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Stefan Czarniecki - Siege of Krakow, Sept - Oct 1655

andersm 4 | 32
9 Nov 2012 #1
I'm hunting information on the siege of Krakow, specifically related to Stefan Czarnieki. I've read several history book written in English and the details are rather vague. I expect the information in Polish history books is much more complete. Can anyone help in the details of the following.

Where was Czarniecki fighting before he went to Krakow? Was he in Ukraine or was he part of the fighting between Warsaw and Krakow and just got pushed south and ended up trying to defend Krakow?

Are there any historic records detailing the siege itself? All I know is that it started with a Swedish bombardment. How did Czarniecki defend? What damage was done to the city? Was Czarniecki exiled as part of the terms? In one place I read he was but no other sources mention this. What was the behaviour of the Swedes? (Later it was very bad but at the outset was it more civilized?)

I'm writing a novel where the siege of Krakow plays an important role but the details are frustratingly absent in history books written in English. Can anyone name a book written in English with more details? Or, supply answers to the questions above.

Thank-you to all who can help.

boletus 30 | 1,361
9 Nov 2012 #2
I'm hunting information on the siege of Krakow, specifically related to Stefan Czarnieki

Hi Marlene. Long time :-)
English Wikipedia just says this about Siege of Kraków:

It started on 25 September 1655 and ended on 13 October 1655. Capitulation was signed 4 days later. Polish troops marched out the city on 19 October.

Polish Wikipedia has an article about Carniecki in general here:
and an article about Siege of Kraków here:

There is only one paragraph about the siege mentioned in the former source:

the Swedish invasion (1655-1660)

The following is my translation of the latter:
Preparations for the defense
At the news of the Swedish successes, on 2 August 1655, the mayor of Krakow, Andrzej Cieniowicz urged the residents to the defence and demanded payment of the money to pay for the service of 100 infantry soldiers. The Kraków garrison and the guards were given orders to guard the walls and to keep tighter control of foreigners, especially Germans living in Kraków.

They started repairing the city fortifications; the works were supervised by the city engineer Izydor Affaita and Krzysztof Mieroszewski elected by the nobility. Soon Queen Louise Maria came to the city and gave part of her jewels to cover the cost of the defence works.

On August 27 Bishop Peter Gembicki called on to be faithful to the King and to defend the city. In addition, he put 300 of his private soldiers into defence of the city. The city council has also decided to equip all the citizens.

John Casimir leaves the city
On September 19 Jan Kazimierz, beaten at Żarnów, entered Kraków with several thousand soldiers and militia (pospolite ruszenie). The whole thing was pretty disorganized jumble. The nobility was much demoralized; they were looking for the way out of the trouble and they were deserting the king en mass. The army, confederated in Prądnik, demanded outstanding payments and expressed their disobedience to the Crown Hetman Stanisław Lanckoroński. Kraków had to upkeep all this disorderly throng but it could not count any support from them in the city's defence.

On September 20, a senate council was held, where the king and the senators declared their perseverance in resisting the dangers. Jan Kazimierz was even thinking about staying in the city of Kraków and participating in its defense; however, the senators persuaded him against this idea.

Immediately after the council the Queen was sent to Silesia, care of the Primate Andrzej Leszczyński. At night on September 24 the King also left Kraków, submitting to a general panic of the army and militia - in response to the news of the approaching Swedish army. King went east towards Wojnicz, then by Nowy Wiśnicz to Nowy Sącz towards the border of the Holy Roman Empire. He was accompanied by Bishop Peter Gembicki, which he carried with him the Wawel Cathedral treasury.

The siege
In Krakow, along with troops of Colonel Wolff Fromhold, there remained 2200 regular army troops under the command of Stefan Czarnecki, the Castellan of Kiev. The soldiers were assisted by 2300 citizens of Kraków and students. The defenders had at their disposal 160 guns. Optimistically, King ordered Czarniecki to hold on for just 2-3 weeks before the help comes.

Czarniecki decided to prepare the city defence and ordered to burn the suburbs - Kleparz, Biskupie and Garbary - to deny cover to the Swedish attackers. The army and city infantry were deployed along the city walls. Defenders piled embankments and other fortifications in front of the walls.

Swedes attacked on Sept. 25 and sacked Kazimierz suburb. They even stormed up to Grodzka Gate, but a strong Czarniecki's counterattack forced them to retreat and prevented the seizure of Kraków of the march. At the same time the city was being bombed.

Since the attack on the city failed, Carolus X Gustavus, who had 13-14 thousand soldiers and several dozens guns with him, was forced to start the regular siege and commenced artillery shelling. The King entrusted the siege of Kraków to Arvid Wittenberg, leaving with him 8,000 soldiers. He took the rest of the forces and went against the Crown forces, which he defeated on Oct. 3 at Wojnicz.

Information about the defeat of the crown army, which did not leave any hope for the rescue, reached the defenders of Krakow with subsequent demands for surrender. Few remaining crown troops, which were in the vicinity of Kraków, showed no desire to fight the Swedes. The defenders of the city, however, continued the struggle - withstanding artillery bombardment and fending off new attacks.

When Carolus Gustavus came at Krakow on October 6, and was inspecting the siege works, he almost lost his life when he was shot at from the St. Florian's Gate. His horse was shot dead under him, but he escaped alive. Similarly, the commander of the defenders Stefan Czarnecki often risked his person - trying to cheer up soldiers to fight. Wounded by a a musket bullet in the cheek he nevertheless continued inspection of the defences, riding on horseback.

Czarniecki was trying to play for time, however - being aware of the weak morale among the troops and residents who knew that there was no chance of the rescue - he made capitulation call on October 12. The most interesting fact is that the biggest opponents to the surrender were professors at the Jagiellonian University.

However, Czarniecki realized that further resistance could lead to destruction and starvation of the city; he therefore decided to save the city and those regular troops which he had with him. For this reason, he decided on October 13 to surrender the city.

On October 17 he signed an agreement with the Swedes, which was made up of 11 points: to guarantee the freedom of the Catholic religion, personal safety and property of the Church, officials, nobles and burghers, preservations of existing privileges of the city and the University of KrakOw, and the mutual exchange of prisoners. Crew, military officials and courtiers of Jan Kazimierz were allowed to march out of the city. Under this agreement, Polish troops taking part in the defense of Krakow received winter quarters near Oświęcim, Zator, Sławków, Będzin, Siewierz and Koziegłowy. These forces were to remain neutral until November 18 when they were to decide whether to go back under the command of Jan Kazimierz, or to surrender to Carolus Gustavus.

On 19 October, Czarniecki - following a review of his forces on the Market Square - marched out of the city at the head of 1,800 soldiers and 12 guns. He was welcomed by the Swedish king in his camp, who prepared a banquet in his honor. Karl Gustav, as a born soldier, honored the bravery of his opponent.

Krakow was staffed by 2.5 thousand of infantry and 500 of cavalry (reiters). The king entered the city in the afternoon and after being greeted by the city council he went to see the Wawel Cathedral. He was guided by Szymon Starowolski.

Almost immediately, an enormous contribution was imposed on the city and its churches; all liturgical vessels were taken from the cathedral. The booty was reportedly worth 5 million zlotys.
OP andersm 4 | 32
9 Nov 2012 #3
Boletus, indeed long time no talk! :-) Thank-you for collecting and translating the information on the siege of Krakow and on Czarniecki. It's exactly what I needed. English Wikopedia is woefully deficient in this area. You could add this translation and many would cheer.

I now understand the situation imposed on Czarniecki under the terms of surrender - it was not exile, but a directive to refrain from arms. I'm sure, however, he privately stirred up trouble in the background, particularly among the peasant resistance that was beginning to get underway.

My understanding is that the Crown army was all in Ukraine dealing with Khmelnytsky and Buturlin at the time of the Swedish invasion. Did they get called back to join Jan Casimir to confront the Swedes or were there sufficient troops in and around Warsaw to make a stand? As it is now, I'm simply going to make the assumption there was a call for help and some of the regiments galloped back to Warsaw.

Thank-you again!

PS: I've had interest in the story from an agent and an editor. If the finished manuscript is actually accepted to get published, I will need to collect your name for an acknowledgement for all the help. Unless you prefer to be known as 'Boletus from Polish Forums'. :-) That'll add some mystery to it!
boletus 30 | 1,361
10 Nov 2012 #4
Well, the one month truce was imposed on his troops, but I do not know whether it concerned himself. I know that he joined (when?) the King Jan Kazimierz at Głogówek, Silesia (now Opole Voivodship), where he advised the King to announce the all-social-states war against Swedes. He came with this idea after learning about partisan attacks on small Swedish troops involved in robberies and extortion of monetary contributions.

Actually King Jana Kazimierz followed suit and on 30 November 1655 he announced a so-called Opole Proclamation in which he called all Poles to rise against Swedes. The King and the Queen stayed in Głogówek from 1655-10-17 to 1655-12-18.

At the beginning of 1656 Jan Casimir returned to Poland. On December 18, 1655 set out from Opole, then going through Silesia and Slovakia (south side of Tatra Mnts), December 27 he reached Lubowla on Spisz, on December 27. From here he went to Biecz, then through Nowy Żmigrod to Dukla. On January 3, 1656 he reached Krosno.

After King returned from Silesia, Czarniecki was appointed a deputy hetman (regimentarz) and a commander of an independent division of troops.

The next piece of information about Czarniecki is this:
Along with the governor Jerzy Lubomirski of Spisz he led the campaign of 1656. On February 1 his division crossed Vistula over the ice, took Sandomierz and moved on to Puławy. On February 18 Czarniecki suffered a setback at the village Gołąb. The result of that battle caused a change in his tactics; he returned to guerrilla warfare.

He also employed peasant troops, announcing universals and threatening those nobles who would oppose this.

In August new Swedish forces arrived and together they marched on Warsaw. At Piatek (2 September 1655) a Computed and levy force was defeated. With the main Royal army in the Ukraine the King retreated to Krakow. Warsaw was taken without a shot and it's substantial arsenal fell into Swedish hands. Charles continued to Krakow and defeated Jan Kazimierz's mainly mounted forces at Zarnow (16 September 1655), though King Jan was successful in withdrawing his forces with relatively small losses.
So I guess Stefan Czeniecki did not fight at Piątek, and came to Kraków directly from Ukraine.

I've had interest in the story from an agent and an editor.

Good for you. :-)

Unless you prefer to be known as 'Boletus from Polish Forums'

That's good enough. :-)
OP andersm 4 | 32
10 Nov 2012 #5
So I guess Stefan Czeniecki did not fight at Piątek, and came to Kraków directly from Ukraine.

In the absence of any evidence to the contrary, you have to assume that is so. I imagine that word of the capitulation of the Wielkopolska gentry went rapidly to the southeastern borderlands and the Polish King likely demanded some of his army should return. His best troops were in Ukraine. In the Polish king's place I'd be far more concerned with the professional army of the Swedes than the Cossacks and Muscovites. I'll have to look it up but I think it was around the time the Swedes took Krakow that the Cossacks besieged Lwow and when that was unsuccessful they went on to take Lublin. Their rapid advance could be explained in light of a number of the Polish troops being called back to the king.

You don't really think too much about the minute details and sequences of historic events until you try to create a story using facts anyone can check for accuracy. I thought Czarniecki would be the ideal leader to stick a young soldier into his regiments and let the adventure go from there. There's been so much written about him. However, there are gaps and even some of the published facts sometimes don't agree. I've discovered history books disagree on dates and places so that means checking other sources until you find two that say the same thing. From what other writers of historic fiction tell me, no matter how obscure a piece of information may be, someone will know and they'll call you on it. I can't imagine trying to dig into Polish sources without the assistance of someone who speaks the language. Your help is very much appreciated. :-)


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