CORONA REGNI POLONIAE
1500 – 1750
EAST ENCOUNTERS WEST
Poland’s fascinating location on world maps is often discussed in the context of last century’s history. Its central location in Europe was one of the reasons for many political disagreements, but it also allowed for numerous and rich cultural exchanges. This process can also be observed when looking back to the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The meeting of East and West has many dimensions and, in this context, Poland lies in the center, linking various cultures and religions and serving as carrier of diverse cultural and social trends during the Renaissance and Baroque eras.
Open to the West, Polish literary and musical culture drew on the discoveries and ideas emanating from Venice, Padua, Rome and other important centers in Italy in the sixteenth century. On the other hand, Polish political environment during the seventeenth century placed it against the Ottoman Empire’s Islamic culture. Fascinated by the influence of the totally different Oriental world, Poland engaged in a cultural exchange with the Seraglio – the Topkapi Palace and residence of the Ottoman Sultans – with the colorful figure of Wojciech Bobowski (1610 – 1675) as its representative and mediator. Bobowski’s sister was married to a Turkish prince and he became an Ottoman Empire’s translator of the Bible and court composer for Sultans Murad IV, Ibrahim I and Mehmed IV.
Whilst for Italy, Germany, France, Poland’s culture represented the accomplishments of Eastern Europe, for Ottoman Empire Poland was an agent of Western values and achievements.