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



Polish Warfare 1450 to 1699

During the this period the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth was the largest territory in central and eastern Europe. Together they stretched from the Baltic to the Black Sea nd from The Holy Roman Empire almost to the gates of Moscow.

Its army, though comparatively small for such a large country, achieved many successes against a wide variety of aggressive foes. There were few years in this era when Polish-Lithuanian forces were not fighting against one of the Commonwealth's enemies, which included Tartars, Teutonic Knights, Swedes, Austrians, Ottomans, Muscovites, Moldavians and Zaporozhian Cossacks.

Polish winged hussars charging at the battle of Vienna 1683

Their forces combined elements of eastern tactical and strategic thinking with western tactics of technology and firepower and the influence of the Polish army on the West is often under estimated, for example:-

  • Full gallop cavalry charge with drawn sabres
  • Diverse tactical and defensive use of fortified camps
  • Origins of the divisional system
  • Uhlan lancers
  • Military uniforms, e.g. long-cut jackets, grenadier caps and dragoon uniforms.

It should be remembered that one of the greatest generals in history, Gustav Adolf, developed his skills in almost continuous warfare with the Poles - and his success in the Thirty Years War was preceded by many years of effort against inferior numbers of Poles who had humiliated the Swedish army at Kircholm.