|Battle cry||Kaja, Radwan|
|Alternative name(s)||Wierzbowa, Wierzbowczyk, Wirzbowa, Wirzbowo, Kaja, Chorągwie|
Radwan is among the most ancient coats of arms. Its origin traces to Polish and German nobility.
The most ancient seal dates from 1443 and the first record from 1409. This coat of arms was widespread mainly in the regions of Kraków, Płock, Sandomierz, Sieradz, and also in Podlasie, Rawa, Ruthenia, and Lithuania. It exists in eight variants.
Families of magnate status (możni/high nobility) bearing Radwan arms were the Babski's, and the Magnuszewski's and Uchański's (See: Jakub Uchański), parts of the Mazovian feudal elite; however, many branches of the Radwans never transcended the status of middle and lesser nobility.
"It [Radwan coat of arms] was awarded during the reign of King Bolesław Smialy (1058–1079) on the occasion of a battle with Ruthenia; a captain named Radwan had been sent out on a foray with part of the army. He happened upon the enemy camp in such close quarters that they could neither protect themselves from a skirmish with the Ruthenians, nor fight with them, inasmuch as their numbers were so much smaller. But they all agreed it was better to fall dead on the spot than to encourage the enemy by fleeing. So with all their heart they sprang toward the Ruthenians, whose knights were daunted by this attack; but when they saw the small numbers against them, the Ruthenians grew bold, and not only took away their banner, but dispersed them as well. Captain Radwan, wishing to encourage his men to fight once more, rushed to a nearby church, where he seized the church's banner; he then gathered his men and courageously attacked the enemy. The Ruthenians took this to mean a new army with fresh troops had joined the battle, and began to retreat and flee. So Radwan's banner carried the day, and for this he received that church's banner for his shield, as well as other gifts.
Paprocki, however, gives this as occurring during the rule of Bolesław Chrobry [992–1025] in 1021. He writes that Radwan was a royal chancellor, which information he is supposed to have taken from ancient royal grants. I conclude from this that either this clan sign is more ancient than the time of Bolesław Śmiały [1058–1079] and originated in the time of Bolesław Krzywousty [1102–1138], to whom some authors ascribe its conferment on that aforementioned Radwan; or else that before the time of Bolesław Śmiały [1058–1079] the Radwans used some other arms in their seal: for instance, that Radwan whom Paprocki gives as Bishop of Poznań in 1138. Długosz, in 'Vitae Episcop. Posnan. [Lives of the Bishops of Poznań]' does not include him under Radwan arms, but Sreniawa; there I, too, will speak of him."
Radwan, Bishop of Poznań, assisted with the establishment of the first Commandery of the Knights of Saint John in Poznań circa 1187 or possibly May 6, 1170. The donation was made by Mieszko III Stary (1121? – 1202), High Duke of all Poland.
The Polish state paralleled the Roman Empire in that full rights of citizenship were limited to the nobility/szlachta. The Polish nobility/szlachta in Poland, where Latin was written and spoken far and wide, used the Roman naming convention of the tria nomina (praenomen, nomen, and cognomen) to distinguish Polish citizens/nobles/szlachta from the peasantry and foreigners, hence why so many surnames are associated with the Radwan coat of arms.
Notable bearers of this coat of arms have included:
Dąbrowski Manor in Michałowice (1897–Present)
Jarosław Dąbrowski, herbu Radwan (1836–1871)
Stefan Tytus Dąbrowski, herbu Radwan (1877–1947)
Fyodor Dostoyevsky herbu Radwan (1821–1881)
Jakub Uchański, herbu Radwan (1502–1581)
Andrzej Zebrzydowski, herbu Radwan (1496-1560)
Mikołaj Zebrzydowski, herbu Radwan (1553–1620)
Friedrich Nietzsche wore a signet ring bearing the Radwan coat of arms. He often claimed his ancestors were Polish noblemen called either "Niëtzky" or "Niëzky," which was equated to the surname of the Polish family "Nicki" bearing the Radwan coat of arms. Gotard Nietzsche, a member of the Nicki family, left Poland for Prussia. His descendants later settled in the Electorate of Saxony circa the year 1700. All Saints' Church, in Wittenberg, Saxony, is where Martin Luther posted his Ninety-five Theses in 1517, according to Philip Melanchthon, which began the Protestant Reformation.
– letter to Heinrich von Stein, c. beginning of December 1882
– Nachlass, Sommer 1882 21 
– letter to Georg Brandes, April 10, 1888
– Ecce Homo, Warum ich so weise bin (Why I am so wise) No. 3 (earlier version)
In her 1895 biography Das Leben Friedrich Nietzsche's, his sister Elisabeth Förster-Nietzsche discussed this, quoted the second statement above and told a longer version of the story, giving her aunts as a source. Also she says that not their great-grandfather (as Friedrich had claimed), but their great-great-grandfather had travelled from Poland to Saxony; that this travel had lasted three years, and that their great-grandfather was born in this time. Also she recalled a lost document called "La famille seigneuriale de Niëtzky" in which it was stated that a member of the family had to flee from Poland in 1716. In her 1895 retelling of the story, Förster-Nietzsche did not state clearly whether she thought it to be true or a family myth. Many Nietzsche biographies until today have used Förster-Nietzsche's book as a source.
In 1898, Hans von Müller did some research concerning the Nietzsches' origins. He found that Nietzsche's great-grandfather was born on February 26, 1714 (8 o'clock in the morning) in the town of Bibra and was given the name Gotthelf Engelbert some days later. His father, Nietzsche's great-great-grandfather, was named Christoph and had lived in Bibra since at least 1709. At that time, Müller could not find earlier evidence or the family birth name of Christoph Nietzsche's wife, but nevertheless published his results. In a private talk with Elisabeth, he jokingly said that if the lost document had put the events in 1706, not 1716, there would at least have been a possibility of it being true.
He was quite surprised when Elisabeth published a harsh rejection of his essay and there stated that she "just sees from an old notebook" that the lost document had really put the events in 1706, not 1716. Although she accepted Müller's evidence, she found it mysterious why the family name of Christoph Nietzsche's wife was "concealed" in the old church books. [Elisabeth's appearing and disappearing "old notebooks" have often been a very practical source for her statements].
In 1905, a Polish writer named Bernhard Scharlitt began to take interest in Nietzsche's family history and wrote letters to Elisabeth Förster-Nietzsche. In the book Herbarz polski, he found a small note about a family "Nicki" belonging to the Radwan coat of arms, and conjectured that some Gotard Nietzsche had migrated from Poland to Prussia c. 1632, and that his descendant Christoph Nietzsche in 1706 had merely changed Prussia with Saxony.
He wrote this to Elisabeth Förster-Nietzsche, who quickly dismissed all her earlier conjectures, even the religious suppression so important to her brother, and also found "after thorough research" that in fact her brother had always written (two-syllable) "Nicki" and never the three-syllable form "Niëzky". [An obvious lie, see the above quotations by Nietzsche]. Scharlitt was full of joy and published his conjectures and Elisabeth's letters in a Polish-patriotic article.
However, in her new 1912 biography Der junge Nietzsche, Elisabeth did not repeat her enthusiastic support for Scharlitt's conjectures – perhaps they had become inopportune in rising German nationalism. She now wrote "Nicki" but nevertheless claimed that phonetically it would be "Niëzky" with three syllables; she changed (that is, forged) her brother's 1882 fragment (second quotation on top) from "etwa vor hundert Jahren" (about hundred years ago) to "vor mehr als hundert Jahren" (more than hundred years ago), but in the end said that she does not know anything for sure because "papers have been lost".
What Scharlitt and Förster-Nietzsche did not know was that Hans von Müller after her strong rejection had abstained from an open debate, but had quietly pursued his research in old churchbooks, and that he was successful. His results are:
Their seventh child was
Nietzsche's father Carl Ludwig Nietzsche, from the second marriage and also a Lutheran pastor, born October 10, 1813, is well known.
Hans von Müller wrote down the story of the legend and his results in a private manuscript between 1935 and 1937. The manuscript was published for the first time in 2002
Max Oehler also published an article about this in 1937/1938 (see article on Oehler). Whereas one should remain sceptical about Oehler, who was a devote Nazi, Hans von Müller's text is clearly not written in favour of some Nazi ideology. But Oehler's and Müller's results are essentially identical, Oehler only gives three more ancestors: Mattheß' father Hans Nitzsche, born c. 1620–1630; Hans' father Elias Nitzsche, born c. 1600; and Elias' father, name unknown, born c. 1570, all in Burkau. Both Oehler and Müller did not exclude a Slavic origin of the family; however, Müller suggests Sorbian rather than Polish origin.
As a possible source for the family myth Nietzsche's aunts believed in, Müller suggests Adam Nietzki (1714–1780), professor of medicine in Halle and of Polish (but not noble) origin, and Christoph Niczky, of Hungarian nobility, both of whom were not further related to the family Nietzsche.
Modern Nietzsche scholarship does not believe in the legend of noble Polish ancestry. For example, in the Colli-Montinari edition of Nietzsche's letters, the commentary on the above quoted letter to Brandes shortly notes:
LINEA FAMILIAE RADWAN
Throughout most of Europe the medieval system of estates evolved into absolutism, but in the Commonwealth it led to a szlachta democracy inspired by the ideals of ancient Rome, to which parallels were constantly drawn.
... the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth of Two Nations (from 1385 until the Third Partition of 1795) paralleled the Roman Empire in that -- whether we like it or not -- full rights of citizenship were limited to the governing elite, called szlachta in Polish ... It is not truly correct to consider the szlachta a class; they actually were more like a caste, the military caste, as in Hindu society.
The article highlights the role of Latin as the language of communication of the nobility living in Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. At the beginning discusses the concept 'latinitas', which meant not only the correct Latin, but also pointed to the ideological content of antiquity passed through the language of the ancient Romans. ... We studied Latin armorial 'Orbis Polonus' by Simon Okolski (Cracow 1641-1645). ... It concludes that Okolski consciously wrote his work in the language of the ancient Romans.
The Dąbrowski family willingly engaged in rural life. In the picture: a festive harvest in nearby Masłomiąca in 1939, ...
DĄBROWSCY h. RADWAN z Dąbrówki pod Piasecznem, w ziemi warszawskiej, w różnych stronach osiedli, przeważnie w ziemi rożańskiej. Przydomek ich "Żądło". Żyjący w połowie XV-go wieku Jakób z Dąbrówki, ...
Dąbrowfcij, cognominati Zedlowie ...
Photographs from the family archive of Jan Majewski; Tadeusz Żądło Dąbrowski [herbu Radwan]...
Jarosław Radwan Żądło Dąbrowski urodzil się 13 listopada 1836 roku Żytomierzu na Wołyniu. Rodzina Dąbrowskich wywodziła się z Mazowsza, najprawdopodobniej ze wsi Dąbrówka pod Piasecznem w ziemi warszawskiej. Notują ją herbarze szlacheckie od XV wieku, ale była to zawsze szlachta dość uboga, w niektórych tylko okresach dochodząca do pewnej zamożności.
Warto wspomnieć, iż rodzina Dąbrowskich posługiwała się herbem szlacheckim Radwan.
The Dostoyevsky were Schliahtitchi and belonged to the "grassy Radwan." That is to say, they were nobles, they went to war under the banner of the Lord of Radwan, and had the right to bear his arms. My mother had the Radwan armorial bearings drawn for the Dostoyevsky Museum at Moscow. I have seen them, ...
Nietzsche's ring ... it was worn by Friedrich Nietzsche and it represents the ancient Radwan coat of arms, which can be traced back to the Polish nobility of medieval times.
Herbowni ... Nicki, ... (Heraldic Family ... Nicki, ...)
Herbowni ... Nicki, ... (Heraldic Family ... Nicki, ...)
In 1905, the Polish writer Bernhard Scharlitt in the spirit of Polish patriotism wrote an article about the Nietzsche family. In Herbarz Polski, a genealogy of Polish nobility, he had come across a note about a family named 'Nicki', who could be traced back to Radwan. A member of this family named Gotard Nietzsche had left Poland for Prussia, and his descendants had eventually settled in Saxony around the year 1700.
On 31 October 1517 Luther published his 95 theses against the abuse of indulgences.