So-called ‘Laughing Polish Woman’, 13th-century statue depicting princess Regelinda, Naumburg Cathedral, Germany.

Regelinda (also: Reglindis) was a Polish princess born around the year 989 AD. She was one of three daughters of the Polish king Bolesław I the Brave and his third wife Emnilda, daughter of Dobromir (Slavic ruler of Lusatia and Milsko). 

Regelinda married German Margrave Herman I around the year 1002, becoming a Margravine of Meissen and ensuring a short period of alliance between the German Mark of Meissen and the early Polish kingdom. Not much more is known about her life - their marriage was most likely childless, and the date of her death is still a matter of disputes between historians (estimated between 1014-1030).

She and her husband Herman were depicted among famous 12 donor portrait statues in the gothic cathedral in Naumburg, Germany sculpted by 13th-century anonymous artist known as the Naumburg Master. It’s unknown why did the Naumburg Master choose to depict her smiling, and who posed for the statue, or whether any historical depictions of her existed at the time of creation - more than 200 years after her death. The statue is still commonly known as the ‘Lächelnde Polin’ (in German) or ‘Śmiejąca się Polka’ (in Polish) - meaning the ‘Laughing Polish Woman’.

Images via Wikimedia Commons.

You can find more characters from Polish history here under by tag ‘short bio’.