Polish Crown Army

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The Polish Crown Army ( pol.Armia koronna ) was the Polish part of the armed forces of the two common republics Kingdom of Poland and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania from 1569 until the dissolution of the Polish state as a result of the Third Partition of Poland in 1795.


Since the 15th century there was a small standing army , which was under the supreme command of the Polish king . This army was called obrona potoczna and had a strength of 1,500 to 3,000 men. In the event of war, it was reinforced by the aristocracy ( Pospolite ruszenie ) and mercenary troops . In 1562 the Sejm approved reinforcement of the standing army. From then on the army consisted of 3,000 to 5,000 men and consisted mainly of light cavalry led by so-called hetmans ( grand hetman of the Polish crown and field hetman of the Polish crown ). The name of the army changed; henceforth it was called (in German) Quartigna because a quarter of the royal domain income should be used for their maintenance. They should protect the border in the south and east against Tatar incursions.

After the formation of the Real Union with the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, the Polish Crown Army and the Lithuanian Army formed the joint armed forces, with both armies remaining independent. The Polish Crown Army made up about two-thirds to three-quarters of the total strength of the Polish-Lithuanian army.

By 1660 the Polish Crown Army had reached a strength of 54,000–60,000 men. From this point on, their number steadily decreased, as the Polish central power steadily lost power due to wars and opposition of the nobility and a corresponding defense infrastructure could no longer be maintained.

The aristocratic confederations typical of Poland at the time had their own army forces that were not subject to the Polish king. These could sometimes outnumber the Polish Crown Army.

The strength of the Polish Crown Army in the Great Northern War is listed below according to the individual branches of service.

Unit 1696 1699 1700 1702
Hussaria 2046 1530 1530 1600
Musketeers 1116 940 900 900
Panzerreiter 6315 4900 4770 4920
Light cavalry 2252 680 660 710
infantry 9240 7230 6740 7040
Hungarian infantry 635 470 470 470
dragoon 2260 2500 2500 2500
TOTAL 23,914 18,250 17,570 18,140

With the growing influence of the neighboring powers as it became visible on the Mute Sejm of 1717, the defense capabilities of the Crown Army continued to decline in the 18th century. In 1717 the total strength of both armies approved by the Sejm was 24,200 men, of which 18,000 men formed the Polish Crown Army and 6,200 men were provided by Lithuania. This made it inferior to its neighbors Prussia , Russia and Austria many times over. This already small number sank further in the course of the 18th century to 16,000 men.



  • Brzezinski, Richard: Polish Armies (1): 1569-1696 (Men-At-Arms Series, 184), 1987, Osprey Publishing, ISBN 0-85045-736-X .
  • Brzezinski, Richard: Polish Armies (2): 1569-1696 (Men-At-Arms Series, 188), 1988, Osprey Publishing, ISBN 0-85045-744-0 .

Web links

Commons : Crown Army (Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth)  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Wimmer J. Materiały do Zagadnienia liczebności i organizacji armii koronnej w latach 1690-1696 // Studia i Materiały do Historii Wojskowości. Tom 9, Cz. 1. Warszawa, 1963.
  2. ^ Wimmer J. Wojsko Rzeczypospolitej w dobie wojny północnej 1700-1717. Warszawa: Wydawnictwo Ministerstwa Obrony Narodowej 1956.
  3. ^ Wimmer J. Wojsko Polskie w przededniu Wojni Polnocnej (1699-1702). // Studia i Materiały do ​​Historii Wojskowości. T. 1. Warszawa, 1954. pp. 339-392.
  4. ^ Wimmer J. Wojsko Rzeczypospolitej w dobie wojny północnej 1700-1717. Warszawa: Wydawnictwo Ministerstwa Obrony Narodowej 1956.