House of Potocki

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House of Potocki
Herb Pilawa.jpg
Country Poland
Titles Hetmans
Primates of Poland
Founded Officially in 15th century
Founder Jakub Potocki (~1481-1551)
Ethnicity Polish
Stefan, voivode of Bratslav
Field Hetman Andrzej Potocki
Alfred Potocki

Potocki (Polish pronunciation: [pɔˈtɔt͡skʲi], plural Potoccy) was one of the notable Polish noble families in the Kingdom of Poland and magnates of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. The House of Potocki is one of the wealthiest and most powerful aristocratic families that still exist in Poland.


The Potocki family originated from Potok in the Kraków Voivodeship; their family name derives from that place name. The family contributed to 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 (~1167) castelan of Sandomierz, 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.[citation needed]

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: "Primate'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. The title was recognized 1777 and 1784 in the Kingdom of Galicia and Lodomeria and 1838, 1843, 1859, 1890 1903 in Russia and 1889 by the Pope and in the Kingdom of Poland (Congress Poland).

In 1631 Stefan Potocki, who started the "Złota Pilawa" lineage, died and was buried in Zolotyi Potik (pl. 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.


Distinguished member[edit]

  • 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.

Coat of arms and motto[edit]

The Potocki family used the "Pilawa" arms and their motto was: "Scutum opponebat scuto" (Latin for: "Shield opposing shield"; lit.: "He opposed shield to shield").


See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]

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


External links[edit]