On Moscow!

On Moscow ... These two words reflect the state of mind of many generations of Poles living throughout history. There were times when it was just a dream, a dream and a memory of the bygone glory. But there were times when these words expressed specific political and military goals. Sometimes, these two words "became flesh" and our ancestors realised the mythical desire for governments in the East and access to the riches of Siberia ... In our consciousness, choking on martyrdom, only Napoleon's expedition in 1812 is known, where we were "only" an ally of the French and always in the context of missed opportunities and the fall of the Duchy of Warsaw.In recent years, paradoxically mainly thanks to the Russians themselves, the occupation of the Kremlin by the Polish army in the 17th century has become quite well known. The aim of my article is to familiarise readers with the great and glorious events of our common Polish-Lithuanian history, closely related to Moscow over the centuries - from the 14 to the 20th. The beginnings of Moscow date back to 1147. The process of establishing the Grand Duchy of Moscow began in the mid-thirteenth century and in 1326 the city became the religious capital of Russia when Metropolitan Peter moved his seat there. It was in these years that the process of "gathering Ruthenian lands", i.e. a very active policy of the Muscovite princes, whose aim was to subjugate further areas inhabited by the Eastern Slavs, began. It became the source of many centuries of conflicts, first with Lithuania, then with the entire Republic of Poland. In those fights, contrary to popular opinion, promoted by the invaders and the Polish People's Republic, Poland was often the overwhelming and victorious party.

Lithuanian expeditions

I will start our journey through the ages in an unusual way - with Lithuanian expeditions in the 14th century. Although Lithuania during the period in question was not part of the political, social and cultural creation with which we used to intertwine our common fates, it would be appropriate to start here, if only because of the person of Jagiełło - son of Olgierd, the hero of the first part of our journey . In the second half of the 14th century, Gediminas' son, Olgierd, undertook a series of expeditions to Moscow to support his brother-in-law, Michał II of Tver. The sieges of 1368 and 1370, although not ended with the capture of the city, brought political success. Of course, as it happens in the case of sieges, the city got "slightly" singed ... The expedition and the siege in 1372 ended in failure and the Lithuanian prince abandoned his plans to take over the enemy's capital. Despite the final defeat, the Lithuanian army showed they should be taken into account. These troops significantly increased the military potential of the Jagiellonian Monarchy - thanks to them, the Victory of Grunwald was made possible.

Stefan Batory's expeditions

Let's move to the 16th century, the period of the expeditions of the King of the Republic of Poland, Stefan Batory, to the Grand Duchy of Moscow. But to start "ab ovo" - in 1563 the Moscow Grand Duke Ivan IV the Terrible, a self-proclaimed tsar, conquered the Lithuanian fortress of Połack, during the First Northern War in 1558-1570. Although the truce was signed in 1570, every good "state affairs specialist" was aware of its fragility - hence it was called "the straw truce", which, as it turned out, was burned in the fire of the aggressive policy of the Duke Terrible. In 1577, the Muscovites attacked and captured a number of fortresses in Livonia. Stefan Batory could not answer on account of being involved in a war with Gdańsk (the battle of Lubieszów 1577). The year 1578 was spent on war preparations. The year 1579 came. At first, Batory planned to attack Smolensk and Moscow - or so he confided to the papal nuncio Vincento Laureo. The king knew, however, that the war would last for several years - so he could not choose such a great goal at once - in case of defeat the nobility would not pass taxes for further war. Furthermore, he had to keep in mind the purpose of the war - Livonia. And so, during the great expedition, Polotsk was recaptured in August 1579. In 1580, Poles took Wielkie Łuki and won the Battle of Toropiec. In 1581, the concept of an attack on Smolensk and Moscow appeared again (the area was well recognised thanks to Filon Kmita's expeditions a year earlier). However, it was decided to attack Pskov - so as to completely cut off Livonia from Ivan IV the Terrible. However, most likely a mistake was made here - Pskov at that time was a fortress with much stronger walls than Smolensk - today the city owes its gigantic walls to Boris Godunov and reconstruction at the turn of the 16th / 17th centuries. In addition, an attack and the possible capture of this fortress would provoke our enemies to a general battle in the field - and here it can be assumed with a high degree of probability that our ancestors would wipe out the Muscovites from the face of the earth. In any case, Batory went to Psków and although he did not get it, (thanks to the famous band of Krzysztof Radziwiłł "Piorun", which reached Starica, where the tsar was residing), the war ended with the victory of the Polish-Lithuanian truce in Jam Zapolski (actually in Kierowa Góra). Our unloved, eastern brother had to return all Livonia and Połack to us. We won this round.

During the reign of Sigismund III Vasa ...

After the military accent, the time had come for something now considered to be "political correct" - a peaceful offer of the union between the Republic of Poland and the Grand Duchy of Moscow. The new Polish king, Sigismund III Vasa, after having lost the Swedish crown, decided to use the JM as a kind of a "springboard" to Sweden. In 1600 a great mission, led by the royal supporter, the Grand Chancellor of Lithuania, Lev Sapieha, set off to Moscow, carrying the project of a union of the two countries. It was based primarily on ensuring the future succession of a single ruler in both countries. In the event that Godunow died first, Sigismund was to become the tsar, if Vaza died first, the Tsar's candidacy was to be right behind the Polish princes during the election. This movement was extremely far-sighted - our ruler was still relatively young and traditionally our kings lived their days in peace. However, the customs beyond our eastern border were well understood - if not poison, then a dagger ... That is why we were in a more favorable position. Further, both countries were to maintain their integrity, a joint treasure was to be establish in Kiev to fight the Tatars. The Catholic religion in the GDM and the Orthodox religion in the Commonwealth was guaranteed tolerance. Finally, freedom of travel and settlement was guaranteed for the subjects of both the countries (Schengen, for God’s love!). This wonderful and far-sighted project was rejected by the Muscovites, the only thing they managed to achieve was an extension of the truce. But soon Poles were to "claim theirs" ...
At the beginning of the 17th century, there was a "Time of Troubles" in the GDM - a period of turmoil, political chaos, peasant uprisings and a general crisis of the state system. This period was used, one might say "fully", by the Republic of Poland - first by the hands of the mighty, and later also by the direct involvement of the military forces of our homeland. The pretext for getting involved in the Moscow "brawl" was the arrival at the Wiśniowieckis’ court of an individual claiming to be the deceased son of Ivan IV the Terrible - Dmitri (the thesis about the murder on behalf of Godunov seems very likely) in 1603. He received the support of the Jesuits and King Zygmunt III, and Jerzy Mniszech, the voivode of Sandomierz even gave him the hand of his daughter. People supporting the pretender knew about the situation in Russia - the famine (apparently at fairs thre were sold dumplings with finely chopped baby meat) polarized Moscow society - there was a large anti-Godunov opposition. The state was waiting for the appearance of the "savior". There was a lot to gain from the turmoil beyond our eastern border.

In 1604, Dmitri, surrounded by Polish troops (including hussars) and volunteer Cossack groups, set off "for his patrimony". The cities surrendered one by one. On December 31, 1604, a great battle took place. 15,000 Dmitri's troops clashed with 45,000 of Godunov's troops. Although the strictly Polish forces constituted only 33% of the Samozwaniec's forces, they resolved the clash in favor of the "good ones", i.e. ours. Unfortunately for our hero, most of the unpaid and offended Polish troops left service after this battle, which resulted in a defeat on January 31, 1605 near Dobrynicze. However, fate (?) Had other plans - in April Boris Godunov died (although a natural Heath is quite implausible). Soon his son followed suit. On June 30, 1605, Dimitri, together with the "Polish Guard", entered Moscow, and on July 31 he was crowned. The new tsar surrounded himself with Poles and was "Polish" in behaviour - he did not murder his political opponents. Thet caused a conspiracy of the Szujski boyars who decided, in accordance with a centuries-old tradition, to help the tsar free himself from earthly worries. The occasion was the great wedding ceremony of the tsar and Maryna Mniszchówna in May 1606, which was attended by many guests from Poland. On May 27, Samozwaniec was killed and 500 Poles were murdered with him. The tsar's corpse was burned and fired from the cannon to the west. Wasyl Szujski became the new ruler. This is how the first Polish presence in the Kremlin ended (June 30, 1605 - May 27, 1606). However, our ancestors "did not let go" ... Depending on the aspirations of individual boyars, new "self-proclaimed people" began to appear. The most important for our story is the individual later known as False Dimitri II who appeared in 1607 in Staroduba. And although he was "of crude and ugly manners" and did not resemble his predecessor in any way, he gained the support of voivode Mniszch and other magnates - Jan Wiśniowiecki, Roman Różyński and Piotr Sapieha. Possessing an excellent Polish army, commanded by eminent Polish leaders, he set off for Moscow. In 1608, the Russians were defeated at Bołchów and Chodynka. The road to the capital was open.

On June 24, 1608, the Poles again approached the capital of Russia and settled in a camp near Tuszyn. Unfortunately, Dimitri II did not order an attack, waiting for the residents to open the gates themselves. They didn't. The blockade of the city began, which lasted until March 1610, ended, unfortunately, with failure (despite the victory at Rachmancewo).
It is believed that the assault in 1608 had every chance of success, but the opportunity to seize the castle was lost. But "what is delayed will not run away". In anticipation of the facts, let’s mention what happened next. Growing pressure from the Russian army and the actions of the Commonwealth led to the departure of Poles from the service of "Szalbierz", and he himself fled in 1610 to Kaluga, where he was murdered by prince Urus. This is how his story ended, but our Polish adventure continued. Russia, struggling with internal problems, turned to Sweden for military assistance. In February 1609, an alliance with an eminently anti-Polish edge was concluded in Vyborg. This was the direct reason for King Sigismund III's decision to intervene in the East. Of course, our ruler had another goal - he wanted to use our neighbour to regain the Swedish crown. Despite resistance from some advisers and the passivity of the dietines, on September 21, 1609, Sigismund III together with the army crossed the border river Ivara and headed for Smolensk. Polish troops were not prepared for the siege of such a huge fortress (walls 6 meters wide and 10-12 meters high and 6.5 km long with 38 towers!) got stuck near the city. In February 1610, a group of boyars reluctant to the tsar offered Prince Władysław a Monomakh’s hat. King Zygmunt III did not want to agree to this solution, among others because of fear for the life of the minor heir to the throne, who could leave this world prematurely, which seems to be justified if we take into account the customs prevailing in the Kremlin. Moreover, the new tsar would have to convert to Orthodoxy. In any case, the siege of Smolensk continued. Meanwhile, thanks to the help of mercenaries from northern and western Europe, Wasyl Szujski managed to push Szalbierz on the defensive and unblock the besieged Moscow. Some of Dmitri's Polish allies left him and set up camps in various parts of the country. The Tsar decided to send his brother, Dmitri Szujski, to the relief of the besieged Smolensk. The great army, consisting of well-equipped and trained Russian troops, armed peasants and mercenaries concentrated near Możajsk. The morale was good, the soldiers were overwhelmed by their victories over the Usurper. Concentration was covered by the fortified unit of Grigory Wołuyev near Tsarovy Zaymishche. After long debates and behind-the-scenes games in the Polish command, Zygmunt III decided to send Stanisław Żółkiewski, the field hetman, with a small but chiefly composed of the best cavalry in the world - hussars army, to meet the Muscovites. On June 24, the battle of Tsarov Zaymishch was victorious for us and the Russian forces were closed in a little fortified castle. The Poles camped between the castle and Możajsk. Meanwhile, the Polish commander managed to convince some of the former allies of Samozwaniec under the command of Zborowski to co-operate which significantly increased the hetman's forces. Dymitr Szujski decided to take the forces of the Republic into clamps and destroy them. The Moscow army set off for its destiny and on July 3, 1610, they spread 6 kilometers from Kłuszyn near the villages of Pirniewo and Prechistoye. In the evening of July 3, Żółkiewski made a maneuver unnoticed by Voluyev's troops and, leaving his small forces around enemy positions, departed north towards Shujski. The troops of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth set off on a night march towards Kłuszyn, where the fate of both countries was to be decided, and the very name of Kłuszyn was to enter the annals of history forever.

On July 4, 1610, the 5 times larger allied army was defeated during the 5-hour battle, and the Russian commander, Dymitr Szujski, escaped. Due to the enormous numerical superiority of the enemy, some of the hussars' banners charged 10 times. Thanks to the dedication of knighthood and the commanding skill of the hetman, the Polish army gained eternal glory. Żółkiewski returned to Tsarovo Zajmiszcze right after the clash, where after showing the Moscow prisoners of war, Voluyev capitulated. Then, together with the accompanying boyars, he signed an agreement to recognize Władysław as tsar. The Poles went to Moscow. Meanwhile, the Second False DImitri has joined the fight for Monomach's hat again. On July 27, a group of boyars forced Tsar Szujski to abdicate ("get a monk’s haircut"). Boyars started talks with Żółkiewski, who was located close to the capital near the Usurper’s position. Finally, on August 27, 1610, the boyars signed an agreement with the Polish leader to recognise Prince Władysław as the Tsar of Russia with his simultaneous conversion to Orthodoxy. The next points were, among others the end of the still ongoing siege of Smolensk (the hetman decided that this topic would "die itself" in the future) and the help of Żółkiewski's troops in the expulsion of the Usurper from Moscow. Despite the failure of the plan to capture Szalbierz who fled to Kaluga, leaving his army behind, he was murdered in December 1610 by Prince Urusov and left history forever.

Poles in the Kremlin

Eventually, at the request of the pro-Polish party of boyars, Polish troops entered Moscow (the second Polish presence in the Kremlin - September 29, 1610 - November 7, 1612). The Poles began their police service in the Russian capital. The overriding goal was to "hold" the city until the arrival of Tsar Władysław. Żółkiewski left the city to visit King Sigismund III and appointed Aleksander Gosiewski as the commander. However, the Moscow Patriarch Hermogenes was constantly "furious" with Poles. In addition, the king of Poland did not intend to end the siege of Smolensk. From mid-March 1611, the so-called the first mass mobilisation under the command of Lapunov, Trubecki and Zarudzki. On March 29, riots began in Moscow over the news of the Russians approaching. Polish troops started the slaughter of rebelling townspeople (it is believed that about 7,000 people died). Unfortunately, the tough resistance of the Moscow masses forced Gosiewski's troops to withdraw to the Kremlin. On March 30, Poles set fire to Moscow. About 8,000 people died in the flames not ta king into account the ones who later died of starvation. Nevertheless, Moscow's blockade has tightened. On June 13, 1611, Smolensk fell. What is more, thanks to Gosiewski's intrigues, the 1st mass mobilisation split - Lapunov was murdered and some Moscow troops went home. Additionally, Sapieha's troops broke through to the Kremlin. On October 29, at the triumphant Seym, a wonderful scene took place - among the cheering crowds, Hetman Stanisław Żółkiewski led a delicious retinue and two distinguished prisoners - Tsar Wasyl Szujski and his brother Dmitri (the unfortunate commander from Kłuszyn).

Next Vasyl and his brothers crawled on their knees and beat their foreheads with great humility before the royal majesty, asking for mercy. The king ordered the prisoners to get up and, as a sign of grace, gave a kiss and the Crown Chancellor Feliks Kryski gave a long speech in which he praised Żółkiewski for the hardships of the war. Unfortunately, "the limit of happiness" of the Republic of Poland has run out. Sapieha died suddenly, and in Nizhny Novgorod the 2nd mass uprising, way better organised than the first one, under the leadership of Kuzma Minin and Dmitri Pozharsky began to form and in addition the decision to set Moscow on fire started to "take revenge" - the garrison lacked food. The Poles and the Lithuanians were pushed on the defensive amid the constant assaults by Moscow. The situation was not improved much by the repeated food supply from the troops of Chodkiewicz, the winner from Kircholm. Unfortunately, this did not stop some of the garrison's troops from leaving the city on January 27. Unpaid troops formed a confederation and headed for the Polish border. Somehow "in return" part of Chodkiewicz's army entered the Kremlin and he himself set out with the rest of the knights to get provisions. The next few months were spent on the desperate defense of the Kremlin and Kitaygrod, during which there was a change at the highest level of command - Gosiewski was replaced by Struś. In August 1612, the 2nd mass mobilisation reached Moscow, which made the situation dire. The unsuccessful relief of the great Lithuanian hetman Karol Chodkiewicz on September 1-3 ("he was" stuck "in the masses of Moscow troops - it was mere 1,800 meters away from the Kremlin), as it were, sealed the fate of the garrison. Incidentally, it is possible to mention the extremely unfavorable conditions we had to fight - a city full of ditches, barricades and trenches, the ruins of a burned-out Moscow were not conducive to cavalry - nevertheless, the hussars "were sweeping" the Russians wherever they could. But our troops were "stuck" ... There was an indescribable hunger: first horses, birds, dogs, cats and rats were eaten, then candles and books; jackets ... Finally, our people began to eat human corpses and prisoners. But that was not the worst - cannibal murders finally began - gangs of cannibals raved around the Kremlin and Kitajgród at night. "The infantry ate among themselves", "Truszkowski, infantry lieutenant, ate his two sons", "the master of the servant, the servant of the master was not safe" ... Kitaygrod (the last defense point outside the Kremlin) fell on November 1 - the starving defenders were unable to fight. Ultimately, on November 7, 1612, the Polish garrison of the Kremlin capitulated with the security guaranteed by the Muscovites. Of course, in line with the centuries-old tradition of not keeping their word, the Muscovites brutally murdered most of the defenseless Polish knights. Some of the prisoners were murdered a few months later. Only a few Poles survived until the exchange of prisoners in 1619. The history of the "besieges" showed how much dedication and sense of duty towards the homeland showed the Poles who defended Moscow and the rights of Prince Władysław to the Monomach’s cap. King Zygmunt III's relief was not on time. The Council of the Land in 1613 appointed the tsar Mikhail Romanov.

A truce in Dywilin.

After a period of relative calm, during the Seym in 1616, the Commonwealth decided to go to Russia once more to end the war victoriously and, if possible, to regain the tsar’s throne for Prince Władysław. Despite the fact that throughout the period of 1616-1619 our homeland was in an unfavourable political situation (conflict with Sweden and the Tatar invasions), it managed to organise troops and move East. Problems on other fronts and disagreements in the command delayed the expedition; it was not until September 27, 1617 that the prince reached Smolensk.

The actual commander was Jan Karol Chodkiewicz. The first success was the seizure of Dorogobuzh. Of course, from the very beginning, the Polish commissioners wanted to establish talks with the Muscovites who did everything they could to elongate the matters and prevent an agreement. Then Władysław took Vyazma. Unfortunately, the deteriorating weather conditions, the numerical weakness of the Polish army and the unsuccessful attempt to seize Możajsk resulted in a break in hostilities. In the spring, activities began. 20,000 Cossacks were able to give help and they started marching towards Moscow. On July 9, 1618, the greatest battle of this campaign was fought near Borisov - the Muscovites were defeated. Anyway, the whole expedition was characterised by the fact the Russians generally did not fight in the field, but defended the fortresses. On July 15 and 22, we won another battles. Nevertheless, the siege of Możajsk did not bring hope. The complicated international situation and the stubbornness of the Muscovites finally tipped the scales - Chodkiewicz and Prince Władysław decided to go straight to the hostile capital - Moscow. In October, it reached Tuszyn, where on the 8th of this month an official meeting with the commander of the Cossack troops, Hetman Sahajdaczny, took place. The combined force numbered about 25,000 people. It was decided to take the city by storm by blowing up two gates - Arbacka and Tver. The attack began on the night of October 10-11, 1618. Unfortunately, despite Bartłomiej Nowodworski's dedication (his biography would be enough for several adventure films - fighting the Tatars, then participation in religious wars in France, then as a Maltese cavalier he fought the Turks and finally the Muscovites (he contributed to the capture of Smolensk!}), lost his arm and the remaining sol dier - the assault failed. The reason was the betrayal of two miners - the Germans. They deserted the Polish army and informed the enemy about their plans, which allowed to additionally fortify those points of resistance.

But every cloud has got a silver lining. The assault made such an impression that the Muscovites became more willing to talk. This is another proof that the best way to talk to our Eastern Slavic brother is from the perspective of strength. But as it turned out, even now the Tsar's envoys prolonged the talks and made difficulties. The Poles decided to make one more manifestation of strength - they went to the Troicko-Siergijewski monastery, north-east of the capital, towards more fertile areas. Moreover, the units of Lisowczyks and Cossacks undertook terrorist activity all the time, leaving only "heaven and earth".
Terror ensued in Moscow and riots began. Finally, on December 11, 1618, a truce was signed in Dywilin for 14.5 years, which entered into force on January 3, 1619. The Commonwealth regained the land of Smolensk, Chernihiv and Siewier, and Władysław retained the title of tsar. It was a great success achieved at a relatively low cost (the expedition cost less than 2 million Polish zloty). There was a calm of sorts, so necessary with the impending confrontation with the Ottoman Empire.
Another opportunity for the trip to Moscow was procured as usual by the Russians. In 1632, after the death of King Zygmunt III, the Russian army under the command of Michał Szein (former defender of the city in 1609-1611) attacked Smolensk and nearby castles, breaking the Divine truce (absolutely confirming our ancestors' opinion of the infidelity of the Moscow people). Thanks to the help of Krzysztof Radziwiłł, who broke through with reinforcements, the city did not collapse.



During the reign of Władysław IV ... - Peace in Polanów

In August 1633, the new king of the Commonwealth, Władysław IV, arrived. Thanks to an interesting maneuver, he informed the city about the succour - a brave soldier dressed as a bush (!) sneaked through the Russian camp, and then returned to the royal camp. Thanks to the excellent attitude of the Polish soldier and allied Zaporozhian Cossacks it was possible to put Shein in a siege. The period of the "mole war" followed, during which the latest achievements of field and siege fortifications were used. Although the role of cavalry was minor here, the hussars had several occasions to show their primacy on the battlefield. Despite the heroic defense, in January 1634 the Russian leader capitulated to Władysław IV. It should be mentioned under what conditions this campaign took place - in 1633 hetman Stanisław Koniecpolski had to fight the outpost of the great Turkish invasion. Fortunately, the victories at Sasowy Rog (July) and Kamieniec Podolski (October) and the concentration of the Polish army (30,000) scared the Turks away and forced them to return to Constantinople. After defeating Shein the decision was made to march on Moscow. Unfortunately, the Polish army got stuck at the Biała Fortress. Moreover, financial and weather problems prompted the king to start negotiations. All the more so as Władysław IV sought an anti-Swedish alliance with the Grand Duchy of Moscow. Finally, on May 27, "eternal" peace was concluded in Polanów, which confirmed the provisions of the truce in Dywilinie, only Michał Romanov bought from our king a diploma of election to the tsar for 200,000. rubles (which was not issued anyway, because it "got lost" in our archives). The victory was ours.

The last expedition to Moscow of the First Republic

The last expedition to Moscow in the First Republic took place at the turn of 1663 and 1664, which was related to the ongoing Polish-Russian war in 1654-1667. After the "Deluge" period, the Polish-Lithuanian state began to rise from its knees. The 1660 campaign (the so-called Happy Year) brought a series of victories over the "eastern invader": Międzyrzecz, Połonka, Lubar, Cudnów, Słobodyszcze, and the undecided Basia. All these battles showed a clear advantage of the Polish-Lithuanian army over the enemy. Moreover, in 1661 Vilnius was regained and the tsar’s army was defeated at Kuczliki. Victory seemed imminent. Unfortunately, the state plunged into the chaos of military confederations (debts to the knights reached up to 1653!).

Fortunately, Russia also faced serious internal problems. Finally, in 1663, after the internal affairs had been sorted out, King Jan Kazimierz decided to strike directly at the capital of the tsars and end the war victorious (although it must be admitted that the expedition also had a second bottom - the king planned, returning at the head of the victorious army, to make a coup d'état and imprison for his of life on the Polish throne by the French candidate "vivente rege"). Despite problems with discipline, a huge army (estimated together with allies at over 50,000) under the command of the king and excellent leaders - Jan Sobieski and Stefan Czarniecki - moved east at the end of 1663. The Russians, however, remembering the defeats suffered by Polish hands, generally did not accept field battles (although Michał Pac managed to drive out Boriatyn's army from the fields near Bryansk) and used the tactic of persistent defence of the fortresses, drawing the forces of the Republic of Poland more and more deep into their gigantic territory.

Finally the Russian forces confined themselves in Voroniec (March 1664). Problems with supplies, the "Russian spring", i.e. the transformation of large swaths of the country into a quagmire, and information about another uprising in Zadnieper (Cossack ataman Ivan Bohun was shot for conspiracy with Moscow voivodes) and, above all, the lack of political will of Jan Kazimierz contributed to the decision to turn back to Poland, despite the fact that the troops of Bidziński and Połubiński went right under Moscow. Although the expedition to the enemy's capital was unsuccessful, it showed prevail of the Republic in this war. Unfortunately, Lubomirski's rebellion, resulting in part from the court's fault, lost us the chances of winning the war. For this reason, the truce in Andruszów (1667) was not favorable for our homeland. We had to wait 148 years for the next trip to the east.

Napoleon's Expedition

In 1812, the Polish army left for Moscow as Napoleon's ally. The troops of the Duchy of Warsaw, Legia Nadwiślańska, cavalry of the guard, Lithuanian troops totaled about 100,000 soldiers, which constituted 1/6 of the Grand Army (300,000 French, 100,000 Poles, the rest are more or less "usually less" faithful allies of Napoleon) . On June 24, 1812, Napoleon's army crossed the Nemunas and Bonaparte announced the beginning of the "Second Polish War". On September 7, the great battle of Borodino (Możajsk) takes place, as a result of which Napoleon enters unguarded  Moscow on September 14, 1812. The first regiment of "golden huzars" by Jan Umiński entered the city. However, the war was not over. Muscovites set fire to the city, destroying all supplies, and their troops began to tighten their positions around Moscow.

Finally, on October 19, 1812, the retreat begins. Amid the constantly deteriorating weather conditions, in the face of constant attacks by the Russians, the Grand Army was "melting in the eyes". Moreover, the French abandoned their cannons in order to be able to use the sled horses to transport 20,000 loot carts. The retreat was a disaster. Thanks to the brave attitude of Polish and French sappers, Napoleon managed to withdraw some of the troops through Berezina. As a result of the 1812 campaign, the French army ceased to exist. 30,000 of our soldiers returned from Russia (they were the only ones to return with artillery). Bonaparte "held" Moscow for 35 days. It should be noted it was not the capital of the Russian Empire at the time (it was Saint Petersburg). Compared to more than 25 months of our presence in 1610-1612, this is not an impressive feat, although one should bear in mind a completely different political, social, economic and military situation which occurred in 1812 in relation to 1612. A curiosity should be mentioned here - on the wave of patriotic rapture after repelling Napoleon, the famous monument of Kuzma Minin and Dmitri Pozharsky was erected in Moscow - another proof of how deeply the 2-year occupation of the Kremlin by the Polish-Lithuanian army penetrated into the consciousness of Muscovites.

1919 - "I beat the Bolsheviks where I want and when I want"

We will end our journey throughout the ages in 1919. The Polish-Bolshevik war is in full swing. On June 28, the Treaty of Versailles is signed, ending the First World War. This allowed Józef Piłsudski, who freed himself of the fear of a war with Germany, to intensify his activities in the east. The Polish offensive (especially after the victorious end of the Polish-Ukrainian war "July 17") was to move the borders as far as possible, at a time when the Polish border ended where the Polish soldier stood. Thanks to the fact that in August 1919 the Blue Haller's Army was included in the army and the Greater Poland units, the state of the Polish Army reached half a million people. Piłsudski walked from victory to victory - Minsk was conquered on August 8, and Bobruisk on August 29. Kremenets and Zbarazh also got conquered. The soldiers brought up on the Trilogy went into battle with the thought that they were continuing the tradition of Sienkiewicz's heroes from Kresy. In the course of subsequent fights, the Russians were driven out for the Dvina and Berezina. It was then the commander was supposed to say, "I beat the Bolsheviks where and when I want." He would repeat this maxim again in October 1920. Meanwhile, the troops of "white" Anton Denikin were approaching Moscow.

A mortal danger hung over the Revolution. And here the "whites" made the biggest mistake that was key to their final defeat. During the talks with Poles, they did not recognize Poland's independence and saw it only as a part of the future Russian Empire. Józef Piłsudski had to make a decision - whether to help the Bolsheviks, who do not have any support from the West, and in the event of further struggle, Poles could count on international support or take the side of "whites" who, having the support of the West, will not give up "Poland. The Supreme Commander Józef Piłsudski made the only right decision in this situation. In October 1919, he stopped the triumphant troops from further advancing east. The Bolsheviks freed in the west could transfer their troops to Moscow, where they defeated the "whites" and saved the Revolution ... And so a historical paradox arose - for Poland to survive, it was necessary to save Moscow ... And by the way - could Piłsudski have captured Moscow? This seems doubtful, especially considering the logistic challenges. But the march itself could have taken place. And this allows us to include the "Resurrector of the Nation" among the most outstanding figures in our history (not to mention saving Europe from communists in 1920). In this short journey through the ages, I wanted to prove that our history is not a series of calamities and deaths. There are long centuries of glory in it (and the glory itself was especially accumulated at the turn of the 16 and 17th centuries), when our neighbours trembled at the very sound of the "hussar's wings". The expeditions to Moscow are the best example. Our ancestors could die beautifully - that's a fact. But they were able to take the lives of the enemies of the Motherland even more beautifully. It should also not be forgotten that Poles were "Moscow residents" 3 times - 1606-1607, 1610-1612, 1812. Moreover, we are the only nation that has captured the Russian capital (Moscow was not one in 1812). In my personal opinion, one should not forget the sad and tragic events of our history, which have become part of the canon of national martyrdom. First of all, for the sake of the heroes who did not make it ... But the focus should be on those who did, on the glorious events of which we have plenty in our history. They rightly raise the national pride and self-esteem of people, and also allow us to look with faith into the future, the future of which the ancestors, the invincible heroes of the past, watched over. One has to be proud of his past to be able to build a happy future.



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