The Siege of Czestochowa, 1655
above, from a Siege in the 1580s
|Order of Battle||Costume|
|The Siege Day by Day - Correspondence|
|The memoirs of Prior Augustin Kordecki were published in 1658 as Nova Gigantomacia in Carlo Monte Czestochoviensi in Latin. Prior and Fortress Commander in 1655, he was 51 years old. He wrote a faithful synthesis of the battle modeled after traditional battle reports.|
on material from:
Twierdza Jasna Gora (Jasna Gora Fortress)
by Ryszard Henryk Bochenek Bellona Publisher, 1997 (Translated by Rick Orli (c)2002)
Part 1. Historical Overview
Swedish Army under King Charles attacked the Commonwealth in concert with the
Muscovites and Cossacks in 1655. Following the disgraceful surrender at Ujscie
on 25 July 1655 by the traitor Krzystof Opalinski and the surrender of Lithuania
by the traitor Janusz Radziwill, the Commonwealth fell into turmoil.
Opalinski and Radziwill are not alone in welcoming a new king – a substantial
portion of the wealthy nobility are disenchanted with the reign of Kasmier, and
hope for a better deal from Charles. They
see this as an exchange of one member of the house of Vasa on the throne with
another, and the gain of a powerful new ally in the form of the Swedish army. They do not bargain on a brutal invasion that threatens to
destroy the Commonwealth.
"On 6 August 1655, on this grim news, a council of war was held in the monastery of Jasna Gora under the leadership of Teofil Bronowski, the Priorship of Augustine Kordecki, and garrison commander of the fortress Colonel Jan Pawl, herb Cellari. We begin the preparations of the fortified monastery of Jasna Gora for armed defense."
"The complement of the garrison was reinforced with
160 men. We purchased and
transported from Worclaw a supply of gunpowder and 60 muskets.
We strengthened the fort with 12 heavy cannon (12 pdrs) sent to us by the
Castilian of Krakow, Stanislav Warszycki. The
slopes outside of the fortress – the field of fire – was cleared.
Even the small devotional shrines and booths were cleared.
The readied fort contained 160 foote, 70 monks, 20 noble knights and
retainers with their lackeys. About
50 artillerymen serve 12-18 light cannons (from 2-6 pdrs) and twelve 12 pdrs. In
total 300 defenders and 24-30 cannon." - Augustin Kordecki
the Swedish army marched on Warsaw, and with a victory at Piatek on September 2,
the arsenal of Warsaw and almost all of the excellent Polish artillery fell into
Swedish hands. King Jan Kazimier was defeated at Zarnov September
16. West Prussia fell.
Muscovite-Cossack forces from the east defeated Potocki at
Grodek on Sept. 29, and the Swedes won again at Wojnicz
October 3. On 17th October Stephan Czarniecki surrendered Krakow,
only a day’s ride from Czestochowa. The
King retreats into exile with a tiny army.
Almost all of the
Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth is occupied by Sweden, Muscovy or the Cossacks.
Most of the Polish army has accepted Charles as King, and entered Swedish
resistance non-existent, Swedish foraging parties ravage the countryside out of
control. Charles issues decrees
that churches and private property are to be respected, and orders good
behavior, but the orders have little effect.
Hundreds of reports of looting, pillaging, ‘taxation’ at gunpoint,
and rape surface. Monasteries and
churches are routinely violated. Hard
men – Germans, Swedes, Czechs, mercenaries from all parts -trained to loot and
destroy in the harsh crucible of the Thirty Years War, do not hesitate to strip
any Catholic church they encounter of all silver and gold, smash the alters and
statues, desecrate images of saints and the Virgin, and burn the books. Poles
once ready to accept a new order grow more outraged with every new report.
story of this siege is told in Potop ('the Deluge’), the epic novel by Nobel laureate, Henryk
Sienkiewicz, translated by W. S.
See also the 1976 spectacular movie by the same name, directed by Jerzy Hoffman .
Part 2 The Fortress-monastery of Jasna Gora ('bright mountain')
left, the fort in detail.
1384: Prince Wladyslaw of Opole supplied the Jasna Gora monastery he had founded with the miraculous picture of the Holy Virgin.
1430: Bohemian robbers raided the monastery and slashed the face of and smashed the Black Madonna’s icon.
The 14th C. fort was rebuilt to the 1655 configuration during the1620s, using modern principles of fortification design. The architect was military engineer and artillery specialist, Andrzej dell'Aqua. Dell'Aqua was the author of an influential book on the subject. The high ground of Jasna Gora overlooked a stretch of terrain and the juncture of some important roads, and it was quite steep and rocky in places. The position was an obvious spot for a fortress, and was highly defensible. Right, the fort in context.
The fort was built as a regular square with 4 bastions: south west Saint Jacob (B1) south east St. Barbara (BI) north-west, St. Rocha (BIII), north-east St. Trojcy (BIV) The main gate to the south, St. Barbara Gate, was protected by an outer bastion.
left, the modern fort. After the damage of the deluge the walls were rebuilt and had a thick outer shell of stone six or more feet thick added. Therefore the modern perimeter is somewhat larger than in the 17thC.
|1655: despite a fierce and prolonged siege, the fortified Jasna Gora monastery was the only stronghold in Poland that the Swedish invaders attempted but failed to capture, which proved a turning point in the war.|