World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article


Article Id: WHEBN0021720349
Reproduction Date:

Title: Potocki  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Szlachta, War of the Polish Succession, Apostasy, Turaŭ, Fee tail, Arabian horse, Free City of Kraków, Stanisław Koniecpolski, Chervonohrad, Brody
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia


Potocki (Polish pronunciation: [pɔˈtɔt͡skʲi], plural Potoccy) was one of the greatest Polish noble families in the Kingdom of Poland and magnates of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth.


The Potocki family is a great artistocratic family originated from Potok in the Kraków Voivodeship; their family name derives from that place name. The family is heavily entwined with the cultural development and history of Poland's Eastern Borderlands (today Western Ukraine). The family is renowned for numerous Polish statesmen, military leaders, and cultural activists.

The first known Potocki was Żyrosław z Potoka (born about 1136). The children of his son Aleksander were progenitors of new noble families such as the Moskorzewski's, Stanisławski's, Tworowski's, Borowski's and Stosłowski's. Jakub Potocki (~1481-1551) was the progenitor of the magnate line of the Potocki family, with descendants living today, including those living in America.

The magnate line split into three primary lineages, called:

  • "Linia hetmańska" ("Srebrna Pilawa"), in English: "Hetman's lineage" ("Silver Pilawa"). Note some sources refer to Pilawa as Piława.
  • "Linia Prymasowa" ("Złota Pilawa"), in English: "Prymate's lineage" ("Golden Pilawa")
  • "Żelazna Pilawa", considered the oldest ones, in English: "Iron Pilawa"

The "Złota Pilawa" line received the title of count from the Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire in 1606. The entire family began using the Count title after the partitions of Poland.

In 1631 Stefan Potocki, who started the "Złota Pilawa" lineage, died and was buried in Złoty Potok (Golden Potok, a village owned by this lineage), his descendants started to use the Pilawa coat of arms in golden colour. Because of that the lineage is called the "Złota Pilawa" (Golden Piława).

There are also four branches called:

  • "Gałąź łańcucka" (Branch of Łańcut)
  • "Gałąź krzeszowicka" (Branch of Krzeszowice)
  • "Gałąź tulczyńska" (Branch of Tulczyn)
  • "Gałąź wilanowska" (branch of Wilanów)

Named after the hubs of their respective constellations of properties.

The family became prominent in the 16th and 17th centuries as a result of the patronage of Chancellor Jan Zamoyski and King Sigismund III Vasa.

Coat of arms and motto

The Potocki family used the "Pilawa" arms and their motto was: "Scutum opponebat scuto" (possibly "Shield opposing shield", neo-Latin?).


Legendary member

The family is also associated with the legend of Walenty Potocki (Abt. 1700-1749), also known by the Hebrew name of Abraham ben Abraham and as the Vilna Ger Tzedek or "Learned Convert of Vilna", who was counted as one of the most revered martyrs in Jewish history. According to the story he was a convert to Judaism, and reputed to be the son of the reigning Count Potocki. According to the story he was burned at the stake in 1749 by Roman Catholic authorities in Vilna (a London magazine of 1753 does contain the story that a Croatian Raphael, Abraham Isacowicz, was in fact burned in Vilna in 1753). No verifiable details exist of the martyr's life or of his actual identity, but numerous novels, plays, and poems in several languages have been written about him. Recent researches (Tazbir 2003) have concluded that no member of the eminent Potocki family could have died in this manner at this period without leaving substantial evidence.

Distinguished member

  • Count Geoffrey Potocki de Montalk (1902–1997), accomplished New Zealand poet, has been erroneously described as a "feigned member" of the Pilawa Potocki family. In fact, he is a direct descendant of the Bocki Potocki line, until recently believed to have died out with the death of Count Jozef Franciszek Jan Potocki, his great grandfather, in Paris. Jozef's son, Count Joseph Wladislas Edmond Potocki de Montalk, born Paris 1836, B. es L. (Sorbonne), fought in Garibaldi's campaign of 1859, and arrived in New Zealand in 1868 where he became Professor of Modern Languages at Auckland University College. He was the author of The Elements of French Literature, 1879; founder and president of the Alliance Française; a member of the Société de Linguistique de Paris; and, as an Officier d'Académie, was a recipient of the Palmes académiques. Professor Potocki de Montalk had twelve children; the eldest son, Robert Wladislas, an Auckland architect, was Geoffrey Potocki de Montalk's father.

Potockis and vodka

The Potockis distilled spirits at their famous Łancut estate in the country's oldest distillery. The Potockis are better known for their contribution to Poland's military, political, and cultural history over six centuries, however, today their name is most recognized by their continued contribution to the distillation of vodka.

When the Łancut estate passed to the Potocki family in 1816, it contained one of Poland's oldest distillery that existed already in 1784. It was extensively developed by the Potockis during the 19th Century.

The Count Alfred Potocki's Privileged Distillery in Łańcut produced vodkas, spirits and liqueurs of such renown that it received Imperial privilege from the Habsburg Emperors and won several gold medals in international competitions. The Łańcut distillery continued to operate until 1944 when it was confiscated by the Communist regime. Since 1991 it is again an autonomous company - Polmos Łańcut.

Today, Potocki Wódka is produced in Western Poland under the present day owner, Jan-Roman Potocki.



  • Potockis' Łańcut Palace
  • Castle Museum in Łańcut
  • World Heritage Encyclopedia Historia Łańcuta in Polish
  • The Potockis
  • Encyclopedia of Ukraine
  • Encyclopædia Britannica

Further reading

  • Potocka-Wąsowiczowa, Anna z Tyszkiewiczów. Wspomnienia naocznego świadka. Warszawa: Państwowy Instytut Wydawniczy, 1965.

See also

This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from World eBook Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.