- There were many noble families in the history of Belarus; however , none was more
renowned the the Radzivil 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 Litva and later of the
Polish-Litvanian (Belarusian) Commonwealth and 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 Radzivils
built printing shops in Bieras'cie (nowadays 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 Radzivil(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
Mikalaj Radzivil Corny
- Mikalaj Radzivil Corny (Black)(1515-1565) occupied the following high and responsible
posts in the Grand Duchy of Litva: great chancellor, governor (vajavoda) of Vilnia
(capital of Grad Duchy, nowadays Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania), mayor of Bieras'cie
(nowadays Brest), Kounia (nowadays Kaunas in Lithuania) and Barysau and administrator of
Livonia. Throughout his entire political career he instituted a firm policy of
strengthening the sovereignty of the Belarusian state (Grand Duchy), and skilfully
implemented agrarian and economic reform. Due to his consistent political positions, our
state reached its highest prosperity with its public life based on legal principles. As
chancellor, Mikalaj Radzivil farsightedly 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 and sponsorship led to the establishment, in Belarus, of
large publishing centers, which provided the opportunity for the continuation of Dr.
Francisk Skaryna's tradition. Duke Mikalaj Radzivil was fluent in Belarusian, Polish and
other European languages.
Mikalaj Radzivil Sirotka
- His son, Mikalaj Krystof Radzivil-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 Radzivil
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.
- Franciska Ursula Radzivil(1705-1753) and her husband Michal Kazimir Radzivil
Ryban'ka(1702-1762), also from the Niasviz branch, were the creators of the first Slavic
secular theatre in history.
- Illustration at the top is a ceramic tile with Radzivil's Coat of Arms