CHAPTER VII

The Lubomirski and Poniatowski Families

 

Administration of the vast Jazlowiec estate proved to be too complex for its new owner, Alexander Walewski. After mismanaging it for six years he eventually decided to sell it. Except for this short information, nothing of any importance seemed to have happened in the town during those years. The property was sold to Prince Jerzy Lubomirski for 200,000 zlotys, with an additional 100,000 to be paid in valuables at some later date.

The latter sum was apparently not paid when due, because Walewski sued the new owner for payment twice, in 1726 and 1737. We do not know how the matter was finally resolved.

Prince Lubomirski, like the last of the Koniecpolski, did not take up residence in Jazlowiec. Being a wealthy man with residence elsewhere, he appointed a governor to seal with administrative matters relating to the town and surrounding villages. Nevertheless, the Prince took keen interest in his new acquisition. In fact, he proved to be an able administrator for the estate, which had been much neglected by his immediate predecessor.

From the very beginning in Prince Lubomirski's administration there was a noticeable improvement in general business activity, much of which paralleled innovations and improvements introduced or stimulated by the landlord. Some new stores were built around the market place, three trade guilds were registered in the mayor's office, and the long-overdue reconstruction of the town hall was completed. The guild's registration revived past traditions of the town's craftsmen - the guild of furriers and tailors, the guild of weavers and the guild of shoemakers. This was a clear indication that business was brisk, and the demand for local products warranted an increase in production. The business revival also called for some revision in local trade practices, which up to that time had not been standardized. One of these revisions was the introduction of uniform weights and measures standard by Lubomirski in 1729.

For the first time a record provided a facsimile of the town seal, which must have been in existence for some time, but for some reason, documents bearing it had not been preserved. According to the description of a latter chronicler, the seal's main motif was a castle gate within the wall of a single tower. Above it was a coat of arms that was known under the name "pobog," and obviously relating to one of the town's previous landlords. Around the open gate was a Latin inscription - "Sigillum Urbis Jazlovecenzis" ("the seal of the town of Jazlowiec"). The mayor was obviously the keeper of the seal, and the only town official who had the right to use it in the matters of official business.

Another notable event of that period of the town's history was the opening of new Roman Catholic parish church in 1731. The old structure, which had fallen into a state of total disrepair, was thorn down. To replace it, Rev. Adam Oranski, purchased a sumptuous Armenian house and converted it into a church. The records do not specify the location of the new church. It could be nowhere else but the business section of the town, which was once occupied by the Armenians. About the same time, the Armenian monastery, located in the woods outside the town, was abandoned by the monks and due to lack of interest soon became a ruin. It was never returned to use, its walls overgrown with vegetation, almost invisible and forgotten by the people of Jazlowiec.

For the country as a whole, this was a period of gradual deterioration in every aspect of public life. The long reign of King August II was tantamount to the total political and moral disintegration of the state. The now-common interference by the foreign powers (Russia and Austria) into Poland's internal affairs was the decisive element that practically neutralized the entire government system. Some patriotic member of the Polish nobility, who foresaw disaster, tried to forestall it by appealing to the General Convention for necessary reforms like abolishment of "liberum veto", which allowed a single member to veto the decision of the majority. At the time the country needed a strong military force to defend itself against foreign interference one single vote jeopardized such a reform. In general, the calls and manifestos of well meaning people had little or no effect.

The situation rectified itself somewhat after the death of August II in 1733. A large number of nobility, led by the influential and patriotic families of the Poniatowskis, Czartoryski and Potockis, again raised the idea of electing king of Polish birth. The exiled Stanislaw Leszczynski was recalled from France and hastily re-elected by the General Convention to the position of King of Poland.

His reelection was strongly opposed by the interfering powers, which supported the son of the deceased king. Their military intervention led to inauguration of his son as August III, King of Poland. Stanislaw Leszczynski had to once again flee the country, as the patriotic front collapsed under pressure from Austria and Russia.

The people of Jazlowiec were immediately affected by the political confrontation between the patriotic front and the powers supporting August III. Russian troops sent to intervene in Poland were stationed in Jazlowiec for a while, and although their military action was restricted primarily to occupation, their presence became a great economic burden to the townspeople. By order of the of the Commander-in-Chief, Prince Dolhoruki, the citizens were obligated to provide quarters, provisions, transportation and other services for the officers and men of the unit. After the installation of August III to the throne, the Russians withdrew their occupation forces from Jazlowiec, but not from Poland entirely.

Soon after, 1736, an epidemic of smallpox broke out in the town, mainly among the Jewish population. It was kept secret by the Jews and the rest of the town for fear of being quarantined by the authorities. To conceal any information about the epidemic, all burials were carried out under the cover of the night. Suspicions eventually led the state authorities to investigate. A commission appointed the commander of a Polish unit stationed in Ukraine to travel to Jazlowiec to deal with the matter. Apparently some measures were taken to prevent epidemic from spreading do adjacent territories.

At this time information appeared about change of name of the nearby village. The place had been known up to that time as Niezbrody. For unexplained reason it changed to Znibrody. The rational explanation may be in an error by a clerk made in documentation. There would be no significance attached to this detail did not give rise to the legend of a conflict between Armenians and Hieronim Jazlowiecki. The meaning of the name Znibrody (cut beards) must have inspired a poetic soul to develop a story explaining the cause of the long-ago Armenian exodus from the town.

From other records we know that Prince Lubomirski took a keen interest in the development of Jazlowiec. In 1739, he granted a permit to build plants for brewing beer and other alcoholic beverages to the sold during the traditional trade fairs and religious feasts. The restriction as to the use of these products indicated that the industry was rather limited in size. But this restriction did not relate to wineries, which were run mainly by the Jews, as wine continued to be sold in local taverns, which were also run by them.

At this time, after its long existence, Jazlowiec finally had its history preserved in writing. The pastor of the Dominican church, Fr. Anzelm Piatowski, penned the first chronicle of the town, based on monastery records. He completed the work in 1745, entitling it "Short Chronicle of Jazlowiec." It is not known whether it was ever published, but it was kept in manuscript form in the church records and used by future historians. The present whereabouts of the document is unknown, but it is most likely to be stored in the archives of the Dominican Order in Poland.

The completion of this short history of Jazlowiec coincided with the Lubomirski's last interest in the town. In that year of 1745 the Jazlowiec estate was acquired through marriage by a new public figure in Poland, Stanislaw Ciolkosz Poniatowski. This well-known public personality is not to be confused with his son, Stanislaw August Poniatowski, the future king of Poland. The new landlord of Jazlowiec was widely known in the country as an ardent supporter of King Stanislaw Leszczynski. During the political upheaval over Leszczynski's claim to the throne, Poniatowski published the manifesto to the Polish nobility known as "The Open Letter", in which he called for reform of the electorate system and for the election of a king of Polish birth. In the apathetic times, his appeal had little effect and was generally ignored by the ruling class.

In the years before acquiring the Jazlowiec estate, Poniatowski had gained recognition among the Swedes as a supporter of King Stanislaw Leszczynski, and was drawn into inner circles of the Swedish King Carl XII, an advocate of Leszczynski's election. King Carl XII intended to check the rising power of Russia by supporting Leszczynski and the able and capable Poniatowski soon gained the king's confidence. Poniatowski was even nominated to the position of general in the Swedish army and was on many occasions entrusted with responsibilities of major importance. In the ill-fated Swedish expedition against Russians, which ended in the defeat of Carl's forces at Poltawa in 1709, Poniatowski was credited with saving king's life. In the battle, he managed to facilitate the escape of the embattled king to the safety of Turkish territory.

After the disintegration of Leszczynski's party, King August III for his personal valor also recognized Poniatowski, even though he had not been a supporter of August's claim to the throne. His appointments to such state offices as Treasurer of Lithuania and Commander of the King's Guards evidence this. King August III appointed him to the very prestigious office of Castellan of Krakow, another indication of the high esteem in which the king held Poniatowski. Obviously, as much Leszczynski as August III endeavored to ally themselves with the man who enjoyed popularity and recognition among his countrymen.

Poniatowski married twice. He was first married to the widow of Prince Oginski, which substantially increased his wealth but did not produce any descendants. His second wife, Princess Constance Lubomirski, was also wealthy and brought with her dowry the Jazlowiec estate and other estates of her wealthy father. She bore his several children, one of whom, Stanislaw, would become the last king of Poland.

The year Poniatowski acquired the Jazlowiec estate favorable weather conditions produced bountiful crop. Being unable to harvest the entire crop with available labor, he offered the remaining harvest to the serfs. Because they also were in the same position, they declined the offer. The fact that the crop bounty was recorded indicates that such a harvest was an unusual occurrence in the general area of Jazlowiec.

Unfortunately, the bountiful harvest in 1746 was followed by a series of natural disasters. In 1747, torrential rains and winds of hurricane strength caused a deluge of previously unknown proportions. The excess water, as it drained through the valleys of Jazlowczyk and Olchowczyk streams, wreaked a substantial damage on the properties in the town and was also responsible for an unspecified number of deaths.

The losses registered included several private residences, many wine yards and wineries, all the flour mills, the stone bridge at the ruins of the Armenian gate, the public bath, the hospital and some church property owned by the Roman Catholic parish. Heavy loss of life was attributed to the fact that a great number of people from surrounding villages had been in town to participate in the parish religious festivities.

This was the first such recognition given to a flood of such magnitude in the town's history, but there are indications that it was not the first disaster of its kind in the area. The earlier floods possibly did not cause much damage, and therefore would not have been an exceptional event. The walled banks of the Jazlowczyk stream, ten feet high and better in some places, prove that at some time in the past people had taken precautions to protect themselves against the periodic floods.

In the next year (1748) a prolonged drought in the spring almost wiped out the entire crop, causing considerable hardship on the people. To compound the problem, in the same summer locusts invaded Jazlowiec, destroying all remaining vegetation. Records report that only bare soil was left after these two natural disasters. In response to an appeal by his subjects, Poniatowski agreed to accept taxes in services, rather than the traditional agricultural products.

A decree issued by the new owner in 1753 proves that he was very much concerned about the town's economy. In this decree he called to mention many of the town's governmental and economic functions, and expressed desire to improve the well being of its citizens and to restore its past prosperity. Addressed to the town council, the decree assured his subjects of their right to hold, use, and sell their properties at will. This was an open recognition to the citizens' freedom, which in general, at the time, was the sole privilege of the nobility. This would also prove that Jazlowiec was considered a "free town" or a "king's town," implying that its citizens enjoyed the right of certain personal freedoms.

In the same decree he declared that abandoned properties must not be damaged or destroyed. This infers that their former owners or their families did still not reclaim many of the Armenian homes vacated at the time of the Turkish invasion. From this, we interpret that although some had once again taken up residence in the town, the majority had permanently settled elsewhere.

A special paragraph of the decree deals with the autonomous aspects of the town's government. Self-rule was again granted and the offices of the governing body were to remain unchanged. The head of the town was the elected mayor (wojt), having twelve aldermen as his advisory council, taken in equal numbers from all the town's religious denominations. The justice system, based on Magdeburg Law, was to be exercised by elected magistrates (burmistrz), with more serious matters to be referred or appealed to the castle's authorities, in this case the landlord or his appointed governor.

In the decrees last paragraph the issue of individual and group taxes to be paid to the Poniatowski treasury were addressed. Some of the assessments are referred to as state taxes and taxes for the upkeep of the army, meaning they would ultimately go to the king's treasury. Taxes due to the landlord were to be paid in currency, but some, mainly relating to the improvement and maintenance of public facilities, were paid in services.

For this final paragraph we learn that there now existed two basic communities in the town - Christians and Jews; that the town was still surrounded by walls, but they were in need of repair; and that the town hall completed in Lubomirski's time was in the Jewish section. A small note indicated that a clock was installed in the town hall tower, and night guards took turns there. We also learn that taxes ranged from few pennies (grosz) to 20 zlotys, which were assessed on the taverns.

In a separate decree Poniatowski dealt with special privileges granted to various craftsmen guilds. The original three guilds had by then expanded to five to include the guild of carpenters and cabinetmakers and the blacksmith's guild. In order to protect local trade from outside competition, taxes were assessed on all manufactured commodities imported from out-of-town merchants. Included in the same decree were several provisions relating to improvements within the town. Through these, Poniatowski instructed the town government to repair walls, gates, dikes, roads and flour mills damaged or destroyed by the big flood.

A separate decree relates to the town's Jewish community. It seems that by that time they had taken over the former role of the Armenians as the dominant force in the local business. In this decree, Poniatowski allows a grant of 10,000 zlotys to the Jewish sector to assist the poor and help them open new businesses in the town. One paragraph in the decree relates to the autonomous privileges of the Jews, and how they were to be governed by a council (kahal) headed by the rabbi. Under these provisions, rabbis were to be the executors of justice in cases of minor disputes and offenses within their group, while capital crimes were to be dealt with by the castle authorities. Another paragraph sets up rules relating to the slaughterhouse and supply of meat to the citizens of the town. In it, there is a provision for religious tradition in regard to meat for the Jewish population.

In this general reform of town life, Poniatowski also addresses religious matters. He attended to some religious questions in the early years following his acquisition of the Jazlowiec estate, and, unlike his predecessors, the Jazlowieckis, he arranged church financial affairs without going into conflict and a long judiciary process to resolve the matter. By mutual agreement, the Dominicans reverted to him patronage of their properties, which they held for almost 150 years, for 44,000 zlotys. This fund was to provide financial support for religious activities, although it was not stated who was to administer and supervise it.

In later years, Poniatowski also attended to the financial affairs of the Paulists, who, since the time of Koniecpolski, maintained their residence in the castle and served as chaplains for its chapel. In order to provide for their economic needs, Poniatowski obligated himself to a yearly grant to be paid in grain and currency from his own estate. He also provided funds for the Greek Catholic church of St. Nicholas in suburban Browary. By the same decree, he established guidelines for meeting his commitments to all four Christian churches in the town.

In spite of Poniatowski's decrees and efforts, the business revival he had envisioned for Jazlowiec moved slowly, and was hardly comparable to the time of peak prosperity in the 16th and 17th centuries. Prevailing economic conditions did not provide sufficient stimulus for business development as it had in the Armenian times. To start with, business had moved to the fast-growing city of Lwow, old trade routes had lost their significance and the backbone of trade and business, the Armenians, had reduced their presence in Jazlowiec to a bare minimum.

The Armenians still maintained their church and parish, but the extremely low number of parishioners hardly warranted its existence. Finally, the last Armenian pastor, Rev. Bogdanowicz, having no visible means of support, became an assistant to the Roman Catholic parish. The records of 1755 list only three Armenian families: Aslanowicz, Bogdanowicz, and Wartanowicz. These records did not included citizens of Armenian descent whom, through intermarriage, were no longer members of the Armenian parish. Other records from that period mention names such as Jukimowicz, Danielowicz, and Kurianski who claimed Armenian origin. These at some point in their family history had changed their religious preferences and thus their nationalities, thus becoming Poles or Ruthenians of Roman or Greek Catholic faith.

Poniatowski's most visible and most durable contribution to Jazlowiec was the huge, elegant palace that he had constructed on the castle grounds west of the old structure. This impressive new building, with its two perpendicular wings extending to the east was set in a beautifully landscaped park and was surrounded by high stone walls for protection of the grounds. Above the main entrance, was the Poniatowski family crest with the following Latin inscription: "Honestus Alterum Patrimonium." For a while this was Poniatowski's main residence, from which he administered this numerous possessions across Poland. In later years his brother, Kazimierz Poniatowski, occupied the palace and who by his actions appeared to be the governor of the entire Jazlowiec estate.

Stanislaw Ciolkosz Poniatowski died in Rykow in 1762 at the age of 85. In due course, the Jazlowiec estate received a new landlord - his son, Stanislaw August Poniatowski. In the absence of its new owner, who was at the time the Polish ambassador to Moscow, his Uncle Kazimierz Poniatowski, mentioned above managed the estate. In all likelihood, Kazimierz continued in position of governor, which he had held when his brother was alive. This can be assumed by various decrees issued at the time, which have his signature as a secondary signee.

In a letter to the town's council, in which the new landlord declares his right to the estate, Stanislaw August Poniatowski confirms the privileges granted by his father to the citizens of Jazlowiec. This was merely a formality expressed in response to a request by the council, who wanted the new landlord's assurance that they would keep their semi-autonomous right.

The death of King August III in 1763 reopened the issue of electing a king of Polish birth. Again the neighboring powers exerted pressure upon the Polish electorate to lend support to the candidate of their choice. The concept of a Polish king, which dominated the election process, was resolved to the satisfaction of both sides. Since the idea was propagated by the influential Czartoryski family, the new candidate, Stanislaw August Poniatowski, enjoyed wide support among the Polish nobility.

Poniatowski's election as king happened to coincide with best interests of the Empress of Russia, Catherine II. The new Polish king was a close personal friend of the empress and a close relative of the Czartoryski's family. In spite of this general support, units of the Russian army made their presence felt and were very visible in Warsaw during the convention. Thus, the new landlord of Jazlowiec was elected King of Poland on September 7th, 1764, with almost no opposition.

The king, although well educated and a man of good intentions, was too weak to handle the situations within and outside the country. His strong Russian support eventually made him unpopular among some of the Polish nobility who, although agreed with the principle of having a King of Polish birth, could not accept Russian dominance of the country. This opposition was centered in the areas most affected by Russian interference; Podole and Ukraine. Under the leadership of the Pulaski family, the nobility called for a general insurrection, but the movement did not find a wide support in the rest of the country and consequently failed. Some members of the Pulaski family were imprisoned and sent to exile in Siberia and one, Kazimierz Pulaski, escaped to the west where he distinguished himself in the service of the American revolutionary army. He died in the battle at Savannah while leading his cavalry unit in attack against the British.

Due to Poniatowski's preoccupation with state affairs he maintained only a nominal interest in Jazlowiec. Outside of permission to open trade fairs on the day of St. John the Baptist early in his tenure as landlord, no other attempts were made by him to influence any kind of activities in the town. If anything, his election to the position of king, had a negative impact on Jazlowiec, in good part due to the fact that increased numbers of the king's troops were stationed there. A record from that time lists several obligations imposed upon the citizens because of the unit stationed in the town.

This record relates to the complaint of the Christian side of the community against excessive demands by the commander of the king's unit. The town's governing body requested that the entire population, including the Jewish community equally share the burden. This complaint, addressed to the governor, gives an idea to what extent the former privileges had been restricted by the imposition of responsibilities to which the citizens had not heretofore been exposed.

According to the complaint, the following were the demands imposed on the Christian community by the military:

*Repairs and maintenance of the flour mills, roads, bridges and wax-producing plant.

*Transportation and hauling supplies for the military unit stationed in the town.

*Taking care of officers' horses and providing the military drivers with horse carts.

*Providing provisions for the soldiers and fodder for their horses.

*Hauling grain to storage and to flour mills for the needs of the military.

*Carting wood for the officers' quarters.

*Cooking for soldiers stationed in Jewish houses, and cleaning stables.

*And several other obligations, which were sporadically demanded from the town's people.

Considering that the population of Jazlowiec at this time was no more then some hundreds, which was reduced by subtracting the Jewish community, the burden on the Christian section was to be substantial. These demands also deprived them of some rights previously granted. In addition they had to pay in money and kind. This in effect brought them close to the status of the underprivileged serfs.

The presence of a larger military force in the town of limited population also had some social implication. The off-duty soldiers who looked for entertainment frequented such establishments as inns and taverns. The number of them rose to twenty in the town with a population less than one thousand. Against this number of taverns Jazlowiec had only four shops, nine Jewish tailors, six Catholic tailors and twenty-two weavers. The registry of craftsmen is obviously incomplete, but even so, their proportion to the number of taverns is rather low.

The period of King Poniatowski's reign, hardly beneficial to the citizens of Jazlowiec, was even more tragic for the whole Poland. Decadence in every area of the public trust prompted some patriotically minded nobility to call for reforms to reverse the deadly trend. Their good intentions, sometimes supported by the king, did not stimulate enough public interest to move the nation towards needed changes. Many of the people obsessed with self-interest found no motivation in offsetting the problems incurred by a century of rule by the Saxon kings.

The internal situation almost bordered on anarchy, general corruption among the nobility, disrespect for law and order, and the exploitation of the lower classes carried catastrophic consequences for the nation. Like the confederation of patriotic Poles under the leadership of the Pulaskis, the uprising of Thadeus Kosciuszko could not save the country, either. His appeal to lower classes and the abolishment of serfdom did not produce the desired spontaneous effect among the people. Then, the foreign powers - Russia, Prussia and Austria - exploited the situation and carried out the first partition of Poland in 1772, each taking a portion of Polish territory. Poland, now reduced in size, still existed nominally with the king occupying the throne with tacit approval of the occupying powers.

By the terms of the first partition, the western part of Podolia, which included Jazlowiec, was incorporated into the Austrian Empire. Austria also acquired the province of Pokucie and the sub-Carpathian territories in the south of Poland. These then became one Austrian province, renamed Galicia, the name given to the land by the Hungarians during their short occupation in the 14th century.

Although there are no records as to the disposition of Jazlowiec by the king, it can be assumed that the transaction followed a generally practiced procedure. During the partition, the properties of various families were spread between two or three states of the occupying powers. In order to consolidate their possessions under a single rule, they transacted the exchange to suit their preference.

To this tragic chapter in Polish history, we must add a few words about the melodramatic end of the last king of Poland, the unfortunate landlord of Jazlowiec...

With the final partition of Poland in 1796, King Poniatowski gave up his throne and accepted the hospitality of his former lover, the Empress of Russia, Catherine II. In the ensuing years he did no better than the country he was incapable of ruling. While the Polish nobility complied with the foreign domination and found more or less comfortable arrangements with their new kings, czars and emperors, the ex-king of Poland became a tragic victim of another political "arrangement."

An embarrassment to the occupying powers, he remained in isolation in one of Catherine the Great's estate until his death in 1798. His remains were returned to Poland over a century later and were re-buries in one of his former estates in the eastern part of pre-1939 Poland. However, even his remains could not escape Russian domination. By the terms of the 1942 Yalta agreement between the United States, Great Britain and Soviet Union, this part of Poland was annexed into the Soviet Union and King Stanislaw Poniatowski, dead nearly one hundred fifty years, found himself once again under the Russian rule. His remains again were moved and re-buried in Poland sometimes after World War Two, when communist Poland was established.

 


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