Caspar v. Warnsdorff (*1571-†1631) from Gościszów (Bolesławiec district), was an extraordinary figure, a great humanist and patron with extensive interests, the owner of a rich library, finally a recognized and respected lawyer and a long-time starost of the most powerful Duchy of Silesia. Finally, he initiated the extension of the castle in Gościszów (Giessmansdorf), which from a small Gothic fortress became a Renaissance palace with an unusual figural decoration on the tops. It seems strange that so little is known about such an outstanding man, while the family castle, ruined and robbed of details, is unstoppable before our eyes, its tombstone was destroyed already in the twentieth century, and the figural top plate “disappeared” at the end of the 1960s. (!), even his only surviving copperplate portrait disappeared (two famous plays are located outside Poland). However, Nicolaus Henel, a contemporary Silesian historiographer and writer, was not mistaken:
“His surname will live as long as there are people on earth who worship honor and wisdom, because his surname should not be recorded only on wooden boards and stones, after all, falling into ruin, but on monuments of eternal glory – this grace will be given by literature and it will allow to keep the memory of the one who, as long as he lived, showed love and respect for him”.
He was the first-born son of Sigismund v. Warnsdorff (died 1588) and Barbara v. Nostitz z.d. v. Sptöttig (†1598), but almost no records of the parents have been preserved. The Warnsdorff family belonged in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries to the most outstanding and branched Silesian noble families and was closely related to, among others, the Glaubitzes, Haugwitzes, Nostitzes, Rechenbergs, Reichenbachs, Zedlitzes, Schellendorfs, Stacks, Üchtritzes and many others. Caspar’s grandparents and parents probably belonged to the educated and maintained quite close contacts with the scientific community (in the castle library, there was to be correspondence with Nicolaus Copernicus and the family of Silesian Parlors’ architects, as well as a collection of old medical and astronomical devices). In 1585, when Caspar was 14 years old, Martin Mylius (*1542-†1611) stayed in Gościszów, the later rector from Görlitz (1594-1608) and a poet associated with the circle of scholars gathered around the Scholtz Garden in Wrocław, who twelve years later wrote panegyrics for him for the wedding. At the same time, 18-year-old Paul Preller (*1566† after 1628) from Bolesławiec, later pastor and rector of the school in Gryfów Śląski, as well as his slightly older cousin Hans, one of the favourite pupils of Giordano Bruno, burned at the stake in 1600, was also there in a very interesting and mysterious figure. Undoubtedly, Caspar’s parents had to know well, also connected with the circle of the Scholtz Garden, a well-known naturalist called “Silesian Pliny” Caspar Schwenckfeld. In 1601 he recalled Caspar’s mother, who had been dead for about three years then, as well as his two brothers Johannes and Abraham, “because of the special kindness that they had for him and his family”.
Laurentius Hartranfft (*1533-†1611), son of pastor Georg of Sobota/Zobten (Lviv district), still a pupil of Martin Luther in Wittemberg, was a guest pastor for 56 years between 1555 and 1611. The son of Laurentius Adam, born in Gościszów in 1565, who studied in Wittemberg in 1595, returned here in 1598 and replaced his father in pastoral work. After his death in 1611, he became a hospitable pastor until his death in 1617.
Pastor Laurentius was the educator of four young heirs: He was the tutor of four young heirs: Hans (died 1575), Sigismund (died 1588), Stephan (died 1579) and Balthasar (lived in 1618), and then the first educator of five sons of Sigismund. In 1578, at the request of “many of the nobility,” including Agnes v. Loss, Hans v. Warnsdorf’s widow, wrote an extensive speech, which he then dedicated to his young patrons. They all lived in an atmosphere saturated with religiosity and piety so characteristic of the Protestants of that time. Uncle Hans could probably have been the first model for the young Caspara, for “he not only pondered over Christ’s doctrine, but also applied it every day in his house and at his table”. He was also a model of a good and righteous master for the whole community. His sister-in-law Barbara, and Caspara’s mother, founded a double wooden epitaph after her husband’s death, dedicating one half to his brother-in-law Hans and his wife Agnes. Both paintings from this epitaph can be found today in the Archdiocesan Museum in Wrocław (il.).
So there were five brothers in the guest house: Caspar (*1571-†1631), Abraham (*1572-†1598), Johannes (*1574-†1598), Sigmund (†1629) and Albrecht (†1624). As for the first three, it is known that they have received a thorough education. There was one more child who lacked transmissions and who was depicted in the epitaph mentioned above. It cannot be ruled out that he died early, but he does not hold in his hands the red cross, which is characteristic in such cases.
Caspar graduated from the Görlitz gymnasium under Rector Laurentius Ludovicus (1584-94), who drafted a new “constitution” of the school, placing a strong emphasis on the high level of education and discipline of behaviour, modelled on the customs of ancient Rome. It was precisely defined what the students of all six classes had to do “every day, all day”, also on Saturdays and Sundays. Great emphasis was put on studying the catechism and the Gospel. Many sons of eminent noble families attended, although they paid much more for their stay and education than other students.
From September 1589, together with his brother Abraham about a year younger, they started studying at the University of Wittemberg, meeting here Caspara v. Rechenberg from Kliczków/Klitschdorf (Bolesławiec district), later the starost of the Duchy of Świdnica-Jaworsk, whose deputy he became after many years. Both brothers were close friends, with the well-known poetry professor and philologist (soon afterwards dean and vice-rector) Fridrich Taubmann (*1565-†1613), who had been teaching there since 1595 and who dedicated several epigrams to them. The first one, printed as early as 1594, described them as “excellent noble brothers radiating scholarly and diligent upbringing,” and further ones, in a similar style, were published 10 years later. In relation to Caspara he expressed admiration that “at such a young age he achieved such great ease of expression and linguistic richness”.
A rather unusual work has survived from his studies (the University Library in Wrocław): a fattening volume with handwritten lectures by Caspar on “Institutione” Justinian by Petrus Heigius, a professor at the University of Wittemberg, which were written down by a Latin doctor of law. There are also extracts from speeches given by various lawyers, his numerous handwritten annotations and remarks on the margins and emphasis in the text. On the title page, in addition to the dedication to Heigius, there is the date of 1580, which proves that his speeches date back to the time before Warnsdorff began his studies. Heigius was a well-known Saxon lawyer and princely appellate councillor, whom Caspar highly respected and valued, and had other of his works in his library.
The third brother Johannes, the owner of the Zabłocie/Thiergarten estate (Bolesławiecki district), first studied at the middle school in Budziszyn, then in September 1592 he began his studies in Wittemberg. However, he died suddenly in Bautzen on 29 October 1598 (“his life ended quietly”) and was buried in Gościszów. His very interesting, due to the autobiographical fragments, speech entitled “Agnieszka” has survived. “O pochwalwal prawznawstwa”, delivered at the “famous school in Bautzen for public exercise” in 1597 and published in print a year later. It was dedicated to Brandan v. Zedlitz-Hartmannsdorf, the starost of the Duchy of Świdnica-Jaworsk at that time, and to “the noblest, most outstanding wisdom, education, virtue, both his own and his ancestors (….) his brother Caspar born”. He recalled in it his “dearest and most beloved” brother Abraham, who died unexpectedly during his study on August 1 of the same (i.e. 1597) in Marburg, at the age of 26. As he wrote, “we expected, the beloved brother, the restlessness of your arrival, but in vain (….), you, the beloved brother, all of us brothers are led away and worshiped with tears and lamentations. You are mourned by the homeland and pious friends (…). My dearly beloved brother took the best from this teaching (i.e. law), he took care of it, devoted himself to it and devoted himself to it (….), my brother (….) who was already lost always thought that there was nothing better than a man who was fluent in law /…./”.
As early as 1593, Caspar’s first work, written under the direction of the local professor of law and history, Friedrich Tilemann, was published in Wittemberg, and two years later, the second work completing his studies, dedicated to the professor. In its development, Caspar recalled Tillemann, “whom, because of his excellent education and special virtue, he always had as his brother”, and with whom he held historical disputes, which later lay at the basis of this work. He also recalled how, almost six years earlier, he and his brother had been sent by his father /or rather: according to the will of his long-lived father/ and guardians to “Wittemberg, a city where arts/science flourished/ and where they always devoted themselves to them/…/”.
Luckily, quite a lot of works from Warnsdorff’s own book collection have been preserved, bearing his sentence, monogram, full signature and even a wider annotation.More than 20 of his books and several of his brothers have been found so far. Around the middle of the 17th century, many of them were already in the possession of the famous lawyer and bibliophile Zacharias v. Rampusch-Rommenstein from Wrocław, although they were probably bought by his father, also a lawyer, around 1635. Most of the already identified volumes concern various fields of law. They are carefully framed in light pigskin with an embossed black monogram “C V W” and date. Decorated with more or less decorative embossing, sometimes with visible gilding traces.
Little is known about the other brothers. Sigismund settled in nearby Nova and Kotliska/Neuen, Kesselsdorf. For some time he also owned Zabłocie/Thiergarten, which had previously belonged to his brother. He was married twice: with Sabina v. Nostitz z.d. Oberreichenbach (†1611), and Barbara v. Glaubitz, who survived him. His three sons died at the age of 6, 9 and 8 weeks, but he also had a daughter Anna, who lived to an old age (*1603-†1684) and was buried in Hänischen (Saxony). As his first wife came from the Haugwitz family, he orphaned 8-year-old Veronica v. Haugwitz z.d., who was orphaned by his parents, and was buried in Hänischen (Saxony). Rietschen (*1588-†1618). Years later, after her first husband’s widow, she became the wife of his younger brother Albrecht, who settled in Kraśnik Górne/Ober Schönfeld near Bolesławiec. However, she died one year after the wedding together with her newborn daughter Anna Maria and was buried there in a newly built tomb, “according to the noble ceremony”. The pastor writing the funeral speech recalled the memory of her guardian Sigismund v. Warnsdorff, whom he knew as a “stable and honest man”. Both brothers were buried in Nowa, where their tombstones have been preserved to this day.
Henelius wrote about Caspara as follows: “from a boy’s age, he had received education worthy of a free man and tasted the sweetness of this source, then at maturity he received law education with great success together with his first citizens and soon could compete for the palm tree of precedence with members of the Academy (….)”. He also mentioned his “long journeys, during which he admired the beauty and wisdom he encountered then”. It was said about him that “he was a husband born as if to govern the state, and the science that he was so eager to learn soon brought him great glory”. After studying in Görlitz and Wittemberg, he went on a bachelor’s journey through Germany, the Netherlands and France, after which he returned to his home country and started “serving his homeland”. “He was a good poet, orator, historian”. – Caspar from Gościszów in Silesia, a perfectly educated and qualified bachelor through his studies and travels.
After the death of his mother in 1598, the brothers shared their property, as a result of which Caspar, as the oldest, took over the most important part of the hospitality together with the family castle. From 1608 he also began to buy their manors from his brothers, merging all lands in his hands. Eventually, he owned the Upper and Lower Guests and Zębowice/Semmelwitz, near Jawor, as well as because of his office as a fief of the castle in Jawor and Chojnów. He married Helena v. Zedlitz z.d. in 1597. Leipe (*1572-†1628), daughter of Ernest (or Christoph) and Anna v. Wiese, and the ceremony took place at the castle in Bolesławiec.
In the years 80-90s of the 16th century, at the age of less than 20 years, he crystallized his interests with a particular fondness for medicine, botany, as well as law, history and theology, and after 1600 he also began a wide public activity. Around that year, long before he gained recognition as an expert in law, the Wrocław poet, but also a doctor of philosophy and medicine, Casparus Conradus (*1571-†1633) wrote anagrama in which he glorified his skills and predicted his great fame. He dedicated a similar work to his brother Johannes, who had been dead for about two years. Caspar was dedicated many works, scholarly and poetic treatises, emphasizing each time that he was a true patron of science. In 1601, an outstanding naturalist and Silesian scholar of that period, called “Silesian Pliny”, Caspar Schwenckfeld (*1563-†1609) 7 years older than him, called him “his most worthy master and friend” and wrote: “This is my work about plants, the noblest husband, according to custom, I would like to dedicate to you, because I understood that you find pleasure in studying philosophy and medicine, and especially (you are interested in) plants (here: herbs)”. Schwenckfeld was an outstanding personality, an expert in many fields of medicine (including balneology and herbal science), interested in botany, geography, history, magic and science, and went on sightseeing tours during which he studied the flora and fauna of the region. He combined his knowledge with a passion for scientific research and left behind a large book collection of 705 items.
It is very likely that Caspar’s garden, founded in 1587 in Wrocław by Laurentius Scholz, a friend of Schwenckfeld, where various herbs and medicinal plants were cultivated, was unfamiliar to Caspar. Scholz’s greatest activity (*1552-†1599) was in the last quarter of the 16th century, and his “garden of scholars” brought together many eminent thinkers and poets, being also a kind of “garden of the Muses”. They studied botany and prepared medicines, but also held friendly disputes, modelled on the Neoplatonic academy. It is certain that he knew Daniel Rindfleisch called Buckretius (*1562-†1621), who belonged to the regulars of the Scholz garden. He inscribed himself in the album of his son Theodor (*1599-†1632), but since Theodor was still a minor at the time, the entry refers rather to his father. Many of his friends inscribed themselves in this album “in all possible ancient languages”, various scholars and poets visiting Wrocław, as well as numerous representatives of the nobility. Caspar was also able to meet Martin Opitz, who from 1611-1615 was a personal teacher of Theodor and lived in his father’s house. Bucretius was not only a famous medic, surgeon and city physicist in Wroclaw, but also one of the greatest personalities of the late Renaissance in Silesia. He was a friend of the aforementioned historian Caspar Cunradi and knew Nicolas Henel v. Hennenfeld (*1582-†1656), known as Henelius, the famous Polihistor and lawyer very well. He even recommended him to Nicolaus Rehder as a home teacher of his two sons. Henelius wrote many epigrams dedicated to various people he met during his travels, or those who enjoyed special recognition in Silesia. He also wrote exceptionally extensively about Warnsdorff and even commented on his appearance, which proves that he probably met him personally. Caspar also knew Jeremias Gesner of Bolesławiec (*1560-†1618), brother of the famous Solomon, physician of Gryfów, Lubania and city physics of Jawor, as well as a poet closely associated with the Scholz circle. Jeremias’ widow was mentioned in 1632 among the creditors of the guest estate. The arrears for unpaid medicines reached 5 years. He also had to be a good friend of two brothers: Georg and slightly older Tobias (*1587-†1625, during the plague) Kober and even became the godfather of the son of the first of them.
His friendship with Matheus Pezold, secretary of the imperial office in Jawor, “belonging to the house and table of the Warnsdorffes”, was particularly important. As an expert lawyer, he paid him 200 thalers a year’s salary, and from 1628 he became his personal lawyer with a salary of 80 thalers a year. Pezold came to Silesia with his newly married wife around 1602 and was first secretary at the court of Princess Anna legnicko-Brzeska for 7 years, and then he was appointed to Jaworff’s office by the starost v. Warnsdorff. He buried two young wives who died after the births, and Warnsdorff and his family joined the various occasional speeches written on the occasion of funerals or weddings. They were united by true friendship and trust. The same Petzold was one of the main creditors of the indebted guest estate during the trial in 1632, where he argued that his principal had not paid him the said salary for 11 years (!). At the same time, however, he also acted as the legal guardian of Adelbert, Caspar’s youngest son.
The acquaintance with Abraham Gollnitz (Gölnitz), also one of V. Warnsdorff’s creditors, is also very interesting. He came from Gdańsk, but the dates of his birth or death are unknown. He was a “traveller and geographer” and in the first quarter of the 17th century he visited a large part of Europe, writing down his observations, to which he added many remarks about historical facts. In 1632 he was mentioned among creditors, but since he was in France at that time, Daniel Francke, a lawyer from Wrocław, acted on his behalf. Gollnitz received a written nomination from Warnsdorff as a volunteer (the year is unknown) who dealt with his affairs abroad with a salary of 200 thalers per year, which gave the unpaid sum of 1000 thalers for a period of 5 years. He wrote “from foreign countries” letters with his claims, which the new starost considered to be “contrary to the position of the sons of the deceased debtor”. He was still in Silesia in 1635, because he was one of the creditors selling Guests.
Caspar v. Warnsdforff became a royal court subordinate since 1600, he also started to go to Prague in the Silesian deputies. Soon he became a councillor of Emperor Rudolf II (died 1612) and then Matthew II (died 1619), and after his sworn in Jawor (15 January 1610) deputy starost of the Duchy of Świdnica-Jaworsk Caspara v. Rechenberg. After his sudden death in 1612, he was nominated starost and immediately appointed to the office in Świdnica. He stayed there for 15 years, which testified to the great trust of successive emperors and states and happened only twice in the history of the same. The position of the starost in the hereditary principality, which was as powerful as the principality of Świdnica-Jawor, was equal to that of the governor. He was appointed by the monarch himself from among the most affluent families in the principality, and he was responsible only to the chief administrative officer and the king. All royal officials were subordinated to him on duty. He convened state assemblies in the duchy and led them, all fiscal matters were subordinate to him, he appointed subordinate officials, and those whom the king had appointed, he formally installed and instructed. He led the highest courts in the duchy, replacing the king in them. He was subordinate to the chancellery of the duchy, headed by the chancellor, he also gave personal orders to the royal fiskł, whose task was to represent and investigate royal interests before the courts.
Caspara was written about at that time: “His care, diligence and prudence, which were exemplary, were very highly valued, and although Warnsdorff did not take an example from anyone, he himself passed it on to his posteriors and it seemed that it was shaped by justice itself, both for the glory of the princes and the Silesian region; he showed her faithfulness, willing advice in difficult cases, and gave evidence of the greatest devotion. He took care of everything concerning this land, he nurtured what was healthy, he cared for the old and just offices, and what was spoiled he tried to bring to the old state (…). He respected freedom and privileges, he was not greedy for money, he did not make the law of commerce, he did not buy with selling judgments, but he held his office with austerity and disinterestedness, equipped with energy and extraordinary dexterity in assessing the situation and complexities of difficult trials. He gained the gratitude of good citizens and brought many benefits to his homeland. Even his colleagues (here: lawyers) claimed that he was worthy of this and a far higher office.
Unfortunately, there was a particularly tragic period of the 30-year war in the history of Silesia, and Warnsdorff, who held a high state position, was at the heart of these events. These included the 23rd of February 1620, when the solemn and splendid entry of the new Czech king Frederick V (called the “winter king”) to Wrocław, in order to pay tribute to the Silesian states and the city of Wrocław. In the great tuning procession preceding His Royal Majesty, both princes of Legnica and Brest, brothers Jan Christian (starosta general) and Jerzy Rudolf and their knighthood (altogether 98 horses) drove in front. Then the Princes of Ziębice and Oleśnica, Henryk Wacław and Karol Fryderyk, together with their knighthood (43 horses), and finally the representatives of the Duchy of Świdnica and Jaworske: preceded by people carrying 6 drums, in blue and white costumes, 9 rows of nobility (3 in a row) and 2 rows (4 in a row) and one Drummer in green costume, they drove “fully dressed”: in the middle of the Duchy of Caspar v.Warnsdorff from Gościszów, Hans v. Schöneich from Siedlisko/Carolath on his right and Ernst v. Zedlitz from Lipa/Leipe on his left, privately his brother-in-law. Behind them there were 38 rows in various outfits (fleshy, green and red). Together 322 horses drove in the mission of this principality, which gave the most numerous group of all participating in the parade. In total there were 1278 horses in the procession. After a dozen or so days the royal procession set off on its way back, stopping in Boleslawiec, where its cost of staying at the castle closed with a huge amount of over 1113 thalers. It was partly covered by the city, the dukedom’s cashier, but also “some gentlemen”.
This short period of Protestant triumph soon ended, however, after the defeat of the Battle of White Mountain near Prague (8 November 1620), in which several hundred Silesians took part. The Silesian states concluded a settlement with Ferdinand II Habsburg. In exchange for abandoning the attempt to elevate Frederick (“winter king”) to the Czech throne and paying the emperor a huge contribution of 300 thousand guilders, an amnesty was obtained and the repression against Silesian Protestants was limited. A few months after the defeat of the battle, the Saxon troops arrived here and located themselves in the city, causing a general unfavorable attitude of the inhabitants. Colonel Schlieben, the commander, complained even to the Saxon curfeman that “the townspeople did not assign him any accommodation and had to live in an inn, although he was ill at the time”. The quarters of the soldiers were also bad, while “the starost of the Duchy of V. Warnsdorff had no influence on the townsmen”. Maybe he didn’t want to influence them at all?
In May 1622, in the vicinity of Lwówek Śląski, Lisowczyk troops appeared, which were supposed to support the empire in its fight against Protestants. At the same time, class struggle intensified in the whole district, causing a wave of revolts and conspiracies, including murders of the local nobility. The situation in the duchy became more and more hopeless, the chaos and impunity of imperial troops spending the winter of 1626 here prevailed. Starost v. Warnsdorff tried to appeal many times to the commanders in Świdnica, Jawor or Bolesławiec, he asked, demanded, invoked imperial privileges – but all this was unsuccessful. These marches and dissolved Protestant and Catholic armies, forced quarters, repressions and huge contributions destroyed Silesian cities, ruined noble estates and destroyed villages. It was expensive, food was scarce and plagues were spreading. In addition to money, everything that was valuable was also collected: already in 1627 Colonel V. Lauenburg issued instructions to his soldiers to accept jewelry in their contribution accounts. In one such report from Lwówek Śląski there was written: “Many of the nobility had to hand over their gold chains and shoulder straps, the townsfolk of their gold and silver decorations, and the army supplied entire boxes of these valuables from the area”.
At that time, the bitter decision of the starost v. Warnsdorff to resign, which he finally submitted on 5 July 1627, motivating her with his illness, was finally maturing. This happened after 15 years of faithful service, in spite of strong requests from the United States not to do so. He passed his office in Jawor to the imperial commission of Count G. v. Oppersdorf, starost of Głogówek and S. v. Bock, starost of Ząbkowice Śląskie. Less than three months earlier, the starost general had done the same as a sign of protest against the so-called “dragonade” and in the face of total disregard for his complaints at the Viennese court. There are indications that this “voluntary” resignation was enforced, and that the new starost was appointed by “secret instruction” of the fervent Catholic convert, known for his extremely ruthless conduct towards Protestants Heinrich v. Bibran (*1597-†1642). Then, despite the violent protests of the United States, he was introduced on July 6 to the office of the starost of the principality. Henelius regretted this:
“And you, for the famous royal court, rich and protected by brave husbands, how much worse it has changed and how much more you have fallen from day to day in your wealth since Warnsdorff left your province /…/…/. You had a Warnsdorff court, but you really don’t know who you had, but just now you would like to use it if it can no longer be done. You have left such a longing behind you, and this is wonderful and the best thing that can be said for your glory.
After his resignation, V. Warnsdorff received the sum of 2000 thalers from the Silesian States, and the emperor gave him the title of adviser, and he remained an elderly landowner. At that time, Caspar was probably already sick and adorned with both family and social-religious events that took place in his beloved province. After all, everything was happening right next door, because the Guests were lying in the area where many dramatic events took place. In January 1629, in Świdnica, famous for the atrocities units of Lichtenstein’s dragoons appeared, and together with them a new starost v. Bibran, “always surrounded by two Jesuits”. A day later, the first Catholic mass was celebrated and the townsmen were ordered to choose between Catholicism and exile, while the clergy and teachers were expelled immediately. The Jesuits also took over the church school and the Jewish church, after which they “deported four book carts from the presbytery”. Bibran also threw the town council out of the town hall in Jawor, drawing on the floor with chalk a line that they were to cross in the right direction, depending on their choice. He also destroyed them with forced accommodation. This was the case, for example, with a wealthy doctor, Dr. Heinze, who had to feed two companies of the army in his own house. He owed his freedom to the fact that the starost v. Bibran was just sick and needed medical help. This new starost forbade the townsmen to leave the city in order to attend Protestant masses, which were still held in the villages. However, this ban was not respected. It was also ordered that the children of Protestants should be forcibly given to the Jesuits for upbringing.
Soon the dandruff troops led by Vincentius de Solis (the former Bolesławiec, then known as the “animated devil”) also reached Bolesławiec, Lwówek Śl. and Nowogrodziec, who, like Jelenia Góra, turned to the Viennese court and the head office in Wrocław with a complaint about the illegal actions of the new starost. This, however, only worsened their fate; these were some of the most devastated areas of the war. On the night of September 14-15, 1629, a mass escape of the inhabitants began on the news of the Śl. dragons approaching Lwówek: “In the streams of pouring rain, protected at least partly by the defended Bóbr, a river of townsmen ran among the screams and painful complaints, and when the next day the Lichtenstein troops entered the city, they met only 4 members of the town council and 22 townsmen who did not want to leave their homes”. “In 1630, cows grazed in the town square, which was famous for its prosperity and its great cultural role for the entire region. The Dragoons also ravaged the Guests, entering the town on 15 September 1629, but there is no evidence that they were attacking the castle.
In November 1628 Caspar’s wife Helena died, with whom he lived for more than 30 years, and one year later the last of the living Sigmund brothers, who survived his two sons for only a few months. Soon he also buried his son-in-law, who left a young widow with a tiny child in a faraway estate from his family Gościszów. The family’s splendour was in decline, the Silesian province, to which he devoted so much strength and care, was ruined and torn apart by religious war, and the property that had remained in his family for 250 years, indebted and his fate uncertain.
It seems strange to be a certain carelessness in taking out new loans from a man who was considered to be very prudent, although he did not differ from his contemporaries (including his brothers) in such a lifestyle. From 1610 he began to take out loans more and more often from close and further relatives, intensified in the 1920s, which were not repaid on time, increased by interest and reached huge amounts. He was also guilty of offices, his employees from manor farms and home service, lawyers and attorneys, pharmacists, Jews, even a bookbinder for binding books and a craftsman for making a silk collar. He took one-time loans of many thousands from noble relatives, but he also owed a few inches’ salaries, not paid even for several years (!) Apart from Gościszów also other property was indebted, there were more than 30 noble creditors, and the remaining far more than 100 people.
Already a few years before Caspar’s death (August 20, 1631) there were cases in courts for the reimbursement of debts, the last one was summoned on March 3, 1631. On October 4, 1630, the starost Heinrich v. Bibran, on behalf of the court for the Boleslawiec district, ordered the takeover of all the property and the village of Gosciszów to secure debts. He motivated his decision by the fact that “Warnsdorff, asked many times by his eldest son Sigmund Brundan for real security, did not do it, besides, did not appear at the summons”. When he died a few months later, his property was managed for some time by his four sons, but in the face of creditors’ opposition, they had to leave him and the case was taken to the royal court.
Half a year after Caspar’s death, starosta v. By virtue of his office, Bibran called all interested parties to a public meeting in Jawor, where they were to present their claims. It was then that “three sons appeared in his name and in the name of their absent, underage brother” and protested against the conduct of the office, accusing him that they were not allowed to save his father’s property (and his “good name”), which they thought was possible. They also tried to return documents seized by the office (probably private) as well as to buy back the “sealed clothes of the father”, which were under the care of “properly prepared for their valuation people”.
On 28 November 1635, a contract of sale of the property was signed in Gościszów, which was drawn up by nearly 30 creditors and then handed over to the curator appointed for this case, Joachim v. Spiller/Matzdorf. It was bought by Baroness Helena v. Stosch (*1608-†1654), wife of Heinrich v. Bibran, the same one who took over the Starosty of Warnsdorff and who fiercely fought the Protestants, writing a bloody page in the history of the 30-year war in this region. The sold estate included, among other things, “all knight’s seats, manor farms, farm buildings. The following: “manor house, malt house and brewery, palace and grassy gardens, agricultural fields, mill with mill settlement, ponds with farm, meadows, forests, ponds with sieve, quarries, the right to water and fish, pastures with shepherds, cattle breeding, church fief, slaughterhouses, boats, lower judiciary, hunting law, inns”, peasants’ subjects and manorial service with all rights and duties. The debt taken over by the Baroness was repaid in full by 1638.
Caspar v. Warnsdorff was not only a starost of the principality and a judge. Above all, he was a great humanist, “a dreamer looking for wisdom and beauty in life”. At the same time he was known for his piety and composed church songs. He is credited with the chorale, which begins with words: “Freu Dich sehr o meine Selle/…/”, written in 1620 and sung to this day in the Protestant church. His journeys to the imperial court in Prague, where the unusual atmosphere of love for art and magic reigned, where Rudolph II’s patronage flourished and the most eminent European painters, sculptors and goldsmiths worked, could not remain without influence on the sensitivity of such an educated man and undoubtedly stimulated his imagination. Many eminent scholars, mathematicians, astronomers, alchemists and various types of intellectuals, including a large number of Silesians, also stayed in Prague at that time. It is also known from the diary of Melchior Goldast von Haiminsfeld (*1578-†1635), a well-known Prague court regular, a Swiss lawyer, humanist and historian, that Caspar v. Warnsdorff was one of the Silesian magnates, next to Melchior v. Redern, v. Schönaichs, Abraham v. Dohn and Wacker von Wackerfels, organizing sumptuous banquets in Prague, during which the elite of the imperial capital-politicians, scientists and artists enjoyed themselves, where on such occasions “the emperor generously endowed loyal Silesians”.
Von Warnsdorff was often called a patron, and Henelius wrote that “he was very gracious and eager to stop in their company”. There are quite a few so-called ephemeral prints dedicated to him in this connection. They did it for the city.In Daniel Coschwitz, a medical doctor from Legnica, calling him “the patron of his studies”, Caspar Laudismann, an imperial commissioner and court advisor to Prince Frederick of Wittemberg, “an independent lawyer and advisor in the city of Złotoryja”, who called him “the greatest guardian and patron of Silesian scholars”, or the former pastor from Kunice, near Legnica, Nicolaus Weidenhofer, who consecrated his solemn sermon, delivered in Kamienna Góra, where he called him “his kind master and mighty protector”. The famous lawyer Gotfried Baudisius from Legnica dedicated his doctoral thesis to him with the words “my most kind man”, and Christoph Wagner, professor of the school in Jawor, who spoke about the superiority of law over other sciences, called Warnsdorffa, the “crown of the Silesian nobility”.
Caspar Cunradus (*1571-†1633), a contemporary historian and poet, as well as a doctor of philosophy and medicine, and a Prague court visitor who had known the starost’s family for a long time, also composed a poem:
“Caspar Warnsdorff, a Silesian knight from Gościszów
Books and writers Patron
Science lover, defender and protector of scientists
If anyone is worthy to be named
Patron, he is worthy.
There must have been more of this kind of dedication, as Henelius says: “He devoted his care either to the nation or to the free Muses, so by the writings of people he was very kindly and kindly described” and further: “he valued the profound thought of Pope Julius II (….) that knowledge of literature is silver among the people, and a jewel among the nobility. So he got to know the whole church and secular history, old and new, reading freely the most eminent authors (…). He loved books so much that he devoted his free time to them. However, he claimed that no glory should be compared to godliness and religious worship of God. This piety was the foundation of all virtues for him, because apart from the extraordinary greatness of his spirit and extraordinary clarity of mind, he showed some extraordinary seriousness not only in words, but also in the face.
In 1840, during the renovation of the helmet of the guest church tower, information from 1790 was discovered, which indicated that two Latin texts by Caspar v. Warnsdorff and his brother Johannes from 1598 were also deposited there. According to Sinapius, who called Caspara “an unparalleled husband”, he had three mottoes. One of them, ‘Thue recht, traue wenig, lass Gott welten’, he usually wrote on the title pages of books from his book collection. Another one was on a portrait made in Prague in 1616 by a court draughtsman and an imperial portraitist from Antwerp, Aegidius Sadeler II (the Younger): “Tandem constans vincet vim virtus”-“Finally virtue wins Force”. The inscription along the rim explained that he was 45 years old at the time. The very fact that such an outstanding artist, working for the emperor himself, was portrayed by only a few Silesian dignitaries, testifies to Warnsdorff’s social position and rank. The expression of the sense of dignity and family pride was the motif from his coat of arms, placed on the underside of the coat of arms: stars and crescents. A similar role was played by the long heraldic sequences on the palace portal, emphasizing the old age of the family as well as the kind of tombs (tumbs) that he founded for himself and his wife.
Caspar v. Warnsdorff had four sons, the youngest of whom in 1632. In 1632, the youngest son of Caspar v. Warnsdorff was “just reaching the age of majority”. The two eldest were Sigmund Brundan (*1600-w. 1633) and Caspar (*1601- c. 1632). It is known that he first attended school in Jawor and in 1614 and was one of Daniel Vechner’s favourite pupils. Caspar studied in Leipzig in 1622 (an important university for future lawyers) and both studied political science in Leipzig in 1623 and stayed in Brussels/Brüssel in Belgium in May 1624. They then continued their studies in Italy: Padua and Siena. They travelled in a group of 7 Silesians together with brothers Sigmund and Otto v. Nostitz, Christoph Friedrich v. Lestwitz, Christoph Georg v. Hock and Johannes Ammonius. Another son, Hans Abraham (from 1618 to 1679), bearing the names of both early deceased uncles, settled in Wieściszowice/Ober Wernersdorf (Kamienna Góra district), and later in nearby Michałkowa/Michelsdorf. In 1624 he was matriculated at the university in Siena and Padua. He travelled with Georg Sigmund v. Zedlitz (they eventually became brother-in-laws), Caspar and Otto v. Nostitz and Heinrich v. Mühlheim. After his return, he married Ursula v. Zedlitz z.d. Wernersdorf (died before 1674). Adelbert’s last son (1617-1651) was a court judge in Legnica.
He also had Caspar’s daughter Helena (*1606-†1685) issued for Sigmund v. Zedlitz-Wernersdorf (died before 1632), a friend of his son. After a short marriage of only two years, from which Barbara Helena’s daughter was born, she remained a widow until the end of her life. As emphasized in her funeral speech, she remained completely alone, without the care of her family, and repeatedly “fell under the burden of war time” in her estate in Wojcieszów/Kauffung (Goldorian district). But then she was already old and sick, surrounded by an extraordinary cordiality and care of her daughter and both her subsequent husbands. She owed her extraordinary strength of spirit, noble character, righteousness and “attachment to Christian and noble virtues” to the careful upbringing of her parents, and especially to her father, which was strongly emphasized, who attached exceptional importance to this despite the war chaos. She died at the age of 79 in the son-in-law’s estate in Pilawa/Peilau (Dzierżoniów district). A modest stone inscription plate has been preserved there to her memory. Her only daughter, although married three times, did not leave any offspring.
The v. Warnsdorff family was the guardian of a mansion church, where its members made many foundations (especially in the 15th and 16th centuries) and where they were buried. Caspar himself ordered to widen the interior by adding a room behind the altar, where two tombs were erected for him and his wife. Made of “almost white stone”, they had a modest plant decoration in the form of festivals and full-shaped images of the deceased for centuries. Their heads rested on pillows and their hands were prayerfully folded. Damaged during the Napoleonic wars (later repaired) stood in their place until 1945, when they were broken down, but both top plates were then stored in the church. They disappeared only around 1968, when “they were disposed of during the renovation of the church and their further fate is unknown”. Around 1940, according to the story of the last pastor Hellmut Klein, both sarcophagi were opened in the presence of the owner of the estate, Baron Friedrich Carl v. Eggeling, that pastor, conservator G. Grundmann, and a photographer. Before the bodies fell into the dust for a moment, Caspar was seen with his characteristic long, bright beard and hands folded on a long sword lying along the body.
V. Warnsdorff’s coat of arms was hanging on the “back wall”, while on the side lance a tournament lance, a gold-plated helmet, a sword and the shaft of flags probably belonged to the polygons carried during the funeral in conduct and then hung in the church near the tomb. Caspara (and his wife a little earlier), Pastor Georg Schwarzbach (*1597-†1647), who took over the parish in 1626 and, after the death of his patron, moved to neighbouring Ocice/Ottendorf. After taking over the estate in Gościszów by the starost v. Bibran and the departure of pastor Schwarzbach, in the years 1630-35 a vacancy occurred in the presbytery.
The Silesian Warnsdorffs began to die out in the male line as early as at the turn of the 17th and 18th centuries. In the 30-40s Caspar’s great-grandsons still had modest estates of Szymanów and Jaskulin/Möhnersdorf, Simbsdorf near Strzegom, and Janowice Wielkie (former Klein Janowitz), near Legnica. The only trace of Warnsdorffes living here is a modest, small tombstone (inscription and four coats of arms) preserved on the wall of a tiny church in Szymanów. It was intended for a half-year-old child, but due to severe damage it is completely illegible.
The Lusatian line in the vicinity of Lubañ and Zgorzelec was still in use, but it also died out at the end of the eighteenth century. The memory of Caspar v. Warnsdorff, however, lasted many years after his death, because the authors ennobled them by reminding the members of the family that they came from him.
An article written by Małgorzata Stankiewicz, based on her book “Gościszów, historia zamku”, Wrocław 2009.