By: Herman Rosenthal
Polish queen; born 1493; died 1557; second wife of King Sigismund I. She was remarkable for her beauty and energy, but thoroughly hated in Poland for her intrigues and avarice. She sold high government offices, and her courtiers and "voyevod's" were bribe-takers. Her favorite, the influential crown marshal, Peter Kmita, obtained bribes simultaneously from both Jewish and Christian merchants, promising either party to protect its interests at the Diet or before the king. During the last years of Sigismund's reign Queen Bona not only assumed equal sovereign power with him, but often exercised absolute rule.
There are many documents extant granting privileges to the Jews in Bona's name, which privileges were confirmed by subsequent rulers of Poland (see
- Vita Petri Kmithae de Wisnicze Palatini Cracoviensis, p. 200, Posen, 1854;
- Czacki, Rosprava o Zydach, pp. 81, 82, Wilna, 1807;
- Solomon Luria (Rashal), Shaalot Uteshubot, 1547, No. 35;
- Grätz, Gesch. der Juden, ix. 443;
- A. Kraushar, Historya Zydow w Polsce, 2 vols., p. 181, Warsaw, 1866;
- Regesty i Nadpisi, Nos. 223, 255, 460, 463, 494, St. Petersburg, 1899.