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Family History The Founding of The Dynastyprinter friendly versionPrint this page

The Princes Czartoryski ruled the Grand Duchy of Lithuania in the 13 th century.

In 1386 Grand Duke Jogaila married a Polish princess and became King Wladyslaw Jagiello, thereby founding the Royal Dynasty of the Jagellonian which was to rule for two centuries. The junior branch of the family came to be known by a name deriving from the main Czartorysk seat in Volhynia.

At around the end of the 17 th Century the family's royal ambitions were revived by Prince Kazimierz Czartoryski (1674-1741), who was Duke of Klewan and Zukow, and Castellan of Wilno. Intelligent, highly educated and ambitious, in 1693 Kazimierz marries Isabella Morsztyn, daughter of the Grand Treasurer of Poland. Thus begins the "Familia" dynasty carried on by Kazimierz and Isabella's four children: Mikhal, August, Konstancja and Teodor.

Mikhal (1696-1777) became Chancellor of Lithuania and his daughter Antonina married Jan Jerzy Flemming, the wealthy treasurer of Lithuania. The couple's only daughter Izabella founded the museum.

August (1697-1782), Mikhal's younger brother, was the financial genius of the "Familia". He became the Palatine of Ruthenia and married Sofia Sienawska, who was heiress to two fabulous fortunes and whose dowry included two main family residences at Pulawy and Wilanow. Their son, Adam Kazimierz, who married their niece Isabella, was to become the hope of the dynasty.

Konstancja meanwhile married the brilliant general Stanislaw Poniatowski, and Teodor went into the church, in 1720 becoming bishop of Poznan.

Despite their different paths, the four men in the family worked as a perfect team; Michal as the strategic planner, August the banker, Teodor the ecclesiastic power, and Poniatowski the soldier. By 1750 they formed the most powerful family in Poland and using Russia's support, they planned to elevate either Adam Kazimierz Czartoryski or his cousin Stanislaw Poniatowski to the throne.

In the end it was Poniatowski, who had strong backing from Russia and was at one time the official lover of the future Empress Catherine the Great, who was crowned King Stanislaw II Augustus of Poland in 1764.