Zagreb

Horrible Histories

more than a year ago

Crna kraljica (The Black Queen)
There are several legends that pass between the generations in Croatia about the Black Queen, but no-one quite knows what the truth is about this mysterious figure. We know that Barbara of Celj was born in 1392 to nobleman Hermann II of Celj. At a young age she was betrothed to the much older King Sigismund of Luxembourg. It seems she was an intelligent and hypnotically beautiful woman who found herself ruling Croatia in her husband’s absence. And here’s where the stories diverge. Was she a merciless ruler, governing with a rod of iron and little pity in her heart? Or was she deeply misunderstood, unpopular simply for being a politically astute woman? On the one hand she is said to have refused water from her plenteous well to her fellow citizens during a drought. On the other she is said to have summoned unearthly forces to create the Plitvice Lakes and bring water to her people. Where does the truth lie? The debate goes on.

Grička vještica (The Witch from Grič)
Marija Jurić Zagorka (1873-1957) is one of the best-loved Croatian authors as well as one of the first Croatian female journalists. Her tales of old Zagreb are based on historical fact embellished into rich and intriguing tales. Her most popular work is a cycle of seven novels named “The Witch from Grič”.
Sadly, none of Zagorka’s novels have been translated into English, but luckily for you, dear readers, we’re here to tell you the tale of Zagreb’s most famous witch.
The character was based on a real woman baker in Zagreb, the widow Barica Cindek. She was so appealing as a woman and so successful as a merchant that she attracted the envy of her neighbours and the venom of the men who failed to conquer her.
The hordes of men were always milling around her stall on St Mark’s Square. This put poor Barica in court, accused of keeping a devil in her pocket to entice the helpless males. In those days it didn’t take much to be accused of witchcraft, and it was the jealousy of a spurned notary public that almost put a tragic end to Barica’s tale.

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