Poland escaped the religious wars that racked Germany and the West. In 1573, the Confederation of Warsaw declared that 'we who differ in matters of religion will keep the peace among ourselves'. In comparison to most other European states, the Commonwealth was a haven of amazing toleration. There were confrontations and riots between Protestant and Catholic, principally in the towns, which have led the historian Norman Davies to describe Poland as a place where 'toleration, as distinct from tolerance' prevailed. But even the arrival of the Counter-Reformation, slowly converting the majority of the population back to a more intense and inward version of the Catholic faith, did not lead to an era of religious persecution and martyrdom. Witch-hunting, rising to an appalling peak in the early eighteenth century, sent tens of thousands of innocent women to the stake. But Protestantism, unable to compete with the missionary energy of the Jesuits, above all, declined almost without bloodshed. The Protestant nobles lost much of their interest in the Reformation once they had achieved their aims through the Confederation of Warsaw. "The Struggles for Poland" by Neal Ascherson

Henry of Valois (1551-1589)

the son of King Henry II of France, he was the first king of Poland to be elected in free election by all the gentry in 1573. On the occasion of this first election, the so-called Henrician Articles were formulated. From then all, on ascending the Polish throne every king elect had to pledge to observe these articles. The articles listed the most important principles underlying the state system, including the superior role of the Seym. The choice of the first king proved unfortunate. Henry arrived in Poland in January 1574, in the midst of a severe winter. He did not like Polish customs, and the Poles disliked him and his courtiers. When notified of the sudden death of his elder brother, Charles IV, Henry secretly fled Cracow in June 1574 in order to assume the French throne. His escape made a very bad impression in Poland

Stephen Bathory (1533-1586)

Duke of Transylvania, was elected king of Poland in 1575, and crowned in 1576, having previously married Anne Jagiellonian, the sister of Sigismund Augustus. The Polish crown was a great honour for Bathory, who immediately made it clear that he did not take his position lightly. He opposed the licence of the gentry and the magnates, and continued the policy of religious tolerance which the Convocation Seym of 1573 (the so-called Warsaw Convocation) made one of the principles of the political system of Poland. Although a proponent of strong government, he renounced his judicial powers and instead appointed separate tribunals for Poland and Lithuania. He introduced important reforms in the army and the system of taxes. He defeated Muscovy over war Livonia.. He elevated the Jesuit college in Vilnius to the rank of Academy university

Artur Grottger: 
Ucieczka Henryka Walezego z Polski.
1860. Olej. Muzeum Narodowe, Warszawa.

Juliusz Kossak: Bitwa pod Pskowem.

Jan Matejko: Batory pod Pskowem.
1872. Olej na płótnie. 322 x 512 cm. 
Zamek Królewski w Warszawie.

Jan Matejko: Batory pod Pskowem, Fragment - Król Stefan Batory.

Jan Matejko: Batory pod Pskowem, Fragment - Procesja wychodząca z bram miasta.

Jan Matejko: Batory pod Pskowem, Fragment - Stanisław Żółkiewski i Baltazar Batory.

A renewed war against Russia followed, and then, in 1612, Poland became the first victim of Turkey's final and greatest onslaught on the heartlands of Europe. The seventeenth century brought war to Poland. Central Europe was devastated by the Thirty Years War, in which the Commonwealth was only marginally involved. But Poland repeatedly invaded Muscovy, and in 1648 was faced with a huge Cossack rising in the Ukraine led by the Hetman Chmielnicki whose troops massacred both Jews and Protestants in the territories they controlled. In 1655, there took place the catastrophic Swedish invasion remembered as 'the Deluge', which conquered most of Poland and laid it waste. The Swedes were not driven out of Poland until the Peace of Oliwa in 1660;. "The Struggles for Poland" by Neal Ascherson

Sigismund III Vasa (1566-1632)

the son of the Swedish king John III and Catherine Jagiellonian, king of Poland from 1587 and king of Sweden in 1592-98. His claims to the Swedish crown involved Poland and Lithuania in conflicts and wars, and made him many bitter opponents. He was a Catholic and a supporter of the Counter-Reformation, which turned against him many adherents of tolerance and dissenters. The opponents accused him of favouring the Habsburgs in his policies. Dissatisfaction with his government took on an extreme form in 1606 with the rebellion of Mikolaj Zebrzydowski. Sigismund conducted wars with Muscovy and claimed the crown of Muscovy, which the defeated boyars offered to his son, Ladislaus. In 1596, Sigismund transferred the capital of Poland from Cracow to Warsaw.

The Shuisky Tsars at the Warsaw Seym by Jan Matejko, 1892, sketch, oil on board. National Museum, Dom Matejki, Krakow. Fine Art Photography by Zbigniew Halat. Vasili IV of Russia, and his two brothers (Ivan and Dmitri) paying tribute to the King of Poland, Sigismund III Vasa, on October 29, 1611. The Shuiski brothers had been transported to Warsaw by the victorious Polish hetman Stanisław Żółkiewski (John III Sobieski's great-grandfather), following the defeat of Russian troops at the battle of Klushino near Smolensk, on July 4th, 1610.
The Shuisky Tsars at the Warsaw Seym by Jan Matejko, 1892, sketch, oil on board. National Museum, Dom Matejki, Krakow. Fine Art Photography by Zbigniew Halat. Vasili IV of Russia, and his two brothers (Ivan and Dmitri) paying tribute to the King of Poland, Sigismund III Vasa, on October 29, 1611. The Shuiski brothers had been transported to Warsaw by the victorious Polish hetman Stanisław Żółkiewski (John III Sobieski's great-grandfather), following the defeat of Russian troops at the battle of Klushino near Smolensk, on July 4th, 1610.

Ladislaus IV (1596-1648)

the son of Sigismund III Vasa and Anne of Habsburg, ascended the Polish throne following the election of 1632. He was in favour of armed moves, unlike the majority of the gentry. He continued to make unsuccessful armed attempts to claim the Swedish crown as well as the crown of Muscovy which he had been offered in 1610. In order to strengthen his position on the Baltic, he built a large fleet. He also planned a war against Turkey, but his plans were defeated by the gentry. His wife, Marie Louise Gonzague, took an active part in political life, and acted for an alliance with France and the introduction of vivente rege election (that is, election during the lifetime of the ruling king). During Ladislaus' reign the Cossacks in the Ukraine started an open rebellion against Poland

Juliusz Kossak: Odsiecz Smoleńska.
1882. Akwarela, papier. 33,5 x 71 cm.
Muzeum Górnośląskie, Bytom.

Jan Matejko: Carowie Szujscy na sejmie warszawskim.
1892. Olej na płótnie.
Muzeum Narodowe, Kraków - Dom Jana Matejki.

Jan Matejko: Bohdan Chmielnicki z Tuhaj-Bejem pod Lwowem.
1885. Olej na płótnie.
Muzeum Narodowe, Warszawa.

Jan Matejko: Tuhaj Bej.
Fragment obrazu Bohdan Chmielnicki z Tuhaj-Bejem pod Lwowem.

Maksymilian Gierymski: Potyczka z Tatarami.
1867. Olej na płótnie. 47 x 53 cm.
Muzeum sztuki, Łódź.

Józef Brandt: Zwiad kozacki.
1873. Olej na płótnie. 42 x 83 cm.
Muzeum Górnośląskie, Bytom.

John Casimir (1609-1672)

the son of Sigismund III Vasa and Constance of Habsburg, half-brother of Ladislaus IV, the second husband of the latter's widow, Marie Louise de Gonzague, who formed a strong pro-French party at the royal court. During his reign Poland fought heavy wars with Muscovy and Sweden , and their allies(the latter referred to in Polish history as the  deluge), and against a Cossack uprising in the Ukraine. The Swedish army captured most of Poland almost without any blood shed and the king had to leave the devastated country. According to John Casimir, the reason for the disasters that befell Poland was weak royal power and the gentry's licence. But his attempts at introducing reforms provoked a civil war, called Lubomirski's rebellion, in 1665. Disillusioned, John Casimir abdicated in 1668 and left for France. He died in Nevers


Chocim 1621

Fought between the army of Poland-Lithuania with Cossack support against an Ottoman army under the command of the Sultan set out to conqueror the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. Estimated at between 100,000 and 400,000 men, the Turks first aim was to capture the Polish fortress of Chocim. In the face of this formidable threat, the Seym raised an army of 40,000 regulars. Chodkiewicz (pictured on the white horse) dug in at Chocim on the Dneper where for almost a month the Polish infantry managed to held off repeated Turkish assaults, while the cavalry made sallies into te enemy flanks (shown in the painting). The husars - 70 regiments of 8,000 horse was the most numerous formation, more than once led by the hetman himself. On the 23rd of September, just as the Ottomans were retreating from the fortress he died. The enemy suffered an astounding 40,000 dead during this month long assault.

When the peace treaty was signed on 9th October in the Polish camp there was no food, fodder or ammunition but the borders were successfully defended. It is believed that the defence of Chocim confirmed the military superiority of the Polish army, proving its preparedness to all kinds of warfare, including the defence of field fortifications. This army would have been well used in the north during the same time when the Swedes' under Gustavus Adolphus were moving into Livonia and Polish Prussia. Lack of adequate resources meant that only a small army could be used in the subsequent Prussian campaign.


Oliwa 1627

During the 2nd Swedish-Polish war over control of Livonia / Royal Prussia. A sea battle lasting 2.5 hours, undertaken by a Polish fleet (10 ships) to free the blockade of Gdansk by the Swedish fleet (6 ships) at Gdansk in 1627 during the Polish-Swedish war of 1619-21. Polish leader of the fleet was also killed (Dickmann). Polish forces being victorious destroying two Swedish ships: Sun & Tiger. Polish mariner losses at 47 dead, Swedish losses at 350 dead and an additional 68 captured.


Trzciana 1629

During the 2nd Swedish-Polish war over control of Livonia / Royal Prussia.
Koniecpolski defeated the Swedish King Gustavus Adolphus during a running battle. The King saved some of his army despite sacrificing much of his cavalry, some infantry and losing some high ranking Swedish commanders. Swedish dead are counted at over 1,000. On the Polish side about 150 dead Poles and about the same Austrians. Poles took 400 captives, 10 artillery pieces, 15 standards and other assorted equipment. During this battle Gustavus is almost taken into captivity / killed by several Polish husars however is saved by a rajtar. Swedish army counted at 5,000 infantry, 4,700 rajtars. Koniecpolski had 1300 Husars, 1200 'Cossack' cavalry and 2000 dragoons a long with Austrian cavalry. Polish infantry was late and therefore could not participate in the battle.

KSIĘDZU AUGUSTYNOWI KORDECKIEMU PRZEOROWI JASNOGÓRSKIEGO KLASZTORU  NIEZŁOMNEMU OBROŃCY KATOLICKIEJ WIARY W NIEPODLEGŁEJ OJCZYŻNIE POLAKÓW. TO FR. AUGUSTINE KORDECKI, PRIOR OF THE JASNA GÓRA MONASTERY, THE STEADFAST  DEFENDER OF CATHOLIC FAITH IN THE INDEPENDENT HOMELAND OF POLISH PEOPLE. Fine Art Photography by Zbigniew Halat. The Siege of Jasna Góra (November 18 - December 27, 1655) a small force consisting of monks led by their Prior and supported by local volunteers, fought off the numerically superior Germans (who were hired by Sweden), saved their sacred icon, the Black Madonna of Częstochowa and turned the course of the war. The rest of Poland was ruthlessly depopulated and robbed to scratch by the Swedish invaders.
KSIĘDZU AUGUSTYNOWI KORDECKIEMU PRZEOROWI JASNOGÓRSKIEGO KLASZTORU  NIEZŁOMNEMU OBROŃCY KATOLICKIEJ WIARY W NIEPODLEGŁEJ OJCZYŻNIE POLAKÓW. TO FR. AUGUSTINE KORDECKI, PRIOR OF THE JASNA GÓRA MONASTERY, THE STEADFAST  DEFENDER OF CATHOLIC FAITH IN THE INDEPENDENT HOMELAND OF POLISH PEOPLE. Fine Art Photography by Zbigniew Halat. The Siege of Jasna Góra (November 18 - December 27, 1655) a small force consisting of monks led by their Prior and supported by local volunteers, fought off the numerically superior Germans (who were hired by Sweden), saved their sacred icon, the Black Madonna of Częstochowa and turned the course of the war. The rest of Poland was ruthlessly depopulated and robbed to scratch by the Swedish invaders.

Juliusz Kossak: Czarniecki pod Kołdyngą.
? Akwarela. 54 x 42 cm.
Muzeum Pomorza Środkowego, Słupsk.

Józef Brandt: Czarniecki pod Koldyngą.
1870. Olej na płótnie. 95 x 205,5 cm.
Muzeum Narodowe, Warszawa.

Józef Brandt: Pochód Szwedów do Kiejdan.
1889. Olej na płótnie. 42,5 x 69 cm.
Własność prywatna.

Józef Brandt: Potyczka ze Szwedami.
ok. 1880. Olej na płótnie. 50,5 x 80,5 cm.
Własność prywatna.

January Suchodolski: Obrona Częstochowy.

Artur Grottger: Utarczka ze Szwedami.
Akwarela. 42 x 54,5 cm.
Muzeum Okręgowe w Toruniu.

Jan Matejko: Śluby Jana Kazimierza.
1893. Olej na płótnie. 315 x 500 cm.
Muzeum Narodowe, Wrocław.

Jan Matejko: Śluby Jana Kazimierza (fragment).
Biskup, król i królowa. Z prawej Stefan Czarniecki.

mMichael Korybut Wisniowiecki (1640-1673)

Dissatisfied with the Vasas' dynastic policies, which they saw as contrary to the interest of the Polish-Lithuanian state, the gentry decided to elect a native Pole, a "Piast", to the throne. Michael Korybut was the son of Jaremi Wisniowiecki, a military commander who won fame during Khmelnitski's rebellion, and Gryzelda Zamoyska. However, Michael Korybut proved unable to cope with his responsibilities and with tensions among the various political fractions. Moreover, he lost a war against Turkey; under the terms of the peace treaty Turkey occupied Podolia with Kamenets Podolsk, a stronghold once built with a thought to the defence of the south-eastern borders of the state


Ochmantow 1644

Fought between the Poles and the Tartars, great Polish victory.
Some historians claim it as he greatest triumphs of the Polish Army in the mid seventeenth century, since it was for the first time that the enemy was prevented from crossing the state border and ravaging the southern countryside. In reality it was a 45 day campaign against the Tartars led by Tuhaj-Bej. Despite losses at Szmankowcami in 1624, at Podolia, 1626, at Biala Cerkwia (Ukraine) in 1629 and at Ujsciem on the Dniestr & Kamieniec Podolski in 1633, the Tartars continued to make their forays into the territory of the Commonwealth. Tuhaj-Bej decided to conduct a pitched battle due to the Tartars having much higher numbers measured at between 40-50,000 men. Poles had 19,300 men total in the campaign. 2,900 Quarter army, 650 Guards, 4,000 registered Cossacks, 24 pieces of artillery. Under Koniecpolski, though it was only numbered at 10,000 men. Due to the speed and manuverability of the Tartar army in a set battle it was difficult to use the old style Polish battle tactic of probing for a weak spot with light cavalry, keeping the infantry only as fire support and sending the Husars in at the appropriate time. Therefore the primary reason the Poles won here was their advantage in artillery and musketeers.


Beresteczko June 28-30, 1651

military engagement in which the king of Poland, John Casimir (reigned 1648-68), inflicted a severe defeat upon the rebel Cossack leader Bohdan Khmelnytsky. One of the largest military engagements in the mid 17th century Europe.

Jarema Wisniowiecki after the victory at Beresteczko, 1651

In 1648 Khmelnytsky organized an insurrection among the Zaporozhian Cossacks, who lived along the Dnieper River, against their Polish rulers, who had been trying to limit the Cossacks' autonomy by reducing their numbers, restraining them from conducting lucrative raids upon their Turkish and Crimean Tatar neighbors, and forcing them into a condition of serfdom. After a series of minor military victories, the Cossacks exacted the Compact of Zborów (1649) from the Polish king.

Although that settlement granted a large degree of autonomy to the "registered" Cossacks (i.e., those forming a privileged class), it failed to satisfy either the Poles or the "unregistered" Cossacks. Within 18 months, hostilities were resumed. The Cossacks were formally taken under the protection of the Turkish sultan (April 1651) and were reinforced by the sultan's vassal, the khan of the Crimean Tatars.

In June the Cossack-Tatar force advanced against the Poles and engaged them in battle at Beresteczko, on the Styr River in Volhynia south of Lutsk. The Cossacks' army was approximately three times larger than the Poles'. But in the midst of the fighting the Tatar khan and his force left the field of battle.

This action, which has been described by some historians as treasonous desertion and by others as a maneuver to establish another line of defense closer to the Dnieper to protect Kiev from an advancing Lithuanian army, enabled the numerically inferior Polish army to gain a victory over the Cossacks. Losses on the enemy side are extremely difficult to count, though they are counted in their thousands.

In reality the Tartars retreated due to overwhelming losses inflicted on their forces by the Crown armies and retreated in their usual manner. Sources are wild about the total number of forces in the battle on both sides. Many claim that between 100,000 and 250,000 Tartars/Cossacks took part in the engagement against a reported Polish army of about 60,000 men. This was indeed one of the largest armies conscripted by the Poles in any war during the 17th century.

Without a doubt it was one of the most powerful formations to have been formed and exist in the mid 1600's. Had necessary reforms been put into place and the independence war averted, many have said that the 'Deluge' would never have occured.


  Warka 1656

First victory of a Polish army in a major field battle against the Swedes during the Deluge (1648-1667). Won by Stefan Czarniecki it lifted the nations' spirit to carry on the fight despite overwhelming odds, the country occupied by Swedes & Muscovites. Swedish losses were at around 1500 dead, along with 200-300 captured (some higher officers), 20 standards and 200 tabors. The Poles lost around 50 dead, 100 wounded.


Prostki 1656

After the retreat of combined Swedish-Brandenburg armies from Warsaw in 1656, the Polish commanded decided to spare no expense in attacking the territories of Ducal (Polish) Prussia, which despite being a Polish fief had allied itself with the Swedish King.  One of the objectives during this campaign was to completley destroy Prussian territory to force Frederick Wilhelms' mindset in co-operating with the Swedish invader.  A victorious battle against a combined Swedish-Brandenburg-Prussian army conducted under the command of Field Hetman of Lithuania, 'Wincenty Gosiewski', during the Prussian campaign in the time of the Swedish-Muscovite Deluge on Poland in 1654-1660. The Polish-Lithuanian army was composed of Lithuanian units, Crown units (Poles), pospolite ruszenie (general levy) and tartars. The whole army was counted at about 12-13,000 men, most of it cavalry including about 2,000 tartars. Enemy forces under the Swedish General Waldeck were counted at much lower; 2,500 cavalry, 1,000 Prussian infantry (general levy) & 6 artillery pieces,, as well as about 800 cavalry under the command of the traitor, Boguslaw Radziwill. Other Swedish commanders in the area heard of the approach of the Polish-Lithuanian army, (namely General Walenrodt and Colonel  Josiass Waldeck), who would supply an additional 2,000+ infantry. Total forces were then were around 5,500 men, the bulk of which was Brandenburg infantry.

Gosikewski arrived at Prostek on the right bank of the river Elk and decided to immediately attack the Brandenburg forces, after which he would completley destroy any more advancing formations. He also sent the tartars for a preliminary confrontation with the forces of Wallenrod.

The Lithuanian units used the old trick of 'feinting retreat' (which worked so well at Kircholm, and by the tartars so many hundreds of years ago), against the Prussian infantry, which fell for this maneuver and moved across the river to the right side of the bank. Gosiewski's army surrounded the Prussian infantry, attacked, and their formations broke. Much of the infantry was forced back into the river, either drowing or being killed however a few units together with some artillery pieces managed to escape back to the other side of the bank. The Lithuanians and Tartars immediately charged after them capturing their base of operations very quickly. After this, together with some Tartars then moved to attack the 800 cavalry under Radzwill, which they managed to attack from behind and flanks. Most of his cavalry was killed, only a few successfully retreated the rest were captured, including Prince Radziwill himself. The battle ended at 2pm with a successful attack on the formations of General Waldeck  which were almost completley defeated. The rest of the army moved to attack the retreating infantry formations of Wallenrodt which was exhausted by a long march when retreating being continously attacked by Tartar units.

Total Swedish-Brandenburg losses in this battle amounted to about 5,000 men (over 75% of the entire army)), whilst Polish-Lithuanian army losses amounted to no more than around 200-250 dead. The defeat was so great that the population of Ducal Prussia demanded that Frederick Willhelm sign a treaty with the Poles immediately, however it never came to that.  Whilst this was a great victory, proving that the Polish-Lithuanian army was again a competent force, though victories continued to be  on / off affairs, it would be an uphill battle to ride the enemy from the country which had entrenched itself so completley.


Storming of Castle Soenderborg, December 1658 & Battle at Funen, 1659, Nov 14th
(Expedition to Denmark, 1659)

Polish cavalry regiments under Czarniecki cross a strait and storm the castle defeating the Swedish garrison there.

Battle at Funen (On expedition to Denmark, 1659)

The battle started 1100 the 14th november 1659. The Swedes under PfalzGraf von Sulchbach and Gustav Otto Stenbock defended with 5000men. They were good generals have defended well against several Danish attacks earlier this year. However, much of the personel was fresh-recruits that had arrived as replacement. The attackers were Danish, Brandenburgian and Dutch infantry and Polish cavalry. The battle starts good for the Swedes, not until the end phase of battle the excellent dutch infantry manages to outmaneuver the Swedes and attacking their flank. When the swedes start a tactical withdrawal they are unable to perform it in good order. The Polish cavalry uses this opportunity and charges. "when the Swedish order of battle starts to crumble the Polish cavalry charges with great success, Swedes fall in great numbers under the Polish charge".


Cudnow-Slobodze Campaign, 1660

Victories over the Muscovites during the 1660's Polish campaigns the aim of which was to ejected the Muscovites from Lithuania, there since the start of the 1654 deluge.

Czarniecki and the Lithuanian Hetman Sapieha completely annihilated the army of Chowanski, who were laying sieges without success the city of Lachowicze. Several months later the Muscovites were again defeated, in 1661. For the third time several weeks later. The victories forced the Muscovites to retreat from the capital of Lithuania, Wilno and sent them packing deep into the Berezyna. The Muscovites had between 70 and 80,000 men during the campaign, not counting units garrisoning various cities. (In fact the same forces used in the invasion of Lithuanian during the deluge). The reformed Polish army after the crisis and disappointments of the last ten years ballooned to 54,000 men by 1659 on the onset of the campaign. During the 1660 campaign the Poles captured, 130 standards, 50 pieces of artillery. Many Muscovite garrisons were forced to capitulate due to overwhelming artillery and infantry numbers of the Poles.

The campaign cost the Poles 3500-4000 dead and wounded. Another 1500-200 died due to sickness and disease. The Polish infantry lost the most, around 37% of the soldiers, followed by the dragoons - 16%. The Muscovites however lost an astounding 8-9,000 men dead. Cossacks' in support of the Muscovites an additional 2,000. In 1667 though, despite the victorious campaign a civil war erupted in Poland (some magnates weren't happy due to the King forcing pressing reforms still needed due to the Deluge) and the Poles and Muscovite signed a treaty partitioning the Ukraine between themselves. The right bank of the Ukraine a long with Kiev was to be ceded to the Muscovites for only 2 years, in reality it was never recovered. The Poles being too busy for the rest of the 17th century fighting the Turks (1672-1699).


Chocim 1673

A Polish Army commander by Hetman Sobieski, of 30,000 men, 65 artillery pieces ( a long with 2,000 Moldavians who didn't take part in the battle) successfully storms the captured Turkish controlled fortress of Chocim on the Dniester, given to the Turks in 1671 at the treaty of Buczacz when an unprepared and exhausted Poland had to pay a large indemnity and hand of Podolia to the Turks. In a dawn attack the Poles charged the Turkish defences, annihilating almost the entire Ottoman army within the space of a few hours. Victory was due to excellent work of the Polish infantry and dragoons. After the first defences were overcome, the Husars charged inside the fortress butchering the defending Ottoman army.

During the Ottoman retreat the Polish artillery successfully blew up one major bridge on which much of the enemy army was retreating - AS it was retreating. The Ottoman army of 30,000 men (50 artillery pieces) was completely and totally annihilated. Of the 30,000 men, only 2,000 survived and managed to retreat from the fortress and surrounding area, such was the magnitude of their loss. This victory propelled Sobieski to be elected the new Polish King on his return to Warsaw.

Józef Brandt: Bitwa pod Chocimem.
1867. Olej na płótnie. 190 x 337 cm.
Muzeum Narodowe, Warszawa.

Juliusz Kossak: Krzysztof Gniewosz ginący w obronie chorągwi pod Chocimem.
1892. Akwarela. 57 x 85 cm.
Muzeum Wojska Polskiego, Warszawa.

Juliusz Kossak: Hetman Chodkiewicz pod Kircholmem.
Przed 1886. Ołówek, gwasz. 23 x 32 cm.
Muzeum Okręgowe, Toruń.

Józef Brandt: Husarz.
1890. Olej na płótnie. 84 x 62 cm.
Muzeum Polskie, Rapperswil.

Juliusz Kossak: Pan Pasek pod Lachowicami.
1898. Akwarela. 38 x 51 cm.
Muzeum Górnośląskie, Bytom.

Józef Brandt: Pochód tatarski - Powrót spod Tychina.
1862. Olej na płótnie.
Własność prywatna.

Józef Brandt: Odbicie jasyru.
1878. Olej na płótnie. 179 x 445 cm.
Muzeum Narodowe w Warszawie.

Aleksander Orłowski: Atak husarii.
Akwarela, gwasz. 53,5 x 38,5 cm.

In 1683, King Jan Sobieski of Poland (1674-96) won the battle of Vienna, routed the Turkish armies and saved the city ending for ever the Turkish threat to central  Europe. Sobieski had been elected king for his prowess as a general, commanding the forces of the Commonwealth against the Turks in intermittent wars which raged for nearly ten years. Now, as the Turkish armies besieged Vienna, he led the combined Polish and Austrian forces to a total and legendary victory. King Jan Sobieski  at Vienna in 1683 routed the Turkish armies and saved the city, ending for ever the Turkish threat to central Europe.  A heavy, bluff man who carried his glory lightly, talking to his subjects with a directness and simplicity rare among kings, Jan Sobieski became immortal in Polish folk-memory as the saviour of the Christian West from the heathen. He deserves the honour . But it is also true that by his triumph at Vienna, Sobieski removed from the scene the only military power which might have checked the rise of Russia to imperial strength. "The Struggles for Poland" by Neal Ascherson

John III Sobieski (1629-1696)

was another Pole elected to the Polish throne. He had won fame as the grand hetman, an outstanding military commander and strategist in another  wars with Sweden and later Turkey. He married Marie Casimire de la Grange d'Arquien, a woman of great political aspirations. The king's letters to Marysienka, as he endearingly called his queen, are masterpieces of Polish late seventeenth century literary language. At first, the king conducted a policy of close contacts with France, later however he entered into an alliance with the Habsburgs. His best known and greatest success was the relief of Vienna, besieged in 1683 by the Turks, where he scored a tremendous victory over the army of the Grand Vizier Kara Mustafa.


The Battle of Vienna: September 12, 1683

During the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries the Christian inhabitants of southeast Europe live in perpetual fear of Muslim invasion. Tartar raiding parties laid waste to the countryside, abducting captives for slaves and ransom; Turkish occupation meant at the least pillage, sacrilege and extortion. For both Turk and Tartar the sole purpose of waging war was material gain. The Muslim invasion routes were through either the Danube Valley to the walls of Vienna, or through the Moldavian plain and southern Poland. Much of the Turkish effort was directed against Poland, whose heroic resistance earned her the name "propugnaculum Christianitatis" the bulwark of Christianity. In the winter of 1682-3, Poland and Austria came to an agreement providing for joint action against a Turkish invasion and promising relief in case of a direct attack on Vienna or Cracow. The threat of Turkish attack could not have been more real. A Turkish army of over 140,000 men started marching north in March of 1683, and arrived before the walls of Vienna on July 14, 1683.

Vienna was a strong fortress, but by the end of August the city was in mortal danger. Food and ammunition were inadequate, and on September 1, the Turks exploded a mine under the walls and captured one part of it. Outside the walls however the outlook was brighter. The defeat of a Turkish corp at Bisamberg allowed the concentration of the allied armies northwest of Vienna. Most importantly 30,000 Poles under their warrior-king Jan Sobieski had arrived.

Sobieski, who already had a considerable reputation against the Turks, assumed command. His plan was to force battle on the plain west of the city and annihilate the Turkish army, thus breaking the siege. The Turkish commander Kara Mustapha continued to focus much of his effort at capturing the city, therefore at the start of the battle only part of his army was prepared to meet the relief force. At four a.m. on the 12th of September 1683, the Austrians on the left wing moved forward and commenced battle, the Germans in the left center soon joined them. As the Turks were preparing to counterattack, the Polish infantry emerged on the right wing clearing the foothills dominating the plain. By four p.m. the cavalry had moved up and prepared to charge. At five p.m. Sobieski ordered the charge. One German-Austrian and three Polish cavalry groups, 20,000 men charged down hill, echelon after echelon, lead by King Jan Sobieski, straight for the center of the Turkish camp. As the cavalry burst into the Turkish lines, the garrison in the city attacked the Turkish rear. The demoralized Turks and Tartars soon broke and ran, and the battle turned into a route. At half past five Sobieski entered the Grand Viziers tent and the siege of Vienna was broken.

The Turks lost about 7-8,000 men on the field (according to recent studies), while the allies lost about 2000 killed and wounded.  (500 of these were Poles) Additionally another 2,000 were wounded. Vienna had been delivered in the nick of time; earlier that same day the Turks had exploded mines that had given them access to the city. "..Never a victory of so great importance cost so little blood.." (Taffe).

The Turks never recovered from the battle, while the Ottoman Empire survived for another two hundred plus years, from here on out it was merely a holding action.

An eyewitness account

"Raising the Siege of Vienna
John III Sobieski, King of Poland


The Immortal God, (to whom Honour and Glory be Ascribed for Ever) has Blest us with so Signal a Victory, as scarce the Memory of Man can Equal: The Enemy was not only content to Raise the Siege of Vienna, and Leave us Masters of the Field; But also of all their Cannon, and Tents, with Inestimable Treasure, and clim'd over Mountains of Carcasses made by their own Body's in the Flight. My Eyes were never Blest before with so delightful a Prospect as to see my Soldiers follow here a great Drove of their Sheep and Oxen, and there a much greater Herd of Turkish Captives; Nor my Ear's e're Charm'd with so pleasing Musick, as the Howlings and Dying Groans of these Miserable Wretches: So great was their Hast, that the Prime Visier almost alone and forsaken of all, was forc't without the Ceremony of his Turbant, to take his Flight; But yet he left me Heir to his Tent and Riches whith were shewn me by a Renegado of his own Retinue.

I have Presented the Turkish Standard to His Holyness, who was Instrumental no less by His Money, than His Prayers, to their Overthrow. The Prime Vizor's Horse with all his Trappings, I reserv'd for my self; And tho he was so Fortunate in his Flight to Escape us, yet his Caymecam, or Lieutenant-General, with some of the most Considerable Bassa's [Pashas] fell by our Swords; But the approaching Night put a Stop to our Pursuit, and their Slaughter. Those Janizaries which were left behind in the Mines and Trenches, we thought not worth the dulling of our Swords, therefore we made but one Funeral Pile for 'em all, and Burnt 'em.

In the Action there were about Thirty Thousand Turks kill'd; besides Tartars, and One Hundred Thousand Tents taken. Our Souldiers, and the Burghers of Vienna, were Two whole Nights, and One Day, in Rifling their Tents and Body's, and I believe a Week would scarce suffice to finish it.

The Rarities which were found in the Prime Vizor's Tent, were no less Numerous than Strange and Surprising, as very curious Parrots, and some Birds of Paradise, with all his Banios, and Fountains, and some Ostriches, which he Chose rather to Kill, than let 'em fall Alive into our Hands; Nay his Dispair and Jealousy transported him so far, as to Destroy his very Women for the same Reason.

The whole Army Attributes the Glory of this Victory to God, and Us, and all the Princes of the Empire, with the Great Officers, as the Dukes of Bavaria and Lorrain, Prince Waldek, etc. were so far transported with my Valour and Success, that their Thanks and Praises were more Numerous, than was their Fears before; and Count Staremberg the Governour, Saluted me with the Title of his Mighty Deliverer. The Common People in my going to and from the Churches, pay'd their Veneration even to my very Garments, and made their Cry's and Acclamations reach the Sky, of Long Live the King of Poland.

In the battle we Lost some of our Friends, as Prince Halicki, and the Treasurer of our Household. The Reverend Marinus Daviano, heapt on me his Pray'rs and Blessings, and told me he saw a White Dove fluttering o're the Army, which he look'd upon as an happy Augure of our Victory.

We are now on our March towards Hungary; taking the Advantage of their Distraction, to Defeat the Remainder of their scatter'd Troops, and Surprize Gran or Newheufell. I have all the Princes of the Empire my Companions in this Enterprise, who tell me they are ready to follow such a Leader not only into Hungary, but to the End of the World.

The Prime Vizor being unable to put a Stop to our Pursuit, told his Eldest Son Mahomet Han, That he must now bid Adieu to all his Greatness, and never expect to be in Safety, whilst their Lye's one Stone upon another in the Walls of Vienna, but withal bid him hasten to the Grand Seignor and Demand a Speedy Succour, to whom his Son Reply'd, That he knew him too well for that, and there was nothing for 'em now to Rely on but their Flight.

I am just now going to take Horse, and all my way for Two Hungarian Miles together, are so strew'd with the Carcasses of Men, Horses, and Camels, that the Stench of 'em would be insupportable to any but a Soldier.

I have sent several Dispatches to Forein Princes to give Notice of this Action, but the King of France was forgotten.

I Rejoice to see our Son Alexander of so Clear and Undanted a Courage who always stuck to me in my most iminent Dangers: and made the first onset on a Body of Turkish Spahn, with that Courage that he put 'em soon to flight, and Receiv'd the Applauses of the whole Army. He has Contracted a very Intimate Friendship with the young Duke of Bavaria with whom he equally devided the spoyl, This Prince has been very Assiduous in his Services to me; therefore I have presented him three of my Horses, the Bassa of Egypt's Tent and Standard, and ten Pieces of Cannon. To his Sister the Dauphiness, a Locket of Diamonds. Yet there Remains such heaps of their Colours and Symeters in our possession as are not to be numbred.

All my Countrey men March't with the same Bravery to the Relief of Vienna, as the Souldiers of Godfrey of Bullein did to the Holy Land, and the miraculous Cross that you presented me with (which was his companion in that Expedition) I Believe Contributed no less to our Victory.

Thanks be to Heaven, now the Half-Moon Triumphs no longer o're the Cross, And 'twas thrown down from St. Stephen's Steeple in Vienna (whom it had o'retopt so long) immediately on the Defeat: Neither have the Turks any occasion to upbraid us with their Blasphemous Mahometan Proverb. Ye Christians where is Your God?

The Turks' Prayer against the Christians:

"Eternal God and creator of all things, and thou O Mahomet his sacred and divine prophet. We beseech thee let us not dread the Christians, who are so mean and silly to rely on a crucified god. By the power of thy right hand, so strengthen ours that we may surround this foolish people, on every side, and utterly destroy them. At length fulfill our prayers and put these miscreants into our hands, that we may establish thy throne for ever in Mecca, and sacrifice all those enemies of our most holy religion at thy tomb. Blow us with thy mighty breath like swarms of flies into their quarters, and let the eyes of these infidels bedazelled with the lustre of our moon. Consume them with thy fiery darts, and blind them with the dust which they themselves have raised. Destroy them all in thine anger. Break all their bones in pieces, and consume the flesh and blood of those who defile thy sacrifice, and hang the sacred light of circumcision on their cross. Wash them with showers of many waters, who are so stupid to worship gods they know not: and make their Christ a son to that God who ne're begot him. Hasten therefore their destruction we humbly entreat thee, and blot out their name and religion, which they glory so much in, from off the face of the earth, that they may be no more, who condemn and mock at thy law. Amen. "

A Letter From the King of Poland to His Queen. In Which is Incerted Many Particulars Relating to the Victories Obtained Against the Turks. With a Prayer of the Turks against the Christians. (London: 1683).

It takes courage to defend such values like Faith, Reason, and Fatherland * Wymaga odwagi obrona takich wartości, jak Wiara, Rozum i Ojczyzna
VIENNA 1683 - 2019
King John III Sobieski Sobieski sending Message of Victory to the Pope, after the Battle of Vienna by Jan Matejko, the largest size painting [458 cm (15 ft) x 894 cm (29.3 ft] at The Vatican Museums, one of the largest museum complexes in the world. Fine Art Photography by Zbigniew Halat
King John III Sobieski Sobieski sending Message of Victory to the Pope, after the Battle of Vienna by Jan Matejko, the largest size painting [458 cm (15 ft) x 894 cm (29.3 ft] at The Vatican Museums, one of the largest museum complexes in the world. Fine Art Photography by Zbigniew Halat

Polish Winged Hussars celebrating this day the 1683 most  illustrous victory of Polish King John III Sobieski, the Saviour of European Christendom,  September 12, 2019, St. Stephen Cathedral, Vienna, Austria. Fine Art Photography by Zbigniew Halat
Polish Winged Hussars celebrating this day the 1683 most  illustrous victory of Polish King John III Sobieski, the Saviour of European Christendom,  September 12, 2019, St. Stephen Cathedral, Vienna, Austria. Fine Art Photography by Zbigniew Halat

The photograph below, along with three other ones by Zbigniew Halat, PhG i.e. Photography Guru (a Guru, in the ancient Indian language of Sanskrit, means one who is a teacher, guide, or master of certain knowledge), acting under the artistic nickname HalatFineArt, ranked #2144  in a challenge 'Street Photography' (which generated 59.4 million votes), and has been selected for digital exhibition at Hinterland Galerie, Vienna, Austria, on September 3 - 5, 2020. Poniższe zdjęcie wraz z trzema innymi autorstwa Zbigniewa Hałata, PhG, czyli Guru Fotografii (guru w starożytnym języku Indii sanskrycie oznacza nauczyciela, przewodnika lub mistrza pewnej wiedzy) działającego pod pseudonimem artystycznym HalatFineArt, zajęło 2144. miejsce w konkursie fotograficznym ''Fotografia uliczna' (który wygenerował 59,4 miliona głosów) i zostało wybrane na cyfrową wystawę w Hinterland Galerie, Wiedeń, Austria, 3 - 5  września 2020 r. 
Polish troops in front of Hofburg Palace on September 12, 2019 celebrating this day the 1683 most  illustrous victory of Polish King John III Sobieski, the Saviour of European Christendom, Vienna, Austria. Fine Art Photography by Zbigniew Halat
Polish troops in front of Hofburg Palace on September 12, 2019 celebrating this day the 1683 most illustrous victory of Polish King John III Sobieski, the Saviour of European Christendom, Vienna, Austria. Fine Art Photography by Zbigniew Halat

1683 AD - the Ottoman Empire reached its greatest extent in Europe; After the Battle of Vienna, 12 September 1683 under the command of King of Poland John III Sobieski the Muslim Ottomans ceased to be a menace to the Christian world. TRANS-BLACK SEA SLAVE TRADE - SAQALIBA SLAVE HUNTING ONE OF THE GREATEST ATROCITIES  IN HISTORY. Altogether more than 3,000,000 people were captured and enslaved during the time of the Crimean Khanate.The Central and Eastern European Slavic slaves were cruelly treated by the Muslims: tortured, mutilated, forced to work in inhuman conditions, sadistically killed when found useless. The abducted Slavic children, adolescents and women were condemned to be brutally and systematically raped to satisfy lust of their owners.
1683 AD - the Ottoman Empire reached its greatest extent in Europe; after the Battle of Vienna, 12 September 1683 under the command of King of Poland John III Sobieski the Muslim Ottomans ceased to be a menace to the Christian world. TRANS-BLACK SEA SLAVE TRADE - SAQALIBA i.e. SLAVE HUNTING, ONE OF THE GREATEST ATROCITIES  IN HISTORY. Altogether more than 3,000,000 people were captured and enslaved during the time of the Crimean Khanate. The Central and Eastern European Slavic slaves were cruelly treated by the Muslims: tortured, mutilated, forced to work in inhuman conditions, sadistically killed when found useless. The abducted Slavic children,adolescents and women were condemned to be brutally and systematically raped to satisfy lust of their owners.


Parkany 1683

Three day Battle of Parkany several days after Vienna.  As important a victory as Vienna, however it could have ended in disaster.

The three day battle of Parkany several days after Vienna. In this battle Sobieski was almost killed: It was actually as much a decisives battle as Vienna, maybe even more so. On Day 1, Polish dragoons galloped up to the lead formations of Ottoman janissaries. What they didn't know was that Ottoman light cavalry was hiding in the woods.Before they could retreat the Ottoman cav. charged killing many of them. Sobieski was leading the formation and he was saved by a young German dragoon at a cost to his own life. On this first day the Polish army lost complete discipline and retreated in a panic, a sign of what was to come as the 18th century slowly krept forward into being.

The Austrians had to stem the panicked Poles and managed to stop the situation getting out of control. Despite this close to a 1,000 Poles died that day. In other words the losses were 2x as high than during the lifting of the Siege of Vienna.

Sobieski was psychologically wrecked after this encounter, the Austrian officers couldn't hide their happiness at the conduct of the Polish troops as always jealous of the decisive role they played during the lifting of the Siege. Sobieski however recovered, together with Prince Lotarinski he set out to destroy the Ottoman army numbering 25,000-35,000 men which were about equal those of the Allied army of around 30-35,000 men.  By day 3 the Ottomans were however completely beaten with casualties much higher than inflicted on them during the Siege of Vienna. The victory was complete, only about 700-800 Turks managed to retreat across the Dunaj..with a further 2.000 surviving.  The Christian army took 1,200 prisoners. The Christian victors were unnecessarily cruel to the Ottoman captives taking their revenge over the near disaster and loss of life that had taken place only 2 days before. Sobieski and Prince Lotarynski tried their best to hold their men off, however they were largely unsuccessful. After this victory the Christian army split into to, the Poles successful in forcing the capitulation of Esztergom, where more unnecessary cruelties occured. After these insubordinations it proved to be impossible to continue the campaign, it was decided for the Polish Army to return back home to the Commonwealth. Soon the Wallachian campaigns would begin..

Juliusz Kossak: Wjazd Jana III Sobieskiego do Wiednia.
1883. Akwarela, papier. 48 x 70,5 cm.
Muzeum Narodowe, Wrocław.

Henryk Rodakowski: Hrabia Jan Wilczek błagający Jana III Sobieskiego o pomoc dla Wiednia. Szkic.
Ok. 1860. Olej na płótnie. 38 x 53 cm.
Muzeum Narodowe, Warszawa

Wojciech Gerson: Pożegnanie Jana III z rodziną przed wyprawą wiedeńską.
1882-84. Olej na płótnie. 169 x 201 cm.
Muzeum Mazowieckie, Płock.

Józef Brandt: Bitwa pod Wiedniem.
1873. 136 x 318 cm.
Muzeum Wojska Polskiego, Warszawa.

Juliusz Kossak: Sobieski pod Wiedniem.
Bez daty. Akwarela. 56 x 94,5 cm. 
Muzeum Narodowe, Warszawa.

Józef Brandt: Walka o sztandar turecki.
Olej na płótnie. 76 x 130 cm.

Józef Brandt: Składanie sztandarów.
1905. Olej na płótnie. 70 x 111 cm.
Muzeum Narodowe, Warszawa.

Józef Brandt: Powrót z Wiednia.
Olej na płótnie. 72 x 112 cm.
Własność prywatna.

Juliusz Kossak: Bitwa pod Parkanami.
1883. Ahwarela. 44,5 x 55,5 cm.
Muzeum Narodowe, Warszawa. 

The Commonwealth now entered a period of decline. Further wars in the early eighteenth century ensured that the damage of the previous fifty years was never made good. The political system fell into decay. The 'democracy of the gentry' came inevitably to mean the predominance of a few great families, fiercely competing for influence and increasingly ready to ally themselves with foreign powers to attain their ends.
The Sejm had now adopted the Liberum veto system, the rule of unanimity, which allowed a single member to halt all proceedings with a cry of nie pozwalam - 'I do not permit'. The invitation to corruption, obvious enough, was accepted eagerly by outsiders; Russia, in particular, presented herself as the guarantor of the 'noble democracy' which kept the Commonwealth so conveniently weak.

The eighteenth century is the focus of intense arguments about Polish history. One school of thought sees it as a shameful time, in which the nobility deliberately allowed the Commonwealth to lapse into anarchy and into fatal dependence on its hostile neighbours for motives of blind egotism and greed. Others point out that Poland was the victim of its virtues. Only Britain had developed a more effective system of early democracy and constitutional monarchy, and Poland-Lithuania remained in some respects more tolerant than Britain. It was hardly Poland's fault that its neighbours to east and west were the absolutist states of Russia and Prussia, politically and culturally far less advanced.

The old saying nierzadem Polska stoi - roughly, 'the essential thing about Poland is unrule' - was not contemptuous. Given a chance, this fluid combination of the King, the Sejm and the gentry could have evolved towards an enlightened parliamentary democracy. Poland's tragedy is that it did so, but only when it was already too late.

Poland's weakness was made manifest in 1733 when Russian armies intervened to depose the elected king, Stanisław Leszczyński, and replace him by a more pliable monarch. But there followed a period of relative peace, in which intellectual energy revived: a season of new ideas for the political and economic revival of the Commonwealth. "The Struggles for Poland" by Neal Ascherson

Augustus II the Strong (1670-1733)

the son of John George of Saxony, of the Wettin house, king of Poland from 1697, and elector of Saxony from 1694. He attempted to introduce a Saxon-style absolute monarchy in Poland, which provoked many conflicts. Against Poland's real interests, he allied himself with the tsar Peter I and involved Poland in the so-called Northern War, originally fought by Sweden and Russia. When Charles XII of Sweden invaded Poland, part of the gentry deposed Augustus and elected Stanislaus Leszczynski in his place. The majority of the gentry supported Augustus II who, however, had to abdicate when the Swedish army entered Saxony in 1706. He regained the Polish crown in 1709, following the defeat of Charles XII at Poltava by Peter I's army. Under his reign, Poland ceased playing any major role in international relations.

Stanislaus Leszczynski (1677-1766)

As an opponent of Augustus II's policies, he was put on the Polish throne by King Charles XII of Sweden during the Northern War in which Poland was involved by Augustus II acting in alliance with the tsar Peter I. Following the defeat of Charles XII, he had to leave Poland and Augustus II regained the throne. Stanislaus' daughter, Maria, married Louis XV and became queen of France. After the death of Augustus II he was again elected king of Poland, but Russian and Saxon intervention forced him to abdicate in 1736. He kept his royal title. From the king of France he received the Duchy of Lorraine for life, and he enjoyed an excellent reputation as a ruler. He was an intellectual, a protector of arts and sciences, rather than a politician
Augustus III (1696-1763)

the son of Augustus II, elector of Saxony and king of Poland from 1733. He was brought to the throne following an armed intervention by Russian and Saxon forces and the deposition of the elected king, Stanislaus Leszczynski. Augustus was an indolent and incapable monarch, but he did enjoy popularity among certain sections of the gentry, because he did not interfere in state affairs and tolerated the licence of the magnates and their lesser peers. Under his reign, Poland completely lost her significance on the international arena. In the history of Poland, the Saxon period became synonymous with backwardness and inertia which push state into decline. During the times of Augustus III, the Enlightenment ideas began reaching Poland and the first projects for the reform of the state were drawn up, though without any involvement on the part of the king.

It was in this atmosphere that, in 1764, Stanisław August Poniatowski was elected to the throne. He was to be the last king of an independent Poland.
Nobody expected much of him. He had been the lover of Catherine II of Russia, and she, through her Polish contacts in the Czartoryski family, engineered his election. But almost at once this apparently feeble courtier began manoeuvering to increase the power of the Crown, to reform and modernise the political structure of Poland by reducing the influence of the magnates, and to restore some of the Commonwealth's lost independence. A crisis with Russia opened when he attempted to curtail the Sejm's unanimity rule. The Russians responded by cynically organising the Orthodox and Protestant interests against him. Stanisław August survived this challenge, but in 1768 there broke out what was in effect the first Polish insurrection in the cause of independence, the Confederation of Bar.

This was a nobles' rising, strongly Catholic in character, and directed not only against Russian interference but against the King's apparent compliance with Russian pressure. It failed, after four years of war against both Russian and royal forces, and in 1772 Frederick the Great of Prussia was able to persuade Catherine and Joseph II, the young Austrian Emperor, that the 'chaotic' condition of Poland justified a forcible and drastic reduction of the Commonwealth. Through this 'First Partition', Russia, Prussia and Austria annexed almost a third of Poland's territory and thirty-five per cent of its inhabitants. In the style of many future crimes of aggression, the Partition was proclaimed to be a high-minded action designed to secure the stability of Europe. But, as Norman Davies has put it, the Commonwealth 'was not destroyed because of its internal anarchy. It was destroyed because it repeatedly tried to reform itself'.

In his mutilated kingdom, Stanisław August did his best to press forward with reforms. The army was reorganised and an attempt was made to relieve the condition of the peasantry. In 1773 the National Education Commission was set up, in effect the first ministry of education in Europe. In 1788 there met the Four-year Sejm, dominated by men of high intellectual calibre who had absorbed with enthusiasm the ideas of the Enlightenment in the West.

The Constitution of the Third of May, one of the proudest achievements of all Polish history, was their work. It was drafted and passed in 1791, at a moment when most of the reformers' parliamentary opponents were absent from the Sejm. It was the zenith of Poland's astonishing revival at the end of the century. The Constitution's provisions, had they ever been applied, would have transformed the nation. The Sejm's disastrous unanimity rule was to be dropped, the throne was to be made hereditary rather than elective and a Cabinet (including the king and the Roman Catholic primate ) was to be established: three reforms which would have given the state real authority at last. The town citizens were to be given the same civil rights as the nobility, and the peasantry was declared to be under the protection of the law of the land. "The Struggles for Poland" by Neal Ascherson

Stanislaus Augustus Poniatowski (1732-1798)
he son of a magnate family, he became king in 1764 as a protege of the Russian empress Catherine II. He was an enlightened man, well educated and sensitive. He did a lot to raise the level of the Polish elites and modernise the country. Politically and from the point of view of its international position, the Polish-Lithuanian state was already in a state of decline, and measures introduced by the king and his enlightened associates served the future rather than the present day. The king was a knowledgeable protector of the arts and culture. He hoped that Poland would preserve its independence thanks to the magnanimity of Catherine the Great. One of his greatest achievements was his active participation in the drafting of the Constitution of May 3rd of 1791. However, when faced with the strong opposition of the empress, he quickly capitulated and agreed to abdicate. His abdication spelt the end of the independent Polish-Lithuanian state

Juliusz Kossak: Pułaski pod Częstochową.

Józef Chełmoński: Kazimierz Pulaski pod Częstochową. 
 Muzeum Narodowe w Warszawie.

Jan Matejko: Konstytucja 3 maja 1791 roku (fragment).
Marszałek Stanisław Małachowski.

Jan Matejko: Konstytucja 3 maja 1791 roku.
1891. Olej na płótnie. 227 x 446 cm.
Zamek Królewski w Warszawie.

Jan Matejko: Dzieje cywilizacji w Polsce XII. Konstytucja 3 Maja. Sejm Czteroletni. Komisja edukacyjna. Rozbiór. R.P. 1795.
1889. Olej na płótnie.
Muzeum Narodowe, Warszawa - depozyt w Zamku Królewskim w Warszawie.

Jan Matejko: Dzieje cywilizacji w Polsce XII. Fragment.
Siedzą: Stanisław Staszic i Andrzej Zamojski, wielki kanclerz koronny. W srodku stoi Hugo Kołłątaj, z prawej Adam Kazimierz Czartoryski.

Jan Matejko: Dzieje cywilizacji w Polsce XII. Fragment.
Siedzi król Stanisław August Poniatowski. Obok na prawo Marcello Baccciarelli, nadworny malarz. Z przodu na prawo siedzi Mikołaj Wasiliewicz Repnin, ambsador rosyjski w Warszawie.

But almost all these changes were to remain on paper. It was inconceivable that Russia, above all, would allow a strong and radical parliamentary democracy to emerge from the mutilated rump of the old Commonwealth. Russia invaded Poland in 1792, supported by the Confederation of Targowica, a conspiracy of Polish magnates organised in Russia and committed to overthrow both the Sejm and the new Constitution. Stanisław August won some early victories against the Russians but then, foreseeing defeat and anxious to spare Poland total destruction, gave in. While a stream of reforming intellectuals and officers left for the w est, shattered by the King's collapse of will, Stanisław August signed the Confederation of Targowica. Meanwhile, a Prussian army entered Poland from the other flank. There followed the Second Partition of 1793.

Austria did not take part this time. But Russia annexed another immense slice of what had belonged to the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, while Prussia took Gdańsk on the Baltic and a swathe of western Poland stretching from the Poznań region to Toruń on the middle Vistula. The Sejm, meeting at Grodno, was forced to recognise the Second Partition and repeal the Constitution of the Third of May

But Stanisław August had lost his authority. the only power now visible in the land was the Russian army. As in France in the same period, the mood in Poland which had begun with constitutional reform in the name of Reason was stoked up by foreign invasion into a blaze of radicalism that was revolutionary and patriotic at once.

An army mutiny in March 1794 exploded into national insurrection. On 24 March, in the ancient market square of Kraków, Tadeusz Kosciuszko (1746-1817) took the oath to restore the independence of Poland and establish 'general liberty'. Kosciuszko, a professional soldier who had trained in France and fought in the American War of Independence, was well aware of the revolutionary surge in Polish opinion and saw that his only chance was to enlist the peasant masses in the national cause. On 7 May, he issued the Manifesto of Połaniec, abolishing serfdom and promising that the new insurrectionary government would defend the peasants against their landlords. At the battle of Racławice, the charge of peasants armed with scythes and pikes stormed through the Russian guns and put the enemy to flight. Warsaw rose against the occupiers, led by the tailor Jan Kiliński and by a committee openly supporting the ideas of Jacobin revolution in France. In both Wilno and Warsaw, leaders of the Confederation of Targowica were hanged - including a bishop - and there were massacres of those suspected or rumoured to support Russia.

But the desperate courage of the Poles and the skill of their beloved Kościuszko were not enough to hold the combined armies of Russia and Prussia. Kościuszko was defeated, wounded and captured at the battle of Maciejowice in October 1794. On 4 November, General Suvorov captured Praga, the suburb of Warsaw east of the Vistula, and the Cossacks massacred its inhabitants. The capital surrendered, and the King was taken off into exile, finally abdicating in November 1795. "The Struggles for Poland" by Neal Ascherson

Juliusz Kossak: Portret Tadeusza Kościuszki.
1879. Akwarela. 78 x 63 cm.
Muzeum w Łańcucie.
web page

Jan Matejko: Bitwa pod Racławicami.
1888. Olej na płótnie.
Muzeum Narodowe w Krakowie - Sukiennice.

Jan Matejko: Tadeusz Kościuszko i kosynierzy.
Fragment Bitwy pod Racławicami.

Aleksander Orłowski: Bitwa wojska kościuszkowskiego z rosyjskim o przeprawę na rzece.
Muzeum Narodowe, Warszawa.

Juliusz Kossak: Bitwa pod Ostrołęką.
? Akwarela. 32 x 45 cm.
Muzeum Okręgowe, Toruń.

Juliusz Kossak: Bitwa pod Raszynem.
1884. Akwarela, gwasz, ołówek. 23 x 32 cm.
Muzeum Narodowe, Warszawa.

Aleksander Orłowski: Rzeź Pragi.
Muzeum Narodowe w Krakowie. Zbiory Czartoryskich.

Jan Styka: "Polonia, the Constitution of May 3, 1791" monumental national allegory from a collection of The National Museum in Wroclaw, Museum of the Silesian Piasts, Brzeg
Jan Styka "Polonia, Konstytucja 3 Maja 1791", monumentalna narodowa alegoria Muzeum Narodowe we Wrocławiu  na wystawie Muzeum Piastów Śląskich w Brzegu Jan Styka: "Polonia, the Constitution of May 3, 1791" monumental national allegory from a collection of The National Museum in Wroclaw, Museum of the Silesian Piasts, Brzeg. Fine art photography by Zbigniew Halat

Jan Styka "Polonia, Konstytucja 3 Maja 1791", monumentalna narodowa alegoria, Muzeum Narodowe we Wrocławiu  na wystawie Muzeum Piastów Śląskich w Brzegu. Fine art photography by Zbigniew Halat
Monumentalna narodowa alegoria z roku 1891. Polska w białej szacie bez winy zniewolona, przykuta do skały, ale Matka Boska Królowa Polski nad nami czuwa, nie opuści nas. Pod krzyżem gromadzą się tłumy wszystkich stanów, szlachta, chłopi i mieszczanie składają hołd naczelnikowi Tadeuszowi Kościuszce wiodącemu lud zbrojny w kosy do walki o wolność. Na kolanach jasnogórski paulin ksiądz Augustyn Kordecki i warszawski szewc Jan Kiliński. Szable unoszą wysoko generał Kazimierz Pułaski książę Józef Poniatowski, generał Henryk Dąbrowski. Natchniony Adam Mickiewicz na czele twórców i uczonych... Fine art photography by Zbigniew Halat


"the quixotic and controversial deputy minister of health,  government sanitary inspector, and chief environmental health officer, Zbigniew Halat MD is engaged in a personal crusade to shake the health service out of the spiritual atrophy  induced by 45 years of communism. Hard working, self reliant, aggressive, and abrasively masculine,
 this man of Promethean energies put me in mind  of a nineteenth century northern mill owner"

Karin Chopin, Letters from Poland: Too many advisers, not enough aid, British Medical Journal, May 30, 1992
Karin Chopin, Letters from Poland;  Pollution most foul, British Medical Journal, June 6, 1992;
Karin Chopin, 
Letters from Poland, Post-totalitarian medicine, British Medical Journal, June 13, 1992



Poles are fiercely independent and stand up for their beliefs. US Ambassador to Poland Victor Ashe, Sept 24, 2008

"Miss Love of Wroclaw: Pants or skirts, that is the question" (ceramic figure by Anna Malicka-Zamorska, permanent exhibition at The Historical Museum, branch of The City Museum of Wrocław, Poland). Fine Art Photography by Zbigniew Halat, MD, PhG i.e. HalatFineArt
"Miss Love of Wroclaw: Pants or skirts, that is the question" (ceramic figure by Anna Malicka-Zamorska, permanent exhibition at The Historical Museum, branch of The City Museum of Wrocław, Poland). Fine Art Photography by Zbigniew Halat, MD, PhG i.e. HalatFineArt

halat.pl spis

The Fundamental Rights Report 2019 by European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA): “FRAs 2012 survey on violence against women remains the only source for EU comparable data”. Why no recent data from Germany,  Sweden, UK, and other countries where girls and women are deprived of any protection against rapists?
The Fundamental Rights Report 2019 by European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA):   “FRAs 2012 survey on violence against women remains the only source for EU comparable data”
Girls and women in many countries of Europe were exposed to high levels of violence well before the Soros/Merkel invasion of military age male rapists on Europe. Poland stands up for the value of human dignity and the interest of girls and women. What about you Mr. Timmermans?

Global Movement for the Restoration of Human Rights in the European Union
Poland Chapter named after 
George Ivanov
Globalny Ruch na rzecz Przywrócenia Praw Człowieka w Unii Europejskiej
Oddział Polski imienia Jerzego Iwanowa Szajnowicza

Przed egzekucją  wykonaną przez Niemców  4. stycznia 1943 wołał  "Niech żyje Polska Niech żyje Grecja"

Γεώργιος Ιβάνοφ Πριν την εκτέλεση από τους Γερμανούς 4 Ιανουαρίου 1943 φώναξε: Ζήτω η Πολωνία,  ζήτω η Ελλάδα». Executed on January 4, 1943. Before the execution shouted:"Long live Poland,  long live Greece."
 Jerzy Iwanow Szajnowicz przed egzekucją dokonaną przez Niemców Γεώργιος Ιβάνοφ πριν από την εκτέλεση από τους Γερμανούς George Ivanov before execution by the Germans wielki Polak bohater antyniemieckiego ruchu oporu w Grecji an agent of British intelligence his execution by the Germans statue in Thessaloniki
 Jerzy Iwanow Szajnowicz Γεώργιος Ιβάνοφ George Ivanov
wielki Polak, bohater  antyniemieckiego ruchu oporu  w Grecji, an agent of British intelligence
his execution by the Germans statue in Thessaloniki


including pieces of HalatFineArt, excerpts from "The Struggles for Poland" by Neal Ascherson (the First American Edition Random House Inc., New York 1988), and images  from The Gallery of Polish Kings and Princes by Jan Matejko (1890-92) coloured later by his assistants Leonard Stroynowski i Zygmunt Papieski