Jan Chryzostom Pasek

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Jan Chryzostom Pasek
Jan Chryzostom Pasek pod Lachowiczami.JPG
Jan Chryzostom Pasek in Battle of Lachowicze, 1660 by Juliusz Kossak (1824–1899)
Coat of arms Doliwa
Family Pasek
Born about 1636
Died August 1, 1701(1701-08-01)

Jan Chryzostom Pasek (about 1636–1701) was a Polish nobleman (szlachcic) and writer in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. He is best remembered for his memoirs (Pamietniki), which are a valuable historical source about Baroque sarmatian culture and events in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth.[1]

Born in Węgrzynowice (now in Tomaszów Mazowiecki County) in 1636,[2] into a minor szlachta family, he attended a Jesuit school. Pasek enlisted in the army at age 19 and for 11 years he was a soldier in a Polish military, where he fought in the campaigns under hetman Stefan Czarniecki against Sweden, in the Denmark campaign, took part in the war and negotiations with Moscow (where he was member of the diplomatic mission), fought the Lubomirski rebels and Turks. In 1667 he married and retired to his estate in Małopolska (south Poland). Lawsuits that arose from his various excesses and conflicts with neighbours eventually resulted in his sentence to exile, but the sentence was never enforced.

Literary output[edit]

Near the end of his life (likely around 1690-1695) Pasek wrote an autobiographical diary, Pamietniki, a copy of which was found in 18th century and printed in 1821, making him posthumously famous. In his memoirs, he depicts in vivid language the everyday life of szlachcic, both during wartime and peace, with valuable batallistic scenes. He relates the tales of the 17th-century Swedish and Muscovite wars, the catastrophic last years of the reign of King John II Casimir (1648–68), the incompetent rule of King Michał Korybut Wiśniowiecki (1669–73), and he concludes his narrative with the splendid reign of King Jan III Sobieski (1674–96). Since a number of opening pages of the first part is missing, it is now impossible to establish when Pasek begins his story. Furthemore, as he wrote the diary many years after these conflicts, he frequently makes mistakes about historic events and their dates.

The diary is divided into two parts. First covers the years 1655–1666, describing wars with the Swedish Empire (see Swedish invasion of Poland), Transylvania, Muscovy (see Russo-Polish War (1654–67)) and Lubomirski's Rebellion. Also, Pasek describes Polish army raid over Denmark (1658–1659). Altogether, Pasek fought in large areas of Europe, from Smolensk to Jutland, and from Gdańsk to Vienna. Pasek colourfully writes about the military life, showing soldiers primary motivations, like curiosity, desire of fame and loot, and disregard for deep religious messages; for example, he describes Polish soldiers stealing prayer books from faithful Danes during a service at a Lutheran church in Denmark.

Second part of the book covers the years 1667–1688, when Pasek settled down in his village near Kraków. He describes his peacetime activities, conveniently missing some compromising facts, such as court orders, sentencing him to infamia. Also, he sees nothing wrong with serfdom and peasant social class oppression. Representing late Sarmatism culture, he views only szlachta social class as the only real representative of Poland. Pasek died on 1 August 1701 in the village of Niedzieliszki.

Pasek uses different genres, such as:

Furthermore, he uses every day language and swear words. His diary has sometimes been called the “Epos of Sarmatian Poland”, and inspired a number of 19th and 20th century Polish writers, such as Adam Mickiewicz, Juliusz Slowacki, Henryk Sienkiewicz, Zygmunt Krasinski, Jozef Ignacy Kraszewski, Henryk Rzewuski, Jerzy Harasymowicz, Ernest Bryll, Witold Gombrowicz.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Jan Chryzostom Pasek (Polish diarist). Britannica Online. Retrieved September 21, 2011.
  2. ^ Date of birth approximated from several sources.


  • Jan Chryzostom Pasek (1976). Memoirs of the Polish baroque: the writings of Jan Chryzostom Pasek, a squire of the Commonwealth of Poland and Lithuania. Berkeley : University of California Press. ISBN 978-0-520-02752-7. 
  • Jan Chryzostom Pasek; Maria Swiecicka-Ziemianek (1978). The memoirs of Jan Chryzostom z Gosławic Pasek. Kosciuszko Foundation, 1978. ISBN 0-917004-15-9. 
  • Denkwürdigkeiten des Johann Chrysostomus Passek, Graf Eduard Raczynski, deutsch von Dr. Gustav A. Stenzel,Verlag Josef Max, Breslau 1858
  • Slavische Geschichtsschreiber Band VI - Die goldene Freiheit der Polen, Verlag Styria Graz Wien Köln 1967.

External links[edit]