International Conference: Full Programm

The Sobieski Family: history, culture and society. Insights between Rome, Warsaw and Europe.

Warsaw 17-18 October 2019

Warsaw 17-18 October 2019

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The Sobieski Family: history, culture and society. Insights between Rome, Warsaw and Europe


17 October 2019, Museum of King Jan III’s Palace at Wilanów

Villa Intrata

14:00 Tour of the Palace,

Meeting point: main gate to the courtyard

15:30. Opening and Greetings:

Paweł Jaskanis, Director of the Wilanów Palace Museum

 Chair: Jarosław Pietrzak


La Lega Santa del 1684 e l’ambasciata straordinaria di Angelo Morosini alla corte di Jan III Sobieski tratta dalle carte conservate presso l’Archivio di Stato di Venezia.

Alessandro Boccolini (University of Tuscia)

 In the aftermath of the liberation of Vienna, papal diplomacy was activated to extend the Polish-imperial league to the Serenissima Republic of Venice. Mons. Buonvisi, the ordinary nuncio in Vienna, was to coordinate diplomacy. Such a political effort would lead to the signing of the Holy League between the Empire, Poland and Venice. The contribution aims to retrace the complex phases leading to the signing of the league, with particular attention to the embassy of Warsaw, held by Angelo Morosini between May and June 1684, sent by the Republic of Venice to inform Jan III of the ratification of the treaty. This embassy is testified by a Report still unpublished and preserved in the State Archives of Venice which, in combination with the already investigated diary of Giacomo Cavanis, Morosini’s personal secretary, which give a perfect picture of those agitated phases of the struggle against the infidel Turk.



Jan Sobieski, Ukrainian Cossacks and Raid War Strategy at the Ottoman border.

Oleksii Sokyrko (Taras Schevchenko National University of Kyiv)


Coalition wars of European states with the Ottoman Empire of the late 17th century were the last phase of Turkish expansion to the West. Just then the talent of Jan Sobieski was most discovered as a diplomat and commander. As a military commander, Sobieski had the reputation of a brilliant cavalry general, a master of lightning maneuvers and a raid warfare. This experience was gained in the military campaigns of the 60’s and 70’s of the 17th century against the right-bank Cossacks of Petro Doroshenko. During the time of Jan Sobieski’s kingship, relations with the Cossacks have changed. In the Cossacks, the king saw a valuable military potential, relevant in the war against Ottomans. The Left-Bank Cossack Hetmanate became a partner of the Holy League. In the military campaigns of the 80’s and 90’s of the 17th century the Crown Army and the Hetman Samoilovich and Mazepa army conducted a series of raids against the Turks and Tatars in the area between the Dnieper and the Danube. Many of these military operations were organized and conducted under the rules of the steppe war, in which the Ukrainian Cossacks had considerable experience. Comparison of the Raid War of the Crown Troops and the Cossack Army reveals many common features, for example, in the organization and planning of campaigns, scouting etc. In fact, we can talk about the experience of the Raid War, jointly produced at the Ottoman border of the Rzeczpospolita and Cossack Hetmanate in the time of Jan Sobieski.


Women, society and customs through travellers’ eyes: parallel visions of the Polish-Lituanian Commonwealth by Andrea Santacroce and Giovan Battista Fagiuoli.

Malgorzata Trzeciak Cygan, Helena Sanson

(University of Warsaw/Cambridge University)


This paper aims to investigate the way travellers from Italy portrayed their encounters with the Polish culture in the XVII century. Attention will be given to female portraits (including those of Eleonora d’Austria and Maria Kazimiera Sobieska) and to the way travellers described this multicultural society and its customs. The paper will focus in particular on two unpublished diaries by the papal nuncio Andrea Santacroce and his secretary Giovan Battista Fagiuoli which illustrate their everyday encounters with ‘the other’. Intriguingly, the voices of the two travellers develop ‘in parallel’, as they describe the same people and events, but from two different social and professional perspectives which determines their point of view as well as the content and type of narration in the journal. As the secretary to the nuncio Santacroce, Fagiuoli’s voice might at first seem less important. In fact, because of his secondary position, Fagiuoli, a satirical poet and playwright, was able to be more spontaneous and bold in his description and judgments of people. He noticed even the smallest details, which he described with the irony of a typical toscanaccio. Santacroce, on the contrary, as a papal diplomat, could not allow himself to be so carefree, not even in his private journal. A careful analysis of both documents sheds new light on the way seventeenth-century Italian travelers viewed the members of the Polish royal family and their country.


La Villa Nuova del re Giovanni III Sobieski e l’antico. Qualche osservazione sulle ispirazioni omeriche, virgiliane e ovidiane.

Jerzy Miziołek (University of Warsaw – National Museum in Warsaw)


Wilanów, the New Villa of King Jan III Sobieski built in the proximity of Warsaw, is an extraordinary example of the neo-classical tradition of the late-seventeenth and early-eighteenth centuries. This contribution focuses on the exterior appearance of the Villa, considering both of the main facade and the beautiful garden. The new reading of the frescoes and stuccos by Michelangelo Palloni and Pietro Innocente Comparetti, depicting the stories of Ulysses, Aeneas and the mythological stories taken from Ovid’s Metamorphoses, illustrate the ideological, programmatic and stylistic contents proposed by the artists. Finally, it is worth noticing that some of the Ovidian themes became very popular, and heavily affected, all the arts in the early eighteenth century.


Magistri ex Italia conducti – 17th century stucco decorations at the Wilanów Palace in the context of stucco works in Central Europe

Konrad Morawski – University of Warsaw

At the Wilanów Palace high-class stucco works from the last quarter of the 17th century have been preserved. Although they are formally diverse (probably made by several workshops), those decorations were considered as a characteristic example of stucco works for Warsaw artistic milieu of the late 17th century. The claim of the homogeneity of the stucco milieu is based on – in some cases confirmed, but in some only presumed – ethnic origin of its members – Italian masters, who came mostly from the vicinity of the great Lombard lakes. The aim of the speech is to recognize the Central European stuccos as a conglomerate of southern, northern and local forms and traditions. Research on the influence of Maestri dei laghi on the art of Central Europe is dominated by the perspective of direct transfers of artistic patterns from Italy, which led to the neglect of the regional context. The interest in the Rome–Como–Warsaw route in the speech will be opposed to a research area which blurred borders can be set between Berlin, Prague, Vienna, Cracow, Warsaw and Vilnius. The claim about the Italianate character of artworks will be the subject of reflection leading to recognition of the components of an increasingly homogenous image of architectural decorations in Central Europe around 1700.


18 October, 9:30, Istituto Italiano di Cultura

Conference Room 

Chair: Roberto Cincotta,

Director of Istituto Italiano di Cultura




Konstanty Sobieski e la sua “puttana” romana attraverso alcuni documenti inediti, manoscritti anonimi, pasquinate e sonetti.

Gaetano Platania (Istituto Nazionale di Studi Romani-University of Tuscia)


On the death of Jan III Sobieski, part of the royal family decided to reach Rome for the Jubilee proclaimed in 1699 by Pope Innocent XII Pignatelli. In reality, they were seeking for asylum and protection in the Holy City. The presence of Maria Kazimiera and her two sons, Aleksander and Konstanty, was often at the core of contemporary gossip and not always welcome by the Roman people. If, on the one hand, Alexsander had a prominent role for Roman social and cultural life, Konstanty, on the other, was at the center of a scandal that also involved the Papal Court. The reference here is to the famous case of Tolla – to whom a street in central Rome is dedicated – a young prostitute with whom Konstanty was infatuated. Known in the summer of 1700 during a party, the young man was struck by the beauty of this young and ambitious girl. A scandal for the Sobieski family which became the butt of satire of the famous Pasquino. This contribution narrates the events of this Roman experience on the part of the Sobieski Family, and present some unpublished “Pasquinate”, looking in more depth at an event which required the direct intervention of the Pope and some cardinals.




Epigrafi celebrative e materiali d’archivio su Jan III Sobieski e Maria Casimira de la Grange d’Arquien conservate nei Musei Capitolini e nel patrimonio della Sovrintendenza Capitolina di Roma.

Francesca Ceci (Musei Capitolini)

This paper presents two marble epigraphs preserved at the Capitoline Museums of Rome. Relating to King Jan III Sobieski and his wife Maria Kazimiera de la Grange d’Arquien, mostly unpublished. In the first – dedicated by the Senate to Innocent XI to commemorate the victory of Vienna on 12 September 1683 – we find the engraved names of the protagonists of this famous historical event. In the second – surmounted by a precious marble low-relief bust of the widowed Queen Maria Kazimiera – we learn about her merits, and the documented influence on her husband on the occasion of the battle of Vienna, along with their later coming to Rome driven by pietas, to celebrate the 1700 Jubilee. It is thanks to the archival research conducted by Jennifer Montagu that we came to learn about the sculptor of the queen’s portrait Lorenzo Ottoni, a well-established and fruitful sculptor of the time. During the presentation will show some unpublished prints and documents related to the Sobieski Family.



L’aristocrazia en déshabillé: le vesti ‘a l’ anticha’ di Maria Casimira Sobieska.

Elisabetta Gnignera (Costume Historian-Indipendent Researcher)


Maria Kazimiera de La Grange d’Arquien was sent to Poland at the age of five as a lady of Queen Maria Ludwika Gonzaga Nevers, who played a leading role in the influence of French fashion in Poland. Despite this, a study of the fabrics from the era of the Polish court shows a clear influence of themes and motifs of the Greco-Roman imperial age, clearly traceable in the clothes with which Maria Kazimiera was portrayed. This contribution means to analyse the clothing of Maria Kazimiera, highlighting modern and antique motifs and their figurative meanings. Particular attention will be devoted to the study of a medallion kept at the Capitoline Museums and created on the occasion of the visit of the queen widow to the Campidoglio Hall on December 2nd 1700.


Due regine alla conquista di Roma: Cristina di Svezia e Maria Kazimiera Sobieska, tra cerimoniali e simboli.

Francesca De Caprio (University of Tuscia)


Between the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the political journeys of some queens who seek protection choose Rome as a place of exile. Particularly suggestive was the triumphal journey began in June 1654 by Christine of Sweden: a real political journey with profound ideological and religious implications. After the conversion to Catholicism and the abdication to the Swedish throne, Cristina leaves Stockholm to reach Rome to pay homage to Pope Alexander VII. For the occasion, the ceremonial of the Holy See developed sumptuous symbolic celebrations in honour of the Queen of Sweden. In 1698 another great queen decided to choose Rome as the site of her exile. Maria Kazimiera Sobieska, the wife of Jan Sobieski the great hero of Vienna, leaves Warsaw to the eternal city with the desire and hope of obtaining from the Holy See the same treatment as Christine of Sweden so glorified during his passage in the Pope’s states. This contribution retraces the journeys made by these two queens, exploring similarities and differences.


Selva di Rime Toscane (I-Rli, Corsiniana 43 B 13) come testimonianza sconosciuta della glorificazione dell’assedio di Vienna

Anna Ryszka-Komarnicka (University of Warsaw)


The contribution focuses on the manuscript entitled Selva di Rime Toscane, now kept by the Corsiniana and Lincei Library in Rome. The manuscript was compiled by the Marquis Filippo Corsini, a member of the prestigious Accademia della Crusca. The main part of the document contains 140 poems (especially ode and sonnets) dedicated to the fight against the Turks with particular attention to the siege of Vienna in 1683. Many poems were unknown even to Bronisław Biliński, collector of Italian poems concerning the siege of Vienna and the exploits of the Polish king Jan III Sobieski. Among these poems in the Selva di Rime Toscane there are 20 unpublished poems that focus on the figure of Sobieski, refer to it or – a real rarity – present other Polish heroes present in Vienna. The manuscript is, therefore, an important source for exploring the themes and meanings connected with the glorification of the Christian victories against the infidel Turk.


18 October, 15:30, University of Warsaw

Institute of Archaeology, Room 210


Chair: Jerzy Miziolek




 “Ce ne sont plus pour moi des divertissements qui me conviennent”. La musica nella vita romana di Maria Casimira, i nuovi ritrovamenti.

Aneta Markuszewska (University of Warsaw)


Maria Casimira Sobieska arrived in Rome in 1699 after a journey of about six months, and resided in the Holy City for 15 years. The Queen loved to write and every week she used to send letters to her beloved children, acquaintances, friends, and administrators of her possessions in Poland. From the point of view of Musicology studies, the most interesting letters are those written to the eldest son Jakub Ludwik Sobieski. In these letters, the Queen-widow describes Roman entertainment, particularly those of the famous carnival. She describes the theater of Cardinal Ottoboni, of Prince Ruspoli, the Teatro Capranica, but also her little theatre. The letters are kept by the National Historical Archive of Minsk (Belarus), at the Sobieski Archive Fund (Fond 694, opus 1). This collection is very large and contains thousands of documents. The aim of my presentation is to show some of the Queen’s most interesting impressions on the musical life of Rome, including those on her little theatre at Trinità dei Monti. Also fundamental are the letters of Eufrosina Sardi, her governess at the Roman court for many years. A contribution on Roman Musicology of the early eighteenth century unknown until now.



Katarzyna née Sobieski Radziwiłł interest in the affairs of Pa-pal Court and Roman reality between 1678-1691.

Jarosław Pietrzak (Pedagogical University of Cracow)


The royal sister Katarzyna née Sobieski Radziwiłł (1634-1694) traveled through Italy in 1678-1679 with the side of her husband, the Vice-Chancellor and Field Hetman of Lithauania Michał Kazimierz Radziwiłł. After the death of her husband in 1680 returning from Roman legation, she made correspondence with the Apostolic Camera regarding the repayment of her spouse’s debts. Subsequent years showed that Italian matters were not foreign to her because of the correspondence sent to her by nuns from the monastery of St. Catherine of Bologna. The sender was not accidental, for it was in Bologna where the husband of the duchess had died eleven years earlier. Correspondence conducted from February to December 1691 consists of 60 letters covering a diverse range of matters. The nuns described the daily life of Bologna and its inhabitants as well as other Italian cities – Rome, Florence and Padua. Having contacts among clerical, the nuns reported all issues raised in the Roman Curia and presented facts from the life of the papal court. All this created a special picture of a distant country outside the Alps, which for the Polish noblewoman remained mysterious and exciting considering her previous stay in Italy.





Esequie solenni celebrate nel 1743 a Żółkiew per il principe reale Jakub Ludwik Sobieski: il loro contesto artistico e propagandistico.

Hanna Osiecka-Samsonowicz

(Institute of the Art of the Polish Academy of Sciences)


In December 1737, Jakub Ludwik – the oldest son of Jan III Sobieski died in Żółkiew. His daughter Maria Karolina the duchess de Bouillon, who was the only surviving heir of the Sobieski family, did not have enough financial resources to organize her father a splendid burial in the collegiate in Żółkiew. Therefore a modest funeral service took place. In 1743, after the death of the duchess, hetman Michał Kazimierz Radziwiłł, who considered himself a continuator and heir to the material and cultural legacy of the royal family, arranged a sumptuous obsequies for the prince at the very same church. Archival sources of this ceremony, which has not been revealed until now, prove that the source of inspiration for the church ephemeral decoration, especially for the extended catafalque for Jakub Sobieski, was not castrum doloris erected for the Polish king Augustus II the Strong in the Roman church of S. Clemente in 1733 as it was thought before. Instead, the inspiraton turned out to be the imperial catafalques raised in the first quarter of the eighteenth century, particulary the catafalque erected in the cathedral of Vienna in 1720 for the empress Eleonor Magdalene, the sister-in-law of the prince. Extremely rich in forms of artistic creation and propaganda content, the artistic setting of the Jakub Sobieski’s funeral ceremony was not only one of the most magnificent in the eighteenth-century Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth ones, but also one of the most interesting ephemeral funeral decorations in Europe at that time.



Recipes for health, beauty, and success in the French fragments of the manuscript attributed to Queen Maria Kazimiera d’Arquien Sobieska (Krakow, BJ 2284).

Rafal Perkowski (University of Paris-Sorbonne)

The collection of the Jagiellonian Library holds the manuscript BJ 2284 dating from the early 18th century, which in the catalogue appears under the name “Kabbalah of Queen Sobieska”. Italian, French, German and Latin texts forming the codex were written with a few hands. The document’s core is short, usually several-page Italian Kabbalah treatises that give insight into the seventeenth and eighteenth-century numerological and astrological knowledge – it is most often used to ask questions about the future and success of the son of Maria Kazimiera d’Arquien Sobieska, Jakub Sobieski. The group of French texts consists of: magico-medical tips to remedy sore throat and toothache, burns, sciatica, fever, protect against smallpox or cure of rose, epilepsy or gangrene, strengthen immunity, restore health to an ill animal; formules entitled Ad Amorem or Pro Amore, concise magical ways to arouse feelings in another person; detailed descriptions of facial and hair care treatments; recipes for lotions or drops that often prevent any diseases; numerological methods to get answers to the questions asked. In my paper I propose to analyse recepies written in French.


Che cosa sia la Cabala et a che sia utile. Un trattato cabalistico all’interno della Księga Kabały di Maria Kazimiera Sobieska.

Fabio Boni (Pedagogical University of Cracow)

The contribution aims to present the first text of the 2284 manuscript preserved in the Jagiellonian Library of Krakow. The work, entitled Che cosa sia la Cabala et a che sia utile, is part of a group of kabbalistic and astrological themes called Księga Kabały Marii Sobieskiej, collected by Maria Kazimiera Sobieska, wife of Jan III Sobieski, during her stays in Rome, between the years 1699-1714. This paper analyses the characteristics of the text, the sources, the anonymous author’s approach to the subject and the advice it provides to the reader who wants to learn the kabbalistic art (the writing has the structure of a treatise), finally advancing some hypotheses on the origin and the identity of the author of the work