The people of Przemyśl were waking up. The voices of the guards were coming from the city walls. The door in the gate creaked. This way the serfs and merchants were let in. Over the thatched roof slowly the smoke rose in the air – housewives were cooking breakfast. On the hot stones they baked special cakes called “podpłomyk”. The higher part of the town was separated from the rest by ramparts, finished with an oak logs palisade. A constant vigil was kept from the castle tower and through the wooden tower gate a group of armed riders left the town. They were the prince`s messengers who were setting off to the master of the Wiślanie tribe with an important mission. The Wiślanie lived by the river Wisła. The tribes of the Wiślanie and the Lędzianie lived in friendship for many years. The prince of Lędzianie, Przemysław sent his people to hand presents to the prince of Wiślanie.
The biggest homestead in the town was the manor house of Przemysław. The huge door to the prince`s seat opened and the prince stood on the doorstep. There was an enormous spear in his hand which he used to hunt the king of the primeval forest – the bear. Przemysław had a hatchet fastened to his belt and a bow on his back. Armed in this way, the prince set off alone to hunt. He went through the gate of his manor, passing his subordinates who bowed down to greet their master.
Suddenly the sound of branches snapping and strange grunt broke the silence. Przemysław was an experienced hunter so he knelt behind a fallen tree-trunk and waited for an animal. Out from the thicket came a sow with her piglets. Their brown fur was decorated with longitudinal stripes. Przemysław waited patiently for them to pass as he was hunting bear, not a wild boar. Nor did he wish to kill the mother of little piglets.
The prince set off towards a glade in the wood, where, as wild-bee keepers told, one could find the big bear. For the last few days the animal had been destroying wild beehives and attacking cattle which grazed on the meadows by the forest.
Przemysław hacked through the thicket of bushes, ferns and woodland debris. Finally he found a glade with an enormous oak. He decided to have a rest under the canopy of the tree. He leaned his spear against the trunk and whilst he was reaching for a“podpłomyk” in his bag, there, just in front of him appeared a huge bear.
The prince realized that he would not be able to seize the spear and he could only fight with his hatchet. The bear stood up on his hind legs, moving his forelegs angrily and showing his huge claws. He gave a roar and returned to the forest. The surprised prince grabbed his spear and pursued the bear. After a while, he caught up with the animal which seemed unconcerned by the hunter. Przemysław did not attack the animal, it was against an old tradition to attack from behind. He waited instead for the bear to turn around, but to his surprise the animal was walking on with dignity. The prince realized that the bear wanted him to follow.
Walking in this way, bear and hunter reached the hill. The bear stopped, turned calmly and roared. Przemysław realized that the king of forests wanted to bid farewell, so the prince bowed as one master to another. They looked at each other in silence – the prince of the Lędzianie tribe and the bear whose dark figure contrasted with the blue sky. After a while the animal went on its way, but Przemysław did not try to catch it. He understood that the meeting was symbolic. He, Przemysław, had to be like a bear – serious to his enemies and caring to his people.
Next day when the prince returned home, he called the town council and commanded his knights to paint a black bear on the blue field depicted on their shields. He ordered the same sign to be displayed above the main gate.
More than a thousand years later, you can still see the flag with the same sign on the
castle. Later in Christian times a golden cross was added, but that is a different story. tower of Przemyśl
|Wojtek age 10|
|Sebastian age 10|
|Gracjan age 10|