John III Sobieski
|John III Sobieski|
Grand Duke of Lithuania
|Coronation||2 February 1676|
|Predecessor||Michael Korybut Wiśniowiecki|
|Successor||Augustus II the Strong|
|Spouse||Marie Casimire Louise|
|Jakub Ludwik Sobieski
Teresa Teofila Sobieska
Adelaide Luise Sobieska
La Mannone Sobieska
Teresa Kunegunda Sobieska
Aleksander Benedykt Sobieski
Konstanty Władysław Sobieski
|House||House of Sobieski|
|Mother||Zofia Teofillia Daniłowicz|
17 August 1629|
Olesko, Poland (now Ukraine)
|Died||17 June 1696
Wilanów, near Warsaw
|Burial||Wawel, Kraków, Poland|
John III Sobieski (Polish: Jan III Sobieski, Lithuanian: Jonas Sobieskis; 17 August 1629 – 17 June 1696) was one of the most notable monarchs of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, from 1674 until his death King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania. Sobieski's 22-year-reign was marked by a period of the Commonwealth's stabilization, much needed after the turmoil of the Deluge and Khmelnytsky Uprising. Popular among his subjects, he was an able military commander, most famous for the victory over the Turks in the 1683 Battle of Vienna. Following his victories over the Ottoman Empire, he was called by the Turks the "Lion of Lechistan" and held as the saviour of European Christendom by the pope.
John Sobieski was born 1629 in Olesko, a small town near Lwów in Galicia, then part of the Crown of the Kingdom of Poland (since 1945 in Ukraine) to a notable noble family de Sobieszyn Sobieski of Clan Janina. His father, Jakub Sobieski, was the Palatine of Ruthenia and Castellan of Kraków; his mother, Zofia Teofillia Daniłowicz was a granddaughter of Hetman Stanisław Żółkiewski. After graduating from the Nowodworski College in Kraków, young John Sobieski then graduated from the philosophical faculty of the Jagiellonian University. After finishing his studies, together with his brother Marek Sobieski, John left for western Europe, where he spent more than two years travelling. During that time he met major political figures: Louis II de Bourbon, Charles II of England and William II, Prince of Orange, and learnt French, German and Italian, in addition to Latin. This proved to be vital during his later military career.
Both brothers returned to Poland in 1648 and volunteered for the army during the Khmelnytsky Uprising. Jan founded his own banner of cavalry and commanded it in the rank of Rotamaster. After the Battle of Zboriv, the brothers were separated and Marek died in Tatar captivity the following year. Jan was promoted to the rank of pułkownik and fought with distinction in the Battle of Berestechko. A promising commander, John was sent by King John II Casimir to Istanbul in the Ottoman Empire as an envoy. There, Sobieski learnt the Tatar language and studied Turkish military traditions and tactics.
After the start of the Swedish invasion of Poland known as "The Deluge", John Sobieski was among the Greater Polish regiments led by Krzysztof Opaliński, Palatine of Poznań which capitulated at Ujście, and swore allegiance to King Charles X Gustav of Sweden. However, in less than a year he returned with his unit to the Polish side, and after April 1656, he again fought for the Polish king.
During the three-day long battle of Warsaw of 1656, Sobieski's command of a 2,000-man strong regiment of Tatar cavalry earnt him promotion to the title of Lord Standard-Bearer of the Crown. A strong supporter of the French faction, Sobieski remained loyal to the King during the infamous Lubomirski Rebellion, which further helped his military career. In 1665 he married Marie Casimire Louise de la Grange d'Arquien and was promoted to the rank of Grand Marshal of the Crown, and the following year, to the rank of Field Hetman of the Crown. In 1667 he achieved another great victory over the Cossacks and their Tatar allies in the Battle of Podhajce during the Polish–Cossack–Tatar War (1666–71). On 5 February 1668, by now a famed and esteemed commander, he achieved the rank of Grand Hetman of the Crown, the highest military rank in the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, and thereby the de facto commander-in-chief of the entire Polish Army.
On 11 November 1673, during the Polish–Ottoman War (1672–76), Sobieski added yet another major victory to his list, this time defeating the Turks in the battle of Chocim and capturing the fortress located there. The news of the battle coincided with the news of the death of Michael I, King of Poland, who had died the day before the battle. This made Sobieski one of the most leading figures in the state, and on 19 May the following year, he was elected as monarch of the Commonwealth. His candidacy was almost universally supported, with only a dozen or so members of the diet opposing him. Among the most notable backers of his candidacy was his wife. Jan Sobieski was crowned Jan III 2 February 1676.
Though Poland-Lithuania was at that time the largest and one of the most populous states of Europe, Sobieski became a king of a country devastated by almost half a century of constant war. The treasury was almost empty and the court had little to offer the powerful magnates, who often allied themselves with foreign courts rather than the state. Sobieski decided to stabilise the situation by forcing the Ottomans to accept a peace treaty to end the constant wars on the southern border. In the autumn of 1674 he recommenced the war against the Turks and managed to recapture the fortresses of Kamieniec Podolski, Bar and Reszków, which re-established a strongly fortified line defending Poland's southern border in the Ukraine. Polish historian Oskar Halecki and others noted, that Sobieski also planned to conquer Prussia with Swedish troops and French support. This secret pact, later exposed, failed because the war with Turkey took too long, by which time the Great Elector had made treaties with France, the Swedes had been repelled, and by increased opposition from the Commonwealth's magnates, with many of them on the Great Elector's side. Sobieski's plan was also hurt by Michał Pac, the hetman of Lithuania and a supporter of Brandenburg, who simply defected with his army and then disbanded it.
In 1676 the Tatars began a counter-offensive and crossed the Dneper, but could not retake the strategic town of Żórawno, and the peace treaty was signed soon afterwards. Although Kamieniec Podolski remained a part of Turkey, Poland counteracted its significance with the construction of the Stronghold of the Holy Trinity and return of the town of Bila Tserkva. The signing of the treaty began a period of peace that was much needed for the repair the country and strengthening of the royal authority. Although constantly hampered by the magnates and foreign courts of Brandenburg and Austria (Austria even tried to oust Sobieski and replace him with Charles of Lorraine), Sobieski managed to completely reform the Polish army. The military was reorganised into regiments, the infantry finally dropped pikes replacing them with battle-axes, and the Polish cavalry adopted hussars and dragoons formations. Sobieski also greatly increased the number of guns and introduced new artillery tactics.
As a diplomat, Sobieski envisioned an alliance with France and the Ottomans against the Austrian empire and Brandenburg. However, his plans never eventuated and finally, in 1683, had to be completely abandoned. Conscious that Poland lacked allies and risked war against most of its neighbours (similar to the Deluge), Sobieski allied himself with Leopold I, of the Holy Roman Empire. The alliance, although aimed directly against Turks and indirectly against France, had the advantage of gaining support for the defence of Poland's southern borders.
In the spring of 1683 royal spies uncovered Turkish preparations for a military campaign, and Sobieski feared that the target might be the Polish cities of Lviv and Kraków. To counteract the threat, Sobieski began the fortification of the cities and ordered universal military conscription.
Sobieski's military skill demonstrated in war against the Ottoman Empire contributed to his prowess as King of Poland. One of his ambitions was to unify Christian Europe in a crusade to drive the Turks out of Europe. He joined the alliance of the Holy Roman Emperor and joined the Holy League initiated by Pope Innocent XI to preserve Christendom. The Alliance was unusual in that a number of Protestants, from Germany and even the son of Prince Rupert of the Stuarts fought.
Sobieski's coronation (1676), relief, Wilanów Palace
Battle of Vienna 
Upon reaching Vienna, Sobieski had planned to attack on 13 September, but with the Turkish close to breaching the walls he ordered a full attack on 12 September. At 04:00 the united army of about 81,000 men attacked a Turkish force of about 130,000 men. At about five o'clock in the afternoon, after observing the infantry battle from the hilltop, Sobieski led Polish husaria cavalry along with Austrians and Germans into a massive charge down the hillside. Soon, the Turkish battle line was broken and the Ottoman forces scattered in confusion. At 17:30 Sobieski entered the deserted tent of Kara Mustafa and the battle of Vienna ended.
The Pope and other foreign dignitaries hailed Sobieski as the "Savior of Vienna and Western European civilization." In a letter to his wife he wrote, "All the common people kissed my hands, my feet, my clothes; others only touched me, saying: 'Ah, let us kiss so valiant a hand!'"
Later years 
King John III Sobieski died in Wilanów, Poland on 17 June 1696. His wife, Maria Kasimira, died in 1716 in Blois, France, and her body was returned to Poland. They are interred together in Wawel Cathedral, Kraków, Poland.
King John III was succeeded by Augustus II who stayed in power primarily because of Russian support. On his death in 1733, a struggle for the crown of Poland ensued, referred to as the War of the Polish Succession.
Sobieski's battles 
- After World War II, a statue of John III Sobieski was "repatriated" to Gdańsk from the Ukrainian city of Lviv (Polish: Lwów, formerly in the Second Polish Republic). The statue overlooks a little park at the old Gdańsk City Hall museum.
- After the battle of Vienna, the newly delineated constellation of Scutum (Latin for shield) was originally named Scutum Sobiescianum by the astronomer Johannes Hevelius, in honor of John III Sobieski. While there are a few stars named after non-astronomers, this is the only constellation named after a real non-astronomer, moreover, one who was still alive when the constellation was named.
- A legend of the origins of the bagel refers to John III Sobieski as the king to whom a Jewish baker gave the very first bagel in commemoration of his victory at Vienna in 1683. The round shape of the bagel was said to resemble the stirrups of Sobieski and his mounted warriors.
- The EuroCity rail lines running between Vienna and Warsaw (lines 104/105) are named after Sobieski.
- There is a modern proposition from non-Polish European newspapers to name the A2 highway in Poland after Sobieski.
Royal titles 
- Official title was (in Latin): Joannes III, Dei Gratia rex Poloniae, magnus dux Lithuaniae, Russiae, Prussiae, Masoviae, Samogitiae, Livoniae, Smolenscie, Kijoviae, Volhyniae, Podlachiae, Severiae, Czernichoviaeque, etc.
- Official title (Polish): Jan III, z łaski bożej, król Polski, wielki książę litewski, ruski, pruski, mazowiecki, żmudzki, kijowski, wołochyński, podlaski i czernichowski, etc.
- English translation: John III, by the grace of God King of Poland, Grand Duke of Lithuania, Ruthenia, Prussia, Masovia, Samogitia, Livonia, Smolensk, Kiev, Volhynia, Podlasie, Severia and Chernihiv, etc.
- Jakub Ludwik Henryk (2 November 1667 – 19 December 1737), Crown Prince of Poland, married Countess Palatine Hedwig Elisabeth of Neuburg and had issue.
- twin daughters (9 May 1669), stillborn or died shortly after birth.
- Teresa Teofila (October 1670), was a frail child and failed to survive for more than a month.
- Adelajda Ludwika (15 October 1672 – 10 February 1677), called "Barbelune", died at the age of four.
- Maria Teresa (18 October 1673 – 7 December 1675), called "La Mannone", died at the age of two.
- daughter (October 1674), stillborn or died shortly after birth.
- Teresa Kunegunda (4 March 1676 – 10 March 1730), married Maximilian II Emanuel, Elector of Bavaria and had issue.
- Aleksander Benedykt (6 September 1677 – 19 November 1714), died unmarried.
- daughter (13 November 1678), stillborn or died shortly after birth.
- Konstanty Władysław (1 May 1680 – 28 February 1726), married Maria Józefa Wessel but had no issue.
- Jan (4 June 1682 – between 1 January and 12 April 1685), died at the age of two.
- daughter (20 December 1684), stillborn or died shortly after birth.
Sobieski family 
Portrait of Aleksander Benedykt by the circle of Hyacinthe Rigaud, about 1696.
Portrait of Konstanty Władysław by the circle of Hyacinthe Rigaud, about 1696.
Anonymous portrait of Maria Karolina, John III's granddaughter, painted around 1730.
Portrait of the Sobieski family by Siemiginowski-Eleuter. Left side: Jakub, Konstanty, Aleksander, Teresa. Right side: Marie Casimire holding Jan (1682–1685).
Portrait of the Sobieski family by Henri Gascar. Left side: Konstanty and Jakub (grasping a portrait of John III. Right side: Aleksander, Teresa and Marie Casimire.
See also 
- Aleksander Gieysztor (1979). History of Poland. PWN, Polish Scientific Publishers. p. 223. ISBN 83-01-00392-8.
- J.A. Hammerton (2007). Peoples of All Nations: Their Life Today And Story Of Their Past. Concept Publishing Company. p. 4142. ISBN 81-7268-144-5.
- Mario Reading (2009). The Complete Prophecies of Nostradamus. Sterling Publishing Company, Inc. p. 382. ISBN 1-906787-39-5.
- Wojciech Skalmowski, Tatjana Soldatjenkova, Emmanuel Waegemans (2003). Liber amicorum. Peeters Publishers. p. 165. ISBN 90-429-1298-7.
- J.B. Morton. Sobieski, King of Poland. pp. 30–31.
- Tindal Palmer 1815, p. 5
- Daniel Stone (2001). The Polish–Lithuanian state, 1386–1795. University of Washington Press. p. 236. ISBN 0-295-98093-1.
- Tindal Palmer 1815, p. 7
- Tindal Palmer 1815, pp. 12–13
- Tindal Palmer 1815, p. 20
- Simon Millar, Peter Dennis (2008). Vienna 1683: Christian Europe Repels the Ottomans. Osprey Publishing. p. 17. ISBN 1-84603-231-8.
- (Polish) Hanna Widacka. "Karacena Jana III Sobieskiego". www.wilanow-palac.art.pl. Retrieved 2009-11-23.
- Tindal Palmer 1815, pp. 23–24
- (Polish) Wojciech Polskie Towarzystwo Historyczne. Oddział w Kielcach, Polska Akademia Nauk. Komisja Nauk Historycznych (2004). "Volume 47,Issues 1–4". Studia historyczne. Polska Akademia Nauk, Oddział w Krakowie, Komisja Nauk Historycznych. p. 274.
- Wiktor Waintraub (1976). Memoirs of the Polish Baroque: the writings of Jan Chryzostom Pasek, a squire of the Commonwealth of Poland and Lithuania. University of California Press. p. 308. ISBN 0-520-02752-3.
- (Polish) Mirosław Nagielski (1995). Hetmani Rzeczypospolitej Obojga Narodów. Bellona. p. 227. ISBN 83-11-08275-8.
- World Book, Inc (2007). "Volume 1". The World Book Encyclopedia. Bellona. p. 132. ISBN 0-7166-0107-9.
- Mizwa, Stephen Paul (1942). Great Men and Women of Poland. New York: Macmillan. p. 103.
- (Polish) Ignacy Zagórski, Edward Rastawiecki (baron) (1845). Monety dawnej polski jakoteż prowincyj i miast do niéj niegdy należacych: z trzech ostatnich wieków zebrane. S.H. Merzbach. p. 75.
- Tindal Palmer, Alicia (1815), Authentic memoirs of John Sobieski, King of Poland, Printed for the author; and sold by Longman and Co.
Further reading 
- Chełmecki, König J. Sobieski und die Befreiung Wiens (Vienna, 1883)
- Coyer, Histoire de Jean Sobieski (Amsterdam, 1761 and 1783)
- Du Hamel de Breuil, Sobieski et sa politique de 1674 à 1683 (Paris, 1894)
- Dupont, Mémoires pour servir à l'histoire de Sobieski (Warsaw, 1885)
- Rieder, Johann III., König von Polen (Vienna, 1883)
- Salvandy, Histoire de Pologne avant et sous le roi Jean Sobieski (two volumes, new edition, Paris, 1855)
- Tatham, John Sobieski (Oxford, 1881)
- Varvounis, Jan Sobieski: The King Who Saved Europe (2012)
- Waliszewski, Acta (three volumes, Cracow, 1684)
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: John III of Poland|
- Polish website about John III Sobieski
- Jan III Sobieski of the Janina coat of arms at the Wilanow Palace Museum
- Jan III Sobieski – a book lover at the Wilanow Palace Museum
- Jan III Sobieski's entry into Krakow for coronation at the Wilanow Palace Museum
- "John Sobieski". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. 1913.
John III SobieskiBorn: 17 August 1629 Died: 17 June 1696
Title last held byMichael
|King of Poland
Grand Duke of Lithuania
Title next held byAugustus II
Title last held byStefan Czarniecki
|Field Crown Hetman of Poland
Title last held byStanisław "Rewera" Potocki
|Great Crown Hetman of Poland
Jerzy Sebastian Lubomirski
|Great Marshal of the Crown of Poland
Stanisław Herakliusz Lubomirski