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Mikołaj Potocki
Personal details
Born 1595
Died November 20, 1651 (aged 55–56)
  • Zofia Firlej
  • Elżbieta Kazanowska

Mikołaj "Niedźwiedzia Łapa" ("Bearpaw") Potocki (Polish pronunciation: [miˈkɔwaj pɔˈtɔt͡skʲi]; 1595 – 20 November 1651) was a Polish nobleman, magnate and Field Crown Hetman of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth from 1637 to 1646, Grand Hetman of the Crown from 1646 to 1651, voivode of Bracław Voivodeship from 1636, from 1646 Castellan of Kraków.

Potocki had two wives, Zofia Firlej and Elżbieta Kazanowska. He had six children with Firlej: Piotr Potocki, Stefan Potocki, Mikołaj Potocki, Marianna Potocka, Wiktoria Potocka and Henryk Potocki. He had three children with Kazanowska: Jakub Potocki, Joanna Potocka and Dominik Potocki.

He was captured during the battle of Cecora by the Turks. In 1633 during the battle of Paniowce, along with Prince Jeremi Wiśniowiecki and Stanisław Koniecpolski he defeated the Turk forces under Abaza pasza.

In the 1637 Pawluk Uprising he defeated rebellious Cossacks under Pavel Mikhnovych at the battle of Kumejki. In the 1638 Ostrzanin Uprising he forced Dmytro Hunia to surrender. After those victories over the Cossacks he received large estates in Ukraine (Kresy).

The 1637-38 Cossack rebellions suppressed by Potocki was minutely described by a Polish historian, a Dominican bishop of Russian province, Szymon Okolski who witnessed and directly participated in the developments of those days. His field diaries became valuable information source for historians.

During the Sejm of 1646 Potocki opposed the plan of the king Władysław IV Waza to wage war against the Turks.

He was known as very oppressive to peasantry and Cossacks. His behavior was one of the causes of the Khmelnytsky Uprising. In 1648 he disregarded the monarch's orders and attacked rebellious Cossacks in Ukraine. He was defeated at the Battle of Korsuń and captured by Tatars. In April 1650 he was released from jasyr. On 28–30 June he was victorious over Tatar and Cossack forces at the Battle of Beresteczko.

On 18 September 1651, after the indecisive Battle of Bila Tserkva he negotiated a treaty with the Cossacks.

He died on 20 November 1651.


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