House of Tarnowski

For the administrative division called powiat tarnowski, see Tarnów County.
The Coat of Arms of the family was: Leliwa.

Tarnowski (plural: Tarnowscy) is the surname of a Polish noble and aristocratic family. Because Polish adjectives have different forms for the genders, Tarnowska is the form for a female family member.[1]


The Tarnowski family was one of the oldest and most powerful magnate families in Poland. The family achieved the greatest importance in the 14th, 15th and the 16th centuries, when family members from Tarnów, Melsztyn and later from Jarosław beside the throne of Piast and Jagiellon kings of Poland, from father to son held ten times the office of voivode of Kraków Voivodeship and six times the office of castellans of Kraków.

The history of the family started with the trusted advisor of the last Piast kings Comes Spytek z Melsztyna, the progenitor of the Tarnowski-Melsztyński-Jarosławski family. By 1320 he held the office of voivode of the Kraków Voivodeship and from 1331 the highest secular office in the Kingdom of Poland, castellan of Kraków. For military service during wars, King Władysław I the Elbow-high gave him large estates on Dunajec river, where Spytek founded the city of Tarnów in 1330 and build two stronghold castles, in Tarnów and in Melsztyn, about 1340.

After the death of Spytek, the castle of Melsztyn was inherited by his son Jan z Melsztyna, who like his father, was since 1360 voivode and castellan of Kraków. His younger brother castellan of Wiślica Rafał z Tarnowa became the owner of Tarnów. Rafał expanded his estates vastly, among others in Sandomierz land, Wielowieś and Dzików.

Jan Dzierżysław Tarnowski.

The son of Jan z Melsztyna, Spytek z Melsztyna, was the next owner of Melsztyn. He was voivode of Kraków Voivodeship, Feudal Lord of Podolia, and became a hero in the battle of Worskla in 1399. Rafał's son Jan z Tarnowa became General Starost of Ruthenia, voivode and castellan of Kraków.

The Tarnowski-Melsztyński family achieved the highest offices in the country as well as an unusual wealth and huge feudal estates like Jarosław Land, Sambor, Podole, etc. Their most significant role in the history of Poland was to bring Queen Jadwiga and Władysław II Jagiełło to Poland and to initiate their coronation.

After the death of Spytek z Melsztyna and the death of his son, who was also named Spytek z Melsztyna, in the battle of Grotniki in 1439, the family "lineage of Melsztyn" lost its magnificence. In the "lineage of Tarnów", the sons of Jan z Tarnowa fought in the Battle of Grunwald in 1410 and after that divided the family property. Jan the voivode of Kraków Voivodeship settled in Tarnów and the voivode of Sandomierz Voivodeship Spytek became the owner of Jarosław, where he started a new branch of the family, called the "Leliwita branch".

Jan z Tarnowa had five sons, of which Jan Amor Starszy Tarnowski and Jan Gratus Tarnowski together with their cousin, Spytek z Jarosławia, died with King Władysław III of Poland in the Battle of Varna in 1444. His third son Jan Rafał Tarnowski became a priest and the last two, Jan Feliks Tarnowski became voivode of Lublin Voivodeship and Jan Amor Młodszy Tarnowski the owner of Tarnów, voivode of Kraków Voivodeship and since 1490 castellan of Kraków.

The son of Jan Amor Młodszy, Jan Amor Tarnowski, became Great Crown Hetman, voivode of Kraków Voivodeship and castellan of Kraków. In 1540 he built a castle and founded the city of Tarnopol (1548).

Coat of arms and motto

The Tarnowski family used the "Leliwa coat of arms" and their motto was: "Tendite ad astra viri". It is a quotation from Valerius Flaccus' Argonautica, book I, verse 563.


See also


External links

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