DELAYED THREAT. 'BALLAD ABOUT THE KILLING OF ANDRZEJ TECZYNSKI' IN THE LIGHT OF POETICS OF SO-CALLED RESPONSE LETTER
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In its aim, the article puts forward a new interpretation of the medieval 'Ballad about the Killing of Andrzej Teczynski'. There is no univocal agreement as for the literary genre of the piece and for the reason of its composing. The authoress tries to link the text with the old forms of honorable behavior of the killed person's family and friends who wish to retaliate (so-called 'revenge'). In 15th century and in the following centuries, great importance was attached to dignity that was connected with the knight's ethos. It was also a subject of various legal regulations. The authoress maintains that the theme of the poem in question is the castellan's disgrace. Spreading it was not inglorious for the family, and it is justified when the family is considered to have the right to revenge. Poland developed a ritualized form of satisfaction (so-called 'humility'), the element of which was payment for killing made to the family (so-called 'glowszczyzna'). If the perpetrator refused exoneration, the family could fight for their rights. Before it is done, however, the perpetrator was to be forewarned to be on his guard. Such warning was called the 'response', most frequently formulated as a death threat. It did not need to take form of a letter, often being passed on orally, and important was the fact that it reached the perpetrator. Announcing death did not pledge to its unconditional execution and revealed a practical importance: killing without the response in question, at least theoretically, meant sentencing to death, and when the response was present, the evildoer could be ransomed or imprisoned. Other issue proved also crucial: killing by stealth and without response was regarded mean and unworthy of a nobleman and a knight. 'Ballad about the Killing of Andrzej Teczynski' conforms to the pattern of the response letter. The first verse specifies the addressee and thus we learn who was killed and that the son of Andrzej Teczynski is to take revenge. The subsequent call for sacrifice required an honorable behavior, in a noble manner, including a call for the killer's head. In the example in question, the description of the tragedy the family afflicted is justified and announcing it was not inglorious as the family operated in order to defend dignity.
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