Saturday, 17 August 2013

The "Saviour of Vienna and Western European civilization."

John III Sobieski (Polish: Jan III Sobieski, Lithuanian: Jonas Sobieskis; 17 August 1629 – 17 June 1696) was one of the most notable monarchs of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, from 1674 until his death King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania. Sobieski's 22-year-reign was marked by a period of the Commonwealth's stabilization, much needed after the turmoil of the Deluge and Khmelnytsky Uprising.Popular among his subjects, he was an able military commander. Following his victories over the Ottoman Empire, he was called by the Turks the "Lion of Lechistan" and held as the saviour of European Christendom by the pope.

Sobieski's greatest success came in 1683 with his victory at the Battle of Vienna, in joint command of Polish, Austrian and German troops, against the invading Turks under Kara Mustafa. Upon reaching Vienna, Sobieski's army of about 81,000 men attacked a Turkish force of about 130,000 men on 12 September 1683. At about five o'clock in the afternoon, after observing the infantry battle from the hilltop, Sobieski led Polish husaria cavalry along with Austrians and Germans into a massive charge down the hillside. Soon, the Turkish battle line was broken and the Ottoman forces scattered in confusion. At 17:30 Sobieski entered the deserted tent of Kara Mustafa and the battle of Vienna ended.

The Pope and other foreign dignitaries hailed Sobieski as the "Savior of Vienna and Western European civilization."

King John III Sobieski died in Wilanów, Poland on 17 June 1696. His wife, Maria Kasimira, died in 1716 in Blois, France, and her body was returned to Poland. They are interred together in Wawel Cathedral, Kraków, Poland.

King John III was succeeded by Augustus II who stayed in power primarily because of Russian support. On his death in 1733, a struggle for the crown of Poland ensued, referred to as the War of the Polish Succession.

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