Today is: Tuesday 24 May 2022 temp. today: oC
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Księga gości

Who was Izabela Branicka?

Izabela (of house Poniatowski) Branicka (1730-1808), Great Crown Hetman’s wife, royal sister, almost 60 years so almost her entire life had she tied to Podlachia Versailes. Without her own will she was brought into political intrigues of political camp so called “Familia” Czartoryski and the enlightenment age conventions. She lasted by her older by over 40 years husband – Jan Klemens Branicki’s side fighting for humane, inalienable right for happiness and love. Her comprehensive actions for citizens of Białystok and surroundings, included education and culture are worth remembering. Izabela dedicated a lot of attention to development of Białystok healing facilities. She cared spiritualy and finacialy for the hospital led by Sisters of Mercy. She brought many court doctors, who cared not only about hetman wife’s health and her closest ones but also all inhabitants of Białystok facilities. One of the most famous ones was Jakub Feliks Michelis, founder of Obstetrics in Białystok, initiator of many vaccination actions against smallpox.


During christening of 1730 future Mrs Krakowska was given name Elżbieta (Elisabeth). Her family professed in French culture for generations and so small Ela was given a French name – Izabela. Branicka with delight as an adult remembered those french connections, starting from her great grandfather Jan Andrzej Morsztyn. It was known that he was the greatest polish poet of baroque. However Morsztyn connected poetic vein and politics successfully and was the leader of influential in XVII century political party that was charmed by France. His daughter Izabela, grandmother of hetman’s wife married Kazimierz Czartoryski in 1693. She was a modern woman. In 1736 in her Palace in Warsaw (a place where hotel Bristol currently is) first political salon was opened from which later “Familia” started. One of five children of Izabela and Kazimierz Czartoryski was born in 1700 Konstancja who at the age of 20 married Stanisław Poniatowski. She bore him eight children. One of the daughters was given names Ludwika Maria to commemorate wife of King Władysław IV, where grandpa Morsztyn run a poet salon. Second daughter was our Białystok Izabela. It was in Warsaw in grandma’s palace on Krakowskie Przedmieście where in 1748 young, 18 years old Izabela married Jan Klemens Branicki. The ceremony was wonderful, such as Warsaw haven’t seen in a long time.
In current times it could be pretender to a wedding of the century.
Diary writer Marcin Matuszewicz wrote that: “Czartoryski dukes were In summon fastigio of kings graces at that time, everyone adored them, for their good graces certatim competed for, and even more cemented through a marriage. (…) Branicki at that time Field Hetman of the Crown, Cracow’s provincial governor with mazovian provincial governor daughter Poniatowska, niece of priest Czartoryski, Deputy Chancellor, and Sapieha podlachia provincial governor with his daughter they married at St. Cross in Warsaw. Rode two brides with countless cavalcade and carriages assist for blessing from King and Queen. Queen herself pinned the marriage crowns for both newly married couples.”
The ceremony itself proved that for both Branicki and Poniatowki this wedding was a chance to accomplish great political plans. Young at that time Elżbieta Poniatowska was no stranger to those political settlements as she was raised in this way.
Sumptuous court life in Białystok was supposed to cement this marriage. Podlachia Versailles was visited by legations, crowned heads and famous travellers. The prestige was also built on name’s day. Hetman celebrated St. John the Baptist. Izabela on Elżbieta’s name day. The more Branicki dreamt of the highest honours the crown included, the greater celebrations he organised. Henryk Mościcki Białystok monograph author from 1933 described how hetman’s wife name’s day was celebrated in November 1760, when it seemed that Branicki had reached the top of his power. “For few days before the name’s day invited guests started to arrive in Białystok. Came: sons of Augustus III, Great Crown Chancellor Małachowski with wife, bishops Krasicki and Wołłowicz, Mniszchow family, Pac family, Brühl family, Sapieha provincial governor, castellan Łoś, castellan Rozwadowski, Sołohub provincial governor, Steward Lubomirski, Great Crown Łowczy and others.
First a two day hunt was organised in Bielsk, Brańsk and Tykocin surroundings; contestants came back with beautiful hunting trophies. On the St.Elżbieta day (Izabela) all guests gathered in Podlachia Versailles to bodily give the wishes to Izabela. For the feast a great table for 200 people was set up, it had a pool of Tokay along all its length with 24 ships with sweets for ladies. Guests could take drinks from the pool as they pleased.
After dinner, where the fantastic dishes were countless, local cupbearer brought enormous cup, supposedly from Czarniecki times. A toast was raised with the cup to Izabela, where all men were drinking to her health with orchestra and canons fire in the background.
At twilight guests, despite the cold went to highly illuminated gardens to admire fireworks. Representative ball in Palace’s chambers lasted until the very noon next day. Some guests stayed for few more days as they wanted to take part in traditional, old polish poprawiny.”