Stockholm – A Lesson in Museology

Just a few days back, Alex and I had the absolute pleasure to travel to Stockholm; the Scandinavian capital had been on my list for a while to complete the “Scandinavian Triumvirate” I had promised myself I would experienced before my PhD was over (mission success!). Stockholm was certainly a wonderful visit, and a lot of material that I will be sharing with you guys over the next few weeks/months/years/centuries 😉 will come from what I learnt there. But one of the things that certainly stuck with me and I value of this trip is the amazing museums I visited. You know, working in the heritage industry you get a thing for cool museums, but this has always been one of my obsessions: the public should simply have fun whilst exploring the past, art, or science, or whatever the hell you’re into. And the Swedes certainly know how to deliver. So today, I am going to just rant about how cool these places were, and what made them cool – and pictures of course.

One of the first things that already caught my attention when I was preparing the holiday was the abundance of museum in the city. Let’s face it, Stockholm is not a huge European capital, so I would never expect to find mini-London…but there were So Many Museums and Galleries!! There is an entire section of the city, east of the old town (Gamla Stockholm), that could be called museum miles if it wanted to. This is the area of the Djurganden – the Royal National Gardens. In our trip, time was tight, but I had decided that an entire day would probably go into exploring this area. So, in my selection of activities to do here, I included a visit to the Vasa, Vikingaliv, Skansen, and part 2 with the ABBA museum – would have love to do the Nordic museum (which is btw a gorgeous building far prettier than the Royal Palace?!) but as you all know Alex doesn’t get art and I was feeling generous. And what can I tell you just with those 4 examples? That Stockholm provides the best of old and new museology to the greatest standard.

Our first stop was the Vasa Museum, and I swear I have never seen anything quite like it. I am a seasoned traveller and an experienced historian, this was mind-blowing. The Vasa is this royal ship which was going to be the pride and joy of Gustav Vasa, and that due to many misfortunes (more about that a different day) sank on its first voyage 20 mins into its journey just outside of the port in Stockholm. A lot of people compare it to the Mary Rose – yeah, alright, you wished! The museum is built around the ship itself, with the actual boat inside the building as the central piece. It reminded me in that regards a bit to the Fram museum in Oslo, which we visited a couple of years back, and you can read about it here:

Without going into the history of the ship, what is great about this museum is the following: there are two huge auditoriums I didn’t even have time to enjoy fully where they put documentaries and videos explaining you different aspects of the ship and the archaeological and conservation work put into it. There are guided tours so incredibly often, and if there is not a tour you can buy an audio guide in pretty much every other language for a very affordable price. the audio guides seemed very thorough and detailed. The thing is, though, I struggled to not spend more than 2 hours there without a tour or an audio guide because there is simply so much information and so well exposed in the information panels and displays, which by the way are very modern and well presented, both in English and Swedish.

The museum has different floor levels dedicated to different aspects of the boat and seafaring so you can appreciate not only the actual ship for what it is but learn in the process. This is something that, for example, the Cuty Sark is missing, and the Mary Rose attempts to do, but due to the current work they can’t quite do, and it really brings the ship alive. There were also good stuff for the children too – not only activities to learn about the boat but little video game like interactive displays where you learnt about navigation and sea faring. I particularly enjoyed as well the recreated port where they tell you the story behind the sinking of the boat. In general, it is very engaging. This is something that is evident as well in Vikingaliv: technology reigns over displays. As you come into this modest sized museum, you find plenty of touch screens and video stands covering different aspects of Viking society.

There are a lot of things there to keep you entertained too such as a big board of hnefatalf – or more commonly known as Viking chess, helmets and weapons to try on. And what I found most amazing, an entire board dedicated to Viking Age research and latest archaeological and history news. But, of course, who could forget the ride? They have something similar to this in Jorvik. It is like a little train ride that tell you this saga story through which you discover different tensions of the Viking Age and its people. The models, images and sounds were really great and the story is very fitting – without it being any of the well-known sagas, it takes bits and bobs from all of them to give you a general picture of the Viking age. The museum is very much up to date and provides with the most up to date research, interviews and historiographical theories – some of which are still trying to catch on in places like the UK.

When you come out of a place like that and submerge yourself in the huge thing that is Skansen Open Air Museum, you can feel like you have walked through time. Not just because of the time period has changed, but because the museum concept is different. This was the very first open air museum in Europe. The purpose of places such as Skansen is to provide a picturesque idea of how society has changed throughout time by recreating buildings and other aspects of society. In Skansen you can find reenactors spinning, carving, even riding horse carts.

Skansen also contains a little zoo of animals typical of Sweden and other fun things like the little farm for children, an old timey funicular and a stage for ALL SANG: a very famous Swedish tradition of something like karaoke that gets film and played on the TV. In essence this is trying to represent like a compact version of Sweden in just the one site that comprises the culture, history and ecosystem of the country. This type of spaces were popular during the late 19th and early 20th century, but the displays have been kept up to date and the general condition of the park is remarkably good, which is important for a place of this type in order not to look out of date. But, as I am sure you are getting now from my recollections of Sweden, being up to date is something the Swedes know best, and this is perfectly exemplified by the ABBA museum – in case the others hadn’t convince you yet.

Even if you do not like ABBA, if you are in Stockholm, just go, because this is an experience, not just a visit. You are gonna spend around 20 pounds to get in, but you are gonna be there for 2 hours easily, and it is going to be worth every penny. This is one of the most interactive museums I have ever been to. Not only you have several displays with ABBA memorabilia, costumes, records, etc, there is a lot of audio-visual information as well – from video to sound, this screams 21st century.

On top of that, it is fun! I found myself mixing ABBA music, singing and dancing, performing (quite badly) for an audition to become the 5th member of the group with holograms of the band right by me, whilst learning a ridiculous amount about music, ABBA and Sweden. I cannot explain with words how sincerely fun, new and great this museum is. The gift shop is also great: it is small but it has all the right type of souvenirs and very fairly priced. And, just to top it off, as we went in, they do have a small space dedicated to temporary exhibitions. My luck was that they had there the guitars that made the history of rock, and on top of hearing amazing stories about these instruments and the musical pieces that made the legends, I got to play guitar hero cause why not?!

So, what has become apparent from my experience in Stockholm is that, in Sweden, museums are believed to be fun: and they are! More importantly, this is what museums should be; cool, interesting places where you learn and enrich yourself as a person through an engaging experience that aids your learning. Move past the antiquarian cabinets and dry lines of text telling you “here be a sword from the 6th century” and actually take them closer to people. Another example that tops it off for me was the kids room in the History Museum (which is free btw).

This room was not just a play room, but a space for learning. There is a huge section which is like a sandbox where copies of artefacts are hidden so the kids can dig them up and then put them on the displays and tell the stories of said objects and learn in the process with the books – and audio books/stories – that you can find not just in this room but across the museum. Tell me when was the last time your children had that much fun and hands-on interaction in a museum? Cause I do not recall.

So, wrapping it up – you want to see good museums, for a more than fair price and genuinely learn the most up to date information on the subject whilst having fun? Go To Stockholm.

Swedish Empire-18th century Decline

Welcome to my post of the fall of the Swedish Empire.  This is a rather large subject, so I will focus on one particular aspect; the battle of Poltava and the death of Charles XII.  You may be aware that I have already posted about the rise of this magnificent empire.  Now I give a simple introduction into its fall.  We know (if you read my last post) that Sweden has risen from the 17th century.  Particularly the Thirty Years War, in which Sweden had crushed most European armies and had under the guidance of King Gustav II faced armies double, triple its size and still won.  The Swedes dominated Europe, they were the strongest and they were the most feared.  However by the early 18th century, Sweden hits a period of decline.  The main reason was that King Charles XII was killed whilst fighting in Denmark.  So by the middle of the 18th century, Sweden was declining, and Russia has risen.

So why was Charles such an important figure?  Well he was the last great leader Sweden had.  After he died, the country had to sue for peace with a variety of nations as it had no one to continue the fight.  Charles had defeated the armies of each of the nations with relatively ease, at the age of 17, he had defeated the Russians.  He was extremely smart, however his decision to invade Russia, was probably not one of his best ones!  At least he did not have the example or Napoleon and Hitler to follow, so I think we can grant him some more slack!  His army would have made it to Moscow, however, so some stupid reason, he changed direction and headed towards the Ukraine, believing there was to be an uprising in which they could help.  This uprising failed, and it left the Swedes very vulnerable, and at Poltava they met their defeat.  20,000 men died, whilst Charles had fled.  Remember that 20,000 men is a huge number and something that as time goes on, the loss seems unimportant.  Sweden was not a huge country with a massive population, therefore 20,000 men gone, would have been felt.  This huge defeat ensured that Sweden was left weak and its faith shaken.  After all, the Carolean troops believed God was on their side and that their king was a messenger from God, how could they lose?  A good song to listen to that covers the battle of Poltava is Sabaton’s Poltava.  The song shows the hopelessness of the battle.

Well Charles XII managed to return to Sweden, after a lengthy spell in the Ottoman Empire, meaning that Sweden was left without a King.  This was not too much of a problem as Sweden had a strong government and was not an absolute monarch.  Nonetheless, Charles returned and soon decided that he would invade Denmark; it is here where he was killed.  Either by a friendly bullet, or by an enemy, no one really knows.  Waiting for a cool Archaeologist to figure that one out still!  I think it will be one of things that will always be contested.  Still what matters is that his death leads Sweden to crumble.  The invasion fails, and Sweden has to give up land.  Russia also takes land off Sweden after its victories.  The gains made by Gustav Adolphus were suddenly gone in 100 years.  Was it king Charles fault?  Yes and no.  He was a great tactician and won many victories, but going so far into Russia wasn’t the smartest of ideas.  If he had gone straight for Moscow, then maybe it would be different, and Sweden would still be a great power! His lust for war caused his death and after he fell at a young age, Sweden crumbled.  So he is partly to blame, but other countries were getting stronger and were far richer than Sweden.  It would not have been able to compete with countries like Britain.  Sweden has never really fallen since its break from Denmark and Norway, but it never recovered from the death of Charles XII in the 18th century.

Sweden was on its own, both Norway and Denmark were both anti-Swedish, they were seen as lesser people, particularly as they were seen as worse sailors.  The rivalry in the Scandinavian region would lead to constant warring.  Sweden was also against Poland, whom it had been at war with a century beforehand.  Sweden was also fighting Russia, again this was due to territorial gains, both Finland and Estonia were fought over.  Now when looking at whom Sweden was fighting against, it can be seen that they are fighting a war on many different fronts.  It different have the manpower to ensure victory.  Nonetheless, I reckon, from Charles XII personality, he would have continued fighting, if he had lived.  Who knows, if he had lived and continued his wars, maybe Sweden would be in a different situation now, maybe it would not have remained neutral in WW2, as its history would have been different.  I’m not a fan of what if history.  But still, it shows you how important Charles was to Sweden.  A matter of war or peace!

Sweden made its mark on Europe quickly and swiftly, but it soon fell, with a bang.  It is safe to say that it was at war on all sides, and victory in such a war would have been impressive.  Nonetheless, Sweden was never conquered by anyone (It is very, very hard to get to Stockholm!).  It keeps its independence, but what it does do is loose the fear it once held, it loses its land, its pride.  Sweden has fallen, Russia has risen.  Peter the Great had successfully beaten Sweden; he had made his own mark on Europe.  The 18th century leads the way for new great powers such as Austria, Russia and Britain to make their mark.  The old powers, of Spain, Sweden and the Netherlands were going, fallen from grace.

World War One’s impact on Scandinavia

In 1918, the first world war ended in Europe, and it had claimed millions of casualties, the war also changed the face of the European map from being dominated by three big empires in the East, to a Europe with new states such as Czechoslovakia, Poland, Lithuania, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Finland and The Kingdom of Yugoslavia (which before the War had been consisting of Serbia alone, but now included Montenegro, Slovenia and Croatia as well as Bosnia.)Although these developments and consequences of the First World War are fairly well-known, this paper will look at the impact of the first world war in Northern Europe, and by this we’re not talking about the impact it had on Germany or Poland, but on the three kingdoms Norway, Sweden, Denmark, and what became the republics Iceland and Finland.

Between 1800 and 1914 the map of Northern Europe and Scandinavia changed drastically, with the states of Norway appearing, and Finland shifting from being a part of Sweden to becoming an integrated part of the Russian Empire. In 1914, the independent kingdoms of Denmark, Norway and Sweden were all facing the question how to deal with the military conflict developing elsewhere in Europe. Scandinavia had over the course of the late nineteenth century grown more and more used to a certain element of imported goods to feed its populations. The Norwegian, Danish and Finnish Merchant navies were all heavily involved with the shopping of goods throughout the world. This meant that when the First World War broke out, the three Scandinavian kingdoms were faced with a problem of how to stay out of the war, and still maintain their economic interests. The three kingdoms Denmark, Sweden and Norway joined in a neutrality union, and attempted to maintain their neutrality throughout the conflict. This neutrality was not without complications, Norway and Denmark were heavily dependent on Britain and USA for most of its shipping orders, and to supply them with grain as well as being their main markets for some products. However, Denmark also faced another challenge, with a shared border with Germany, and a considerable Danish minority in the then German South Jutland, Denmark knew that it could not afford a repetition of the 1864 war against Prussia and Austria. Sweden, like Norway exported enormous amount of iron, steel and copper to Germany, which meant that these countries could not afford to cut its financial links with the German Empire. Sweden and Norway also shared borders with Russia, and had good economic links with the Romanov Empire. Norway could for example not afford to oppose Russia, as the Russian Pomor trade from Archangelsk kept the North Norwegian fishing villages alive through bringing grain to the Northern Norwegian counties who were unable to sustain themselves with corn, and the Russian traders bought some of the fish products which were produces along the coast of Troms and Finnmark County. With these important connections, Norway, Sweden and Denmark could not afford to go into the conflict on either side of the war, especially as the outcome of a war could have dramatic impact on the territories of these kingdoms, just like the Napoleonic wars had 100 years earlier. The Scandinavian kingdoms stayed neutral throughout the war, although external pressure caused Norway to lean more and more towards the British and American cause. This sympathy led to the mining of the Norwegian waters and a blockage of trade with Germany. Sweden on the other hand turned favourable to Germany b 1918, but this did not jeopardise the Swedish neutrality.

Even though the neutrality were maintained for all there kingdoms throughout the war, all the kingdoms experienced lack of resources, and increasing cost of living for the population and social unrest based on these things. The main impact of the First World War on Scandinavia did however come on the eastern and southern borders of it. Finland which since the Napoleonic war had been a part of the Russian Empire, were in 1914 drawn into the First World War against Germany. The Finnish navy and Merchant navy were damaged and its troops took part in the conflict on behalf of the Russian Empire. But as the war turned into revolution in Russia, the Finnish parliament first established a degree of extended autonomy in the spring of 1917, followed by full Independence in the fall of 1917. The Soviet takeover of Russian government initially was favourable towards an independent Finland, and the Finnish parliament declared it independent and elected a German Prince as its King. The outcome of the First World War in Europe, and the abdication of the German Emperor caused the German prince that was appointed king of Finland to withdraw, and the Finnish parliament declared the state a republic. Yet, the growth of Communism in Russia also impacted the working classes in Finland, and soon after the War a civil war broke out between the Whites (landowning farmers, educated middle class and the elite) and the Reds (the workers and landless farmers) this conflict resulted in open war and thousands of dead on both sided, and is still a taboo in Finnish society. The Finland soon became an internationally recognised state, and became a 1920 a member of the League of Nations.

When the war was over, a clause was added to the Treaty of Versailles, that Southern Jutland should be divided into two sections, which both should be allowed to vote over their future, to stay as a part of Germany, or to return to Denmark as they had been prior to 1864. The northern section of south Jutland, which had a Danish speaking majority, said yes to return to Denmark. Whereas in the southern section, although it contained the Danish speaking city of Flensburg, the majority vote were in favour of a continuous relationship with Germany. This created the current borders between Denmark and Germany. And still to this day, there is a German minority on the Danish side of the Denmark-Germany border, and a Danish minority on the German side of the same border.

The submarine attacks by German submarines on British and American ships lead to a massive destruction of the Norwegian Merchant Navy, and the loss of over 2000 civilian seamen, the loss of these ships gave the shipping companies the financial capacity to renew their fleet of ships, which would be instrumental in the battle against Nazism under the Second World War as it would help to deliver supplies to both the UK and the Soviet Union.

For Iceland, the years of War had given a slow economic growth as they could sell the fishing products to reasonable prices. Iceland regained its ‘independence’ in 1918. Iceland was with this a fully sovereign state which only shared its king with Denmark. Thus Scandinavia in 1918 had consisted of 5 different kingdoms, although the Finnish and Icelandic kingdoms did not survive long. Iceland became a republic as a consequence of the Second World War, and Finland following the German defeat in the First World War. Thus after the First World War, Scandinavia had, like much of Europe, seen its borders shift and new states appear. But most significantly did the Soviet Communism in Russia inspire the Socialist movements in Scandinavia which started years of social unrest leading up to the Second World War.


Norwegian Encyclopedia online, The History of Denmark,

Norwegian Encyclopedia online, World War One,

Norwegian Encyclopedia online, The History of Sweden,

Norwegian Encyclopedia online, Norwegian History from 1905-1939,

Christian II of Denmark, Sweden and Norway

When one learns about the history of Scandinavia there are many names, dates, kings and politicians that one learn about, just like in all other histories, but today I am writing to you about a man who was a king. In fact he was the King in Scandinavia, ruling areas stretching from Finland in the East to Iceland in the west, from the Barents Sea in the north to North Germany.  He was the last king to unify these areas under one rule, but also the one man to cause its breaking apart.

So who was he? Well as you who have read out blog for a while know that we this month are doing a: Monarch’s you don’t often hear about month. And I’ve already written to you about Kristina of Sweden. As the Scandinavian history so rarely are brought to the attention of the World, well with the exception of the Vikings, and a few battles and kings from the 15thcentury onwards, then I feel it should be right to outline to you what happened to the once Unified Kingdoms of Sweden, Denmark and Norway that caused it to break apart.

The answer is simple, well it’s not simple at all like in all history, for there are many factors taking part in these events, but in this article I’ll do the one thing that I hate, I’ll follow the bigger lines… I apologize in advance.

The key to the end of the Scandinavian commonwealth is the son of King Hans (John in English) and Queen Christine of Denmark, Sweden and Norway, namely Christian II. Christian were born in 1481 as a Prince of the three Kingdoms which formed the Kalmar Union (Denmark, Sweden and Norway). And he died in 1559 imprisoned at Kalundborg Castle; his crime was attempting to re-establish himself as King of Norway in 1531-2, after years in exile at his sister in law’s court in the Netherlands. But why exile? What had Christian done? And what were the consequences of his actions. Well we have already swiftly mentioned the consequences; for his actions and policies during his short reign and prior to his coronation, especially the act that followed his Swedish coronation caused his kingdom to fall apart, and the individual countries to reestablish themselves independently.

Christian’s actions were his policies towards the governing powers in the three countries, for instance he favored Danes in the most important political and administration positions in Norway, contradictory to his promise when he were elected King, a policy that lead to tension between him and the Local nobility. He inherited from his ancestors a political problem in Sweden, with the country’s nobility not being easily pleased, and as all the three countries were de facto electoral kingdoms the nobility and the estate assemblies of the three countries had to elect the king separately. This allowed each of the three countries to separately establish its own relation to the King, and negotiate the basis for his reign in that specific country. Christian inherited the Crown to the Kalmar union after his dad in 1513, yet Sweden which his dad had lost in 1501 were outside his reach until 1520. It is Christian’s actions to regain control over Sweden that gives him his most significant mark upon history. His policies in Norway and Denmark were all financial preparations for the big campaign to become king of Sweden, but his actions against the Norwegian nobles in the late years of his father’s reign had given him a reputation of being ruthless.

It is not his champagne that’s vital, it was a normal late medieval campaign, but when the widow of his opponent, the steward of Sweden, surrendered Stockholm in 1520, he was finally made king of Sweden. Although his revenge sparked another uprising, not only in Sweden, but it also sparked what is later known as the Count’s feud. A war about the Kalmar crown and Swedish independence, and all this due to Christian breaking his promise to hold an Estate assembly, but rather to hold the ‘Bloodbath of Stockholm’, which was a series of executions of about a hundred leading Swedish nobles and clergymen between the 7th and the 9th of November 1520 as a punishment for their revolts against his dad many years earlier. This sparked as mentioned above a new conflict, one that ended in Christian II going into exile and all the three counties converting from Catholicism to Lutheran Protestantism.

Although Christian’s legacy in history is mostly bound to ordering the Bloodbath in Stockholm, but we should remember that he like so many other monarchs ruled according to their geopolitical surroundings. I am by no means defending his attacks on the Swedish leaders, but I am saying that his actions were not that different from those by the Spanish during the Dutch revolts. And just think about it; what would the world have looked like if he had not done it? Well that is something I’ll leave for your imagination. Take care and keep on reading! 🙂


When Christmas Is not a Time for Peace.

Well, I think spending your Christmas time in a quiet and secluded place with a very close community inspired by the religious feeling which, allegedly, fuels the celebration (or that way it was, once), people whom with to share a praying moment and a pious enjoyment of thy Glory could be considered, at least by a great number of people, the best possible Christmas to live.

Otherwise, it could happen that your quiet and secluded place would be under constant bombardment, with a fierce enemy at the gates, food running low, and without an army to rescue you. That would not be peaceful merriment, for sure. And it could be even worse: the army at the gates could be a rabble of heretics (that, from your point of view) and you could be a simple monk, and the keeper of your nation’s most sacred relic. Then you’re dreaming of a white Christmas would turn a complete nightmare…

I was forgetting something: there are good and bad news. The good news is that you live in a monastery that, in fact is a fortress. Enter the bad news: the enemy’s strength is ten times yours; they are a hired army of German Lutherans, hardened mercenaries, ungodly veterans; the Polish Commonwealth (your country, by the way) is losing the war, the king has exiled in Silesia, And you are, more or less, the last strong point defending the Commonwealth banner. Well, it is not as bad as it looks: your Prior, Augustyn Kordecki, a farsighted man, has let in some recruits from the local nobility and, above all, has bought muskets and ammo. But, I know you are asking yourself would all this be enough? Ah, my friend, your faith is lacking. Trust in God, Whose ways are mysterious.

So here we are: Advent came and is leaving, negotiations ended with no result. You did great at first, a successful sally brought down two cannons, Swedes and Germans got nervous, your cannon was superior and your aim more accurate. Then they brought in heavy siege artillery, 24-pounders, and seriously damaged the northern walls and a bastion. But your sorties still bore fruit and on December 14 you destroyed a 24-pounder and got some relief. Only to enrage the enemy, who doubled its efforts and resume bombardment and started digging a tunnel to undermine the old building. By this time, though, you were masters of sortie and again defeated the Swedish army on the 20, with the leadership of Stefan Zamoyski one of the noblemen helping the Commonwealth in its hour of need. This time, the result was devastating for the besiegers: two cannon destroyed and almost every miner dead. Now, all the hardships, the fear, the self-questioning is being let aside. God is among you, saving you now that the time Thy son was born is about again, helping you, giving you courage and luck, even, for sure, was God’s own hand who made another 24-pounder exploded while barraging mercilessly your tired walls. You are winning, my friend.

I can only imagine what is now crossing General Burchard Müller von der Luhnen’s mind. He is out there, beholding the walls. In silence, thinking, questioning himself too. Why? They are just some dozens of monks and a few soldiers. Why? We should have been inside for weeks now. Why am I here, at the gates, in the snow, waiting for a clue to overcome the Polish. Why are they fighting like that? He must be thinking of Divine intervention, but, no, that cannot be. He is a professional soldier. There is no space for superstition in a battlefield, or it is? It seems there is nothing more he can do now. Christmas Eve is here and still nothing gained. Soldiers are unsettled and morale is ebbing. Well, maybe a handsome ransom could be mustered, just for all the trouble. And, after all, the war is almost over, and this is just a monastery…
So a ransom was asked for. And denied. As Prior Kordecki put it, “I would have paid before the fighting began, now the monastery needs the money for repairs”. Ah, there is a leader of men if you need one, the new warrior-monk, a true Templar´s heir. And, finally, at dawning the 27th December 1655, the Swedish army started to withdraw with a last bitter look to the high walls that, with God’s help, had defeated them.

That’s how History goes. A little religious community was preparing for Christmas when war called at the door. Through the smell of powder and the sound of thunder, the hunger and the cold, they resisted a professional army and allegedly, started and gave impulse to the resistance. From then on, the Polish would gain momentum till the final defeat of the invaders. Probably the siege of Jasna Gora was not the only reason, but surely it was a sign that helped to restore national pride and, maybe, as it showed that the Swedish were in fact vulnerable gave the small guerrillas still operating and the beaten rests of the polish army a new hope of victory. And, in a longer span, the siege, and the intervention, if ever there was, of the Black Madonna of Czestochowa, contributed to the Polish national spirit and is still nowadays a strong reference for all the Polish people. The Madonna was still there when Poland was quartered, and under the communist rule, and today keeps on moving every soul when on visit.