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Old July 17th, 2011, 01:35 AM   #1
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Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth had the richest families?


The estates of Prince Karol Radziwill covered approximately 27,000 square kilometres (almost the size of Belgium). In 1763 he owned 16 towns and 583 villages. In the Ukraine one member of the Potocki family owned 3,000,000 acres.

In 1748 the total revenue of the Zamoyski family owned 1,000,000 zloties, Count F.S. Potocki possessed 3,000,000 and Michael Radziwill had amassed 5,000,000 zloties. It has been estimated that Michael Radziwill's 5,000,000 zloties was equal to 139,000 pounds sterling. This would make the income of even the richest British aristocrats (Bedfords, Devonshires etc) pale in comparison. In 1767
James Harris (later the Earl of Malmesbury) calculated Radziwill's income
at 18,000,000 zloties or 500,000 pnds sterling.

In the early 1760s August Czartoryski had a personal court of 375 persons and a

private army of 4,000. F.S. Potocki had 2,000 men in his army. Michael Radziwill could lay claim to 10,000 men in 1750 and his son to 5,000 in 1764.

I've got more examples like this.

My question is, did the rest of Europe have any families like this that could compare themselfs to the Polish Szlachta?

Ps.
Royal families does not count.

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Old July 17th, 2011, 05:27 AM   #2
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Yes, they have been dirty rich but they did not care (in general, there were a noble exceptions) about the State. Their personal fortunes were their primary concern. At the end they help to destroy Polish Lithuanian Commonwealth.
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Old July 18th, 2011, 12:46 PM   #3
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Yes, they have been dirty rich but they did not care (in general, there were a noble exceptions) about the State. Their personal fortunes were their primary concern. At the end they help to destroy Polish Lithuanian Commonwealth.
Not really.

There is a reason why there was two Confederations.

1. The Targowica Confederation who wanted to keep the Golden Freedom and dethrone the Polish king who later joined them.

2. The Bar Confederation who was against the golden freedom and wanted to reform the country and throw out the Russian joke.

There has been a lot of talking recently about why Poland got partioned in the first place since Russia nore Austria had any intenstions to partion Poland, only Prussia wanted a slice of Poland for logical reasons since Pussia was cut in half due to the fact that Königsberg was cut of from Berlin because of the Danzig coridoor.

Russia would rather have Poland intact and use it as an Ally against the Ottomans. And Austria allready had its own problems to control Hungary.

But i do agee with you that some of the nobles were greedy and did almost everything to keep their fortunes o even expand them on the cost of the country.
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Old July 18th, 2011, 03:26 PM   #4
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Not really.

There is a reason why there was two Confederations.

1. The Targowica Confederation who wanted to keep the Golden Freedom and dethrone the Polish king who later joined them.

2. The Bar Confederation who was against the golden freedom and wanted to reform the country and throw out the Russian joke.

There has been a lot of talking recently about why Poland got partioned in the first place since Russia nore Austria had any intenstions to partion Poland, only Prussia wanted a slice of Poland for logical reasons since Pussia was cut in half due to the fact that Königsberg was cut of from Berlin because of the Danzig coridoor.

Russia would rather have Poland intact and use it as an Ally against the Ottomans. And Austria allready had its own problems to control Hungary.

But i do agee with you that some of the nobles were greedy and did almost everything to keep their fortunes o even expand them on the cost of the country.
As I said before, there were a noble exceptions but generally, the Polish-Lithuanian magnates did play rather negative role in PLC history.
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Old July 18th, 2011, 03:39 PM   #5
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As I said before, there were a noble exceptions but generally, the Polish-Lithuanian magnates did play rather negative role in PLC history.
"generally" is a strong word.

Only a few members of the most powerfull families played a negative role in the PLC. Most of them were loyal citizents like the rest of the szlachta. The problem was that the Poles were to self confident and never believed that they would one day get partioned. Its easy to find faults looking back at the history but at present time they would have never had guessed that they would get partioned.

Don't get fooled by the typical Prussian and Russian propaganda about the treasonous Poles.

The winners writes the history!
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Old July 18th, 2011, 10:19 PM   #6

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While not of the same time period The Medici were extremely wealthy owning a large banking system that spanned throughout Europe. Do they count as a royal family?
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Old July 19th, 2011, 12:28 AM   #7
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While not of the same time period The Medici were extremely wealthy owning a large banking system that spanned throughout Europe. Do they count as a royal family?
They were a royal family but a very small one.

Does anyone have some kinda numbers over their wealth?
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Old July 20th, 2011, 01:41 PM   #8

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I agree with Edward, great nobles families did play negative role in history of PLC. If we have a look at the history, they were mainly responsible for anarchy in PLC, they opposed to king since sedition of Zebrzydowski. PLC has been constantly divided between opposed groups of magnats. Sometimes they had a bigger army than kings, and it was used for their own purpose rather than motherland. They also were against centralization, that`s why PLC have been unable in XVIII century to organized modern army which could be used to discourage potential opponents.
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Old July 20th, 2011, 03:23 PM   #9

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Hard to deny the Polish-Lithuanian noblity was responsible for the fall of the Commonwealth in the late 18th century. According to the Polish historian Pawel Jasienica, it was the Jagiellonian dynasty who was originally to blame. The Jagiellonian monarchs made the fatal mistake of relying mainly on great landowners, not on commoners or smaller gentry. Their policy led to the rise of great noble families at the expense of other (more productive) classes.

At the same time England had the incredible luck to lose most of its aristocracy - the nobs exterminated each other in the Wars of the Roses. The Tudor monarchs, constantly wary of a noble pretender having their throat cut, had the sense to rely on commoners.

Still, it is would have been wonderful if the lavish palaces, mansions and castles of the Polish-Lithuanian nobility had survived to this day, not destroyed and looted by successive invaders (a friend told me he'd seen lots of Polish valuables gracing Swedish museums )

The Krzyżtopór Castle of the Ossolinski family, for example, would have been a sight (according to the owners caprice, it had as many windows as there are days in a year, as many rooms as there are weeks, twelve grand halls for the number of months, and four towers for four seasons. Plus a gigantic aquarium forming the ceiling of one of the ballrooms ) There were so many other mansions, less pretentious but beautifully prortioned, which were irretrievably lost - only etchings, documentary photos or ruins survive. What remains is (as the American author of an article about Warsaw put it) "only the shards and sediment of several war-torn centuries".
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File Type: jpg PalaceWilanow.jpg (51.5 KB, 6 views)
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Old July 21st, 2011, 06:51 AM   #10
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I agree with Edward, great nobles families did play negative role in history of PLC. If we have a look at the history, they were mainly responsible for anarchy in PLC, they opposed to king since sedition of Zebrzydowski. PLC has been constantly divided between opposed groups of magnats. Sometimes they had a bigger army than kings, and it was used for their own purpose rather than motherland. They also were against centralization, that`s why PLC have been unable in XVIII century to organized modern army which could be used to discourage potential opponents.
Tell me one family in the PLC that devoted all their strenght and fortunes to destroy the PLC? Only a couple of black sheeps choose the dark side but not entire families.

The PLC was the successor of Rome, had its own Senate and Sejm so ofc there were different groups in the politics.
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