What does ‘The Lambert’ mean? Where did the name generate from and why did we choose it for our Journal? Well, the name is rather historical. As many know, history, and especially Polish history, is not easy to explain. A couple of short sentences, a few books will not do our history justice. So let The Lambert take you on this journey of our continuously evolving history.
Hôtel Lambert, Paris, 1833
The building was created for a French banker in the 17th century. After the fall of the November Uprising (1830-1831), an armed rebellion in the heartland of partitioned Poland against the Russian Empire, Polish expatriates started the ‘mass emigration’ to Paris. The term known as Great Emigration (1831-1870), involving the emigration of Poles, particularly from the political and cultural elites, is somewhat misleading because the number of political exiles, in fact, did not exceed more than 6,000 during this time.
During the 18th and 19th century, the majority of political, ideological and cultural activities of the Polish intelligentsia took place outside of partitioned Poland. For those who don't recall - between 1795-1918 (although the partition already started in 1772), Poland technically didn’t exist. Its lands were completely divided between the Russian Empire, the Kingdom of Prussia, and the Habsburg Monarchy of Austria. But, despite being non-existent on geographical maps, Polish culture, identity and nation thrived.
Most political émigrés settled in France including Prince Adam Jerzy Czartoryski. A Polish nobleman, statesman, and agitator from an old baronial ducal lineage. Adam Czartoryski became an unofficial leader of the Polish government in exile, where he agitated for the Polish Question (in international politics, the issue of the existence of Poland as an independent state) across Europe.
When Prince Adam came to Paris in 1833, he looked for a potential place to be used as the centre for Polish emigration and a residence for an informal national government in exile. The transaction happened in 1843 resulting in the palace becoming a piece of free Poland on the Seine.
The Hôtel Lambert guested renowned politicians and artists of the epoch, such as Fryderyk Chopin, and national bards Adam Mickiewicz, Juliusz Słowacki and Cyprian Norwid. In recognition of a cultural centre, the palace was also visited by Honoré de Balzac, Franz Liszt, and Eugène Delacroix.
A political salon
After the November Uprising, the Hôtel performed functions of an unofficial diplomatic representation of Poland. And, after the January Uprising (1863-1864) it was a residence of the ministry of foreign affairs of the resistance command. It didn’t take long for the Hôtel to lend its name to a political monarchist faction created by Czartoryski in 1833, aimed at regaining independence by Poland. The hope for fundamental political changes was based on the belief that the only road to succeed was through a great European war. The conservatives from the Hôtel Lambert believed that the weakening of Tzar’s tyranny and the Habsburg’s empire could be found in the liberation movements of smaller nations.
Nevertheless, the main activities of the Hôtel were based on pursuing diplomatic actions implementing the rise of sympathy for the Polish Question and the interest of politicians, especially in France and Great Britain. For example, the Literary Association of the Friends of Poland was created in London to promote the Polish Question and help the Polish emigration.
Hôtel Lambert played an important role in the organisation of financial aid for the émigrés, support of academia and patronised the schooling of young officers. Hôtel contributed to the permanent presence of Poland and the Polish Question among European diplomacy. It did, however, face a highly unfavourable international situation. Hence why, it wasn’t able to fulfil its main aim - a change of political conditions of the nation’s existence, let alone its independence.
There was support for various commercial enterprises, including publication and printing. Especially after the fall of the January Uprising, the activities of the Hôtel mainly focused on saving and promoting the works of Polish culture. The great help was served by Polish Historical and Literary Society (Société historique et littéraire polonaise; called Polish Literary Society before 1854) and the Polish Library in Paris (Bibliothèque polonaise de Paris) which remains open to visitors.
Hôtel Lambert was owned by Czartoryscy till 1975. There were suggestions that the Polish Communist government (how it happened that we went from fighting for independence to being part of the Eastern Bloc is a story for another time) didn’t allow the family to buy the palace and in the end, it became a property of a baron Guy de Rothschild. He decided to sell the building in 2007 which resulted in the Polish community wanting the Polish authorities to buy the residence and to change it into a modern Polish centre in Paris (short note - at that time Poland had been a democratic country for over 15 years, a member of NATO and the EU. Poland also became part of the Schengen Area in that year). However, such dreams have never become reality. Currently, the place is owned by a brother of the emir of Qatar.
The Lambert, 2019
Considering the fact that Hôtel managed to become one of the most important hubs of Polish culture, almost two hundred years later, we decided that our Journal cannot have any other name than ‘The Lambert.’ We took the remarkable idea of a piece of Poland in exile and adapted it to the 21st century.
We greatly appreciate what the Hôtel did in terms of preservation and promotion of Polish culture. We exceed those ideals above the borders and traditional understandings of the nations. We’re lucky to live in independent Poland. We promote Polish culture, tackle Polish issues and connect the Polish community both in the country and in ‘exile,’ but we do not limit ourselves only to the ‘Polish Question.’
We are aware of our history and the role it plays in the formation of our identities. Many of our members who have had a clear insight into Polish culture and history, know ‘Inwokacja’ by heart and can recognise Chopin’s ‘Polonaise Op. 53’. However, the modern national discourse is fluid and our identities are not static nor singular. Therefore, let our Polish-international community, who grew up, studied, lived all over the globe, embrace the heritage, building our community to be stronger than ever.
Read more about our values here.