Potocki family

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The House of Potocki (Polish pronunciation: [pɔˈtɔt͡skʲi]; plural: Potoccy, male: Potocki, feminine: Potocka) was a prominent Polish noble family in the Kingdom of Poland and magnates of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth. The Potocki family is one of the wealthiest and most powerful aristocratic families in Poland.

POL COA Potocki Hrabia.svg
Founded15th century (officially)
FounderJakub Potocki (c. 1481-1551)
Primates of Poland
Estate(s)Poland, Lithuania, Ukraine, Croatia, Belarus
Field Hetman Andrzej Potocki


The Potocki family originated from the small village of Potok Wielki; 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 Moskorzewskis, Stanisławskis, Tworowskis, Borowskis, and Stosłowskis. Jakub Potocki (c. 1481-1551) was the progenitor of the magnate line of the Potocki family.

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.

Notable family membersEdit

Other relativesEdit

  • Count Geoffrey Potocki de Montalk (1902–1997), an 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.[citation needed]

Purported membersEdit

  • Avraham ben Avraham, birth name Valentin Potocki. Purportedly converted to Judaism, moved to Vilna to hide his identity but was executed for heresy on May 23, 1749 (the second day of the Jewish holiday of Shavuot). His remains are believed to have been secretly buried next to the Vilna Gaon, with a monument to that effect first erected in 1927. Though his existence is generally accepted among Orthodox Jews, many secular scholars contest his existence due to a lack of primary sources. He was first mentioned in writing by Rabbi Yaakov Emden in 1755, six years after he would have died.
  • Maria Patocka: said to be the mother of Crimean khan Adil Giray.

Coat of arms and mottoEdit

The Potocki family used the Piława coat of arms, and their motto was Scutum opponebat scuto (Latin for "Shield opposing shield"; literally "He opposed shield to shield").

See alsoEdit

Further readingEdit

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


  1. ^ Bain, Robert Nisbet (1911). "Potocki, Ignaty" . Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. 22 (11th ed.). p. 208.
  2. ^ Petronis, Vytautas (2007). Constructing Lithuania: Ethnic Mapping in Tsarist Russia, ca. 1800-1914. Stockholm University Press. p. 95.
  3. ^ Bain, Robert Nisbet (1911). "Potocki, Stanislaw Felix" . Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. 22 (11th ed.). pp. 208–209.

External linksEdit