Battle of Oliwa

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Battle of Oliwa
Part of the Polish–Swedish War (1626–29)
Date28 November 1627
Outside Gdańsk harbour
Result Polish victory
Polish War Jack 17th century.svg Poland Flag of Sweden.svg Sweden
Commanders and leaders
Arend Dickmann
Herman Witte
Jan Storch
Niels Göranson Stiernsköld†
10 ships with 179 guns 6 ships with 140 guns
Casualties and losses
None 1 ship captured, 1 sunk

The naval Battle of Oliwa, also Battle of Oliva or Battle of Gdańsk Roadstead, took place on 28 November 1627 (N.S.) during the Polish–Swedish War slightly north of the port of Danzig (Gdańsk) near the village of Oliva (Oliwa). It was the largest naval battle fought by the Polish royal navy, and resulted in the defeat of a small Swedish squadron. The Poles slipped out of the Danzig harbor and captured the Swedish flagship and sank another vessel.[1]:110


The Swedes had a long tradition of seamanship and maintained a strong navy, and were able to land troops from the Swedish mainland at will along the south Baltic shore. They were also able to blockade Poland's ports, the most important of which was Danzig, maintaining a stranglehold on Polish trade. On 28 November 1627, a small, newly formed Polish fleet emerged from Danzig to engage the Swedish blockading squadron.

The battle[edit]

The Polish ships were more numerous: numbering ten in all, but were mostly small, and only four galleons had full combat value. The Polish vessels were commanded by Admiral Arend Dickmann in the galleon Sankt Georg (Święty Jerzy). The Swedish squadron numbered six vessels, under Nils Stiernsköld in his flagship the Tigern. The Polish vessels had a larger complement of marines on board than the Swedish ships, and this in large part determined the tactics employed in the action.

The Polish ships anchored off the Danzig roadstead, while the Swedish squadron sailed southwards from the Hel Peninsula. The Poles weighed anchor and suddenly rushed towards the Swedes squadron, much to their surprise.

The battle split into two main encounters. The Polish flagship Sankt Georg, supported by a smaller vessel, Meerweib (Panna Wodna), attacked the Swedish flagship Tigern. The Polish ships came alongside the Tigern, and Polish marines boarded, overwhelmed the Swedes and captured the vessel. Meanwhile, the Polish vice-admiral's ship, the small galleon Meerman (Wodnik) attacked the larger Solen ("The Sun"). The captain of the Solen blew his ship up rather than allowing it to be captured. The four surviving Swedish ships quickly headed towards the open sea and managed to escape pursuit. Both admirals were killed in the battle.

The Polish court used the victory to its maximum in its propaganda. A popular saying had it that on that day "the sun went down at noon", referring to the scuttling of one of the Swedish ships, the Solen. Gustavus received the news of this battle with some marks of impatience, and apparently little awareness of the difference between naval and land operations, he could not help expressing his surprise that a city of merchants should be able to dispute the sea with professional navy.[2]

Ships of the Kingdom of Poland

  • 1st Squadron
    • Ritter Sankt Georg (Rycerz Święty Jerzy) ("Knight St George") – galleon, 31 guns, 400t under the command of Johann Storch
    • Fliegender Hirsch (Latający Jeleń) ("Flying Deer") – galleon, 20 guns, 300t under the command of Ellert Appelman
    • Meerweib (Panna Wodna) ("Sea Virgo") – 12 guns, 160t under the command of Adolf von Arzen
    • Schwarzer Rabe (Czarny Kruk) ("Black Raven") – 16 guns, 260t under the command of Alexander Bley
    • Gelber Löwe (Żółty Lew) ("Yellow Lion") – 10 guns, 120t under the command of Hans Kizer
  • 2nd Squadron
    • Meermann (Wodnik) ("Aquarius") – galleon, 17 guns, 200t under the command of Hermann Witte
    • König David (Król Dawid) ("King David") – galleon, 31 guns, 400t, under James Murray (known to the Poles as Jakub Mora)
    • Arche Noah (Arka Noego) ("Noah's Ark") – 16 guns, 180t under the command of Magnus Wesman
    • Weißer Löwe (Biały Lew) ("White Lion") – 8 guns, 200t under the command of Peter Böse
    • Feuerblase (Płomień) ("Fireblaze") – 18 guns, 240t

Ships of the Swedish King

  • Tigern ("Tiger") – flagship, galleon, 22 guns, 320t – captured
  • Solen ("Sun") – galleon, 38 guns, 300t – scuttled by her own crew
  • Pelikanen ("Pelican") – galleon, 20 guns, 200t
  • Månen ("Moon") – galleon, 26 guns, 300t
  • Enhörningen ("Unicorn") – galleon, 18 guns, 240t
  • Papegojan ("Parrot") – 16 guns, 180t


  1. ^ Frost, R.I., 2000, The Northern Wars, 1558–1721, Harlow: Pearson Education Limited, ISBN 9780582064294
  2. ^ J. F. Hollings: The Life of Gustavus Adolphus, Thomas Tegg and Son, 1838, p.103.

See also[edit]

Coordinates: 54°21′07″N 18°38′48″E / 54.352025°N 18.646638°E / 54.352025; 18.646638