Source: Polish Biographical Directory
Polska Akademia Umiejetnosci (PAU), Krakow 1948-1958
Vol. VII, pages 78-79
Translation by Peter Obst (2002)
Franciszka Krasinska (1743?-1796) the Morganic wife of Karol [Charles], prince of Kurlandia [Courland], son of [Polish King] August III. She was born sometime between 1972-44 as the second daughter of Stanislaw Krasinski, the dziedzic [land owner] of Maleszowo and Wegrow, he also was the starosta [elder] of Nowomiejsk. Her mother was Aniela Humiecka, daughter of Stefan Humiecki the Podole voivode. She received a careful upbringing and this could be credited to her aunt Zofia Lubomirska nee Krasinska, wife of Antoni [Lubomirski] the Lublin voivode, who also introduced her to the best salons in the capital [Warsaw] where Franciszka became known for her beauty and charm, conquering many hearts. Among those in love with her was Jan Chodkiewicz, later the Zmudzki Starosta; and Jozef Radziwil the Klecko Magnate. But Prince Karol outdistanced them all after meeting Franciszka in 1757. In addition to feelings there were political considerations because at that time the prince sought to obtain title to Kurlandia and needed support from the Poles. She was dazzled by the twist of fate and the breadth of possibilities -- which included the Polish crown -- and, with the help of her father and Adam Krasinski she married Karol, already Prince of Kurlandia, in a secret ceremony in Warsaw on March 25, 1760.
Her happiness was short lived. Under pressure from the court the timid prince moved away from his wife and even started thinking of divorce. After losing Kurlandia in 1763 he settled in Dresden for good. After her father's death (1762) Franciszka, under the protection of the Lubomirski family, fought for her rights with the support of the Czartoryski family. There was a bright hope after the death of August III, when candidates [for the Polish throne] were submitted by the Saxons and Karol's name was among them. The election of Stanislaw August [Poniatowski] scattered these hopes. Franciszka was bothered by the inadequate funds coming from the Wegrow estates that were her inheritance. Her husband gave little toward her support, so she moved from place to place. Most often she was in Opole, in the Lublin area, at Zofia Lubomirska's, or with the Sisters of the Holy Sacrament in Warsaw. In 1767 she stayed in Krakow with the Franciscan Sisters, from there she moved to the Mniszchowski Palace where she organized a fairly open court. At that time Jozef Aleksander Jablonowski, the Nowogrod voivode, was vying for her favors and tried to persuade her to divorce the ungrateful prince. During the Sejm of 1767, when the Saxon princes pleaded with Empress Katherine II for support, the proud princess rejected any favors.
The outbreak of the Bar Confederation brought a release of tensions. The connection between the Confederation and the Saxon court and the role that the Krasinski family played in its founding, gave Franciszka hope for improved fortunes. There is evidence that the princess worked on creating the Krakow Confederation in 1768. In the summer of 1769 she moved with Antoni Lubomirski, first to Opole in Silesia, then to Lubliniec where she started intense activity in the political circle surrounding the Bishop of Kamieniec. Lubliniec became, for a longer interval, a place for important meetings and conferences. Thanks to the personal appeal of "her illustriousness," as Franciszka was called in confederation circles, and the "pleasant place" for rest, especially for the Bishop of Kamieniec who was a frequent guest.
Her virtuous character traits: gentleness, nobility, and lack of self-interest made her a true guiding spirit of the confederation and one of the most sympathetic personages among the women active in this movement. She assisted in organizing the Generalnosc [General Staff] sending messengers to Rome and Vienna, keeping up good relations with the Prussians, and was an intermediary in border disputes among the confederates. Her own interests were closely tied to policy conducted by the Saxons. In 1770 she worked [in support of the confederation] and after the departure of Dumouriez and in 1771 joined in the plan put forward by Adam Krasinski of bringing Prince Karol to Poland and making him the commander of the scattered confederation forces. She tried to assuage the disputes and antagonisms between the confederation commanders. Bierzynski sought her help after the Generalnosc passed verdict on him; then Szymon Kossakowski [went to her for assistance] after he was accused of defrauding the confederation of money. But she extended a special protection over Kazimierz Pulaski, who was supposed to have been in love with her when he was but a young Starosta of Warka. She, however, could not come to terms with the restless soul of this greatest Bar Confederation hero. Thanks to her, Pulaski was able to reconcile with his greatest rival, the Wielkopolska [Greater Poland] commander Zareba. He also came to terms with Viomenenil. Using these activities as a pretext, Stanislaw August [Poniatowski - King of Poland] accused Franciszka Krasinska of "moral participation" in the [kidnapping] plot against him (November 3, 1771). Pulaski found her supportive after that unfortunate incident and she persuaded him to announce a manifesto proclaiming his innocence. The king also said that she supported his dethronement -- an unfair accusation because Franciszka condemned the "act of interregnum" as she did the manifesto issued against the Czartoryski family, and was for restoring good relations with the king. She dreamed of regaining Kurlandia or even perhaps getting the inheritance from the Kettler family, which August III passed on to his son; and she devoted much effort to these matters. In February 1772 believing in the power of diplomacy and deluding herself with the candidacy of Fryderyk of Hesse [for the Polish throne] she moved to Koszecin only to see the tragic end of the confederation and the destruction of all her plans. At the end of 1774 she went to Bytom for a meeting with her husband, but an understanding was not reached. Disappointed, she returned to Opole and her sister Barbara Swidzinska, with whom she maintained a great friendship. Finally, with the intervention of [Austrian Empress] Maria Theresa and efforts by Zofia Lubomirska, Karol decided to take his wife to live with him. In June 1775 he came to Opole incognito and spent several pleasant weeks there. Afterward, Princess Franciszka, sumptuously equipped by her aunt, travelled in the company of Antoni Lubomirski to join her husband in Saxony by New Year's Day. She settled with him at the castle in Elsterwerd.
The life she led there was far from bright and happy, for she had to endure frequent solitude, constant material worries, humiliation from the court which denied her certain rights -- as to what was her portion [of the inheritance]. After giving official recognition to the marriage in 1776 the Polish Sejm granted her life-long financial support as a Polish princess. With the help of Maria Theresa she bought the Lanckorona estates, but had many difficulties of a material nature. She died in Saxony in her castle in April 1796.
The Four-Year Sejm granted a life-long pension to her only daughter, Maria Krystyna who was born on December 7, 1779. This daughter was married on October 28, 1797 -- after the death of her parents -- to Prince Emanuel Sabaudzki of the Carignan family. After his death she married Prince de Montleart, with whom she lived in Paris where she kept up her contacts with Polish exiles. She died in 1851. From her first marriage there was a son, Karol Albert, who became King of Sardinia.
ReferencesTwo portraits of Franciszka Krasinska, of which one is by Graff, were in the Krasinski Museum in Warsaw before World War II.
Boniecki, W., 1908 Zlota Ksiega [The Golden Book] vol. XII; Introduction by J. Kotowa to the Journal, National Library no. 119/I Krakow 1929; Pulaski K., Z zycia Ks. Kuronskiej [From the life of Princess Kuronska] Warsaw 1890; also, Szkice i post. Hist. [Sketches and Histories] vol. IV Lwow 1909; Falkowski J., Obrazy [Paintings] vol. I Poznan 1877; Kraushar Al., Fr. Krasinska miscell. Hist. [Franciszka Krasinska Miscellaneous History] Warsaw 1908; Konopczynski W., Polska w dobie wojny siedmioletniej [Poland in the Days of the Seven Year War] Warsaw 1909-11; also, Kazimierz Pulaski, Krakow 1931; also Konfederacja Barska [Bar Confederation] Vol. 2 Warsaw 1936-38; Schmitt H., Panowanie Stanislawa Augusta [The Reign of Stanislaw August] Lwow 1868-80; also Zrodla [Sources] Lwow 1884; Sienkiewicz, Skarbiec historii polskiej [Treasury of Polish History] Paris 1839; Tyszkiewicz E., Zrodla do dziejow Kurlandii i Semigalii [Sources to the History of Kurlandia and Semigalia] Krakow 1870; Pamietniki Matuszewicza Mar. [Memoirs of Matuszewicz Mar.] published by A. Pawinski Warsaw 1876, vol. III IV; Pamietniki Stanislawa Augusta, Momoires du roi Stanislaw August [Memoirs of Stanislaw August] vol. 1-2, St. Petersburg 1914-1924; Listy W. Jakubowskiego [Letters of W. Jakubowski] J. Kl. Branieckiego vol. VII, wyd. Bibl. Ord. Kras. [Krasinski Library]; Dwa Listy Branickiego [Two letters by Branicki] published by Los, Kronika Rodzinna [Family Chronicles] 1888; "Kurier Polski" [Polish Courier] (1759-60); Listy Franciszki Krasinskiej do Adama Krasinskiego [Letters by Franciszka Krasinska to Adam Krasinski] in the Czartoryski Library rkp. [manuscripts] 831, 832, 836, 837, 942, 943, 944, 945, 946, 947, 948; Listy Franciszki Krasinskej, Z. Lubomirskiej, ks. Karola i papiery gospodarcze ks. Kurlandskiej [Letters of Franciszka Krasinska, Z. Lubomirska, Prince Karol, and household papers of the Kurlandia Princess] Bibl. PAU [PAU Library] rkp. [manuscripts] 4, 5, 1262; Korespondencja Mniszcha [correspondence by Mniszech] J. B. Czartoryski [Library] rkp. [manuscript] 3835-69; Archiwum [archive] Wielhorskich Ord. Kras. Rkp [manuscripts] 3993-7; Listy [Letters by] Z. Lubomirski do [to] Kazimierz Krasinski; also rkp. [manuscript] 4223; there exist letters from Prince Karol to Franciszka Krasinska and Antoni Lubomirski in the Potocki Archives rkp. [manuscript] 301, 302.
The persona of Franciszka Krasinska was popularized in the 19th century by Klementyna Hoffman nee Tanska, who wrote about her drawing on oral tradition, and perhaps some sources [composing] the "Memoirs of Franciszka Krasinska" (1825), which faithfully recreated the environment among the court and landowners at the end of the Saxon era [in Poland]. Many later took the "memoir" to be genuine.
[Author] Wanda Brablecowa
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