Boleslaw Smialy (King Boleslaus the Bold) (1972)




Director:     Witold Lesiewicz.

Starring:      Ignacy Gogolewski  (King Boleslaw II Smialy),  Jerzy Kaliszewski  (Bishop Stanislaw Szczepanowski),  Maria Ciesielska  (Emperor's Lady),  Aleksandra Slaska  (Queen),  Zdzislaw Mrozewski  (Kanclerz Radosz),  Kazimierz Opalinski  (Bogumil, arcybiskup gnieznienski),  Henryk Bak  (Rycerz przeciwny krlowi ),  Kazimierz Meres  (Wojewoda Sieciech ),  Krzysztof Machowski  (King's knight ),  Michal Pawlicki (Count Herman - Boleslaw's brother),  Alicja Raciszwna  (Czlonkini poselstwa Rusinw),  Mieczyslaw Voit (Otto from Tyniec),  Jerzy Zelnik (King's knight, bishop's killer),  Andrzej Zaorski  (Grzegorz, King's knight).

1079, struggle between the king of Poland, Boleslaus the Bold (reign 1076-1079), and the Bishop of Cracow; the Polish Becket


Spoiler Warning:  below is a summary of the entire film. 


"Dethronization of Boleslaw the Good and his escape to Hungary in 1079 remains a mystery to historians.  It is suspected, the strike against the King led by Wladyslaw Herman was initiated by Antigregorian circles in Germany the same year."

Judge after judge says it's death for the prisoners.  The Bishop of Krakow is coming.  The Bishop has to be properly received.  The Bishop approaches His Majesty and says he hears that the King is holding a Royal Judgment.  The Bishop says that the judgment should be held with the Council.  He advises the King to show mercy on his subjects.  The King says he sent these men to support Vsievlod and they escaped. 

A man has finally come back from Kiev to find that his wife has married another.  He is furious with his family for this.  Mother tells the man that he was gone for three years and they said that he was dead.  The new husband is dragged behind a horse through the little village.  The horseman, however, has to come to a quick halt.  He shouts out that the King's men are coming.  The King's men come to the furious husband and he says he is just keeping justice in his own house.  He becomes very impertinent with the officer, who gets very angry and hits the first husband with his sword on the back of the man's neck.  Then the men involved in the dispute are taken away, forced to walk or run behind the horses of the King's men. 

The Bishop and his men on horseback run into the King's men.  The bishop asks the officer who are these men they are dragging behind them?  The officer responds:  "Rioters, sir.  Of the Kiev troop.  They punished their servants with death."  They are taking these men to court.  One of the prisoners tries to escape and is killed.  Again, the Bishop calls for mercy. 

A clergyman known as Otto speaks to the Bishop of the country being a pagan one, but the Bishop tells him:  "This country has been christened, Otto."  Otto asks:  "Are we fighting heathendom by destroying pagan gods?"  He says that now Emperor Henry calls the King his enemy.  Otto introduces the Bishop to Brother Adalbertus, who is responsible for the convent books.  The Bishop then says:  "The King is pursuing the mutineers who have left Kiev without his orders.  The poor men run for our protection." 

Someone kills a delegate from Kiev while the Kievans are in their encampment.  He then rides away on his horse.  The wife screams when she discovers the arrow in her husband's back.  This alerts the others in the camp.  A woman says that Vsevolod sent them to a friendly king, but this king dishes out death to them.  An older man says that King Vsevolod chose him as an ambassador.  He adds:  "I will not forget that death."

The king's brother mentions to the queen that she sent a man to Prague.  She says she sent a letter to her brother.  She tells her brother-in-law  that she doesn't think she will be able to stay here much longer.  The man says:  "If you leave, you lose." 

A man tells the brother:  "It will not be easy for him to rewin the Ruthenians favors."

"Never before has the king welcomed any envoys with such dignity."  It means he's fearful.

Knez Vsevolod sends his deepest respects to the queen. The queen says:  "I am glad."

The brother takes the delegation to see the king.  The king tells his brother that he will speak to these men alone.  The brother looks very put-out by this and he leaves in a snit.  The king says that he has had no news from Kiev for quite some time now.   He goes on:  "I dispatched my man to Vsevolod and the troops left him for his protection departed Kiev without my orders."   The king says he offers Kiev his support if needed.  The delegate says help may be needed because the German and Czech magnates are not eager to make agreements.  The delegates say they heard that the king has given his support to Idiaslav the exile.  The king retorts with:  "Nobody will chase Vsevolod from Kiev."  The delegate says that one of the envoys was killed in an ambush.   

The king goes with the delegates to see if the story is true.  He meets the widow of the envoy.  He promises the delegates he will find the assassin.  The main delegate says it more important to know the man behind the assassin who issued the order.  So, the king says he will find the man behind the assassin.  A burial service is conducted. 

A man named Voievod comes to tell the Bishop that new prisoners have been brought to the castle.  He asks the clergyman to plead for them. The man also tells the Bishop that an envoy from Rus was killed.  The Rus are asking for help, but they will not get it.  Henry the German does not have any love for Boleslaus.

The Bishop meets the Archbishop.  He then says that righteous people are being wronged.  The laws are broken.  The Archbishop doesn't know what people are being wronged, so the Bishop tells him that the convicts who the king's sentences have reached, seek protection."  He then complains that the King turns his back to him.  And when he points out the King's sins, the King scoffs at him.  The Archbishop says:  "The matters of the king and those of the church take a different course.  The Bishop tells the Archbishop that he certainly doesn't see much, so the King must see it with his own eyes to believe it. 

The king's council is meeting.  The King is told that everyone is here, including the Archbishop of Gniezno and those who plot with Sietieh..  The king's brother speaks of the lost land about which they should talk to the German emperor and the Czech king.  The King wants to talk about getting their lands back.  The King is glad there are so many people present, because now they can all know the will of the king.  One of the Council members says:  "The king does not rule alone  -- he rules with the Council."  Another man says:  "Death sentences are passed without the Council's consent."  The King says he will punish those who do not obey him.  The Bishop speaks out against the King and the King threatens him with the same punishment he will give to the others who are unruly.   The bishop gets angry and leaves the Council meeting.

Otto is informed that the king insulted the Bishop and threatened him with cutting his head off.  He asks what is the Voivod doing?  Sietieh the Voivod says that the king is secretly conferring with envoys from the Rus.  He also spoke out against Emperor Henry and Vratislav the Czech. 

Otto and some of the others have drawn up a false letter .  He says King Boleslaus will obey the Holy Father's orders.  He will fight against the Russian schism and take care of the interest of the the faith in the Rus.  He then says let's pray to Bishop Stanislaus. 

The King meets with the Archbishop.  The Archbishop says that the King offended the Bishop.  The King, however, says the bishop offended him for the bishop incites the people against him and prefers his brother Herman to him, the present king.  But the King has another problem:  "The wife, you and the German, Czech and Roman envoys have found for me, I do not love."  He loves another woman.  His wife is the sister of the Czech king.  The Archbishop tells the King to send the other woman away.  This makes the king mad and he says that the archbishop is not his friend. 

The king walks to the room where his lover is.  He tells her that she shall not be in hiding any longer.  He is taking her back to the castle.  The king says his wife wants to go back to Prague.  He says the death of the envoy was meant to thwart his plans and he wants to know who killed the envoy.  The woman worries about what might happen.  She advises the king not to make an enemy of the bishop.  The king is more worried about what his brother Herman is going to do. 

A lady-in-waiting tells the queen that the king was with the other woman all night long.  She goes to the other woman's room.  She finds the woman naked and asleep in a bed.  She pulls the covers off the young lady.  The queen is very upset.  She goes to talk with the bishop.  She makes a formal complaint against her husband.  The queen tells the bishop not to be lenient on the king because he violated the Commandments. She wants her husband to yield and she wants him to make a Christian court out of their castle.   The bishop says the king will only yield to superior power.  The queen says the the orders of the bishop do have the power to change things. 

The king's men come out to talk with some villagers.  The men, however, are hostile to the king and his behavior.  They kill the spokesman for the king and the other king's men have to get back on their horses and get out of there.

In front of the king and queen and the entire court, the bishop rails against those priest who are too lenient against the sins of the powerful.  The king is insulted and he leaves the chapel.  Later the archbishop scolds the priest for going after and humiliating the king.  But the bishop defends his stance and even tell the archbishop:  "Excommunicate him!"

A messenger of the king tells a group of brothers that the Council's Elders have issued the order that the brother immediately leave the king's troop.  And they are ordered to set free Herman, who is imprisoned in the castle.  The brothers kill the messenger.

The other woman tells the king:  "The chancellor is wrong."   His brother did not incite the people against the king, because his brother is a coward.  She urges him to punish Sietieh instead.  The king says Herman was prepared to have the crown set on his head by others.

The king goes to Herman and virtually attacks him.  He tells him:  "You reach for my crown behind my back."  Herman says he has not raised his hand against the king.  The king doesn't believe him and says he will be there to see his head roll in the yard.

"Sietieh the Voivod to see the king."  But the king is not in.

Voivod goes to the bishop and asks the bishop to hide him from the king.  The king has imprisoned Herman and now the king is coming after him.  He also says that they must strike out against the king who will not stop at anything.  They will have the Czech king on their side.  The bishop is not interested, but he will hide Voivod.

Some of the king's men travel to the bishop's church.  They say the king's orders are to bring back Sietieh the Voivod.  The priest says they can't go in with their swords, but the men breeze right past him.  They speak to the bishop, but he certainly is not going to give up Sietieh the Voivod to them.  The troops leave. 

The archbishop comes to speak to the other woman.  He urges her to leave the king, if not for her own sake, for that of the king.  Furthermore, Bishop Stanislas threatens to excommunicate the king.  The woman gets upset and runs from the archbishop.

The king visits the queen.  They argue about her leaving for Prague.  A messenger comes in to tell the king that the Holy Father has sent messengers to the king.  The queen's procession leaves for Prague.  The archbishop says that the Holy Father wants the king to fight against the eastern schism.  The king's adviser can't believe that the Holy Father wants them to fight against Vsevolod who came to their rescue.  The archbishop does not wish the king to fight Vsevolod.  The Holy Father wants to have talks and holds out the hope that Vsevolod will humbly leave his faith and join that of the Catholics. 

Allies urge the king to move against his brother Herman.  A message arrives that the emperor and Vratislav the Czech with his troops are headed for Krakow.  The king's troops have been defeated.  And the German emperor is coming to help the king's enemies.

The bishop now bans King Boleslaus, son of prince Casimir.  "Excommunicated is King Boleslaus with all his partners and advisers, with all who came to his help, with all who have given him advice, who rejoiced in what he was doing, with all who knew about his deeds and did not prevent them nor have they announced them as infamous."

The king's adviser comes to see the Bishop and accuses him of helping the emperor's military that even now are descending on Krakow.   He asks the bishop to take back his reckless excommunication.  The bishop will do it only if the king does penance.  The adviser says:  "You have condemned yourself.   I will personally ask the king for punishment for you."

The adviser finds the king with the other woman.  The king tells the adviser he will be in charge of the castle, while the king personally goes to get reinforcements.  The adviser warns the king that the crowd has encircled the castle. 

The other woman comes to see the bishop.  She says it's all her fault and asks that the bishop punish her.  She also says that she will leave the king and that the bishop should absolve the king.  Again the bishop says he will do it only if the king humiliates himself before God.  She leaves.  She runs through the crowd, but a couple of men grab her and shout that she is the king's wench.  The people throw stones at her, they chase her and catch her.  She is manhandled and falls to the ground.  A woman stands over the other woman striking her.

The bishop finds the girl dying.  He says some words over her.  She is later put in the back of a wagon and a horse takes her to some other place. 

The king's men now go after the bishop.  He comes out to confront the men.  He tells them to get on their knees.  The leader hits the bishop twice over the head with his sword, killing the bishop.  The men then leave as a priest rings the bell. 

The assassin comes in to see the king.  He lays at the king's feet his bloody sword.  Herman is now brought before the king.  The king forces Herman to sit on the throne, telling him this is what Herman always wanted.  The king now leaves the throne room.  The king and his men get on their horses and ride off.    As they ride the king calls out the names of his advisers and staff, but they have all gone elsewhere.  They go through a valley and people on top of the ridges throw down lit torches on the riders and their horses, but the king and his men get safely away.


The movie is confusing and there are a lot of names dropped in the film, but nothing is explained.  You have to read some history of the period to know who are all these different people.  The drama deals with the struggle between the secular and the sacred realms of Poland. 

Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.


Historical background:


1039-1058  --  reign of Duke Casimir I in Poland. 

1054-1068  --  reign of Grand Prince of Kiev, Iziaslav I of Kiev.

1068-1069 --   reign of Grand Prince of Kiev, Vseslav of Polotsk.

1056-1105  --  reign of Henry IV, King of Germany.

1058-1076  --  reign of Duke Boleslas II.   He was the son of Casimir I and Maria Dobroniega of Kiev.  His younger brother was Włladysłlaw Herman.  The Duke opposed the Holy Roman Empire.  He escalates the conflict with Duke Vratislaus II of Bohemia, by refusing to pay the annual homage to Bohemia and spurring to revolt the Bohemian nobility against Vratislaus.

1060-1063      the Duke Boleslas II intervened in Hungary to help Bla I and his sons against the Holy Roman Empire.

1061               Bla, with the support of Polish troops, gains power in Hungary.

1063               King Bla I of Hungary dies. Bolesłlaw II cannot stop the Holy Roman Emperor Henry IV from installing Blas brother-in-law Solomon on the Hungarian throne.

1069              Iziaslav I of Kiev is overthrown. Bolesłlaw II puts them back in power.

1069-1073  --  second reign of Grand Prince of Kiev, Iziaslav I of Kiev.

1071           --  Bolesłlaw II attacks Bohemia again.

1072           --  Bolesłlaw II renews his attack on Bohemia.

1073-1076  --  reign of Sviatoslav II of Kiev.

1073             Gregory VII, an enemy of the Holy Roman Emperor, becomes pope. Bolesłlaw II saw him as an ally and began applying the Pope's reforms in the Archbishopric of Gniezno

1075             a revolt in Saxony is encouraged by Bolesłlaw II. He forces Henry IV to retreat from that region. He then seizes the opportunity to invade Henry IV's vassal, Vratislaus II of Bohemia. He was helped by his ally from Kievan Rus, Vladimir II Monomakh.

1076-1079  --  reign of King Boleslas II.  Soon, the Polish magnates rebel because they fear the monarchy is becoming too powerful.  Bishop of Krakow Stanislaus was part of the barons' opposition movement. The movement plotted to remove the King and to place his brother Włladysłlaw Herman on the throne.   The movement is discovered and the Bishop is tried in court and found guilty of treason (?--  contradiction between two articles in Wikipedia). 

1076-1078  --  third reign of Grand Prince of Kiev, Iziaslav I of Kiev.

1078-1093  --  reign of Grand Prince of Kiev, Vsevolod I of Kiev.

1078            --  Polish troops conquer Red Ruthenia (the area known as Eastern Galicia prior to World War I, currently divided between Poland and Ukraine).

1079 (April) --  King Bolesłlaw II sends his men to execute Bishop Stanisłlaw but they are afraid to even touch the Bishop. So the King himself kills Stanisłlaw while he was celebrating Mass in the Skałlka outside the walls of Krakw.  This murder starts the barons' rebellion against the King. Bolesłlaw II finds refuge in Hungary, ruled by Lszl I, who owed his crown to the deposed King.

1079           --  Bolesłlaw II is deposed by a Barons' rebellion and banished from the country.

1079           --   death of King Boleslas II.  Some sources say his atrocious conduct in Hungary led to his poisoning.  He was only 40 years old. 

1084-1105  --  Henry IV, Holy Roman Emperor (and still King of Germany.). 




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