From the Princes’ Collection02.02-05.09.2021
The collection of the Princes Czartoryski Library is a vast repository with resources that keep surprising us.
Selected parchment documents show the formation of the borders of our homeland. In 1412, King Władysław Jagiełło received sixteen towns in the Spisz region from Czech and Hungarian King and later Emperor Sigismund of Luxembourg as a pledge for a loan granted. They did not remain part of the Republic of Poland even until the first partition, because already in 1769 Austria occupied them, disregarding the Republic of Poland. In 1457, King Kazimierz Jagiellończyk bought from Prince Janusz of Oświęcim his inheritance and incorporated it permanently into the Republic of Poland. The third document - commonly referred to as the Prussian Homage, issued in 1525 - was supposed to be a peaceful settlement of mutual relations between the family (after all, Albrecht Hohenzollern was a nephew of King Sigismund I), but in retrospect it proved to be the beginning of the downfall of the Polish Republic’s power.
A picture of the First Republic in the eyes of foreigners can be found in books by Alessandro Guagnini and Andreas Cellarius. They are complemented by a beautiful map of the Republic of Poland prepared by one of Europe's most distinguished cartographers, Carel Allard. The manuscript map, created almost 200 years later, shows only a fraction of the once great Republic of Poland, its eastern borders: Volhynia, Podolia and Ukraine.
The next three exhibits might seem far apart, but they have a lot in common. Here is the manuscript of the diary of Fr. Jędrzej Kitowicz, who masterfully described the life in the Polish Republic in the Saxon times. In the manuscript of Jean-Jacques Rousseau we can find the assumptions of the new order of the Republic. Asked by the Bar Confederates, the great thinker drew up a vision of reforms that could save the falling power. And at the end of this part of the exhibition: extracts, notes, reflections, thoughts, enriched with drawings and graphics, written on the pages of a special diary, probably of the most outstanding woman of the Enlightenment - Izabela Czartoryska née Flemming. Who among us would write about themselves: “Beautiful - that I have never been, but I have often been pretty, I have beautiful eyes”. Her beloved Puławy is linked to the exhibits: “Myśli różne o sposobie zakładania ogrodów” (Various Thoughts on Arranging Gardens) and “Pamiątka pierwszej próbki Drukarnia Puławskiej” (Memento of the First Sample from the Puławy Printing House). The Gothic House, part of the first Polish museum she founded, exhibited a beautiful devotional book belonging to Queen Marie Antoinette of France, a gift received in 1781 after the birth of the heir to the throne, Louis Joseph de Bourbon.
The next three autographs are a treat for all music lovers. Next to each other we can see a letter by Ludwig van Beethoven, a manuscript of a composition by Frederick Chopin and a letter by Nicòllo Paganini. An interesting fact is that these masters are connected by one person: Carlo Soliva, their friend, the addressee of the last of the letters.
The memorabilia chosen are not random – together they tell interesting stories, move us and provoke thought.