[size=18pt]The Flags of the Poles and Poland – Part 5[/size]

[size=12pt]The Flags and Banners of 17th and 18th Century Poland 1600-1795[/size]

Polish Naval Ensign/Jack 1627

Polish Naval Ensign

This colorful flag was a unique Naval Ensign (or Jack) of the Polish Navy. Poland has had naval traditions since 1558 when the Polish King Sigismund August (Zygmund August) created the first Polish fleet under the command of Admiral Thomas Sierpinek.

In 1624, the first Polish dockyard was founded at Puck and on November 28, 1627, the Polish Navy, under Admiral Dickman, fought off the Swedish fleet at Oliwa, near Gdansk (Danzig) using this battle ensign.

Banner of Wladyslaw IV Waza 1632-1648

Banner of Wladyslaw IV Waza

Wladyslaw IV Waza (1632-1648) claimed to be the King of both Poland and Sweden. It should be noted, that Wladislaw IV never was king of Sweden. This was only a title of pretence. His father, Zygmunt III Waza, had been king of Sweden, but was disposed when he wanted to turn Sweden catholic.

Strangely enough, Wladyslaw as Prince had a chance to become the Tsar of all of Russia, because while the Poles occupied Moscow in 1610, the Russian boyars (nobles) agreed to proclaim the young prince Tsar, on the condition he convert to the Eastern Orthodoxy. Both, his father (Sigismund III of Poland and Sweden) and the Pope in Rome, rejected that offer and the deal felt through. The Poles were expelled from the Kremlin in 1612 in a popular uprising. That date, November 4th, is now a national holiday in Russia (with the strong, anti-Polish undertones) that replaces the November 7th "October Revolution" celebrations.

Wladyslaw as King of Poland did managed to prevent the Commonwealth from becoming embroiled in the bloody Thirty Years' War that ravaged western Europe during his reign, and he was fairly successful in defending the Commonwealth from invasion. He supported religious tolerance and carried out military reforms. He failed, however, to realize his dreams of fame and conquest, or to reform and strengthen the Commonwealth. His death marked the end of the Golden Age of the Commonwealth, as the conflicts and tensions that Wladyslaw had failed to resolve led in 1648 to the greatest of the Cossack uprisings, the Khmelnytsky Uprising, and to Swedish invasion.

Battle Banner of Jan Kazimierz 1648-1668

Banner of Jan Kazimierz

This is the battle standard of the last Vasa king, John Casimir (Jan Kazimierz) 1648-68. It has the sheaf of wheat, mark of the Vasas, embroidered on the eagle's chest. This banner is now on display in the Military Museum in Stockholm. That standard was used during the Polish-Russian War of 1654-67 and the Swedish invasion known as "The Deluge", when the Swedish troops overrun almost the entire country and brought a tremendous destruction to it.

During that war a legendary miracle happened at the monastery on the Bright Mountain in Czestochowa. The Swedish troops encircled the hill with the monastery, which was housing the ancient painting of "The Black Madonna", believed to be the work of Saint Luke the Apostle. The defenders of the monastery, a handful of knights and monks, were hopelessly awaiting the final assault of the Swedes, but in the morning they found them all gone. The local peasants told them that at down the Virgin Mary appeared over the monastery and covered it with her cloak. The Swedes, as Protestants, didn't share the veneration of the Virgin Mary accorded to her by the Catholics, and seeing her protecting the monastery on the hill retreated in panic.

After that, the painting of the Black Madonna became holy to the Poles and the Monastery of the Bright Mount is the holiest place in all of Poland, site of the mass pilgrimages.

Cossack Uprising Banners 1648-1757

Banner of Hetman Bohdan Khmelnytskyi

Cossack Hetmanate Banner

The Khmelnytskyi Uprising was a Cossack rebellion in Ukraine in 1648-1657 which turned into an Ukrainian war of liberation from Poland. Under the command of Hetman Bohdan Khmelnytskyi, the Zaporozhian Cossacks allied with the Crimean Tatars, and fought several battles against the armies of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. The result destroyed the control of the Polish Commonwealth over the country.

Although the Uprising started as the rebellion of the Cossacks, it was soon joined by the Orthodox Christian peasants, burghers, and petty nobility of the Ukraine, with the ultimate aim of a creation of an autonomous Ukrainian state. The Uprising succeeded in ending the Polish influence over those Cossack lands, but the Ukraine was eventually taken over by Imperial Russia. These events, along with internal conflicts and hostilities with Sweden and Russia, resulted in severely diminished Polish power during this period and is often referred to in Polish history as "The Deluge."

The names: "Ukraine" and "Ukrainians" were not in use at those times. Khmielnitskyi wanted to call his country "Rus", after the Kievan Rus of the IXth Century. But after consigning it to Russia in the Treaty of Pereyslav in 1654, it was totally lost and absorbed into the Russian Empire.

Michal Korybut Wisniowiecki 1669- 1673

Banner of Michal Korybut Wisniowiecki

Michal (Michael) Korybut Wisniowiecki was elected king by the Sejm (Parliament) of the gentry after the abdication of John II Casimir (Jan II Kazimierz). He was the son of the famous, albeit controversial, military commander, Prince Jeremi (Jeremiah) Wisniowiecki accused of excessive brutality in trying to subdue the Khmielnitskyi Uprising of the Cossacks. Michael reign was less than successful. His father's military fame notwithstanding, he had lost the war with the Turks and the province of Podolia (Podole). He couldn't reconcile the warring factions of the nobility and was rather poor administrator of the country. After his 4-year, unimaginative reign, a great king was elected – John III Sobieski.

This is the Royal banner of Michael, slightly simplified (without the ornate embroidery along the edges).

Banner of Jan III Sobieski 1674-1696

Banner of Jan III Sobieski

Jan III Sobieski (1674-96) the last great King of Poland. This is his personal battle banner (standard). As the Grand Hetman of the Crown (the highest military rank of the Commonwealth) he did achieve several great victories over the Cossacks, Tatar and Turks (Chocim 1673).

As The King, his biggest triumph was the victory at Vienna in 1683. Commanding the Polish, German and Austrian armies he struck the Turks besieging Vienna with the awesome force of his hussars and forced them to run in panic for their life. He was hailed as the "Savior of Vienna and Western European civilization" by the Pope and the Turks called him respectfully "The Lion of Lechistan." His troops gathered a huge loot abandoned by the Turks in their camp and hauled it happily home. The Turkish banners of Kara Mustafa's army were sent to Rome as a war trophy.

To be continued…
Source http://www.loeser.us/flags/