Military Wiki

Jan Tarnowski

Mikołaj "the Red" Radziwiłł

Jan Zamoyski

Jan Karol Chodkiewicz

Stanisław Żółkiewski

Stanisław Koniecpolski

Stanisław Rewera Potocki

Janusz Radziwiłł

Jan III Sobieski

File:Wincenty Gosiewski.jpg

Wincenty Gosiewski

Jerzy Sebastian Lubomirski

Stanisław Jabłonowski

Jan Klemens Branicki

Hetmans of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth were the highest-ranking military officers, second only to the King, in the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth. The first Polish title of Grand Crown Hetman was created in 1505. The title of hetman was given to the leader of Polish Army and till 1581 it was awarded only for a specific campaign or war. Later it became a permanent title, as did all the titles in the Kingdom of Poland and Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth. It could not be revoked unless treachery had been proven (from 1585). Hetmans were not paid for their job by the Royal Treasury.

Field and Great Hetmans

From the end of 16th century there were two hetmans in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and two hetmans in the Crown: a Field Hetman and a Great Hetman (sometimes translated as Grand Hetman). So there were in total four hetman titles: Great Crown Hetman, Field Crown Hetman, Great Lithuanian Hetman and Field Lithuanian Hetman. During joint military operations of the Crown and Grand Duchy of Lithuania armies, the Crown Great Hetman usually was considered superior to others hetmans and served as commander-in-chief if the war actions ran along the borders of the Grand Duchy and vice versa.

Grand Hetmans were usually in command of the professional and mobilised army and during peace stayed at the capital involving themselves in politics, guarding the interests of the army and planning campaigns.

Polish Field Hetman was subordinates of Grand Hetman and when on the same battlefield commanded the mercenaries and artillery. During peace they usually were deployed on the eastern and southern borders of the Commonwealth, and commanded all local forces against constant skirmishes and small invasions of the Ottoman Empire and its vassals. Field Hetman were also called Frontier Hetman, since they did the same job as commanders of frontier garrisons before the title of hetman was introduced.

Lithuanian Field Hetman initially was called Court Hetman and commanded the guard of the Grand Duke, while Land Hetman commanded militia. Later this difference disappeared and they were renamed Field and Great Hetmans accordingly. Contrary to Polish practice Lithuanian Field Hetman had full control on army under his command and wasn't subordinated to the Great Hetman.

For a short period there was also an office of Royal Court Hetman, but it never gained much influence.

Responsibilities and privileges

Hetman's competences and privileges, first officially described in 1527 in the act of nomination for Jan Tarnowski included:

  • planning and carrying out of military campaigns
  • enlistment and organisation of professional army (wojsko kwarciane) and mercenaries
  • supervision of registered Cossacks and atamans, who were chosen by hetmans for two-year terms
  • nomination and promotion of officers at will
  • choosing locations where the army units were to draw supplies from (that could become a severe burden of cities/nobles that were disliked by a hetman)
  • supervising the flow of the army's finances (including the soldiers' wages)
  • full control over military judiciary (with capital punishment during wars), they could also issue laws and regulations for the army (known as hetman's articles)
  • hearing complaints of all civilian personnel against the army and issuing compensation
  • hetmans had certain competencies in foreign affairs, they could send their own emissaries to countries such as the Ottoman Empire, Moldavia, Crimean Chanate and Wallachia. It was reasoned that the distance to capital was too large and situation in that regions was always too volatile for all decisions to be made in the capital (Kraków, later Warsaw)

The hetman had no right to order the forces of the royal court, the royal guard, units equipped by the cities and towns, or private individuals, although during wars those units often voluntarily pledged their obedience to hetmans. Hetmans had no control over the navy, although the Polish Navy was always of very limited importance. Hetmans usually had no direct control over the levy (pospolite ruszenie), but they could give orders to the regimentars who commanded it.

While hetmans were considered to be among the highest-ranking officials in the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, their hetman status gave them no right to sit in either the Senate or Sejm, unless they held another office that automatically carried with it a seat or were elected as a representatives of local szlachta during sejmiks. Each hetman received a hetman's ceremonial mace, the bulawa, as the symbol of his position (it was added to his coat of arms). Less common was a horse-tail ensign and hetman's sign.

In some of the never realised plans of reconstruction of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth from dual into triple state (Polish-Lithuanian-Ruthenian Commonwealth), the hetman was to be a head of the Ruthenian part, consisting of three Ukrainian voivodeships (see Treaty of Hadiach).

The reform in 1776 limited the powers of the hetmans.

Hetman's aides

A hetman's chief aides and officers included:

  • pisarz polny – field chancellor, responsible for the archives, chancery, finances, accounting of people, equipment and fortifications, and paying soldiers' wages
  • straznik – guardian; security; supervised the scout forces during movement and camping and commanded the front guard (however, if both hetmans were present, the Field Hetman acted as Great Guardian (Polish: Wielki Straznik)).
  • obozny – camp leader; camp and transport organisation; responsible for choosing a suitable camping place for an army, setting up the camp, logistics and security inside the encampment.
  • szpitalny – medic; medical services
  • profos – military juridiciary
  • brabanmajster – logistics
  • regimentarz – second-in-command in the event a hetman was killed or taken prisoner; the regimantrz could also be chosen by the king for a given period when a hetman was not available, or informally assumed this function of the commander-in-chief when no hetman or monarch was present nearby (for example, the commander of a levee en masse was usually called a regimentarz.

Most of those aides also had a Field/Great and Crown/Lithuanian add-ons to their titles, depending on which hetman they were serving under.

Several new military titles were created after the 1635 by king Władysław IV Vasa, changing some of hetman's responsibilities:

  • 1637 – General of Artillery (responsible for artillery forces, their logistics and such)
  • 1670s – General of Logistics, General of Medics, General of Finances
  • The Generals of Inspections controlled the combat readiness of troops, however it is unclear when they were created (besides the phrase ‘in 17th century’).

List of Crown Hetmans

Great Crown Hetmans
From To  
1503 1515 Mikołaj Kamieniecki
1515 1526 Mikołaj Firlej
1526 1527 vacant
1527 1561 Jan Tarnowski
1561 1569 Mikołaj Sieniawski
1569 1575 Jerzy Jazłowiecki
1579 1580 Mikołaj Mielecki
1581 1605 Jan Zamoyski
1605 1613 vacant
1613 1620 Stanisław Żółkiewski
1620 1632 vacant
1632 1646 Stanisław Koniecpolski
1646 1651 Mikołaj Potocki
1651 1654 vacant
1654 1667 Stanisław "Rewera" Potocki
1668 1674 Jan Sobieski
1674 1676 vacant
1676 1682 Dymitr Jerzy Wiśniowiecki
1682 1683 vacant
1683 1702 Stanisław Jan Jabłonowski
1702 1702 Feliks Kazimierz Potocki
1702 1706 Hieronim Augustyn Lubomirski
1706 1726 Adam Mikołaj Sieniawski
1726 1728 Stanisław Mateusz Rzewuski
1728 1735 vacant
1735 1751 Józef Potocki
1751 1752 vacant
1752 1771 Jan Klemens Branicki
1773 1773 Wacław Rzewuski
1774 1793 Franciszek Ksawery Branicki
1793 1794 Piotr Ożarowski

Field Crown Hetmans
From To  
1492 1499 Stanisław Chodecki z Chodcza
1499 1501 Piotr Myszkowski
1501 1505 Stanisław Chodecki z Chodcza
1505 1509 Jan Kamieniecki
1509 1520 Jan Tworowski
1520 1528 Marcin Kamieniecki[1]
1529 1539 Jan Koła
1539 1561 Mikołaj Sieniawski
1561 1569 vacant
1569 1575 Jerzy Jazłowiecki
1575 1584 Mikołaj Sieniawski
1584 1588 vacant
1588 1613 Stanisław Żółkiewski
1613 1618 vacant
1618 1632 Stanisław Koniecpolski
1632 1633 vacant
1633 1636 Marcin Kazanowski
1636 1637 vacant
1637 1646 Mikołaj Potocki
1646 1652 Marcin Kalinowski
1652 1654 Stanisław "Rewera" Potocki
1654 1657 Stanisław Lanckoroński
1657 1664 Jerzy Sebastian Lubomirski
1664 1665 Stefan Czarniecki
1665 1666 vacant
1666 1667 Jan Sobieski
1667 1676 Dymitr Jerzy Wiśniowiecki
1682 1683 Stanisław Jan Jabłonowski
1682 1683 Mikołaj Hieronim Sieniawski
1684 1691 Andrzej Potocki
1691 1692 vacant
1692 1702 Feliks Kazimierz Potocki
1702 1702 Hieronim Augustyn Lubomirski
1702 1706 Adam Mikołaj Sieniawski
1706 1726 Stanisław Mateusz Rzewuski
1726 1728 Stanisław Chomętowski
1728 1736 vacant
1736 1752 Jan Klemens Branicki
1752 1773 Wacław Rzewuski
1774 1774 Franciszek Ksawery Branicki
1774 1794 Seweryn Rzewuski

List of Hetmans of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania

Hetmans of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania
From To  
1497 1500 Konstanty Ostrogski
1500 1501 Semen Jurewicz Holszański
1501 1502 Stanislovas Kęsgaila
1503 1507 Stanisław Piotrowicz Kiszka
1507 1530 Konstanty Ostrogski
1530 1531 vacant
1531 1541 Jerzy Radziwiłł
1541 1553 vacant
1553 1566 Mikołaj "the Black" Radziwiłł
1566 1572 Grzegorz Chodkiewicz
1572 1576 vacant
1576 1584 Mikołaj "the Red" Radziwiłł
1584 1589 vacant
1589 1603 Krzysztof Mikołaj "the Thunderbolt" Radziwiłł
1605 1621 Jan Karol Chodkiewicz
1621 1625 vacant
1625 1633 Lew Sapieha
1633 1635 vacant
1535 1640 Krzysztof Radziwiłł
1640 1646 vacant
1646 1654 Janusz Kiszka
1654 1655 Janusz Radziwiłł
1656 1665 Paweł Jan Sapieha
1665 1667 vacant
1667 1682 Michał Kazimierz Pac
1682 1703 vacant
1703 1707 Michał Serwacy Wiśniowiecki
1707 1708 Jan Kazimierz Sapieha the Younger
1708 1709 Jan Kazimierz Sapieha the Elder
1709 1709 Grzegorz Antoni Ogiński
1709 1730 Ludwik Pociej
1730 1735 vacant
1735 1744 Michał Serwacy Wiśniowiecki
1744 1762 Michał Kazimierz Radziwiłł
1762 1768 Michał Józef Massalski
1768 1793 Michał Kazimierz Ogiński
1793 1794 Szymon Marcin Kossakowski

Field Hetmans of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania
From To  
1521 1531 Jerzy Radziwiłł
1531 1536 vacant
1536 1541 Andrzej Niemirowicz
1541 1561 vacant
1561 1566 Grzegorz Chodkiewicz
1566 1567 vacant
1567 1571 Roman Sanguszko
1571 1572 vacant
1572 1589 Krzysztof Mikołaj "the Thunderbolt" Radziwiłł
1589 1600 vacant
1600 1605 Jan Karol Chodkiewicz
1605 1615 vacant
1615 1635 Krzysztof Radziwiłł
1635 1646 Janusz Kiszka
1646 1654 Janusz Radziwiłł
1654 1662 Wincenty Gosiewski
1663 1667 Michał Kazimierz Pac
1667 1668 Władysław Wołłowicz
1668 1680 Michał Kazimierz Radziwiłł
1680 1682 Jan Kazimierz Sapieha the Younger
1682 1684 Jan Samuelewicz Ogiński
1684 1685 vacant
1685 1701 Józef Bogusław Słuszka
1702 1703 Michał Serwacy Wiśniowiecki
1703 1709 Grzegorz Antoni Ogiński
1707 1709 Michał Serwacy Wiśniowiecki
1709 1709 Ludwik Pociej
1709 1728 Stanisław Ernest Denhoff
1728 1735 vacant
1735 1744 Michał Kazimierz Radziwiłł
1744 1762 Michał Józef Massalski
1762 1775 Aleksander Michał Sapieha
1775 1780 Józef Sosnowski
1780 1791 Ludwik Tyszkiewicz
1791 1792 vacant
1792 1793 Szymon Marcin Kossakowski
1793 1794 Józef Zabiełło

See also


  1. Poczet hetmanów Rzeczypospolitej. Hetmani koronni pod redakcją Mirosława Nagielskiego, Warszawa 2005, s. 391-392.

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