Polish Nobility and Its Heraldry: An Introduction
by Piotr Pawel Bajer
Table of content:
History of Polish Nobility, Its Origins, Prerogatives and Structure
Polish Heraldic Law
Nobilitacja or Ennoblement
Indygenat or Naturalisation
Origins of Polish Heraldry :
Supporters, Mottoes and other accessories
Polish Mediaeval Coats of Arms in European Armorials
Polish Mediaeval Coats of Arms in Polish Armorials and Other Sources
Polish Armorials (16th - 20th century)
It will not be an overstatement to say that Polish heraldry is unlike any other style of heraldry, as it is considerably different from the Anglo-Norman heraldry with which most people in the Western countries are familiar. Many heraldists from a non-Polish background with whom I came to contact had very little understanding of it. Some thought of it as being exotic, "poor" or inferior. Because of thoughts like these, there seems to be a tendency to downgrade Polish nobility itself and to treat it as something second rate.
It is my belief that those opinions derive solely from the lack of knowledge and understanding, which is due to the shortage of literature on the subject in languages other than Polish. I believe that once we will fill the gap and more information on the subject will be published in English and other languages, people fascinated with heraldry will begin to see that Polish herby, just like Hungarian cimerei, have a unique style and are worth studying on their own. I happen to believe that Polish heraldry is fascinating precisely because it is different.
I hope that the following article will explain the various aspects of the Polish heraldry. I hope it will clarify past confusion and thus become the first small step towards its understanding.
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History of Polish Nobility, Its Origins, Prerogatives and Structure
To fully understand Polish heraldry, one needs to know more about Polish nobility. As compared to its counterparts from the Western European countries, as a social class, Polish nobility was quite unique, both in its structure and prerogatives. Unlike in England, France or Germany, in Poland, from the ancient times up until the Third Partition in 1795, apart from dozens of families who held the title of Prince, there existed only one class of nobility - szlachta  (read as shlahta).
It is widely believed that all forms of government in Poland were due to the great influence of the ancient Slavic institution called rod (clan) and that szlachta, which in The Cambridge History of Poland  is referred to as the knightly class or knighthood, originated from the descendants of these ancient clans. Recent archeological discoveries show, however, that the first forms of government were completely separate from the clan system. This system was predominantly based on the notion of common ancestry and kinship. This was due to the fact that by the 10th-11th century Poland was already a monarchy. The influence of the old clan system on the governing of the country was almost non-existent. The ancient clans, however, played a vital role in the area of establishing the country's customs and private law relationships.
By the end of the 11th and the beginning of the 12th century one could observe the emergence of a new style of clans which was based on patronage, and thus called rod klientarny or clan of clients. The role of a patron or a sponsor in this instance was played by the king - assigning new knights to the clans of his choice - or by prominent knights (land owners) - who would receive their friends and relations into their clan on their own private initiative. The creation of such clans was based on various criteria, e.g. according to the heraldic criteria, several clans which shared common or similar arms would form a union; or groups of foreign immigrants would form ethnic clans. There were, of course, those clans that emerged from the old root system, (where members were descendants of a common ancestor), but according to Zajaczkowski , most of the formed clans were certainly of the new style. In his opinion, this new ród system should be identified as a catalyst responsible for the eventual establishment of Polish szlachta.
Let us now look more closely at the clans themselves. They were certainly of no equal size nor of equal political or financial importance. Structurally, some of them were very big - comprising several families, while others only a single family; some were land owners on a large scale, while others consisted of groups of small land holders. Needless to say, the possession of land played an important role in acquiring a nobility status. In the period between 1228 and 1378 especially, land was granted to the individual clan members thus becoming the basis of some families' fortunes. The land was also granted to commoners who then had an obligation of military service and who later sought adoption into existing clans. Families of lower status were also very often integrated by more powerful, noble clans. Such was also the case with members of the clans' households or even foreigners. This tendency for the more powerful clans to absorb the smaller and poorer ones was even stronger especially when their arms were similar.
The origins of a great majority of clans were local Polish, however, groups of foreigners also formed a number of clans. Quite few originated from the descendants of knights who had sought better fortune and promotion in Poland. Klec-Pilewski  states that in this way there began a number of clans of Bohemian, Polabian, Luisatian and even German origin. He also mentions one proven example of a clan of Scandinavian origin.
The emergence of szlachta as a distinct estate was well advanced by the reign of Kazimierz Wielki (Casimir the Great, 1333-1370), however, the process of reinforcing and codifying its legal privileges continued up until the middle of the 16th century, when, as it is commonly held by the academics today, nobility became a closed society.
As Klec-Pilewski  and Davis  indicate, this society grew in importance due to a number of political and fiscal privileges.
Throughout the earlier period, Polish rulers had granted immunities to individual knights or clerics, freeing them from particular taxes or from obligation to submit their subjects to the royal justice. But as from the late XIV century similar concessions were exacted for the nobility not by individuals, but by an estate demanding its corporate rights. In times of crisis, during the war or before the succession, the Nobility's bargaining power was very high .
The following is a list of some of the more important privileges, which in time allowed the nobility members to proudly exclaim, nic o nas, bez nas ('nothing concerning us, without us') and which constituted the backbone of the concept of Noble Democracy :
1374 Statute of Kosice - anxious to secure the succession of his daughter Jadwiga, King Louis of Anjou, exempts all noble demesnes from the land-tax, and reduces the rate levied on noble tenants to one-sixth of its previous level;
1422 Statute of Czerwinsk - an act is passed protecting a nobleman's land and property from the Crowns confiscation unless a sentence is passed against him in a court of laws;
1430 Statute of Jedlno - King Wladyslaw (Vladislav) Jagiello concerned with the succession of his son to the throne of Poland passes the law, known in its Latin form as Neminem captivabimus nisi iure victum ('no one who has not been convicted can be imprisoned') - similar in the principle to the English Habeas Corpus, protecting a nobleman from the arrest unless sentence is passed against him in a court of law;
1454 Statute of Nieszawa - King Kazimierz (Casimir) Jagiellonczyk concedes that no new tax will be levied nor army raised without the consent of the new noble dietines - seymik, (a meeting at which all nobles of the district could join in discussion, vote and choose delegates to the noble assembly called Seym. According to Zamoyski , Seym - the principle of government by consensus - derives its origin from the times of early Polish kings; by the 13th century it played a major role in the governing of various provinces, and later of the entire Commonwealth);
1496 Statute of Piotrkow - King Jan Olbracht (John Albert) grants the noble monopoly of land holding, and takes pains to restrict rights of the clergy (henceforth, all of the senior appointments in the Church are limited to noble candidates), the burghers, and the peasants;
1505 Nihil Novi Constitution of Radom - Seym passes a constitution of nihil novi nisi commune consensu which proclaims that no new laws can be introduced without the consent of both Seym and Senate ;
1 July 1569 Union of Lublin - a final stage of the Union between the Kingdom of Poland Korona and Grand Dutchy of Lithuania (earlier stages took place in 1385 - Constitutional Union of Krewa; and 1413 - Personal Union of Horodlo). Both nations were to be joined together in Rzeczpospolita Obojga Narodów (The Republic of Both Nations - commonly known as Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth or, later, as Republic of the Nobility) which was to have a common king - elected, not born, common Seym, currency and common politics .
Granting of such extensive privileges to the nobility was justified by its obligation to provide unpaid military service. Throughout the Middle Ages, the possession of land was rationalised by the necessity to support a military cast. The expenses of this cast were great but, on the other hand, its services were also in constant demand. In the Polish-Lithuania Commonwealth this ancient protocol still made good sense even in the 15th century. In the Polish military history of that age there are many examples of the practice of the nobility customarily confirming or even extending its privileges in its armed camp before proceeding to the battle with the enemy. In the
course of time, however, with the ever changing military strategies, the noble pospolite ruszenie or levée-en-masse lost its effectiveness. Therefore, as Davis rightly points out , by the 16th century, the idea that the growth in noble privileges was balanced by a corresponding growth in responsibilities in the military sphere, became quite anachronistic.
Despite the decrease in responsibilities, concessions gained were rarely relinquished. As indicated above, the Nihil Novi Constitution marked an end to the evolution of the clan system; by 1505 szlachta had become a separate, closed, hereditary estate jealously guarding its rights, privileges and all means by which it could be accessed.
A very interesting description of Polish szlachta was given by Bernard O'Connor, an Irish physician to King Jan III Sobieski. O'Connor, who lived in Poland at the end of the 17th century, published in 1698 (in English) two volumes of "The History of Poland" :
All gentry of Poland are equal by birth, and therefore they do not value titles of honour, but think that a noble Pole or gentleman of Poland the greatest they can have. Neither the King nor the Republic bestow the title of Prince, which belongs only to the sons of the royal family; for some are made Princes of the Empire and as such enjoy the title of Prince. They have no precedence upon that account. Nor have they any Dukes, Marquises, Counts, Viscounts, or Barons, but a few have foreign titles which the rest generally despise; for they do not value any borrowed character or external denomination, but say that it is intrinsic worth and service done to their country that deserves preferment... Those great privileges made the Polish gentry very powerful. 
Apart from being very powerful, Polish nobility by general European standards was also quite numerous. Any discussion of its structure has to begin by establishing some facts about its population. In Rzeczpospolita in the 16th century there was some twenty five thousand noble families, including at least half a million individuals, (6.6% of total population of about 7.5 million). Later, according to the most comprehensive estimates made by Korzon , this number rose to about 8% in 1791. At the same time, the number of the nobility in the Western countries averaged 2-3%, (Spain and Hungary ca. 5%, England ca. 2%, France ca. 1%). It is important to stress that the percentage of Polish nobles established by Korzon relates to the total population of Rzeczpospolita which includes a mosaic of various ethnic groups. Szlachta, on the other hand, was ethnically almost homogeneous - nobility was either of Polish nationality or was polonised. If we assume that the size of Polish ethnic group within Rzeczpospolita was virtually
the same as the size of a Roman-Catholic group, (Roman-Catholicism was the predominant religious denomination among Poles - with 53% of Catholics in the whole country), then the percentage of Polish nobility in relation to the size of the Polish ethnic group doubles, and comes to ca. 16%. This means that by the end of the 18th century one in six Poles was a member of szlachta.
As explained earlier, the majority of szlachta was of local Polish origin, however, there was a number of noble families of foreign descent that became polonised. Such families entered the ranks of local nobility through ennoblements, naturalisation, or as a result of a number of unions and incorporations. The following, in chronological order, are such acts of unions and incorporations which took place between 1413 and 1795, and which formed Rzeczpospolita:
1413 Union of Horodlo - the second stage of the Union between Poland and Lithuania which resulted in the extension of the privileges enjoyed by the Polish szlachta onto the Lithuanian boyars. Forty seven Polish heraldic clans adopted to their ranks as many Lithuanian members. Territories such as the districts of Podolia, southern provinces of Volhynia and Ukraine were in corporated into Rzeczpospolita;
1434 - the Ruthenian boyars of the Orthodox Church, living in the above districts, were granted equal status with the Catholics;
1454 (legally) - 1466 (physically) - incorporation of Royal Prussia (West Prussia) resulting from the request of its gentry to come into union with Poland. Noble families of Royal Prussia of mixed Polish, German, Prussian (Baltic), Cassubian and other origins acquired equal status with Polish szlachta. Up until 1772 Royal Prussia kept its own social and political structure;
1529 - incorporation of Masovia inhabited mainly by Poles. According to Klec-Pilewski , this Dutchy had the highest number of minor nobility which retained its clannish tradition for a long period of time;
1564 - incorporation of two small principalities of Silesia: Oswiecim and Zator. Although the initial incorporation took place in 1455-56 only in 1564 were they completely absorbed by the Polish legal and political system;
1561 - part of Livonia (in Polish - Inflanty) became condominium of Poland. Ancient nobility of that territory acquired all privileges of Polish nobility;
1790 - finally, principality of Siewierz (bought in 1422 by the Bishop of Cracow who, as a Duke of Siewierz, became vassal of the Crown. He exercised his power to grant the rank of nobility in his principality, however, until 1790, such nobility was not regarded as the equivalent of the Polish one) was incorporated directly into the Polish Kingdom and only then did its nobility achieve equal status with szlachta.
Having established the ethnic composition of szlachta we shall now explore its socioeconomic structure. On the basis of some major differences in wealth among szlachta Zajaczkowski  and Davis  divide it into several groups:
Origins of Polish Heraldry
Any study of the Polish heraldry should begin with a warning that in the past many articles on this subject, written in languages other than Polish, usually contained more anecdotal information than factual data. At the same time, other papers clearly represent outdated knowledge and so their value is rather diminished - for example, the section about the Polish heraldry published in A Complete Guide to Heraldry by A. C. Fox-Davis . I would like to strongly advise any serious heraldist to consider similar materials with maximum caution.
It should be also remembered that Polish herby constitute one of the oldest and the most important monuments of the Polish culture, of which not many other relicts have survived. It is worth mentioning that the oldest monument of Polish prose - Kazania Swietokrzyskie (the Swietokrzyski Sermons) come from the first half of the 14th century, and the oldest Polish sentence (recorded in writing): daj, ac ja pobrusze, a ty poczywaj (giveth to me, I shall stir and you shall rest) survived in the Latin text of Ksiźga Henrykowska (Henry's Book) from the turn of the 14th century. Significantly, the first Polish coats of arms (e.g., Topor, Lis, Rawa, Leszczyc) come from the same time period. There are some coats of arms which could be considered as being even older, e.g., the charge of the Awdaniec clan derives its origin from the property mark which became hereditary since the beginning of the 13th century.
In Poland, as a general rule, one rod had one herb (coat of arms) which was shared by all its members. When a clan was divided into separate families, all of them retained the original arms without any differencing or cadency. Paszkowski characterised this peculiarity by stating:
Whereas in Western Europe a coat of arms belonged to a person or family, in Poland a family or a person belonged to the coat of arms. Thus, some of the families were bearing their own coat of arms, but many, sometimes hundreds of (clan) families, shared or belonged to one coat of arms. 
This peculiarity may be best illustrated by the example given by Paprocki  who mentions the Rosciszewski family which took a surname different from the names of the land properties it had owned. Those of the Rosciszewski family who settled in Chrapunia became known as Chrapunskis; those who settled in Strykwina were known as Strykwinskis; and those who settled in Borkow became known as Borkowskis. Since they shared a common ancestor and belonged to the same clan - they were entitled to bear the same arms as Rosciszewskis.
As Konarski  points out, there was a different process involved when members of the different heraldic clans were adopting surnames derived from the commonly occurring names of villages, such as: Baranow, Chrzanow, or Zakrzewie. In this process, quite accidentally, identical surnames were formed by members of different clans. For example, there was the Konarski family which used the Jastrzebiec arms. At the same time, there was another, unrelated family of the same surname which belonged to the Awdaniec clan. This resulted in the distinct feature of the Polish heraldic system where people belonging to the same heraldic clan and using the same coat of arms could have different surnames, while people sharing the same surname were using different arms. Some families which were ennobled or naturalised and which maintained their own foreign family coat of arms, with no doubt have found this practice to be quite confusing. Perhaps even more confusing was the tradition that the coats of arms of the Polish nobility had names of their own; names which derived their origins from the ancient war-cries also called proclamations (Latin: proclamatio). Another peculiarity of the Polish heraldry was the custom that all legitimate children of a nobleman, both male and female could inherit their father's coat of arms, (without any alterations, i.e., marks of differencing, and cadency - called brisures in French) together with all his privileges as a noble.
As a result of the union between the Kingdom of Poland and the Great Dutchy of Lithuania, noble families of the Dutchy (boyars) were adopted by Polish clans and began to use their arms. Moreover, some boyars followed the Polish example and transformed their old property marks into heraldic devices. Until 1795, which marks the end of the Polish Commonwealth, adoption into a clan constituted the most common form of ennoblement (even though this right was reserved by Seym). Foreign families, naturalised or ennobled in Poland from the 16th century onward, usually kept their own family coat of arms, and so did the nobility of Royal Prussia and Livonia after their union with the Polish Commonwealth. Cassubian arms of Polish Pomerania are very similar to those of Poland. Silesian nobility, (mainly Polish in origin, yet politically separate from Poland since the beginning of the 14th century) also maintained certain Polish heraldic characteristics despite much stronger Western influence. The same Polish characteristics can be observed in the heraldry of Western Pomerania and East Prussia.
At an initial glance, Polish heraldry may seem to be quite simple and relatively poor in its design - with its rules much less rigid than the ones developed in Western Europe. In the eventual absence of an institution of a herald, (it disappeared during the 15th century) and heraldic visitations, as well as with the disintegration of the clan system, it deteriorated by the 16th century. In time, the old Polish heraldic terminology became forgotten and foreign influences, introduced without control, overwhelmed it. The lack of proper terminology resulted in very long and awkward blazons which uncontrollably entered Polish armorials. Only relatively recently - in 1960s - following earlier attempts by Joachim Lelewel, Franciszek Piekosinski and Helena Polaczkowna, Polish heraldist Adam Heymowski  commenced his systematic research in this field and created proper heraldic terminology based on the original mediaeval heraldic language.
The tribal system influenced all the countries included in the Polish Commonwealth. As a result, the nobility consisting of more than forty thousand families, used about seven thousand arms including family coats of arms of Western origin. Moreover, the homonymous families, with their surnames derived from estates with identical names, bore different arms depending on the clan to which they belonged.
It is important to note that most Polish coat of arms depictions consist only of a shield, a crest, a helmet, a crest coronet, as well as of a crest and mantling. Let us consider them individually.
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In Polish heraldry little concern was given to the various
forms of the shield. During the times of the living heraldry the shields
of heraldic art were based on the examples of shields used in battles or tournaments.
Polish shields followed the examples of the western form. From the 16th century
onward the form of the shield in the coat of arms of paper heraldry, just as
elsewhere, was heavily influenced by artistic fashion and style. They became
characteristic of the beginnings of the heraldic decadence. The best examples
of such shields can be found in armorials of Paprocki (see illus. no 7), Okolski
and Niesiecki (see illus. no 8). From the early 19th century Polish paper heraldry
was dominated by the 19th century rectangular French-style form of the shield.
This form was probably popularised by Pawliszczew, who in 1853 published an
armorial under the auspices of the Heroldia of the Kingdom of Poland. Because
of its official character many people used it as the basis for further heraldic
studies. This probably constitutes the reason for the adoption and the use of
shields similar in form in the armorial compiled later by Boniecki. In 1927
the same French-style shield was also given to the official coat of arms of
the Republic of Poland which is still in use today.
Nowadays Polish heraldists tend to support the view that the shape of the heraldic shield should correspond to the epoque from which the particular arms came. Therefore, the arms of the old noble families are depicted in the 14th century-style - with the triangular form of the shield (see illus. no 4 and no 5). The round-based Spanish-style shield, on the other hand, is considered to be universal and as such can be used to portray heraldic achievements of any time period.
Just as in the Western heraldry, Polish heraldry also uses divisions and lines of partition, although, especially in the mediaeval heraldry such divisions of the shield were very rare. According to SzymaYski  who compiled a list of all known 274  coats of arms from that period, (he used the end of the 15th century as a bench mark), the most common divisions recorded were: per pale (which can be found in 6 arms), per fess (4 arms), per bend (1 arms), paly (2 arms) and checky (2 arms). In later periods, divisions per cross, likewise known as quarterly, also became popular but were used distinctively for the marshaling of arms. The quarterly shield divisions were predominantly used on epitaphs, and in the 15th century could be found almost distinctly in churches. In Great Britain or Spain the marshaling of the arms followed strict rules, thus the quarterly division was set out as follows: in 1st quarter - paternal arms, in 2nd quarter - maternal arms, in 3rd quarter - arms of the paternal grandmother and in 4th quarter - arms of maternal grandmother. On the other hand, in Poland there was no rigorous observance of such rules - the displaying of the pedigree could have different arrangements. According to Kulikowski , most popular arrangements were marshalled in the following fashion: 1st quarter - paternal arms, 2nd quarter - maternal arms, 3rd quarter - arms of maternal grandmother, 4th quarter - arms of the paternal grandmother. He also suggests that in some instances in the 4th quarter the arms of paternal grandmother were replaced by the arms of paternal great grandmother. This was especially common when the paternal arms and the arms of paternal grandmother were the same, (as to avoid repetition).
In the 17th century, apart from the per cross division of the shield, another one became very popular - the quarterly with an ineschuteon (5 fields). The heraldic achievement with such division of the field had to fit the following requirements: 1st quarter - maternal arms, 2nd quarter - arms of the paternal grandmother, 3rd quarter - arms of paternal great grandmother, 4th quarter - arms of maternal grandmother, and in ineschuteon - paternal arms. It should be remembered, however, that since there was no rigorous rules for the marshalling of the arms, many other variations have been documented in the history of the Polish heraldic art.
A popular use of the quarterly and quarterly with an ineschuteon divisions can be observed by the 18th century when they were widely used not only in churches put also in cemeteries. Such was the fashion also throughout the 19th, but almost disappeared by the beginning of the 20th century. This is also the reason why the arms marshalled in Poland are predominantly associated with the heraldic sepulchral art.
Ordinaries that are common in the British heraldry, for instance: pale, fess, checky, chevron, chief, or paly were very rare in the Polish heraldry. According to Szymanski , in the mediaeval times, the most common ordinaries were: chief (3 arms), fess (5 arms), pale (3 arms), bend (1 arms), bend sinister (1 arms), chevron (1 arms), base (1 arms), cross (3 arms), inescutcheon (2 arms), and bordure (2 arms). Other divisions, ordinaries and sub-ordinaries already mentioned were at that time virtually unheard of. This situation changed a little between the 16th and the 18th centuries when coats of arms of foreign origin began to be introduced into Polish heraldry by the ennobled or naturalised families. This was also because the Polish nobility did not want to blindly follow the foreign examples and so kept local patterns of design. This resulted in the formation of some unique charges in the European heraldry.
Most of those charges derived their origin from znaki ziemskie (the clan property marks), which are older than heraldry itself. Those property marks consisted of some simple line designs which represented combinations of straight and curved lines. While some, as it is suggested by Klec-Pilewski , were later transformed into charges which could be described in heraldic terms that are known to the Western scholars, (i.e., straight lines changed to arrows, crosses, swords, lances, etc.; curved lines evolved into crescents, horse-shoes, scythes, and the like), other remained virtually unchanged and totally unknown abroad. Such charges include: krzywasn (illus. 17.1), lekawica (illus. 17.2), cross osmorog (illus. 17.3), and rogacina (illus. 17.4). Since it is extremely difficult to define charges such as krzywasn, as such definition would sound a little awkward if formed precisely, i.e.: a bend couped curved at each end bent in chief basewise and in base chiefwise, one has to applaud the proposition of Mariusz Cybulski, the translator of the English section in the Szymański  armorial, who suggested retaining the original linguistic forms of such charges. One would hope that with time such terms could be accepted by the Western heraldists and this way help to enrich the English heraldic vocabulary, as has been the case with some French terms in the past. One would hope that the term cross osmorog could be accepted on the same grounds as cross pateé.
Apart from adding to the heraldic dictionary, in my opinion, the acceptance of the described charges is crucial for the proper blazon of Polish arms, since most of the other unique charges are based on them. Endorsing terms krzywasn, lekawica, cross osmorog, and rogacina would allow for the blazon of other more complicated charges, e.g., rogacina przekrzyzowana (illus. 17.5), rogacina dwukrotnie przekrzyzowana (illus. 17.6), rogacina przekrzyzowana i rozdarta (illus. 17.7) and krzywasn w lewo (illus 17.8.) could become, respectively: rogacina crossed fesswise, rogacina double-crossed fesswise, rogacina forked in base crossed fesswise and krzywasn sinisterwise. Other charges such as animals, birds, buildings, human figures and plants, rather popular in Polish heraldry were, according to Klec-Pilewski , also often based on the extremely ancient totems of different clans. In contrast, other foreign and exotic objects or fantastic beasts used as heraldic charges were utilised quite rarely.
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The crest in the Polish language is called klejnot (German
- kleinod, helmkleinod) or cymer (French - cimier). Its use became popular at
the beginning of the 14th century. According to SzymaYski, we know only of 54
(19.5%) different crests used in all 274 known mediaeval arms . This does
not mean that the rest of the arms did not have any crests, it rather suggests
that in Polish heraldry their significance was much smaller than in the West.
This view is reinforced further by the fact that fifteen descriptions of those
crests, according to Szymanski , come from foreign sources. This lack of
interest in the crest had to do with the fact that in reality there was no stable
institution of the herald and that the tournaments conducted in Poland were
not as numerous as in the West. To make matters worse, our knowledge of the
crests is seriously jeopardised because in the 16th century many then known
original crests were replaced by lazy printers of the Paprocki and later the
Okolski armorials with a standard form of ostrich and peacock feathers. Since
then, almost one in every four heraldic achievements has some form of feathers
included in its crest. Polish heraldry knows considerably more about the crests
of arms from ennoblements and naturalisations, where each grant was recorded
by the Royal Chancellery. Kulikowski  suggests that this was probably because
the Chancellery followed the example of its corresponding offices in the foreign
countries and recorded detailed blazons of both the
shield and the crest. In the Polish heraldry, some princely families did not
use the crest and instead opted to rest the prince¹s crown straight against
the helmet, (today this is considered a bad heraldry) or as a coronet of rank
on the manteau.
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The position of a helmet had absolutely no significance in the Polish heraldry. Only nowadays Polish heraldists postulate that helmets should be orientated according to the position of the crest. Helmet in profile position, (such as used by an esquire in English
heraldry) is suggested when the crest consists of an object
facing to the dexter side of the shield, i.e., Odemi-lion rampant¹ or a Owing¹.
Helmet positioned affronté is preferred when the crest consists of an object
facing as in real life, to the front of a helmet, (or in other words, an object
which should be looked upon from the front) i.e., Odemi-man¹ or Ostags attire¹.
Similarly, in the past no significance was given to the type of a helmet used.
The pot-helmet, the great-helmet and the tilting-helmet
were usually found in the mediaeval heraldry, while barred-helmet (silver with
gold bars) became almost universal from the early 16th century onward.
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According to Szymanski, since the mediaeval times, after
the shield and the crest, the crest coronet should be viewed as the third most
important component of any coat of arms of Polish nobility. As proof for such
statement Szymanski  stipulated that 11 out of 54 known Polish heraldic
achievements of mediaeval times (which include helmets and crest), include crest
coronet. He also pointed out an even more important fact, that all information
about such coronets come from Polish sources.
While the use of shields and helmets has not been regulated by the Polish heraldic rules, the use as well as the shape of coronets was nevertheless outlined precisely.
Polish heraldry knows several types of crest coronets, however, since the early 16th century only two of them have been used by the majority of szlachta members in their arms:
a. the circlet which consists of three leaf and two pearl points set (most commonly) with precious stones and very similar in design to those of French marquis coronet (see illus. 19.1). This type was predominantly used on helmets, but it could also be placed straight on the shield; and
b. the circlet which consists of five pearl points and also set with precious stones (see illus. 19.2). This type was used directly on the shield (not used on helmets).
Other types of coronets were specific of relatively very small group of titled families and included the following types:
1. baron's (baron) coronet - the circlet (set with precious stones) which consists of seven pearl points - similar to the more recent form of the German Freiherr or the Belgian count coronet (illus. 20.1);
2. Napoleonic baron's coronet - plain circlet, three times wound around with a string of pearls (illus. 20.2);
3. viscount's (wicehrabia) coronet - plain circlet which consists of three large and two small pearl points - similar in shape to the more recent form of the French vicomte coronet (illus. 20.3);
4. count's (hrabia) coronet - the circlet (set with precious stones) which consists of nine pearl points - similar to the more recent form of the German graf coronet (illus. 20.4);
5. marquis' (margrabia) coronet - the circlet (set with precious stones) which consists of three leaf and two pearl points, the latter consists of three pearls each grouped in trefoil. Similar in shape to the more recent form of the French, Portuguese or Spanish marquis coronet (illus. 20.5);
6. prince's (ksiaze) crown - a cherry red velvet cap, turned up with ermine, scalloped into round pieces, enclosed by four-sided arches of the crown set with pearls and with blue Imperial orb and gold cross at the top. In Polish, this crown is sometimes called mitra, its shape being similar to the German Fürstenhut (illus. 20.6).
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It seems that Polish heraldry has never been
too concerned with mantling. According to Szymanski , this was because in
reality Polish knights did not include lambrequins on helmets. In the West the
lambrequins were in practical use until the end of the 15th century. That was
why the lambrequins were part of heraldic design from the very beginning. In
the Polish heraldic art, on the other hand, mantling was introduced rather late.
The first iconographic example of the heraldic achievement with mantling comes
from the 14th century. Szymanski points out that of all Polish mediaeval arms
recorded by him only 37 contain lambrequins, of which 13 do
not contain any description of the tinctures. In the 16th century - the beginning
of the period of Opaper heraldry¹ - mantling became more popular. Since it was
popularised by the armorial Orbis Polonus by Szymon Okolski it became an essential
part of the heraldic achievement of Polish nobility.
ROBE OF ESTATE in Polish heraldry was used only by princely and some count, (only those who received special exemptions in the grant of the title) families.
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Together with other heraldic devices the clans also used war-cries, which had strong links with their arms. The war-cries varied in their origins; they were either topographical, or derived from the names, sobriquets or totems of their founders, or were ideological in origin. The names of the arms usually alluded to the charges of the field or to the crest. Sometimes the old war-cries were considered as sui generis names of particular arms, (quite a few of them still are).
According to Szymański , apart from the heraldic charges, the war-cry or the proclamation (Latin: proclamatio) was the most important component of the coat of arms of Polish nobility. In the Polish tradition, each arms had a name of its own which derived from those proclamations. The best examples of such proclamatio-arms (as they are known), are the coat of arms called Leliwa, Topor, Lis and Jastrzebiec. To some extent, in my opinion, such proclamatio-names replaced the role of the blazon. This was simply because most noblemen knew from their experience descriptions of particular arms just by evoking the proclamatio-name. Thus, most of them would be able to correctly visualise the arms Leliwa without describing them using their blazon: ³Azure, a crescent Or surmounted by a mullet of six points of the Same².
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SUPPORTERS, MOTTOES and other accessories
The supporters were introduced into Polish heraldry in the 14th century when they could be found on the royal seals of Jadwiga Queen of Poland and Wladyslaw Jagiello. However, supporters never became popular among the nobles, and as a result were associated only with titled families, (with the exception of coats of arms belonging to naturalised foreigners which were introduced to Polish heraldry).
Another rare accessory in Polish heraldic art is motto. The first known examples of this device come from the 18th century. Mottoes were used more widely during the 18th century and almost entirely by the titled nobility. The use of the mottoes was not restricted by any laws and so families were free to choose them. Some of the most famous mottoes are those used by Count Zamoyski - To mniej boli (It hurts less); Prince Sanguszko - Z przekonania (Out of conviction); Prince Radziwill - Bog nam radzi (Lord guides us); Prince Czartoryski - Badz co badz (Let it be what has to be); and Prince Sulkowski - Tout pour la patrie (Everything for the Fatherland).
During the reign of Stanislaw August Poniatowski other symbols - of rank and office - placed behind, under, or on the sides of the heraldic shield also became popular. For example: two keys crossed in saltire were placed behind the shield of podkomorzy (chamberlain), two marshal's batons crossed in saltire were placed behind the shield of marszalek (marshal), two swords in pale were placed on the sides of the heraldic shield of miecznik (sword-bearer) and two bugles were placed below the shield in the arms of lowczy (royal hunt master).
Finally, it should be stressed once again that in Poland the most important factor was to have a rank of a nobleman. The coats of arms did not have the same importance. Despite widespread written and oral tradition on the subject, there was a general lack of serious interest about them.
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The following is the list of various sources and bibliographical material helpful in obtaining iconographical references on Polish Heraldry.
Polish Mediaeval Coats of Arms in European Armorials
1. Bellenville Armorial, ca. 1364-1386.
Author: most probably Geldre Claes Heinen.
Content: among 1,722 armorial shields, of which 478 with helmets and crests, 24 armorial shields of Polish knights, (2 arms were depicted twice, so in fact, only 22 arms) can be found.
Published: Jequier, L. (ed.), L'Armorial Bellenville, in Cahier d'Heraldique, Paris, vol. 5/1983.
Reports in the Recueil du Ile Congres international des sciences genealogique et héraldique, Liége 29 of May - 2 of June 1972, (article in French).
2. Wapenboek Gelre or Armorial de Gerle, ca. 1370-1386.
Author: Geldre Claes Heinen.
Content: among 1,755 achievements of arms in colour, 25 arms of Polish knights (this includes arms of 1 Hungarian and 3 Silesian knights who were owners of large estates in the Kingdom of Poland) can be found.
Original: Brussels, Royal Library, ms.15652-56.
Published: Galbreath, D. L., La Suisse féodale d¹aprļs l¹Armorial de gelre, in Archives Heraldiques Suisses, vol.46/1932, (article in French).
Mikucki, Sylwiusz, Rycerstwo slowianskie w Wapenboek Gerlego, in Studia Zrodloznawcze, vol.3/1958, (article in Polish, concerned only with Slavic arms).
3. Armorial Equestre de la Toison d'Or et de l'Europe or An Armorial of Knights of the Golden Fleece and 15th Century Europe, early 15th century.
Author: most probably Jean Lefevre de Saint Remy.
Content: 53 armorial shields of Polish knights, in colour; depiction of the Polish king in the tournamental attire; as well as examples of civic heraldry (arms of provinces) can be found.
Original: Paris, Bibliotheque de Arsenal, no.4790.
Published: Larchey, L., Armorial Ancien Equestre de la Toison d¹Or et de l¹Europe au XV siecle, Paris, 1890 (article in French).
Pinches, R. & Wood, A., An Armorial of Knights of the Golden Fleece and 15th Century Europe, London, 1971 (there is an introduction in English to Polish heraldry by B. J. Klec-Pilewski).
4. Books of the Brotherhood of St.Christopher on the Arlberg, ca. early 15th century.
Content: among the arms of the Brotherhood's members, 12 armorial shields of Polish knights can be found.
Original: Vienna, Österreichisches Haus-, Hof- und Staatsarchiv.
Published: Hupp, Otto, Die Wappenbücher von Arlberg v.1: Die drei Orginal-Handschriften vom St.Christoph dem Arlberg aus den Jahren 1394 bis rund 1430, Berlin, 1937-1943 (article in German).
Polaczkowna, Helena, Ksiega bracka na Arlbergu w Tyrolu, in Miesiecznik Heraldyczny, vol.10/1931 (article in Polish).
5. Bergshammar Armorial or Codex Bergshammar, ca. 1435.
Content: 3,388 arms with or without helmet or crest; 70 armorial shields of Polish knights, dignitaries and clergymen, as well as some examples of civic heraldry (arms of provinces) can be found.
Original: Stockholm, Riksarkivet, Bergshammarsamlingen.
Published: Raneke, Hans, Bergshammarvapenboken, in Medeltidsheraldisk studie, Lund, 1975 (article in Swedish).
Heymowski, Adam, Herby polskie w sztokholmskim Codex Bergshammar, in Studia zrodloznawcze, vol.12/1967 (article in Polish about Polish arms within the Armorial).
6. Armorial Gymnich (Lyncenich), ca. 1445.
Content: 46 arms of Polish knights (4 arms were depicted twice, so in fact, only 42 arms) can be found.
Original: Brussels, Royal Library, ms.II, 6567 (Fonds Houwaert).
Published: Heymowski, Adam, Herby polskie w brukselskim Armorial Gymnich, in Studia zródloznawcze, vol.29/1985 (article in Polish about Polish arms within the Armorial).
7. Des Conrad Grünenberg Ritters und Bürgers zu Constanzer Wappenbuch or The Armorial of Conrad Grünenberg, 1483.
Content: 2 arms of Polish knights.
Original: Berlin, Private State Archives, Berlin-Dahlem, (contemporary copy: Munich, State Library).
Published: Stillfried R. von & Hildebrandt, A. M., Des Conrad Grünenberg Ritters und Bürgers zu Constanzer Wappenbuch or The Armorial of Conrad Grünenberg, Frankfurt am Main, publishing date unknown, (article in German).
8. Das Concilium co zu Constanz or Chronicle of the Council of Constance, 1483.
Content: 17 arms of Polish knights.
Published: Polaczkowna, Helena, Najstarsze zrodla heraldyki polskiej, in Archiwum Towarzystwa Naukowego we Lwowie, Lwów, 1924, vol. 1, pp.3-10.
Mikucki, Sylwiusz, Barwa w heraldyce sredniowiecznej, in Rocznik Towarzystwa Heraldycznego, Lwow, 1928-1929, vol. 9, pp.210-212.
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Polish Mediaeval Coats of Arms in Polish Armorials and Other Sources
1. A Legend of St. Hedwig in Codex of Ostrow (in Polish: Legenda o sw. Jadwidze w Kodeksie ostrowskim), 1353.
Content: 8 arms of Polish knights, in colour.
Published: Stronczynski, Kazimierz, Legenda obrazowa o sw. Jadwidze ksieznie slaskiej wedlug rekopisu z 1353 przedstawiona i z pózniejszymi tejze tresci obrazami porownana, Krakow, 1880 (in Polish language).
Wasowicz, Tadeusz, Legenda slaska, Wroclaw, 1967 (in Polish language).
Braunfels, von W., Der Hedvigs-Codex von 1353, Berlin, 1972 (in German language).
2. The heraldic frieze from the Chapel of St. Jacob of Lad (in Polish: Fryz heraldyczny z kaplicy Sw. Jakuba w Ladzie), 1357-1372.
Content: among 21 arms, 17 are of Polish knights.
Published: Lojko, Jerzy, Fryz heraldyczny z kaplicy klasztornej sw. Jakuba w Ladzie nad Warta, in Studia zrodloznawcze, vol.22/1977, pp.125-150, (in Polish language).
3. Insignorum clenodiorum Regis et Regni Poloniae descripto or Klejnoty Dlugosza or Armorial of Jan Dlugosz, 1462 -1480.
This most important Polish armorial has survived in subsequent seven copies. Because those copies differ from each other, we list them in chronological order below:
3a. Rekopis Biblioteki w Kórniku
(Copy from the Library of Kórnik)
Original: Library in Kórnik, Poland.
3b. Rekopis Biblioteki Zakladu Narodowego im. Ossolinskich
(Copy from Library of Zaklad Narodowy Ossolinskich)
Original: Library of Zaklad Narodowy Ossolinskich in Wroclaw, Poland.
3c. Rekopis w Kodeksie Biblioteki XX Chigich
(Copy from the Codex of Library of XX Chigich in Rome, Italy)
Original: Library of Rome.
3d. Rekopis Letkowskiego
(Copy of Letkowski)
Original: Library in Wilanów, Poland.
3e. Rekopis paryski (Paris copy), known also as Herbarz arsenalski (Armorial of Arsenal), 1570s.
Content: 178 arms in colour (of those 118 belong to Polish knights). The other arms consist of ecclesiastical arms, civic arms, etc.
Original: Paris Library of Arsenal, no.11114.
Published: Polaczkowna, Helena, Stemmata Polonica, rekopis nr 11114 Klejnotów Dlugosza w Bibliotece Arsenalu w Paryzu, in Prace sekcji historii sztuki i kultury Towarzystwa Naukowego we Lwowie, Lwów, vol.1/1927, pp.161-250 (article in Polish language).
3f. Kodeks Erazma Kamyna (Codex of Erasm Kamyn), 1575.
Original: Library of the Lvov University.
3g. Kodeks Erazma Kamyna (Codex of Erasm Kamyn), 1575.
Original: Library of Ordynacji Zamojskich in Warsaw.
Note: There are several reeditions of the Armorial of Jan Dlugosz, of which the most noticable are:
- Gorski, Krzysztof (ed.), Banderia Prudentorum, Warszawa, 1958.
- Friedberg, Marian (ed.), Klejnoty Dlugoszowe, in Rocznik Polskiego Towarzystwa Heraldycznego, Lwów, 1931, vol.10/1930.
- Muczkowski, Józef (ed.), Banderia Prudentorum tudziez Insignia Seu Clenodia Regni Poloniae, Krakow: Drukarnia Uniwersytecka (1851), republished by WAiF, Warszawa, 1979.
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Polish Armorials (16th - 20th century)
Since the 16th century, almost all Polish armorials (English translation for the Polish term herbarz) have not only been covering heraldry, but also dealt with genealogy. Klec-Pilewski  suggests that the whole term heraldry was, and still is, often used in the Polish language to cover both subjects.
1. Arma Regni Poloniae or Herbarz Marka Ambrozego, 1562.
Author: Marek Ambrozy.
Content: 112 coats of arms.
Published: Marek Ambrozy, Arma Regni Poloniae, Antwerpia, 1882.
2. Herbarz rycerstwa polskiego, 1584.
Author: Bartosz Paprocki.
Content: armorial contains genealogies of Polish nobility and description of their arms where applicable, reprint of Polish 16th century classic, arranged alphabetically, supplemented by index.
Published: Paprocki, Bartosz, Herbarz rycerstwa polskiego, 2nd edition, K. J. Turowski (ed.), Kraków, 1858.
3. Orbis Polonus, 1614-1645.
Author: Szymon Okolski.
Content: this armorial was written in Latin. Its author based his writings on earlier published
works of Dlugosz and Paprocki (see above). As other Polish armorials, it contains genealogies of Polish nobility and description of their arms where applicable.
Published: Okolski, Szymon, Orbis Polonus, 3 vols., Kraków, 1614-45.
4. Herbarz szlachty Prus Królewskich, 1632-1654.
Author: Jan Karol Dachnowski.
Original: There are two original manuscripts written by Dachnowski, as well as the 18th century copy. In chronological order these are:
4a. Rekopis Biblioteki w Korniku (Copy from Library of Kórnik).
Original: Library in Kórnik, Poland, signature BK 474.
Content: Copy made between 1632-1648.
4b. Rekopis Biblioteki Narodowej w Warszawie
(Copy from the National Library in Warsaw).
Original: National Library in Warsaw, Poland, signature III 3143.
Content: Copy made between 1650-54.
4c. Rekopis torunski (Copy from the Archives in Torun).
Original: State Archives in ToruY, Poland, signature II. III. 13.
Content: Copy made between 1705-1716 (?).
Content: armorial contains arms of Polish nobility of the Royal Prussia province as well as some genealogical data. It was written in Latin and Polish.
Published: Pentek, Zdzislaw, Jan Karol Dachnowski: Herbarz szlachty Prus Królewskich z XVII wieku, Biblioteka Kórnicka PAN, Kórnik, 1995.
5. Compendium (Nomenclator) or Herbarz rycerstwa Wielkiego Xiestwa Litewskiego, 1658.
Author: Revd Wojciech Wijuk Kojalowicz (SJ).
Content: armorial contains genealogical data as well as blazons of arms of the Polish noble families of Lithuanian origin. Supplemented by index of family names. In Polish it has been published under the title Compendium, and in Latin - Nomenclator.
Published: Kojalowicz, Wojciech Wijuk, Herbarz rycerstwa Wielkiego Xiestwa Litewskiego tzw. Compendium; in Piekosinski, Franciszek (ed.) Herold Polski, vol.1/1897.
Kojalowicz, Wojciech Wijuk, Herbarz szlachty Wielkiego Xiestwa Litewskiego tzw. Nomenclator; in Piekosinski, Franciszek (ed.) Herold Polski, vol.3/1905.
6. Poczet herbów szlachty Korony Polskiej i Wielkiego Ksiestwa Litewskiego, 1694.
Author: Waclaw Potocki.
Content: in essence this armorial has been rewritten in a rhyme form from the armorial of Okolski (see no.3). It contains 320 poems about arms of Polish nobility and royalty.
Published: Potocki, Waclaw, Poczet herbów szlachty Korony Polskiej i Wielkiego Ksiestwa Litewskiego, 1694.
7. Korona polska przy zlotej wolnosci starozytnymi wszystkich katedr, prowincji i rycerstwa klejnotami ozdobiona, potomnym zas wiekom na zaszczyt i niesmiertelna slawe pamietnych w tej ojczyznie synów podana, 1728.
Author: Revd Kasper Niesiecki (SJ).
Content: one of the most important genealogical and heraldic works in Polish bibliography. This four-volume armorial was arranged alphabetically by family names and by the names of the arms. Its genealogical and heraldic value was recognised in the 19th century by the heraldic offices of Polish partitioners, who used it on equal terms with other documents for registrations of arms and/or pedigree.
Published: Niesiecki, Kasper, Korona polska przy zlotej wolnosci starozytnymi wszystkich katedr, prowincji i rycerstwa klejnotami ozdobiona, potomnym zas wiekom na zaszczyt i niesmiertelna slawe pamietnych w tej ojczyznie synów podana, 4 vols., Lwów, 1728.
8. Herbarz wielu domów Korony Polskiej i W. X. Litewskiego, 1757.
Author: Stanislaw J. Dunczewski.
Content: this armorial which has a form of a compilation, was based mostly on Niesiecki's armorial.
Published: Dunczewski, Stanislaw J., Herbarz wielu domów Korony Polskiej i W. X. Litewskiego, T. I-II, Zamosc, 1757.
9. Herbarz szlachty Inflant polskich, 1778.
Author: this armorial is based on registration acts of the provincial Court of Dyneburg of 1778. Later, as part of the collection of the Central Archives of Vitebsk those acts were held in the National Archives in Vilnius (at least until 1939). A copy of those registrations was made around 1931 by Z. Belina-Prazmowski. Adam Heymowski published, edited and footnoted duplicate in 1964.
Content: this alphabetically arranged armorial contains arms and genealogies of 127 noble families of Polish Livonia.
Published: Heymowski, Adam, Herbarz szlachty Inflant polskich z 1778 roku, in Materialy do biografii, genealogii i heraldyki polskiej, Buenos Aires-Paris, 1964, vol.2.
10. Herbarz: Dopelnienie Niesieckiego, end of the 18th century.
Author: Ignacy Kapica-Milewski.
Content: armorial of the nobility of Mazovia and Podlachia, supplement to Item no. 7, arranged alphabetically.
Published: Kapica-Milewski, Ignacy, Herbarz: Dopelnienie Niesieckiego, Kraków, 1870.
11. Herbarz Polski, 1839-1845.
Author: Revd Kasper Niesiecki (SJ).
Content: this ten-volume armorial contains genealogies of Polish nobility and description of their arms where applicable. This armorial edited and published by J. N. Bobrowicz is a reedition of the Polish 18th century classic, Item no. 7. It has been updated with footnotes from DuYczewski, Krasicki, Kuropatnicki, Wieladek and its editor. It was arranged alphabetically and supplemented.
Published: Niesiecki, Kasper, Herbarz Polski, 2nd ed., J. N. Bobrowicz (ed.), Leipzig (1839-1845), republished by WAiF, Warszawa, 1979.
12. Herbarz rodzin szlacheckich Królestwa Polskiego najwyzej zatwierdzony, 1853.
Author: Mikolaj Pawliszczew, privy councillor of the Russian Tsar delegated to Poland to compile an armorial of Polish nobility.
Content: this armorial published by the Heraldic Authority of the Kingdom of Poland, is viewed by experts as a publication of very low value, as it is teeming with various and serious mistakes.
Published: Pawliszczew, Mikolaj, Herbarz rodzin szlacheckich Królestwa Polskiego najwyzej zatwierdzony, 2 vols., Warszawa: Heroldia Królestwa Polskiego, 1853.
13. Herbarz Polski i imionopis zasluzonych w Polsce ludzi wszelkich stanów i czasów, 1855-1862.
Author: Hipolit Stupnicki.
Content: essentially it is a three-volume compendium of Herbarz Polski, Item no. 11.
Published: Stupnicki, Hipolit, Herbarz Polski i imionopis zasluzonych w Polsce ludzi wszelkich stanow i czasow, Lwow, 1855-1862.
14. Zlota ksiega szlachty polskiej, 1879-1908.
Author: Tadeusz Zychlinski (ed.).
Content: genealogical monographs of Polish noble families arranged alphabetically within each volume (31 volumes).
Published: Zychlinski, Tadeusz (ed.), Zlota ksiega szlachty polskiej, 31 vols., Poznan, 1879-1908.
15. Poczet Rodów w Wielkim Ksiestwie Litewskim w XV i XVI wieku, 1887.
Author: Adam Fredro Boniecki.
Content: armorial of noble families of Great Dutchy of Lithuania of the 15th and the 16th centuries. Genealogical and heraldic material published by Boniecki was based strictly on source materials, and therefore, was acclaimed as model for future scientifically orientated works in this discipline.
Published: Boniecki, Adam, Poczet Rodów w Wielkim Ksiestwie Litewskim w XV i XVI wieku, Warszawa, 1887.
16. Ksiega herbowa rodów polskich, 1896.
Author: Juliusz R. Ostrowski.
Content: the role of arms of Polish nobility. The effect of over 20 years of research allowed Ostrowski to complete an unparalleled in Poland heraldic work which contains over 3700 b/w illustrations of Polish arms. The role is arranged alphabetically, (by the proclamatio-names used for Polish coats of arms) up to the letter "S".
Published: Ostrowski, Juliusz R., Ksiega herbowa rodów polskich, Warszawa, 1896.
17. Herbarz Polski, 1899-1913.
Author: Adam Fredro Boniecki.
Content: genealogies of Polish nobility and description of their arms where applicable. As in his previous work, Boniecki based his Herbarz on source material, (he included over 147 source type references; acts, documents, etc.). This armorial, arranged alphabetically, covers names beginning with letters "A" to "M" only. It has 16 volumes and 6 supplements. Other unpublished volumes from letters "M" to "Z", edited by W. Dworzaczek and awaiting publication, were destroyed during the Warsaw Uprising in 1944.
Published: Boniecki, Adam, Herbarz Polski, 16 vols., Warszawa, 1901-1913.
18. Rodzina: Herbarz szlachty polskiej, 1904-1938.
Author: Seweryn Uruski.
Content: genealogies of Polish nobility and description of their arms where applicable, based on the official registration of the 19th century, arranged alphabetically and covering names beginning with the letters "A" to "R" only, 15 volumes and a supplement.
Published: Uruski, Seweryn, Rodzina: Herbarz szlachty polskiej, 15 vols., Warszawa, 1904-1938.
19. Herby szlachty polskiej, 1908.
Author: Zbigniew Leszczyc.
Content: a concise one-volume armorial of the Polish nobility. It includes 440 colour pictures of arms. The new edition published by Paszkiewicz and Kulczycki is updated with an introduction in English, a list of surnames of Polish noble families and an index of arms.
Published: Paszkiewicz, Mieczyslaw & Kulczycki, Jerzy, Herby rodów polskich / Polish Coats of Arms, London: Orbis Books Ltd, 1990.
20. Tablice odmian herbowych, 1909.
Author: Stanislaw Chrzanski.
Content: the role of arms of Polish nobility, arranged by charges. It contains colour illustrations of Polish arms and names of families which used such arms.
Published: Chrzanski, Stanislaw, Tablice odmian herbowych, Warszawa, 1909.
21. Herbarz rodzin tatarskich w Polsce,1929.
Author: Stanislaw Dziadulewicz.
Content: armorial of Polish nobility of Tartar origin of both Moslem and Christian faith. Like other Polish armorials, it contains genealogical data. Arranged alphabetically.
Published: Dziadulewicz, Stanislaw, Herbarz rodzin tatarskich w Polsce, Wilno, 1929.
22. Armorial de la noblesse polonaise titrée, 1958.
Author: Szymon Konarski.
Content: armorial of Polish titled families.
Published: Konarski, Szymon, Armorial de la noblesse polonaise titrée, Paris, 1958.
23. Herby szlachty polskiej, 1990.
Author: Slawomir Gorzynski & Jerzy Kochanowski.
Content: pocket size armorial which includes 150 b/w pictures of most common Polish coats of arms and a list of surnames of Polish noble families.
Published: Gorzynski, Slawomir & Kochanowski, Jerzy, Herby szlachty polskiej, Warszawa: Wydawnictwa Uniwersytetu Warszawskiego i Wydawnictwa Alfa, 1990.
24. Herbarz sredniowiecznego rycerstwa polskiego, 1993.
Author: Józef Szymanski.
Content: one of the most recent and most comprehensive armorials of Polish nobility of the mediaeval period. It contains illustrations and blazons of 274 arms used in Poland between the 13th and the 15th century. All entries have been painstakingly attained with source documents,
iconographical references, bibliographical data, footnotes, etc. Parts of the armorial have been written both in English and Polish.
Published: Szymanski, Józef, Herbarz sredniowiecznego rycerstwa polskiego, Warszawa: Wydawnictwo Naukowe PWN, 1993.
25. Herbarz mazowiecki, 1997-
Author: Jerzy Lempicki.
Content: the most recent armorial of Polish nobility. It contains detailed information on Polish nobility of Masovia. So far, only three volumes have been published. They contain: vol. I - Introduction, vol. II - Nobility of the Plock district and vol. III - Nobility of the Bielsko district.
Published: Lempicki, Jerzy, Herbarz mazowiecki, 3 vols., Poznan: Wydawnictwo Heroldium, 1997-.
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 Although the word nobility is generally used as a counterpart of szlachta (as entymologically analogous and close in reference), it should be remembered that szlachta was a class of people for which there is no precise equivalent in English, (as noted by Monica Gardner in her biography Kosciuszko, published by Allen & Unwin, London, 1942, p.14). This will become apparent in the paragraphs that follow.
 William F. Reddaway (ed.) The Cambridge History of Poland, 2 vols., London, 1950.
 Andrzej Zajaczkowski, Szlachta polska; kultura i struktura, Warszawa: Semper, 1993, ch.1.
 Bernard Klec-Pilewski, Studies and Contributions to Polish History, Genealogy and Heraldry, London, 1991, p.24.
 Norman Davis, God's Playground: a History of Poland, 2 vols., Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1986.
 ibid., p.211.
 Adam Zamoyski, The Polish Way: A Thousand-Year History of The Poles and Their Culture, London: John Murray, 1987, p.51.
 Andrzej Zajaczkowski, Glówne elementy kultury szlacheckiej w Polsce, Warszawa, 1961, p.24.
 Davis, God's Playground, p.153.
 ibid., p.214.
 Zygmunt Gloger, Encyklopedia Staropolska, 2 vols., Warszawa, 1901, vol.2, p.586.
 Lech Paszkowski, Social Background of Sir Paul Strzelecki and Joseph Conrad, Melbourne, 1980, p.25.
 Tadeusz Korzon, Wewnetrzne dzieje Polski za Stanislawa Augusta, 6 vols., Kraków, 1897-98, vol.1, p.320.
 Klec-Pilewski, Studies, p.25.
 Zajączkowski, Szlachta polska, ch.2.
 Davis, God¹s Playground, p.137.
 Jerzy Piechowski, Ukryte swiatla herbów, Warszawa: Nasza Ksiegarnia, 1991, pp.125-7.
 A very interesting account of the main elements of culture of the Polish nobility is given in already mentioned book by Andrzej Zajaczkowski, Glówne elementy kultury szlacheckiej w Polsce, Warszawa, 1961, (unfortunately this valuable book is in the Polish language).
 Richard Brzezinski, Polish Armies 1569-1696, 2 vols., London: Osprey, 1987, vol.1, p.6.
 Andrzej Kulikowski, Heraldyka szlachecka, Warszawa: Wydawnictwo Chateau, 1990, p.22.
 Jerzy Lojko, Sredniowieczne herby polskie, Poznan: Krajowa Agencja Wydawnicza, 1985, pp.131-32.
 Bernard Klec-Pilewski, Remarks on the Polish heraldry in the Armorial of Knights of the Golden Fleece, in Pinches, R. & Wood, A., An Armorial of Knights of the Golden Fleece and 15th Century Europe, London, 1971.
 Klec-Pilewski, Studies, p.27.
 Escutcheon - the shield or shield-shaped surface on which a coat of arms is depicted; the shield together with its armorial bearings; a coat of arms.
 Klec-Pilewski, Studies, p.27.
 Walerian Nekanda Trepka, Liber generationis plebeanorum. Liber chamorum, 2 vols., Wroclaw: Ossolineum, 2nd edition, 1995.
 For examples of such illegal acquiring of the noble status see Zajaczkowski, Szlachta, pp.37-38.
 Leszek Bialkowski, Ród Czamborów-Rogalów w dawnych wiekach, in Rocznik Polskiego Towarzystwa Heraldycznego, Kraków, vol. 4, 1923; see also Leszek Bialkowski, Ród Bibersteinów, Kraków: G. Gebethner i Ska, 1908; Leszek Bialkowski, Ród Bibersteinów a ród Momotów godla Jeleniego Rogu w wiekach XIV-XVI, Lublin: Towarzystwo Naukowe KUL, 1948.
 Klec-Pilewski, Studies, p.28.
 ibid., p.29.
 Kulikowski, Heraldyka, p.26.
 ibid., p.27.
 There were few women who were granted ennoblement: e.g., Katarzyna Czeplewna from Poznan, ennobled in 1504, granted Korab arms; Dorota Czimerman ennobled in 1505, granted Godzieba arms; Barbara Skromowska ennobled in 1511, granted BoYcza arms; and Gertruda Ferber ennobled in 1515, granted Odrowaz arms. This last ennoblement is especially interesting because in the same grant of 1515 Gertruda's husband, Eberhart Ferber, and their children: Jan, Tideman, Jerzy and Barbara were also ennobled, but were granted different coat of arms than Gertruda. (Zygmunt Wdowiszewski, Regesty nobilitacji w Polsce (1404-1794), in Materialy do biografii, genealogii i heraldyki polskiej, Buenos Aires, 1987, vol.9.)
Zygmunt Wdowiszewski, Regesty przywilejów indygenatu w Polsce (1519-1793), in Materialy do biografii, genealogii i heraldyki polskiej, Buenos Aires, 1971, vol.5., p.19.
 Volumina Legum. Przedruk zbioru praw, 9 vols., Petersburg 1859-1889, reedition Warszawa, 1980, vol.2, no.1239.
 All acts of ennoblement and that of naturalisation were scrupulously registered among others in:
* Volumina Legum (printed volumes of Polish laws and constitutions laid down by Seym; they contained materials from 14th to 18th century; unfortunately many entries do not contain blazons of arms);
* Ksiegi Kanclerskie (volumes of acts registered by the Crown or the Lithuanian Chancellery; they contained exact copies of Letter Patents and, as a rule, most of the entries in those acts contained not only blazons but also pictures of granted arms);
* Metryka Koronna (register of issued documents and dealings with public law carried out for variety of recipients by the Crown Chancellery from 1447 to 1794; almost all registrations were based on original documents);
* Metryka Litewska (acts similar to Metryka Koronna, but kept by the Chancellery of the Grand Dutchy of Lithuania from 1569 to 1794);
* Sigillata (synopsis of documents issued by the Crown or the Lithuanian Chancellery).
 Paszkowski, Social, p.17.
 Stanislaw Dumin & Slawomir Górzynski, Spis szlachty wylegitymowanej w guberniach grodzienskiej, minskiej, mohylewskiej, smolenskiej i witebskiej, Warszawa: Wydawnictwo DiG, 1992, p.XI.
 Nowa Encyklopedia Powszechna PWN, 6 vols., Warszawa: Wydawnictwa Naukowe PWN, 1996, vol.2, p.742.
 Daniel Beauvois, Polacy na Ukrainie 1831-1863: szlachta polska na Wolyniu, Podolu i Kijowszczyznie, Paryz: Instytut Literacki, 1987, p.7.
 ibid., pp.10-11.
 Klec-Pilewski, Studies, p.29.
 Kulikowski, Heraldyka, p.31.
 Szymon Konarski, O heraldyce i heraldycznym snobizmie, Warszawa: Adiutor, 2nd edition, 1992, p.14.
 Zbigniew Góralski, Urzedy i godnosci w dawnej Polsce, Warszawa: Ludowa Spóldzielnia Wydawnicza, 1988, pp.186-87.
 Arthur C. Fox-Davies, A Complete Guide to Heraldry, New York: Bonanza Books, 1978, p.449.
 Paszkowski, Social, p.14.
 Bartosz Paprocki, Herbarz rycerstwa polskiego, 2nd edition, K. J. Turowski (ed.), Kraków, 1858, p.324.
 Konarski, O heraldyce, p.14.
 Results of his research were published in Introduction to Herbarz szlachty Inflant polskich z 1778 roku, in Materialy do biografii, genealogii i heraldyki polskiej, Buenos Aires-Paris, 1964, vol.2; and in commentaries to Herby polskie w sztokholmskim Codex Bergshammar, in Studia zródloznawcze, vol.12/1967.
 Józef Szymanski, Herbarz sredniowiecznego rycerstwa polskiego, Warszawa: Wydawnictwo Naukowe PWN, 1993, p.25.
 ibid., p.20.
 Kulikowski, Heraldyka, p.49.
 Szymanski, Herbarz, p.26.
 Klec-Pilewski, Studies, p.20.
 Szymanski, Herbarz, p.72.
 Klec-Pilewski, Studies, p.20.
 Szymanski, Herbarz, pp.48-49.
 ibid., p.50.
 Kulikowski, Heraldyka, p.194.
 ibid., p.48.
 Szymanski, Herbarz, p.60.
 ibid., p.11.
 Klec-Pilewski, Studies, p.12.
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Richard Brzezinski, Polish Armies 1569-1696, 2 vols., London: Osprey, 1987.
Chrzanski, S., Tablice odmian herbowych, Warszawa, 1909.
Cieslak, Edmund (ed.), Historia Gdanska vols.1 & 2, Gdansk: Wydawnictwo Morskie, 1982.
Dachnowski, Jan Karol, Herbarz szlachty Prus Królewskich z XVII wieku, (edited using manuscripts, introduced and footnoted by Z. Pentek, Latin text edited by A. Pawalczyk), Kórnik: Biblioteka Kórnicka, 1996.
Davies, Norman, Gods Playground: A History of Poland in two Volumes, 2 vols., Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1986.
Dumin, Stanislaw & Górzynski, Slawomir, Spis szlachty wylegitymowanej w guberniach grodzienskiej, minskiej, mohylewskiej, smolenskiej i witebskiej, Warszawa: Wydawnictwo DiG, 1992.
Dziadulewicz, Stanislaw, Herbarz rodzin tatarskich w Polsce, Wilno, 1929.
Fox-Davies, Arthur C., A Complete Guide to Heraldry, New York: Bonanza Books, 1978.
Fox-Davies, Arthur C., The Art of Heraldry: An Encyclopaedia of Armory, London: Bloomsbury Books, 1986.
Friedberg, Marian (ed.) Klejnoty Dlugoszowe, in Rocznik Polskiego Towarzystwa Heraldycznego, vol.10/1930, Lwów, 1931.
Galbreath, D. L., La Suisse feodale d'apris l'Armorial de gelre, in Archives Héraldiques Suisses, vol.46/1932.
Gardner, Monica, Kosciuszko, London: Allen & Unwin, London, 1942.
Gloger, Zygmunt, Encyklopedia Staropolska, 2 vols., Warszawa, 1901.
Góralski, Zbigniew, Urzedy i godnosci w dawnej Polsce, Warszawa: Ludowa Spóldzielnia Wydawnicza, 1988.
Górski, Krzysztof (ed.), Joannis Dlugossi Banderia Prudentorum, Warszawa, 1958.
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Heymowski, Adam, Herby polskie w sztokholmskim Codex Bergshammar, in Studia zródloznawcze, vol.12/1967.
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Kapica-Milewski, Ignacy, Herbarz: Dopelnienie Niesieckiego, Kraków, 1870.
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Kojalowicz, Wojciech Wijuk, Herbarz rycerstwa Wielkiego Xiestwa Litewskiego tzw. Compendium; in Piekosinski, Franciszek (ed.) Herold Polski, vol.1/1897.
Kojalowicz, Wojciech Wijuk, Herbarz szlachty Wielkiego Xiestwa Litewskiego tzw. Nomenclator; in Piekosinski, Franciszek (ed.) Herold Polski, vol.3/1905.
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Larchey, L., Armorial ancien équestre de la Toison d'Or et de l'Europe au XV siecle, Paris, 1890.
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1. Portraits of Polish noblemen (in E. Cieslak (ed.), Historia Gdanska vols. 1 & 2, Gdansk: Wydawnictwo Morskie, 1982):
1.1 Jerzy Ossolinski (1595-1650) Grand Chancellor of the Crown, copperplate by J. Falck based on an oil painting by B. Strobel;
1.2 øukasz Opalinski (1581-1654) Grand Marshal of the Crown, copperplate by J. Falck;
1.3 Konstanty Ferber (1586) of a patrician family of GdaYsk. According to Cieslak, Konstanty was a great grandson of Eberhart and Gertruda Ferber ennobled in 1515. Ferber family coat of arms is displayed on the right, while the arms of his paternal grandmother on the left side. See also footnote no. 35.
2. Polish Marshal; a woodcut from S. Sarnicki, Statuta i metrika przywilejów koronnych, Kraków, 1594,
(in Z. Góralski, Urzedy i godnosci w dawnej Polsce, Warszawa: Ludowa Spóldzielnia Wydawnicza, 1988).
3. Arms of Henryk Pobozny (the Pious), Duke of Silesia (1191-1241) of the Piast Dynasty, as recorded in the Legend of St. Hedwig in Codex of Ostrów, 1353.
4. Arms of the Ogonczyk clan. First iconographical records of these arms come from the Bellenville Armorial, ca. 1364-1386, Armorial de Gerle, ca. 1370-1386 and the seal of Piotr the Castellan of Lublin 1384. According to Górzynski & Kochanowski more than 210 families shared these arms.
5. Coat of arms Buzewoj, first recorded in 1353 in the Legend of St. Hedwig in Codex of Ostrów. These arms became extinct (disappeared from armorials) in 15th century.
6. Arms of the Odrowaz clan from the bookplate of Krzysztof Szydlowiecki, 16th century. According to Górzynski & Kochanowski more than 160 families shared these arms, (in P. Trzeciak, 250 razy o sztuce polskiej, Nasza Ksiegarnia, Warszawa, 1969).
7. Arms of the Jastrzebiec clan from Herbarz Rycerstwa Polskiego by B. Paprocki. According to Górzynski & Kochanowski more than 650 families shared these arms. First seal with these arms comes from 1319. They were recorded for the first time in the Bergshammar Armorial, ca. 1435.
8. Arms of the Gryf clan from Revd Kasper Niesiecki's, Herbarz Polski. First seal with these arms comes from 1366. These arms were recorded for the first time in the Armorial of Knights of the Golden Fleece, early 15th century.
9. Arms Jelita of the Wolski family of Stablewice from the armorial of J. K. Dachnowski, (in J. K. Dachnowski's, Herbarz szlachty Prus Królewskich z XVII wieku, Kórnik: Biblioteka Kórnicka, 1996).
10. Arms granted to Michal Andrzej Ginter (Günther) ennobled by Jan III Sobieski, King of Poland (1676-1692) in 1676.
11. Arms of Gutteter family naturalised in Kraków on 29 June 1543.
12. Arms Celejów granted to Marcin Klemensowski on 6 May 1851 by Tsar Nicholas I. It is interesting to note that Marcin came from an already armigerous family (sic!). Marcin's grandfather Jan Pawel Klemensowski registered his noble pedigree in 1782 with ancient Polish arms - Gozdawa.
13. Arms of Czudnochowski-Biegon ennobled in Prussia on 7 November 1786, (matriculation 22 April 1804).
14. Arms Prus I of the Wisniewski family. Tadeusz Stanislaw Konstanty Wisniewski (1824-1888) was granted a hereditary count title from Francis Joseph, Emperor of Austro-Hungary in 1876, (letters patent of 1877).
15. Arms of Jan Fryderyk Sapieha from a bookplate; beginning of the 18th century, (in A. Tlomacki, Sapiehowie: linia kodenska, Mada, Warszawa, 1966).
16. Arms Pogon Ruska of Princes Czetwertynski-Swiatopolk, an ancient princely family descending from Rurik.
17. Arms Topór of the Ossolinski of Teczyn family. Jerzy Ossolinski (1595-1650) Grand Chancellor of the Crown was granted a hereditary princely title from Pope Urban VIII in 1633, and similar title from the Emperor Ferdinand II in 1634. Similar title was granted to Jerzy's cousin Franciszek Maksymilian Ossolinski (1676-1756) from Louis XV King of France in 1736. Both titles became extinct in 1790.
18. Examples of unique Polish charges:
18.3 cross osmoróg
18.5 rogacina przekrzyzowana
18.6 rogacina dwukrotnie przekrzyzowana
18.7 rogacina przekrzyzowana i rozdarta
18.8 krzywasn w lewo
19. Examples of coronets used in Polish heraldry by szlachta:
19.1 used predominantly on helmets
19.2 used directly on the shield (not on helmets)
20. Examples of coronets used in Polish heraldry by titled families:
(in S. Leitgeber, Nowy almanach blekitny, Poznan-Warszawa: Oficyna Wydawnicza "Adiutor", 1993)
19.1. baron's (baron) coronet 19.4. count's (hrabia) coronet
19.2. Napoleonic baron's coronet 19.5. marquis' (margrabia) coronet
19.3. viscount's (wicehrabia) coronet 19.6. prince's (ksiaze) crown
21. Examples of symbols of rank and office used during the reign of Stanislaw August Poniatowski:
(in Z. Góralski, Urzedy i godnosci w dawnej Polsce, Warszawa: Ludowa Spóldzielnia Wydawnicza, 1988)
20.1. podkomorzy (chamberlain)
20.2. chorazy (standard-bearer)
22. Arms from Armorial of Knights of the Golden Fleece and 15th Century Europe, early 15th century:
(in R. Pinches & A. Wood, An Armorial of Knights of the Golden Fleece and 15th Century Europe, London, 1971)
1st row: Arms of Duke of Mazovia, Arms of Greater Poland, Arms of Lwów District in Ruthenia, Arms of the Jagiellonian dynasty;
2nd row: Arms of the Starykon clan, Arms of the Rawa or Rawicz clan, Arms of the Poraj clan, Arms of the Nalecz clan;
3rd row: Arms of the Odrowaz clan, Arms of the Sulima clan, Arms of the Topór clan, Arms of the Jelita clan;
4th row: Arms of the Niesobia clan, the oldest form of the arms of the Silesian Wierzbno clan, Arms of the Ciolek clan, Arms of the Rola clan;
5th row: Arms of the Swinka clan, Arms of the Lis clan, Arms of the Lodzia clan, Arms of the Kosciesza clan.
23. Arms from the Armorial of Jan Dlugosz, 1462 -1480:
(in J. Muczkowski (ed.), Banderia Prudentorum tudziez Insignia Seu Clenodia Regni Poloniae, Kraków: Drukarnia Uniwersytecka (1851), republished by WAiF, Warszawa, 1979)
1st row: Arms of the Amadej clan, Arms of the Belina clan, Arms of the Biberstein clan;
2nd row: Arms of the Godula clan, Arms of the Bogoria clan, Arms of the Bozezdarz clan;
3rd row: Arms of the Cholewa clan, Arms of the Cielatkowa clan, Arms of the Ciolek clan;
4th row: Arms of the Dabrowa clan, Arms of the Debno clan, Arms of the Dolega clan.
24. Title page from J. K. Dachnowski's Armorial of the Royal Prussia, (in J. K. Dachnowski, Herbarz szlachty Prus Królewskich z XVII wieku, Kórnik: Biblioteka Kórnicka, 1996).
25. Title page of A. Boniecki's Herbarz Polski, 1899-1914.
of the page