the year 895. See Bielski's Czech chronicles, edited in 1563.
In his book, STROMATA, Paprocki relates still another version, which was given by the Czech historian, Waclaw Hagek: Bila, the daughter of Count Biwog, whose coat of arms bore the head of a hog, in 747, married Kossala, whose coat of arms carried three horseshoes, placed with their backs upward, two of which are side by side, and the third stands below them. In memory of his mother, her son, SUKOSLAW, founded the castle and town of BELINA about the year 879. His five sons fought a long war with the descendants of Prince Przemyslaw. STOMIR, Count of Belina, son of Sukoslaw, was called to the Czech throne in opposition to Borzywoj, the first Christian Czech monarch.
This story also is not completely wellfounded, because, if Sudoslaw were the son of Kossala, his age would come to 132 years in 879. This possibility is for the reader to judge. In addition, the Rev. Buguslaw Balbinus, S.J., states in the Czech history of Chrystanna, that this Sukoslaw was not the father but the brother of Stomir, the Count and owner of Belina. And further, that Sukoslaw or Suchoslaw rebelled against Borzywoj's father, Hostywita, was beaten, and with his brother, Stomir, whom he had drawn into the rebellion, had to go into exile. That is why Stomir spent thirteen years in Bavaria. When the Czechs conspired against Borzywoj and overthrew him, they called Stomir to the throne, which he was forced to vacate just nine months later, for being unable to speak the Slovenian tongue and for appearing to be an uncertain Christian. Taking ten talents of silver and three of gold, Stomir returned to Bavaria. Despite these discrepancies among the historians, the basic fact stands. The name BELINA, in the Polish and Czech kingdoms, comes from the Czech town of Belina, and not from the weed, "bylina. " Nor is Jastrzebczyk the ancestor of this coat of arms, as it is very clear from the historians mentioned, that for 300 years before King Boleslaw Smialy (who supposedly created Belina for Jastrzebczyk) lived, the Czechs boasted the three horseshoes. Balbinus mentions a family using the seal of three horseshoes in 278 AD. It is difficult to determine the cause for such a designation made so very long ago. Paprocki's statements in STROMATA, that the three sons of the original holder of the BELINA coat of arms agreed for the oldest of them to retain the three horseshoes; the second son to have two, as you will see in the LZAWA coat of arms; and the third son's to look like that of JASTRZEBIEC, with one horseshoe, are without historical foundation. That is why you will find that the origins of the LZAWA and JASTRZEBIEC coat of arms will differ from his story here.
This much is certain, that the Belinas are descended from Czech princes and monarchs on the mother's side (Bila, or Kassa, as Balbinus calls her), the daughter of Krok II, sister of Libussa, wife of Biwog, who was the son of Count Sudywoj. Some of their descendants remained on their Czech lands; others followed DABROWKA, the Czech princess, who married the Polish Prince Mieczyslaw, the first Christian monarch in Poland. For 150 years, the Belinas served Poland faithfully, thriving on knightly deeds. When King Boleslaw the Wrymouth waged a war against Prince Swentopelek of Moravia, Hetman Zelislaw Belina fought bravely and commanded wisely. However, in a violent attack by the enemy, his arm was severed. Among the honors and awards, the King sent him the gift of a hand made of gold, and at this time added the sword to the three horseshoes and, above the helmet, the arm with the sword raised, to the BELINA coat of arms, and that is how the Polish Belina differs from the Czech.
Belina, Borzymowski, Brzozowski, Czechowski, Falecki, Goleniewski, Grocki, Gruszczynski, Gulczewski, Jaszczultowski, Kadlubowski, Kedzierzynski, Kraska, Leszczynski, Lochowski, Mlochowski, Naropinski, Okun, Podhorecki, Porudenski, Prazmowski, Skupienski, Stawski, Szczytnicki, Taranowski, Wagrowski, Wegierski, Wolski, Zeligowski
Ancestors of This House
The descendants of Counts Suchoslaw and Stomir of Belina followed in their ancestors' footsteps.
Count PROKOP of Belina was Commander-in-Chief in the service of Prince Bretyslaw in the war with Roman Emperor Henry III and his chief Othard, Prince of Saxony, in 1040. When defeat was in sight and the Germans stormed the Czech countryside, Bretyslaw realized that Prokop sold out for gold and had allowed the enemy forces to freely cross the borders. He ordered Prokop's eyes to be gouged out; his legs, arms, and head, severed; and the body drowned in the river near Belina. (Balbinus). According to Paprocki, the Czech Belinas dropped their titles and their fortunes dwindled. And yet, during the reign of King Maciej, one of them was the commander-in-chief. His descendants called themselves Zelinski from Sebuzyna.
KRZYSZTOF ZELENSKI of Sebuzyna enjoyed such esteem that Emperor Rudolf II named him Chancellor and entrusted him with the seal of the Czech kingdom. His coat-of-arms: three horseshoes on the breast of a black eagle (no sword), and half of an eagle on the helmet.
PRSZKOWSKIS are also Czech descendants from this house who now appear in Silesia and Moravia. In Boleslaw, near the grave of Saint Waclaw, numerous stone monuments are engraved with three horseshoes, an indication that the Belinas were great benefactors in this place.
The first descendant of Suchoslaw and Stomir, from among those that had migrated to Poland, both Balbinus and Paprocki record ZELISLAW BELINA in 1064, during the reign of Boleslaw Smialy (the Bold). It was his son, ZELISLAW, who fought so brilliantly for King Boleslaw the Wrymouth. He was a man of splendid courage, wit and ingenuity, great strength, experienced in military expeditions. A noteworthy achievement occurred in 1103 when, despite having lost his other hand, he triumphantly delivered bountiful spoils to the King, as well as a great number of slaves. When he died in 1120, he was the Castellan of Kraków.
BOLESLAW BELINA, known also as Boryslaw, had several sons who took other surnames. Among them was JAROSLAW, 1199.
BORYSLAW BELINA, Archbishop of Gniezno. Due to his singular attributes of moderation, piety, wisdom, dignity, stability, he was promoted from archdeacon of Poznan and canon of Gniezno, to the bishopric, succeeding Jakob Swinka. Here, the writers' dates vary: Długosz claims that he was made bishop in 1304 and died in 1306; Paprocki and Okolski say he was elected in 1307 and died in 1311. Bielski also gives the year of death as 13 11. Damalewicz says that Boryslaw became archbishop in 1314, because his predecessor was alive in 1313, which he can prove with a letter that he has of that date. Belina's confirmation was delayed due to the dissension among the Cardinals in deciding on the Pope's successor. When John XXI confirmed him, Boryslaw presented the controversy over the actions of the Teutonic Knights for reconciliation, and also won the case begun by his predecessor about the bishop of Chelm, who broke away from Gniezno and allied himself with the archbishop of Riga. Boryslaw died in the second year of his consecration, in Avignon, where he is buried in the church of the Dominicans. There are still today Belinas in Mazowsze and Podgorze, and in Kraków from Leszczyn but, of these, I will write under Leszczynski. A Belina who marched in the assault on Pleszkowo was shot in the hand.
Copyright © 1984 Josephine M. Piegzik. Used by permission. This article originally appeared in Polish Genealogical Society Newsletter (Vol. 6, No. 1, Spring 1984), the journal of the Polish Genealogical Society (of America).