Legendary Piast rulers transformed into rock stars to raise interest in Polish history
Poland’s legendary Piast rulers are being transformed into rock stars in a series of music videos aimed at raising public interest in the earliest period of Polish history.
The MTV-style rock videos are part of the project Piast Superstars from the Museum of the Origins of the Polish State in Gniezno.
Each video tells a story about the rulers of the Piast dynasty in the early Middle Ages.
Dr Marcin Walkowiak from the museum told TFN: “We decided to use rock music and the music video genre to popularise the earliest history of Poland, focusing particularly on the lives and achievements of its first rulers.”
“The music videos are not just a series of dates and events but show the challenges that each of the rulers faced,” he added.
Two music videos have been made so far. The first one, ‘To Kołobrzeg!’, tells the story of Poland’s expansion to the Baltic coast under Polish duke Bolesław III the Wrymouth in the very early 12th century.
In the video, Bolesław, characterised by Marek Piekarczyk, sings: “For our ancestors, salty and smelly fish were enough, we are coming for the fresh one, splashing in the ocean!”
“We started with the last ruler of the early Piasts Bolesław III because we know more about him and his exploits than any of the others,” said Dr Walkowiak.
Bolesław III was the last ruler before what historians call the fragmentation of Poland when the country was divided into duchies and distributed among Bolesław’s sons in an attempt to stop the brothers killing each other for the top spot.
The strategy failed spectacularly, and Poland had to wait until the 14th century when Władysław the Elbow-high reunited some of the duchies into a revived state.
The video premiered on YouTube and Facebook on Thursday this week.
Meanwhile, on Saturday 28 August, the second video, featuring Poland’s legendary first ruler, Mieszko I, will be aired.
‘Should I Enter the Water’ is set before Mieszko’s famous christening in 966, which set Poland on the path of Roman Christianity, which it has never left.
It sees Mieszko struggling with what was not just a personal decision but one of great importance for Poland.
Dr Walkowiak said: “The times change but the challenges and choices that people face are always the same. And this can be seen clearly in the choices that the early Piasts had to make. Bolesław and whether to expand what he already had, and Mieszko about whether to become a Christian.”
The museum plans to make music videos about all of Poland’s rulers, some of whom were dukes and some kings, up to Bolesław III and also about some of the fascinating women from the period who helped to shape Poland’s destiny.
The response from social media users has so far been positive. YouTube user Aleksandra gross-mikolajczyk wrote: “Great work :) I can’t wait for the next ones". While GolemMolem simply wrote: “Cossack!!!”
The music and lyrics for the first two songs were written by Tomasz Citak and Michał Pilas from the museum in Gniezno.
Some of the words however were taken from Gall the Anonymous, the first chronicler of Poland's early history at the court of Bolesław III.
Prominent Polish musicians are involved in the project, including Dariusz Malejonek from Maleo Reggae Rockers, vocalist and songwriter Marek Piekarczyk and Ewa Pitura from folk rock band Percival Schuttenbach.
Filming took place on the beach in Kołobrzeg for the video about Bolesław III, and in the Fredro Theatre in Gniezno for the film about Mieszko I.