Michael I
Michał Karybut Višniaviecki. Міхал Карыбут Вішнявецкі.jpg
King Michael
Holy Polish Emperor
King of Poland
Grand Duke of Lithuania
Reign June 19, 1669 – November 10, 1673
Coronation September 29, 1669
Predecessor John II Casimir Vasa
Successor John III Sobieski
Born May 31, 1640(1640-05-31)
Biały Kamień, Poland
Died November 10, 1673 (aged 33)
Lwów, Poland
Wawel Cathedral (buried on January 31, 1676)
Spouse Eleonora Maria of Austria
House Wiśniowiecki
Father Jeremi Wiśniowiecki
Mother Gryzelda Konstancja Zamoyska
Signature Michael I's signature

Michael I (Polish: Michał Korybut Wiśniowiecki, Lithuanian: Mykolas I Kaributas Višnioveckis; May 31,[1] 1640 – November 10, 1673), of Korybut Coat of Arms, son of Jeremi Wiśniowiecki and his wife Gryzelda Konstancja Zamoyska, was ruler of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth as King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania from September 29, 1669, to his death in 1673. Michael's reign was marked by struggles between the pro-Habsburg and pro-French political factions.[2]

A native Pole and descendant of Korybut, brother of King Władysław II Jagiełło, Michael was freely elected by the unanimous vote of the Polish nobility, however he was chosen chiefly for the merit of his father, Jeremi Wiśniowiecki, a great border magnate and a powerful military leader who had victoriously kept down the rebels in eastern Poland, and he proved to be a passive tool in the hands of the Habsburgs. In view of this, the French party rallied round John Sobieski, a military commander of rising fame. The dissensions between the two camps cost Poland a new defeat at the hands of the united Turks and Cossacks. Sealed by the Treaty of Buczacz (1672), by which all Polish occupied Ukraine came under Turkish suzerainty, this defeat was wiped out only by a brilliant victory of Sobieski’s at Battle of Chocim (1673), which also, after King Michael’s early death, carried him to the throne (as John III Sobieski) against an Austrian candidate.[3]

In 1670 Michael I was married to Eleonora Maria of Austria (1653-1697), daughter of Ferdinand III, Holy Roman Emperor, by his third wife Eleonora Gonzaga.

Royal titles

  • Official Latin version: Michael I, Dei Gratia rex Poloniae, magnus dux Lithuaniae, Russiae, Prussiae, Masoviae, Samogitiae, Livoniae, Smolensciae, Kijoviae, Volhyniae, Podoliae, Podlachiae, Severiae, Czernichoviaeque, etc.

(citation from one contemporary document: "Michael primvs, Dei gratia rex Poloniae, magnus dvx Lituaniae, Russiae, Prussiae, Masouiae, Samogitiae, Kiiouiae, Volhyniae, Podlachiae, Podoliae, Liuoniae, Smolensciae, Seueriae Czernihouiaeque etc")


Parents of the future king probably met each other in September 1637 in Warsaw, during crowning of Cecilia Renata of Austria, the Queen of Poland and consort to Władysław IV. His mother, Gryzelda Konstancja Zamoyska, and his father, Jeremi Wiśniowiecki, got engaged on February 13, 1638, over a month after the death of Gryzelda’s father, Tomasz Zamoyski.

Coat of Arms of Michal Korybut Wisniowiecki as king of Poland.svg

The wedding took place in Zamość on February 27, 1639, and over a year later, on May 31, 1640, Michał Korybut was born in a village of Biały Kamień. The infant was then taken to Zamość, where he spent first two years of his life, under care of his grandmother Katarzyna Zamoyska (née Ostrogska). Some time probably in 1642, Michał was taken by his mother to Lubny. During the Khmelnytsky Uprising, he had to flee Left-bank Ukraine with his family, settling first in Wiśniowiec in Volhynia, and then in Zamość (since autumn 1648).

Jeremi Wiśniowiecki died in 1651, when most of his enormous estate remained under Cossack or Russian control. In 1651 - 1655, young Michał was under care of Bishop of Wrocław and Płock, Karol Ferdynand Vasa. The boy stayed at the residence of Bishops of Płock, in the town of Brok. Probably after the death of Bishop Vasa (May 9, 1655), he was taken by his wealthy uncle, the Voivode of Sandomierz Jan Zamoyski, who funded his education. Some time in mid-1655, Michał found himself at the court of King John II Casimir.

Following Swedish invasion of Poland, Michał, together with royal court, fled to Głogówek in Upper Silesia. On November 18, 1655, following the request of the king, he went to Nysa, to study at the Jesuit College Carolinum, staying there probably until March 1656.

In mid-1656, thanks to support of Queen Marie Louise Gonzaga, Michał Korybut began studies at Charles University in Prague. He returned to Poland probably in June 1660, but soon afterwards, headed to Dresden and Vienna, meeting Empress Eleonora Gonzaga, and probably seeing for the first time his future wife Eleanor of Austria, who was a child at that time. Furthermore, Wiśniowiecki improved his knowledge of languages; he spoke Latin, German, Italian, French and also probably Tatar and Turkish.

In 1663, Michał took part in the Russo-Polish War, and during the Lubomirski Rebellion, he loyally supported the king.


On 16 September 1668, John II Casimir abdicated the Polish throne, soon after fled to France. New election was necessary, and Bishop of Chełmno Andrzej Olszowski suggested that Michał Korybut should be listed as one of candidates for the throne. Wiśniowiecki was supported by the Polish nobility, who sensed that a poor and inexperienced prince would not pose a threat to the Golden Liberty.

The Free election, 1669 took place in May and June of that year. Michał Korybut Wiśniowiecki was elected King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania on June 19 and became known as Michael I. Most of the gathered nobility voted for him, choosing a native, Polish candidate (the so-called "Piast"), over foreigners. Wiśniowiecki gained 11 271 popular votes, and was crowned on September 29, 1669 in Kraków.

His election was immediately opposed by the pro-French camp, with Primate of Poland Mikołaj Prazmowski and Crown Hetman Jan Sobieski.

On February 27, 1670, Michael I married Austrian princess Eleanor, and the ceremony was celebrated by Papal Nuncio, Cardinal Galeazzo Marescotti, as Primate Prazmowski refused to attend. The reception took place at the Denhoff Palace in Kruszyna.

Internal Conflicts

File:Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth as a fief of the Ottoman Empire 1672-1676.PNG

Poland-Lithuania as a fief of the Ottoman Empire between 1672 and 1676

Following the 1669 election, the Commonwealth was divided between two camps - pro-French, and royal. The pro-French camp had several influential members, including Primate Prazmowski, Hetman Sobieski, Andrzej Morsztyn, Voivode of Krakow Aleksander Michał Lubomirski, Voivode of Ruthenia Stanisław Jan Jabłonowski, Voivode of Poznań Krzysztof Grzymultowski, and Bishop of Kraków Andrzej Trzebicki.

In November 1669, the French camp broke the Coronation Sejm, hoping to dethrone Michael and elect Count Charles-Paris d'Orléans-Longueville. In 1670, the internal struggle moved to the local sejmiks, during which the nobility demanded to bring a Sejm lawsuit against Hetman Sobieski. To defend their commander, soldiers of the army formed a Confederation near Trembowla.

To make matters worse, the divided Commonwealth was under constant Turkish threat. In 1671, the king supported a rebellion of a unit of Stanisław Wyżycki, who, against the explicit order of Sobieski, abandoned Volhynia, leaving this province defenceless. King Michael ordered Wyżycki and his men to spend the winter of 1671/72 in the wealthy starostwo of Sambor, and paid them their salaries, while Sobieski and his soldiers did not receive any money.

In 1672, the Ottoman Empire declared war on the Commonwealth, and the Polish–Ottoman War (1672–76) began. Despite this, the situation in the Polish Crown was still chaotic, with the danger of a civil war. The nobility formed a confederation near Gołąb, demanding removal of Primate Prazmowski. Its members looted real estate of Hetman Sobieski and his family. On November 22, 1672, Lithuanian soldiers formed their own confederation in Kobryń, declaring their support for the Gołąb confederation. In response, soldiers under Sobieski formed a confederation in Szczebrzeszyn. Jan Sobieski, together with his troops, headed to Łowicz, to meet Primate Prazmowski.

Negotiations between the two factions were carried out by Papal Nuncio Francesco Buonvisi and Bishop of Kraków Andrzej Trzebicki. Furthermore, Sultan Mehmed IV of the Ottoman Empire sent an offensive letter to Warsaw, demanding complete subordination of the Commonwealth. This greatly enraged the Poles but due to chaotic internal situation of the Commonwealth, both sides of the conflict reached an agreement in March 1673.

War with the Ottoman Empire

In June 1672, a 100,000-strong Ottoman army, under Mehmed IV, besieged the city of Kamieniec Podolski, which capitulated after 26 days. The invaders then approached Lwów, which paid a ransom. Mounted Crimean Tatar units penetrated as far as Hrubieszów, Jasło and Biecz.

In October 1672, Hetman John Sobieski, upon request of the senators, tried to stop the invaders, defeating them in the Battle of Niemirów, Battle of Komarno, and Battle of Petranka. Meanwhile, the Treaty of Buchach was signed on October 18, in which the king ceded Podolia to the Ottomans and agreed to pay a yearly tribute. Under these terms, the once mighty Polish Commonwealth became a Turkish vassal.

Soon afterwards, Michael I began preparation for a new military campaign against the Ottomans. On October 8, 1673 at Skwarzawa near Złoczów, some 40,000 Polish soldiers concentrated, with 50 cannons. Due to poor health, the king handed the command of the army to Sobieski, and the Poles marched southwards, to Chocim (see Battle of Chocim (1673).

Death and Funeral

File:Kraków 090.jpg

Tomb of King Michael inside Wawel Cathedral

King Michael I Korybut died in the Palace of the Archbishops of Lwów, on November 10, 1673, due to acute food poisoning, although it is also believed that he was poisoned by his closest supporters and generals due to the declining power of the Commonwealth. On May 19, 1674, Hetman John Sobieski was elected new monarch (see Free election, 1674).

After the funeral, the heart of the king was buried at a Camedule Monastery in Warsaw’s district of Bielany. The bowels were placed in a wall of the Latin Cathedral in Lwów, while the body was buried in Wawel Cathedral in Kraków, on January 31, 1676, on the day of coronation of John Sobieski, who was crowned as John III.

Michael's reign was considered to be less than successful. His father's military fame notwithstanding, Michael lost a war against the Turks, who fully annexed Podolia (see Polish–Ottoman War (1672–1676)[4] He was unable to cope with his responsibilities as a monarch and with Poland's quarreling factions.



Michał Wiśniowiecki
Michał Wiśniowiecki
Halszka Zenowiczówna
Jeremi Wiśniowiecki
Ieremia Movilă
Regina Mohyła
Elżbieta Csomortány
Michał Korybut Wiśniowiecki
Jan Zamoyski
Tomasz Zamoyski
Barbara Tarnowska
Gryzelda Konstancja Zamoyska
Aleksander Ostrogski
Katarzyna Ostrogska
Anna Kostka

See also


  1. Ilona Czamańska, Wiśniowieccy. Monografia rodu, Poznań 2007, p .249,
  2. Lerski Historical Dictionary of Poland, 966-1945 1996 -p654 "In the seventeenth century, members of the family held the most important posts in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth,* and Michal Korybut Wisniowiecki* was elected King of Poland"
  3. http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/379905/Michael-Wisniowiecki
  4. Poczet.com, Michał Korybut Wisniowiecki.
  5. www.wladcy.myslenice.net, Michał I Tomasz Wiśniowiecki herbu Korybut.

External links


Michał Korybut Wiśniowiecki
Born: 31 May 1640 Died: 10 November 1673
Regnal titles
Title last held by
John II Casimir
King of Poland
Grand Duke of Lithuania

Title next held by
John III Sobieski

Template:Monarchs of Lithuania

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