The defense of the sanctuary at Jasna Gora near Czestochowa.
The Swedish Deluge
Jasna Gorna,1655

The extent of foreign occupation during the Swedish Deluge

Our Lady of Czestochowa aka the Black Madonna

Stefan Czarniecki

Deeply involved in military matters with Czarist Russia and Cossak and Ruthenian dissidents, the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth never saw the attack coming. On 25 July 1655, Swedish troops suddenly invaded Poland. Poznan and Wielkopolska surrendered without resistance and Swedish troops marched unopposed into Warsaw in August 1655. As the Polish armies in the east tried to disengage themselves and march westward to form a defense, the Czarist armies quickly overran the eastern territories. As if in a territorial feeding-frenzy, Brandenburg-Prussia and Transylvania soon joined in the all out assault. The situation looked utterly bleak. A miracle was desperately needed.

The miracle is attributed to the "Black Madonna" at the shrine near Czestochowa. Mary is considered by Poles to be the "Queen of Poland" who chose her throne at Jasna Gora. Grand Prior Augustyn Kordecki and the Pauline Fathers refused to allow Swedish troops and their German mercaneries to enter, loot, and desecrate their sanctuary/fortress. Thus begins the saga of 70 fighting monks and 80 local volunteers who endured the legendary siege of 3200 Swedish and German troops from 8 November 1655 until January 1656. It was indeed "the Polish Alamo" but with a happier ending.

The courageous defense at Jasna Gora was an inspiration to loyal Poles everywhere. The common people became galvanized in the defense of their Polish motherland. Guerilla uprisings sprung up everywhere, eventually consolidated and led by Stefan Czarniecki, an ethnic Pole, or by Jan Pawel Sopieha, an ethnic Lithuanian.

The Swedes were forced on the defensive and finally driven out of the Commonwealth in 1657. Forces from Transylvania led by Jerzy Rakoczy were defeated in July 1657. And the forces of Brandenburg-Prussia were also defeated but, by the terms of the Treaty of Wehlau, the Duchy of Prussia became independent of the Commonwealth.

By 1660, only Eblag and Malbork were in the hands of foreign forces. The Treaty of Oliwa signed on 3 May 1660 basically restored the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth's borders as they existed in 1655. But the events of this period were a crucial turning point in Polish history. The Commonwealth would no longer be the dominant power in eastern Europe.

Background music: Chopin, Opus 66 in C, Fantaisie
Dennis Benarz, Chicagoland USA 2009