Italian Relations of the Pac Family in the Late Seventeenth Century and Urban Art in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania (Summary)

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The article discusses the formation of the Italian aspect of urban art and culture in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania (GDL) under the influence of one of the Lithuanian noble families, the Pac. The Pac family reached hegemony in the GDL during the reign of King Michael Korybut Wiszniowiecki and made a significant contribution to the politics of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth in the second half of the seventeenth century. One of the distinctive features of the Pac family was their alleged genealogical relationship with the Florentine patrician family of Pazzi. This presumed kinship was first proposed in the first half of the seventeenth century and had a considerable impact on the political and cultural orientation of the Pac family. It was best expressed through the relations of the Pac with the House of Medici, mainly with the Grand Duke of Tuscany, Cosimo III, and the Holy See.
The genealogical propaganda of the Italian origin of the Pac was manifested in the panegyric literature of the seventeenth century dedicated to the family and in the visual arts. The image of Saint Maria Maddalena de’ Pazzi, their presumed relative, can be found in all the principal foundations of the Pac: in the Church of St Peter and St Paul in Vilnius, the Church of St Michael the Archangel and St John the Baptist in Jieznas, as well as in the Church of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, built for the Camaldolese monastery in Pažaislis. The image of the ‘Pater Patriae’, popular in the sixteenth century and favoured by the Radziwiłł family, was supplemented by the idea of a Christian knight in the Baroque period. This image can be traced to ‘Gerusalemme liberata’, a heroic poem by Torquato Tasso written in 1575, after the victory of Lepanto in 1571. In Lithuania, the Christian knight was best impersonated by the Lithuanian Grand Hetman, Michał Kazimierz Pac. He distinguished himself in the battles against the Ottomans, especially near Khotyn in 1673. This historical and literary image of the Christian knight also expressed the Italian aspirations of the Pac insofar as this historical and literary motif was also characteristic to the genealogy of the Pac presumed relatives, the Florentine noble family of Pazzi.
In addition to the foundations of Baroque churches and monasteries, the prosperity of the Pac household was also reflected in the construction of palaces and country mansions. These Baroque constructions, which displayed a relatively modern spatial awareness at the time, changed the landscape of urban architecture in Lithuania. On the other hand, the presumed Italian origin of the Pac, their close contacts with the land of their ‘ancestors’, Italy, and their favourable attitude to all foreigners attracted numerous Italian artists, craftsmen and numerous merchants to whom Vilnius became a significant commercial centre, similar to Warsaw and Cracow in Poland, and especially important for Italian trade with Russia and Ukraine. The Italians actively participated in religious, cultural and social life, influencing the urban society of the time. Consequently, the predominance of the Pac noble family acted as a catalyst for the decisive impact of Western European culture on the emergence of urban art characterised by the features of the Baroque style in Lithuania.
Keywords: Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, Pazzi, architecture, Radziwiłł, the Ottomans