The family of Maria Kazimiera
Maria Kazimiera d’Arquien was born on June 28, 1641 in Nevers, France. This year was the 360th anniversary of her birth. Her parents, Henry de la Grande Marquis d’Arquien and Francois de la Châtre, were married in 1634. Maria’s parents belonged to the impoverished nobility, but their family ties were quite impressive.
We know very little about the childhood of Maria Kazimiera. It is known that she had six siblings: two brothers and four sisters. Two of her sisters became nuns but the rest of her siblings, like her, took residence in
The father of the future queen, Marquis d’Arquien, served as a captain in the army of the Orleans Prince Gaston, the brother of Louis XIII. His wife supervised work for Princess Maria Gonzaga and supervised the ladies of her court in Nevers. Marquis d’Arquien had a rather interesting youth with lots of alcohol and women. Later, this aristocrat lost most of his money and lived on the generosity of various European magnates. He moved to
In late 1645 Maria Gonzaga took a trip to
It is hard to tell what the girl’s life was like in the immediate years that followed the crowning of Maria Luisa as the Queen of Poland. It can be assumed however, that she was raised by one the court ladies. Probably around that time people started to call her “Marysienka”. Residing in
In 1648 Vladislavus IV died and his widow got very ill. Young Marysienka spent long hours by her bed ardently praying for her patron’s recovery. After several months the Queen recovered and supported the election of her brother-in-law Jana Kazimierz to the throne. A year later, she was already married to the new King of Poland.
The times were uncertain and the Queen sent her goddaughter to Nevers, so the girl could advance her education. Little Maria Kazimiera was admitted to the pre-monastery school supervised by the nuns of Saint Ursula. At the same time Marysienka’s aunt, Countess de Maligny, taught her good manners and proper court conduct.
The situation in the
Once powerful, the
In 1651 the war broke out again. In Beresteczko the Poles defeated the troops of Bohdan Chmielnicki. In that battle Jan Sobieski, the future King of Poland and the future husband of Marysienka, was wounded.
The peace in
All high-ranking soldiers were taken prisoner and murdered by Tatars according to the orders of Bohdan Chmielnicki. Among the casualties was Marek Sobieski, the brother of Jan Sobieski.
At the age of 12 Maria Kazimiera returned to
In her teenage years her brightness and intelligence made her the most distinguished among all the young ladies at the court. “As a child, she was unusually beautiful – growing up, she shined like a star. People were losing their heads for her”.
When she was 13, she got a part in a royal ballet and played a young reaper surrounded by nymphs. Famous poet of the time Andrzej Morsztyn, noticed her and enchanted by her beauty, he dedicated several strophes to her. The poet emphasized that:
Together joined in that angelic body. Humor and brains of unusual quality.
What the poet wrote was undeniably true. Her beauty was written about and praised even by unbiased people. Not being very tall, she had excellent proportions (“Of medium height, neither plump nor skinny”). Her biggest beauty assets were her dark eyes and thick, dark hair. A few years later one of the secretaries of the French ambassador said about her eyes: “When she looks at you favorably, you cannot resist her eyes”.
In 1655, young but already famous Jan Sobieski arrived in the
However, during his stay in