The Bychawa Enigma

Are Kuszaba and Bychawa the same Clan?

Heraldry is a very precise sciences in the description and interpretation of blazons. However, when it come to tracing the coat of arms origins, the process is quite difficult and even tricky.

Uncertainties related to antique spelling do not help. It is well established that Paprzyca and Kuszaba are the same Clan with one single and same coat of arms. But the orthograph Kuszaba as many variants that include Kuczawa, Kussaba, Ruszaba, Ruszawa.

One of these variations might be Bychawa/Buchawa. The Bychawa and Kuszaba coat of arms are completely different. However, one question remains unanswered: do Kuszaba and Bychawa belong a same Clan?


The name Bychawa is mentioned among other coats of arms to be transferred to Lithuania after the Union of Horodlo. This document was signed in 1413 to confirm the union between the Kingdom of Poland and the Great Duchy of Lithuania. The story tells that a Lithuanian boyar named Monstold had been adopted by the Bychawa family. According to his origins, he could claim a Lithuanian identity.  

Heraldists remark that the coat of arms the Bychawa family is actually unknown. There is no description of the design and symbols. Hence the enigma regarding the relevance of this blazon. On this point, there are several hypothesis.

 Stemmata Nobilium Regni Poloniae - manuscript from the 17th c. - page 254 (487) - There is no description of the Bychawa coat of arms. In Poland, the village of Bychawa (in the Lubelskie Region) has a blazon that heraldists do not relate to the former Bychawa Clan. 

 In 1899, heraldist Franciszek Piekosiński admits the possibility of a typographical error in the act of Horodel. The mistake reads Bychawa in place of Kuszaba. He also has doubt regarding the existence of a Bychawa Family since no medieval sources refer to them.                             

Source: Franciszek Piekosinski - Heraldyka polska wieków średnich - Kraków Akademia Umiejętności, 1899 - s. 200-201. 

In 1839, heraldist Kasper Niesiecki has a clear-cut position. He highlight that the coat of arms of Bychawa also called "Ruchaba" is actually the coat of arms of Paprzyca, or Kuszaba .

Source: Kasper Niesiecki - Herbarz polski  T. 2. - Lipsk Nakładem i drukiem Brettkopfa i Haertla, 1839 - s. 374. 

In 1856, heraldist Joachim Lelewel insists on the uncertainties of old spelling. he points out that Bychawa in the Act of Horodel can be read as "B", "K" or "R". Lewevel makes a direct link to Kushaba. He also suggests that Kushaba should be read Ruch-aba (or Rochawa) because in ancient times,  "ch" and  “sz" were used erraticaly.

Source: Joachim Lelewel - Polska, dzieje i rzeczy jej - Poznań: Nadkładem J.K. Żupańskiego, 1856 - T. 4 s. 305. 

In 1805, heraldist Piotr Nałęcz Małachowski considers that the Buchawa coat of arms is identical to the coat of arms of Dołęga, because the Bychawskis sealed themselves with this coat of arms.

Source: Piotr Nałęcz Małachowski -: Zbiór nazwisk szlachty z opisem herbów własnych familiom zostaiącym w Królestwie Polskim i Wielkim Xięstwie Litewskim - Lublin Drukarnia J.C.K. Mci u XX Trynitarzów, 1805 - s. 581. 

In 1914, heraldist Seweryn Uruski explains that the Lithuanian Monstold took the Bychawa coat of arms at the Sejm in Horodło. He states that this blazon is in fact a variant of the Pobog coat of arms.

Source: Seweryn Uruski - Rodzina. Herbarz szlachty polskiej. T. 11 - Warszawa Gebethner i Wolff, 1914 - s. 241. 

The Bychawa enigma surfaced in 1413 and remains quite fascinating more than 600 years later. We have no competence whatsoever to solve this question and we welcome any additional information or opinion on the Bychawa/Kuszaba puzzle.