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Quen said, that they wear counterfeite perrell, fish
eys dried ; and to know how my ruffes wear starched,
handsomly made with silver wyer and starched in
England. My chaine was returned, and no honnor
lost by the Quens sight therof "

Anna Jagiellonka died in 1596, and is buried in
the cathedral of Cracow, where there is a handsome
monument to her memory. Her effigy represents
a woman of masculine appearance. The celebrated
Jesuit rhetorician, Peter Skarga, preached a sermon
at her funeral. Many historians have considered
that with the death of Batory the decadence #f
Poland really begins, and their opinion seems jus-
tified. He had throughout shown himself a vigorous
ruler, not merely in his foreign policy, which has
already been explained, but by the firm hand with
which he directed the internal affairs of the kingdom.
He had restrained the nobility by limiting as much
as he could their privileges, and he is said to have
purposed making the throne hereditary. Such a
measure as this was sure to meet with violent opposi-
tion, and hence the report was spread that the great
king was poisoned ; but it appears clear enough that
some time before his death he had been in failing
health, and his bodily condition was carefully watched





by the neighbouring powers, especially by the German
Emperor, whose ambassadors are found frequently
sending private despatches on the subject.

It was at this period that the anomalous govern-
ment under which Poland suffered began to be more
realised in the European system. The sixteenth
century was the great period throughout Europe of
the rise of the middle class, of the development of
towns, of the emancipation of the peasants, and in
consequence of these movements the limitation of the
power of the aristocracy. It is the age of the influence
of the Reformation and the press. The European
states begin now more and more to constitute a vast
system, and one reacts upon the other. But as yet
Poland had stood aloof from the great European
conflicts. She did not maintain ambassadors at
foreign courts any more than the Russians did ;
although we occasionally hear of embassies being
sent for extraordinary purposes. The chief reason
for this policy appears to have been that the nobles
who now held the power almost entirely in their
hands, would have mistrusted any permanent emis-
sary, who might have been in the interest of the king.
They were jealous of him and of one another. P2ven
so late as the treaty of Westphalia in 1648, when
King Ladislaus IV. was invited to share in the de-
liberations of a congress which made a re-settlement
of the condition of almost all Europe, he paid no
heed to the summons, and no plenipotentiaries from
his kingdom made their appearance there. But this
was a complete mistake on the part of the Poles, and
they were soon to be made to feel it.


With the French tlieir relations had been some-
what strained on account of the cavalier treatment
they had experienced from Henri de Valois. During
the succeeding century we shall not find much connec-
tion between France and Poland, save the detention
of John Casimir when a young man in France, and
the embassy sent to fetch Marie Louise, the bride
of Ladislaus IV., who, although an Italian princess,
was residing at Paris, being a cousin of the Prince de
Conde. With Turkey Poland was at peace till the
conclusion of the reign of Sigismund III., but she
was always considered one of the chief enemies of
the Republic, and was easily able to make war upon
her from the south. Germany was tranquil during
the latter part of the sixteenth century, and we shall
see that the house of Habsburg furnished two wives
to Sigismund III.

In one respect Batory had done mischief to Poland
in introducing and favouring the Jesuits. Some
isolated members of that body had penetrated the
country in the reign of Sigismund Augustus, but
their formal introduction is to be traced to Batory.
Singularly enough there appears every reason to
believe that on his election to the throne he was
a Protestant. Certainly many of the princes of
Transylvania were so, only to mention Bethlen
Gabor, the hero of the Thirty Years' War. There
were active Protestant presses in that principality ;
where were published the first books in the Rou-
manian language ; some of the most interesting
Magyar publications also made their appearance
there. It was a kind of intellectual wedge driven


114 ^^^ yAGIELLOS.

into the midst of ignorant and semi-civilised popula-
tions. Accordingly when Batory was on the point
of being elected the Protestants were pleased with
the prospect of having a sovereign of their own faith,
but the Romanists were equal to the occasion, and
sent a priest named Solikowski to endeavour to con-
vert the new monarch. The thirteen members of the
delegation commissioned to announce his election to
Batory appear to have been Dissidents with the
exception of Mniszek, the palatine of Sandomir. He
was, however, far from being a bigoted Romanist, for
we find one of his daughters married to a member
of the Greek communion. Another daughter was
the celebrated Marina Mniszek, wife of the false
Demetrius. The delegates watched Solikowski care-
fully to prevent him if possible from having any
private conversation with Batory. But he eluded
their vigilance, and had a meeting with the newl)'-
elected king at night. Solikowski thereupon per-
suaded Batory that he had no chance of occupying
the throne of Poland unless he became a Roman
Catholic. Moreover, one of the terms of his election
was, as we have previously seen, that he should
marry the princess Anna, but this lady was a bigoted
Roman Catholic, and not likely to view with favour
a Protestant husband. Batory was induced to con-
sent, and was soon, to the astonishment of most
of the delegates, seen kneeling at mass.

During his reign many enactments were passed
against heresy, especially at the famous synod of
Piotrkow. Supported by the patronage of the king
the Jesuit colleges and schools spread all over the


country, and the University of Wilno, founded by
Batory, became their headquarters. It was cunningly
estabh'shed in the centre of a population the great
bulk of which was Protestant or Orthodox Greek.
Prince Radziwill, the palatine of Wilno, and Eusta-
thius Wollowicz, the Vice- Chancellor of Lithuania,
who were Dissidents, for a long time refused to affix
the seal of the state to the charter for this Jesuit
university, but the king disregarded their representa-
tions. During the reign of Stephen there were many
sanguinary quarrels between the Romanists and the
Protestants, which ended in the discomfiture of the
latter. Batory was not contented with the University
of Wilno, he also set about founding one in Livonia,
which had been united to the Polish dominions in
the reign of Sigismund Augustus, and was entirely
Protestant. Induced by the persuasions of Possevino,
a most indefatigable instrument in the hands of
the Pope, Batory established the Roman Catholic
bishopric of Wenden and Jesuit colleges at Dorpat
and Riga. In the latter city he ordered- a church
to be taken from the Lutherans and given to the
Jesuits. The municipal authorities vainly petitioned
the king against this arbitrary proceeding. A con-
vent of Jesuits was founded at Riga under the
direction of Laterna, Skarga, and Brlickner, all cele-
brated for their zeal against the Anti-Romanists. In
1585 a riot broke out at Riga, and the church of the
Jesuits was attacked. In 1586 another commotion
took place, caused by the imprisonment of Moller,
a popular preacher, who had excited the inhabitants
against the Jesuits. The superior of that order was


obliged to leave the city, and the municipality, who
could not restrain the mob, endeavoured to act as
mediators. They accepted the conditions that the
school of the Jesuits should be abolished and that
public processions in the streets should be discon-
tinued. The king, however, ordered ever,ything to
be put upon its former footing. The Jesuits returned
to Riga, but a more violent outbreak occurred, and
some of the chief magistrates suspected of favouring
them were murdered. The king cited the leaders
of the insurrection before his tribunal : as they did
not appear they were condemned to death in con-
tumaciam at the diet of Grodno in 1586, and the
schools and church were to be surrendered to the
Jesuits. But in the midst of all these tumults the
sudden death of Batory occurred.

With this event the great duel between the
Roman Catholics and the Dissidents may be said
in the main to have closed. Truly the contests
always were raging, but from this time the Romanists
had the upper hand. The Jesuits had done it all ;
they had got into their hands the education of the
country. The Roman Catholics exhibited a compact,
united body, who were as great adepts at politics
as in religion. The Protestants, on the other hand,
were divided, and showed extraordinary weakness
and want of cohesion. The Trinitarians refused all
co-operation with the Unitarians, and it was the
same with the other sects.

Gradually the aristocratic families came over.
Many had been reconciled to the Romish Church
during the interregnum on the death of Sigismund


Augustus. Commendone, the papal legate, was able
to announce to the Cardinal of Como the return
on his deathbed of the Castellan of Polianica.
Christopher Zborowski must be added to the number
and many of the Radziwills. Albert Laski, the
nephew of the celebrated reformer, we find also
joining the Roman Catholics. He seems to have
been a vain, cruel man, and blazed for some time
the " comet of a season " at the Court of Elizabeth
of England, but was compelled to leave our country
abruptly on account of his debts.

Before leaving this interesting and important reign
we will cite the epitaph on the monument of Batoryj
as still to be seen In the cathedral of Cracow —

' Pacts bellique artihiis nmgno.

Jus to, pio felici Vic tori,

' Livonia Polociceque de Moscho vindici^
Anna Jagiellonia Regina PolonicE
Prastantiss. Conjugi. M. F. C, MDXCV.,
Obiitpridie Idus Decembris AWLXXXVI.
Reg. An. X. Men. VII. dies XII. nat. LIV:'



The kingdom was rent into many factions at the
time of the death of Ratory. The principal were
those of the Zamojskis and Zborowskis. These
selfish men were worthy predecessors of the con-
federates of Targowica. The candidates for the
throne included the Archduke Maximilian, of Austria,
Feodore Ivanovich, the son of the terrible Ivan, who
appears to have been an imbecile, and Sigismund, a
Swedish prince, son of Catherine, sister of Sigismund
Augustus, who had married John, King of Sweden
(1568-1 592), a narrow-minded bigot, who was induced
by his wife to attempt to re-introduce the Roman
Catholic religion into Sweden. John, Prince of Fin-
land, as he was at the time of his marriage, was the
brother of the infamous Eric XIV., renowned for his
cruelties, and generally supposed to have been insane.
The marriage had taken place in 1562 at Wilno. The
Tsar Ivan the Terrible, the Archduke Ferdinand of

Austria, and Eric himself, had in vain been candidates




for her hand. The young couple proceeded to Stock-
holm after their marriage, but suddenly, by the orders
of Eric, were imprisoned at Gripsholm. Their cap-
tivity lasted several years. Catherine had two children
during her imprisonment, a daughter, Isabella, who
died soon after its birth, and the son Sigismund,
whom we now find the candidate for the Polish
throne. Ivan, who throughout his life seems to have
been troubled with (ew scruples about marriage, sent
an ambassador to I^ric to demand the hand of Cathe-
rine again. But she preferred to live and die with
her husband. Eric thereupon decided to have his
brother assassinated, but on hearing that the Danes
had made a descent upon Sweden, he hurried to meet
them, and committed a whole series of atrocities.
Finally, coming to his senses, he abdicated in favour of
John, who, when at the height of his misfortunes, thus
ascended the throne of his ancestors, and was crowned
at Upsala with Catherine in 1569. The highly dra-
matic story of the adventures of him and his wife has
been told in a small painphlet, printed at Cracow in
1570, under the title Historya Prawdziwa o przy-
godzie zalosnej Knig,zecia Finlandzkiego J ana i Kt^o-
leivny Katarzyny (" Authentic History of the
deplorable Misfortunes of John, Prince of Finland,
and the Princess Catherine"). It is supposed to have
been written by the historian Kromer, and has been
lately edited by M. Kraushar.

Sigismund, the Swedish prince, was eventually
elected, but Maximilian did not abandon his candi-
dature without a struggle, and was defeated by
Zamojski, the Polish general, at Byczyna, in Silesia,



whereupon he consented to withdraw his claims. But
this will be by no means the last occasion of the
meddling of the Austrians in the affairs of Poland.
A serious riot occurred at the election of Sigismund,
as we are informed by Lengnich in his Jus Publicum
Regni Poloni : the booths occupied by the senators
when they met at the place of election near Warsaw —
which used to present the appearance of a camp —
were burnt to the ground. The new king signed the
p(7Cta conventa, and concluded an alliance offensive
and defensive between Poland and Sweden. He soon,
however, got tired of his Polish subjects, and became
in turn unpopular among them to such an extent that
not much more than a year after the commencement
of his reign he longed to go back to Sweden, and
arranged with his father to do so at an interview
which they had at Revel. The Swedes, however,
objected to the Polish king's return, probably on the
ground of his religion. Nevertheless he came back on
the death of his father in 1 592. The Polish estates voted
him 200,000 gulden for the expenses of his journey ;
he sailed from Danzig and reached Stockholm in
September, 1593. In March of the following year he
was crowned at Upsala, and consented to allow his
Swedish subjects religious liberty, but on his return
to Stockholm began to violate all his premises. He
made his appearance again in Poland on the i8th
of August, having appointed Roman Catholic gover-
nors over every Swedish province. During his absence
the kingdom of Sweden was in a constant state of
commotion Between the rival factions of Sigismund
and his uncle Karl. In 1598, Sigismund marched into


Sweden with a small army against his uncle, but was
completely defeated at Stangebro, near Linkoping,
and forced to quit the country.

The Swedes, however, were determined to have a
definite settlement of the claims of the rival candi-
dates, and accordingly, in 1600 the Council and
Estates of Sweden sent envoys to Poland demanding
the immediate return of Sigismund, in default of
wh'ch they declared the Swedish throne vacant, and
requiring that in that case he should send his son
Ladislaus to Sweden to be brought up in the Lutheran
faith. On Sigismund taking no", notice of this
demand, he and his heirs were declared to have for-
feited the Swedish crown and henceforth his history
belongs to Poland only. But we must retrace our
steps a little.

In 1592 Sigismund married at Gratz Anne, the
daughter of the Austrian Archduke Charles, without
the consent of the diet, a proceeding at which his
subjects were much offended, because he had set at
open defiance one of the most important clauses of
the pacta conventa. The same year took place the
Diet of the Inquisition as it was called {Sejm Inkwi-
^ycyjny)^ in which a searching inquiry was to be made
into the recent policy of the king.

As regards religious matters, the country was still
in a very troubled state, and things had been going
badly with the Dissidents. In 1589 a synod held at
Gniezno passed some severe statutes against heresy,
and declared among other things that a Roman
Catholic alone should be elected to the throne of
Poland : this decree was confirmed by a bull of Pope


Sixtus V. But in this respect Poland was only in the
same position as other European states, which re-
quired that the king should be of the religion of the
country, or as it was gei^erally put in the concise way,
cHJus est regio^ ejus est religio. In 1593, as Sigismund
was passing through the province of Prussia, he
ordered that the principal churches of Thorn and
Elbing, where Protestantism flourished, should be
restored to Roman Catholic worship. We shall see
at a subsequent period what a baneful effect all this
persecution had, and how it helped to bring about the


dismemberment of the country, as these cities easily
inclined to a Protestant sovereign. They have now
become completely Germanized.

In 1595, at Brzesc in Lithuania took place the
so-called Union of the Greek and Latin Churches,
an event which must be here explained in a few
words. The popes had constantly attempted to
bring the Russian Church into harmony with that of
Rome. But from the Council of Florence onward
they had been unsuccessful ; although Isidore, the
Metropolitan of Moscow, accepted the dignity of a
cardinal, and gave in his adhesion, yet on his return


to his native country he was treated with derision and
imprisoned. Fortunately for himself he succeeded in
escaping from Russia, to which he never afterwards
dared return. Nothing could be hoped from
Ivan IV., in spite of the attempts of Possevino and
others ; but Sigismund, who was as great a fanatic as
Philip II. of Spain, had many subjects who were
adherents of the Greek Church and had come under
Polish rule, when the Eastern provinces had been
conquered by the Lithuanian Gedymin, and subse-
quently united to Poland.

The heathen rulers of Lithuania did not interfere
with the religion of their subjects, and the members
of the Greek Church continued unmolested even for
some time after Ladislaus Jagiello had been converted
into a good Roman Catholic. But as time went on
things became very different, and the Jesuits, almost
as soon as their order was founded, poured in large
numbers into Poland and her outlying provinces. One
of the most active of these was the celebrated Peter
Skarga, who has earned a considerable place in Polish
literature. He was unceasing in his efforts to convert
the Orthodox Christians. In 1594 four Greek bishops,
whose dioceses were in Polish territory, viz., those of
Luck, Pinsk, Chelm, and Lemberg, undertook to
bring over their flocks to the Roman Catholic doc-
trines. They found a useful adherent in the Metro-
politan of Kiev, a city which had belonged to Lithua-
nian and Pole since the middle of the fourteenth

These prelates assembled at Brzes<5 and sent
Pociey, Bishop of Vladimir, and Terlecki, Bishop of

yAN ZAMoysKi. 125

Luck, to the king, who was then at Cracow. Sigis-
mund furnished them with letters to the Pope, and
they at once proceeded to Rome. Clement VIII.
gave them a hearty welcome ; they accepted the
chief points of the Council of Florence, admitting
filioque in the creed, the doctrine of purgatory, and
the papal supremacy, but they were allowed to retain
the use of the old Slavonic language in their ritual,
and some other points of discipline of the Eastern
Church were conceded to them. It was in this way
that the so-called Uniates arose, the number of whom
at the present time is very small in Russia ; their
stronghold is in Galicia. In 1605 Sigismund, whose
wife had died in 1 598, married her sister Constance ;
this union was also entered into without the consent
of his subjects, and caused the cup of their wrath,
already full, to overflow. On this occasion Jan
Zamojski, the chancellor, made a violent speech, in
which he openly upbraided the king. When Za-
mojski had finished, Sigismund, unused to such
language, and overpowered with rage, rose from the
throne and grasped his sword. At this gesture a
murmur of indignation ran through the diet, and
Zamojski cried out : " Rex, ne move gladiinn ; ne te
Caiupi Ccesarem^ nos Brntos sera posteritas loqiiatur.
Sumus electores reguni, destinctores tyrannonun ; regna^
sed ne imperar A great rokosz, or revolt, of the
nobles was the result of this outbreak. There had
already been one in the reign of Sigismund I. Such
a rebellion was in reality permitted by the constitu-
tion if the king, disregarding the admonition of the
senate, persisted in violating their decrees. The


clause, sanctioning this opposition, was inserted foi
the first time into the oath sworn by Henry of Valois
on the 17th of September, 1573, in the church of
Notre Dame at Paris. It was as follows : ''Et si,
quod absit hi aliquibus, Juravienfitui meuni viola vero
nullam miJii inelyti regni oinniiimqiie dominiorum
utriusque gent is (Poles and Lithuanians), obedientiam
prcBstare debebunt. Immo ipso facto eos, ab onini fide,
obedientia regi debita liberos facio, absolutionemque
nullam ab hoc meo juramento a qiwquam petam, neque
ultro oblatam suspiciam, sic me Deus juvet!'

But the rebels had no good leaders, and the king,
weak as he was, was able to defeat them at Guzow,
near Radom, on the 6th of July, 1607. The insur-
gents were pardoned, for of course the king had no
alternative, and thus an end was put to the civil war
which seemed on the point of breaking out. An
important event of this reign was the expedition to
Moscow, with Polish assistance, of the man who
styled himself Demetrius, the son of Ivan the
Terrible. This youth had in reality died mys-
teriously at Uglitch, in Russia ; according to some
writers by the secret orders of the usurper, Boris
Godunov. The antecedents of the adventurer have
never been clearly ascertained ; according to the
popular view he was a renegade monk, a certain
Gregory Otrepiev, others see in him a Roman Catholic
agent. We have a full account of the pretender in
the quaint work of Captain Margeret, a Frenchman in
his service. He distinctly tells us that the false Deme-
trius, as he is called, knew neither French nor Latin,
and therefore was probably not a Pole. One of his


letters to the Pope is given by Fatlier Pierling in bis
interesting work. There is little doubt but that if
the archives of the Vatican were fully examined we
should know the whole story of this impostor, and
who put him forward ; for he was clearly a tool in
the hands of some powerful agents. Whatever the
truth may have been, he was acknowledged by Sigis-
mund, who assisted him with money and men in his
enterprise. The fanatical king perhaps hoped there-
by to introduce the Roman Catholic faith into
Russia. The pretender married Marina Mniszek, the
daughter of the palatine of Sandomir, but his reign
was short, lasting only about eleven months. He
was murdered in a tumult at Moscow in the year
1606, together with many of the Poles who had
accompanied him. The fate of Marina, which was a
sad one, belongs more to Russian than Polish his-
tory ; she was a woman of unbounded ambition, and
her name, boldly written as Tsaritsa of Moscow, may
be seen in an album preserved in the University
Library at Cracow. Basil Shuiski, who was elected
by the Russians to succeed Demetrius, was defeated
by the Polish general, Zolkiewski, at Klushino, and
carried captive to Warsaw, where he died the follow-
ing year. In 16 14 the Poles got possession of
Smolensk, that border city which we find so fre-
quently changing hands. In 1617 Sigismund sent
his son Ladislaus to Moscow, which had been taken
by Zolkiewski. He was elected king by a certain
faction, but his assumption of sovereignty was dis-
tasteful to the bulk of his new subjects, as he was a
member of the Latin Church. By the treaty of


Deiilino, in 1618, the Poles abandoned all claims
upon Russia, but Smolensk remained in their hands.
In 162 1 Chodkiewicz, one of the most renowned
generals whom Poland ever produced, defeated an
army of 400,000 Turks and Tatars at Chocim, a
battle very celebrated in Slavonic annals. It has
formed the subject of three well-known poems, the
Osman of the Ragusan Gundulic, the Woyna Cho-

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Online LibraryWilliam Richard MorfillPoland → online text (page 7 of 23)