• Faithful to my Homeland, the Republic of Poland



  • Prince Wladyslaw Waza in Antwerp and Breda

    The visit the young Prince Wladyslaw Zygmunt to the Dutch fortress city of Breda marked an important point in his travels across western and southern Europe in the years 1624 and 1625.  Breda then was besieged by the Spanish army under the command of Ambrosio Spinola. The first-born son of the Polish King Zygmunt III Waza spent there a total of four days late one September, before then embarking to Antwerp, where he would also focus on learning the art of Western European warfare.  He was particularly interested in studying the impressive fortifications built by the opposing sides of the conflict, as well as in gaining an understanding of the ways in which the many logistical challenges were addressed, including securing food supplies and other pressing needs of the many thousand troops on the ground.  Indeed daring was the young Prince as he endangered himself and his companions by being in such a direct line of fire from the besieged; luckily, it merely boiled down to a wounding of his diarist's beloved horse.

    Portrait of King Władysław IV Waza by Franz Luyckx. Original paint was looted in 1939 by Germans from the building of Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Warsaw.  

    Portrait of King Władysław IV Waza by Franz Luyckx.
    Original painting was looted in 1939 by Germans
    from the building of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs 
    in Warsaw.

    In the course of his peregrinations, the young Prince made a point in military planning sessions, as well as in deliberations on the varying approaches to combat in the Netherlands and the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth.  Given the many accounts, one could pose the thesis that, in that short span of time, Prince Wladyslaw and his companions did gain a great understanding of Western European warfare, and as it related to sieges in particular.  The lessons therein learned bore great influence on his decisions in 1633 as he planned the siege of Smolensk and, subsequently, defeat the Muscovites.  One could also say that it was the lessons from Breda, alongside those learned from the battles against Gustav II Adolf in Prussia, that accounted for Wladyslaw's reforms of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth's military forces and their modernisation, so as to make them as similar as possible to those in Western Europe.

    In early modern times, the Netherlands have been hailed as the centre for European military studies.  Among the many of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth's young seeking military experience and education were such distinguished personalities as Tomasz Zamoyski, Jakub Sobieski and his two sons, Marek and Jan (the future King Jan III Sobieski), Krzysztof II Radziwill and his son, Janusz (immortalized as the infamous character in Henryk Sienkiewicz's classic novel, "The Deluge").  Accounts also suggest that the Polish light cavalry, known as Lisowczycy or elears, then incorporated into the Emperor's army, took part  in the defence of the Netherlands.  Rembrandt himself immortalized a Lisowczyk in one his famous paintings, "The Polish Rider."


    Kobierzycki Stanisław, Historia Władysława, królewicza polskiego i szwedzkiego, tłum. M. Krajewski, wyd. J. Byliński i W. Kaczorowski Wrocław 2005, ss. 390 - 392.
    Podróż królewicza Władysława Wazy do krajów Europy Zachodniej w latach 1624 - 1625 w świetle ówczesnych relacji, oprac A. Przyboś, Kraków 1977; ss. 182 - 190.
    Sobieski J., Peregrynacja po Europie, Wrocław - Warszawa - Kraków 1991, s. 59 nn.
    Czapliński W., Władysław IV i jego czasy, Warszawa 1976, s. 74.
    Wisner H., Władysław IV Waza, Wrocław - Warszawa - Kraków 1995, s. 44.
    Magnuszewski W., Z dziejów elearów polskich, Warszawa - Poznań 1978, s. 53 n.
    Wisner H., Janusz Radziwiłł 1612 - 1655, wojewoda wileński, hetman wielki litewski, Warszawa 2000, s. 33.
    Wisner H., Radziwiłł Krzysztof, h. Trąby (1585 - 1640), Polski Słownik Biograficzny, t. XXX/2, s. 276.
    Witusik A. A., Młodość Tomasza Zamoyskiego, Lublin 1977, s. 126 n.
    Wójcik Z., Jan Sobieski 1629 - 1696, Warszawa 1994, s. 40.


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