The Ledóchowski Family herb2 Ród Ledóchowskich









Marshal Stanisław Ledóchowski 1666 - 1725

Franciszek Ledóchowski 1663 - 1704

Stanisław Ledóchowski fought at the Battle of Vienna and in the Sandomierz Confederation.  He negotiated the Warsaw Peace Treaty against the King of Poland and was Marshal of the Tarnogrod Confederation and Marshal of the Dumb Parliament ("Silent Sejm").


1683: The Battle of Vienna

Three perhaps four Ledóchowski brothers (1) rode in the largest cavalry charge in history.  Two were destined to die early, and the third, Franciszek, became ancestor of nearly all the well known later Ledóchowskis.  The fourth, Stanisław, was destined to become Marshal of the Tarnogrod Confederation and Marshal of the Dumb Parliament- and is the only one whose portrait has survived.

Turkish EmpireThe Turks had come from Asia, defeated the Byzantine Emperor at the Battle of Manzikert in 1071, destroyed the Empire, and captured Constantinople and killed the last Emperor in 1453.  Their own Ottoman Empire, having then conquered all of South East Europe, had become the largest Empire in the Western world, and now in 1683 its huge army of around 140,000 men had reached Vienna, one of the most important cities in Europe.  Pope Innocent XI had called on Christendom to defend Vienna, the capital of the Holy Roman (Austrian) Empire, and the Holy Roman Emperor Leopold I had concluded a defensive alliance with the Hussar's armourPolish-Lithuanian "Republic of Two Nations". 
(Click to enlarge map.)

King Jan III Sobieski of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania had therefore come to help.  Sobieski was a veteran of many battles and a great warrior, having been promoted to Hetman Wielki Koronny (Commander-in-Chief of the Polish as opposed to the Lithuanian army) and won the Battle of Chocim against the Turks in 1673, and so had been an obvious choice for the nobility class (szlachta) to elect as King of the Republic of Poland-Lithuania shortly afterwards.  The size and victorious war record of the Polish forces he led now made him an obvious choice for Supreme Commander of the Christian Coalition Army of around 90,000 men gathered outside Vienna.

And so, late in the afternoon of 12th September 1683, after fighting had been going on all day, the Polish King led 20,000 cavalry, spearheaded by 3,000 Polish winged Hussars, from the Kahlenberg hills, through the forests and down to the Turkish encampment, the largest cavalry charge in history and a final deadly blow against the Turkish forces, who surrendered or fled.  

MatejkoVienna was saved and the painting by Jan Matejko shows Sobieski sending his message to the Pope: "Veni, vidi, deus vicit" or "I came, I saw, God conquered" (2, 12).  As part of his agreement with Emperor Leopold, Sobieski took home magnificent spoils from the Turkish encampment.  These can be seen in the Wawel Palace in Kraków today.  The battle was a turning point in the Turkish occupation of Europe, which gradually retreated from then on.

Three months later, while the Christian world celebrated Christmas Day on 25th December 1683, the Grand Vizier and Commander-in-Chief of the Turks, Kara ("Black") Mustafa, was strangled with a green silken cord in Belgrade on the orders of the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire, Mehmet IV.  According to a Turkish film, he died like a man while his young son was forced to watch.  

Kazimierz and Felicjan Ledóchowski

St Joseph'sKazimierzAccording to Barącz (3, p35), Felicjan, the second eldest brother, "died on the field of glory".  The eldest, Kazimierz, earned promotion to His Majesty's Captain (Rotmistrz Króla Jegomości) and in recognition of his further services was on 6th May 1685 appointed Ensign (Chorąży), third highest official, of the Czernihowskie Province (Województwo).  Officials of that Province had rights and privileges in Poland-Lithuania even though the Province had been lost to Russia in wars a few years earlier.  Kazimierz then disappeared without trace, probably killed in one of the later battles, around 1685.

In the 1930s St Joseph's Church on the Kahlenberg Hills was renovated and the coats of arms of some 100 Polish knights were painted in a chapel inside (1).  These included those of Casimirus = Kazimierz Halka Ledóchowski, presumably because he was the eldest of the brothers who fought at Vienna.


The victory is still celebrated today.  Very close to St. Joseph's Church there is a terrace.  You can go and take family photographs there while enjoying the same view of Vienna that Jan Sobieski had after praying in the ruins of the church, which had been destroyed by the Turks, and before leading the charge down the hill against the Turkish army besieging Vienna below.  This photo was taken during the 2017 celebration of the battle.

Franciszek Ledóchowski

Franciszek also served in the army under King Jan III Sobieski, but whether he was also in the charge at Vienna is less certain (1).  His year of birth quoted above, 1663, is my guess based on Barącz's suggestion (3, p82) that he was the third son.  By 1687 he was a Captain (Rotmistrz) and later His Majesty's Colonel.  

Adam LMost importantly for the future, Franciszek was the only brother to have childen.  In 1687 he married Helena Siemiaszkówna, widow of Daniel Hulewicz and daughter of Samuel Siemiaszko, a Judge from Łuck, and ZofiaGórska, and had six children.  Through his son Adam on the upper left (1685-1754) (4), grandson Franciszek on the upper right (1728-1783)(4, 18), and great grandson Antoni on the lower right (1755-1835), he was the ancestor of nearly all the later well known Ledóchowskis including General Ignacy I, Cardinal Mieczysław, Wladimir General of the Jesuits, Blessed Maria Teresa, Saint Urszula and General Ignacy II, the most notable exception being the politician Jan Ledóchowski.

AntoniFranciszek had an active career: he received several Court honours from King Jan III including Podstoli (responsible for the pantry) of Wołyń in 1689 and Chamberlain of Krzemieniec in 1692; he was deputy from Czernihowskie to the Sejm (Parliament) in 1693; and he was deputy from the Wołyń Province to the "Convocation Sejm" called to organise elections for the next King in 1696.  There he was himself elected to the Council advising the Primate of Poland, the Regent, and voted for the election of the Elector of Saxony as King Augustus II of Poland.  In 1697 he attended the new Coronation Sejm and the new King appointed him Senator and Castellan of Wołyń (Kasztelan in Polish = Castellanus in Latin, was governor or captain of a castellany and its castle, and in English led to the title Constable, as in Constable of a County or Constable of the Tower of London).  He owned properties such as Swidyń, Plaszowa and Pieczychwosty in Wołyń, and Policha in the Bracław area.  The King awarded him Tetlikowice for life in 1698, and Grodek and Obarów for life in 1699, when he and his brother gave a property in Krzemieniec to a contemporary Jan Ledóchowski.  In 1703 he extended the lease on land across the Dniester River for 15,000 złoty.  After the Swedes attacked Poland and declared the dethronement of King August II in the Great Northern War, Franciszek headed the Wołyń forces joining the Sandomierz Confederation supporting the King in 1704 (5), but died shortly afterwards, aged not much more than 40.  

Franciszek's wife Helena made a donation of 3,000 złoty to the Dominican monastery in Podkamien in 1715.  She died in 1741.

Stanisław Ledóchowski

Stanislaw KahlStanisław was destined to become famous.  He fought at Vienna as a seventeen year old boy and his protrait on the left is on display at St. Joseph's Church on the Kahlenberg hills today.  

He lived through a period when Poland faced severe threats from all points of the compass: from the North - the Swedes; from the South - the Turks; from the East - Russia; and from the West - Saxony and Prussia, today in Germany.  

The severest threat of all, according to some, was a dysfunctional constitution and so-called "Polish hell" - the alleged quarrelsome and divisive nature of the Poles themselves.  Stanisław saw the beginning of Poland's dramatic decline, from a European power called upon to save Vienna, to a chaotic, powerless and corrupt geographical concept subject to the whims and fancies of its magnates and foreign monarchs alike.  

At a key time, a leading role was played by Stanisław Ledóchowski himself.

1683 - 1697: Sobieski's "Great Mistake"

HussarsAfter Vienna, Stanisław, like his eldest brother Kazimierz, who was probably killed, continued fighting under Sobieski: very bravely, it is reported, against the Turks and Tartars in many battles in Hungary, Moldavia (Mołdawia), Wallachia (Wołoszczyn in today's Romania) and Bukovina (Bukowina, now split between Romania and Ukraine), including another battle at Chocim.   He was eventually promoted to Colonel of the Royal Armoured Regiment.

Poland-Lithuania fought in these regions because Sobieski had committed to join the subsequent wars of the Holy League against the Turks.  This was an understandable strategy to eliminate the threat to Poland from the Turks in the South, who had at one point come within 40km of Kraków.  

However there is also a view that Sobieski continued this war far longer than necessary, at great military and financial cost to Poland, but to the benefit of the Holy Roman (Austrian) Empire and Russia, who took nearly all the geographical spoils and emerged as the regional superpowers.  For example, Kiev and areas further East were ceded to Russia.

According to Norman Davies this was a "great mistake" (6, p487).  Sobieski was "a great warrior", but had "none of the ambition" of King Louis XIV of France and "none of the vision" of Peter the Great of Russia or Frederick William of Prussia.  He should have reserved the country's strength against the other threats from Sweden, Russia and Germany, and focused on internal constitutional reform, tackled the notorious right of any deputy to exercise his Liberum Veto to break the Sejm (Parliament) (7), and controlled the magnates, whom he found very frustrating.  When asked by Bishop Załuski to draw up a will, Sobieski replied: "They don't listen to me when I'm alive, so why should they obey my wishes when I'm dead?" (6, pp 489).

After retiring from military service, Stanisław Ledóchowski took an active part in the life of the provincial parliament (sejmik).  He was also appointed to three symbolic Court positions, podczaszy (deputy cup-bearer), cześnik (cup-bearer), and, finally, podstoli (responsible for the pantry) in 1696, the year Sobieski died.

1697: The King who had 300 children

Augustus IIIn 1697 the nobles assembled to elect King Jan III Sobieski's successor. Sobieski had vainly tried to promote his son Jakub as the next King, and his candidacy was supported by Austria, but his campaign ran out of cash (8).  The French candidate, Prince de Conti, won a majority, was declared King by the Primate and sailed for Poland, but arrived in Gdańsk too late.  By then Friedrich-August, the Protestant Elector of Saxony (today the Southern part of East Germany), had converted to Catholicism, pawned his jewels in Vienna, raised enough money to bribe enough electors for him to be declared by the Bishop of Kujawy to have been elected, and had been crowned King Augustus II of Poland, shown in the portrait on the right by Rodakowski in the Lwów National Gallery (12).  He was known as the "Strong" due to his immense physical strength and his sport of tossing animals to their deaths.  According to Norman Davies (6, pp 493 - 495) this was also because of his very large number of mistresses, some of whom had formal service contracts with him, and the fact that he thereby fathered over 300 children.  

Protestants who think Catholics sin more, and Catholics who think Protestants sin more, can both quote Augustus II as proof since he converted from one to the other and secretly did not convert at all.  To my knowledge his score has only been exceeded by the occasional Turkish Sultan and by the King of Swaziland while I was at school there (Sobhuza II had 600 children).

As mentioned above, Stanisław Ledóchowski's elder brother Franciszek played a prominent part in the elections as adviser to the Primate, voted for King Augustus II and received several honours and properties shortly afterwards.  It is highly likely that Stanisław also voted for Augustus II as he also received some honours, was appointed Chamberlain (podkomorzy) of Krzemieniec like his brother Franciszek, and in 1701 was Marshal of the Crown Tribunal.  According to Barącz (3, p36) he was much admired as a hardworking and conscientious judge.

1697: Abolition of the official Ruski language

Historians hardly ever mention that in 1697 the first new Sejm abolished Ruski (usually translated into English as Ruthenian, the language then spoken by people living from today's Lithuania to Ukraine, which was not Russian, and had been declining in step with the polonisation of the ruling classes) as one of Poland-Lithuania's two official languages, because "it could not be understood by the Polish genius" (9).  This means that all deputies of Ruski origin including the Ledóchowskis did not exercise their Liberum Veto.  This Sejm decision I consider a "great mistake" as it practically guaranteed that Ruski descendants, in particular the Ukrainians, would not identify with Poland-Lithuania in the face of Russian onslaughts in years to come.  In the "Republic of Two Nations" their Nation's language was no longer official.

1701: Swedish Invasion

Swedish EmpireThis all started with Livonia, known in Polish at the time as Inflanty, roughly where Latvia is today, with Riga as its capital (click to enlarge map).  Livonia was once Polish but according to Massie (10, p294) "the Poles were harsh masters, insisting on the Polish language and laws, and the Catholic religion".  The Protestant Livonians turned to Protestant Sweden for protection and in 1660 Livonia eventually became formally part of the large Swedish Empire to the North of Poland-Lithuania.  Their nobility then became dissatisfied with Swedish rule.  A Livonian, Johann Reinhold von Patkul, came to Warsaw in 1698 to seek the help of Augustus II in his role as Elector of Protestant Saxony and offer him the position of hereditary King of Livonia.  Augustus sent General George van Carlowitz to seek the support of Tsar Peter of Russia, who had long resented the Swedish Empire on his Western borders.  Peter was then busy negotiating with a delegation from the 18 year old new King Charles XII of Sweden.  He gave them letters confirming Russia's peace treaties with Sweden and waited for three days after they left (10, p298).  He then signed an anti-Swedish treaty with Denmark and Augustus (as Elector of Saxony), but decided not to attack before concluding his own separate peace with the Turks.

Swedish InvasionWithout waiting for Russia, Augustus II, who according to Norman Davies was not as strong in the brains department as he was in the trouser department, sent a Saxon army to attack the Swedes, who had perhaps the best army in Europe at the time.  The Saxons were soundly defeated by Charles XII at the Battle of Riga in 1701 and General Carlowitz was killed.  

Tsar Peter was disgusted.  He said Augustus should have led the Saxon army himself instead of "diverting himself with women" (10, p299).  Thus began the Great Northern War of 1700-1721.

Charles XIIKing Charles XII might have been young, but with an excellent army and a victory already to his credit he was bold and he proceeded to chase the Saxon army around Poland as shown in this spaghetti-like map (click to enlarge).  He was supported by the Lithuanian Sapiehas and other magnates, who formed the Warsaw Confederation in 1704, declared the dethronement of Augustus, and chose their own new King, Stanisław Leszczyński.  Charles XII, shown pointing East towards his nemesis Russia in the Stockholm statue on the right (12), continued into Saxony, defeated Augustus and forced him to renounce the Polish throne in favour of Leszczyński in 1706.

1704: The Sandomierz Confederation

Poland was officially neutral and supported Augustus only grudgingly at first.  At the Battle of Kliszów in 1702, Augustus II's mostly Saxon army was badly defeated by King Charles XII.  The Polish Hetman (Commander-in-Chief) Lubomirski withdrew the relatively small Polish forces at a crucial point when the Saxons had lost thousands of men and the Poles only 80.  While some believe this illustrated the decline in the power of the famous Polish cavalry when faced by devastating musket fire from the well-trained Swedish infantry equipped with bayonets, it is also suggested that Lubomirski wanted revenge against Augustus for stealing his brother's wife.

Stanislaw 1707Resistance to wholesale pillaging by the Swedes under Charles XII nevertheless grew and had the support of both Franciszek and Stanisław Ledóchowski, shown in the painting on the left (16).  

Stanisław represented Wołyń at the Lublin Sejm in 1703, which supported Augustus II, empowered him to enter into an alliance on behalf of Poland against the Swedes with Tsar Peter of Russia, and agreed to the formation of a 48,000 strong Polish army.  

Both brothers then joined the Sandomierz Confederation, formed in 1704.  Franciszek died shortly afterwards, but with his military experience Stanisław remained.  

The Confederation signed an alliance with Tsar Peter and declared war against Sweden.  The Confederation and its Saxon and Russian allies defeated the Swedes at the Battle of Kalisz in 1706, but Poland remained in a state of turmoil for several more years.

In the meanwhile the Ruski Hetman (Commander-in-Chief) Jan Mazepa Kołodyński, whose education included a Jezuit school in Warsaw, occupied a large part of Polish Ruthenia/Ukraine in his efforts to create an independent country under his leadership.  

In 1707 Stanisław worked in the Lwów Council which was supposed to take parts of Ukraine back from Mazepa, but this did not happen.

1709: The Battle of Poltava

Charles XII and MazepaStanisław continued with the Sandomierz Confederation, which in particular prevented any Swedish reinforcements reaching King Charles XII when he decided to attack Russia with the help of Mazepa, who joined the Swedes.  This contributed to Tsar Peter's final devastating defeat of Charles XII and Mazepa, whom we see after the Battle of Poltava in this painting by Gustaf Cederström.

The Battle of Poltava had far reaching consequences:-

- for Sweden: a disaster, the eventual loss of its Baltic empire;
- for Stanisław Leszczyński: the end of his first short reign as King of Poland;
- for Ruthenia/Ukraine: Mazepa, who soon died, a tragic national hero, and no independence for many years;
- for Russia: a major victory, confirmed conquest of the area where it founded St Petersburg in 1703, direct access to the Baltic Sea, emergence as a regional superpower, Tsar Peter of Russia since called "the Great";
- for Poland: having got rid of the Turkish threat to the South, it was now rid of the Swedish threat to the North, leaving the Saxons to the West and Russia to the East; and
- for IKEA: King Charles XII escaped to Turkey and from there took the recipe for köfte back to Sweden.  Today IKEA sells millions of Sweden's national dish köttbullar (meatballs) every day and the Turks say this is really their national dish köfte (meatballs).

1710: Return of King Augustus II and his Saxon Army

The Saxon-Sandomierz-Russian alliance had won, Poland was "liberated" from Leszczyński and the Swedes, and Augustus returned to his Polish throne.  Acccording to Barącz (3, p37-8), Augustus then plotted the destruction of Poland with King Frederick of Prussia and Tsar Peter the Great of Russia, wanting to cede territory to both.  He arrested the Sobieski sons, arrested or executed other leaders and unfairly favoured his own supporters.  He also brought with him his 26,000 man Saxon army, supposedly against new threats from Turkey and Sweden, but the Poles suspected it was also to strengthen the power of the monarchy.  The Saxon army did not behave as liberators but rather as a new occupying power, taking over the major cities, forcing the Poles to provide supplies, and often refusing to pay.  This greatly annoyed the freedom-loving Poles, who were also suffering from the destructive civil war, a terrible epidemic, in which a third of the population died, and failed harvests.

1715: Stanisław Ledóchowski, Marshal of the Tarnogród Confederation

MarshalResistance now grew against Augustus II and included many people like the Wołyń Chamberlain, Stanisław Ledóchowski, who had previously supported Augustus against the Swedes.

Stefan Wielogłowski formed a resistance group from Kraków who withdrew to the hills to await events. The Wołyń Poles united under Stanisław and provided him with eight regiments of light cavalry.

Finally the resistance groups united and met in a church at Tarnogród on 26th November 1715.  They first elected Prince Janusz Antoni Wiśniowiecki, Wojewoda (Governor) of the Kraków region, as their leader, but he declined.  A group led by the Potockis then proposed Stanisław, who was unanimously elected Marshal of the Tarnogród Confederation, and granted an annual budget of 10,000 złoty.  

Stanisław, shown here by an unknown painter in a painting I have never found (12), acted decisively: he sent ambassadors to Lithuania asking their Hetman (Commander-in-Chief) Ludwik Pociej for support, raised an army to which he contributed some of his own money, swiftly arrested his own military commander Władysław Gorżyński on suspicion of treachery, and replaced him with Branicki.

The Saxon army led by Jakub Flemming then attacked the Confederation, defeated its cavalry near Sandomierz and then proposed negotiations with some of the Confederate leaders in Zamość.  However the Saxons tricked them into letting them enter the town where they massacred the locals.  Stanisław broke off the negotiations and retreated into Wołyń and a brief ceasefire followed.  On 27th January 1716 he published a Manifesto to the Nation (3, pp43-5), which was viciously attacked by counter propaganda from Flemming.  

Peter the GreatThe Confederates then won the Battle of Ryczywoł in February 1716, were joined by Cossack and other forces contributed by Hetman Pociej, and took Częstochowa and several other towns.  By early summer the Confederation had an army of over 40,000 men and defeated the Saxons in the second battle of Sokal in June 1716.  The Confederation also won the Battle of Leszno and took Lwów and Poznań, but the Saxons on the other hand won the Battle of Kowalew.  In Sandomierz the Saxons hanged the local leader Łaściszewski for allegedly breaching the ceasefire, which infuriated the Confederates even more.

In August 1716, at the request of Augustus II (17, p631), Peter the Great, shown on the right in a painting by Paul Delaroche (12), decided to intervene and the Russian army entered Poland.  His representatives Grzegorz Dołgoruki and Aleksy Daszków conducted three cornered negotations with the Saxons, headed by King Augustus II, and the Confederation, led by Stanisław.  Stanisław rejected the King's first round of proposals because his promises to withdraw his Saxon troops were too vague (no deadline) and the Poles were supposed to give the troops money on their way (3, pp42-43).  Negotiations continued and Peter the Great offered to guarantee the deal, but both the King and Stanisław insisted Peter could not be guarantor and could only be mediator.

1717: Stanisław Ledóchowski, Marshal of the Silent Sejm

Stanisław Wojewoda On 3rd November 1716 the two sides signed the Treaty of Warsaw.  It had to be approved by the Sejm (parliament) and this was convened for 1st February 1717.  As previously agreed, Stanisław Ledóchowski was elected Marshal of the Sejm.  He made a famous introductory speech to King Augustus II on behalf of nieodrodnych synów Orła Białego (“the true sons of the White Eagle”) reminding him of the "unprecedented cruelty" Poland had suffered from the Saxon army and asking him never again to permit foreigners to prowl round his Kingdom.  He Stanisław would stand for dignity, freedom and the Polish Republic until his last breath.  Chancellor Szembek replied on behalf of the King.  Józef Potocki read a new constitution embodying most of the agreement (3, pp49-50).  

Apart from Ledóchowski running the proceedings, and deputies reading out individual resolutions, no-one was allowed to speak in case they exercised their Liberum Veto to break the Sejm (7).  So this was called the Niemy Sejm, the Silent Sejm or Dumb Parliament.  (Since the Liberum Veto could also be delivered in writing, you wonder whether deputies were also forbidden to bring pen and paper!) 

Russian troops stood outside, supposedly neutral.

Key decisions of the Silent Sejm (12) included the following:

- King Augustus II forbidden to leave Poland-Lithuania for long periods;
- Saxony and Poland-Lithuania to be linked only by their shared monarch.
- Saxon government could no longer make decisions for Poland-Lithuania and vice versa;
- The King could not declare war on behalf of Poland-Lithuania without the approval of the Senate;
- The Saxon army to leave Poland-Lithuania;
- Ban on Confederations in future;
- Regular taxation for a standing army of 24,000 men (13);
- Army to be modernised, e.g. professionally trained infantry with flint-lock rifles and bayonets like the Swedes; and
Sejm combined- 400,000 złoty repayment of Stanisław’s huge costs supporting the Tarnogród Confederation (3, p50). The last part was only paid to his great-nephew Franciszek about 50 years later. 

Norman Davies accuses the Silent Sejm of "signing away Poland's freedom" to Russia (6, p500) but I have not read the evidence.

Stanisław then thanked the King.  He urged him to keep his word, to liberate Poland-Lithuania from predatory Saxon and Moscovite armies immediately, and to rule graciously.  In exchange the people would honour him as their Lord and wish him a long happy life (3, p50).  

Stanisław closed the Sejm the same day, expressing the hope that Poland would have a period of well-earned peace.  

Krupa = Horyngrod1718: Visit by Peter the Great

At the Sejm held in Grodno in late 1718 Stanisław Ledóchowski demanded that the Russian forces withdraw from Poland-Lithuania.  He returned to his home in Krupa, in Wołyń, in today's Ukraine, where several later generations of Ledóchowskis including General Ignacy I were born.  There he was visited by Peter the Great, who wanted to meet this man with a formidable reputation.  This was Saturday in Advent, a day of fast at the time, and Stanisław refused to eat at the feast prepared for the Russian Tsar.  Field Marshal Mężykow accompanying Peter said “You will have many other days to fast in future but you will never again have such a splendid guest”.  Stanisław gave way and stood up, filled a large cup with wine, and drank it to the health of the Tsar.  Later he was so ashamed that he build a chapel of quarried stone to Our Lady of Sokal as penance (3, p54).  Yet the Russian forces were withdrawn from Poland in 1719.

1719: Proposed alliance against Russia

At Stanisław's suggestion, on 5th January 1719, Augustus II signed a Treaty allying Poland with Holy Roman Emperor Charles VI of Austria and King George I of England against Russia, but Sejms called to approve this Treaty were broken by the Liberum Veto, which was the fault of these later Sejms not the Silent Sejm.  Perhaps this was because Russian forces had just left Poland-Lithuania anyway.  Later Sejms were responsible for not increasing the size of the standing army.  Historians such as the famous Polish historian Paweł Jasienica argue until today about whether it was the Polish nation through its own anarchy which laid the ground for the partitions of Poland at the end of the century (czy „naród polski przez swoją anarchię sam przygotował rozbiory”).  Everyone enjoys the saying Polska nierządem stoi, roughly "Poland is based on chaos"(14), inspired by Wacław Potocki's poem published during the Sobieski years.

ColumnLater years

Stanisław Ledóchowski continued to make various religious donations, including a donation of 10,000 złoty for the canonisation of St Stanisław Kostka and a column with a statue to Our Lady at the Dominican monastery and church in Podkamień near Leduchów (20).  Stanisław also donated 10 Portuguese ducats and his wife a large piece of jewellery with 40 diamonds to give a more beautiful crown to Our Lady of Podkamień (3, p37).  He composed two hymns to our Lady (3, pp74-76).  He was a fervent Roman Catholic, yet did his best to preserve the Uniate (Greek Catholic) church in Wołyń.  In 1724 he was appointed Governor (Wojewoda) of Wołyń Province.  He was married twice, first to Krystyna Zorawnicka and then to Marjanna Wielhorska (3, p58), probably the daughter of Wacław Wielhorski, who succeeded Stanisław's brother Franciszek as Castellan of Wołyń in 1704.  He had no children.

Stanisław died in 1725, the same year as Peter the Great, and was buried in the Dominican church in Podkamień near Leduchów on 16th October (3, p59).



Coffin portraitIn his very active life, in a period of devastating Polish losses from war and plundering, epidemic and famine, Stanisław Ledóchowski had helped get rid of threats from the Turkish empire in the South, Sweden in the North, Saxony to the West and Russia to the East. He also found an imaginative way round the Liberum Veto.

Dołgoruki, Peter the Great's envoy to the Tarnogrod Confederation, said Taki mądry i chytry człowiek, że ja takiego w całej Polsce nie widziałem (“I have not seen such a wise and cunning man in all of Poland”).  Dołgoruki believed that, if the Polish throne had become vacant, Stanisław would have been elected King (17, p630).

After the Silent Sejm, peace prevailed in Poland-Lithuania for 15 years, long after Stanisław's death. The Polish standing army was quite big enough. 

What Poland-Lithuania would do in the face of the rising power of Prussia and Russia would be up to future generations.


Jan Ledóchowski, 2018


(1) The paper Rycerstwo Polskie w Odsieczy Wiedeńskiej (Polish Knighthood at the Relief of Vienna) by Barbara Bendzińska-Komarow & Ryszard Tymoteusz Komorowski lists as item 238 three Ledochowski knights who rode in the charge: Kazimierz, Felicjan and Stefan.  The genealogies do not mention a Stefan in that generation, so it seems to me that this may be a mistake and was supposed to be Stanisław, who did fight at Vienna according to (3) and (5).  These sources also say Franciszek was serving under Sobieski at the time while not explicitly confirming that that he was at the Battle of Vienna, which seems likely.  The boys' father Stefan died in 1676.

(2) This was a play on Julius Caesar's proud report to Rome after the Battle of Zela in 47BC: "Veni, vidi, vici." "I came, I saw, I conquered."  Painting from Wikipedia.

(3) Pamiętnik Szlachetnego Ledóchowskiego Domu (Memoir of the Noble House of Ledóchowski).  Fr Sadok Barącz.  Published by "Gaz. naród"  J. Dobrzańskiego i K.Gromana, Lwów 1879, pp 34 -89.

(4) Catalogue of the Warsaw Historical Museum Exhibition on the Ledóchowski Family in November 2008.  Ed. Barbara Hensel-Moszczyńska.  Wydawnictwo Duszpasterstwa Rolników, Włocławek.  ISBN 978-83-88477-83-6, pp93-99, 109.

(5) „… aby pozostał nasz ślad”  („ we may leave a trace”).  Mieczysław Ledóchowski.  Published by Towarzystwo Przyjaciół Ossolineum,  Wrocław 2002.  ISBN 83-7095-051-5, pp 24-26.

(6) God's Playground.  Norman Davies.  Published by Clarendon Press.  Oxford 1981.  ISBN 0-19-822555-5. Vol 1.

(7) Liberum Veto in Latin means “the freedom to forbid”.  After it was first exercised by a supporter of Prince Janusz Radziwiłł in 1652, it became accepted that, if any deputy could announce or deliver by way of note the words “NIE POZWALAM” (literally “I do not allow this”) during the proceedings of the Sejm (parliament), then that Sejm would be terminated and all decisions it had previously taken would be invalid.

(8) Election campaigns for head of state can also be expensive today.  On 8th January 2018 the Financial Times reported that Donald Trump had contributed $66 million to his own election campaign.

(9) Polska a Litwa, Stosunki wzajemne w biegu dziejów. Władysław Wielhorski.  Published by the Polish Research Centre Ltd, London 1947.  p159: „A. Bruckner twierdzi, że na początku wieku XVII-go szlachta litewska jeszcze czytała po rusku akty sądowe i państwowe, ale pisać już nie umiała, tak zdecydowanie polszczyzna wypierała ten język.  Od połowy wieku XVII poszła w śród niej na ogół w niepamięć i znajomość pisma ruskiego, czyli cyrylicy.  Akty w grodzie pisarz zaczynał po rusku, stereotypowym wstępem, oddając należne językowi państwowemu, a tekst dyktowany przez strony, wciągał do ksiąg już po polsku.  Wreszcie Sejm Warszawski w 1697 roku przyjął ustawę orzekającą, że język ruski winien być w aktach państwowych zastąpiony polskim.  Motywacja tej ustawy brzmiała tak:   „...ponieważ język ruski niedostępny jest geniuszom polskim.."  Powyższa uchwała jezykowa przeszła w czasach klasycznie stosowanego „liberum veto”.

Ruski (Ruthenian) was also used in the law of eleventh century Kievan Rus, the Ruska Pravda (Truth of Rus) according to Andrew Wilson (15, p7).  The official chancellory version used by Poland-Lithuania, called Old Byelorussian by Norman Davies (6,115), was "closest to the dialects around Wilno (Vlinius)" according to Wilson (15, p46) which could explain why the local people round Wilno were still speaking Polish - a similar Slavonic language and not, like Lithuanian, a completely different Baltic language - and considered themselves completely Polish until recently.

(10) Peter the Great.  Robert K Massie.  Published by Victor Gollancz Ltd.  London 1981.  ISBN 0-575-01557-8.

(11) St Joseph's Church on the Kahlenberg hills, overlooking Vienna.  Photographs taken in and around the church during the celebrations marking the anniversary of the Battle in 2017.  There are regular celebrations here to mark the victory.

(12) Wikipedia extensively used for pictures, maps, the Great Northern War, the History of Poland, the Sandomierz Confederation, the Tarnogród Confederation, etc.

(13) Norman Davies (6, p502) argues that a standing army of 24,000 was too small and meant that the Polish-Lithuanian army would be heavily outnumbered by the Prussian and Russian armies in future.  So could it be that the Sejm went for a small army to limit the power of the King thus weakening Poland in the face of external threats?  Or was it just looking at the size of armies in the past not the future?  It should be remembered that this was a peace time figure.  Poland-Lithuania had assembled much larger armies in the past by way of pospolite ruszenie or mobilisation e.g. for the Turkish wars, and the Tarnogród Confederation had just raised 40,000 men. The combined allied Christian armies at the Battle of Vienna in 1683 totalled 90,000 men, of which Poland contributed 30,000. At the decisive Battle of Naseby during the English civil war in 1645 the Commonwealth had an army of 14,000 and opposing Royalists an army of 7,000, so a combined total of 21,000 men fought each other.

(14) Wacław Potocki's poem was published at the time of Sobieski.  Polska nierządem stoi means literally "Poland stands on non-government".  However nierząd can also be translated as chaos, debauchery or prostitution.

(15) The Ukrainians, Unexpected Nation.  Andrew Wilson.  Published by Yale University Press, New Haven and London 2009.  ISBN 978-0-300-15476-4.

(16) This photograph was left to me by my father.  I don't know anything about the original portrait.

(17) Polski Słownik Biograficzny (A "dictionary" or collection of historical biographies of well known Poles). Ministerstwo Kultury i Dziedzictwa Narodowego.  Ministry of Culture and National Heritage.  Kraków 1971.  Text on Stanisław Ledóchowski by Józef Gierowski.

(18) Krupa shown on map of Volhynia (Wołyń).  Rizzi Zanomi.  Published by Presso Antonio Zatta in Venice in 1781.  Horyńgród shown on map of Kresy.  Published by PTR Kartografia in Warsaw in 2014.  ISBN 978-83-60641-75-0.

(19) This coffin portrait is in the Muzeum 600-lecia Jasnej Góry (600th Anniversary Museum) in Częstochowa.

(20) Our Lady's Column at Podkamień, near Leduchów.  Funded by Stanisław Ledóchowski in 1719 to commemorate the Tarnogród Confederation.  Photograph by a later Stanisław Ledóchowski, 2004 (4, p96).

Detailed information on living family members will be included in this website only if submitted or approved by them. Sczegółowa informacja o żyjących członkach rodziny może zostać umieszczona na tych stronach jedynie w wypadku gdy dana osoba wyrazi zgodę. Jan Ledóchowski