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14. Read the text and get ready to speak about the Radzivill family: the radzivills

There were a lot of noble families in the history of Belarus; however none was more renowned than the Radzivill family. The story of the members of this family occupies many pages in the modern encyclopedia of Belarus. The family left its imprint on a wide variety of human endeavours—from public and political life to culture and education. Members of the family were leaders in wars against the enemies of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and later of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and the Russian Empire. For centuries they had been meticulously collecting and preserving books, documents, paintings, weaponry, and other rare and valuable objects that could fill entire museums. With their own money, the Radzivills built painting shops in Bierescie (nowadays Brest), Neswizh, and other Belarusian cities. Not only did they influence politics, economics and culture of their nation, but they often did it according to their own needs, aspirations and tastes. History has preserved a lot of names of the Radzivill family. Let us recollect some of them here.

Barbara Radzivill (1520-1551), the Queen of Poland and Duchess of Lithuania was the most beautiful woman of her time. It is written in the chronicles that she was "triumphant in her beauty and love affairs". Indeed, the loVe she awoke in the heart of the Polish King Zyhimont II August was called "the love affair of the century".

Nickolay Radzivill Chorny (The Black) (1515 — l565) filledhighandresponsiblepostsintheGrandDuchy of Lithuania: great chancellor, governor (voivode) of Vilno (capital of the Great Duchy, nowadays Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania), major of Bierescie (nowa­days Brest), Kounia (nowadays Kaunas in Lithuania) and Borisov and administrator of Livonia. Throughout his entire political career he pursued a firm policy of strengthening the sovereignty of the Belarusian state, and skillfully implemented agrarian and economic reforms. Due to his consistent political positions, our state reached its highest prosperity with its public life based on legal principles. As chancellor, Nickolay Radzivill wisely defined new priorities for our state's foreign policy in the 16th century that led to a closer integration with Western and Northern Europe. His efforts and sponsorship led to the establishment of large publishing centers in Belarus. Duke Nickolay Radzivill was fluent in the Belarusian, Polish and other European languages.

His son Nickolay Kristof Radzivill Sirotka (1549—1616), an ardent Catholic, headed the fight against Cajvinism and issued orders to burn books published by Calvinist printing houses. At the same time, he exerted every effort to make the architecture of the Radzivill palace in Neswizh equal to that of contemporary European cities. He was famous as the author of a detailed travelogue describing his journey to Jerusalem, Syria, Egypt and other "exotic" countries and places.

In 1586 Neswizh was granted the right to an autono­mous municipal administration (the so-called Magdeburg right), which added a lot to the grandeur and power of Neswizh. For over a century, the town had been growing and strengthening in a time of peace. But in 1706, Neswizh was drastically ruined after one of the war campaigns of the Swedish King Karl XII. For nearly 20 years Neswizh had to face its sufferings all alone: at the time the Radzivills were preoccu­pied with "big politics" and lived in Krakow, Warsaw and Vilho. Only in 1726 Prince Mikhail Kazimir Radzivill (Rybpnka) (1702-1762) be­gan to take care of his estate and land again. The histo­rians suggest that it was Prince Mikhail who had rebuilt the town and the castle in Neswizh. He filled high state posts, possessed the largest (at that time) parcels of land, and was a close friend of King August II (and later, of King August HI). He was a powerful magnate and Neswizh

was turned into a center of his estate.

In those years, his wife Franciska Ursula Radzivill (1705-1753), who was writing comedies and dramas, established the first Slavic secular theatre in Neswizh. Dramas, operas and ballets were staged there. Slutsk ballet school was attached to the theatre. This theatre was in action till 1760. That was also the time of restoration of book printing in Neswizh.

The suite of the Polish King was astonished by the gold­en bars they had seen in the Radzivill castle. "There were tons of gold, encrusted with numerous precious stones,” wrote one of them. By now no-one has been able in liml out where the treasures had gone. It is supposed that they are hidden in the Ncswizh caches, though during World War II the Nazis sent special search parties with field engineers to look for them.

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