The article presents a literary image of queen Bona appearing in Polish 19th and 20th century drama, and makes an attempt at explaining the reasons for painting such an image. The events of the majority of plays discussed in this text (written in the 19th century and the early 20th century) was inspired by the stormy marriage between Sigismund Augustus and Barbara Radziwiłł, whereas Bona, a character depicted in dark colours, was opposed to excessively idealised Barbara. The queen from the Sforza family was shown as a woman blinded by hatred and thirsty for power, cunning and unscrupulous plotter, pitiless poisoner, foreigner acting against the Polish interests and implementing the controversial teachings of her countryman, Machiavelli. The negative and historically false image became blurred with the passing years to change radically as a result of a more critical attitude to Barbara, visible in the literary works written after the Second World War. From a bad monarch wishing Poland ill, Bona turned to be a wise ruler and far-sighted politician, defending the interest of her second homeland. The article discusses separately radically different images of queen Bona outlined in two dramas set in Bari and not inspired by Sigismund Augustus’s marriage. Additionally, the stage history of one of them is presented.
The article focuses on the first Polish film in which the figure of Bona Sforza appeared, namely Barbara Radziwiłłówna, created by Józef Lejtes, a well-known director, in 1936. Moreover, it discusses the circumstances in which the film was made, and the image of the queen presented therein. Numerous comments which appeared in the press, both contemporary and of a later period, have been recalled.
The article mainly quotes a previously unpublished manuscript of Jarosław Iwaszkiewicz’s novel about Bona Sforza, entitled The Funeral of the Queen, which he has worked on between the 6th of June 1949 and 1953. The editor presents the origins of the book and its development. Additionally, all documents that Iwaszkiewicz researched and collected while working on the novel are included in the book, including notes, nine versions of the first sentence of the novel, and the letters from Ludwik Kolankowski and Zofia Zarembianka, who provided Iwaszkiewicz with factual information. The conclusion of the article reveals the nature of Iwaszkiewicz’s writing, showing that a huge amount of documents he researched– instead of helping him – paralysed him.