Jerzy Franciszek Kulczycki

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Jerzy Franciszek Kulczycki
Jerzy Franciszek Kulczycki 11.PNG
Portrait of Kulczycki in Turkish attire, Czartoryski Museum
Born 1640
Kulczyce, Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth
Died 19 February 1694(1694-02-19) (aged 53–54)
Nationality Polish
Occupation Merchant, spy, diplomat, soldier, coffee-house proprietor
Known for Heroism during the Battle of Vienna. Opening the first coffee house in Vienna

Jerzy Franciszek Kulczycki (Ukrainian: Юрій-Франц Кульчицький, Yuriy Frants Kulchytsky) (1640 – February 19, 1694), of the Sas coat of arms, was a Polonized Ruthenian (Ukrainian) nobleman [1] [2] and considered a hero by the people of Vienna for his actions at the 1683 Battle of Vienna. According to a popular legend, he opened the first café in the city, using coffee beans left by the retreating Ottoman Turks.

His name often rendered in German as Georg Franz Kolschitzky.


Monument to Kulczycki in Vienna, sculpted by Emanuel Pendl and erected in 1885 at the street named after him

Kulczycki was born in 1640 in Kulczyce, near Sambor, (then part of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, now western Ukraine[3][4]). He was born into an old Orthodox-Ruthenian noble family, Kulchytsky-Shelestovich, although his father had converted to Catholicism, the state religion of the Crown of the Kingdom of Poland. As a young man, Kulczycki joined the Zaporozhian Cossacks during which time he demonstrated a gift for languages and worked as an interpreter. Captured by the Turks, he was bought by Serbian merchants who needed a translator. He was fluent in Polish, Ruthenian, Serbian, Turkish, German, Hungarian and Romanian languages. Kulczycki started to work as a translator for the Belgrade branch of the Austrian Oriental Company (Orientalische Handelskompagnie). When the Turkish authorities began repressing foreign traders as spies, he avoided arrest by claiming Polish citizenship and moved to Vienna, where through his earlier work he had gathered enough wealth to open up his own trading company in 1678.[5][6]

During the Siege of Vienna (1683), he volunteered to leave the besieged and starving city and contact Duke Charles of Lorraine. Together with his trusty servant, the Serbian Đorđe Mihajlović, he left the city in Turkish attire and crossed enemy lines singing Ottoman songs. After contacting the duke, the pair managed to return to the city and reach it with a promise of imminent relief. Because of that information, the city council decided not to surrender to the Turkish forces of Kara Mustafa Pasha and continue the fight instead.

After the arrival of Christian forces led by the Polish king John III Sobieski, on September 12, the siege was broken. Kulczycki was considered a hero by the grateful townspeople of Vienna. The city council awarded him with a considerable sum of money while the burghers gave him a house in the borough of Leopoldstadt. King John III Sobieski himself presented Kulczycki with large amounts of coffee found in the captured camp of Kara Mustafa's army.

Kulczycki opened a coffee house in Vienna at Schlossergassl near the cathedral. It was named the Hof zur Blauen Flasche ('House under the Blue Bottle'). Kulczycki's abilities helped popularize coffee in Austria and with time his café became one of the most popular places in town. Kulczycki always served the mortar-ground coffee wearing a Turkish attire, which added to the place's popularity. Another of his innovations was to serve coffee with milk, a manner that was unknown to the Turks.

He remains a popular folk hero and the patron of all Viennese café owners even though his café closed soon after his death on February 20, 1694. Until recently, every year in October a special Kolschitzky feast was organized by the café owners of Vienna, who decorated their shop windows with Kulczycki's portrait, as noted by Polish historian and geographer Zygmunt Gloger. Kulczycki is memorialized with a statue on Vienna's Kolschitzky street, at the corner of the house Favoritenstraße 64.[7]

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External links[edit]

Media related to Jerzy Franciszek Kulczycki at Wikimedia Commons