Digital platform for presenting the cultural heritage of the territorial possessions of the Ostroh princes (XII-XVII centuries)
The interactive map is an effective and interesting tool for online travel to the most interesting cities of the five countries of the world - Ukraine, Poland, Belarus, Lithuania and Slovakia, which once belonged to the princely family and still retain their historical heritage.
The project is implemented by the NGO "Brotherhood named after the Princes of Ostroh" (Ostroh) together with the museum "Gurkiv Castle in Szamotuly" (Poland).
When you click on this link, an animated promo video about the history of the formation of the possessions of the Ostroh princes comes off, and here you can watch the video history of the map.
The project also includes video lectures - "Prerequisites for the emergence of the Ostroh Academy", "History of the Ostroh Academy", "Ostroh Printing House" and "Princes of Ostroh - a success story".
The project is implemented with the support of:
Ostroh is an ancient town with a rich history and unique architectural monuments. Archaeological excavations demonstrate that the territory of the present town was inhabited from the 4th to 3rd millennium BC. As well, it was a prosperous settlement in ancient Slavic times. The first historical mentions about Ostroh come from 1100. From the 14th to 17th centuries, it was the capital of the Ostroh Principality, which, in turn, was a state with limited sovereignty.
For almost three centuries, the town was the residence of the Ostroh princely family, which gave Ukraine prominent commanders, patrons, and outstanding national leaders. Even after the demise of the direct descendants of the family of the Ostroh princes, the family crest continued to play the role of the coat of arms of the principality as a certain territorial unit. Thus, according to the will of Yanush Kostiantynovych Ostrozkyi, who had no direct heir, the Ostroh ordination was to pass to the younger branch of the family, namely the princes of Zaslavl. In case of demise of the last, it should have passed to the knights of the Order of Malta with the preservation of the coat of arms of Ostroh princes, which continued to represent the territory of the ordination (the principality). Later the coat of arms of the Ostroh principality appeared on the seals of the Lyubomyrski family, to whom the ownership of the Ostroh ordination passed in 1673. Respectively, they called themselves “xiaze na Ostrogu and Zaslawiu” (“princes of Ostroh and Zaslavl”).
Since the '70s of the sixteenth century, Ostroh, being the capital of the principality, became the largest center of education and culture in Ukraine. Musical art was dramatically developed in the town (e.g. the Ostroh chant). It was the center of prosperous shops of goldsmiths, gunsmiths, potters, etc. Around 1576, thanks to the efforts of Prince Vasyl-Kostiantyn, the first higher school, named by contemporaries “the Academy”, was founded in Eastern Europe. Two types of cultures, Byzantine and Western European, were firstly combined in this higher education institution. This fact provided the foundation of its uniqueness and originality. The Renaissance of the Ukrainian people is assumed to be associated with the Ostroh Academy.
The ancient Castle Hill is located at the southeastern outskirts of the historic part of Ostroh. The first wooden fortifications are the remnants of the ancient Slavic settlement of the 11th-12th centuries which were situated at this place. They were destroyed by the Tatar hordes in 1241. In the middle of the 14th century, Prince Danylo Ostrozkyi restored the destroyed buildings and built the stone Tower Murovana, located at the southeastern part of the Castle Yard on the hill. It was first mentioned in 1386.
Murovana Tower is a unique defensive structure of medieval Volhynia. It belongs to the type of residential defensive towers. Its walls reach a thickness of 2.6 m in some places. Formerly, stocks of provisions and gunpowder needed for long-term protection of the fortress were stored in the lower tier (at the basement). A deep well also was dug there. The basement and middle floors consist of four rooms. Living rooms were arranged at the top of the structure. Unfortunately, the tower has survived to our times partially rebuilt, without upper floors in particular. In 1797, the upper tier of the building was dismantled and later rebuilt in a modified and simplified form. From 1913 to 1915 the tower was restored for the needs of the museum by the Brotherhood named after princes of Ostroh.
The New (Round) Tower is located in the southwestern part of the Castle Yard. It got its name from the fact that at the time of construction (late 16th century.) it was the newest structure at Castle Hill. The tower was built in that way it reinforced the corner of the defensive walls and was strategically embedded in the Castle's defense system. The construction is crowned with a strip of hinged loopholes with a blind arcade decorated with figured teeth. Its defenders could fire at the enemy simultaneously from almost forty loopholes and, moreover, the firing area was equal to 270 degrees.
The Epiphany Cathedral stands in the northern part of Castle Hill. It is unknown exactly when the temple was constructed. According to the legend, Prince Vasyl Krasnyi began construction in the 15th century and his son Kostiantyn Ivanovych finished it. The date of 1521, engraved on the north wall, some researchers associate with the time of its construction, others with the adaptation of the temple for defense requirements. Presumably, its north wall was thickened and equipped with four loopholes for guns and embedded as part of the castle wall. In 1636, after the conversion of the last representative of the family of Ostroh princes to Catholicism, the church was closed. The church stood empty for more than 200 years and during this time it turned into a ruin. It was restored in the period from 1887 to 1891. A temple was rebuilt over the old foundation and designed to replicate the old building. The northern, strongest wall of the old structure was preserved and included in the construction of the new temple. But during the reconstruction certain changes were made and today the temple has practically become a monument of architecture of the 19th century with elements of the 16th century.
Lutsk and Tatar gate towers, built in the 16th century, have been also preserved in the town. Due to the fact that the towers performed the same functions, namely the defensive tower and the town gates, they are almost identical. Tatar gate survived less as it lost much of the rounded part of the building. It was named after the area of the town inhabited mainly by Tatars. It was engineered to defend the entrance from the side of the road to Zviahel (contemporary Novohrad-Volynskyi). The monument is a unique type of fortified gates that combines the functions of an entrance gate and a defensive tower.
The Lutsk Tower was aimed to defend the town from the side of Lutsk. Like Tatarska, it was both a defensive structure and a gate. Initially, it was two-storeyed, later it was completed with an attic with loopholes, which provided the structure the character of civil architecture. On the 10th of December 1985, the Museum of Books and Printing was founded there.
In January 1561, the small village of Kolishchyntsi became the property of Prince Vasyl Kostiantynovych Ostrozkyi. The prince acquired this settlement from Vasyl Labunskyi and, in three months, received the privileges of the Magdeburg right from the Polish king. In honor of his father, he named the new town Kostiantyniv. In 1632 the city was renamed Starokostiantyniv since another Kostiantyniv had already existed.
The town was located at the very frontier of the Volhynia possessions of the Ostroh princes, namely on the border with Podilia. From this side, the Tatars attacked Volhynia most often. Therefore, the settlement was expected to be a powerful fortress that would stand against the enemy's attacks.
Since then, Prince Vasyl began to call himself by a double name of Vasyl-Kostiantyn in order to inherit the glory of his father and to be associated with the Byzantine Emperor Kostiantyn as well as the town of Kostiantyniv with the Byzantine capital of Constantinople.
When Vasyl-Kostiantyn took over Ostrog again in 1574, the prince set about building and strengthening the capital of the Ostroh principality rather than improving Kostiantyniv. Nevertheless, he did not stop caring for Kostiantyniv. He went on developing the castle here, built five temples (one of which was located at the castle building), and founded a school there.
Of the five churches, two were stone and three were wooden. In the early 17th century, the prince began the construction of the Church of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, which Yanush Ostrozkyi rebuilt into a Dominican church and monastery in 1613. The Church of the Exaltation was embodied in the defensive city structures as well as its 30-meter bell tower served as a defensive tower.
In 1620, the town came into the possession of the princes of Zaslavl. Later in 1682, it passed to the princes of Lubomyr.
Dubno Castle Complex consists of three architectural monuments: Over-gateway corpus of the 17th century, of the Ostroh Princes' Palace, Lubomirski Palace late 18th century.
It was based on the entrance gate building, constructed in the 17th century with the Renaissance portal. The gates are the emblem of the Princes of Ostroh which is in a beautiful frame. The first floor was used to house servants and guards, the second floor housed the owner's living rooms and the cellars were used as a castle arsenal.
In the castle courtyard, to the right of the gate, the palace of the Ostroh princes was constructed as a one-story service outbuilding called an outhouse in the 17th-18th centuries. Here the castle administration - housekeeper, treasurer and governor was located. In the 18th century the second floor of the palace was completed. It is here that the archives of the castle owners, the surrounding nobility of the Princes of Zamoyski, Koniecpolski, Zbaraski, and Chartoryski were stored.
The palace decoration is an oriental geometric ornament, which is located around the perimeter and divides the first and second floors of the building. Underneath the palace, there are deep and spacious dungeons that are now used for exposure of "The History of Torture and Punishment.
The palace of the princes of Lubomirski is a separate monument of architecture in the castle complex. It was built on the old foundation in the 80s of the 18th century at the expense of the castle owner, Polish Prince Mykhailo Liubomyrskyi. The palace was built by the chief architect of the Commonwealth, the famous Italian architect Domenico Merlin in the Western European style of classicism.
Two towns with the same name of Mezhyrich belonged to the princes of Ostroh. The town of Mezhyrich Koretskyi, which got its name from the neighboring Korets, was of no particular significance to the princes despite Kostiantyn Ivanovych used the town as his residence in the late fifteenth century. Mezhyrich, which was located near Ostroh, did not get the princes’ attention for a long time as well, although they acquired this village in the 14th century.
Only at the beginning of the sixteenth century, the Grand Hetman of Lithuania Kostiantyn Ivanovych Ostrozkyi commenced its construction and development. The first stone was laid in the foundation of the Trinity Church. The prince built it as a tribute to the victory over the Muscovites in the battle of Orsha. It was part of his vow to build temples in Vilnius and Ostroh as gratitude for the victory over the Moscow voivode. Since the temple additionally performed defensive functions, loopholes in the walls were considered.
Prince Yanush Ostrozkyi was involved in the development of the town even more. In 1605, he received the privilege of Magdeburg law and the right to hold trade fairs in Mezhyrich. In a few years, the town was fortified with an earthen rampart and bastions. The monastery, which Yanush built for the monks of the Order of St. Francis, was the most fortified. As well, for the needs of the monks, the prince handed over the Orthodox church, which was soon converted into a Catholic church. The monastery had remained Catholic until 1866. Then, it passed to the Orthodox community.
Next to the monastery, Prince Yanush built a large wooden palace with a kitchen with a banquet hall. However, in 1648, the Cossacks burned down the palace, leaving only a stove with the Renaissance style upper part of a chimney.
The miraculous ancestral icon of the Ostroh princes, the Mother of God of Mezhyrich, has been preserved and still belongs to the monastery. Grand Hetman Konstantin Ivanovich Ostrozky commissioned the icon. The icon of the Virgin and Child was an expression of gratitude for the prince's victory in the battle of Orsha. Although the icon was painted in the Byzantine style, the background got all the hallmarks of the Western European Gothic tradition. In 1779, Pope Benedict the 14th authorized the suffragan of Lutsk Frantsysk Komarnytskyi to crown the Virgin of Mezhyrich and sent a golden crown for this purpose. Later, in the nineteenth century, the Russian Empress Mariia Oleksandrivna presented emeralds for this crown.
Vilnius is the capital of Lithuania, which in the days of the Ostroh princes was called Vilno.
The Ostroh family has been associated with this city since the times when Prince Fedir defended the city from the Knights of the Teutonic Order in 1390.
Probably, since the times of Ivan Ostrozkyi, the princes of Ostroh have had a large brick house in Vilno, next to the modern Castle Street (or Pilies Street). The Grand Lithuanian Hetman Prince Kostiantyn Ivanovych Ostrozkyi was the most closely related to the city.
Kostiantyn Ivanovych expanded his possessions in Vilno acquiring a neighboring house from the royal treasurer Fedir Khrebtovych in 1491. In 1508, the prince received from King Sigismund another brick house and an extensive piece of land that once belonged to the rebellious Mykhailo Hlinskyi. Accordingly, the prince already possessed a whole block in Vilno, where he rebuilt a three-story palace from an old house. Here his magnificent residence was arranged. On behalf of the owner, the residence was called “Kostiantynova” for several centuries.
After the death of Kostiantyn Ivanovych, these buildings passed to his son Illia and with the death of the latter, Illia's widow Beata and daughter Halshka got these possessions. The residence of the Ostroh princes was so affluent that even Queen Bonna when coming to Vilno lived at the house for several months.
By the decree of King Sigismund the Old, this residence passed to the youngest son of Prince Kostiantyn Ivanovych Vasyl-Kostiantyn in 1541. Forty years later, Vasyl-Kostiantyn's daughter Kateryna brought it as a dowry to the Radziwill family.
From the descriptions of the main house, it is known that the house was elegantly decorated with green tiles and French glass windows.
The princes of Ostroh, and particularly Kostiantyn Ivanovych, were donors and builders of numerous shrines in Vilno as well. In 1511, the king granted the prince the right to construct a brick church of the Blessed Virgin Mary in place of the old wooden church (now it is the cathedral at 2 Maironis Street). The prince built a three-nave Gothic church with three apses and one dome.
The promise that he made before the battle of Orsha in 1514 prompted the prince to build even more Orthodox churches in Vilno. The Grand Hetman had promised that in case of triumph over the Muscovites, he would have built two churches in the city: one in honor of the Holy Trinity, the other in honor of St. Nicholas. Deliberately, the prince chose to build new brick ones instead of old wooden churches. He aspired to support the veneration of the three warriors of the pagan prince Olgerd, who had been executed by Prince Olgerd since the soldiers were Christians and refused to consume meat during Lent. After their death, they were canonized. A wooden Trinity Church was built at the place of the saints ’death and St. Nicholas church at their burial site. The modern Church of St. Nicholas is located on Didžioji Street (lit. the Great Street) in a significantly rebuilt state and the Trinity Church is on Aušros Vartų Street.
Two daughters of Prince Vasyl-Kostiantyn Kateryna Ostrozka and Yelyzaveta Ostrozka were buried in the local church of St. Stanislaus. They were both married to Kryshtof Radziwill (Perun). Originally, Prince Kryshtof's wife was Kateryna and after her death, he was married to his sister Yelyzaveta.
The former capital of the Kingdom of Poland has always attracted Ostroh princes with ambitious political potential.
The Grand Hetman of Lithuania Prince Kostiantyn Ivanovych probably visited the capital cities of Vilnius and Krakow more frequently than his own capital Ostroh. This was due to the fact that the position of the closest royal adviser obliged the prince to be constantly with the king.
After the victory in the battle of Orsha, the Prince of Ostroh brought to Krakow bronze cannons of Muscovites as trophies. The king ordered to cast the famous bell of Sigismund from those cannons. The bell is still hung on the bell tower of the Wawel Cathedral and it is one of the largest shrines in Poland.
The Great Hetman took part in the celebrations of the meeting of the Duchess of Milan Bonna Sforza in 1518 and then attended the entire marriage ceremony at the court of the monarch in Krakow. At the court, Kostiantyn Ivanovych found a wife for his eldest son Illia. The young beauty Beata Kosteletska was brought up in the company of Queen Bonna, whom the king and queen betrothed to the young prince Illia Ostrozkyi.
It is rumored that Beata was the illegitimate daughter of King Sigismund the Old, so he took an active part in her courtship.
The marriage ceremony itself took place in Krakow. It so happened that during the marriage tournament, King Sigismund Augustus knocked down Prince Illia with a spear, causing him significant injuries. Because of this, the young prince of Ostroh died a few months later. Though, Beata was already pregnant and gave birth to a daughter named Halshka.
The youngest son of Kostiantyn Ivanovych Prince Vasyl-Kostiantyn first visited Krakow at the age of 22 when he accompanied King Radziwill's second wife Barbara. It happened in 1548. It should be emphasized that Barbara was originally the bride of Prince Illia, but he chose a better candidate – Beata. It is possible that during this trip the young prince Vasyl-Kostiantyn met his future wife Sofia Tarnovska.
It is unknown what real estate in Krakow was owned by Prince Kostiantyn Ivanovych Ostrozkyi, but his son Vasyl-Kostiantyn, after his marriage to Sophia Tarnovska, received a majestic palace in Krakow. Today it has lost its original appearance, here are the apartments of the President of the City of Krakow and the city government.
Prince Yanush Ostrozkyi, the eldest son of Vasyl-Konstantin and Sophia, was a Krakow castellan for almost thirty years. He and his family lived in the already mentioned house. Later, he acquired two more houses at Market Square. He got the house “Pid baranamy” thanks to his marriage to his second wife Kateryna. From his marriage to his third wife Teofilia, he got a house at the corner of Bratska Street opposite the Cloth Rows (now the palace of the Zbarazh princes).
The Belarusian town of Orsha, despite it did not belong to the Ostroh princes, played a huge role in expanding the territories of the Ostroh principality.
Here, Prince Kostiantyn Ivanovych Ostrozkyi, who was called “Rus' Scipio and Hannibal.”, took part in the famous battle of Orsha in 1514.
According to legends, which were formed during the prince's lifetime, the hetman of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania Kostiantyn Ivanovych, with an army of 16,000, defeated the Muscovites, who numbered 80,000. Actually, these numbers were greatly exaggerated. Nevertheless, the battle of Orsha went down in history as one of the most prominent victories of Prince Ostrozkyi.
The army led by Kostiantyn Ivanovych Ostrozkyi consisted of the Lithuanian feudal militia (district banners of Ukrainian, Lithuanian, and Belarusian lands), the Polish noble militia, mercenaries from Livonia, Germany, and Hungary, and famous Polish hussars.
There was no unity in the Moscow command, but it did not diminish the importance of the victory of the prince who skillfully led various branches of the army. Thus, the Lithuanian cavalry lured the Muscovites to guns with a feigned retreat. The enemy left flank was repelled to the swamp and completely defeated. The river Kropivna was overflowed with the corpses of Muscovites. The enemy army began to retreat in disarray. The losses of the defeated, as at that time, were terrible: tens of thousands of soldiers were killed, 380 voivodes and nobles were taken captive.
The Battle of Orsha glorified Kostiantyn Ivanovych. He was given triumphal ceremonies in Vilnius and Krakow. The king even gave him the right to use the seal of red wax, which was considered the prerogative of only independent rulers at that time. Until the end of his life, Kostiantyn Ivanovych remained hetman of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. In 1511, he became a castellan of Vilnius Castle and got the title of the Trakai voivode in 1522. These positions were considered the highest in the hierarchy of power of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania.
The town of Szamotuly, located in western Poland, never belonged to the Principality of Ostroh. Still, it played an essential role in the fate of one of the most famous figures of the princely family, namely the daughter of Illia Ostrozkyi and Beata Kosteletska Halshka Ostrozka.
Halshka is primarily known as a patron of Ostroh Academy, but her tragic personal destiny, shrouded in many legends, glorified her even more. After the death of her first husband Dmytro Sangushko, she was forced to marry the Polish nobleman Lukasz (Lukash) Gurka, who took her to his ancestral estate in Szamotuly.
A legend says that the princess did not accept her fate, for she did not perform her marital duties. For such defiance, Lukasz Gurka imprisoned his wife in the castle tower for fourteen years. Gurka allowed Halshka to visit the local Catholic Church, but only by an underground passage. Only after his death, Halshka was able to return to Ostroh. Moreover, the tower has since been called the "Tower of the Black Princess."
This legend could be partially refuted. Halshka did live in Szamotuly in a keep, but together with her husband because other castle buildings were under repair at that time. Halshka could use the underground passage, but there, possibly, was no such a need. The church was already Protestant. Additionally, archival letters indicate that Halshka and her husband went to receptions in Gdansk and other neighboring cities.
Szamotuly could be passed to the Princess of Ostroh, but since she had no children, the Chamotuly estate passed to her husband's relatives. The town has still preserved the memory of Halshka Ostrozka. In addition to the tower itself, a street, a local cinema, and several sports clubs are named after her. For those who are most interested in the fate of the princess, there may even be a ghost of Halshka who still roams the keep.
Not as many possessions belonged to the princes of Ostroh on the territory of the Lviv region. Although, the princes of Ostroh actively supported the Orthodox brotherhood of Lviv both financially and intercession with the king and the nobility.
After inheriting the estates in Galicia from the Tarnow family in 1567, Prince Vasyl-Kostyantyn actively began the construction of his largest castle, which stood just 20 kilometers from Lviv in Stare Selo.
In 1584, the prince invited the famous Lviv architect Amvrosii Prykhylnyi to lead the construction of a majestic castle. By 1589, huge 8-meter-high walls had been erected in the Old Village, connecting six high towers. A magnificent two-story residence was built on the inner part of the castle, where the prince could stay on his way to Lviv.
Later, the grandson of Prince Vasyl-Kostiantyn Vladyslav Dominik Ostrozkyi-Zaslavskyi rebuilt the castle. A deep moat and ramparts surrounded the fortress. The gates were fitted with a chain bridge rising over the moat. The coat of arms with the letters WDXOYZWSLS hang on the largest tower, which meant "Wladyslaw Dominik Xiąze Ostrogski y Zaslawski Wojewoda Sandomierski Lucki Starosta".
In 1648, Bohdan Khmelnytsky's Cossack troops burnt down the castle, but Vladyslav rebuilt it in its original form with towers and an attic typical of all castles of the Ostroh princes.
The princes of Ostroh considered themselves the descendants of St. Prince Volodymyr. Thereby, they paid close attention to the capital city of the Rurikids – Kyiv. The Ostroh princes had two ancestral tombs, namely the Epiphany Cathedral in Ostroh and the Church of the Assumption of the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra. Most of the princes of the Rurik dynasty were buried in Kyiv, so the princes of Ostroh pursued the involvement to the capital city circles. Therefore, Prince Fedir Ostrozkyi, after his military exploits, got tonsured as a monk of the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra and died there eventually. Later, the ashes of St. Theodosius, the Prince of Ostroh, were canonized by Peter Mogila. Though, this took place only in the 17th century.
The princes had ambitions of the mighty principality for life and, therefore, Prince Illia Ostrozkyi buried his father Kostiantyn Ivanovych Ostrozkyi (who was the Grand Hetman of Lithuania) at the Church of the Assumption of the Kyiv-Pechersk Monastery. After, his brother Prince Vasyl-Kostiantyn built an opulent tombstone of red “Hungarian” marble over his father's grave in 1579. This tombstone served not only as a decoration of the tomb but also as an ambitious project. Such tombstones were placed on the tombs of kings. Hence, the prince-royal crown appears on the head of the Prince oh Ostroh. In the meantime, Vasyl-Kostiantyn claimed the Crown of the Kingdom of Poland and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania.
His wife and the brother of Prince Mykhailo Ostrozkyi were buried there along with the Grand Hetman. His son Illia Ostrozkyi was buried there as well.
Prince Vasyl-Kostiantyn was the voivode of Kyiv, accordingly, he was often necessitated to stay in Kyiv for voivodship affairs. However, since the wooden castle was a bad shelter, Vasyl-Kostiantyn lived at his own estate. Another reason the prince did not want to spend his own money to strengthen the fortress was that in the 16th century, it was already the property of the king, although the castle once belonged to the prince's ancestors of the Rurik family.
The prince consistently and faithfully took care of church shrines. This is applicable primarily to the Pechersk Monastery and the Church of the Assumption, which the Prince of Ostroh rebuilt at his own expense.
He restored the St. Cyril's Monastery, which was destroyed in the 18th century. At the initiative of Prince Vasyl-Kostiantyn, the whole fraternity, together with the abbot Vasyl Krasovskyi, was transferred to Kyiv to the St. Cyril's Monastery in July 1605. The condition of the St. Cyril's Monastery is reported in a document from 1605. Here it is told that the sanctuary was not exploited for several decades. And only with restoration and the transfer of the monks and utensils to Kyiv, the monastery and the church began to be revived.
After graduating from the Ostroh Academy, many of its graduates became metropolitans and abbots of Kyiv monasteries. They became the intellectual elite that developed Kyiv in the 17th century. They were the cornerstone of the Brotherhood School foundation, which became the Kyiv-Mohyla Academy subsequently.
The princes of Ostroh received the town of Tarnow as a result of the marriage of Vasyl-Kostiantyn and Sofiia Tarnovska. Initially, Sophia's brother Jan Krzysztof inherited the town. In 1567, after his death, Tarnow passed to the Ostroh principality. However, the lateral line of the Tarnow family did not accept this fact. The confrontation between the clans reached the point of military conflict. Only after the intervention of the king, Vasyl-Kostiantyn managed to return the town to his possession.
The prince rebuilt the castle, which was almost completely destroyed during the military battles, often visited it, and invited guests of the king and his retinue. In 1576, Stefan Batory visited the castle. Later, Prince Yanush Ostrozkyi lived in the castle for a long time and was even buried in the walls of the Tarnow family tomb, namely at the Tarnow church. Unfortunately, in the 18th century, Prince Yanush-Oleksandr Sangushko (who was the heir to the Ostroh estates) allowed the castle to be dismantled into building materials. Today, we can only witness the remains of the foundations.
During his lifetime, Yanush Ostrozkyi commenced building a grand memorial in the Tarnow Cathedral for himself and his first wife Suzanna Sereda. The tombstone was erected in the period from 1612 to 1624 by the architect Wilhelm van den Blocke and the sculptor Jan (Hans) Pfister.
In the center of the composition of the monument, Jan Pfister placed sculptures of Prince Yanush with his wife kneeling at the altar and asking God for the salvation of their souls. The sculptor interpreted them realistically and with great portrait resemblance. It includes many allegorical sculptures: Faith, Hope, Justice, and Courage, which reflect the virtues of Yanush and his wife and glorify the family of the Ostroh princes.
Tarnow was an iconic town for the family of the Ostroh princes. During the division of the principality between the brothers Yanush and Oleksandr, only Ostroh and Tarnow were divided in half. The other settlements were divided by the princes without tearing them into pieces.
The town of Opatow became the property of the Ostroh princes in 1567. This happened after the marriage of Prince Vasyl-Kostiantyn Ostrozkyi to Sofia Tarnovska. Along with Opatow, the princes received the surrounding settlements, namely Ostrovets-Sventokshyskyi, Chmeliv, and Chenstonitse.
In Opatow itself, the princes did not build anything. They used the castle, built by Sofia's grandfather Kryshtof Shydlovetskyi. Unfortunately, the castle has not survived to this day, but the entrance tower and the church remained.
Prince Vasyl-Kostiantyn rarely visited Opatow. Instead, he usually stayed in Tarnow or Veviurka. But Opatow and, especially, the church (which is still in good condition) appealed to his son Yanush. If you enter the church, you will see coats of arms of Ostroh, Lubomyr, and Sangushko families carved on the benches. Opatow was passed to Lubomyr and Sangushko families after the demise of the mainline of the family of Ostroh princes.
Being next to the church, you can see shallow gouges on the wall of the shrine, which contemporary residents carefully take care of. These indentations on the wall were made with swords and sabers of the soldiers who went to war. They sharpened their weapons in this way and these weapons acquired the properties of a talisman. The soldiers of Ostrovets-Sventokshyskyi, Tarnow, Ostroh, and later Liubomyr sharpened sabers into the church wall as well.
The Polish town of Jaroslav (with the emphasis on the letter “o”) is located near the border of Ukraine. Few people know that it was named after the Rus prince Yaroslav Mudryi and from the 16th to 17th centuries belonged to the princes of Ostroh.
It passed to the princes of Ostroh as a result of a dynastic marriage between young Oleksandr Ostrozkyi and, already an orphan, Anna of the Kostka family. Anna's father Jan Kostka, the voivode of Sandomierz, had already died at that time, but the significance of the Kostka family, who were direct descendants of the first Polish Piast kings, was still well revered.
During those years, Mazovia and Warsaw were recently annexed to Poland (1526) and the Mazovian nobility still had fond memories of their independence. Anna Koschanka's grandmother, who was also called Anna, was proclaimed Queen of Mazovia, but she never managed to maintain her independence. Therefore, it is not surprising that the choice of Prince Vasyl-Kostiantyn was made of the young orphan Anna. The royal ambitions of the Ostroh Prince could be clearly traced in this case as well.
Prince Oleksandr, who got married in 1592, made his main residence Yaroslav and built an attractive palace there. It is still located in the city center at Market Square. However, it is called “Orsetti family tenement house” today because of its later owner.
The life of the descendants of Oleksandr in Yaroslavl and nearby Lublin is shrouded in a mystical story. All the sons of Oleksandr died at a young age in Yaroslavl: Vasyl died in 1605, Kryshtof passed away in 1606, Oleksandr laid down his life in 1607, Adam-Kostiantyn died in Lublin in 1618, and Yanush-Pavlo gave his life in 1619. The deaths of Oleksandr’s last two sons were especially mysterious. The young princes Adam-Kostiantyn and Yanush-Pavlo were brought up of the Orthodox denomination under the guidance of Zyzanii Tustanovskyi. But after the death of their father, their mother Anna took care of their upbringing together with the Yaroslavl Jesuits. Pope Clement VIII personally took care that the princes became Catholics.
Studying at the Jesuit College of Yaroslav, the boys were not very keen on science. Actually, they were more interested in military affairs. Thus, when the Jesuit teacher said that philosophy was more important than the horse, Kostiantyn replied: “Dear Father, if there are a hundred thousand Tatars and a hundred thousand philosophers in front of them, obviously, the latter ones will not convince Tatars. They should be fought with”. Another case was told by Kaspar Nesetskyi. One of the sons, coming to the teacher, targeted the “Lives of the Saints” and pierced the book deeply with an arrow. The word that the arrow struck was “death”, which was a sign of imminent demise.
Returning home from the Warsaw Sejm on the 10th of April 1618, the young Kostiantyn Oleksandrovych, who had just turned 21, suddenly fell ill and died in Lublin. Exactly a year later, in 1619, the second son Yanush Oleksandrovych died and again in the very same Lublin.
The version that appeared almost immediately after the death of both princes, remains relevant. They both died in the house of the Lublin notorious nobleman Ludwig Poniatovski. Therefore, both princes could have died of poison or were killed in some other way. Both princes were buried in the church of the Yaroslavl Collegium of All Saints.
Prince Oleksandr was also buried in the Yaroslavl church. His daughter Anna-Aloiza transported his remains there from the Orthodox Epiphany Cathedral in Ostroh. She was buried in Yaroslavl as well. Then, the remains of her father and daughter were transported by the Jesuits from Yaroslavl to the Ostroh Jesuit Collegium, where they were destroyed by Russian soldiers in the first half of the 19th century.
Jan of Tarnow founded the town of «Tarnopol» on April 15, 1540. After, locals have verbally adapted «Tarnopol» and renamed it to Ternopil.
The daughter of Hetman Jan of Tarnow Sophia of Tarnow got married to Prince Vasyl-Kostiantyn Ostrozkyi. She died early (she died during the birth of her youngest son Oleksandr), but survived her older brothers. That is why she became the heir to all paternal possessions and brought Ternopil to the possessions of the princes of Ostroh.
Together with the town, Prince Vasyl-Kostiantyn inherited the castle of Hetman of Tarnow. He rebuilt it, but today the remains of the former castle have only survived in the lower part of the modern city council.
In the year of his wife’s death (1570), Prince Vasyl-Kostiantyn Ostrozkyi created a fund for the hospital at the Church of the Nativity in her memory, giving it about 140 hectares of arable land near the town and acquired several surrounding buildings next to the church. The hospital cared for and supported poor and infirm Orthodox people.
The town of Polonne has been known since the times of Kyivan Rus, but it came into the possession of the Ostroh princes only in 1494. The Grand Duke of Lithuania Alexander Jagiellon handed over the town to Prince Kostiantyn Ivanovych Ostrozkyi. However, the prosperity of the town got under way only after Polonne was passed to the possession of Prince Vasyl-Kostiantyn Ostrozkyi. The prince erected a wooden castle over stone foundations in Polonne. Some walls may have been made of brick, but the description of the first third of the 17th century mentions only wooden structures.
A brick church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary was built on the territory of the castle. Its construction got started in 1593 by Prince Yanush Ostrozkyi. The church was probably built in place of a wooden church. On the 20th of January 1602, the wedding of the Prince’s Yanush daughter Eleonora to Hieronymus Yazlovetskyi took place at the shrine. Traditionally, historians suggest that the church was constructed in 1607, though, apparently, it was some kind of extension to the existing church.
An interesting fact that in the spring of 1603 the owner of Polonne became Yanush's younger brother Oleksandr, who was of the Orthodox faith and did not get on well with his older brother. Yet, Oleksandr possessed town not for a while – he died at the age of 33 in December of that year. The junior prince set out last his journey right from Polonne.
Shortly before his death, the prince managed to grant the inhabitants of the town a privilege exempting them from taxes for 20 years. After Oleksandr’s death, the town was inherited by his daughter Sophia and brought as a dowry to the Liubomyrski family.
The town and castle of Kezmarok in Slovakia never belonged to the Ostroh princes, but the figure of Princess Beata Kosteletska, the wife of Prince Illia Ostrozkyi, is closely associated with this place. She spent the last 11 years of her life at this castle.
After all the vicissitudes of her daughter`s Princess Halshka marriage, Beata remarried at the age of 50. Her husband Olbrakht Laskyi, the voivode of Sieradz, was 21 years younger. Despite his young age, he was notorious for numerous accusations of robbery and burglary. In a while, the Olbrakht took away all of Beata's estates and held her in detention at a castle of Kezmarok. Polish nobles of Laska received this castle from the Hungarian King Janos Zapolya in the early 16th century. From here, the princess wrote letters begging for the patronage of the emperor, but nothing helped.
Princess Halshka Ostrozka, after the death of her husband Lukasz Gurka, begged Prince Vasyl-Kostiantyn Ostrozkyi to raise the issue of her mother’s release from prison at the international diplomatic level. The prince personally appealed to Emperor Maximilian and the issue was resolved when it became known about Laskyi's new marriage in Paris.
The emperor demanded a formal complaint from Beata against her husband and promised to settle the matter, however, he continuously postponed it. Relentlessly, Prince Ostroh even sent his son Yanush to the imperial court. Anyway, in 1576, Olbrakht Laskyi had to move to Vienna due to his rejection by the new king, Stephen Bathory. He was deep in debts pledging almost all his possessions, except the family tenure of Laska. He pledged Kezmarok Castle to Jan Rueber, who, in turn, obtained a written agreement from Laskyi to release Beata. In June 1576, Beata finally left the place of her imprisonment, but due to the officially unresolved case, she could not move to Poland. Princess Ostrozka died in foreign parts, in Kosice. In the same year, she was buried in the church of Kezmarok.
Today, Warsaw is the capital of Poland, but this has not always been the case. Originally, it was the main residence of the rulers of the Principality of Mazovia. After 1526, the principality ceased to exist and all its lands became part of the Kingdom of Poland. After the royal court moved from Krakow to Warsaw at the end of the 16th century, the city became the capital again.
In order to be able to attend the royal Sejm, the Ostroh princes decided that they should possess their own residence in the city. At the beginning of the 17th century, Prince Yanush Ostrozkyi acquired a piece of land in the Krakow suburbs of Warsaw and commenced constructing a castle-palace there.
Specific instructions for the estate managers, in which the prince indicated were to take and how to deliver construction materials from the territories of Lesser Poland, have been preserved. Even the typical names for construction materials such as bricks, lime, boards, shingles, as well as balusters for palace balustrades, have been remained intact.
However, the authentic appearance of the palace has not reached our days. In the middle of the XVII century, the palace was damaged during the occupation of Warsaw by Swedish troops. Subsequently, it was restored, partially by changing the architectural features of the building.
Nowadays, the palace has retained the name “the Castle of the Princes of Ostroh” and it houses a museum of the famous Polish composer Frederic Chopin.