Czartoryski chärtôrĭs´kē [key], Polish princely family. Although of ancient lineage, it rose to prominence only in the 17th cent., and in the 18th cent. during the reign of the Saxon kings of Poland it virtually ruled the country.
Prince Michael Czartoryski, 1697–1773, was grand chancellor of Lithuania. His brother, Prince Augustus Czartoryski, d. 1782, was palatine of Polish Russia. Failing in their efforts to reform the Polish constitution, the brothers fell out with King Augustus III and, securing the support of Catherine II of Russia, succeeded in elevating their nephew, Stanislaus Poniatowski, to the Polish throne as Stanislaus II after Augustus's death. Prince Adam Jerzy Czartoryski, 1770–1861, grandson of Michael, was a hostage at the Russian court after the failure of the Polish insurrection in 1794. There he befriended the future czar, Alexander I, who after his accession appointed Czartoryski (1803) foreign minister. He resigned in 1806 but remained a close adviser of Alexander, whom he accompanied to the Congress of Vienna and from whom he obtained the Polish constitution of 1815 after Alexander was recognized as king of Poland by the congress. Opposing the later Polish policy of Alexander and Nicholas I, Czartoryski took part in the insurrection of 1830 and headed (1830–31) the provisional government. When it fell, he emigrated to Paris, where until his death he was the leader of the Polish aristocratic party. He was (1803–23) curator of the university at Vilnius and greatly improved the Polish school system.
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