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I am looking at a particular moment in Polish history when Louis I of Hungary died in 1382. Although the Hungarian throne was inherited by his daughter Mary, local power brokers back in Poland did not want Mary and negotiated for her younger sister Jadwiga to be monarch instead. Jadwiga finally came to Kraków and at the age of ten, on 16 October 1384 (or possibly 1385), was crowned 'King' (not Queen for legal reasons) of Poland.

My question is - why did they find Jedwiga more acceptable than Mary? One reason I have seen is they did not want to 'continue the personal union with Hungary' but that doesnt make sense to me since they both have the same father and are therefore involved in that Hungarian union.

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3 Answers

Only one person can be involved in a personal union (hence the name). The trouble with being in a personal union – that is, sharing your monarch with a different country – is that your singular monarch might make choices that serve the other country's interests at the expense of your own.

Mary held the Hungarian crown after her father's death – her sister did not. By choosing Mary, Poland would have had a monarch who held the crown of both Hungary and Poland, which is what constitutes a personal union.

By choosing Jedwiga instead, they gained a monarch who did not already hold any other royal title. As a result the crown of Poland was held by one person, and the crown of Hungary was held by another, preventing a personal union (of two royal titles held by one person) of Poland and Hungary from occurring.

Of course, the monarchs of the countries were still related, but two sisters can have differences of opinion, and can better serve the interests of their separate countries as separate countries. And yes, it may have meant that Mary or Jedwiga were theoretically in line for each other's throne, but the personal union was broken for the time being, and in practical terms one or both would have soon had heirs who would have put new entire family branches between the thrones.

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Great answers...thanks so much! –  rowan Sep 8 '12 at 11:24
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Jadwiga was better choice for Polish nobility, as they could have much stronger influence on her, without having to deal with Hungarians.

Politic priorities of Poland and Hungary were different - the main problem of Poland those times were Teutonic Knights at the northern border. Hungarians had simply no interest in that matter. This way if Mary became Polish king, Hungarian nobility would never accept her marriage with Jogaila, prince of Lithuania, just in order to make Poland stronger.

Both girls were promised to marry princes of German origins (Luxembourgs and Habsburgs) and both of them were unacceptable for Poles. It was much easier to cancel those plans with Jadwiga, who wasn't as important for Hungarians.

History showed that it was a lucky choice - Sigismund of Luxembourg, husband of Mary, had much stronger character and ambitions than William the Courteous. He even planned to conquer Poland when he got more powerful with age, but resigned of those plans because of Teutonic Knights, who didn't want to take such risk and participate in a possible war.

Of course all of that leads to a very interesting "what would happen", it's a nice idea for a story.

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Good answer. A citation that would guide us to further research would make it an excellent answer. –  Mark C. Wallace Feb 3 '13 at 22:43
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Unfortunately most of citations I could provide for Polish history research reference to books written only in Polish language. But I'll try, thanks for a guideline. –  Darek Wędrychowski Feb 3 '13 at 23:51
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Perhaps Hungarian intersts surpassed Polish interest. At the time Hungary had a larger population than Poland, and the Hungarian royal inland revenues were higher than the Polish royal inland revenues.

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