The Krasicki Family of Siecień of the Rogala coat of arms

The Krasicki Family of Siecień of the Rogala coat of arms originates from noblesse inmemoriale (Immemorial nobility) of Mazovia and Silesia regions, probably with Swiss roots, as is suggested by contemporary DNA research, confirming the legends described for the first time by Bartosz Paprocki in the 15th century. In the late 15th century one of the branches of the Rogalites of Siecień /later called the Krasicki/ moved to Przemyśl region, where it made a magnate career in the 16th century. Rather fast for Polish relations, already in 1631, it was elevated to the dignity of the Counts of the Empire /Reichsgraf/ and built a castle in Krasiczyn near Przemyśl. Relatively numerous and not as poor as Marcin Schirmer, the author of „Polish aristocracies” would have it, the Krasicki family gave rise to many outstanding personalities, starosts, senators, mainly politicians, social and economic activists and a few patriotic activists – insurgents. Without any doubt, the best known personality was the Prince Bishop of Warmia /XBW/ Ignacy – a poet, a writer, statist and clergyman, a friend of Kings – Stanislaus Augustus Poniatowski and Frederick II. Without exaggeration, one can state that the Polish “age of lights” and Polish literature, not only of the 18th century, owe a lot to bishop Krasicki.

All more and less known Polish aristocratic families were described in numerous peerages, so I am referring all those interested in the history and genealogy of the counts of Krasicki to professional source literature. A will follow a much more modest model, and in imitation of the outstanding professor Emanuel Rostworowski /the author of the book titled „Korzenie i popioły” [Roots and ashes’]] I shall lean over the nearest family environment of August Krasicki – the author of „Dzienniki z kampanii rosyjskiej 1914-1916” [The Journal of the Russian Campaign 1914-1916].

My outstanding ancestor, August Krasicki, came from Lesser Poland’s line of the family /Dubiecko-Bachórzec-Lesko/. His great grandfather was famous Xawery Krasicki /1774-1845/ called by contemporaries Sir Xawery, own nephew of XBW. He received education at the latter’s court in Lidzbark Warmiński. He took part in the Kościuszko Insurrection, and he was a friend of Chieftain Tadeusz Kościuszko, from whom he received a ring with the inscription “From Homeland to its Defender”. This and other very valuable memorabilia kept in the Krasicki family museum at the Lesko castle were lost during the last war. Modelled on Kościuszko, Xawery Krasicki frequently wore a peasant coat to manifest his progressive, as he himself thought, convictions.

In 1799 Xawery Krasicki married countess Julia Teresa Mniszech /1777-1845/, who brought as dowry the real estate in the Bieszczady region, often named the Lesko key, former „Lesko state” of the Kmita family, who were very powerful in the 16th century, with the medieval castle in Lesko as its “capital”. After Dubiecko and Bachórzec of Podkarpacie region, the property and castle of Lesko became the main seat of the Lesser Poland’s line of the family until 1944, when pursuant to the “agrarian reform”, being in fact simply an anti-Polish Soviet decree, that real estate jointly with the castle was seized from the Krasicki family. The soviet decree – euphemistically named the “decree on agrarian reform” – is still treated seriously by free Polish state and effectively precludes putting an end to the occupation of the Lesko castle lasting for half a century. Presently, the castle is under temporary administration of the Ministry of the Treasury. Let us hope this revolting situation will end soon and the castle itself will return to its rightful owners. The lawsuit has been going on since 2000, i.e. for 13 years.

Sir Xawery arrived at ruined Lesko castle. Mniszech family never lived in it, previous owners – the Stasnicki family – had neither, and the Lesko key itself was just one of the real estates of that rich family. The castle was falling in ruin virtually throughout the entire 18th century. It was not until the 1830s and 1840s that a general reconstruction was launched. The restoration works were managed by a close friend of Sir Xawery, Wincenty Pol, the author of „Mohort”, a geographer, self-proclaimed architect, who lent Classicist character to the facade. The entire castle was overhauled with the use of local forces. This is how Lesko and Aniela Edmundowa Krasicka born Brzostowska, is remembered by Teodor Żychliński: „When after marriage, she (Aniela) visited for the first time her father-in-law in Posada Liska, she found herself in a completely separate world; there was something of a borderland soldier there; this was more a soldiers’ camp than a mansion. That court was brimming with emigrants, emissaries, residents, hunters; horses, dogs, hunting trumpets accompanied by high culture of the mind, and almost Spartan furnishings of that court, with no elegance or luxury. Near Posada; in a picturesque location, among linden tress of the Kmita family there were walls of the Lesko castle sticking out, a memory of the Kmita, Stadnicki and Ossoliński families. Sir Xawery showed his daughter-in-law around, and seeing her admiration and enthusiasm, he just simply said: If you like it so much, I will start castle’s restoration at once”.

For over a hundred years the Lesko castle became a regional centre of social and cultural life. Political emigrants, refugees from the Russian part of the partitioned Poland, insurgents and independence activists were received and sometimes hid in the castle. Raw, stone interiors were slowly being filled with valuable works of art and furniture, particularly in the times of the second Krasicki at the Lesko castle, Edmund /1808-1894/ the son of Xawery, married to Maria Aniela of counts Brzostowski from Białozórka. Brzostowscy of the Strzemię coat of arms were an old family that had settled in Lithuania a long time before, but through beneficial connections with princes Korybut-Wiśniowiecki, whose family was near extinction, in the first half of the 18th century and with princes Ogiński /who died out in our times /, the family received a magnificent property in Volhynia with the impressive palace in Białozórka, full of valuable properties being legacy of Wiśniowiecki and Ogiński families.

The father of Mrs. Edmundowa Krasicka, lieutenant colonel and adjutant of Prince Józef Poniatowski, count Michał Brzostowski /1782-1852/ left this property to her as inheritance. Napoleon Orda left an image of the palace in Białozórka, which provides some notion of the status of – today already slightly forgotten – Brzostowski family.

Worthwhile of attention is the portrait „en pied” of Michał Ogiński, the Grand Hetman of Lithuania, painted by Rossine Mathieu Lisiewska in 1755, which has been at the Lesko castle inherited from Brzostowski family since 1939. Stolen from the Krasicki family, it is presently in the Historical Museum in Sanok. The management of the Museum maintains that it comes from the collection of counts Załuski /which was also stolen from the Załuski family in Iwonicz/. It is hard to decide whether this is a manifestation of ignorance? Because Ogniński family are among ancestors of Załuski family, perhaps this is why museum curators concluded that the portrait came from Iwonicz.

In the Sanok museum there are also remains of the castle library secured by curators „so that no outsider steals it”. We do not need to add that numerous attempt at recovery of the books that started to be collected back by bishop Ignacy Krasicki, ended in a failure…

Until 1939 the painting gallery at the Lesko castle consisted of approximately two hundred items; in prevailing majority those were likings of representatives of Krasicki family and of families related to it: Kmita; Sanguszko, Rzewuski, Ogiński, Brzostowski, Mniszech, Ossoliński, Stadnicki. Wiśniowiecki, Sieniawski, Dembiński and others. The collection also contained a few royal portraits connected to the history of Poland, religious paintings etc.

Edmund Konrad Krasicki, the grandfather of the author of the Journal, continued the family pro-independence traditions of his ancestors. He took part in the Polish-Russian war of 1831. With age, the attitude of Romantic struggle for freedom of Poland probably started to evolve towards Ultramontanism /Edmund Krasicki was a knight of several papal orders/ and a conciliatory attitude towards the Austrian invader. The Galicia robbery must have been a great shock for the Krasicki family. Edmundowa Krasicka survived by a miraculous coincidence and as a votive offering she erected on the Lesko market square a figure of the Virgin Mary decorated with the Rogala and Strzemię coat of arms, which still stands there today. The conciliatory attitude of Edmund must have been related to the liberal Austrian policy in the times of Galician autonomy.

Interesting light on my ancestor is shed by the few surviving letters by him. I have a small packet of letters to railways entrepreneurs from France. In late 1860s, French and Prussian companies applied for licences for construction of railways in Galica and Lodomeria. In his letters, Edmund advised to the French what they should do in Vienna to win the valuable licence. As a matter of fact he elaborated a lobbing strategy for a railway company, he recommended to the French his friend, count Adam Potocki from Krzeszowice, an influential Galician politician of those times. Asked by the French, what he wished to receive for his valuable assistance, Krasicki replied that for a „Polish rural nobleman”, as he described himself, the fact that Prussians would not obtain the licence was a sufficient reward. Let us remember that those were the times of anti-Polish age of Bismarck in Prussia and soon the Second German Reich was established.

The next owner of Lesko and Bachórzes was the son of Edmund, Ignacy Krasicki /1839-1924/, married to Elżbieta /Eliza/, a granddaughter of entailer Stanisław count Zamoyski, and a daughter of August and Elfryda of Counts Tyzenhauz. Elżbieta Zamoyska came from Różanka and Włodawa; powerful properties of the Zamoyski family. She was a granddaughter of famous grandparents – the 12th Entailer of Zamość, Stanisław count Zamoyski and Zofia of counts Czartoryski, called the „mother of families” – owing to her a majority of contemporary Polish aristocracy are related or connected by marriages. We can still today admire her magnificent marble tomb at Santa Croce in Florence.

In the times of Ignacy and Elżbieta, the castle in Lesko was a centre of social life in Podkarpacie region. Nevertheless, the lavish lifestyle and Old Polish hospitality of Sir Ignacy Krasicki slightly strained the financial resources of the family.

A son of Ignacy and Elżbieta was August Krasicki, my great grandfather, the author of „The Journal of the Russian Campaign 1914-1916” and the last pre-war owner of Lesko.


Kacper Krasicki