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Czartoryski, Prince Adam Jerzy

Czartoryski, Prince Adam Jerzy, 1770-1861, was unquestionably the greatest Polish statesmen and diplomat of the 19th c entury. Educated in the liberal concepts of Enlightenment, Czartoryski, throughout his long career, developed and devoted himself to a program designed to restructure Europe, to end repression, and to build a community of free and independent states, including a reconstituted Poland. He began his distinguished career as friend, advisor and foreign minister of Tsar Alexander I.

After the Napoleonic Wars, Alexander's turn toward conservatism and his failure to implement reforms in Russi a disappointed Czartoryski. At the Congress of Vienna Prince Adam's advocacy for an independent Poland led to the creation of the Congress Kingdom, a rump state under the monarchy of Alexander I. Czartoryski briefly retired from political life to a post as curator of Wilno University.

The accession of Nicholas I, the increasing repression of Poles and traditional Polish-Russian enmity soon brought Czartoryski back into political life where he played a leading role in the revolutionar y go vernment of the 1830-1831 uprising. Its failure led Czartoryski to exile in Paris.

Drawing upon his considerable skills and long-established contacts within European society, Prince Adam soon developed a widespread, if unofficial, diplomatic organization, later known as Hôtel Lambert, throughout Europe to promote his ideas and policies. Over the course of the next two decades Czartoryski's extensive contacts, his nobility and his reputation allowed the Hôtel Lambert t o play a significant diplomatic role vis-a-vis Great Britain and France in a continental context while continuing to seek support for an independent Polish state.

Anticipating British and French military intervention against Russia, Czartoryski worked directly in London and in Paris for the creation of a Polish army abroad. It soon became evident that the Western powers, while willing to use the Poles, were not prepared to go to war. During this period the Hôtel Lam bert bro adened its diplomatic activities and established an additional focal point for its endeavors, support for the national independence of the peoples of Eastern Europe.

Czartoryski's policies here were primarily directed against the extension of Russian hegemony into southeastern Europe, but were also anti-Habsburg. Prince Adam believed that the Ottoman Empire must be preserved, at least temporarily, and reformed, to allow time for its peoples to develop toward independence and to serve as a bulwark against Russian expansion. He also believed that Polish aid now for these peoples would be reciprocated in the future. By the late 1830s and early 1840s, Czartoryski, with tacit British and French support, had established permanent agencies in Rome, Constantinople and Belgrade, and utilized temporary agents whose activities ranged as far as Jassy and Persia.

The decade of the 1840s saw the Hôtel Lambert's greatest success. In Serbia, Czartoryski and his agent s, Czajkowsk i in Constantinople and Zach in Belgrade, helped that country stave off Russian influence, ensured the continued rule of Alexander Karageorgevic, and shaped the development of Garasanin's Nacertanije, the secret plan for creating a Greater Serbia. Among the Romanians and Bulgarians the Hôtel Lambert also succeeded in weakening Russian influence and helped the Bulgarian quest for an independent church. Polish aid was instrumental in freeing the Bosnian Catholic church from Ha bsburg control . Even at the Porte Polish influence made itself felt through Czajkowski. By the beginning of 1848, Czartoryski's agency in Rome appeared to be gaining church support for the Polish cause.

Despite their early promise, the revolutionary upheavals which began in Paris did little to further Czartoryski's causes. In his general European policies, Prince Adam suffered numerous setbacks. A new radical government in Paris rejected his heretofore successful moderate program and threw its suppor t to Polish radicals advocating armed insurrection. In Britain, only with difficulty was Czartoryski able to keep open his ties to the government. Although he continued to press his basic policies, his influence weakened. Early hopes voiced by German radicals to grant equal rights to the Poles under Prussian control led Czartoryski to travel to Berlin to attempt to negotiate a pact with von Arnim, Prussia's foreign minister. Among the Austrian Slavs prospects for equality at first appeared bright and Czarto ryski's former agent, Zach, was present at the Prague Congress. However, the rapid resurgence of German nationalism in Prussia and the violent crushing of the prague Congress soon ended any realistic chance for Polish freedom.

In the East, Czartoryski responded to the revolutionary challenge with renewed activity among the Serbs, Croats, Bulgarians and Romanians, as well as among the Ottomans and even into the Crimea and the Ukraine. His extensive efforts, however, me t continual frustrat ion. The loss of Zach in Belgrade, replaced by the less capable Zwierkowski-Lenoir, and increased Russian pressure at the Porte against Czajkowski, coupled with a lessening of British and French support there, undermined the Hôtel Lambert's influence in the region. Despite Czartoryski's hopes that Polish support would now be repaid, the heady mixture of revolution and independence led these peoples to ignore his earlier services which had helped make revolt, or at least, self-ass ertion, possible, and the Hôtel Lambert steadily weakened.

Only among the Hungarians, in armed revolt against the Habsburg, did the Hôtel Lambert find, and give, support. Many Poles joined the Hungarian army as officers and soldiers. In 1849, through Zamoyski, Czartoryski came close to implementing an agreement between the Hungarians and their subject nationalities which might have provided the internal support and tranquillity the Hungarians needed to achieve their indepen dence. But their intrans igence and the intervention of Russian troops soon brought an end to the Hungarian Revolution.

1849 was a major turning point for Czartoryski and his organization. Beaten back by emerging nationalism, their cause ignored by France and Britain, defeated by Russian arms and subject to intense Russian diplomatic pressure which, for Czajkowski and many other Poles forced them into acceptance of Islam or imprisonment, the Hôtel Lambert experienced almost total collapse. Only gradually w as Czartoryski able to re-establish some of his former influence. The outbreak of the Crimean War again led to extensive activity in the Ottoman Empire, France and Britain. Despite efforts to create Polish Legions to fight Russia and to make the Polish Question a major issue of the war, the Western powers tacit understanding that this would remain a localized conflict, spelled an end to the Hôtel Lambert's aspirations. In fact, political developments had moved beyond Czarto ryski's concepts of liberali sm and diplomacy. Time had left Prince Adam and his Hôtel Lambert behind, continually striving for Polish independence, but never to realize his dream.

Robert A. Berry


Berry, Robert A. "Czartoryski and the Balkan Policies of the Hôtel Lambert, 1832-1847." Unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, Indiana, 1974.

Hahn, Hans Henning. Aussenpolitik in der Emigration; Die Exildiplomatie Adam Jerzy Czartoryskis 1830-1840. Munich: R. Oldenbourg, 1978.

Handelsman, Marceli. Adam Czartoryski. 3 vols Warsaw: Towarzystwo Naukowe Warszawskie, 1948-1950.

Kukiel, Marian. Czartoryski and European Unity 1770-1861. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1955.

Skowronek, Jerzy. Polityka Balkanska Hôtelu Lambert (1833- 1856). Warsaw: Warsaw University Press,1976.

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© 1998 James Chastain.