Wacław Potocki, Biecz

The Starościński Castle is a building dating back to the 16th century. It is the historical residence of Biecz starosts, and houses landed and metropolitan courts. In 1667–74, it was the home of the prominent Baroque poet Wacław Potocki, who held the offices mentioned above. After 1783, with the collapse of the Polish Republic and after the old Polish administration was dismantled by Austria, the building fell into disrepair. It was rebuilt in the 1980s and 1990s to house a primary school. The history of the building begins in 1500, when the burgher Mikołaj Ozanek began its construction. In 1501, King Jan Olbracht permitted the then-starost of Biecz, Jakub Sieklucki, to buy the Biecz wójtostwo (the property of a wójt, head administrative official of a rural district) from Erazm Szczepanowski. Olbracht's successor, Aleksander Jagiellończyk, approved his predecessor's act in 1503 and turned it into the seat of the Biecz wójtostwo and later, in the 17th century, the Biecz starostwo (district established on land belonging to a king). In 1667–1676, the Biecz vice-starost (podstarości) was one of the main Baroque artists in Poland – Wacław Potocki, born in the nearby village of Wola Łużańska. For some time, he also served as the metropolitan judge (lat. iudex castri). Holding these prestigious offices undoubtedly satisfied his ambitions in the realm of public affairs. During his stay in Biecz, he wrote his significant works, e.g., ‘Argenida’ (‘Argenis’) and ‘Transakcja wojny chocimskiej’ (‘The Progress of the War of Chocim’), the most recognisable work of the poet and the most prominent epic text of the Old Poland period. In 1966, a plaque commemorating his work was placed on the Starościński castle. During the war with Turkey, in 1672, by a resolution of the nobility participating in the 'pospolite ruszenie' (lit. 'mass movement', a mobilisation of armed forces), Wacław Potocki was chosen as the leader of the defence of the castle in Biecz.

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