Hieronim Stroynowski 1752-1815

He was born on 20 September 1752 in Khodachkiv near Ternopil. He was educated at the Piarist college in Zolochiv and in 1766, he joined the Piarist Order. After completing religious studies in Podolinec (Spiš) and a philosophical course in Rzeszów, he trained as a teacher and afterwards became a teacher at Collegium Nobilium. He was among the pioneers who taught the law of nature, law of the nations and political economy in the vernacular in Poland. As concerns political economy, he advocated the views of French physiocrats. In 1780, he started work at the Principal School of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania in Vilnius (newly transformed from the Vilnius Academy). There, he headed the first Chair of the Law of Nature and Political Economy in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. During his stay in Vilnius, he joined the freemasons. He published his most important work, i.e. Nauka prawa przyrodzonego, politycznego, ekonomiki politycznej i prawa narodów [“Study of natural and political law, political economics and the law of nations”] in 1785. In 1790, he left the Piarist Order and became a diocesan priest. He took part in the legislative work of the Four-Year Sejm and served in the Commission of National Education. After the collapse of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, Stroynowski remained associated with the Vilnius Principal School. In 1797, he became rector of the academic church of St. John in Vilnius. In 1799, he became Vice-Chancellor of the Vilnius Principal School and made efforts to keep the School from being transformed according to Russian models by the authorities. In 1801, to prevent the takeover of School buildings by the Jesuits, who were supported by the governor of Vilnius, he appealed to Tsar Paul I to block these plans. As a result, he was arrested for two weeks, but the Tsar’s death removed the immediate threat of the School being liquidated. As a result of the initiative put forward by Adam Jerzy Czartoryski, Stroynowski was involved in the reform of education in Russia. Thanks to support from Czartoryski who wielded a lot of influence in the court of Alexander I as well as the generosity of the monarch himself, he was able to develop the Vilnius Principal School (renamed Vilnius University in 1803) and ensure the Poles’ rights within the imperial education system. In 1806, he became bishop and resigned as the Vice-Chancellor of the University; he left it among some controversy (he was accused of favouring foreign scholars and priests during his last years in office). In 1808, he became the administrator of the Vilnius diocese. However, he managed it largely from St. Petersburg, where he often travelled, and as a result he failed to exercise proper control over its affairs. In 1814, he was preconised to the bishopric of Vilnius, but his installation was delayed and Stroynowski never became bishop of Vilnius. He died on 5 August 1815 in the Czarci Kąt estate near Vilnius.


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