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Jan Zamoyski
Personal details
Born (1542-03-19)19 March 1542
Skokówka, Poland
Died 3 June 1605(1605-06-03) (aged 63)
Zamość, Poland
Spouse(s) Anna Ossolińska
Krystyna Radziwiłł
Gryzelda Batory
Barbara Tarnowska

Jan Zamoyski (also known as Jan Zamojski, Ioannes de Zamość) (1542–1605), was a Polish-Lithuanian nobleman, magnate, 1st duke/ordynat of Zamość. Royal Secretary since 1566, Lesser Kanclerz (Chancellor)) of the Crown since 1576, Lord Grand-Chancellor of the Crown since 1578, and Grand Hetman of the Crown since 1581. General Starost of Kraków from 1580 to 1585, Starost of Bełz, Międzyrzecz, Krzeszów, Knyszyn and Derpsk. Important advisor to Kings Sigismund II Augustus and Stephen Báthory, he was one of the major opponents of Bathory's successor, Sigismund III Vasa, and one of the most skilled diplomats, politicians and statesmen of his time, standing as a major figure in the politics of the Commonwealth throughout his life.

Biography[edit | edit source]

Early years: the royal supporter[edit | edit source]

Jan Zamoyski was born on 19 March 1542 to Stanisław Zamoyski and Anna Herburt in Skokówka.[1] When he was thirteen years old, he was sent to study abroad; he attended the University of Padua, where he studied law and received a doctorate.[1] Also, in Padua he converted from Calvinism to Roman Catholicism. He returned to the Commonwealth in 1565.[2]

During his education, he became deeply interested in politics. In 1563 he wrote De senatu Romano, a brochure about Ancient Rome government, in which he sought to apply constitutional principles of republican Rome to the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth.[citation needed] After returning to Poland in 1565, he was appointed secretary to King Sigismund II.[2] In 1567 he commanded a royal task force, sent to remove the noble family of Starzechowscy from lands they were decreed to hold illegally.[2]

Jan Zamoyski

After the extinction of the Jagiellon dynasty in 1572 during the election sejm (Polish language: sejm elekcyjny ) he used his influence to enforce the victrom election procedure (meaning all nobles had the right to vote for the king) and the majority voting procedure. During that time he wrote the Modus electionis brochure. He was a friend of Mikołaj Sienicki and Hieronim Ossolinski, and he soon become the most important leader of the faction of the lesser and middle nobility (szlachta) in the Commonwealth, whose goal was the reform the country, forming the execution movement (or 'executionist movement', Polish: egzekucja praw, egzekucja dóbr, popularysci, ruch egzekucyjny) - preserving the unique constitutional and parliamentary government of the Commonwealth with the dominant role of poorer nobility (Golden Freedom).[3][4] He was so influential that he was known as the "first tribune of nobility".[5]

During the 1573 election, he supported the virtim principle, allowing all nobles to have a voite in the royal election.[3] In that first election he was in favour of Henryk II Walezy. He was an enemy of the Habsburg dynasty.[3] Subsequently, he opposed the magnate faction, which wished to offer the throne to a member of the Habsburg branch. During the 1575 election he championed the case of anti-Habsburg Stephen Bathory.[3] He supported Batory's politics, which were opposed to both the Habsburgs and Ottomans and supported him in his efforts to strengthen the royal power. He participated on Batory's side in the quelling of the Danzig rebellion in 1576-1577.[2] In 1578 he received the post of the Grand Crown Chancellor.[2][3] He took part in the preparation and war against Muscovy in 1579–1581, where he contributed a group of 400 mercenaries.[2] He was interested in mastering the military art, and proved to be an adept learner.[2] With Batory's support, he begun filling in for some of the roles of Grand Crown Hetman Mikołaj Mielecki, particularly when Mielecki was not present.[6] In 1580 he captured Velizh[6] participated in the siege of Velikiye Luki,[7] and then took Zavoloc.[8] On 11 August 1581 he received the nomination for the post of Grand Crown Hetman; this nomination was particularly notable as it was a rare exception to the rule that a hetman position was for life (Mielecki was still alive).[8]

Later years: in opposition to the throne[edit | edit source]

After the death of Batory in 1586, Zamoyski helped Sigismund III Vasa gain the Polish throne, fighting in the brief civil war against the forces supporting Habsburg archduke Maximilian III of Austria.[9] He defended Kraków[9] and defeating Maximilian's forces in the Battle of Byczyna in 1588.[10] Maximilian was taken prisoner and had to give up all pretenses to the Polish crown.

Zamoyski (in red) to the left of King Stefan Batory at Pskov

[citation needed]

However, early on in Sigismund III's reign, Zamoyski, who was once a staunch supporter of the Commonwealth kings, joined the opposition against the monarch's intentions of transforming the Commonwealth into an absolute monarchy.[3] Sigismund had quickly allied himself with the Habsburgs and other Counter-Reformation forces, in order to secure their help for regaining the Swedish throne. The new King feared the chancellor's power, but due to Commonwealth laws he was unable to dismiss him from his posts. In turn, Zamoyski treated the King as a pawn and ignorant foreigner. In opposition to the king, Zamoyski advocated religious tolerance, opposed the growing power of the Roman Catholic Church and Jesuits, and warned against forcing the Commonwealth into useless dynasty wars with Sweden, especially with the constant danger from the Ottoman Empire. His politics and actions where responsible for Poland opposing and eventually avoiding the trend toward absolutism that characterized the other states of Europe. Open conflict between king and chancellor broke out during the Sejm (Polish Diet) of 1592, when Zamoyski found out that Sigismund was plotting to cede the Polish crown to the Habsburgs in exchange for their support of his right to the Swedish throne. Zamoyski failed to dethrone Sigismund but won for himself a free hand in the Moldavian campaign.

He planned to turn Moldavia into a buffer zone between the Commonwealth and the Ottoman Empire.[11] In 1594 he failed to stop a Tatar incursion in the southern borders.[11] The next year was much more successful, as in Moldavia in 1595 he was victorious in the Battle of Cecora, and helped hospodar Ieremia Movilă (Jeremi Mohyła) gain the throne.[11] In 1600 he fought against Michael the Brave (Michal Waleczny, Mihai Viteazul), hospodar of Wallachia and the new Prince of Transylvania, who had conquered Moldavia a few months earlier.[12] He defeated him under Bukova (Bucovu) and restored Ieremia to the throne.[12] He also helped his brother, Simion Movilă to become brief ruler of Wallachia, thus spreading the influence of the Commonwealth to the Central Danube.[citation needed]

In 1600 and 1601 he took part in the war against Sweden commanding the Commonwealth forces in Livonia (Inflanty).[13] In 1600 he recaptured several strongholds from the Swedes and a year later captured Wolmar on 19 December 1601[13] Fellin on 16 May 1602, and Bialy Kamien on 30 September 1602.[14] The rigours of the campaign, however, placed a strain on his health, and he resigned the command.[14]

Zamoyski died suddenly on 3 June 1605, due to a stroke.[14]

Assessment and legacy[edit | edit source]

Statue of Jan Zamoyski in Zamość.

Having control of both the Chancellorship and the Grand Hetman office, Zamoyski was one of the most powerful people in the country, having obtained both the power of Grand Hetman (commander in chief of the armed forces) and that of chancellor, combined for the first time in the hands of one person.[8] He was responsible for much of the Polish internal and foreign policies.[3] He is considered to be one of the most prominent statesmen in Polish history.[3]

Some of Zamoyski's pupils attempted to dehtrone Sigismund in the Zebrzydowski's Rokosz.[3][5]

Zamoyski is remembered as one of the most accomplished Polish military commanders.[14] In his tactics, he favored sieges, flanking maneuvers, conserving his forces, and the new Western art of fortification and artillery.[14] The war with Muscovy shown him to be a skilled commander in sieges, and latter events would prove him to be an equally able leader in the open field.[15]

He also gathered a significant fortune; his lands covered 6,445 square kilometers, and included eleven towns and over 200 villages.[3] In 1580 he founded the city of Zamość, built and designed as a Renaissance citta ideale or "ideal city" by the Italian architect Bernardo Morando. During his life he gathered much wealth - he owned 11 cities and 200 villages (around 6400 km²) and was a royal caretaker of another 112 cities and 612 villages (around 17500 km²). In 1595 he founded the Akademia Zamojska[16]

Jan Zamoyski is one of the characters in the famous paintings by Jan Matejko: Sermon of Skarga and Batory at Pskov.

See also[edit | edit source]

Notes[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 Marek Plewczyński (1995). "JAN ZAMOYSKI herbu Jelita (1542-1605) hetman wielki". Hetmani Rzeczypospolitej Obojga Narodów. Wydawn. Bellona. p. 114. ISBN 978-83-11-08275-5. http://books.google.com/books?id=t4niAAAAMAAJ. Retrieved 16 June 2012. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 Marek Plewczyński (1995). "JAN ZAMOYSKI herbu Jelita (1542-1605) hetman wielki". Hetmani Rzeczypospolitej Obojga Narodów. Wydawn. Bellona. p. 115. ISBN 978-83-11-08275-5. http://books.google.com/books?id=t4niAAAAMAAJ. Retrieved 16 June 2012. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 3.7 3.8 3.9 Halina Lerski (30 January 1996). Historical Dictionary of Poland, 966-1945. ABC-CLIO. p. 678. ISBN 978-0-313-03456-5. http://books.google.com/books?id=luRry4Y5NIYC&pg=PA678. Retrieved 2 July 2012. 
  4. Adam Żurek (2003). Polska--dzieje cywilizacji i narodu: Monarchia Jagiellonów : 1399-1586. Grupa Wydawnicza Bertelsmann Media. p. 146. ISBN 978-83-7311-565-1. http://books.google.com/books?id=t6kjAQAAIAAJ. Retrieved 2 July 2012. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 "Rzecz o Sarmacyi - Taraka". Taraka.pl. http://www.taraka.pl/index.php?id=sarmacja.htm. Retrieved 2012-07-02. 
  6. 6.0 6.1 Marek Plewczyński (1995). "JAN ZAMOYSKI herbu Jelita (1542-1605) hetman wielki". Hetmani Rzeczypospolitej Obojga Narodów. Wydawn. Bellona. p. 116. ISBN 978-83-11-08275-5. http://books.google.com/books?id=t4niAAAAMAAJ. Retrieved 16 June 2012. 
  7. Marek Plewczyński (1995). "JAN ZAMOYSKI herbu Jelita (1542-1605) hetman wielki". Hetmani Rzeczypospolitej Obojga Narodów. Wydawn. Bellona. p. 118. ISBN 978-83-11-08275-5. http://books.google.com/books?id=t4niAAAAMAAJ. Retrieved 16 June 2012. 
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 Marek Plewczyński (1995). "JAN ZAMOYSKI herbu Jelita (1542-1605) hetman wielki". Hetmani Rzeczypospolitej Obojga Narodów. Wydawn. Bellona. p. 119. ISBN 978-83-11-08275-5. http://books.google.com/books?id=t4niAAAAMAAJ. Retrieved 16 June 2012. 
  9. 9.0 9.1 Marek Plewczyński (1995). "JAN ZAMOYSKI herbu Jelita (1542-1605) hetman wielki". Hetmani Rzeczypospolitej Obojga Narodów. Wydawn. Bellona. p. 121. ISBN 978-83-11-08275-5. http://books.google.com/books?id=t4niAAAAMAAJ. Retrieved 16 June 2012. 
  10. Marek Plewczyński (1995). "JAN ZAMOYSKI herbu Jelita (1542-1605) hetman wielki". Hetmani Rzeczypospolitej Obojga Narodów. Wydawn. Bellona. p. 122. ISBN 978-83-11-08275-5. http://books.google.com/books?id=t4niAAAAMAAJ. Retrieved 16 June 2012. 
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 Marek Plewczyński (1995). "JAN ZAMOYSKI herbu Jelita (1542-1605) hetman wielki". Hetmani Rzeczypospolitej Obojga Narodów. Wydawn. Bellona. p. 123. ISBN 978-83-11-08275-5. http://books.google.com/books?id=t4niAAAAMAAJ. Retrieved 16 June 2012. 
  12. 12.0 12.1 Marek Plewczyński (1995). "JAN ZAMOYSKI herbu Jelita (1542-1605) hetman wielki". Hetmani Rzeczypospolitej Obojga Narodów. Wydawn. Bellona. p. 124. ISBN 978-83-11-08275-5. http://books.google.com/books?id=t4niAAAAMAAJ. Retrieved 16 June 2012. 
  13. 13.0 13.1 Marek Plewczyński (1995). "JAN ZAMOYSKI herbu Jelita (1542-1605) hetman wielki". Hetmani Rzeczypospolitej Obojga Narodów. Wydawn. Bellona. p. 125. ISBN 978-83-11-08275-5. http://books.google.com/books?id=t4niAAAAMAAJ. Retrieved 16 June 2012. 
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 14.3 14.4 Marek Plewczyński (1995). "JAN ZAMOYSKI herbu Jelita (1542-1605) hetman wielki". Hetmani Rzeczypospolitej Obojga Narodów. Wydawn. Bellona. p. 126. ISBN 978-83-11-08275-5. http://books.google.com/books?id=t4niAAAAMAAJ. Retrieved 16 June 2012. 
  15. Marek Plewczyński (1995). "JAN ZAMOYSKI herbu Jelita (1542-1605) hetman wielki". Hetmani Rzeczypospolitej Obojga Narodów. Wydawn. Bellona. p. 120. ISBN 978-83-11-08275-5. http://books.google.com/books?id=t4niAAAAMAAJ. Retrieved 16 June 2012. 
  16. "Akademia Zamojska" ("Zamojski Academy"), Encyklopedia Polski, p. 13.

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