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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

Nikolai

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Sweden might become dead weight in the end, if not a PU might get formed anyways!
 
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Specialist290

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Been on a bit of a hiatus from the forums lately, but I took a bit of time this afternoon after the usual holiday antics to get caught up again.

The Lanckoronskis appear to be well and truly entrenched as a dynasty now -- they've had two successions in a row without any serious challenges from rival contenders. Henryk, Jan Olbracht, and Aleksander have all had stable and prosperous reigns, and though it hasn't exactly been a peaceful era for Poland they've at least managed to keep the worst of war's horrors away from the heartland.

Kazimierz looks set to continue the family legacy of strong and skilled rule -- though if I'm interpreting the foreshadowing correctly, he'll need every ounce of skill he can spare for the coming years.
 
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slothinator

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The Franco-Spanish union is a terrible sight to behold, hope that it doesn’t move east.
Alas a Great War with few gains will be common in the future.
Sweden is a tricky thing, it has shown that it cannot be trusted on offense but one hopes that it will not permanently skew towards Moscow. The commonwealth is surrounded by hostile powers, maybe it should look for friends in Germany among the victors of the religious wars.
Kazimierz seems like an excellent heir, I look forward to seeing his progress.
 
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Part Thirteen: Kazimierz IV Lanckoronski

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King Kazimierz IV.jpg


Kazimierz IV Lanckoronski, King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania (r. 1580 to 1602)

Part Thirteen: Kazimierz IV Lanckoronski

Crown Prince Kazimierz who became King Kazimierz IV, King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania was the eldest son of King Aleksander. Tall, slim and bony in the Lanckoronski tradition he was considered a clever and capable man with a wide range of talents and tastes. In his youth he had something of a reputation as a musician and a sonnet writer and is even said to have dabbled in writing plays, though no conclusively attributed work has survived. The life of the huntsman did not enthral him, though he was a skilled enough rider and he was perhaps the most travelled of all Polish monarchs, having made journeys to Rome, the Imperial Court in Prague and to Stockholm as part of his father’s rapprochement with the Swedes. He had also fought in the wars, taking a shoulder wound at the First Battle of Pskov in 1571. Another aspect of his life, less widely spread by his many admirers was the remarkable number of bastards he produced with a parade of mistresses. Despite a small army of children and a marriage to Princess Ulrika Eleonora of Sweden in 1586 none of his legitimate offspring lasted to adulthood and the dynastic heir presumptive was Kazimierz’s saturnine younger brother Prince Jogalia.

The election Sejm of 1580 saw a deceptively easy triumph for the Crown Prince. It was a triumph for the dynastic Lanckoronski faction among the senators and a personal victory for the new monarch but there was already evidence, had anyone at the time cared to look, of the growing divide in the Commonwealth that would come to a boil three decades later. The new King was most popular in the Grand Duchy, less so in Poland and, surprisingly Prussia, the original heartland of the House of Lanckoronski.

The reason was partly due to traditional Polish stubbornness with the nobles congregated in Warsaw sending a message to their master in ‘foreign’ Wilno about who really ran the Commonwealth. Geopolitics played a part too; the threat of Muscovy seemed far more real to someone in Charków than their counterpart in Kraków. The main reason for the divide however was religion. Outside of newly conquered Psków, Ostrów and Luki the Grand Duchy of Lithuania was overwhelmingly Roman Catholic. True there was much Greek influence in architecture and in some ceremonies of the Church but by and large the Grand Duchy was uncomplicatedly loyal to Pope. A combination of two centuries of Polish influence making the Roman rite desirable and influential, hostility to the Orthodox Muscovites and the generous funding of the Grand Dukes had made Romans of Lithuanians, Byelorussians and 'Eastern' Ruthenians.

In contrast in Poland proper the ‘Western’ Ruthenians had kept much of their old faith, forming a defiant and often urban Orthodox Catholic minority in the Kingdom. In the Sixteenth Century this ancient minority had been joined by Reformists and Protestants, both with their theological quarrels with Rome. In a way almost ignored by the East of the Commonwealth, the West always more cosmopolitan, was influenced by German and Swiss preachers, and increasingly by Polish and Prussian preachers against the corruption and arrogance of the Polish Church (at least as they saw it.) That the great standard bearer of the Roman way in Mitteleuropa was the hated Bohemia did little to increase its popularity in Western Poland. The arrival of the printing press early in Kazimierz’s reign only accelerated this shift [1].

Religion in commonwealth 1600.jpg


Religious divisions in the Commonwealth (outlined in red) around 1600.

Most Polish Lutherans and Calvinists were prepared to tolerate a Catholic king, especially given the historic tolerance of the Lanckoronskis. Kazimierz personally proved an adept statesman at walking the crooked path between the Catholic majority to which he himself belonged, and the growing Protestant minority which attracted so many rich merchants and nobility who were jealous and angry about the power of the Church. Once again the prospect of a religious crisis was – temporarily – delayed by savvy leadership.

In one of those odd shades of history. despite the King’s deliberate attempts to avoid religious confrontation the reign of Kazimierz IV saw a huge increase in church building, predominately though not entirely in the Catholic East. The popular
mannerist style with it’s tall, slender buildings, colourful facades and Italian influence spread across the Commonwealth. Besides churches this spate of building also the construction of royal castles at Charków (as part of the process of rebuilding her after the Muscovite sack), Halicz and Jedsayn. The Commonwealth population, steadily rising for at least half a century probably surpassed ten million at this point, though it would not be until the Nineteenth Century that truly reliable census figures became available. Wilno, as the royal capital grew further during this era, though other cities including Kraków, Warsaw, Minsk, Ryga, Smolensk and Psków also experienced a boom.

Good Government.jpg


Most of Kazmierz's reign saw prosperity and stability for the Commonwealth - at least economically.

Prosperity had her price. The Baltic Sea, the main trading artery of the Commonwealth to the wider world [2] was plagued from the mid-1580s onwards by pirates from Rügen. The so called ‘Piratenrepublik’ of Rügen was a buccaneer community based on the German island off the coast of Mecklenburg. The island had previously been under monastic authority but in the confusion of the Reformation and the constant wars of Northern Germany the Protestant burgers of the town of Bergen (home to most of Rügen’s inhabitants) had installed their own authority, owing nominal allegiance to the Emperor. Nominally a Free Imperial City the new republic was shamelessly piratical; unfortunately neither Sweden nor the Commonwealth could simply send a fleet to sack the island without going to war with the Holy Roman Empire. The strong suspicion in Wilno that the burghers of Rügen had cut a deal with the Danes did not help matters. Still there was little that could be done beyond patrolling the trade routes along the Livonian and Prussian coasts and boarding any suspect vessel.

The threat of piracy and the near certainty of a future war with Denmark led Kazimierz and the Sejm to a rare show of true unity around modernising the Navy. The Commonwealth Navy remained disproportionately German with Baltic German the lingua franca. It was in some respects a world of its own in the larger Commonwealth. The Polish-Lithuanian fleet could not compete in numbers with their Scandinavian rivals (at least not without a truly grand increase in shipbuilding along the Prussian and Livonian coasts) but they could at least sail the best ships available [3]. For almost a century the lumbering carrack and the stout caravel had been the main sail warships in the Baltic, aided by war galleys not all that different from those used in the Mediterranean. In the last two decades the galleon, the early frigates and the galleas replaced all these earlier ships. The galleas in particular, a large and powerful multi-masted oared vessel said to combine the best aspects of the galley and the sail warship was considered one of the most powerful breed of vessels afloat and a speciality of the Ryga shipwrights (Gdańsk, Ryga’s bitter rival among the Commonwealth seaports favoured the ocean going galleon.) Though a wary neutrality persisted between the Baltic powers throughout these decades a three way cold war kept tensions high, especially as the Navy had not forgotten nor forgiven the Swedes. Whatever the official opinion in Wilno and Warsaw the Polish-Lithuanian Navy was as prepared to sink Swedish ships as Danish ones.

Galleass.jpg


An early Twentieth Century depiction of a galleass - a warship combining the strengths of a sail vessel and oarred warship.

The Danes did not rely on their fine fleet alone to protect them. During the reign of Kazimierz IV they were in alliance with the Ottoman Empire. The Turkish sultanate was one of the most powerful states in Europe, vying with Spain and France for that honour. The Ottoman state boasted a healthy treasury, a very large population, a great fleet and a large yet disciplined army. Traditional European historians have presented the Ottoman Empire as “a vast, lurking shadow one sharp breath behind Christendom” in the words of Baron Karol Piotrowski in his Nineteenth Century tome Historia Imperium Polskiego and though this view of an ambitious Ottoman state has been much debated in recent years even revisionist historians concede most of Europe feared the Sultan. In the Sixteenth Century the Commonwealth did not directly border the Ottoman Empire but her march of Moldavia did [4].

In the end of the 1580s the Ottoman feud with their co-religionists in Egypt erupted into outright war. With the Ottomans seemingly preoccupied by the Mamluks the Commonwealth turned their eyes towards the Tatar Khanate of Crimea. The last of the Mongol states to survive in Europe Crimea was a Muslim stronghold the shared an uneasy border with the south east of the Commonwealth, itself the domain of the hotheaded and notoriously independent Cossacks. This was the “Wild Fields”, the fabled edges of Lithuania where in 1399 the Tatars had defeated Grand Duke Vytautas the Great in a battle that left a score of Lithuanian princes dead amongst the grass. The Lithuanians had never forgotten and never forgiven and now two centuries later the current Grand Duke took the opportunity to strike while the Sultan was distracted. In November 1593 the Commonwealth invaded Crimea.

The Crimean Khanate was not formidable in and of herself, but the Khan Halim I was an able warrior, and an even better propagandist. He sought aid not just from the Ottoman Empire but from Kazan and Persia too, casting the war as a clash between faiths. The result was to be a longer, bloodier war than any might have suspected.

The giant Ottoman fleet made the Black Sea a Turkish pond and even with the bulk of the Ottoman armies far away in Egypt this aided the Crimeans and their allies. Crimea proper was overrun by the Summer of 1594 but the fighting went on in Moldavia and, unexpectedly on the great eastern frontier of Lithuania where the Persians and Kazans had cut a deal with the Muscovites to cross their land. The Commonwealth found themselves caught between two fronts.

Crimean War.jpg


The Commonwealth-Crimean War in late 1595.

Kazimierz, who personally led much of the Commonwealth army for the most of the war knew that the Commonwealth had to win swiftly before the lumbering might of the Ottomans turned north. The Commonwealth monarch avoided battle with the main Turkish counter-invasion of Moldavia, trying to attack divisions as they broke away. The appearance of Persian soldiers invading from the east and attacking such places as Smolensk and Minsk necessitated an even more elastic strategy as Kasimierz was forced to divide his own forces. The Polish King was prepared to rely on cities being besieged, even falling, if it was better strategy to allow to eliminate an isolated enemy force. He also knew he had one great ally in all this; the weather. The hard winters across the Commonwealth between 1593 and 1597 would kill almost as many Ottoman, Persian, Kazan or Crimean soldiers as Commonwealth musket fire and cavalry charges.

It was a brutal experience for all involved, but ultimately as daring as the Persian led expedition through Muscovy was the enemy was operating very far from their homelands and the only supplies they had were those they could plunder, or purchased from the Muscovites at exorbitant costs.

At the Battle of Witebsk on 5 December 1596 the Commonwealth defeated the main Ottoman and Persian army in the north. With the collapse of that far flung expeditionary force the enemy were finally on the retreat in the Grand Duchy. Certainly Khan Halim I seems to have believed the war was lost as a month later he surrendered. The territory of Yediskul was annexed by the Commonwealth, the Ottomans withdrew from Moldavia and the surviving Persians and Kazans were repatriated.

Conquest of Yediskhul.jpg


The overall costs of the Commonwealth-Crimean War, 1593 to 1597.

The Commonwealth conquest of Crimea had been a nerve-wracking experience for the Poles and Lithuanians. They had won, but only at grave cost and everyone was conscious of the great power of the Ottoman Empire, which had committed only half her strength. There was also a healthy appreciation for the soldiers of the Shah of Persia and the Khan of Kazan, and an unstated decision that the Commonwealth would not in the foreseeable future anger the Muslim world.

Then there was the role of Muscovy. The Muscovities had played no direct role in the war but they had allowed the enemy to cross their terrain and by supplies from them. It was not possible for relations between Wilno and Moscow to grow worse but the war added a fresh grievance to the list.

Kazimierz’s skilled generalship and his negotiations with the Ottomans in January 1597, which allowed both sides to compromise with honour won him much praise then and from later historians, though revisionists have since questioned the price of the war to conquer one border province from the Tatars. One person who did pay the price was the monarch himself. Exhausted by his efforts Kazimierz retreated from public life and died in August 1602. The election Sejm, after a divisive session which lacked bloodshed but did have copious bribery and insults elected his younger brother the sixty year old Prince Jogaila to the thrones of Poland and Lithuania.

Kazimierz IV exemplified the strengths and weaknesses of the House of Lanckoronski. His delicate and clever domestic politics presided over a period of prosperity and his mixture of tolerance at home and aggression abroad allowed him to unite the country against an easy foreign foe. On the other hand Kazimierz, like his father and uncle before him had essentially ‘dodged’ the religious question which by the end of the century was becoming ever more of a problem. Nor had the relations between the monarch and the Sejm quite normalised with either a dominant king or a dominant parliament. Individual brilliance had let Kazimierz IV walk a tightrope, but not everyone had such assured footing...


Jogaila II.jpg


The death of Kazimierz IV and the election of his brother Jogalia II, 2 August 1602.

Commonwealth 1602.jpg


The Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth in 1602.

Footnotes:

[1] Perhaps not coincidentally the printing press was introduced via Protestant Mecklenburg.

[2] The Commonwealth had a few small ports in the Black Sea but the trade here was dwarfed by that of the much more populous Baltic coast.

[3] The Commonwealth Navy built their own ships but drew inspiration from others including, though few would admit it openly, the Danes.

[4] The Principality of Moldavia was historically a loyal vassal to the Commonwealth, providing a buffer between Poland and the Ottoman Empire. Though politically connected it was culturally distinct as a Romanian speaking Orthodox state.
 

RossN

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Happy Saint Stephen's Day all! Hope everyone had a merry and safe Christmas! :)

~~~~~

An interesting trio of monarchs. Henryk's decision for Wilno as the capital for the new commonwealth seems sound both to tie Poland and Lithuania together more firmly and is military safer from and attack from the west.

Jan certainty seems the most likeable of the trio of monarchs, he finished off both his fight against his pretender and his inherited foreign war successfully. The choice of the religious tolerance also seems to be something commendable (as least so far) in a mixed realm like the Commonwealth. His decision to pay off Sweden's national debt on the other hand seems a little over generous...

Aleksander was always going to be a hit with me as he took the fight to Muscovoy as I've been hoping to see for some time. ;) Sweden taking all that Polish gold and the refusing to sit out the war was a definte disappointment however! A university in Vilnius can only be a good thing, an achievement only rivaled by Aleksander managing to beat the family curse to die in bed rather than out hunting!

I hope his son Kazimieres proves to be as high an achiever as his stats promise! The world is looking to be a dangerous place to the far west with the Valois Empire combining the strength of France, Spain and Portugal! Let's hope he avoids any entanglements with that monster.

Oh and of course have a merry Christmas!

A nice overview of three different but related monarchs. I'm very certain the Commonwealth felt Jan had been too generous! And yes the Commonwealth is rather surrounded by monsters at the moment, though perhaps in better shape than historically!

A brutal, costly war for both sides, it sounds like, but hopefully Pskov and the surrounding area brings the prosperity that Aleksander hoped.

It will take time but I have my hopes there. :)

Perfidious Swedes! Poland takes their debt and the Swedes repay the Poles with betrayal!

Muscovy lies humbled, although I doubt we've heard the last of them...

I share your doubts!

As for sweden, at least for the moment they are the only semi-significant friend the Commonwealth has.

Reading the swedish betrayal make you think that commonwealth will hold contempt for sweden but the situation seems cooled quickly.

Still if next time commonwealth wants to betray sweden they could always cite this incident for propaganda maybe once denmark lay off their baltic ambition they would make a better ally than traitrous sweden anyway.


Exactly. The cracks may be papered over but the Commonwealth has not forgotten...

I hope the betrayal won't be forgotten. Sweden must pay some price, the Commonwealth was her true and loyal friend. And the only one !

I know! :(

So personal union? :v

Sweden might become dead weight in the end, if not a PU might get formed anyways!

I don't think that's possible under the current Commonwealth system of government (elective monarchy.)

Been on a bit of a hiatus from the forums lately, but I took a bit of time this afternoon after the usual holiday antics to get caught up again.

The Lanckoronskis appear to be well and truly entrenched as a dynasty now -- they've had two successions in a row without any serious challenges from rival contenders. Henryk, Jan Olbracht, and Aleksander have all had stable and prosperous reigns, and though it hasn't exactly been a peaceful era for Poland they've at least managed to keep the worst of war's horrors away from the heartland.

Kazimierz looks set to continue the family legacy of strong and skilled rule -- though if I'm interpreting the foreshadowing correctly, he'll need every ounce of skill he can spare for the coming years.

Welcome back my friend! Good to see you again and I hope you have been well! :)

The Lanckoronskis are not immovable, but I'd certainly agree they've made themselves part of the Commonwealth fabric.

The Franco-Spanish union is a terrible sight to behold, hope that it doesn’t move east.
Alas a Great War with few gains will be common in the future.
Sweden is a tricky thing, it has shown that it cannot be trusted on offense but one hopes that it will not permanently skew towards Moscow. The commonwealth is surrounded by hostile powers, maybe it should look for friends in Germany among the victors of the religious wars.
Kazimierz seems like an excellent heir, I look forward to seeing his progress.

You may be right about looking west for friends. The Commonwealth needs more of them!

I hope the Franco-Spanish union dissolves, but at least at the moment it is not hostile.
 

InvisibleBison

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So the Commonwealth is on the brink of two separate civil wars and surrounded by unfriendly to hostile powers. I sure hope Jogaila's talents are greater than his stats suggest.
 
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Nikolai

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Seems like dark days are ahead.
 
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Cromwell

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Just one province, a tad disappointing perhaps but even that against such a mighty opposition will cause the world to sit up and take note of Poland's power. It's a shame a war agaist the Muslims didn't do more to bring Polands differing denominations together.
 
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Great Mantis

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Excellent stuff!

I'm concerned the Commonwealth's military success might lead them to fight one enemy too many. They have only two real options - break bread with Catholic Bohemia, or go all in with Calvinist Hungary. Either will stir up religious divisions. I'm intrigued to see how the 'saturnine' Jogalia fares in all of this. I also hope Sweden redeem themselves as an ally but combined with their financial woes, I wouldn't hold my breath.
 
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Looks like there is a war with the Russians on the horizon.

Far more worryingly, there's also likely going to be a Polish-Lithuanian War - Poles vs. Lithuanians...

Nice job proving the Commonwealth's power, though.
 
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And the impending crisis gets put off for at least one more generation. I have a feeling that Kazimierz's reign is going to be remembered as the high point of the Lanckoronski era, though on the balance Jogaila probably isn't the worst successor one could have.

Muscovy looks like it's on the cusp of forming Russia -- I forget the exact requirements since I haven't played EU4 in a while, but it certainly looks like they can't be too far off. I can imagine they'll only get more formidable as time marches on, assuming they don't end up with their own "Time of Troubles" analogue in this timeline...
 
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Cora Giantkiller

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A successful reign as far as it goes, but one gets the impression that the Commonwealth can't put its great internal reckoning forever.
 
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generalis Julius Caesar

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Dark days seem to be ahead. You are besieged by Heretics to the East and West, Heathens to the South, a dangerous pirate republic to the North, and internal strife in the center. (Sorry about not commenting sooner. I missed one of the notifications and you all know what happens when that happens. :( )
 
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Part Fourteen: Jogaila II Lanckoronski & Zygmunt I August Lanckoronski

RossN

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King Jogaila II.jpg


Jogaila II Lanckoronski, King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania (r. 1602 to 1608)


Part Fourteen: Jogaila II Lanckoronski & Zygmunt I August Lanckoronski

The election Sejm of 1602 saw a paltry and grudging majority of the senators vote for Prince Jogaila. The old royal faction in Warsaw still had some power but the now numerous Lutheran and Calvinist Polish nobles bristled against the new monarch and only their inability to agree on a candidate between them prevented the Lanckronoski family from having to fight for their claim.

Jogaila Lanckoronski was already sixty, and a tall rather sombre man when he inherited his brother’s thrones and his reign would be brief yet significant. A reputation for malevolence has dogged Jogaila II throughout history. To Protestants and Reformed he has gone down in history as ‘Black Jogaila’ or ‘Bloody Jogaila’ or any one of a half dozen other epithets for his support of the Inquistion and his steps to roll back the movement against Rome. Even to Roman Catholics Jogaila’s reputation has been cloudy, due to his exceptionally poor relations with the Sejm and some historians even lay the blame for the wars and chaos that marked his son’s reign on Jogaila’s narrow shoulders.

In truth Jogaila II is the most shadowy of the Commonwealth’s monarchs, a half glimpsed figure between larger personalities. What is known is that he was religiously conservative and took a hard line on the question of faith, adopting the Counter Reformation. The Jesuits, a presence in Poland, Prussia and Lithuania enjoyed open favour under Jogaila and Lutheran and Calvinist courtiers found their presence unwelcome in Wilno. Still if the King’s faith was genuine and his antipathy to heresy sincere Jogaila was not conducting a war against his dissenting subjects, or foreigners for that matter. Lublin, the historic stronghold of Polish Protestantism remained intact, as did Warsaw, Gdańsk and even Kraków which had turned to the new faith during his reign. The Jesuits were far more of a presence in Gniezno and Lecyzca, places where the Lutherans and Calvinists had shallow roots, dominating via a circle of local merchants and other notables rather than popular acclaim. They did achieve surprising success in the German town of Słupsk. Half a century before the city had been a stronghold of Lutheranism but ironically the success of the Reformation in drawing away the fierier preachers to the larger and richer Prussian towns had emptied the once radical town and the Jesuits had found fertile ground for their words in a city now jealous of her neighbours.

Conversion of Slupsk.jpg


The Counter-Reformation was not without its successes in Seventeenth Century Poland.

The ‘Jogailan Persecutions’ tended to fall on dissenting clergy rather than on lay persons. Three bishops and at least three dozen priests faced trial for heresy and several of the most radical, who had called for the destruction of the Roman Church or were themselves involved in inciting mobs or attacking the character of the monarch suffered the death penalty. Others went into exile or were persuaded to recant. Polish translations of the Bible were banned (a law largely ignored in strongly Protestant cities and by members of the szlachta) and laws fining people for not attending Mass were introduced.

The Polish Counter-Reformation was not simply a matter of restrictions. The primary theologian of the Commonwealth was Cardinal Lukasz Kalinowski, the Archbishop of Poznan who became Chancellor of Poland in 1601. Cardinal Kalinowski was a reformer in the Roman rather than Calvinist sense, as much a foe of corruption and sloth in his own church as of heresy without it. This stern man of unrelenting dignity and honest if narrow views was the one who finally destroyed the old medieval atmosphere of Polish and Lithuanian Catholicism which had clung on in a changing world. The sale of indulgences was abandoned, the more lax clergy and monasteries sternly investigated and discipline enforced. Cardinal Kalinowski was far from the first ‘Cardinal Minister’ in Polish history, but his predecessors had been as much politicians as prelates, crimson clad princes of the Church. Cardinal Kalinowski had no interest in foreign affairs (it was said that the only places outside the Commonwealth he ever mentioned where Rome and Jerusalem) and little care for personal wealth. He was a great ally of King Jogaila and supported the monarch both because he was a man of traditional faith and because Jogaila’s bitterest enemies were Protestant or Reformed [1].

The King’s deep religious conservatism and his inability (or disinterest) in wooing disaffected members of the szlachta disguised some of his strengths in the eyes of both contemporaries and historians. The administration of the Commonwealth remained as capable as it was in his brother’s era – better indeed for Cardinal Kalinowski’s parallel efforts in the Church made many a diocese a model of efficiency. Jogaila could rely on overwhelmingly Catholic nobles of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania for support, many of whom feared, not without reason that their Polish counterparts had little regard for the Commonwealth east of the Bug.

Massalski Affair.jpg


The Massalski Affair of 1606 cost the King a minister, a friend and what goodwill he had.

Unfortunately for Jogaila his choice in friends did nothing to help him. The Royal Secretary, during his reign was Count Maksym Massalski, a childhood friend of the King, vocal partisan of the dynastic faction and widely disliked amongst the szlachta for his tireless work in pushing the powers of the Crown. In June 1606 it emerged that the royal favourite was an embezzler and some of the most powerful voices in the Sejm demanded his dismissal – or his head. Even Cardinal Kalinowski, the monarch’s right arm insisted the royal secretary be defenestrated from his post.

Count Massalski managed to keep his head but the King was forced to dismiss him and then exile him to the Imperial court at Prague. The affair tarnished Jogaila’s reputation even among his supporters and he seems to have won little favour for abandoning his friend.

Jogaila II died in Wilno on 31 August 1608. In six and a half years as King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania he had probably not had more than a day of happiness but this strange and gloomy man, the terror of Protestants and the difficult champion of Catholics had left a mark. The Sejm now turned to his eldest son, Crown Prince Zygmunt august.


Death of Jogaila.jpg


The death of Jogaila II on 31 August 1608 momentarily delayed the slide into war.


Crown Prince Zygmunt August, then thirty eight bore almost no resemblance to his father. While Jogaila was never known to smile Zygmunt was witty and laughed long and often. The prince, a glittering rake had less difficulty than his father in being elected for even the dissenting faction in the Sejm was charmed by him, and saw in him a more tolerant monarch. The dynastic faction on the other hand was only to relieved to back a Lanckoronski.

It proved a short honeymoon. King Zygmunt had a streak of cruelty to him that did little to endear him to those who got to know him better. Sordid tales of his shabby treatment of his mistresses and latter his wife circled around Wilno and it was well known that to be a favourite at Zygmunt’s court was to walk into a world of sly and malicious gossip, dark jokes and mind games. The proud and smiling rake had a shadowy side very different to that of Old Jogaila.

Zygmunt I.jpg


Zygmunt I August Lanckoronski, King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania.

And yet even had Zygmunt been the most benevolent and humble of kings it would not have changed the key problems of religion and state. Zygmunt was a Catholic King of a realm with a restless Protestant minority, content to maintain the laws of his father and he was pushing for royal authority against a stubborn and angry nobility.

The straw that broke the camel’s back was the affair of the Dambski family of Plock. The Dambskis were an old noble clan, distantly related to the Lanckoronskis, and more closely related to other prominent members of the szlachta such as the pro-dynastic Malskis and the pro-Sejm Sierakowskis. For generations members of the family had been representatives in the Sejm and traditionally they had been firmly in favour of noble privileges, always keen to reign in the dynastic faction. Ferdynand Dambski, the family patriarch during the reigns of Kazimierz IV and Jogaila II had held several high offices of state and had been one of the loudest calling for the fall of Maksym Massalski.

The Dambski family was largely Reformed, though they were relatively moderate on the religious question. This had allowed them to retain the respect of many magnates, even across ‘party lines’. Unfortunately respect did not buy bread and after a string of financial misfortunes including bad marriages, poor harvests and having to ransom a member of the family captured by the Ottomans during the war with Crimea the Dambskis found themselves in debt. In 1607 when the aged Ferdynand fell ill and was forced to retire to his estates at Plock the dire state of the family treasury could no longer avoided. One of the proudest noble families in Poland teetered on the edge of ruin.

King Kazimierz would likely have granted the Dambskis aid out of pragmatic reasoning. Jogaila would most likely not have, but that would have been the end of the matter. Zygmunt took pleasure in denying the noble family in public; his own pride and that of his family meant that these thorns in the Lanckoronski side be taught a lesson. The King not only snubbed the Damskis but actively toasted their creditors in Wilno. None of this was unconstitutional – the monarch was not personally involved in the Dambski debt at all – but it was an open insult to the szlachta.

Noble request aid.jpg


Zymunt's refusal to aid the Dambskis in September 1608 paved the way for the revolt of the
szlachta four years later.

From 1608 the existing cleave in Polish and Lithuanian society grew wider. On the one side stood the King and the dynastic faction, mostly Catholic and with the support of the Jesuits, the Church and most of the east. On the other stood a majority of the Polish nobles, disproportionately Protestant and Reformed but with a healthy mix of Catholic nobles whose loyalty to their peers and their own szlachta privileges trumped any religious quibbles. In between lay much of the country that was caught between a quarrel they had little part in – Jews, the townspeople, peasants – and who fervently wished the issue could be solved without war.

The Commonwealth constitution allowed for the szlachta a certain legal form of revolt against a monarch who had broken the Golden Liberty. The rokosz was a codified version of the sentiment shared by nobles across Europe that in extremis they had the right to defend themselves against monarchical tyranny but as with everything to do with the szlachta in Poland it was taken to a new level. Bogumil Dambski (Ferdynand’s eldest son) began organising a confederation against the King, aided by Count Miesko Sierakowski, the Court Marshal of the Crown (and a man married to an illegitimate daughter of Kazimierz IV, making him the cousin-in-law of the King) and many others.

Zygmunt was aware that war was coming, even if he was perhaps misinformed about the scale of support the anti-monarchist side had. The monarch saw the clash as inevitable, probably correctly given the long standing issues between Crown and Sejm. Pranckius Malski, the Crown Grand Hetman and the King’s most senior general had advocated for a foreign war, that traditional method of unifying the realm in times of stress. Malski wanted to attack the newly created Tsardom of Russia, the successor state to old Muscovy but Zygmunt overruled his general. If the Commonwealth was spiralling into civil war then best it happen now at a moment of peace than with the realm embroiled in foreign concerns.

The King set out his plan carefully. At the start of September 1612 trusted royalist officers were instructed to arrest the known noble conspirators, cutting off the head of the revolt before it happened. The legality of this was murky but Zygmunt felt that it could be justified after the event as with the leaders of the anti-monarchists silenced the dynastic faction would have ascendancy in the Sejm.

Unfortunately for the monarch the plan was betrayed by the mistress of one of his own court guards who had szlachta sympathies. Forewarned, only a handful of lesser plotters were taken and the others had long escaped. Nor had the King been the only one planning a first shot. Throughout that summer retainers and other partisans of the Dambskis and Sierakowskis had been readying themselves in and around Wilno. Weapons, ammunition, horses... all the readiness of an army. A similar if smaller build up took place at Plock led by Bogumil Dambski.

On 2 September 1612 the rebels formally issued their demands, calling on the King to abandon his efforts to control the Sejm, to abolish the Jesuits and re-introduce religious freedom. As expected the King refused and the Commonwealth slid into open civil war...

The Struggle for royal power.jpg


The beginning of the Polish-Lithuanian Civil War, September 1612.


Footnotes:

[1] There were Protestant and Reformed royalists (as in both supporters of the Lanckoronskis specifically and those who more generally supported a strong monarchy.) Even so the religious dissenters tended to be the harshest critics of the King.
 
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RossN

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And so we reach the 'Struggle for Royal Power' disaster one of if not the defining events for Poland (and the Commonwealth in the game.) Essentially whether the monarch or the nobles triumph the Commonwealth will be altered by the outcome. I've been both looking forward to and dreading this! :)

I usually stick to one post per reign (two when dealing with a very long and/or eventful reign) but Jogaila II was only around for six years and his son for four more before the Struggle for Royal power started so I decided to combine the two into one update. The civil War itself will really require a dedicated post.

~~~~~


So the Commonwealth is on the brink of two separate civil wars and surrounded by unfriendly to hostile powers. I sure hope Jogaila's talents are greater than his stats suggest.

Jogaila wasn't terrible but he did have the 'Malevolent' trait which made things difficult. His son has the 'Cruel' trait which makes things even trickier!

Seems like dark days are ahead.

Indeed, a proper civil war that will shake the Commonwealth to her foundations.

Just one province, a tad disappointing perhaps but even that against such a mighty opposition will cause the world to sit up and take note of Poland's power. It's a shame a war agaist the Muslims didn't do more to bring Polands differing denominations together.

I think that in the circumstances there was going to be domestic turmoil sooner or later. There was only so long the can can be kicked down the road.

Excellent stuff!

I'm concerned the Commonwealth's military success might lead them to fight one enemy too many. They have only two real options - break bread with Catholic Bohemia, or go all in with Calvinist Hungary. Either will stir up religious divisions. I'm intrigued to see how the 'saturnine' Jogalia fares in all of this. I also hope Sweden redeem themselves as an ally but combined with their financial woes, I wouldn't hold my breath.

Hungary is now very feeble having been eaten alive by Bohemia during the Imperial religious wars. Unfortunately there are few obvious 'good' choices for an ally beyond trying to woo an old rival.

Looks like there is a war with the Russians on the horizon.

Far more worryingly, there's also likely going to be a Polish-Lithuanian War - Poles vs. Lithuanians...

Nice job proving the Commonwealth's power, though.

We're at the Polish-Lithuanian War stage now, and yes the Commonwealth (in whatever form it exists after this war) will still have to face Russia. Exciting times!

And the impending crisis gets put off for at least one more generation. I have a feeling that Kazimierz's reign is going to be remembered as the high point of the Lanckoronski era, though on the balance Jogaila probably isn't the worst successor one could have.

Muscovy looks like it's on the cusp of forming Russia -- I forget the exact requirements since I haven't played EU4 in a while, but it certainly looks like they can't be too far off. I can imagine they'll only get more formidable as time marches on, assuming they don't end up with their own "Time of Troubles" analogue in this timeline...

Muscovy has officially formed Russia (I'll go into the international situation soon after the Civil War.)

And this may well be Poland-Lithuania's version of the Time of Troubles! :eek:

A successful reign as far as it goes, but one gets the impression that the Commonwealth can't put its great internal reckoning forever.

That is a very good way of putting it!

Dark days seem to be ahead. You are besieged by Heretics to the East and West, Heathens to the South, a dangerous pirate republic to the North, and internal strife in the center. (Sorry about not commenting sooner. I missed one of the notifications and you all know what happens when that happens. :( )

Glad to see you back! :)

And yeah, dark days is the best way of putting it!
 

Cromwell

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In some ways maybe it is better to get this out of the way earlier rather than later. If the Commonwealth is to have any truly long term stability the sejm will have to be put in it's proper place once and for all.
 
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eoncommander

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I hope Zygmunt can put the Sejm in its place... and maybe acquire some ability to compromise while he's at it. Unfortunately, the former is likely to preclude the latter.
 
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Maximus101

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This was a long time coming (narratively and gameplay wise of course) and though historically having the confused mix of powers stagnated the Commonwealth, Zygmunt's cruelty and trying to provoke things really makes the case that there should be a check on the royal power.

Of course, I have a feeling he'll live up to the 'August' part of his name and emerge victorious from the ashes. Though it would be wonderfully ironic if after asserting royal power that the Lanckoronskis lost power. (Maybe I am reading foreshadowing into Miesko Sierakowski's royal relationship where there is none.)

Great read, thank you.
 
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Nikolai

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And so it begins. May the best royalty win.
 
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