Persons related to Chopin Persons related to Chopin

Jan Nepomucen Dziewanowski

Jan Nepomucen Dziewanowski

Jan Nepomucen Dziewanowski

Jan-Nepomucen Dziewanowski came from a family which used the Jastrzębiec coat-of-arms and hailed from Dziewanowo, in the region of Płock. He was the son of Jan (1755-c.1815), himself son of the Castellan of Chełmno and owner of Szafarnia in the Dobrzyn region and of a mansion on Senatorska St. in Warsaw (land registry no. 471c), and Cecylia Trembecka, daughter of the standard-bearer of Malbork (coat-of-arms Brochwicz III; d. 16 Dec. 1823). Jan-Nepomucen's siblings were Ludwika-Wiktoria-Ewa (b. Płonne, 19 Dec. 1775; d. Grodków, 24 Dec. 1880), Józefa (d. after 1824) and (Ignacy-Aleksander) Juliusz (b. Płonne, 1779; d. Działyń, 1854), owner of Szafarnia, where Fryderyk Chopin stayed during the summer holidays of 1824 and 1825. Jan-Nepomucen was also closely related through his mother with the Pruszak family, which had close links with the Chopins.

Jan-Nepomucen was born in Płonne, in the region of Dobrzyn, in 1782. Everything suggests that his tutor, around 1798-1799, was Fryderyk Chopin's father, Mikołaj. Dziewanowski was most probably a pupil of the Liceum Warszawskie secondary school, although his name does not appear in the lists of old boys. In 1806 he secretly left Warsaw, then under Prussian rule, and enlisted in the Polish Army of General Jan-Henryk Dąbrowski. When Napoleon's troops entered Poznań, he undertook a solo intelligence operation: he secretly returned to Warsaw with the task of ascertaining the strength of the Russian forces, which, under General Kamiński, had taken the Praga district of the city. Dziewanowski paced out a bridge over the Vistula to assess its width, with the possible effectiveness of an artillery attack in mind. In the Praga district, he obtained a Russian passport to leave for the Prussian partition, for the estate of Ludwika Skarbek (doubtless to Żelazowa Wola). There he was equipped with a broadsword and a wagon, in which he passed between the Prussian and Cossack armies, finally arriving in Poznań, where he gave a report to the French and entered Warsaw as aide-de-camp to General Edouard Jean Milhaud in the vanguard of the Napoleonic forces. This story is described by Fryderyk Skarbek as a secret entrusted to him by Mikołaj Chopin.

In November 1806 he was in the staff of General Dąbrowski, and later in the French staff of General Milhaud. On 14 April 1807, in the church of the Visitation of the BVM in the Nowe Miasto district of Warsaw, Jan Dziewanowski became godfather to Ludwika Chopin, Fryderyk's sister. On 5 June 1807 he enlisted as captain in the famous 1. Regiment of Light Cavalry of the Guard, then just being formed, and became commander of 3. Company. On 16 December he set off at the head of his company for Chantilly, near Paris, where his regiment was to be stationed. In the autumn of 1808 he found himself with his regiment in Spain, and on 30 November 1808 took part in the famous storming of Somosierra. When squadron leader Jan Kozietulski was wounded during the charge on the first Spanish gun battery, Dziewanowski took over and led daring charges on the second and third batteries. During the taking of the latter he was heavily wounded and then decorated with the Legion of Honour by Napoleon himself while still on the battlefield. He was the only Pole whose name was mentioned in the Napoleonic army's bulletin on the capture of Somosierra. He died in hospital in Madrid on 5 December 1808 and there he was buried. He was not married and left no offspring.

Piotr Mysłakowski and Andrzej Sikorski (July 2006)

Bibliography
Robert Bielecki, Szwoleżerowie gwardii [The Light Cavalry of the Guard] (Warsaw, 1996).
[Fryderyk Skarbek], Pamiętniki Fryderyka hrabiego Skarbka [Memoirs of Count Fryderyk Skarbek] (Poznań, 1878).
Piotr Mysłakowski and Andrzej Sikorski, Chopinowie. Krąg rodzinno-towarzyski [The Chopins. Their Family and Social Circle] (Warszawa, 2005).

 


 

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