Maciej Serwański (ENG)

Serwanski photo1Full Professor at the Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań (Poland), Institute of History. Head of the Chair of History of Culture. Main fields of research: Modern universal history from the 16th to the 18th century; history of France and Polish-French relations; early modern history of Poland in the European context; problems of noble’s education; theory and practice of teaching history.

Main publications related to history of education:

  • « Les formes de l’éducation des filles nobles en Pologne aux XVIe, XVIIe et XVIIIe siècles », in L’éducation des jeunes filles nobles en Europe, XVIIe-XVIIIe siècles, Chantal Grell et Arnaud Ramière de Fortanier (dir.), Paris, Presses de l’Université Paris-Sorbonne, 2004, p. 75-85.
  • « L’activité du collège des jésuites à Poznań aux XVIe-XVIIIe siècles », in Stratégies de la Contre-Réforme en France et en Pologne, Chantal Grell, Maciej Serwański, Igor Kraszewski (dir.), Poznań, Instytut Historii UAM, 2006, p. 153-160.
  • (with Katarzyna Napierała), ‘The Presence of Francophonie in Poland from the Sixteenth Century to the Eighteen’, in European Francophonie: The Social, Political and Cultural History of an International Prestige Language, ed. Vladislav Rjéoutski, Gesine Argent, Derek Offord, Peter Lang, 2014, p. 307-336.


French Aspects in the Educational Pattern of the Polish Nobility in the 17th Century

The pattern of education of the Polish noble youth changed in the 17th century as compared to the previous century. At an earlier time, the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, a multinational multicultural and multidenominational state, shaped attitudes of widely understood tolerance both in ideological terms and in practice. Poland accepted a strong Renaissance influence, and numerous sons of the nobles studied abroad, mainly in Italy but also in Germany and France. The education system in the monarchy of the Jagiellonians came to reflect the tendencies and ideals of the contemporary European education. The 17th century brought an intensification of the influence of the Counter-Reformation in the Nobility Republic. The ideas of Sarmatism that embraced xenophobia, religiosity and self glorification of the existing, petrified political system, became more pronounced. These tendencies are broadly present in the pattern of education of nobility, a pattern that was prone to strong Jesuit influences in the spirit of the decrees of the Council of Trent.

On this background my paper will present the role of growing French influence with respect to the education of nobility in Poland in the 17th century. In this period more and more young Poles of the wealthy families traveled to study in the monarchy of the Bourbons, thus expanding their mental horizons. This in turn helped to consolidate in the Polish Republic more critical views of Sarmatism and of the ideals that this ideology propagated. The French monarchy and its glowing culture now was better known in Poland, with its specific forms of the education of the noble estate. These trends, however, collided in critical reflection with the conservative ideology of Sarmatism. The Polish nobles who approved them were named cosmopolitan.

One more aspect in my paper is an important role that was played by religious orders imported from France to Poland in the second half of the 17th  century by the French spouses of the Polish kings. These orders educated the Polish noble youth, both male and – especially – female, according to the patterns of their country of origin.

My purpose is thus to demonstrate that these French  aspects were present in the patterns of the  education of the Polish nobility, including the ones that were ideologically in  juxtaposition and the ones that resulted from practical experiences of Poles in this sphere both in France and in the Polish Republic itself.

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