According to an old legend, Pan Twardowski was a nobleman (szlachcic) who lived in Kraków in the 16th century. He sold his soul to the devil in exchange for great knowledge and magical powers. However, Twardowski wanted to outwit the devil by including a special clause in the contract, stating that the devil could only take Twardowski’s soul to Hell during his visit to Rome – a place the sorcerer never intended to go. Other variants of the story have Twardowski being sold to the devil as a child by his father.
With the devil’s aid, Twardowski quickly rose to wealth and fame, eventually becoming a courtier of King Sigismund Augustus, who sought consolation in magic and astrology after the death of his beloved wife, Barbara Radziwiłł.
He was said to have summoned the ghost of the late queen to comfort the grieving king, using a magic mirror. The sorcerer also wrote two books, both dictated to him by the devil – a book on magic and an encyclopedia.
After years of evading his fate, Twardowski was eventually tricked by the devil and caught not in the city, but at an inn called Rzym (Rome in Polish).
While being spirited away, Twardowski started to pray to the Virgin Mary, who made the devil drop his victim midway to Hell. Twardowski fell on the Moon where he lives to this day. His only companion is his sidekick whom he once turned into a spider; from time to time Twardowski lets the spider descend to Earth on a thread and bring him news from the world below.