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Battle of Pyliavtsi
Part of the Khmelnytsky Uprising
DateSeptember 23, 1648
LocationPyliava (Piławce), Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, present Ukraine
Result decisive Cossack-Tatar victory
Flag of the Cossack Hetmanat.svg Zaporozhian Cossack
Crimean Tatars
Herb Rzeczypospolitej Obojga Narodow.svg Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth
Commanders and leaders
Bohdan Khmelnytsky
Tugay Bey
Władysław Dominik Zasławski-Ostrogski
Mikołaj Ostroróg
Aleksander Koniecpolski
Jeremi Wisniowiecki
30,000 and 3,000 Tatars[1]:474 [2][3] 30,000[1]:470
Casualties and losses
Unknown Unknown

Battle of Pyliavtsi (Ukrainian language: Пилявцi

Polish language

); September 23, 1648) was the third significant battle of the Khmelnytsky Uprising. Near the site of the present-day village of Pyliava, which at that time belonged to the Kingdom of Poland, and now lies in south-central Ukraine, Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth forces met a numerically superior force of Cossacks and Crimean Tatars under the command of Bohdan Khmelnytsky and Tugay Bey. The Commonwealth forces were dealt a third consecutive defeat.

Before the battle

At the beginning of the Khmelnytsky uprising in the early months of 1648, Polish forces tried to suppress it but suffered two defeats at the battle of Zhovti Vody and Korsun. This was followed by the death of king Władysław IV on 20 May N.S. and Chancellor Jerzy Ossolinski called for a congress of notables in Warsaw on 9 June, at which Zaslawski, Ostrorog and Koniecpolski were designated provisional commanders, and Adam Kysil was instructed to enter into negotiations with Khmelnytsky.[1]:418–419 By 27 June, the Bratslav region, Volhynia and the southern Kyiv region were engulfed by the uprising, Khmelnytsky had halted at Bila Tserkva, Tughay Bey foraged with his horde, and the khan had returned to the Crimea with two hundred thousand captives.[1]:431, 442–443 By August, Kysil's commission had failed and this period of truce was coming to an end.[1]:467

The Polish army organized in Galicia, headed by the unpopular triumverate of Crown commissioners: Władysław Dominik Zasławski, Mikolaj Ostroróg, and Aleksander Koniecpolski, were all famously derided by Khmelnytsky as a peryna (the feather-down bed), latyna (the Latinist) and dytyna (the child), respectively.[1]:468 Zaslawski's army marched to Zbarazh on 16 August O.S. in the footsteps of another Polish army organized around Jeremi Wisniowiecki, who had been stationed in southern Volhynia "following the battles at Starokostiantyniv".[1]:468 These armies merged on 1 September O.S. at Chovhanskyi Kamin.[1]:469

Khmelnytsky was "sationed at the time with his army on the fields of Pyliavtsi southeast of Starokostiantyniv".[1]:469

An advance regiment commanded by Koniecpolski and Ostrorog crossed the Ikopot River at Rosolivtsi on 6 Sept. O.S. and encountered a Cossack garrison near Starokostiantyniv, who overnight abandoned the town to the Polish army.[1]:472 Yet, rather than "establishing themselves in..this mighty fortress...they set out to take" Khmelnytsky's position at Pyliavtsi, convinced "he would do anything to avoid a battle" while awaiting the arrival of the Tatars.[1]:472

On 8 Sept. O.S., Polish cavalry troops under the command of Mykola Zatsyvilkovsky approached the Cossack positions at Pyliavtsi, driving a Cossack reconnaissance patrol from the field, allowing the Polish army to camp on the Ikva opposite Khmelnytsky.[1]:473

The battle

The scheme of the battle

Following several days of minor battles, Khmelnytsky led his army on the morning of 13 September O.S. shouting "For the faith, brave warriors, for the faith!", killing many Polish cavalrymen as they fled back across the Ikva.[1]:474 That night, the Polish commanders decided to retreat in corral formation to Starokostiantyniv, but while preparing for this retreat the next day, they would hold their position and fight under Wisniowiecki's command.[1]:475 However, "rumours began curculating among the troops ... that the commanders had abandoned the camp and taken flight ... and fear was turned into wholesale panic".[1]:475 "Everyone else began to flee, leaving behind wagons, cannon, and all kind of supplies ... only the sick and maimed ... remained", not stopping at Starokostiantyniv, Koniecpolski went to Brody, Ostrorog to Olesko, Zaslawski to Vyshnivets.[1]:475


The Poles left behind an "immense, unheard-of booty", including a hundred thousand loaded wagons, and the "Cossacks then threw themselves, completely unarmed, ... into looting the camp", which "significantly weakened the victor's desire to launch a pursuit."[1]:476–477 Even the "Tatar Horde, arriving after the rout ... paid no attention to taking prisoners ... but applied themselves to keeping the assorted booty".[1]:477 A few days later, Khmelnytsky seized Zbaraż, "the residence of the Cossack's greatest enemy, Jeremi Wiśniowiecki", continued on to siege Lwów from 28 September until 15 October O.S., leaving after that city paid 500,000 zlotys worth of "money, metal, goods, and supplies" (330,000 went the Tatars).[1]:480–481, 489 He then laid siege to Zamość on 27 October until 22 November O.S., before receiving 20,000 zlotys.[1]:493,497

The Polish Diet convened 26 September O.S. (6 October N.S.) and elected Jeremi Wisniowiecki as Crown Hetman, Andrzej Firlej as Field Hetman, and John II Casimir Vasa as king on 17 Nov., who sent Jakub Smiarowski to ask Khmelnytsky to withdraw "to the usual places".[1]:500–501,506 Khmelnytsky departed Zamość on 24 November, the king confirmed Khmelnytsky as hetman in December[1]:512 and Khmelnytsky entered Kiev before Christmas.[1]:511,515


  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 1.12 1.13 1.14 1.15 1.16 1.17 1.18 1.19 1.20 1.21 1.22 Hrushevsky, M., 2002, History of Ukraine-Rus, Volume Eight, The Cossack Age, 1626-1650, Edmonton: Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies Press, ISBN 1895571324
  2. Cossack-Polish War (1648–57) at Encyclopedia of Ukraine
  3. Tucker, S.C., editor, 2010, A Global Chronology of Conflict, Volume II: 1500-1774, Santa Barbara:ABC-CLIO, LLC, ISBN 9781851096671, p. 612
  • Subtelny, Orest (2000). Ukraine: A History. University of Toronto Press. ISBN 0-8020-8390-0. 

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