Poland’s kings are a fascinating bunch, ranging from great scoundrels like Boleslaw the Bold, who hacked up St. Stanislaw, to larger than life characters like King Kazimierz, who raised 14th century Poland to greatness.
Even St. Jadwiga, who founded the Jagiellonian University, was technically “king” because 14th century Polish law did not allow for a queen.
While these rulers are discussed at length in City of Saints, there is another leader not to be overlooked. I caught up with Greek-Polish historian Miltiades Varvounis, author of Jan Sobieski:
The King Who Saved Europe, to talk about another Polish king—King Jan Sobieski. Considered the greatest warrior king of his time, Sobieski is best known for winning the Battle of Vienna against the Ottoman Empire in 1683, but he his legacy goes well beyond the battlefield. Varvounis: Jan Sobieski was one of the most illustrious rulers ever to command an army. He gained glory and fame in his thirties through his exceptional military skills and he was acknowledged as the greatest warrior-king of his time throughout the rest of his turbulent life.
His patriotism, his strong faith and hope in God, his military reputation, his taste for arts and letters, and his talents – all these were legendary in his lifetime.
Since World War II, no English work has been published about the king who saved Europe from the warriors of Islam at the Battle of Vienna (1683); a battle which was the inspiration for J.R.R. Tolkien’s epic cavalry charge of the Rohirrim that lifted the Siege of Minas Tirith in the Lord of the Rings trilogy.
Although a great number of books in English have been published on Polish history since the fall of the Iron Curtain, “the Lion of Lechistan”, as Sobieski was called by his enemies, has remained neglected by historians outside Poland.
A personality like Jan Sobieski – the most famous Polish military figure and the savior of Christendom – can never be ignored and forgotten. I took the initiative to present Sobieski and his immortal deeds to the wide readership in the present-day lingua franca. Read it all here.............................