|Place of origin||Kernav?, Grand Duchy of Lithuania|
|Connected families||Astikai, Bouvier|
The Radziwi family (Polish pronunciation: [ra'diviww]; Lithuanian: Radvila; Belarusian: , Radzivi?; German: Radziwill) was a powerful magnate family originating from the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and later the Crown of the Kingdom of Poland.
The descendants of Kristinas Astikas, a Lithuanian and a close associate of the 14th century ruler Vytautas, were highly prominent for centuries, first in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, later in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and the Kingdom of Prussia. The family has produced many individuals notable in Lithuanian, Polish, Belarusian, German as well as general European history and culture. The Radziwi family received the title of Reichsfürst (prince) from the Holy Roman Empire.
The Radziwi family is a directly descended branch of the extinct Lithuanian noble Astikai family line. Its first notable member, Kristinas Astikas (born 1363), a close associate of the Lithuanian ruler Vytautas, became Castellan of Vilnius. The patronym Radvila arose following its use by his son Radvila Astikas and grandson Mikalojus Radvila. A legendary version of the patronym's etymology associates it with a child raised by wolves (rado vilko). The name has been primarily written in, and recognized by, the polonized version and spelling for several centuries.
The family descends from Lithuanian bajorai-ducal courtiers who advanced considerably in the 15th century politics of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. Along with possessions of land near Kernav?, the family's traced place of origin, the Radziwi family also inherited the Tr?by coat of arms.
The Radziwi family divided by branch:
The Goni?dz-Meteliai line became extinct by the next generation as Miko?aj's descendants consisted of one male heir, Miko?aj III, who entered the priesthood and became the Bishop of Samogitia, thus bearing no known offspring to extend the line.
The Bir?ai-Dubingiai line was moderately more successful and produced some very notable state officials and politicians, but also became extinct after the death of Ludwika Karolina Radziwi in 1695.
The Nesvizh-Kletsk-Olyka line was the most successful and was further divided into smaller family lines in order to maintain clarity and specificity of descent and the passing of titles. Since the 18th century, all Radziwi family members have been descendants of this line. Three sons of Miko?aj "the Black", Miko?aj Krzysztof "Sierotka", Albrycht, and Stanis?aw "the Pious", are said to be the progenitors of the three smaller branches. The branches are as follows:
Possibly both the Olyka and older Kletsk lines became extinct, the former in 1656 and the latter in 1690. The direct descendant of the Nesvizh line, Dominik Hieronim's son, Aleksander Dominik, was born before the marriage of his parents and formed the so-called Galician branch, which became extinct in 1938.
The younger Kletsk line descends from Micha? Hieronim, continued through his son Ludwik Mikolaj. The descendants of his other son, Antoni Henryk, formed the beginning of the so-called Ordynant branch. Other than the Ordynant branch, from the younger Kletsk line also descends the lesser titled branches of Szyd?owiec and Po?oneczka, as well as Dziat?ava, Berdychiv, and ?yrmunów. The younger Kletsk line has continued into the present day.
Kristinas Astikas, ancestor of the Radziwi family, was among these who were granted and adopted the emblem known as Tr?by after the Union of Horod?o in 1413. This emblem later became the hereditary coat of arms of the Radziwis.
In 1518, Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I created Mikalojus Radvila's son, Miko?aj, Reichsfürst ("Imperial Prince") of Goni?dz and Meteliai after the Jagiellonian-Habsburg congress at Vienna. Miko?aj Radziwi also received an expanded, more solemn coat of arms: as princes of the Holy Roman Empire, the Radziwis bore a black eagle, on whose breast is a shield with Tr?by and other emblems. The family motto is "God advises us" (Polish: Bóg nam radzi, Belarusian: , Boh nam raji?).
In 1547, Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor, created Miko?aj "the Black" and his brother, Jan, hereditary Reichsfürsten of Nesvizh and Olyka; their cousin Miko?aj "the Red" Radziwi was created Reichsfürst of Bir?ai and Dubingiai. The same year King Sigismund II Augustus of Poland married Barbara Radziwi and confirmed these titles in 1549. So high a title was rare among the szlachta (the Polish nobility): just five Polish families, including the Radziwis, received the title of imperial prince from the Holy Roman emperor.
The Radziwi family also divided on religious grounds. Following the Protestant and Polish Reformation, two branches converted to Calvinism. One branch, the Nesvizh-Kletsk-Olyka line, remained as Calvinists for two generations until the children of Miko?aj "the Black" converted to Catholicism before the end of the century. The Bir?ai-Dubingiai line remained in the Protestant faith until the extinction of their line one century later.
Both Miko?aj "the Black" and Miko?aj "the Red" were zealous promoters and active participants of the Protestant religion within the GDL. Miko?aj "the Black" funded the printing of a second version, and first completed, Polish translation of a Protestant bible, titled the "Radziwi Bible" (also known as "Biblia Brzeska"), which was published in the town of Brest in 1564. His death in 1565 was seen as a severe loss to the Protestant cause in Lithuania. However, Miko?aj "the Red" continued his cousin's work by founding and endowing land to several churches and schools.
Several prominent family members have been involved in domestic and foreign political arenas. They took an active part in the political life of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and its importance is manifested by family relations with such famous nobility dynasties in Belarus, Ukraine, Poland, the Great Duchy of Lithuania, Samogitia, and Rus like Zaslawski, Rohatinski, Lukomski, and Olshanski-Dobrowicki. The Radziwi family joined the rest of the nobility as the elite of the state after the signing the Union of Krewo in 1385.
The significance of the Radziwi family is proved by the marriage of Anna to Konrad III Rudy, duke of Masovia, who owned the largest Polish principality. In 1547 Barbara Radziwi was married to Sigismund II Augustus, thus becoming the Queen of Poland and setting also in motion a closer relationship to the Papal Curia. Later the Radziwis established family relations not only with the most important families of the Polish, Belarusian and Lithuanian magnate families like Sanguszko, Sapieha or Chodkiewicz, but also with members of royal families like Wi?niowiecki, Sobieski, and Leszczy?ski.
The political position of the Radziwis enhanced in the 16th century. In 1515, Miko?aj, as a member of a delegation, headed by King Sigismund I the Old took part in the First Congress of Vienna in Pressburg and Vienna where Emperor Maximilian I met kings of Poland, Hungary and Bohemia. Additionally, Mikolaj "the Black" was the deputy to the Grand Prince when the latter was abroad. From that time on, the Radziwis were also granted the privilege of keeping legal acts and other state documents in Nesvizh.
In 1583 bishop Jerzy Radziwi was elevated to the cardinalate by Pope Gregory XIII, established a closer relationship with the influential noble banking families Altoviti and Strozzi. Later prince Aleksander Ludwik Radziwi married Lucrezia Maria Strozzi, great-granddaughter of Bindo Altoviti and Filippo Strozzi.
During this time until the first half of the 17th century, the Radziwis were the most influential and richest family among the magnate dynasties of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. This status enabled them, along with very few other families, to have their own army. In 1528, the Radziwis owned 18,240 houses thus being able to have cavalry of 760 horsemen. In 1567, 28,170 houses provided for an expanded 939 horsemen and 1586 infantrymen. In the 18th century, the army of Hieronim Florian, for instance, had 6,000 men, and was equal to the entire armed forces of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania.
Members of the Radziwi family held important state posts in the Rzeczpospolita and in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. 8 chancellors, 7 hetmans, 15 castellans, 19 marsza?eks, and 19 voivodes, almost exclusively representing the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, rather than the Crown, belonged to the dynasty. Radziwis were members of the parliament and of the Tribunal of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. They also held high military posts and took part in the Livonian War, Russo-Polish War of 1647-1667, Northern Wars, participated in the Napoleonic campaign, and the Ko?ciuszko Uprising.
The Radziwis also gained international importance manifested in family relations with German princely dynasties, first established by Albrecht Radziwi from Olyka who married Anna, princess of Courland. Such conjugal unions continued in 17th and 18th centuries.
Karol Stanis?aw Radziwi (1734-1790) of the Nie?wie? line was the wealthiest magnate in Poland, in the second half of the 18th century, and one of the richest men in Europe. As a patriot he fought for a free nation, that soon after his death would be partitioned between Austria, Prussia and the Russian Empire. During the Great Sejm from 1788 until his death in 1790 he was a leading opponent of reform and of King Stanis?aw II Augustus and his allies, the members of the so-called Familia political party headed by the Czartoryski family.
After the three partitions of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth in the late 18th century, towns and estates owned by the Radziwis became parts of territories which belonged to Russia, Prussia and Austria. However, all three states recognized the title of princes of the Radziwi dynasty and the rights of its members at the family properties. Many members of the Radziwi family held high civil and military posts.
They had family ties with the Dukes of Castellane, the Clary-Aldringen and Sayn-Wittgenstein princes and most importantly with Frederick William II, King of Prussia and his son Frederick William III. Prince Antoni Radziwi of the Kletsk line married Princess Louise of Prussia, a daughter of Prince Augustus Ferdinand of Prussia and hence a first cousin of King Frederick William II. This relation helped Antoni to release the vast properties Nie?wie? and Olyka from Russian seizure in 1815, after his cousin Dominik of the Nie?wie? line had fought and died on Napoleons' side in the Polish Legion, and Alexander I of Russia had therefore confiscated his whole property. After the Congress of Vienna the inheritance was partially given to Antoni.
The couple were prominent patrons of the arts in Berlin during the early 19th century. At their Berlin residence, the Radziwi Palace, they hosted well-known personalities, artists and academics, playing a major role in promoting Prussian-Polish relationship in Berlin. These included Polish politicians in the Prussian Parliament or such famous people as Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Frédéric Chopin, Wilhelm and Alexander von Humboldt, Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy and Karl Friedrich Schinkel. Indeed, the "Salons" held by the Radziwis were so popular that they became a symbol of "Polish Berlin". Although most of their largest estates were located in Russian Poland, the close relation with the Royal House of Prussia caused the family to preferably live at the Berlin court, using their influence, than in Warsaw or St. Petersburg, given their experience with the Czar's seizure of most of the family's property in 1813. Micha? Gedeon Radziwi was the commander-in-chief of the November Uprising of 1830-31.
Elisa Radziwill, a daughter of Antoni and Louise, became the first love of the later Prussian King and German Emperor Wilhelm I. Her brothers Wilhelm (1797-1870) and Bogus?aw (1809-1873) became Prussian generals and politicians, the latter being an influential opponent of Prussian minister-president (and, from 1871, German chancellor) Otto von Bismarck in his anti-Catholic politics, later called the Kulturkampf. Bogus?aw's son Ferdynand (1834-1926) also became an important leader of the Polish minority and opponent of the Germanization and Kulturkampf policies. After Poland regained independence in 1918, he became a Polish citizen and a member of the Polish parliament (Sejm), and so did his son Janusz (1880-1967). Their cousin Stanislaw Radziwi was the aide-de-camp to the Commander-in-chief Józef Pi?sudski. In German-occupied Poland, Janusz tried to use his prestige to improve Nazi treatment of the Poles - unlike his brother Micha? who sided with the Nazis, at least at the beginning of the occupation. After the Second World War in 1945, Janusz was arrested by NKVD and his wife would die in a communist prison in 1947. Janusz died in his two-room apartment in Warsaw, with all of his possessions confiscated and nationalized by the communist government.
Prince Antoni Radziwi was a music and art aficionado and he transformed his properties in Berlin to serve as artistic salons, where aristocrats mingled among artists, painters and composers. Radziwi's Berlin properties hosted frequent amateur theatre play productions.
Another property Antoni Radziwi owned in Prussian-Poland was Antonin, a hunting lodge he had built between 1822-24 by the German architect Karl Friedrich Schinkel, named after him. Later in his life, Antoni Radziwi moved permanently to Antonin with his wife, Louise of Prussia, and two daughters Wanda and Eliza. Antoni Radziwi was a well-connected composer among European musical circles and with time transformed the Antonin property into a popular musical salon among greatest talents of the area such as Niccolò Paganini, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Frédéric Chopin and Ludwig van Beethoven. Chopin gave music lessons to Antoni Radziwi's daughter Wanda during his stays at the property. During his stays with Radziiw family, Chopin also had composed the Polonaise op.3 and Piano Trio Op. 8 and dedicated the latter to Radziwi. Antoni Radziwi also supported some of the artists financially, among them Fryderyk Chopin. Chopin's visits to Antonin property were documented by Henryk Siemiradzki in a photogravure titled "Chopin u ksi?cia Radziwia" (eng: Chopin's visit to Prince Radziwill ).
The family acquired and maintained great wealth and influence from the 15th-16th century until the beginning of the Second World War in 1939. The Radziwi family reached the heights of its importance and power during the Polish Golden Age. However, due to the activities of Janusz Radziwi during The Deluge, a series of mid-17th-century campaigns in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, the family lost much of its wealth and power.
Regarding their wealth, the Radziwis were not inferior to a royal family. In total, the Radziwi family has, over the centuries, had in its possession 23 palaces, 426 large and small towns, 2032 estates, and 10,053 villages. In present-day Belarus they possessed towns and boroughs like Haranyony, Davyd-Haradok, Kletsk, Dzyarzhynsk, Kopys, Dakhva, Mir, Nesvizh, Charnauchitsy, and Shchuchyn; in present-day Ukraine: Olyka with dozens of villages in the Wolyn province (Polish: wojewodztwo); in present-day Poland: Szyd?owiec with villages in the Sandomierz province and Nieborów; and in present-day Lithuania: Bir?ai, Dubingiai, K?dainiai, and others.
The Goni?dz-Meteliai line possessed, during the 15th - 16th centuries, estates like Goni?dz, Zaigrad and Podlaskie Lowlands in Poland. In 1612 the Principality of Slutsk with some thirty-two villages passed over to the Radziwis, after Janusz Radziwi had married the heiress Zofia Olelkowicz S?ucka. Their possessions were expanded also with Brest, Ashmyany, Krychau, Lida, Mazyr and other administrative territories (starostwos). The Radziwis were granted a life-time privilege of being governors (starostas) of those territories. However, during Janusz Radziwi's lifetime, the interests between his family and the Polish Crown began to drift apart, as the Radziwis sought to increase their wealth and power, safeguard Protestantism and support ethnically Lithuanian culture, which caused him to join the opposition against King Sigismund III Vasa in 1606.
In 1586, the sons of Mikolaj "the Black" arranged for their fortunes to follow an ordynacja (fee tail), which was to have individual properties inherited by their male descendants; see "Radziwi Family Fee Tail". The ordynats of Nesvizh, Kletsk, and Olyka were thus formed. In the 19th century the Davyd-Haradok and Przygodzice ordynats were also established. Other possessions could be inherited by female heirs or alienated. Depending on the importance and size of owned lands, they were called either principalities (Nesvizh, Olyka, Bir?ai, Dubingiai, Kapyl, Slutsk, Staryi Chortoryisk, Stary Zbaraz, Goni?dz and Medele), counties (Mir, Bia?a Podlaska, Dzyarzhynsk, Kopys, Zab?udów, K?dainiai, Zolkow, Pomorzani, Belykamen, Kra?iai), or estates (Nevel, Krasnoye, Sebezh, Musninkai, Sereya, Horodok, Sobolew, Slovatichi, Ruchai, Kolki, Vyazyn, Rafa?ówka, Zhmigrod, Beloozero, Yampol, Shumsk, Sverzhen, Drisvyaty, Naliboki). The family ties to the banking dynasties Altoviti and Strozzi played an important role to secure titles and wealth with the Roman Curia.
After the extinction of the Olyka and older Kletsk lines, their fortunes were passed to those of the Nesvizh line. With the death of the heirless Dominik Hieronim in 1813, the Nesvizh line lost its right to the ordynat. Dominik Heronim's son, Aleksander Dominik, was born before the marriage of his parents and was thus denied the title and inheritance of his forefathers. He and his descendants had their princely title confirmed by the Austrian Empire. Thus, the ordynat of Nesvizh and Olyka fell into the hands of the younger Kletsk line. This however cost the new owner, Antoni Radziwi, some diplomatic effort at the Congress of Vienna, as his cousin Dominik had fought in the Polish Legion on Napoleons' side, and Alexander I of Russia had therefore confiscated his whole property. Only because of Prussia's intervention (since Antoni was married to a Prussian princess), he was able to keep the family trust properties, mainly Nesvizh Castle and Olyka Castle with vast lands, while Mir Castle and 18.000 km² of land passed to Dominik's only legitimate child, Stephania, who had to marry a Russian subject, according to the Czar's order, whom she found in Ludwig zu Sayn-Wittgenstein-Berleburg.
In this way, all three Radziwi ordynats ended up in the possession of one line, represented by the sons of Michal Hieronim, Ludwik Mikolaj of Kletsk and Antoni Henryk of Nesvizh and Olyka. The descendants of Antoni Henryk formed the beginning of the so-called Ordynant branch, out of the younger Kletsk line, in whose possession, other than the three older ordynats of Nesvizh, Kletsk, and Olyka, they also received the two additional titles of Przygodzice and Davyd-Haradok.
The Radziwi family owned 23 castles and palaces. The most fortified of them were in Nesvizh, Olyka, Bir?ai, Bia?a, Slutsk, Zolkow, Pomorzany and Zolochiv. The Radziwis possessed palaces in most important cities of the Rzeczpospolita, including those where the Sejm had its sessions (Warsaw, Hrodna), or the Tribunal held its meetings (Vilnius, Lublin, Navahrudak), in province centres where the Radziwis had their estates (Minsk and Lviv), and in the cities where the Radziwis were economically active (Gda?sk, Wroc?aw). In 19th and 20th centuries the Radziwis also owned property in European capitals like Vienna, Dresden, Berlin and Paris. Residences that emerged in the centres of the possessions of the Radziwis reflected the importance of a town in the history of the family. One of this type of residences was Nesvizh in present-day Belarus which by the 18th century had developed into a most important princely town.
Over the generations the family members have resided in some notable historic homes. The Radziwi family owned a total of 23 palaces. Some of the more prominent of these are:
Nesvizh Castle (Nie?wie?)
The Radziwi family members include:
Since 1515 both Mikolajs and the Radziwi family were elevated to Reichsfürsten of the Holy Roman Empire.