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


1577 to 1618                                       (links to map of Poland)

1577-1582 War with Muscovy
Siege of Polock 1579Batory now turned East, where Ivan IV (the terrible) had taken advantage of the Gdansk rebellion and invaded Livonia. By the autumn of 1577 he had captured most of it, except Riga and Rewel. Although Sweden assisted Poland in capturing Weden (October 1578) they would not agree to a formal alliance, preferring to await, and hopefully profit from, any outcome.

In 1579 Batory declared war and with 22,000 men targeted Polock for capture . His plan was to drive a wedge between Muscovy and Livonia. He reached Polock on the 11th of August and took it by the end of the month. Batory victoriously returned to Wilno having regained a region lost to Muscovy during the reign of Zygmunt August.

In 1580 larger forces were gathered (29,000), targeting Wielkie Luki, a strategic stronghold. A smaller diversionary force was sent to Smolensk, while the main army reached Wielkie Luki on 26th August, storming it on 4th September. Batory at Pskow - Painting by Jan Matejko
The following year Batory had to give up his plan to strike directly at Moscow due to the lack of allocated funds. Instead, with 31,000 men he marched on Pskov, a near impregnable fortress with a strong garrison. Initial successes were finally repulsed and the siege became a blockade. In the terrible winter of 1581-2 the army would have mutinied without the iron will of the Chancellor Zamojski. In 1582 Ivan surrendered the whole of Livonia and Polock in return for the lands occupied by Batory. He had lost some 300,000 men, with the Poles capturing 40,000. During the campaigns independent Polish detachments had roamed deep into enemy territory causing havoc and directly threatening the Tsar.


Defence of Olsztyn 1588Stefan Batory, amongst the
greatest of Polish Kings,
dies in

1587-1588 War with Austria
In the next election there was a conflict between the rebellious Zborowski family and the powerful Chancellor Jan Zamojski. The Zborowski's attempted to take matters into their own hands and urged Archduke Maximillian to take the crown. In September 1587, together with an army, Maximillian entered Poland but was repulsed at Krakow by Zamojski. The following year in January the Chancellor, with 3,700 cavalry and 2,300 infantry, crushed the Austrian forces, of 2,600 cavalry, 2,900 infantry and 8 cannon, at Byczyna (24 January 1588) capturing the Archduke. He was not released until Austria abandoned all claims to the Polish throne.

KIng Zygmunt III Vasa - Painting by Jan MatejkoZygmunt (Sigismund) III Vasa is elected King
in 1587. Son of the Swedish king John III
and Catherine Jagiellonian.

Tartar attacks
In July 1589 Tartars invaded Lvov and Tarnopol, but were driven out and pursued by Cossack forces.

In 1593 Zygmunt III went to Stockholm in an attempt to gain his throne, in his absence the Cossacks stirred up the South by invading Turkish territory and Zamojski was compelled to march against the Crimean tartars and prevent Turkish retaliation.

1595-1600 Wars in Moldavia and WallachiaPolish Hussar vs Turkish Deli 1598
In 1595 the Chancellor led a small army of 8,000 veterans into Moldavia, placing Jeremy Mohila, as Poland's vassal. When a combined Turkish-Tartar force attacked them at Cecora, Zamojski withstood a three day siege (17-20 October) and managed to obtain agreement from the Turks of the Treaty of Cecora, thereby recognising Mohila as Hospodar.

In 1596 King Zygmunt III transfers the Capital of Poland
from Krakow to Warsaw (Warszawa).

In 1599 Hospodar Michael of Wallachia drove out Hospodar Mohila and the following year Zamojski returned, marched into Wallachia and defeated Michael on 19th September 1600.

1600-1611 War with Sweden
In 1598 Zygmunt left for Sweden with 5,000 men, without official Polish assistance, but was defeated at Linkoping by his Uncle Charles of Sudermania. Charles made himself master of all Sweden and forced Finland to submit to his authority. In 1600 he led troops into Estonia which still recognised Zygmunt, and continued the war into Polish Livonia. So instead of the election of a Swedish king bringing the two countries closer it led to war, which was to last, intermittently, for sixty years.

Polish Hussars preparing to charge Swedish lines at the battle of Kircholm 1605In 1601 and 1602 after initial successes the Swedes were driven from most of Livonia. Radziwill achieved a decisive victory over greater enemy forces at Kokenhausen (24th June 1601). Though Zygmunt continued his claims for the Swedish Crown, he did not provide any assistance in the form of troops. In the 1604 campaign Chodkiewicz's outnumbered forces comprehensively defeated the Swedes at Bialy Kamien (25 September 1604). In 1605, after difficulties at home, Charles resumed the war in Livonia. The weak Polish-Lithuanian forces under Chodkiewicz achieved a startling victory on at Kircholm, (27 September 1605) totally destroying the three times larger enemy. Significant advantage could not be taken by the unpaid Polish forces and when rebellion against Zygmunt appeared in Poland Charles was able to return to Livonia and regain many strongholds. The Swedish had also learnt from their past experiences and they avoided battle, remaining in towns and castles. However returning Polish forces were still able to regain much of what had been lost and the conflict dissipated with both participants' attention being turned to the turmoil in Muscovy.

1606-1607 Zebrzydowski Rebellion.
A large number of nobles revolted against the King Zygmunt III Vasa, a Swede, who they felt concerned himself too much with regaining his Swedish throne. The nobles took to arms but were defeated by a heavily outnumbered Royal army led by the two loyal Hetman's Zolkiewski and Chodkiewicz at Guzow (6 July 1607).

1610-1619 War with Muscovy
After the death of Ivan the Terrible Muscovy was in turmoil with the arrival of various false Demetrius'. Significant numbers of Polish adventurers were recruited by the second false Demetrius. However the Commonwealth did not involve itself until Prince Vasili Szujski became Tsar. It was Szujski who in the 1606 coup instigated the massacre of 500 Poles in Moscow, he also signed an alliance with Sweden in February 1609 and 5,000 Swedish troops joined the Muscovite army. This was a threat that Poland could not ignore and Hetman Zolkiewski left with 13,000 troops intending to march directly on Moscow. He was however overruled by Zygmunt who wanted to besiege the powerful fortress at Smolensk.Hussars at the Battle of Kluszyn 1610 A combined 30-40,000 Muscovite-Swedish army was sent to relieve Smolensk, but they were decisively defeated by Zolkiewski's 5,000 force at Kluszyn (Klushino) (4th July 1610) and Szujski was removed by a court rebellion and the Poles moved to Moscow unopposed.

Zolkiewski entered Moscow and his conciliatory attitude enabled Zygmunt's son Wladyslaw to be elected Tsar. However Zygmunt did not feel bound by Zolkiewski's agreements with Moscow and Zolkiewski returned to Poland in October 1610 leaving a garrison in Moscow. The view of the Muscovites turned against the foreign intruders and in March 1611 they attacked the garrison and burned three quarters of the city, forcing the Poles to take refuge in the Kremlin where they endured a nineteen month siege. In June 1611 Smolensk capitulated to the Poles. But Zygmunt's poorly organised relief of the Moscow garrison failed to reach them and they were starved into surrender. The overall campaign was a failure, though the Smolensk and Seversk regions, lost since the 16th century, were regained.

On returning to Poland Zygmunt found in disorder, with thousands of unpaid and undisciplined soldiers roaming and pillaging the lands, while his military operations were heavily criticised. In 1613 the New Tsar Michael Romanov sent forces to regain Smolensk, while Zaporozhian Cossacks, withdrawn from the adventures in Muscovy, raided the Ottoman territories causing protestation from the Turks of Poland's lack of control of them.

Conflict with Turkey
In 1615 powerful Polish Magnates attempted to install their candidate in Moldavia. Their initial success caused the Ottomans to stir, sending an force to meet the private army of the magnates. After defeating them they approached Poland but met an entrenched Polish army of Zolkiewski at Busza. Neither side wanted war and previous agreements were reaffirmed in 1617.

Continuation of Conflict with Muscovy
Once peace was confirmed with Turkey, Wladyslaw invaded Russia in an attempt to regain his Tsardom, but he achieved nothing. In January 1619 the treaty of Deulina was concluded which left Smolensk, Siewiersk and Czernihow to Poland.

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