Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The most mysterious ghost – “Black Lady” or "Black Dame"!

The most mysterious ghost – “Black Lady” or "Black Dame"!

The city of Nesvizh is a so called capital of Belarusian ghosts and spirits

Photo Credits:http://www.afisha.ru/
Do you believe in mysterious things? Do you believe in ghosts and spirits?

Nowadays lots of documentaries, programs, movies, and books are dedicated to this topic. How can an ancient castle be without ghosts, without scary mysteries, or without grim legends?
Every year all around the world, in a particular time various isolated castles, palaces, buildings and parks are haunted with ghosts who have been wandering about the present world in search of peace and a way of getting into their extra mundane invisible world for many and many centuries. 

Is it a good or a bad omen to see a ghost with your own eyes? Some people believe that ghosts and spirits can bring good luck and protection especially to married couples who love each other sincerely.  Others, on the contrary, consider that all ghosts are very bad and hostile towards people and always try to frighten them, lure into a thick woods or even void of reason. However, people’s interest in ghosts and spirits has never decreased. And thousands and thousands new people appear everywhere in the world who are eager to start their hunting for ghosts and spirits.

If you also belong to the group of ghostbusters, come to Belarus and meet its local famous ghosts.

Nesvizh - an ancient & haunted city...
Nesvizh Castle - Belarus
 Photo Credits:http://www.velvet.by/
Nesvizh is one of the most ancient towns in Belarus, as it dates back to 1223. It is situated not far away from the capital of Belarus – the city of Minsk, around 112 km. Nesvizh has got its own rich and long history. However, the most interesting fact about this town is that real ghosts haunt main buildings in it such as the Castle, the Roman Catholic Church. 

Nesvizh Roman Catholic Church with Radzivill family's coffins
 Photo Credits:http://tio.by/
The history of Nesvizh is closely connected with one of the noble families in Belarus. It is necessary to mention that there were many noble families in the history of Belarus; however none was more renowned than the Radzivil family. This family left their imprint on a wide range of fields – from public and political life to culture and education. 

Nowadays underground in Nesvizh Roman Catholic Church there are the Radzivils’ tombs, where embalmed bodies of the representatives of the powerful dynasty rest in around 80 coffins.

 The stories of a “humpbacked” coffin & a an owl-werewolf in Nesvizh

Photo Credits: http://crosti.ru/
A very tragic and sad story exists about one of this coffins that is called a “humpbacked” coffin because of its strange shape. It is said the in of these coffin's lay buried one of the Radzivils’ dynasty's Princess. The princess fell in love with a simple man who came not from a noble family. One day she left a ball organized in the castle wearing only a light ball gown, and there was  a severe frosty winter outside. The princess did it because she was so eager to meet her lover forgetting about everything. While sitting on a bench and waiting for him she was frozen to death and died. The princess was so badly frozen up, that they even didn’t manage to straighten her. That’s why she was buried in a so-called “humpbacked” coffin.

In the underground Radzivils’ shrine there is the coffin of Catherine Radzivil and six small coffins of her children who had died early. Passers-by, who find themselves near the Cathedral at night, can hear a rustle of wings and heartbreaking moans coming from underground. They say that it is an owl-werewolf that cries over her children, into which princess Catherine’s soul turns at night.

The main inhabitant of the Nesvizh Castle – “Black Dame”

Lady in Black

Photo Credits: http://www.poetryclub.com.ua/

During moonless nights Black Dame wanders about the corridors of Nesvizh Castle. It is the spirit of Barbara Radzivil who was the wife of the Polish King – Zhigimont August II. 

Barbara Radzivill was born in December in the year of 1522 in Vilna in one of the most powerful magnate dynasties of her time. The parents of Barbara Radzivill gave her excellent education. She could speak and write in Old Belarusian fluently, as that time it was the most common language in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and all the governmental documents, business papers, contracts and probates were made in that language. Barbara Radzivill could also speak and write Lithuanian, knew Latin, Greek and German. She was taught drawing, poetry, playing some musical instruments, fencing and riding too.  Barbara Radzivill also learnt mathematics, geography and theology. Her knowledge was at the level of the highest standards of European Renaissance.

 Barbara Radzivill

Barbara Radzivill - Black Dame in Nesvizh

Photo Credits:http://inbelhist.org/

At the age of fifteen they made Barbara Radzvill marry the governor Stanislav Gashtold, who was the last representative of one of the most powerful families in Lithuania. Unfortunately, in 1542 the governor died and Barbara Radzivill became a 20 year-old widow. 

By that time Barbara Radzivill had been considered to be the most beautiful woman of Poland and Great Duchy of Lithuania. It is written in the chronicles that Barbara Radzivill was “triumphant in her beauty and love affairs”. Barbara Radzivill was a blonde lady with a slender properly built body, hazel eyes, with soft gentle hands, with snow white teeth and with indescribably beautiful look and very graceful movements.  Barbara Radzivill was always so fresh and tidy like a fragrant flower striking wonderful perfume all the time. All that made all people around her amazed as in that epoch almost all people including crowned heads washed not every day spreading a sharp smell of rotten teeth, sweat, and dirty clothes. 

Fortunately or unfortunately, the palace of the Gashtolds’ family, the former husband of Barbara Radzivill in Vilna was situated close to the castle of the Grand Duke of Lithuania, Zhigimont August, who was the heir of the Polish Royal throne. Zhigimont August was neither tall nor short, swarthy, always wearing black clothes and lots of jewelry, he was half Italian and half Polish.  After having seen Barbara Radzivill, Zhigimont August became inflamed with passion to the beauty. Barbara Radzivill reciprocated him with great pleasure. The love between Zhigimont August and Barbara Radzivil was very similar to the love that was between Romeo and Juliet. It was the greatest love of Poland and Belarus of the 16th century.

Barbara Radzivill - Black Dame of Nesvizh
Barbara Radzivill
Zhigimont August
Zhigimont August





Photo Credits: 1- http://www.gs.by/ | 2 - http://i.allday.ru/

Zhigimont August and Barbara Radzivill started to meet each other every night. Ant it was obvious that not only all people from Vilna got to know about it  but also outside it.

However, that news didn’t make happy the cousin of Barbara Radzivill – Nickolay Radzivill Cherny (the Black). He was an outstanding diplomat who dreamt to be released from the Polish Crown and become an independent king of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. Nickoly Radzivill Cherny together with the sibling of Barbara Radzivill – Nickoly Radzivill Ryzhiy (the Red) came to Vilna to Zhigimont August and demanded him whether to marry Barbara Radzivill or leave her alone. Knowing the hatred of his mother, the queen Bona Sforca towards the Radzivills’ family, Zhigimont August promised that he would never meet Barbara Radzivill again.

But the beauty of the young widow attracted Zhigimont August so much like first spring flowers attracted bees. And he really loved Barbara Radzivill sincerely. Indeed, the love Barbara awoke in his heart was called “the love affair of the century”. That’s why already during the 1st night after his promise he broke it down and went to the Radzivils’ palace through the secret entrance where Barbara was waiting for him, as between their both palaces there was a special underpass.

At the same night the cousin and the sibling of Barbara Radzivill suddenly came back to Nesvizh as they had a good intuition ant they were really witted and clever young men. At midnight the doors of the bedroom were suddenly opened. In the doorstep Barbara’s two angry brothers were standing carrying swords in their hands, they were followed by a priest. Nickoly Radzivill Cherny and Nickoly Radzivill Ryzhiy declared to the Zhigimont August that his secret meetings with their sister were casting a shadow on their family’s honor. They demanded Zhigimont to marry Barbara Radzivill as he had broken down his promise. He agreed only asking the wedding to be kept in secret till the time he would get the Polish throne. 

Barbara Radzivill & Zhigimont August
 Photo Credits:http://restinworld.ru/

In 1547 Zhigimont August and Barbara Radzivill married secretly. And soon after that the newlyweds parted for half a year. Zhigimont August went to Poland in the hope of getting a marriage license. He sent Barbara Radzivill to the place called Dubinki that was about 50 km from Vilnius. They both kept in touch constantly by sending letters and small gifts to each other.

In 1548 Zhigimont’s father – the Polish king died, the government of Poland decided to coronate Zhigimont August. That time his mother, the queen Bona Sforca was searching for a bride-to-be for her son, the future young king. That marriage would have to strengthen the throne and the prestige of the Polish kingdom in Europe. It was like a real thunderclap for the queen Bona Sforca to get to know that Zhigimont had already a wife.  It meant that they had to accept together with the new Polish king also a queen – Barbara Radzivill. The mother of Zhigimont tried to do her best in order to make it impossible for Barbara to become crowned in Poland. All the Polish political figures of that time were against it and they demanded the Polish king to divorce. But his answer was the following one: “It is better for me to refuse from crown than from my beloved wife”. In order to solve that issue it was even necessary to go to Rome and meet the Pope. As a result, Barbara Radzivill was presented to the court as the wife of the young Polish king, Zhigimont August.

The person who hated Barbara Radzivil most was the mother of Zhigimont August – the queen Bona Sforca. In protest the old queen left Poland and went to Italy giving a special order to some Polish chemist called Monti. Barbara Radzivil was on the Polish throne not for a long time. Hardly had one year passed when the young queen became seriously ill, and even the best physicians both from the royal palace and from Europe couldn’t understand which illness it was.  Barbara was suffering badly; her body was covered with lots of bleeding sores which were spreading a horrible stench. That even sick-nurses couldn’t stay in the room of the ill young queen. That was the time when the Polish king showed his real love towards his beloved Barbara. He spent days and nights with Barbara taking care and supporting her as he could. By that time Barbara Radzivill had turned from a healthy fresh beautiful young lady into a terminally ill pale woman. The triumph and happiness of the royal couple lasted not for a long time, as on the 8th of May in 1551 Barbara Radzivill died. And the physicians of those times couldn’t distinguish the cause of her death. After Barbara’s death Zhigimont spent two whole weeks near her coffin praying and crying. 

Black Dame of Nesvizh
Photo Credits: http://inbelhist.org/

They said that the mother of Zhigimont August was the cause of  the death of the young health queen as she had put a spell on Barbara with the help of some black magician or she ordered to poison Barbara Radzivill secretly It was very plausible taking into account all the hatred that Bona Sforca had towards her daughter-in-law. Also Bona Sforca came from the noble Italian family whose representatives were closely connected with deep knowledge in the field of various poisons, herbs and drugs, the secrets of which were transferred from generation to generation. Bona Sforca was given the following nickname “a crowned snake”. Being versed in palace intrigues Bona Sforca got what she had wanted not letting the Radzivills’ be on the Polish throne. Except that, her son Zhigimont August became childless forever and stopped the royal dynasty to which he belonged.

While dying in the hands of Zhigimont, Barbara Radzivil asked only for one thing. Her last desire was to be buried not in hateful Poland but in her Motherland.   

The Polish king – Zhigimont August fulfilled the last wish of his beloved wife as he had fulfilled all the wishes of hers during their life together. The whole way from Krakow (Poland) to Vilna (Lithuania), Zhigimont August followed the coffin of Barbara Radzivil on foot in order to be with his darling one together till the last minute. She was buried in the Cathedral on the square of Gedemin where her sarcophagus is still situated nowadays. 

The changes that had happened since that time when Zhigimont August had met Barbara remained the same. The young Polish king continued to be brave, strong and willed man, and his mother-queen didn’t manage to return her control over the son. Having lost the trust of the Royal Polish court, Bona Sforca had to leave Poland and go to Italy again, where she hid in one of the convents. In 1557 she died having poisoned herself.
After the funeral of Barbara Radzivill the loneliness and yearning of Zhigimont became unbearable. And the Polish king decided to address to the warlocks or so-called alchemists Tvardovskiy and Mnishek in order to see his wife at least one single time again. It is written in the chronicles that the alchemist Tvardovskiy was a real historical person. They said he had sold his soul to the devil with the condition that it would take his soul if Tvardovskiy would die in Rome. Obviously, he didn’t want to visit Rome till the end of his life. However, death reached Tvardovskiy in a tavern called “Rome”. The alchemist Mnishek was also a historical person.
Zhigimont August asked them to evoke the spirit of Barbara. They made a condition that he wouldn’t have to touch the spirit and leave his place as then Barbara’s spirit would not be able to return back to the afterworld. It is written in the chronicles that the warlocks Tvardovskiy and Mnishek made Zhigimont August sit in an armchair and they even wanted to tie his hands to the armrests in order not to let him touch the spirit by mistake. Zhigimont gave his word that he would sit quietly and only would ask his beloved wife how for him to live further. After that the alchemists brought to a blackout room Barbara’s portrait wearing white clothes in full growth, put mirrors everywhere around the room, outlined a magic circle, lighted candles, and cast a particular spell. And in the middle of the outlined circle, like being alive Barbara Radzivil appeared.  Forgetting all the warnings, the Polish king rushed towards the spirit of his wife by shouting the following words: “My Darling!”.  Hardly had Zhigimont August tried to hug Barbara, when a lightning flashed, and a strong wind passed by. Also some explosion happened spreading a putrid smell around the dark room, the spirit instantly blackened and dissolved in the air with a loud moan.

Black Dame of Nesvizh
Photo Credits: http://inbelhist.org/

The king’s imprudence turned out to be fatal. The spirit of Barbara settled in Nesvizh Palace of the Radzivills’ waiting for the death of her husband. He had to come there at the end of his life in order to make it possible for both of them to reunite together after death. However, Zhigimont August died unexpectedly on the 7th of July in 1572 in a faraway castle “Knishin” that was surrounded by charlatans, magicians, astrologers, witches. Zhigimont August died in the room that had been draped in black in memory of Barbara Radzivill and he didn’t come to Nesvizh…And Barbara has been still waiting for her husband. 

Since that day the spirit of Barbara Radzivil has been wandering about the earth forever. During moonless nights a ghostly black shadow has been wandering about the former possessions of the Radzivils’. It appears at midnight and disappears at a quarter past 4 am by hiding in the palace underpasses.  Since the death of her beloved husband Barbara Radzivill has been wearing black clothes like mourning for her ruined life and love.  Barbara Radzivill has been wandering about even among people too; she has always appeared in front of them wearing only black mourning clothes.  

This is the spirit of Barbara Radzivil, known as “Black Dame”, that is considered to be a forerunner of Love. However, there are various opinions about it. 

Till the 18th century, they had believed that Black Dame appeared only in front of lovers who would have to part soon. 

Later they started to believe that the spirit of Barbara Radzivill appeared in order to warn the owners of the palace about a devil and all to pay such as fire, illness or war. In the middle of the 19th century Black Dame started to be responsible for some new functions such as to monitor the behavior of young girls and women. Some of them were given a lesson by Black Dame in dark placed during the castle balls, especially those ladies who were wearing too open outfits. 

Even Germans, who invaded the territory of Nesvizh twice during the war times, believed in the existence of the spirit of Black Lady. When they saw something black at the end of the palace park, then they shouted loudly “Schwarz Frau!” –“Black Dame!” and started shooting towards the black shadow. They scattered around the park being very horrified and tried to hide somewhere. 

The romantic story about love and an outstanding figure of Barbara Radzivill have served as material for various prosaic, poetic, musical, and dramatic pieces translated into different languages.  About love, life and death of Barbara Radzivill was written in the dramatic poem “ Black Panna of Nesvizh”  in 1998 by Belarusian playwright, Aleksei Dudarev.

Belarusian poetess and librettist, Tatsiana Mushinskaya created the libretto of historical ballet “Barbara Radzivill”. 

Icon - Barbara Radzivill
 Photo Credits: http://inbelhist.org/

The famous icon of Our Lady - Ostrobramskaya which is kept right now in Vilnius was created according to the order of the king Zhigimont August. They say that this almost the only icon of Our Lady where she is without Savior. Because Babara Radzivill didn’t have any child.

In the our article the facts from the site “Institute of Belarusian History and Culture” and from the historical magazine “Bells of Times”.

Barbara Radzivill or "Black Dame"...
Video Credits: YouTube Member - Tristesse1

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For people who come to Nesvizh in hope to see Black Dame there is a nice opportunity to stay in the hotel on the territory of Nesvizh Palace. They say that while sleeping you can hear various sounds and the previous owners of the palace can appear in your dreams. Come and become a witness of meeting Black Lady yourself!          

At the Polls!
Photo Credits: http://grandwallpapers.net/

Are Ghosts Fiction or Reality? 

Do you believe in the existence of ghosts and spirits?
No, I don’t! It all is rubbish and fiction!
I believe that ghosts and spirits live only in horror movies and horror stories.
Yes, I do. Ghosts are reality.
I believe as I’ve been a witness of it myself.
Definitely! As I’m from the list of ghostbusters! It’s my hobby!
Without any doubts! I meet ghosts every other day. As I’m a scientist in this field.
Poll Maker

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