Introduction page Battles and campaigns 1450 to 1697 Army composition
main conflicts 1450-1697 Maps of Polish Lithuanian Commonwealth Army's development 1450-1697

Summary of Conflicts

Part 1 - from
1454 to 1510

Part 2 - from
1512 to 1577

Part 3 - from
1577 to 1618

Part 4 - from
1618 to 1647

Part 5 - from
1648 to 1655

Part 6 - from 1655 to 1660

Part 7 - from
1660 to 1672

Part 8 - from
1672 to 1699


1660-1672                                       (links to map of Poland)

The Muscovite war (Continued)
'Bogurodzica' , Mother of God - ancient Polish (battle) Hymn  - Jozef BrandtIn 1658 the Muscovites renewed their attacks, after having their own problems with Sweden, defeating Lithuanian forces at Werki (21 October 1658). In the following year they were defeated by Wychowski's Polish forces, supported by Tartars, at Konotop in the Ukraine.

At the time of the Peace of Oliwa a large Muscovite army approached Warsaw while another entered the Ukraine. But with peace ensured with Sweden, Poland began its own offensive which was to reveal to the full aggressive spirit of the Polish-Lithuanian army and its commanders.

In the Ukraine Field Hetman Jerzy Lubomirski brilliantly led the Polish forces against Szerement and Jurek Chmilniecki. At Lubar the Poles held off the Muscovites forcing them on the defensive where at Cudnow they surrounded and besieged them, ensuring their surrender on 1st November 1660. Lubomirski then moved with his best troops and the Tartars, to deal with the Cossacks who he defeated and then besieged at Slobodyszcze and forced them to capitulate.

Hussar comrade (excerpt) - Jozef BrandtAt the same time the Lithuanian Hetman Sapieha and Czarniecki fought the Muscovites in Lithuania. Their 15,000 Polish-Lithuanian army defeated the Muscovite Northern army at Polonka (28 June 1660) and then crossed the river Dniepr crushing the remaining forces.

These defeats left Muscovy powerless. But the superb campaigns brought few fruits since in Lithuania the army mutinied and demanded its back pay. In 1663 Jan Kazimierz invaded the Ukraine, but the Muscovites had learnt from bitter experience. They avoided battle and sheltered in fortified towns or retreated.

The King attempted to reform the decrepit state organisation, but in 1666 the powerful and disenchanted Lubomirski led a rebellion and defeated the King's forces at Matwy (13th July 1666). The chance at reform had failed and the rebellion only succeeded in ruining the Republic further.

On 31st January 1667 the Truce of Andruszow was concluded with Muscovy. This was more advantageous to the Muscovites than was reflected in their military success, principally due to the rebellion in Poland. Poland ceded the Smolensk. Seversk and Czernihow regions and the Ukraine was divided along the Dniepr. The Poles intended this to be a temporary setback, until they got their house in order, however this was not to be.

What began as a popular rising of the Ukrainian people ended in ruin to their lands and their national aspirations, with the Ukraine divided in two. They also found that life under Muscovy was much sterner than that under Warsaw and by the time of Peter the Great and Catherine II Ukrainian autonomy had been dealt its final death blow (until the 1990's!).

The Turkish and Tartar Wars
Skirmish with Tartars - Painting by Maksymilian GierymskiIn August 1667 Fietr Deroszenke and Khan Girej led some 20-30,000 Cossacks and Tartars in an attack on Poland. After the end of the war with Muscovy the Polish army had been reduced to 14,000 men, while the Sejm did not believe the Tartars had altered their previously allied stance. Only the new Field Hetman Sobieski had forces, mainly personally funded, of 8,000 regular and levy troops to deal with the invasion.

In an attempt to curb the Tartar ravaging, Sobieski introduced a new tactic. Previously when the enemy's numbers were so superior the army was placed in a single fortified camp in a strategic position. It's main problem was it allowed the Tartars complete freedom to carry out their ravaging of the surrounding lands. Sobieski split his forces into small independent groups, each based at one of a line of forts and supported by the local population. These forces could hamper the operation of the numerous but small Tartar raiding parties, and when threatened by a larger force it could seek refuge in the fort.

Sobieski took 3,000 troops to a fortified camp at Podhajce, threatening the enemy's communication lines, and was besieged. The initial Tartar-Cossack attacks failed and a Polish night attack forced the numerically much superior enemy to agree to a truce and King Michael Wisniowiecki - by Jan Matejkoretreat.

On 16th August 1668 Jan Kazimierz, a broken man after Matwy and then the death of his wife, resigned the crown and soon left for France.

A year later on 29th September 29 year old Prince Michael Wisniowiecki, a Pole from an illustrious family (Piast), was crowned King.

But the Podhajce agreement brought only a brief respite. The Cossacks now submitted to the Sultan as they tried to play the Muscovites, Turks and Poles against each other. Soon, in July 1671 the Cossacks besieged Biala Cerki while the Tartars moved into Podole, now supported by the Ottomans.

Excerpt - Painting by Jozef Brant - fight over Turkish bannerSobieski, with only weak forces repeated his very successful tactics of the previous year and led two attacks which broke the new Cossack-Tartar offensive. He led a 150 mile raid capturing many strongholds and by mid-October much of the Ukraine was subdued. Had he had some support, much of the lands. effectively lost since 1648, could have been regained. Instead Sobieski was forced to return and the Ukraine rebelled again.

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