(links to map of Poland)
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
Turkish and Tartar Wars
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.
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
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
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