Thursday, 8 October 2009

Trampled Underfoot

Across Łazienki Park back to the office. A different way this time; further along ul. Agricola. And what's this I see? A monument to the Unknown Polish Pedestrians? No, on horseback this is King Jan III Sobieski, whose army relieved the Turkish siege of Vienna, thus saving Europe from invasion from the East. (For the first time*. Poles would save Europe from barbaric hordes again in 1920, and in 1944. The 63-day long Warsaw Uprising ensured Stalin's tanks got no further west than the Elbe).

Beneath the hoofs of the triumphant king not hapless pedestrians, but Turkish Janissaries. (Click on pics for larger image.)

The statue itself's a bit clumsy. At first sight, I took the rider to be Ben Turpin, silent film comedy actor. And what's to be made of the inscription (in Polish) on the right-hand shield?

In Polish this reads: "IANOWI III, K(rólowi) P(olski i) W(ielkiemu) X(ięciu) L(itewskiemu), OYCZYZNY Y SOIUSZNIKÓW OBROŃCY, KTÓREGOŚMY POSTRADALI R(oku 1696).
S(tanisław) A(ugust) K(ról). R(ok) 1788"

'Postradać' means 'to lose' (ie he died in 1696). Note how Polish spelling has changed over the centuries; 'i' and 'y' have mutated into 'j', 'y' into an 'i', 'x' into a 'ks'.

In English: "To John III, King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania, Defender of the Fatherland and its Allies, whom we lost in 1696. Stanislaus August, King. 1788."

* Some say Poland saved Europe from the Golden Horde at Legnica when Genghis Khan's Mongol Army swept westward. But historians say the Golden Horde, who actually won the battle, went home to elect a new Khan when the old one died.

It was a bizarre day weatherwise. Overcast with some sunny spells, wind from the west, and the temperature... daytime high of +24C! In mid-October! In the night, it will to tumble to +5C; a massive difference.

This time last year:
Proto park'n'ride at W-wa Jeziorki


basia said...

Hi Michael:

Took some similar photos photos (J. Sobieski) in late summer.

Trampling seems to be a consistent theme.

I envy you your fine weather. Our "Indian summer" has been disappointing so far, especially heading into Canadian Thanksgiving.

I enjoy your photos.


Transylvanian horseman said...

That historical reminder of the role of Poland in 1683, 1920 and 1944 is aposite. Too few people know that Stalin desired, amongst other territory, the whole of Italy. Without that delay, Soviet tanks might have ranged much further west.

As for the Mongol invasions, perhaps the lesson was that westward invasions were not worth the cost in men for such a small nation as Mongolia? The time that the Mongols took to arrange a fresh invasion allowed the wise to take precautions so that the incursion of the 1290s was repelled (mainly by Hungarians for they faced the attack) through better tactics and stone castles.

I fear to think of the result had the Turks not been stopped at Vienna. One has only to look at the Balkans and Romania to see the legacies of long-term Turkish rule - factionalism, corruption, a shortage of civil society.

Perhaps Poland has helped again through offering to host the American missile shield - because its abandonment was traded against Russia abandoning plans to ship missiles to Iran?

Michael Dembinski said...

Basia - your pics are sadly inaccessible.

TH - nicely put point about Balkans and legacy of Ottoman rule. Austria has much to be thankful for!