The surname of Kazirod is a fairly rare last name found in a few countries only, including Poland, the USA, Great Britain, Ukraine and Russia. It is most often used in Poland where the surname originated. As the research has found, Kazirod is one of the most ancient Polish surnames, which meaning arose disputes among historians for many centuries. In fact, the surname represents one of the oldest Polish noble families which members were entitled to bear the Zadora coat of arms since 1395.
The Collection of Polish Ancient Surnames edited by Zofia Kowalik-Kaleta, Leonarda Dacewicz and Beata Raszewska-Zurek that comprises the most comprehensive data related to the topic reads as follows: “Kazirod – rod [Polish, clan, family], a clan of people that stem from a common ancestor, a people, a tribe, an origin, a birth, a kind, a sort; first mentioned in 1395” . If to compare the meanings of two last names (Kazirod and Kozirod) mentioned on Pages 65 and 76 in the book, both of them turn out to mean the same. In fact, they are the two variations of one last name .
Stankiewicz, a modern expert in the origin of Polish names, has a different opinion on the origin of the surname. The dictionary compiled by him reads: “Kazirod derives from the stem kaz-, to speak, to give orders or narrate; obs. to preach, to pollute, to spoil; also derives from the name of Kazimierz” .
Despite multiple approaches to the origin of the surname, all historians agree that it was first mentioned in written sources in 1395. The mention was made in reference to an ancient Polish Zadora coat of arms established in 1395. In Herbarz Polski , reputed heraldry experts Tadeusz Gail and Lech Milewski present the list of noble families entitled to bear the Zadora coat of arms, among which was the Kazirod surname.
It is worth noting that the list of noble surnames includes Kazirod beside other surnames well-known in Poland and Lithuania, such as Kiezgayło, Konarski, Krzętowski, Kurowski, Lanckoroński, Lange, etc. . The Kazirod surname is found in another medieval-era source dated back to 1395. Die ältesten grosspolnischen Grodbücher contains an extract in Latin given further in English translation: “We, Sirs, adjudicating in the case of Hankon Kazirod, together with Nikolay, Jaszkon’s son, a former miller, particularly, Wincenty Strzałkowski, Johan Chlandowski, Andreas Gorazdowski, Petrus Lanszki, taking into account a letter from mister Domarathiego, a former Polish captain (as he claims so), we adjudge to mister Kazirod a third part of the amount from the share of Nikolay, Jaszkon’s son, of the mill in front of the castle owned by Jaszkon, in reference to Domarathiego’s letter. The court took place after the Zoffie day, 1395. Sederunt: Johan Chlandowski, Wincenty burgrabius, Thoma Cosczanka, Petrus Gorziczski” .
References to representatives of the Kazirod clan are made in some later sources. E.g., some Jan Kazirod residing with his brothers and sisters in a village of Pisdr was mentioned in 1404. In 1479, some Andrzej Kazirod was Burgomaster for the town of Kłobuk and later occupied a position of the assisor and counselor (1485) .
It stands to mention that representatives of the Zadora heraldic family basically inhabited the region what is now Silesian Voivodeship and Lesser Poland Voivodeship in the Republic of Poland. It is noteworthy that a Polish heraldry has a distinctive feature that stands it apart from other heraldry systems. In Western Europe, only certain families were entitled to use their coat-of-arms, whereas in Poland these could be used by representatives of some dozen and hundreds of families. In Polish heraldry, a coat of arms does not have an inextricable connection with a person who bears it, yet it serves as a link between relatives or landlords who used to inhabit adjacent territories and fought under one flag.
Thus, an important part of lives of male representatives in the Kazirod clan was participation in military campaigns and battles with men from any other of 164 clans of the Zadora coat of arms. According to a legend, the origin of the Zadora coat of arms depicting a fire-snorting lion dates back to the times when Romans wore helmets adorned with the lion figure in war actions to frighten Germans, their enemy. A brave German warrior named Zadora killed a Roman in a battle, drew off the helmet of his prostrate enemy and presented it to the monarch who then awarded Zadora with a right to bear a fire-snorting lion on his coat of arms. This coat of arms is widely spread in Kraków and Sandomierz counties. It also gained widespread in Lithuania after the Union of Horodło (1413).
The coat of arms was initially considered to be of French or German origin, since the blue fire-breathing panther representing a mixture of a dragon and a lion, was the symbol of the Spanheim dynasty that owned massive land plots in today’s Austria and Bavaria. The blue panther on the white or silver background later became the coat of arms in the family of Pfalzgraf von Ortenburg residing in Kraiburg; the same coat of arms was then used by the Wittelsbachs. Today, the fire-breathing panther is depicted on the coat of arms of Ingolstadt and the federal land of Bavaria.
One of the theories supports an Austrian origin of the Zadora Coat of Arms, as the silver fire-spitting panther can be seen today on the coat of arms of Styria, an Austrian federated state, and Graz, its capital city. The black panther on the white background appeared on the seal of Otakar III, Margrave of Styria, in 1163. In 1192, Styria united with Austria, and the Holy Roman Emperor barred the Babenbergs from using that coat of arms and gave preference to a more ancient symbol of Carinthia. As a result, the coat of arms of Styria was changed into the silver panther on the green background.
The heraldic panther has always been illustrated incensed, i.e., with fire coming out of its mouth. Along with the swan and red rose, the similar panther was an emblem of Henry IV, Henry VI and the Royal House of Lancaster. In the European heraldry, the panther was often depicted as bearing the traits of a lion, a dragon or a bull.
In addition to the Austrian theory explaining the origin of the Kazirod coat of arms and surname, there is also an Italian theory.
Many bearers of the Polish coat of arms of Zadora were or Italian or Austrian decent. For example, some members of the Karwacjan family moved to Krakow in 1324 where they founded a bank and built and beer brewery. A few decades later, the Italians obtained the right to bear the Polish coat of arms of Zadora.
Many aristocratic dynasties, including the Casiraghi family, originate from the province of Como in the north of Italy. The Casiraghi family took its name from the Casirago village named after a nobleman whose origin is not identified. Besides, the Casiraghi coat of arms has the visual resemblance to the Zadora coat of arms. Today, the Casiraghis are one of the most powerful families in Monaco.
Zbigniew of Brzezie (1360-1425), the Marszałek and Kraków starosta, was the first prominent holder of the Zadora coat of arms. Being a loyal companion-in-arms to King of Poland Władysław II Jagiełło, he served as an embassador to the Holy Roman Emperor, King of Hungary Sigismund of Luxemburg. In 1408, Zbigniew of Brzezie headed Polish troops sent for reinforcement of Vytautas, Grand Duke of Lithuania, who was at war with the Grand Duchy of Moscow. In 1410, Zbigniew of Brzezie was in command of the 34th Gonfalon of the Crown Marszałek. In 1413, he was incolved in signing of the Union of Horodło between Poland and the Great Duchy of Lithuania .
Przecław Lanckoroński originated from the clan of Zadora. He was the first cossack Hetman to fight against the Ottoman Empire, according to Hryhorii Hrabianka’s Chronicles. Maciej Lanckoroński, castellan of Kyiv (1762-1772); Maciej Lanckoroński, Seim senator Józef Lubelski (Kozirod) (1884- 1943), and other notable figures of Eastern Poland and Ukraine .
The surname is wide-spread in Poland and includes different variations such as Kazirod and Kozirod; however, there are some other takes on its origin. German historians, for example, consider Kazirod to be an ancient German surname that dates back to 13–14 centuries. The paper Die deutschen Familiennamen nach Breslauer Quellen des 13. und 14. Jahrhunderts by Dr. Jermaia Reichert lists Kazirod in the Nicht bestimmbar [Origin Unknown] section, along with other German surnames, for example, such unusual German surnames as Wingersberg, Einstein, von Grekoff, de Zarr, etc. Interestingly, the specified study neither classifies Kazirod as a Slavic second name nor includes it in the list of Slavic-origin surnames .
Today, over 500 people in Poland bear the Kazirod or Kozirod surname, which means that they originated from a common family seven centuries ago. Many people with this surname who live in different countries keep believing in their common ancestry, which we evidenced many times. Ex-USSR countries are home for about 100 people with this surname, with Kozerod being a fairly spread variant. In the 1960’s, my grandfather’s surname of Kozirod was replaced with Kozerod, with the latter being inherited by my father; and all our family members counted this as a mistake made at a civil registry office. We found out subsequently, there were many “mistakes” of this kind in the USSR. In this way, Soviet officials allegedly used to do away with the Ukrainian sound [ɨ] (according to its representation in the IPA) denoted by a Cyrillic letter “и”, thus making the surname sound in a Russian style.
The history of the Kazirod clan is one of the least researched chapters in the history of Polish noble families. Any information about the clan representatives is often fragmentary and should be proved by other sources. Yet, being topical and interesting, the subject needs further studying, which will shed light on the history of representatives of Zadora – one of Poland’s most famous coats of arms, which bearers made a great contribution to the development of Poland, its ideology and culture.
- Zofia Kowalik-Kaleta, Leonarda Dacewicz, Beata Raszewska-Zurek Slownik Najstarszych Nazwisk Polskich Pochodzenie Jezykowe Nazwisk Omowionych w Historii Nazwysk.- Warszawa: Instytut Slawistyki Polskiej Academii Nauk, 2007.- Tom.1.-P.65.
- Ibid.-P.65, 76.
- Janucz Stankiewicz Genealogie, przodkowie, badania genealogiczne, forum dyskusyjne. Link:
- Tadeusz Gail, Lech Milewski Herbarz Polski. – Warszawa, 2013.-Тоm.II, link
- Die ältesten grosspolnischen Grodbücher… by Jozef von Lekszycki.- S.Hirzel, 1889. – Vol.2, P. 53, link:
- Album studiosorum Universitatis Cracoviensis.
Ab anno 1400 ad annum 1489. (Ed.) B. Ulanowski. Cracoviae 1887, ss. XII + 294. Link:
- spojrzeć:Paweł Jasienica: Myśli o dawnej Polsce. Warszawa: Czytelnik, 1990, s. 236;Statuta, Prawa Y Constitucie Koronne Łacinskie Y Polskie z Statutow Łaskiego Y Herborta Y Z Constituciy Koronnych Zebrane, Kraków 1600, s. 749.
- Josef Lubelcki (Kozirod), link:
10. Die deutschen Familiennamen nach Breslauer Quellen des 13. und 14. Jahrhunderts, Dr. Hermaiiu Reichert.- Breslau: Verlag von M.&H.Marcus, 1908.- Heft 1, s. 87. Link:
Author: Oleg Kozerod, Ph.D., D.Sc.