THE RADZIWILLS: The Social History of a Great European Family by Tadeusz Nowakowski
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THE RADZIWILLS: The Social History of a Great European Family

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A great Polish wedding of a book. Long before Stash (who's hardly mentioned here) married Lee, the Radziwills, Polish-Lithuanians (or the reverse, a matter as controversial in Eastern Europe as the family's division between Catholic and Calvinist), were a clan to be reckoned with, going back at least to Black Prince Nicholas, defender of the unpopular Reformation, adversary of Ivan the Terrible, patron of the arts, politician and military leader. By 1831 the Radziwills had produced 21 ministers of state, 37 voivodes, a cardinal, three bishops, innumerable squashheads, eccentrics, alabaster figurines, social ornaments, satyrs (Hieronymus Florian Radziwill, 1715-60, regularly wrote dirty letters to his mother) -- all of them wittily exhumed and rehabilitated in this picaresque history written by a Pole who clearly feels a proprietary interest in the family. Throughout centuries of intermarriage with the nobility of virtually every ruling family of Europe and years of Polish partition, the Radziwills have remained strongly nationalistic toward the country where it is said that the Virgin Mary speaks the native tongue. With the death in 1967 of Janusz, patriarch of the clan, and the confiscation of the vast family estates one might assume that the House of Radziwill is no more. Not so -- in Communist Poland today a Radziwill is always addressed as Citizen Prince.

Pub Date: June 1st, 1974
Publisher: Delacorte/Seymour Lawrence