The Siege of Czestochowa, 1655 

                                                    above, from a Siege in the 1580s

Home The Fortress-monastery 
Order of Battle Costume
  The Siege Day by Day - Correspondence
The memoirs of  Prior Augustin Kordecki were published in 1658giganti.jpg (267287 bytes) 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. 
Based 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

 The 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 

Meanwhile, 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 service.

With 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.

  More of Augustin Kordecki's detailed chronicle of the siege is HERE.

The story of this siege is told in Potop ('the Deluge’), the epic novel by Nobel laureate, Henryk Sienkiewicz, translated by W. S. Kuniczak.  

See also the 1976 spectacular movie by the same name, directed by Jerzy Hoffman .

Part 2 The Fortress-monastery of Jasna Gora ('bright mountain')

czestofortdetail1.jpg (348192 bytes)

             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. delallaportrat.jpg (133265 bytes)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.                          plan_jasnagora_3d.jpeg (348993 bytes)

 

  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.

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