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VMs: nationality [was: Hieronymus Bosch...]

Denis wrote:

> > Does this mean Wilfrid's family was of Lithuanian rather
> > than Polish extraction?  I've always understood that he himself
> > was a Pole.  Is this correct?

and Dana replied:

> I am not sure whether or not this has been determined conclusively. Voynich
> appears to have been very protective of his immediate Family, not wishing to
> disclose his relatives and early life. This is understandable considering
> his political inclinations. As Rafal states he was from Kaunas, though he
> may have had family living in Poland as well. The extent of his "nobility"
> is questionable. His father was apparently at one point a petty officer.

Not quite true. Some history first: in 1385 the personal union
of the Kingdom of Poland and Grand Duchy of Lithuania started
the process of uniting the two countries, completed in 1569
since when they became one country with two provinces.
Lithuanian and Ruthenian nobility was "adopted" by Polish nobility
into their armorial clans in 1413 and during the following
centuries the ruling class of the eastern province became
gradually polonized, adopting the Polish language and customs.
There were also internal migrations from overpopulated
Western Poland to underpopulated Lithuania and Ruthenia, where
land owners were granted various privileges. So in the 19th c.
it was difficult to say who was Polish and who was Lithuanian
in the area. The greatest Polish romantic epic poem starts
with the words: "Lithuania, my mother country!" (recently
made into a great movie by Andrzej Wajda, nominated to
Oscar a year or two ago).

We know that Wojnicz himself stated that he was Polish
on entering the USA. But it does not contradict the fact
that he came from Lithuania. He later lived in central
Poland and was imprisoned in Warsaw.

Concerning his nobility - it is not questionable at all.
Polish nobility was quite unlike British or Western
European. The class was much more numerous - estimated
at 10% of the population (and more in some areas).
Some of them lived at the level of peasants (or even lower,
if different areas are compared). The only difference
being that they could own land (even though some did not)
and had the right to vote.

Best regards,

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