Aristocratic Families of Volhynia: Between the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and the Kingdom of Poland (Summary)

Andrzej Józef Baranowski (PDF)

Until the Union of Lublin in 1569, Volhynia was part of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania (GDL). Later, the noble families of Volhynia maintained cultural relations with Lithuania. However, members of these families could not obtain state and episcopal positions in the GDL, so they pursued their careers in the Kingdom of Poland. Already in the 16th century, the most influential became the families of Ostrogski and Zbaraski, who overshadowed others, such as the Korecki family until their extinction in the 17th century or the Czartoryski and Sanguszko families, who were still on their way to the peak of their wealth and political careers and gained a prominent position only in the 18th century. Kinship with Polish families became an introduction to political unification for the Zbaraski, Ostrogski and Wiśniowiecki families after the Union of Lublin was signed. These relations were strengthened by awarding Ruthenian families with the highest positions in the Republic. Janusz Ostrogski, Jerzy Zbaraski and Janusz Wiśniowiecki were promoted to the Castellan of Cracow, and Michał Korybut Wiśniowiecki was elected a King of Poland. The vast domains of Tarnowski and other families of Lesser Poland passed to Ruthenian families. Polish nobles, such as the Konecpolski, Sieniawski, Sobieski, Potocki and Lubomirski, intermarried with the Czartoryski, Zasławski and Sangushko, acquired large domains in Volhynia and other Ruthenian lands. Volhynia and Lithuania started to unite again in the 18th century when the Saxon dynasty fought against the Lithuanian nobles with separatist attitudes and raised cosmopolitan aristocratic families. Then the Sanguszko, Wiśniowiecki and Czartoryski families, remote descendants of the Jagiellonians and Rurikids, took over the most important offices in the GDL, which the families of Radziwiłł, Sapieha and Pac had previously occupied. Members of the Volhynia families who converted to Catholicism generously funded Latin churches, for example, in Zbarazh, Dubno, Vyshnivets and Zaslav (Izyaslav). The dukes Wiśniowiecki built a massive Jesuit ensemble in Kremenets. Mikołaj Potocki, who took over the construction of the Cathedral of St George in Lviv and the Pochayiv Basilian Monastery, became one of the most generous benefactors of the Ruthenian Uniate churches.

Keywords: noblemen, Union of Lublin, Ruthenians, Lesser Poland, aristocracy