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Medieval Strongman Stanisław Ciołek

In the 14th century lived a knight named Stanisław Ciołek from Ostrołęka near Warka who reputedly had superhuman strength. Although not very tall, he enjoyed widespread recognition and respect.

Old accounts provide examples of his enormous strength:

“He took a bell from the tower of a Kraków church by its crown and carried it up the stairs. (…) He would twist a sword or a saber in his hand like a rope. (…) When a mill was being built in his home village of Ostrołęka, having seen a dozen or so people carrying a huge beam, he ordered all of them to take one end of it, and grabbed the other, carrying it with them and slamming it against a wall. When he squeezed fresh wood, the sap would drip from it as if it were a sponge. He tore to pieces thick ropes made of hemp or bast, used by beekeepers to climb trees to collect honey. He would cock the most massive crossbow with his hands and legs alone. He was able to stretch or even crush two horseshoes.”

Zygmunt Gloger, Encyklopedia Staropolska

Stanisław Ciołek stayed at the court of the reputed King Casimir the Great. He appeared in many tournaments, bringing glory to Polish knighthood and further boosting the monarch’s power. In 1356, he took part in an expedition against Tatars and died in unexplained circumstances during the defense involving Włodzimierz Wołyński. Accounts have it that he was buried in St. Nicholas Church in Warka.

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