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2011 | 59 | 3-4 | 346-362

Article title

Testamenty mieszczan miasta Ołyki z lat 1660-1670


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The town of Ołyka was part of the Nieśwież entail of the Radziwiłł family, ruled by Duke Michał Kazimierz Radziwiłł (1625-1680), son of Ludwik Radziwiłł and Tekla Wołłowicz. After the end of the Cossack wars in the years 1660-1679 Ołyka experienced economic boom, but a great fire in 1679 and a Swedish attack in 1702 led to the town’s decline. Most of the town archives were destroyed by the fire of the town hall in 1870; a few surviving registers are now kept in the Central State Archive of Ukraine in Kiev (collection no. 1237). The article is based on 47 testaments from the years 1660-1670 recorded in register no. 7 and on several burgher probate inventories from the same register. All the texts are in Polish; they have never been published or used by researchers. The testators include representatives of the middle class as well as of the town élite. 32 testaments were drawn up by men and 15 by women. 25 of the testators were Uniats, 11 were Catholics and 11 belonged to the Orthodox Church. The collection of sources that was examined for the purposes of this article sheds light on various aspects of social life in one of the major towns of Volhynia. They reflect burghers’ financial condition, business activities, social status and family connections. The major aim of making testaments was to prevent conflicts between inheritors. Other reasons included: 1) the wish to provide for the spouse when the testator was childless, 2) the wish to safeguard children, grandchildren or other relatives, 3) the intention to bequeath money to religious and charitable institutions. Testaments were usually written at home. Sometimes the testator appointed a person (usually the spouse, a child or a friend) to take care of the funeral. The place of burial was often specified, as was the sum allocated for the funeral. Catholic burghers, who mostly lived in the centre of the town, were usually buried at the old cemetery next to St Peter’s church; richer burghers were buried next to the Holy Trinity collegiate church. Uniats, who lived in the “middle town” and in the Zawrocie suburb, were buried at the cemetery next to the Holy Trinity Uniate church, while members of the Orthodox Church, residing in the Zalasocze suburb, had their two local churches with cemeteries. The largest sums for the funeral and charitable legacies were left by Catholics. In their major features and formulations testaments from Ołyka did not differ much from last wills from other parts of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, although they often omitted the conventional opening and closing formulae. Sanctio is rarely found in them; at the end there is usually a corroboratio, i.e. the testator’s confirmation of the witnesses. Testament instructions concerned primarily the testator’s soul and body, and secondly the property. The most important part of property were certainly immovables; movables are mentioned in only half of the testaments examined. The most frequently bequeathed movable property was livestock, with garments closely following.










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  • Instytut Historii Ukrainy, Narodowej Akademii Nauk Ukrainy, 4 Mykhailo Hrushevsky str. Kyiv 01001


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Publication order reference


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