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Health and Diseases of Władysław IV Vasa. The most sick king in the history of Poland

Health and Diseases of Władysław IV Vasa.  The most sick king in the history of Poland

In the famous portrait drawn by Rubens, Władysław IV Waza was tall, healthy and strong. The painting was painted in 1624. Only a decade later, the king was already a wreck of a man.

Wadislaw-waza, praised in his youth for his “knight character”, even before he took office in 1633, had begun to gain weight and lost health at an alarming rate.


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King suffered from rheumatism, among other things, gout or goutkidney stones SyphilisAnd the sick teethContinuous febrile seizures, terrible migraines. An anonymous historian claimed that even his rise to power ceremonies were transformed by an attack of one of several diseases. Then it got worse.

‘Unnecessary corpse’ and ‘flesh’

The apostolic nuncio Honorat Visconti said cautiously in the mid-1830s about the 40-year-old ruler: “When he reaches the age of maturity, he takes on an unnecessary body.”

Władysław IV Waza in an eighteenth-century painting.

Other sources indicate that Wadislaw was “flesh-coloured”. He was in his forties to the point that servants had difficulty holding chairs.

Carrying the king from place to place became necessary as his swollen limbs increasingly refused to obey him. There were periods of quiet, when Władysław walked, and even set out on his favorite hunting expeditions. Usually, however, I just lie down or sit down.


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He spent his time in bed at least until noon, and there he listened to Mass, ate lunch, and received courtiers, officials, and foreign envoys. There were weeks when he didn’t wake up at all; He also happened to be made lying down on sims.

Elevators & Trolleys

Even in the best of times, the staircase was a formidable obstacle to the ruler. In a suburban garden palace (later called Kazimierzovsky Palace), the architect Giovanni Battista Gisellini designed a special elevator: a column with a chair suspended on ropes “in which His Majesty the King lodged.” Perhaps a similar structure also found its way to the main residence in Warsaw – the Royal Castle.

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I write more about the painful life, the terrible death, and the difficult relationships between Odesu IV and his wife in my new book Silver Age ladies. You can buy the item dedicated to the great women of the 17th century who saved Poland from complete collapse. On Empik.com.

Gisleni – widely known for its churches, altars, ornate castle chambers, friezes and arches, in the 1840s it began to specialize in designing private royal chairs. It was then sculpted and assembled by court carpenter Hanus Hanley.

Gisleni’s sketchbook, preserved in the Dresden Copperplate cabinet collection, contains drawings of two pieces of furniture.


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The largest of the armchairs is covered with a canopy on a special triangular frame. The design also includes a footrest with a stop and curved backrests. However, this is not what attracts her most attention. The chair lacks legs – but two large rims have brakes.

The second piece of furniture is not with wheels, but with wheels. Four total, smaller in the back and larger in the front. However, the functionality is the same. It is a royal wheelchair.

Władysław IV Vasa baby stroller designs from Gislen . sketchbook
Władysław IV Vasa baby stroller designs from Gislen . sketchbook

One of the armchairs, which Jean-Casimerz Waza brought to France many years later, had leather upholstery decorated with a “golden fringe”. Elsewhere, instead of wheels, poles were installed so that they could be carried by servants or mules. There was also an alternative to curtains, giving the illusion of privacy without even getting up.

The king collapses from within

In 1640, the left leg of Wadislaw swollen so much that, according to witnesses, it became four times larger than the right. They were painted, rolled up and put in special fur slippers. All for nothing. However, it was not the king’s most painful ailment.


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Władysław also literally collapsed from within. In the same year, a feature episode was recorded.

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The ruler’s first wife, Cecilia Renata of the Habsburgs, gave birth to a son who was to be heir to the throne. Horrible and inhumane groans and screams were transmitted through the palace. But it was not the obstetrician who was lying almost silent, but the king was resting in the next room … and yet he was giving birth to kidney stones.

When the ruler died and his body was opened, it turned out that one of the kidneys was “swollen, rotting, full of vesicles.” On the other hand, doctors will take out a handful of stones. Woodislaw IV’s biographer, Henrik Wiesner, rightly remarked: “He must have suffered terribly.”

It should be emphasized that he suffered for an amazingly long time. Although he did not have access to modern medicine and symptoms worsened every year, he died on May 20, 1648. He is 53 years old and after at least 15 years of medical horror.

***

I write more about the painful life, terrible death, and difficult relationships between Woodyslaw IV and his wife in my new book Silver Age ladies. You can buy the item dedicated to the great women of the 17th century who saved Poland from complete collapse. On Empik.com.

The above text was created on its basis. A bibliography of the subject is included in the book.

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