Tuesday, May 23, 2017
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Countess Urszula Dembinska - Lady of Szczekociny

One of the most interesting figures from the aristocratic family of Dembinsky (Dembinski) is Countess Urszula Dembinska (maiden name Morsztyn, coat of arms Leliwa). When she was just 16 years old, in 1762, she married subprefect Franciszek Dembinski, coat of arms Rawicz.

The Countess was a very interesting lady with modern views, considering the epoch in which she lived. She was interested in politics and business, she rode horses and participated in hunting trips. Supposedly, nominations for delegates to the diets and councils and other important administrative positions had to have her approval, in spite of the fact that she was a woman.

After the death of her husband in 1777, Urszula managed her property with great success, increasing its value and size. She did not want to remarry in spite of having many potential candidates for her hand. She claimed that her first priorities were her children and country, and she just did not have the time to determine whether potential candidates for her hand wanted to marry her for her beauty or for her property. She prefered to attend political diets rather than balls. She built several churches and she placed a beautiful tombstone devoted to her husband, his parents, and grandparents.

Her two daughters married prominent people. Barbara married Tadeusz Czacki. The death of their son Feliks became a legend. While in Szczekociny, Tadeusz Czacki dreamt that his father told him that Feliks would die within the year. Tadeusz told his mother-in-law Urszula about his vision . She tried to calm him down. Feliks indeed died during the year but the reason of his death was unknown. The interactions between Barbara and her mother worsened after the death of her husband Tadeusz. Barbara remarried without telling her mother.

Urszula's second daughter married General Wielhorski and her only son married Katarzyna Gostkowska of Kromolow. Urszula resided partly in Krakow, where she placed the iron chains surrounding St. Mary's Church situated at the main Market Square. She also spent lots of time at the palace in Szczekociny after she built it on the place of the old Koryncki wooden manor.

Even the last Polish king, Stanislaw August Poniatowski, was interested in the Countess Urszula since she was an attractive young widow. They met each other in 1787. Urszula Dembinska invited the king to her palace. We know that the royal party departed for Szczekociny on July 8. Urszula hosted a dinner for over 200 people. King Poniatowski's first toast was for the health of beautiful hostess. After the dinner they went walking in the park together. At the ball they danced the first dance of the evening. The King must have enjoyed this place since he stayed there for two days. He allegedly remarked "This palace is too small for the king but too beautiful and rich for a noble manor" (in Polish: "pałac dla monarchy mały, ale na dwór szlachecki za piękny i bogaty.") According to the legend, Barbara's ghost appears every year on the anniversary of the king's visit to await his return.

One of the most famous portraits of Countess Urszula Dembinska is the one done by the Italian artist Giovanni Battista Lampi (included in the article). He was the official portrait painter of the royal families and the highest members of European aristocractic families.

When she was almost 80 years old, Urszula died in the arms of her granddaughter, Amelia, in her residence in Szczekociny, where she had lived continously since 1795.

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