Travel gave birth to Europe. This action and the different kind of journeys that followed are linked with our subcontinent’s history and with our European civilisation. How have they come to our knowledge? Through their written legacy: their story told by other persons, their personal diaries or their memoirs, especially since the eighteenth century. Can we actually call these travellers Europeans, Easterners and Westerners, or would it be an anachronism? Hence, could it be said that in the late eighteenth century there might have been the germ of a European feeling, perception, or identity? To tackle this problématique, I analysed personal documents written by two Poles who travelled to England and Scotland in the second part of the century: the travel diary of Princess Izabela Czatoryska, and the memoirs of the last king of Poland, Stanisław August Poniatowski. They both agree in some views (education, manners), while they sometimes notice or focus on different ones (gardens, industry/progress). This said, using analytic, comparative and gender approaches, and taking into account that the two of them were raised in an elite environment, there will be an attempt to verify the possibility of the existence of a European elite (or should we rather call it Enlight-ened?) identity avant la lettre, and to study whether the national identity was compatible with this transnational one.
Feb 14, 2023