Onesuch Press

The Remarkable Female Descendants of Countess Francoise Krasinska

Countess Francoise Krasinska great-great-grand-daughter was Margherita Maria Teresa Giovanna of Savoy (1851-1926), the Queen consort of the Kingdom of Italy.

She married her first cousin Umberto, Prince of Piedmont in 1868. In 1869, Margherita gave birth to Victor Emmanuel, Prince of Naples, afterwards Victor Emmanuel III of Italy. He was their only child.
In 1878, Umberto succeeded as the new King of Italy. She became his Queen consort and remained by his side for the rest of his reign. Umberto was killed by the anarchist, Gaetano Bresci in1900.
Margherita encouraged artists and writers and founded cultural institutions. She was a benefactor of many charities, especially the Red Cross.
In 1889, the Margherita pizza, whose red tomatoes, green basil, and white cheese represent the Italian flag, was named after her.
In 1893 she climbed the Punta Gnifetti (or Signalkuppe), a peak of the Monte Rosa massif on the Swiss-Italian border, for the inauguration of the mountain hut named after her.

Countess Francoise Krasinska's great-great-great-grand-daughter was Giovanna Elisabetta Antonia Romana Maria (1907 – 2000), the last Tsaritsa of Bulgaria.
She was born in Rome, the third daughter of King Victor Emmanuel III of Italy and Queen Elena, former Princess of Montenegro. She was raised in the Villa Savoia and from a young age was aware of that the main purpose of her life would be to further the House of Savoy's dynastic aspirations through marriage.
Giovanna married Tsar Boris III of Bulgaria in Assisi in October 1930, in a Roman Catholic ceremony, attended by Italian dictator Benito Mussolini. Bulgarians deemed her a good match, partly because of her mother's native Slavic ethnicity. At a second ceremony in Sofia, Bulgaria, Giovanna was married in an Eastern Orthodox Church ceremony, bringing her into conflict with the Roman Catholic Church. Giovanna adopted the Bulgarian version of her name, Ioanna. She and Boris had two children: Marie-Louise of Bulgaria, born in January 1933, and then the future Simeon II of Bulgaria in 1937.
In the years prior to World War II, Tsaritsa Ioanna became heavily involved in charities, including the financing of a children's hospital. During the war she counterbalanced her husband consigning Bulgaria to the Axis by obtaining transit visas to enable a number of Jews to escape to Argentina. Tsar Boris also proved less malleable than Hitler had hoped, and following a meeting in Berlin in August 1943, the Tsar became seriously ill and died, aged 49. While stress and a heart condition were the official reasons for his death, rumours that he had been poisoned by Hitler were voiced at the time and have since grown.
Ioanna's son, Simeon, became the new Tsar and a regency was established led by his uncle Prince Kyril, who was considered more pliable by the Germans.
In the dying days of World War II, Bulgaria was invaded by the Soviet Union. Prince Kyril was tried by a People's Court and subsequently executed. Giovanna and Simeon remained under home arrest at Vrana Palace, near Sofia until 1946, when the new Communist government gave them 48 hours to leave the country. After initially fleeing to Alexandria, Egypt, to be with her father, Vittorio Emmanuele III, they moved to Madrid. After the marriage of Simeon II to the Spanish noblewoman Margarita Gómez-Acebo y Cejuela in 1962, Tsaritsa Ioanna moved to Estoril, Portugal, where she lived for the rest of her life, excepting a brief return to Bulgaria in 1993 when she visited Boris's grave. She is buried in Assisi, Italy, where she married King Boris III in 1930.

Franziska Krasinska was born into the Polish Slachta (aristocracy) in 1743 or possibly 1742, daughter of Stanislaw Krasinski, the land owner of Maleszowo and Wegrow and Staroste of Nowomiejsk. Her mother was Aniela Humiecka, daughter of Stefan Humiecki the Wovoide of Podole.
After finishing her education her introduction into society was deftly managed by her aunt Zofia, the powerful wife of Antoni Lubomirski the Wovoide of Lublin. She introduced Franziska to the best salons in Warsaw and before long Franciszka, beautiful and charming, reportedly inflamed no small passions among the Polish nobility. She was courted by Jan Chodkiewicz, later the Staroste of Zmudzki; and Jozef Radziwil the Magnate of Klecko. But Prince Charles Christian Joseph of Saxony met Franciszka in 1757 and within three years they were secretly married. Because Franziska did not belong to a ruling dynasty or immediate noble family, the marriage was morganatic.
Prince Charles' father, King Augustus III appointed him Duke of Courland in 1758 and invested him with the Duchy the following year. The aristocracy of the Duchy of Courland mistrusted Prince Charles--they feared a Roman Catholic Duke might favour a Polish-Roman Catholic State. They tried to negotiate limits to Prince Charle's power and many refused to pay homage to the duke's appointment, instead lodged protests in Warsaw and St. Petersburg. For reasons of political sensitivities Prince Charles marriage to Franziska Krasinska was kept secret. Poland's unique political system ensured that power lay not with the elected Saxon King, but with the electing nobles, the King being dependant on their continuing support. The potential for nobles to shift allegiances kept social relationships in a continual political tension.
After her father's death in 1762 Franciszka, under the protection of the Lubomirski family, fought for her rights with the support of the powerful Czartoryski family. There was a flicker of hope after the death of August III, when candidates for the Polish throne were submitted by the Saxons, and Prince Charles was among them. The election of Stanislaw August Poniatowski doused these hopes.
Charles neither obtained the Polish crown nor prevailed in the face of changing fortunes in Russia. The Duchy of Courland was taken from him. In 1763 he was himself dethroned and replaced by his predecessor on the order of Empress Katharina of Russia.
In James Boswell's words "Prince Charles of Saxony, Duke of Courland, of which last dignity the Russian tyrant has deprived him." Boswell was introduced to Prince Charles whom he described as "a charming prince, perfectly gay and affable", at the Palace of Princess Wilhelmine of Anhalt-Dessau, "who gave there this day a splendid entertainment" to the deposed Duke of Courland. At the ball that same evening, "The Duke of Courland danced the best of any man I ever saw." After losing Courland he settled in Dresden for good and dedicated himself to the hunt in Annaburger Heath
Franciszka, separated from Prince Charles, was in straitened circumstances, existing on the meagre funds coming from her inherited Wegrow estate. Receiving little support from her husband, she travelled from place to place. Often she resided in Opole, in the Lublin area with her aunt, Zofia Lubomirska, or with the Sisters of the Holy Sacrament in Warsaw.
In 1767 she stayed in Krakow with the Franciscan Sisters, from there she moved to the Mniszchowski Palace where she organized an open court. At that time Jozef Aleksander Jablonowski, the Wovoide of Nowogrod, was vying for her favours and tried to persuade her to divorce her ungrateful husband.
In 1768 the Bar Confederation was formed by Polish nobles in order to defend the independence of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth against Russian influence, King Stanisław August Poniatowski and reformers who were attempting to limit the power of the Commonwealth's magnates.
The connection between the Krasinksi family, the Confederation and the Saxon court gave Franciszka political opportunities and the princess worked to extend the Confederation in Krakow. In the summer of 1769 she moved with Antoni Lubomirski, first to Opole in Silesia, then to Lubliniec where she intensified her activity in the political circle that surrounded the Bishop of Kamieniec.
Her gentleness and nobility made her a guiding light of the confederation and one of the most sympathetic and active women of the movement. She assisted in organizing the Generalnosc (General Staff), sending messengers to Rome and Vienna, maintaining relations with the Prussians, and was an intermediary in border disputes among the confederates. Her own interests were closely aligned with Saxon policies. In 1771, after the departure of the French General Dumouriez she collaborated with Adam Krasinski in planning to bring Prince Charles to Poland as commander of the scattered confederation forces.
As an intermediary she tried to assuage the disputes and antagonisms between the confederation commanders. Josef Bierzynski sought her help after the Generalnosc passed verdict on him; then Szymon Kossakowski went to her for assistance after he was accused of defrauding the confederation of money. She was especially protective of Casimir Pulaski--future hero of the American Revolution and Father of the American Cavalry. He had been in love with her when he was the young Staroste of Warka.
Using these activities as a pretext, Stanislaw August Poniatowski, King of Poland accused Franciszka Krasinska of "moral participation" in the kidnapping plot against him in 1771 and supporting his dethronement. These were unfair accusation because Franciszka condemned the "act of interregnum" and believed a conflict was dependent upon a good relationship with the king.
She dreamed of regaining Courland. She busied herself in trying to recover her husband's inheritance there which had been assumed by the Kettler family. In February 1772 she moved to Koszecin in the misguided belief that diplomacy had the power to make Frederick II, Landgrave of Hesse-Kassel a candidate for the Polish throne. By July all confederate resistance had failed and with them Francoise's hopes and dreams. The Bar Confederation proved to be a trigger for the first partition of Poland. The country was carved up between Prussia, Austria and Russia--Poland was no more.
At the end of 1774 she went to Bytom to attempt reconciliation with her husband. Disappointed, she returned to Opole and her beloved sister Barbara Swidzinska. Finally, after intervention by Austrian Empress Maria Theresa and the efforts of Zofia Lubomirska, Prince Charles agreed to have his wife to live with him. In June 1775 he came to Opole incognito and spent several pleasant weeks there. Afterward, Princess Franciszka, sumptuously equipped by her aunt, travelled in the company of Antoni Lubomirski to join her husband in Saxony by New Year's Day. She settled with him at the castle in Elsterwerd.
The life she led there was often unhappy; she had to endure frequent solitude, constant material worries and humiliation of courts which denied her inheritance. After giving official recognition to the marriage in 1776 the Polish Sejm granted her life-long financial support as a Polish princess. With the help of Maria Theresa she bought the Lanckorona estates, but nevertheless had always material difficulties. She died in Saxony in her castle in April 1796.

How to make Gold

Astonishing letter from CASANOVA to Prince Charles of Courland (husband of Countess Francoise Krasinska).

"MY LORD,—I hope your highness will either burn this letter after reading it, or else preserve it with the greatest care. It will be better, however, to make a copy in cypher, and to burn the original. My attachment to you is not my only motive in writing; I confess my interest is equally concerned. Allow me to say that I do not wish your highness to esteem me alone for any qualities you may have observed in me; I wish you to become my debtor by the inestimable secret I am going to confide to you. This secret relates to the making of gold, the only thing of which your highness stands in need. If you had been miserly by nature you would be rich now; but you are generous, and will be poor all your days if you do not make use of my secret.

 "Your highness told me at Riga that you would like me to give you the secret by which I transmuted iron into copper; I never did so, but now I shall teach you how to make a much more marvellous transmutation. I should point out to you, however, that you are not at present in a suitable place for the operation, although all the materials are easily procurable. The operation necessitates my presence for the construction of a furnace, and for the great care necessary, far the least mistake will spoil all. The transmutation of Mars is an easy and merely mechanical process, but that of gold is philosophical in the highest degree. The gold produced will be equal to that used in the Venetian sequins. You must reflect, my lord, that I am giving you information which will permit you to dispense with me, and you must also reflect that I am confiding to you my life and my liberty.

"The step I am taking should insure your life-long protection, and should raise you above that prejudice which is entertained against the general mass of alchemists. My vanity would be wounded if you refuse to distinguish me from the common herd of operators. All I ask you is that you will wait till we meet before undertaking the process. You cannot do it by yourself, and if you employ any other person but myself, you will betray the secret. I must tell you that, using the same materials, and by the addition of mercury and nitre, I made the tree of projection for the Marchioness d'Urfe and the Princess of Anhalt. Zerbst calculated the profit as fifty per cent. My fortune would have been made long ago, if I had found a prince with the control of a mint whom I could trust. Your character enables me to confide in you. However, we will come to the point.

"You must take four ounces of good silver, dissolve in aqua fortis, precipitate secundum artem with copper, then wash in lukewarm water to separate the acids; dry, mix with half an ounce of sal ammoniac, and place in a suitable vessel. Afterwards you must take a pound of alum, a pound of Hungary crystals, four ounces of verdigris, four ounces of cinnabar, and two ounces of sulphur. Pulverise and mix, and place in a retort of such size that the above matters will only half fill it. This retort must be placed over a furnace with four draughts, for the heat must be raised to the fourth degree. At first your fire must be slow so as to extract the gross phlegm of the matter, and when the spirit begins to appear, place the receiver under the retort, and Luna with the ammoniac salts will appear in it. All the joinings must be luted with the Philosophical Luting, and as the spirit comes, so regulate your furnace, but do not let it pass the third degree of heat.

"So soon as the sublimation begins then boldly open your forth vent, but take heed that that which is sublimed pass not into the receiver where is your Luna, and so you must shut, the mouth of the retort closely, and keep it so for twenty-four hours, and then take off your fastenings, and allow the distillation to go on. Then you must increase your fire so that the spirits may pass, over, until the matter in the retort is quite desiccated. After this operation has been performed three times, then you shall see, the gold appear in the retort. Then draw it forth and melt it, adding your corpus perfectum. Melt with it two ounces of gold, then lay it in water, and you shall find four ounces of pure gold.

"Such my lord, is the gold mine for your mint of Mitau, by which, with the assistance of a manager and four men, you can assure yourself a revenue of a thousand ducats a week, and double, and quadruple that sum, if your highness chooses to increase the men and the furnaces. I ask your highness to make me your manager. But remember it must be a State secret, so burn this letter, and if your highness would give me any reward in advance, I only ask you to give me your affection and esteem. I shall be happy if I have reason to believe that my master will also be my friend. My life, which this letter places in your power, is ever at your service, and I know not what I shall do if I ever have cause to repent having disclosed my secret. I have the honour to be, etc."

At the time that Reymont wrote The Comedienne, Warsaw was experiencing tumultuous growth; emancipated peasants, ruined gentry and Jews from across Poland and Russia abandoned the countryside. The masses sought work in the cities and in their free hours, inexpensive diversions. On warm summer evenings crowds flooded the streets and frequented a new entertainment, the so-called garden theatres in the courtyards of restaurants and cafes.
There were about thirty such theatres in Warsaw. They initially catered to artisans and their families but soon to a more upscale audience as well. Seating reflected class divisions, with wealthier patrons in armchairs and the poorer clientele standing behind wooden barriers.
The State Theatre, in response to the growing popularity of garden theatres poached the more gifted actors. Plays which premiered in the State Theatre were revived in the garden theatres and sometimes a popular garden theatre hit made to the State Theatre. All the while the press decried the immorality of garden theatres and its stars, like those of today, became objects of public fascination.
Impresarios and entrepreneurs who ran the theatre companies were motivated by profit and maintained overworked, underpaid troupes. The actresses were often chosen more for their physical appeal than talent and were expected to entertain wealthy merchants after the show.

This excerpt is from the introduction to The Comedienne. Writing in 1875 one of Poland's Nobel Laureates, Henry Sienkiewicz, reported on Polish garden theatres thus;

These theatres are peculiarly enticing and seductive to our public. How much freedom there is in all this and how colourful! Theatre and bazaar, dreams and cigarettes, scenic enchantment and starry night overhead-what contradictory elements. In the chairs, patrons with hats pushed to the back of their heads; behind the barrier, the public, artless, impetuous, fascinated, constantly calling: "Louder! Louder!" at interesting moments not stirring from their places even in a downpour, prone to applause and impatient. Finally, what a mixture! Young gentlemen who have come expressly for the radiant eyes of Miss Czesia (a contemporary heartthrob). They converse of course in French, while Prince Lolo, unrivalled in the realm of chic, wipes his opera glasses, and the "divine" Comte Joujou grasps one leg and crosses it over the other, thereby permitting the rabble to marvel at his genuine fil d'Ecosse stockings; then several gentry of the bronze faced and serene glance "my-dear-sir" each other about the price of wool instead of the play, crops instead of actors. Further, a group of counting-house clerks in collars which can only be seen in the Journal Amusant converse softly, and only occasionally can one overhear in the 'national language' the phrases; "zewu zasiur, Michasz" or "antrnusuadi, Staszu!"1 Behind the barrier one hears the dialect of Franciszkaner Gasse.2 There too ladies of the demi-monde swish their dresses, and chattering, dart flashing looks from darkly painted eyes. Elsewhere several artisans argue with a Jew about a spot near a pillar; overhead the leaves of trees rustle, from the snack bar threatening exhortations; in a word: a mixture of voices, languages, social classes, manners, moods, a veritable Tower of Babel of people linked only by the hope of relaxation, freedom and entertainment.
1A parody of polonized French:"Je vouse assure," "Entre nous soit dit." ("I assure you, Michael", "Between you and me, Stan")
2Germanizing or yiddishizing the name "Franciszkanska" a main street in the Jewish quarter, to drive home the point

The Paris Gun

From Pierre and Luce

The Paris Gun, named after its sole purpose of shelling Paris from extreme distance began firing on the morning of 21st March 1918. The Gun holds a significant place in the history of astronautics as its shells were the first human-made objects that reached the stratosphere. Shells took 170 seconds to reach Paris, rising as high as 40 km above the earth. Parisians believed they'd been bombed by a new type of high-altitude zeppelin, as neither the sound of an airplane nor a gun could be heard. It was the largest piece of artillery used during the war and is considered a supergun.
When first deployed the shells caused widespread alarm among inhabitants which quickly subsided. A weapon like no other, its capabilities are not known with certainty, due to the weapon's total destruction by the Germans in the face of the Allied offensive.
The effects were without military importance, the results being some destruction of property and the killing and wounding of a number of harmless citizens, including women and children. However, the objective was to build a psychological weapon to attack the morale of the Parisians, not to destroy the city itself.

Designed and operated by the German Navy and manufactured by the firm of Krupp, some seven guns were made using bored-out 380mm naval guns, each fitted with special 40 metre long inserted barrels. Just three of the guns were ever in use at any one time, fired from the Forest of Coucy.
Such was the rapid wear and tear of firing 120kg shells, each requiring a 180kg powder charge, towards Paris that the gun's lining required reboring after approximately 20 shots. After every firing the succeeding shell needed to be of slightly greater width
The Paris Gun was a propaganda success in Germany. The Allies searched in vain for the guns during the German retreat of August 1918 and after the armistice, but in vain. No example of the Paris Gun has been located then or since.
The church of St-Gervais-et-St-Protais is one of the oldest in Paris, mentioned as early as the fourth century. Dedicated to Gervasius and Protasius, the church was the seat of the brotherhood of wine merchants. The square, Place Saint-Gervais, located at the foot of the steps outside the church, was for a long time called the Crossroads of the Elm. Since the Middle Ages, a venerable monarch of an elm grew at its center. The inhabitants of the neighborhood would exchange money there.


The American Ambassador in Paris, William Graves Sharp on the Paris Gun
"So full was each day's account of tragic events during this period of the war in particular, that nothing, however unusual in its every phase, seemed to startle Paris. The most notable exception to this statement was the horror of Good Friday, the twenty-ninth day of March, 1918, at the church of St. Gervais, which was occasioned by a shot from one of the long-range guns. The loss in life was indeed so great, the circumstances so tragic, that, in addition, because of the sacred character of the day itself, I felt impelled, in giving an account of this event to the Department of State, to characterize it as the most destructive of any single shot that had been fired by the enemy during the war. It was at the same time most costly in consequences, for it had its echo throughout all Christendom. As the details of this horrible catastrophe came to be known, the list of the dead mounting to nearly one hundred, a wave of indignation and horror swept over the city.

Visiting the church with Mrs. Sharp as soon thereafter as we were permitted, I beheld a scene of wreckage such as would seem inconceivable for a single shell to cause. Striking at a point high in the vaulted roof near the front of the sacred edifice, an almost incredible displacement of the heavy stones of solid masonry, of which the columns and arches were constructed, had resulted. Many stones from this débris had fallen upon the heads of the congregation. The destruction of life was appalling, and the scene was that of a veritable shambles. Though all the bodies of the poor unfortunates had by that time been removed, yet in many places on the floor were blood stains of the innocent victims ; in places the gruesome sight of human brains could be seen. Rich and poor had gathered there that afternoon, not alone for purposes of worship, but also to hear the organ music for which the church was famed. Among those who lost their lives that day were a number of Americans. The full meaning of the horror was brought nearer to us because some of them at different times had been our guests at the Embassy. One of these, Madame Landon, was a niece of former Vice-President Levi P. Morton, who, in the early '80's, was American Minister to France.
The fact that the Counsellor of the Swiss Legation, M. Stroehlin, together with his wife, met their death at that time created a marked impression upon the public mind. He was not only in the diplomatic service of a neutral Power, but was then engaged in looking after German interests. Many years before, he had been a Secretary of the Swiss Legation at Washington. He was very popular in Paris, and his taking away in this cruel manner came as a great shock to those in diplomatic circles. So horrible indeed had been some of the circumstances connected with the death of M. and Madame Stroehlin, that not until many hours thereafter were the mangled remains of the wife discovered beneath a great pile of fallen stone.
On calling a day or two later upon my colleague, M. Dunant, the Swiss Minister, to express my sympathy, he voiced the greatest indignation at such an act. I am sure that in so doing he echoed the sentiment of not alone the Allied Powers, but of all neutrals. The answer of the German Government, that of necessity it could not direct its shots so as to avoid places of worship, contained in itself its own condemnation. The fruits of such a crime could only in the slightest and most indirect manner be of any military advantage."