Portrait of Barbara Radziwiłł (1520-1551), Queen consort of Poland, Grand Duchess consort of Lithuania (1547-1551)
Barbara Radziwiłł (Polish: Barbara Radziwiłłówna, Lithuanian: Barbora Radvilaitė; 6 December 1520/23 – 8 May 1551) was Queen of Poland and Grand Duchess of Lithuania as consort of Sigismund II Augustus, the last male monarch of the Jagiellon dynasty. Barbara, a great beauty and already widowed, became a royal mistress most likely in 1543 and they married in secret in July or August 1547. The marriage caused a scandal; it was vehemently opposed by Polish nobles, including Queen mother Bona Sforza. Sigismund Augustus, assisted by Barbara's cousin Mikołaj "the Black" Radziwiłł and brother Mikołaj "the Red" Radziwiłł, worked tirelessly to gain recognition of their marriage and to crown Barbara as Queen of Poland. They succeeded and Barbara's coronation was held on 7 December 1550 at Wawel Cathedral. However, her health was already failing and she died just five months later. Even though it was brief, her reign propelled the Radziwiłł family to new heights of political power and influence. Barbara was the youngest child of Jerzy Radziwiłł, Voivode of Trakai and Vilnius and Great Lithuanian Hetman, and his wife Barbara Kolanka, daughter of Voivode of Podolia. Her exact birth date is unknown. It is known that she was born on 6 December, but the year is not known. Historians usually provide either 1520, as recorded in Radziwiłł genealogy found in Nesvizh, or 1523, as recorded on a plaque found in her tomb. According to her contemporaries, Barbara was very beautiful. Moreover, Barbara had an interest in fashion and cosmetics; she used perfumes and face powder.
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