Mikalaj Radzvil Czorny

Mikalaj Radzvil Sirotka

Thanks to Virtual Guide to Belarus for temporarily allowing to use their material.

Radzvill Family

There were many noble families in the history of Litvania; however, none was more renowned the Radzivill family. The family left its imprint on a wide variety of human endeavors - from public and political life to culture and education. Members of the family were leaders in wars against the enemies of the Grand Duchy of Litvania and later of the Polish-Litvanian Commonwealth against the Russian Empire. For centuries they meticulously collected and preserved books, documents, paintings, weaponry, and many rare and valuable objects that could fill entire museums. With their own money, the Radzivills built printing shops in Bierascie (Brest), Niasviz, and other Belarusian cities. They not only influenced politics, economics and the culture of their nation, but often did it according to their own needs, aspirations and tastes...

History has preserved for us many names of the family members. Let us mention some of them here. Barbara Radzivill (1520-1551), the queen of Poland and duchess of Litva, was "Triumphant by her beauty and love affairs." Indeed, the love she awoke in the heart of the polish king Zyhimont II August was called "The love affair the century."

Mikalaj Radzivill Czorny

Mikalaj Radzivill Czorny (1515-1565) occupied high and responsible positions in the Grand Duchy of Litvania: great chancellor, governor (vajavoda) of Vilnia (capital of the Grand Duchy, nowadays Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania), mayor of Bierascie (Brest), Kounia (Kaunas) and Barysau and administrator of Livonia.

Throughout his entire political career he instituted a firm policy of strengthening the sovereignty of the Litvanian state (Grand Duchy), and skillfully implemented agrarian and economic reforms. Due to his consistent policies, our state reached its highest prosperity with its public life based on legal principles. As a chancellor, Mikalaj Radzivil defined new priorities for our state's foreign policy in the 16th century that led to a closer integration with countries of Western and Northern Europe. His efforts led to the establishment of large publishing centers, which provided the opportunity for the continuation of Dr. Francyska Skaryna's activities. Duke Mikalaj Radzivil was fluent in Litvanian (Belarusian), Polish and other European languages.

Mikalaj Radzivill Sirotka

His son, Mikalaj Krystof Radzivill-Sirotka (1549-1616), ardent Catholic, headed the fight against Calvinism and issued orders to burn books published by Calvinist printing houses. At the same time, he exerted a great effort to make the architecture of the Radzivill's palace in Niasviz equal to that of contemporary European cities. He was famous as the author of a detailed travelogue describing his journey to Jerusalem, Syria, Egypt and other "exotic" countries and places.

Francyska Ursula Radzivill (1705-1753) and her husband Michal Kazimir Radzivill Rybanka (1702-1762), also from the Niasviz branch, were the creators of the the first Slavic secular theatre in history of Litvania.