For each herb [clan shield, coat of arms] the blazon or verbal description of the arms is first given in authentic heraldic style, followed by a translation from the Polish description by Niesiecki. The right and left sides of a shield are identified from the standpoint of the bearer, i. e., the one holding the shield. His right would be your left and vice versa. The tinctures (colors) in heraldry are as follows: azure = blue, gules = red; sable = black; or = gold, argent = silver; vert = green. In heraldry all charges (pictures) on a shield are assumed to be facing dexter (right side) unless otherwise specified. In Polish heraldry all animals or birds are assumed to be in their natural coloring unless otherwise specified.
Gules: two fleurs-de-lis addorsed in pale argent, conjoined and banded in a fess or. Out of a crest coronet a panaché of peacock plumes proper charged with the device of the shield.
There should be two lilies, one upward, one downward, joined at the roots in such a manner that they seem to be a single lily; they are white in a red field, and the place where they join is yellow, although not all use the arms in that form. On the helmet are peacock feathers, and on them the same lilies. This is how the arms are described by Paprocki in Gniazdo cnoty [Nest of Virtues], p. 503, and in O herbach [On Clan Shields], p. 224; by Okolski, vol. 1, p. 220; and Bielski, p. 142. Even our Rev. Petrasancta, in describing foreign crests, includes a similar coat of arms, differing only in the color of the shield.
P. Bonnani in Ordines Equestres, p. 68, writes that Sancho III, called the Great because he drove the Moors from the Kingdom of Navarre, following in the tracks of Garcia, his predecessor, ordered the image of the Visitation of the Holy Mother painted on his soldiers' ensigns, with the inscription Deus primum Christianum servet [may God Preserve the Christian first]. This happened circa 1043. His knights supposedly wore a double golden chain from which a lily hung, and on it a crown. They were called Equites Lilii [Knights of the Lily], and with these knights Sancho won many triumphs over his foes.
According to the same author, p. 69, Pope Paul III established a cavalry of Equites lilii, and they wore a gold coin, one side of which featured an image of the Blessed Virgin, and the other had a lily in a gold field, around which was the inscription Pauli III Pontificis Maximi munus [gift of Pope Paul III, Supreme Pontiff]. This Pope was of the Farnese family, which came from Germany to Italy and earned there the highest honors, both of the church and state; and they bore a lily in their arms.
When Charles VII, King of France, wanted to express his gratitude to the famed Joan of Arc, the Maid of Orleans, by whose actions not only the city of Orleans but all of France was freed from the power of England, he elevated her whole family to the nobility and conferred on them arms with a silver sword in a blue field, and adorned the sword with gold lilies on each side; he placed a gold crown on the end of that sword, and ordered that, where they had previously called themselves Darc [of Arc], they now should sign their name de Lilio. Spondanus in Annals 1429, No. 9. [Omitted: a long section on the use of lilies in the arms of the Kings of France].
Our genealogists say that these arms were acquired here in Poland, and were not imported from foreign lands. For when a knight who was heir to the Gozdawa estate acquitted himself manfully in the king's sight in various expeditions, he took as a reward for his services the crest described above, which was named Gozdawa for him. None of our sources say in what year this happened; only the manuscript of Rev. Rutka says that the arms were conferred in 1090 by the Polish duke Wladyslaw Hermann. But I am inclined to think the arms are older than that, inasmuch as not long after that-to wit, in 1108-Szymon was named Bishop of Płock, and Paprocki, in his Gniazdo cnoty [Nest of Virtue], mentions Krystyn Gozdawa in 1090, whose son, also named Krystyn, flourished circa 1140.
There were many other illustrious men named Krystyn [Christian] who bore Gozdawa arms, foremost among them Krystyn, Palatine of Płock. His knightly deeds and victories over the Prussians, who at that time were pagan, caused them to take him for a god. Konrad, Duke of Mazovia, was his ward for a long time, and Krystyn administered his lands; when Konrad came of age to rule and Krystyn handed his lands over to him, he not only had not lost any of Konrad's territory-he had even expanded its borders. But others envious of Krystyn turned him over to Konrad under suspicion of having harmed the land; he was imprisoned, his eyes were put out, and later even his life was taken, amid much agony, in 1221. He was a God-fearing man and just. See Cromer in Lesco or Bielski, p. 147, and Długosz in Episcopi Plocen. [Bishops of Płock].
A second Krystyn was palatine of Płock in 1372. In Archiepiscopi Leop. [Archbishops of Lvov] Scrobiszov includes in this house Krystyn, the first archbishop of Halicz. But he was led astray by some author, for he adds that Krystyn signed his name as z Ostrowa ["from Ostrów" or "Ostrowo"], just like Krystyn, castellan of Sandomierz, which would lead one to say that he belonged to clan Rawicz rather than to clan Gozdawa. This Krystyn erected a cathedral in Halicz under the name of St. Mary Magdalene, and endowed it, setting up canons there; inasmuch as the revenues of this cathedral were initially meager, he also fed everyone at his own table, and shared his fortune generously with others who were poor. He was a merciful pastor to the poor and the wise; he belonged to the Order of St. Francis.
Szymon Gozdawa, bishop of Płock, had been the Płock archdeacon before entering that position. Out of humility he declined his election for a long time; but at length everyone, seeing his prudence, humble life, refined learning as judged by the standards of the time, and other virtues suitable for pastoral functions, began to insist that he accept his election, and he no longer resisted the will of God. He took on this burden, and since schism at that time was tearing apart the Church of God, he was additionally consecrated in that rank by the Archbishop of Gniezno. Szymon did not change his former pious life in the least, and was all the more careful to become a prominent example to the flock entrusted to him. Thus he said his Matins [the morning prayers of the Office prayed each day by priests] and his other prayers in the church with the other priests; and he celebrated Holy Mass every day. Of his sanctity Wincenty Kadlubek gives more extensive proof in his Chronicle, when he ascribes the victory of the Poles over the Prussian and Pomeranians as due to his prayers [that victory occurred in the year 1112, according to Długosz]. Amid his virtues and efforts for his flock, and high regard for his sanctity, death took him in 1129; he had administered that church for 21 years. I read another unusual item about him in manuscripts, that the manor in Peplowo that this bishop blessed, although made of wood, still stands to this day. See Lubien. in Vitae Episcoporum Plocen. [Lives of the Bishops of Płock].
Jan, Bishop of Płock, was only a canon in that cathedral when he was chosen for that bishopric by its chapter. He was already advanced in years, for having presided there for only two years, he passed on into eternity in 1227;
he was buried in the Płock cathedral. Długosz praises him as a man sensible, pious, and with due gravity for his position, despite his modesty; yet he was subject to gout and other illnesses. Lubien., ibid.
Filip, archbishop of Gniezno, is included by some authors among those of clan Poronia, and by others with clan Wieniawa. But I, with the majority of authors, including Bielski, Damalewicz, and Paprocki, hold that he was of clan Gozdawa. Janicius says of him that after he was elected to that position, he awaited his confirmation from Rome for six years, and was later removed from it by Pope Nicholas III. In Vitae Archiepiscoporum Gnesnen. (Lives of the Archbishops of Gniezno], however, Damalewicz asserts that after a long wait he did finally receive the pallium [a circular band of white woolen cloth with two hanging strips, the symbol of an archbishop's authority]; Długosz says of him that he consecrated Jan I, Bishop of Poznan; he died in 1278. Spondanus and Ruszel say his election as archbishop occurred in 1277.
Bearers of These Arms
[Added note to Niesiecki's text by the 19th-century editor, J. N.Bobrowicz:] Dunczewski, Kuropatnicki, Malachowski, and Wieladek give the following families as using these arms:
Biedrzynski, Brodnicki, Dyszel, Kormanicki, Malowiejski, Nerka Dydynski, Reut, Rusienski, Suchszewski, Sudrawski, Tyszkowski, Wojkunowski
Not all those, however, classified under the Gozdawa clan shield use these arms in the same form. First of all, the Pac family has in the helmet, not lilies, but in their place a moon that is not full. The Podbereskis differ in that in their arms there are three ostrich feathers in the helmet, between two banners, and in the very middle a two-headed eagle, on the breast of which is Gozdawa. Of the Delpacys we have spoken earlier. The Korfs have Gozdawa, both on the shield and on the helmet, but on the helmet there is no peacock tail, but rather three stars, each alongside the next, over the lilies; and on the helmet they have two Sirens holding a lily, one on each side. As it happens, I have seen a similar coat of arms, with half a ring on a red field, and from it, in place of a diamond, a white lily rose straight upwards. The house of the Sapiezynskis used three lilies at one time, which they still bear today, sometimes, among their arms; but some of them have two of the lilies alongside each other on top, and one on the bottom beneath them. Others have them all next to each other. And Rev. Kojalowicz's manuscript attests that in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania many families used the lily in their arms even before the union with the Kingdom of Poland. The Dzierzanowskis bear two lilies, next to each other, on their shield, as I saw in Bydgoszcz on a tombstone with the Bernardine monks. The Kykierc family also bears a variant of these arms, of which more below [i. e., in the separate entry for that family].
Some authors include Jan Muskata, 25th bishop of Kraków, in this clan, and in Vitae Episcoporum Cracov. [Lives of the Bishops of Kraków] Starowolski put him under the Gozdawa arms. But in the biography he says Jan was a Silesian nobleman, and bore nine lilies on a blue field in his arms. I am not sure he would not belong rather to clan Wierzbno, inasmuch as he was from Silesia, where the bearers of those arms flourished. But Katski described his arms as follows: on the sides of Gozdawa two roses were added, one on either side. He was elected bishop of Kraków in 1296, after having been archdeacon of Łęczyca. From King Waclaw of Poland he received a castle and the city of Biecz along with its county, a gift in perpetuity to the Kraków church in recompense for the same King's having founded Nowy Sacz on the river Dunajec and Biala, on the bishop's land, where there was a village called Kamienica. Muskata left Biecz to the abbot of Tyniec abbey under certain conditions; it was on the border with Hungary and was provided with a very small guard, so the Hungarians attacked at night and took it. King Waclaw, to be sure, won it back from the Hungarians not long thereafter. But he blamed the bishop for not having guarded the castle adequately and refused to return it to him, and kept it in his jurisdiction, so that he could give a parish priest to the rectory in Biecz, and in the village of Rozemberg. Seeing this unrecoverable loss borne by his bishop, the abbot of Tyniec abbey issued a summons to Rome, where, pressing him [the king?] by law, he took from him, in recompense for that loss, the village of Przeslica or Przeczyca. László, King of Hungary, also gave him the gift of a castle and the county of Plocha, which they now call Mussina. He bought 30 staje's of a field on the outskirts of Kraków, where the current village of Biskupice was founded [a staje was an ancient measure of surface area, of varying size from one area to another]. After paying off the estates of Trabki and Darczyce, he incorporated them into his diocese. He sided with Czech King Vaclav against Wladyslaw Lokietek, and at his provocation Boleslaw, duke of Opole, was admitted to Kraków. He later suffered much for this from Lokietek; he was seized in Kunowo by members of the Topor clan and thrown into prison. Later, however, Lokietek relented. He not only gave him back his freedom and made good all his losses, he also did not release from prison those who had held him until they had made restitution to the bishop. Muskata died of paralysis in 1320 and was buried in Mogila near Kraków.
Piano, bishop of Poznan, by birth an Italian, died in 1151. In Vitae Episcoporum Posnan. [Lives of the Bishops of Poznan] Długosz says his arms had three lilies in a band slanting downward from the right side of the shield to the left. He held that seat only a year.
Copyright © 2000 Leonard J. Suligowski. Used by permission. This article originally appeared in Rodziny (May 2000), the journal of the Polish Genealogical Society of America.