A topic inspired by a seemingly popular character from Polish history, who made HER way into the fandom - if you wish, also a topic on everything Polish connected (or not) to the works of Victor Hugo you want to ask (unless you don't, and I'm the only person interested whom did Feuilly know and what did he learn from that person).Amicus Plato, sed magis amica veritas
: the text below deals with a legend; the conclusion is up to you.
The myth and the modern image of Emilia Plater owes a lot to a veeeeeeeery (believe me) famous poem on her which began her legend, therefore as an object of the legend she interests philologists (more) as well as historians (less). Polish Wikipedia in its article on Emilia includes a part of a book by the university professor Józef Bachórz, one of the best living specialists on Polish literature of the 19th century and one of my most memorable teachers (reviewer of my master's degree thesis on a topic irrelevant to this discussion). He writes that contrary to popular belief, she never had a distinction of an officer and did not die of battle wounds because she did not take part in military actions. Yet what is really important is the social receptiontion of her attempts to be a woman-soldier. "Plater was a woman who wanted to stress her presence in the national affairs, she wanted to transgress the mental habit, according to which a woman can be only a nurse. She wanted to follow Jeanne d'Arc and Mickiewicz's Grażyna*, who had lead her husband's army against the Teutonic Knights. Her perticipation in a military uprising, according to diaries and documents, had various conotations. Most of the opinions are critical, basing on the opinion that a woman on a war is more of a hindrace than actual help. Some diarists complain that the soldiers had to be sent to take care of the heroine and her female companion. And this was an absorbing thing, more embarassing than helping. Emilia Plater stayed with the insurgents against the advices of her family or those of the people aware that her staying means more trouble than benefits".
I quote after Wikipedia because I don't have this one book, but if you find it important, I may get it, as well as check other sources (the grandmother of Polish feminist literary criticism Maria Janion et al.)
According to the diarists, she didn't have the Enjolraic type of beauty: according to Ignacy Domeyko, as quoted on Wikipedia, she was small, pale, rather not pretty, with a round, yet nice face, blue eyes and not a strong body built, serious, rather strict than charming, not talkative, with a gaze forcing people to respect her.
This graphic is very well-known http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/c ... Plater.PNG
but this one is probably closer to the truth and I like it even more http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/c ... ater_2.PNG
Here's the poem about Emilia by the most famous Polish poet, Adam Mickiewicz http://pl.wikisource.org/wiki/%C5%9Amie ... %82kownika
Children still do learn this poem at schools, or at least I have had. I'm sure I have an English and probably a German translation of it, I'll try to find it ("Emilija" in the last line was the 19th century written form of current "Emilia": it used to divide in four syllabes in speech, while nowadays there're only three).
By the way, she wasn't the only woman participating in 19th century Polish uprisings. Because of them, our whole feministic movement of the 19th - early 20th century took a specific turn, as it was considered a necessity and something obvious for a woman to take on her male duties when the men were fighting or dead.
is a poema by Adam Mickiewicz on a fictional female character living in the 15th century, who, as a protest against her husband coming to an agreement with Teutonic Knights, secretly puts on his armour and leads the army into battle with the Knights. When lacking the military knowledge she looses the battle, a mysterious warrior appears, concentrating the rest of the troops around him and leading them into victory. It's the husband of the heroine: Grażyna dies in his embrace.
"Believe in the future. Combeferre does."