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. Translated by William F. Hoffman.
Three white lilies are arranged in a straight line, each under the last, on an azure field. Biel. fol.190. has five ostrich feathers on the helm; but different authors vary in regard to the lilies: some, such as Paprocki w Gniazdzie i Okol., show three lilies with root and leaves. Others, such as Paprocki o herbach fol. 565 and Janicius, show it in a form as if two of the lilies have been combined into one, as we see in the Gozdawa arms. Nasz Ks. Petrasancta, in Symbol. Heroicis, includes a similar coat of arms in his book, except he has the lilies golden. None of our historians have written about these arms' origins or about the time when they either were introduced to us or were born. They list among armorials only the first, Marcin, Archbishop of Gniezno; his fame is so great among various authors, and there's so much confusion from the books published about him, that I must talk about him at greater length.
This Marcin, according to Gerard Jan Wossyusz's de Historicis Latinis, which quotes Volaterran, was born in Carsula or Castino; Albert. Miraeus de scriptor. Ecclesiast. maintains the same thing; it also gives him there the title of "Konsentynski" [Cosenza] archbishop, Ks. Antoni Possevin S.J. t. 2. appar. sub Litera M. says that he was not a Pole but a Cartulan, or a Scot. The same source one time gives his order as Cistercian, another time as Kaznodziejski [preaching friar. i.e., Dominican]. Siffridus Petrus Leogardiensis from Trythenius proves that a great difference of opinion arose among learned people as to his order, whether he was Benedictine, Cistercian, or Dominican; each was claiming him for his own order. Some in Rajnaud wanted to call him an Italian by birth, and in Bzowiusz some jostle to call hishome Konsencya [Cosenza], others Benevento. Kardynal Bellarmin lib. de scriptor. Ecclesiast. attests that he was Polish by birth, a friar by profession, an archbishop by rank, and a penitent of Innocent IV who wrote a chronicle covering up to Honorius IV, but calls him simple and undereducated for including in it the story of Pope John's being a woman and giving other such items as history. Possevinus concurs with Bellarmin: Jul. Buleng. Francuz Diatriba 14. contra Cassaubonum. Our Father Kwiatkiewicz, in this book to which he gave the title Fajcinus, also lays the blame for the fictitious Pope Joan n him. Damalew. in Archiep. Gnesnen., despite ascribing great skill in ecclesiastic law to him and renown to his name, also blames him for this exposed nursery-tale. In Dialogue 6 of de signis verae Ecclesiae Jakob Ostrowski throws this same charge up to him; and a host of others, one after the other, failed to get to the truth of the matter.
But that Marcin was Polish by birth, a Dominican by profession, and Gniezno archbishop in rank, is proved first of all in Rajnaud tomo 14. Annal. Eccles. in 1277, where the author quotes letters of Popes Nicholas III, C. tom. 1. L. 1. Ep. 189, and Martin IV, C. tomo 1. 1. 3. ep. 50. Rajnaud is supported by Spondanus, same year, num. 18, from a letter of that same pope Martin dated 23 December. This letter is in the registry of the Vatican Library. C. 126 has the same letter, also Vadingus tomo 2. in Annal. Ordin. Min. toward the end of 1281. It was written to Henry of the Bremen Minorite princes; it says that - the Gniezno archdiocese having been orphaned since Martin's death and since Wlostyborz, Gniezno canon chosen unanimously from the chapter for that capital, had voluntarily handed his resignation to Eilip Eirman, the apostolic nuncio in that place and at that time - he was appointing this Henry Gniezno archbishop; and there we read the words of the Pope: Per mortem Martini Poloni de Ordine Praedicatorum, quem in Archiepiscopus, eidem praefeceramus Ecclesiae [By the death of the Pole Martin of the order of Preachers, whom we made Archbishop and to whom we entrusted the Church...] - in the face of such decisive evidence, all doubt on this point should disappear. Furthermore, toward the end of 1278 in num. 32 in Annal. Eccles. Bzovius tells of himself that in Bononia [= Bologna], where Marcin died, he saw his body laid out to await the last day and this brief inscription on his tombstone in the Dominican church: Hic jacet Erater Martinus Polonus Ordinis Praedicatorum Archiepiscopus Gnesnensis [Here lies Brother Martin, Pole, of the Order of Preachers, Gniezno Archbishop]; Rajnaudus also writes of this. And if these obvious proofs did not speak for themselves, it would suffice to note that his general fame, widespread among various authors, never describes him other than by his homeland, Martinus Polonus [Martin the Pole]. Some (Sajnaudus says) gave him the title "archbishop of Konsencya" [Consenza]; if he administered this church of Calabria, he must have done so after 1272, when Thomas, that city's pastor, accepted the patriarchy of Jerusalem. Marcin, seduced by affection for his homeland, left Konsencya with papal permission and took charge of the metropolis of Gniezno; hurrying there on his way from Rome, on the road he took the path to eternity in 1279.
As for his writings: Leo Alanus in Commentations de Joannae Papissae fabula defends our Pole and says that the fictitious story is nowhere to be found in his truthful chronicle. In Urban VIII's time a very old copy of his chronicle was taken from the Vatican library, and in it there was no sign of this work that has been unfairly attributed to him to this day. From this that writer concludes that this patch was sewn in as an addition either by undereducated or by evil people. Vitae Pontif. Roman. tomo 2. fol. 1981. Joannes Stalenus saw a manuscript of the older chronicle in another place, and he states in his Papissa Monstrosa that there wasn't a hint of the fictitious Joan in it. Bzovius also testifies to the same for his compatriot. And Sifridus Piotr Leovardiensis in dedicat. Martiniani Chronici says:
Caeterum cum sua tempestate uti fere solus, ita praecipuus rerum Ecclesiasticarum Chronographus fuerit, factum esse, ut opus ab ipso editum, magno cum applausu exciperent, quod, quoniam typis nondum repertis, manu describendum erat, (quod optimis, quibusvis authoribus usuvenit) factum est, ut aliorum imperitia, aliorum negligentia, aliorum malevolentia propositum exemplar, de intregritatis gratia deturbarit. [ But since he was almost the only - and thus the chief - Chronographer of Ecclesiastical affairs in his time, it could happen (as it has with many authors, the best among them), since type had not yet been invented and works had to be copied by hand, that a given copy of the work he had published to great applause could be robbed by others' ignorance, negligence, or malevolence of the virtue of correctness. ]
This author is completely mistaken when he says that Marcin covered up to 1320 in his history and when he ascribes to the pen of Marcin the Pole and considers his work everything the Basel edition adds to the Eulden version, from the beginning of 1277. Three times his chronicle was issued into the light of day from the printer's press. The first time was the Typis Oporianis in Basel in 1559. The second time was in 1574, Typis Plantinianis in Antwerp. The third time was in Cologne in 1616. Several editions of these added history of four Popes that, according to Vossyusz, were not in the others; and that author doubts that Marcin lived that long. As for me, I am certain that he did not live so long, and my proof is in the papal letters of Nicholas III and Martin IV, inasmuch as the latter wrote in 1282 - already after his death - to appoint another successor to the cathedral orphaned by his death, as we spoke of earlier. How then was Martin supposed to annotate the events of later years when he had long since died? Many scholars of considerable repute are of the same opinion. Bucholcer asserts in his chronology that Marcin covered only up to 1278 in his chronicle, and that the rest, up to 1320, was added by others. Rajnaudus says under 1277 num. 19 from Bernard Gwidon that it only went up to the time of Pope John XXI; Spondanus states the same thing under 1278 num. 18, where he adds that in many old manuscripts his history was not extended farther than to Nicholas III; he himself saw that, but there are some who write that it went only to Clement IV.
Praising his knowledge and skill, Siffridus of Trytemius says: Vir erat in Scripturis Sanctis studiosus et eruditus, ac saecularium Literarum non ignarus [He was a man studious and learned in the Sacred Scriptures, and not ignorant of secular letters]. P. Rajnaudus speaks likewise.
Etsi a Cardinali Bellarmino et Possevino, notetur censura nimiae in vetustorum temporum scribenda historia simplicitatis, et fabulas nonnullas pro veris afferre; caetertum illum in temporum suorum pangenda historia, rerum gestarum veritati consentire experti sumus. [Although Cardinal Bellarmin and Possevin criticized him for excessive simplicity in writing the history of ancient times and for presenting more than one fable as true, still we have found him to be consistent with the facts in recounting the history of our times. ]
It is clear from the books he published what kind of man he was. He wrote: 1. Tabula Decretalium [A Table of Decretals]; 2. Chronicon Summorum Pontificum et Imperatorum [A Chronicle of All Pontiffs and Emperors]; 3. Sermones de tempore [Discourses on Time]; 4. Sermones de Sanctis [Discourses on the Saints] in Argentorato in 1486 and reprinted in 1488, according to Maraeus; 5. De diversis, miraculis [On Various Miracles]; 6. De Schismate Graecorum [On the Greeks' Schism]; 7. Historia de Guelfis [History of the Guelphs]. Bzovius writes of all these that he saw them in the Vatican libary. Vossius adds that Marcin wrote a book which he titled Memorabilia Romae. Speranza in libro Selectae Scripturae puncto 142 cites his Promptuarium. Martinus Baronius says that he also wrote a chronicle of Poland, in the seven leaves of which he says there was something about Boleslaw the Bold. Cardinal Bellarmin deserves reproach for censuring this Pole when he never had a chance to see an authentic original of Marcin's chronicle: and Possevin, too, (who praises Florymund Remund, one of the heretics Marcin convinced of the lie about Pope Joan, praises him in volumes 1 and 2) - if he had read Remund - would have found there how Remund praises Marcin, and would surely not have taken pen in hand to write the remark by which he changed his garb: to say the same of other authors.
Rajnaudus blames our Polish historians for having kept silent about their archbishop Marcin, whether because he died far from his homeland before assuming his cathedral seat, or because his elevation to that metropolis did not become known to the Poles, or because his promotion had no result and was regarded as invalid. He mentions Kromer, however, on this point: but our historian Długosz, much older than Kromer, speaks quite clearly about Marcin. Clemens Janicius in his epigrammata places him among the archbishops of Gniezno, where he wrote about him, Tam cito cur moreris legum jurisque; perite, non potes an Stygias, vincere jure Deas. [Why do you, learned in statutes and law, die so swiftly Why can you not conquer the Stygian goddesses with law?] After these Bielski fol. 190 Paprocki wrote about him, as did Damalewicz in Vitis Archiepisc, in a very inferior way. Others, too, spread his books and the fame of his name. Pruszcz, Forteca Duchowna fol. 102. Pawel Russel Tryumf fol. 19 et 100 calls him "Strzepski," and thus suspicion arose among some that they should draw him into the Strzemie arms, as does Severinus in Vita S. Hyacinthi lib. 1 cap. 23, even calling Długosz as a witness. Starolski in Hecathe also adds that first among Poles, and probably alone among them, he won very great fame around the world with his writings. In all this I hold with Janicius, Damalewicz, Paprocki, Bielski, and Okolski that he was of the Bodula arms, which the poet applied to his brief life as an archbishop, Breve est ver liliorum [Brief is the lilies' spring]. This Marcin was the twenty-second in the line of Gniezno archbishops and was elevated to that honor by Nicholas III in Viterbo on 23 May. Paprocki counts amoung various conferments to others besides Marcin one to Pomscibor Bodula and his brother Nadbor in 1283, and he read the name of Dadzibog Bodula on the roster of Sendomierz monastery in 1289.
Copyright © 1987 William F. Hoffman. Used by permission. This article originally appeared in Polish Genealogical Society Newsletter (vol. X, no. 1, Spring 1987), the bulletin of the Polish Genealogical Society (of America).