Pilgrim and Tourist: The Journey of Michał Kazimierz Radziwiłł to Italy in 1678 (Summary)

Hanna Osiecka-Samsonowicz (PDF)

In August 1677, Michał Kazimierz Radziwiłł, Voivode of Vilnius, Vice-Chancellor and Hetman of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, travelled to Italy with wife, Katarzyna Sobieska. More than a year ago, John III Sobieski decided to entrust to the duke the function of an obedience envoy (expressing respect) to Pope Innocent XI. For the King, the question of the envoy was prestigious and urgent, so he tried to give the trip of his brother-in-law an official character. However, Radziwiłł treated this trip as a key preparation for the postponed obedience mission, which was finally carried out in 1680.
In December, the Radziwiłłs reached Venice, then via Padua and Loreto, went to Rome. In Loreto, they donated precious ex-votos. On 20 February 1678, the Duke entered the city incognito. A few days later, accompanied by dozens of carriages, he made a sumptuous entry into the city with the participation of representatives of the French Embassy, Cardinal Pietro Vidoni, papal legate and nuncio of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and numerous Roman aristocracy. In the city along the shores of the Tiber, the princely couple attended audiences with the Pope and participated in numerous church ceremonies. Although Radziwiłłs visited Rome on a devotional-tourist basis, the Duke was treated as a private envoy of the Polish King. The princely couple was due to return to the country in early March. However, they fell ill and were delayed in Rome, which they left only on 2 April. They returned to their homeland in June 1678.
No iconographic sources testify to the stay of Radziwiłłs in Rome. Therefore, the descriptions of the Duke’s sumptuous entry into the city and the ceremonies in the memoirs of those times and Avvisi di Roma are particularly valuable archival sources. They provide details of events that have been unmarked until now in the literature for the Radziwiłłs. In addition, the visit of a Lithuanian nobleman to Corte di Roma is an interesting fragment of cultural and customs history included in the luxurious calendar of Roman secular and sacral ceremonies in the 17th century.
Keywords: John III Sobieski, GDL, Rome, diplomatic history, Katarzyna Sobieska