Marcin Kromer and Wacław Potocki

Marcin Kromer and Wacław Potocki are the most prominent sons of the old land of Biecz from the time of pre-partition Poland. Kromer, born in Biecz in 1512, received a thorough education in Kraków and at Italian universities. After returning to Poland, he soon became the secretarius regius of King Zygmunt August. He was sent to foreign courts as a delegate and organised the royal archives in Wawel, thanks to which he gained the necessary knowledge to write two important works, ‘History of Poland’ and ‘Geography of Poland’. The ‘History’ in particular brought Kromer great fame. He was knighted by the king for his many services. The Kromer coat of arms, carved in stone, was built into the Biecz town hall tower when it was rebuilt with funds donated by the chronicler after it collapsed in 1569. The exhibition includes the first editions of his works and, among other things, a photocopy of the epitaph that Kromer funded for Nicolaus Copernicus in the cathedral in Frombork. The excellent 17th-century poet Wacław Potocki, an adherent of Arianism, was born in Wola Łużańska near Biecz; he held the offices of a vice-starost ('podstarości') and a magistrate court judge ('sędzia grodzki') from 1667 to 1674. His most important works, ‘Wojna chocimska’ (‘War of Chocim’) and ‘Ogród fraszek’ (‘Garden of Frascas’), were written during this period. An admirer of the landed gentry ('ziemianin') way of life, passionate about the foothill regions, he is considered the most original and patriotic of the poets of the First Polish Republic. The exhibition features the oldest editions of Potocki's works. However, no one knows what he looked like; none of the paintings of him have survived.

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