John III Sobieski, King of Poland

Jan III Sobieski
Jan III Sobieski
Reign From May 21, 1674,
until June 17, 1696
Elected On May 21, 1674 in Wola,
today suburb of
Warsaw, Poland
Coronation On February 2, 1676
in the Wawel Cathedral,
Krakw, Poland
Noble Family Sobieski
Coat of Arms Janina
Parents Jakub Sobieski
Zofia Teofillia Daniłowicz
Consorts Marie Casimire Louise
Children with Marie Casimire Louise
Jakub Ludwik Sobieski
Teresa Teofila Sobieska
Berbelune Sobieska
La Mannone Sobieska
Teresa Kunegunda Sobieska
Aleksander Benedykt Sobieski
Konstanty Władysław Sobieski
Date of Birth August 17, 1629
Place of Birth Olesko, Poland,
(now Ukraine)
Date of Death June 17, 1696
Place of Death Wilanw, Poland
Place of Burial Wawel, Saint Leonard's
Crypt, Krakw, Poland
buried in 1734

John (Jan) III Sobieski (August 17, 1629 - June 17, 1696) was the king of Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth from 1674 to 1696.


Royal titles

  • Official title was (in Latin): Joannes III, Dei Gratia rex Poloniae, magnus dux Lithuaniae, Russie, Prussiae, Masoviae, Samogitiae, Livoniae, Smolenscie, Kijoviae, Volhyniae, Podlachiae, Severiae, Czernichoviaeque, etc.


Jan was born in 1629 at Olesko, Poland to Jakub (James) Sobieski (1580-1646), Voivod of Ruthenian Voivodship and Castellan of Krakw and Zofia Teofillia (Daniłowicz), granddaughter of Hetman Stanislaw Zolkiewski. He had won fame as outstanding military commander in wars against the Ottoman Empire, Tatars, Muscovy, Cossacks and Sweden.

In 1665 he became Great Marshal of the Crown and Field Crown Hetman in 1666. In 1668 King Jan II Kazimierz appointed John Sobieski the Great Crown Hetman and Commander-in-Chief of the Polish army. After a distinguished military career, and following the death of King Jan II Kazimierz's successor, Michael Korybut Wisniowiecki, John Sobieski was elected by the szlachta (nobility) as king of Poland on May 21 1674 and was crowned on February 2, 1676.

"Jan III Sobieski at the Battle of Vienna", painted by Jerzy Eleuter Szymonowicz-Siemiginowski, abt. 1686, National Museum in Warsaw.
"Jan III Sobieski at the Battle of Vienna", painted by Jerzy Eleuter Szymonowicz-Siemiginowski, abt. 1686, National Museum in Warsaw.

John Sobieski's military prowess, as exhibited in a war against the Ottoman Empire, contributed to his election as king of Poland. One of Sobieski's ambitions was to unify the Christian Europe in a crusade to drive the Turks out of Europe. He allied with the Holy Roman Emperor and joined the Holy League initiated by Pope Innocent XI to preserve the Christendom.

According to Oscar Halecki, noted Polish historical writer, John III planned to occupy Prussia with Swedish cooperation and French support. This undertaking was doomed to failure, because of the war with Turkey and the opposition of magnates.

His greatest success came on September 12, 1683 as victor at the Battle of Vienna, with Polish, Austrian and German troops, once more against the Turks under Kara Mustafa. The pope and other foreign dignitaries then hailed Sobieski as the "Savior of Vienna and Western European civilization." In a letter to his wife he wrote, ...All the common people kissed my hands, my feet, my clothes; others only touched me, saying: Ach, let us kiss so valiant a hand!".

Upon reaching Vienna, he joined up with the Austrians and Germans. Sobieski planned to attack on the 13th of September, but he had noticed that the Turkish resistance was weak and ordered full attack on September 12, 1683. At 4 a.m. in the morning Sobieskis army of about 81,000 men attacked a Turkish army that numbered about 130,000. Sobieski charged with husaria forward and soon after the Turkish battle line was broken as the Turks scattered in confusion. At 5:30 p.m., Sobieski entered the deserted tent of Kara Mustafa and the battle of Vienna was over.

" Sending Message of Victory to the Pope, after the ", oil on canvas by , 1880, 58 x 100 cm, National Musemum in .
"Sobieski Sending Message of Victory to the Pope, after the Battle of Vienna", oil on canvas by Jan Matejko, 1880, 58 x 100 cm, National Musemum in Krakw.
In a strange twist of events a statue of John III Sobieski was brought to the city of Gdansk by people from his native land (from Lww), when they were resettled there. Already John's family had been famous guests in the city.
Missing image
Sobieski with family painted by Henri Gascar.
Now the statue overlooks the little park at the old Gdansk town hall, now a museum.

King John III Sobieski, nicknamed by the Turks the "Lion of Lechistan", and the last great king of Poland, died in Wilanw, Poland on June 17, 1696. His wife, Marie Casimire, died in 1716 in Blois, France and her body was returned to Poland. They are interred together in Wawel Castle, Krakw, Poland.

King John III was succeeded by Augustus II, elector of Saxony 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.

Battles under command of Sobieski

Missing image
Monument of King Jan III Sobieski in Gdańsk.

Marriage and family

Missing image
Family tree

He was married to the widow of Jan "Sobiepan" Zamoyski, Marie Casimire Louise de la Grange d'Arquien (1641-1716), of Nevers, Burgundy, France, since July 5, 1665. Their children were:

  1. James Louis Henry, (1667-1736) - Crown Prince
  2. Teresa Kunegunde, (1676-1730) - In 1695, the Princess married Maximilian II Emanuel, elector of Bavaria
  3. Aleksander Benedykt, (1677-1713)
  4. Konstanty Wladyslaw, (1680-1720)
  5. Jan, (1682-1685)

American actress Leelee Sobieski claims to be his descendant. This is certainly not where she obtained her surname: John III had no great-grandchildren that bore the name Sobieski or Sobieska.

See also

Preceded by:
Stefan Czarniecki
Field Crown Hetman of Poland
Succeeded by:
Dymitr Wiśniowiecki
Preceded by:
Stanisław Rawera Potocki
Great Crown Hetman of Poland
Succeeded by:
Dymitr Wiśniowiecki
Preceded by:
Jerzy Sebastian Lubomirski
Great Marshal of the Crown of Poland
Succeeded by:
Stanislaw Herakliusz Lubomirski
Preceded by:
King of Poland
Succeeded by:
Augustus II

Template:End box

Template:Kings and Dukes of Polandcs:Jan III. Sobieski de:Johann III. Sobieski et:Jan III fr:Jean III Sobieski ja:ヤン3世 (ポーランド王) la:Ioannes III rex Poloniae nl:Jan III Sobieski pl:Jan III Sobieski ru:Собеский, Ян sv:Johan III Sobieski av Polen uk:Собєський Ян


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