Józef Szymanowski was born in 1748. His parents were Maciej Szymanowski, Starosta (Constable) of Wyszogród, later Kasztelan (Lord-Lieutenant) of Rawa, and Anna neé Luszczewska. After completing his education at the prestigious Piarist Collegium Nobilium in Warsaw, he was admitted into the Czartoryski court, first with August Aleksander, later with Adam Kazimierz. The accomplished young man also caught the eye of King Stanislaw August Poniatowski, who invited him regularly to his 'Thursday dinners' and in 1773 elevated him to the rank of Royal Chamberlain. Between 1768 and 1774 Szymanowski accompanied Adam Kazimierz Czartoryski in his foreign travels. In 1770 he started publishing his poems in 'Zabawy Przyjemne i Pozyteczne' (Pleasant and Useful Entertainment): it was, however, a verse translation of Montesquieu's 'The Temple of Venus at Cnidos' that established his reputation as a poet. In 1780 and 1782 he was elected to the Sejm from the County of Sochaczew. In 1780-1784 he headed the Treasury Commission. In 1791-1792 he was a member of a commission charged with the task of drawing up a new Codex of Civil and Criminal Law (aka Stanislaw August's Codex). During Kosciuszko's insurrection he served as a judge of the Duchy of Mazowsze Criminal Court at the Interim State Council and then Deputy Councillor of the Supreme National Council and de facto head of the Justice Department. After Polands fall he withdrew from public life to his landed estate at Grady near Blonie. Five years later, however, we find him again in Warsaw where, in November 1800, his name appears on the list of the founder-members of the Warsaw Society of the Friends of the Science. He died on 15 February 1801 in Warsaw.
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