Turns out that Poland's entire existence has been affected by the magnitude of some dudes’ facial hair.
As most people, you probably assume that the history of Poland is mostly some boring shit about a bunch of men and women fighting off swarms of polar bears (or Hitler) while shitfaced on vodka. Wrong! First off, those were brown bears, alright? Totally different. Second, the entire history of Poland is actually a testament to the power of the manliest substance in the known universe: beards. No, really, when you look at it closely it turns out that the country's entire existence has been affected by the magnitude of some dudes' facial hair. Don't believe me? Just check out some of the most famous beards in Polish history:
Let me set the scene for you. The year is 966 AD and the hot new thing on the block is Christianity. Everyone is doing it, including Poland's first historic ruler Mieszko I, who unites the scattered Polish tribes and baptizes the country under his rule, probably adding "Anyone has a problem with that?" at the end. Appropriately, his beard was thick enough to conceal an entire flock of angry geese.
Or a sword and some sweet bling
In 1138 however, Boleslaw III Wrymouth divides the united Poland into 5 states and distributes them among his kids to make them stop fighting, instead of just smacking the little sods upside the head like a good parent. Aptly, his mustache leaves much to be desired and frankly makes him look like a Frenchman.
Maybe we should surrender or something...?
But then in 1333, Casimir III The Great becomes the ruler of unified Poland and makes sweet regal love to the country until history screams out in ecstasy, calling him Poland's greatest king ever. Some say it's because of his widespread economical and architectural reforms, mediations with the nobility and skillful diplomacy, but we all know it's thanks to his bitchin' chin curtain.
From this angle it kinda looks as if he had 2 beards... and was 8 feet tall…
In 1410, Wladyslaw II Jagiello, a notably beardless king of Poland hits his head on the toilet bowl while hanging a clock and, instead of inventing the flux capacitor, gets the idea to fight the dreaded order of the Teutonic Knights, the Terminators of medieval Europe. To make matters worse, the Teutonic Knights were lead by the beard of one Ulrich von Jungingen, which we assume translates to "Oh shit!" in some ancient Indian dialect or something.
This will not end well
You probably think that the battle was over before it began, right? How can old Wladyslaw with his math teacher mustache go against a soaring, bearded mountain of manliness like Ulrich? Fortunately for them, at the last minute Poland transplanted some fighting beards onto itself in the form of a Jalal ad-Din khan who led a small battalion of Mongols in battle against the knights.
Unfortunately Wladyslaw passed on the facial baldness genes to his sons and thus begun a rule of weak, baby-face schmucks, resulting in a 1505 Parliamentary decision where the king Alexander Jagiellon lost virtually all power to the nobility. But really, are you surprised? Just look at him:
Surprised they actually let him keep the crown...
Seeing as the royal Polish ballsack was apparently not getting the job done, it became clear that the country needed to import some facial hair from other countries. And thus in 1576, Anna Jagiellon, Queen of Poland, was married to, and I am not kidding, Stephen Bathory... The Prince of Transylvania.
So Poland was ruled by a vampire at one point?
Does it surprise anyone that around Stephen's time Poland became one of the most powerful countries in Europe? He even got to have his own arch nemesis super villain: Ivan the Terrible, Grand Prince of Moscow. And yes, that was his actual title..
Being led by a badass motherfucker from Dracula's hometown has given Poland that extra energy it needed and from then on they had only been doing two things: growing their beards and not giving a shit. Most notably, in 1683, when their heavily mustachioed king, John III Sobieski led his 84 000 men army against 150 000 angry Turks in Vienna and kicked their asses so hard they gave him the nickname "Lion of Lechistan." Do you have any idea how insane you have to be for the TURKS to start fearing you?
2 scepters? Whatever you say, Your Majesty! You're the badass!
You're probably asking yourself now, how did Poland follow Sobieski? After a king like that (and the vampire guy before) obviously the next ruler of Poland had to be like a gigantic mountain of muscles with buzz saws instead of hands, oh, and lasers for eyes, and a beard made from titanium, and…
After a number of beardless rulers succeeding Sobieski, Poland's neighbors caught on to the fact that there was no mustache in sight to protect the country. Thus in 1764, Russian Empress Catherine the Great elected her previous boy toy up there (no, really), Stanislaus II Augustus, as king of Poland, on the condition he be a good widdle boy and not try to concern his pretty little head with politics. It marked the beginning of the end.
Between 1772 and 1795 Poland was erased from the map and divided between Russia, Prussia and Austria.
18th Century - 1918
In 1804 Napoleon Bonaparte welcomes a shitload of heavily bearded polish volunteers flooding into his army and promises to do something with that whole "stolen country problem". And he does. In 1807 Poland is reborn as the Duchy of Warsaw.
Beardless? Yes. But still a swell guy!
Napoleon was this close to being the first clean shaven person to ever matter in the history of Poland, but as luck (or Fate) would have it, his massive defeat at Waterloo in 1815 meant another end for Poland which was partitioned by Austria and Prussia.
But those few years of freedom ignited the Poles, resulting in massive insurrections like the November 1830 and January 1863 ones, heavily supported in both cases by these people:
And they lost HOW exactly...?
The rebellions were a huge failure despite the bearded powers behind them, but the dream of freedom lived on in many mustaches of brave Poles, all until 1918.
During War World I the Allied forces agreed to reconstruct Poland thanks to Woodrow Wilson's Fourteen Points Plan. This was so awesome of him that I will just go ahead and assume his massive mustache must have been lost in some giant explosion accident during his youth. It's the only logical explanation.
However, Poland wasn't out of the woods yet. They had to handle that one scrap with a little force of destruction known as the FUCKING RED ARMY, which Poland battled from 1919 to 1921, lead by this man, Jozef Pilsudski:
Lead by colonel Badass Mustache up there, Poland crushed the Red Army during the Battle of Warsaw in 1920. Unfortunately, with time Pilsudski's facial hair grew too strong and started to affect his mind, screaming for more power. And thus in 1926, Pilsudski took over the country in a military coup and ruled Poland with an iron mustache, until his death in 1935.
After WWII, the Soviet Union gained control over Poland and instituted a communist government under their control. Though certain political movements did emerge with time and the citizens were offered basic human rights, generally the communist opposition tended to be taken to some isolated rooms and hit repeatedly over the head despite their numerous pleas to stop.
The regular beatings finally did lead to the formation of the trade union "Solidarity" though, which in 1989 became a political force in Poland and won their parliamentary elections, lead by none other than the charismatic mustache of Lech Walesa.
I am not a crook's mustache!
As a side note, the iconic mustache of Walesa, the leader of Solidarity and later president of Poland, emerged on the world's political scene in 1990, about the time the Soviet Union fell. I don't think that was a coincidence.
1989 - Present
Poland is now a free market country experiencing an economic growth as of 2009. Unfortunately, this is their current president:
It's like they haven't learned a thing...
Yeah... they are fucked...
It seems that Cracked has accidentally exposed itself as a collaborations of powerful psychics, because on the 10th of April 2010, then-president Lech Kaczynski (pictured above) and the bulk of the Polish government were killed by a single Russian tree in the "Tu-154 Crash." Holy shit, not that I am surprised, I mean, it was either "being murdered by a tree" or "chocking to death on a pink pastry" based on Kaczynski's lack of facial hair, but why did he take so many people with him? Also, fuck trees.
Yes, you. Fuck you.
Fortunately, Polish citizens regained some of their senses and elected Bronislaw Komorowski as their next president:
Well, the mustache's not much but it's a start…