Although only few works by Olbrycht Karmanowski have been preserved, he is considered one of the most interesting writers in early modern Poland. His masterpiece is a cycle of reflective 'Penitential Songs', which echo Jan Kochanowski's 'Psalms and Laments', and which are still willingly included in anthologies of the Polish Renaissance and Baroque literature. Karmanowski, thoroughly educated in the Socinian Academy of Raków, wrote occasional poems, translations from classical languages, diaries and letters. For many years his biography was based on conjecture, which the entry in the Polish Biographical Dictionary evidently shows. So far only the years 1625-1630 have been well documented thanks to the preserved correspondence of the poet. In the present article the author recapitulates known facts scattered in various sources, and presents new details of the poet's biography revealed by his archive research. Now it is known, for instance, who Karmanowski's ancestors were, how he got in contact with the Unitarian Raków, when he entered into the service of Duke Krzysztof II Radziwill, and what kind of relationship he had with the patron and other courtiers. All these details shed new light on Karmanowski's literary output. We can, for instance, better understand reasons for the poet's negative attitude towards the 'Lisowczycy' when we realize that the squad did plunder Raków and that its founder and commander, Aleksander Józef Lisowski, and the poet met in person during the Zebrzydowski Rebellion when both of them served under Duke Janusz Radziwill. Particular importance is attached to the hypotheses concerning Karmanowski's acquaintance with Piotr Kochanowski (and Stanisław Kurosz's part in introducing them to each other), and the cause and date of the poet's death. The objective of the article is to systematize our knowledge of Karmanowski's life, which the students of this talented poet's output will certainly find useful.
Financed by the National Centre for Research and Development under grant No. SP/I/1/77065/10 by the strategic scientific research and experimental development program:
SYNAT - “Interdisciplinary System for Interactive Scientific and Scientific-Technical Information”.