The Podlaskie Roots of the Książyk
Half the Książyk people are living abroad. Most of them are not Polish citizens. Many of them know very little about Poland. This page is a visual tool to help them locate our geographic origins on the map. A future post will present the History and culture of Podlaskie, the region which is the historic craddle of our family.
Before WWI, Podlaskie was known by the historic names of Podlasie or Podlachia. Podlasie means "under the forest". This term pictures perfectly the landscape of the region. The treasures of Podlaskie include Białowieża, the only primeval forest in Europe. In this exceptional area listed on the UNESCO World Heritage are living the last bisons of the European continent. Podlachia means "under the Lech". In the Middle Age, the Poles were called the "Lech", from Lechite tribes. With other West Slavic tribes, our ancestors spoke a Lechitic language that would become modern Polish.
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Bordering Mazovia, the historic heart of Poland, Podlasie was integrated in the Piast Kingdom during the 13th century. Then the region belonged to the Duchy of Lithuania until 1569. Therefore, in the first decades after their settlement in Podlasie, our "Książyk" Niwiński ancestors were the subjects of the Jagiellon Grand Dukes of Lithuania.
After the Union of Lublin that instaured the Polish-Lituanian Commonwealth, Podlasie became part of the Kingdom of Poland. Until the third partition of Poland in 1795, it was a Voivodship with Drohiczyn as the regional administrative center.
The presence of Książyk people in the Eastern Province of Podlasie is confirmed in the early 15th. century. The two maps above are from the early 1500's. The historical region of Podlasie is indicated in blue (with much approximation).
All the available genealogy references (herbarz) confirm that the Książyk are a branch of the extended Niwiński family established in the 5 Niewino hamlets located near the town of Bielsk Podlaski.
The 5 Niewino hamlets have no churches and they belong to the parish of Wyszki. The archives related to the "early" Książyk people are in the town of Drohiczyn, the former historic capital of Podlasie and now the seat of the Roman Catholic Diocese. Local historians report the origins of Książyk people in the Hamlet of Niewino Stare. A very relevant information can be read with this link: "Historia powstania wsi Niewino Stare", Historia Malinowo.