CHAPTER VI

The Koniecpolski Family

 

After the death of Eleanor Radziwill (Jazlowiecki) in 1617, her vast possessions passed in inheritance to various distant relatives. The Jazlowiec estate, which at the time consisted of the town, 31 villages and several lesser properties, was left to Czurzylo, Bogusz, Kaszewski,

Stanislawski and Tyszkiewicz families. There are no records to give us details on who of the above remained in possession of the town and its castle, but in all likelihood, none of the families resided in Jazlowiec. According to some later records, both the town and the castle were for some time in the hands of hired managers or lessees.

The first document revealing the name of a person directly responsible for the town's affairs related to a long-lasting feud between the secular clergy and the Order of the Dominicans over the rights to the church properties that were once left to the parish by Mikolaj Jazlowiecki. According to this document, one Jadwiga Belzecka, apparently a member of the Czurzylo family who changed her name through marriage, as landlord of the town, became involved in the dispute. She at first took the side of the secular clergy, an act for which the local Dominicans excommunicated her. Under such pressure, she reversed her decision and gave the Dominicans the rights to the properties in question, of which the nearby village of Niezbrody (later Znibrody) was the focal point.

This did not, however, provide a permanent solution to the problem, as the lay clergy of the town and their immediate superior, the bishop of Kamieniec Podolski, did not recognize her reversed decision. They took the matter to the Podolian courts, which ended in intervention of the highest authorities of the Church and State. At some point, the matter was referred to the Vatican authorities and to the Polish king, seeking a decision from both. Eventually, in 1639, fifty years after the dispute commenced, it was resolved by the Podolian high court, which divided the disputed properties between the two feuding parties. By the court's decision, the properties were to be completely separated, going as far as to removing the old wooden parish church from the Dominican grounds to a low-lying place in the downtown area of Jazlowiec.

The long-lasting dispute, compounded by the greed of the landlord's officials, had an adverse affect on the town's population, and most of all on the business section of the community. These two factors became in time indirect cause of heavy tax levy on the citizens by both the landlords, who were burdened by church assessment, fines and legal costs; and the lessees, who were in search for quick profits. This two-pronged demand on the population brought the town's business activities almost to a standstill, causing economic hardships and reduction in toll revenues to the state treasury.

This sad state of affairs was brought to the attention of King Wladyslaw IV, who, understanding the importance of keeping trade and business alive, issued two separate decrees in 1638. In these he specifically forbade the owners and the lessees from interfering with the merchants and tradesmen and ordered the landlord to reopen the abandoned trade fairs. He also prohibited the collection of taxes from merchants passing through or participating in the town's trade fairs. In view of increasing competition from the thriving Lwow, the king's intervention could not have come at a more opportune time.

In 1643, the only remaining heir of the Jazlowiec estate, Anna Odrzywolska, sold the town and fourteen villages to a well-know public figure, Stanislaw Koniecpolski. This change of landlords during an economic depression was a lifesaver for the populace. Koniecpolski was an educated man who had already distinguished himself both in public service and on the battlefield. He was the very person that the town of Jazlowiec needed to bring it out of its economic stagnation.

Before he purchased Jazlowiec and its estate, Koniecpolski had already held several high offices in service of the Polish king and his country. As a loyal follower of Hetman (Commander) Stanislaw Zolkiewski, he had participated in military exploits against Moscow and the Turks. In 1620, he was taken prisoner by the Turks at the Battle of Cecora, in Moldavian territory, and was held captive for four years. He was finally released through direct appeal of the Polish king to the Sultan of Istanbul.

Soon after his return to his country, and in command of king's forces, he scored two major victories over the invading Tartars: at Dzwinogrod in 1624 and at Martynow in 1626. A few years later, in the campaign against the Swedes who had invaded Poland's northern frontiers, he engaged them successfully at Trzciana in 1629. In this important victory his forces took 37 Swedish regimental standards, which were later displayed in St. John's church in Warsaw.

In the role of commander of the Polish territorial armies, he checked several attempts by the Cossacks to invade Poland's eastern frontiers. To protect the borderlands against their incursion, he built a powerful stronghold, Kudak, which at the time was considered to be an invincible fortress. It was placed strategically on the routes used by the Tartars and Cossacks to keep check on their forays.

Soon after he acquired Jazlowiec, Koniecpolski issued a decree benefiting the Armenians, confirming the rights provided by the Armenian Statutes, which were codified in 1519 by the Polish King Zygmunt I, guaranteeing their special rights as granted by the Jazlowieckis, so "that they would grow in numbers and prosper". Koniecpolski's decree , signed in 1643, affirmed the autonomous rights and freedoms of Armenians, which were to be preserved by future landlords as well. This signaled the beginning of an economic revival in Jazlowiec, creating a new period of prosperity.

The Armenian community once again brought its skills and resources to bear in the town, which began to recoup its status as an important post on the East-West trade route. The Armenians also showed some internal signs of revival as well, and the increase in their numbers was reason for the return of their bishopric to Jazlowiec; Archbishop Andrew (Andrzej) took residence in the town. The Koniecpolski decree re-instituted their rights to self-government and provided for a body of twelve judges and a mayor to oversee their internal affairs, with the first Armenian mayor under this arrangement a man by the name Bahdazar. Records from this period also show storage facilities with a substantial stock of foreign goods held in them, indicating an increase in the business activities in the town. In all likelihood, much of this merchandise was held in transit, eventually ending up in the markets of the growing city of Lwow.

In his later years, Stanislaw Koniecpolski was called on again to do battle with the Tartars, who were still a major threat to Poland's eastern frontiers. When a substantial Tartar force invaded the country, he hastily collected his troops and defeated the, at Ochmatow in 1646, the same place where Jerzy Jazlowiecki had won his victory several years earlier. Shortly after Koniecpolski's victory, this great Polish patriot and military leader died in his castle. He bequeathed Jazlowiec and the entire estate to his only son, who had been born to his second wife Krystyna (Lubomirska), while he languished as a Turkish captive.

This great Polish leader, often cited in texts on Polish history, apart from being a successful military commander and a capable administrator, was also known for his many sterling traits of character, which made him a contemporary legend among the people. One of the chroniclers of the time describes him thus:

"Stanislaw Koniecpolski was a man of great courage and noble character. In company, he was polite and sociable. He was no hasty to engage in a fight, and in every military undertaking he acted with caution, like his former commander, Stanislaw Zolkiewski. Due to his stuttering habit his friends used to say: 'his actions come sooner than his words.' Physically he was a very strong man. This was evident in the way he handled the bow and arrow. When he let the arrow go it would easily pierce steel armor."

The new heir to the Jazlowiec estate, Alexander Koniecpolski, received his education in the universities of France and Italy. To gain military knowledge, he served for some time under the commander of Auriacus (most probably an Austrian general), in whose service he distinguished himself while fighting in Belgium. Being a young man, he planned a tour of the Orient, to acquaint himself with the cultures there, and India's in particular. However, soon before he was to leave on this long voyage, his father recalled him home, just in time to take part in the battle against the Tartar hordes at Ochmatow.

Alexander's first undertaking as the new landlord of Jazlowiec was to secure his widespread estate against foreign invasions by fortifying the castle in Jazlowiec so that it would withstand any possible siege. The increased size of the fortifications allowed for three thousand men to be stationed within its walls, but there are no details as to what was added to the castle's original fortifications. Most likely the site of the future Poniatowski palace was included within the perimeters of the extended fortress. In it first trial by fire, it was successfully met its defensive expectations by repelling a large Cossack force in 1648.

This new threat from the east had a profound negative effect on the economy of the entire southeast region of Poland. The masses of men from the Ukrainian plains, under the leadership of Bohdan Chmielnicki, a Polish renegade, aligned with Tartars and Wolochs who repeatedly invade Polish territory, plundering and looting towns and villages, taking captives for the slave markets in the East. As a direct result of these invasions, agriculture, the mainstay of the local economy, as well as the lucrative trade industry, was destroyed, and most of the Ukraine lay in ruins. The destruction of the region is best described in the phrase which developed at the time: "Ukraina to ruina" (Ukraine and ruin mean the same). At that point, Chmielnicki, short of funds to carry on war, sold his own subjects into Turkish slavery to raise money to meet his military needs.

The main thrust of Cossack attacks was directed against prosperous towns and cities, where they expected to find rich spoils of war. One of the primary objects of the operations was the city of Lwow, which was then at the peak of its prosperity. The city, besieged in 1648, 1655, 1672, and 1675, had to pay the enemy substantial ransom on every occasion, a sum often exceeding the economic means of the population. This continuous drain on the city's resources brought Lwow to the brink of economic disaster, as business interests sought out areas less affected by the Cossack threat. Jazlowiec benefited to some extent by Lwow's misfortune, as businessmen felt more secure in the town because it lay outside the main Cossack routes, and was well-fortified as well.

During these long and destructive wars, Alexander Koniecpolski was preoccupied with fighting the Tartars and the Cossacks on various battlefield, places like Zbaraz, Zwaniec and Beresteczko. His own town, Jazlowiec, stayed reasonably free from enemy aggression during that time, primarily due to the efforts of one man, a late arrival from Armenia, Bohdan Sefarowicz. Before he settled in Jazlowiec, Sefarowicz received some military training in his native country, and the wars with Tartars and Cossacks gave him ample opportunity to hone his skills.

When the threat of a Cossack invasion became imminent, Sefarowicz organized a home guard unit with the support of his Armenian countrymen to provide an effective defense system for the town and the riches within its walls. Throughout the entire duration of the war with the Cossacks he successfully repelled their repeated attacks, a feat for which his name has been preserved for posterity as the mythical defender of Jazlowiec. Since there is no indication that a major enemy thrust was directed against the town, his military actions must have been carried out against minor forces which he had been engaged in acts of wanton plunder in surrounding countryside. For these actions, Koniecpolski recognized him as the hero of the town, and his grateful countrymen elected him mayor for life of the Armenian community.

Jazlowiec and its citizens, which had been nearly untouched by the Cossack invasion, were even less affected by the aggression of Swedes from the north. During the Swedish incursions, Jazlowiec was far removed from threat of invasion, destruction or foreign occupation. The Cossack threat, which still existed, had begun to subside and successfully checked by the home guards of Sefarowicz, and Koniecpolski's regular forces stationed in the castle. The situation in Jazlowiec was then safe and peaceful.

The Swedish invasion from across the Baltic, lasted from 1655 to 1660, and subjugated most of the western Polish territories to foreign occupation and destruction. In addition, the Cossacks, Russians and the Principality ,of Siedmiogrod renewed their attacks in the eastern Polish territories. This nearly hopeless situation was resolved by a general insurgency against the invaders, as well as by political means. The latter was achieved with the help of Austrian King Karol, who did not wish to have the powerful King of Sweden as his immediate neighbor. His army invaded the Swedish possessions in Denmark, and directly intervened on another front by invading the Principality of Siedmiogrod. Also, the Tartars turned against Cossacks, indirectly benefiting the Poles as well, and eventually, the entire territory of Poland was freed.

During these difficult times, Alexander Koniecpolski was only occasionally home. He spent most of his time fighting his enemies, mostly Swedes. His forces fought successfully against the northern invaders at Warsaw, Malbork and Torun, in the end pushing them out of Poland. While away from home and engaged against the enemy, he suddenly died in 1659, leaving his estate to his only son, Stanislaw.

As mentioned earlier, Jazlowiec managed to stay unaffected by war during these trying times for Poland, and due to her specific circumstances, regained some of her former position as an important trading post in eastern Poland. The revival of the town's business activities is evidenced by documents relating to the period; the most important being the decree of King Jan Kazimierz, issued in 1659 soon after the death of Alexander Koniecpolski, giving the Boym (Boim) family the authority to collect toll taxes in Jazlowiec "located in the district of Halicz in the Podolia Voivodship". This family in return was obligated to pay 30,000 zlotys in two semi-annual payments to the king's treasury. Such a large sum is indicative of the substantial scope of business being conducted in Jazlowiec at the time.

By another decree of the king, the trade fair on St. Basil's Day was reopened, and two week fair starting on St. George Day was added. This is another proof of the town's strong business and marketing position, indicating that it had reached another high point of prosperity in its history. Other records denote that these trade fairs gained in renown in Poland, as well as among merchants of foreign lands. There are references to their popularity among Arab, Greek, Turkish and Moldavian merchants; many of whom traveled to Jazlowiec with their wares to trade for local agricultural commodities.

Other records give detailed description of the town. According to one, there were three gates leading into Jazlowiec through which a merchant or traveler could enter specific business areas. Each of these gates was named after the ethnic group that occupied the part of the town closest to it. Thus, the town had an Armenian gate, a Jewish gate, and a Polish-Ruthenian gate. These were guarded at all times, but the strictest controls were exercised at the time at the fairs so no unwanted element could pass into the town.

Another indication of the town's growth in the first half of the 17th century was the number of public buildings and churches within its walls and surrounding areas. The town's protective walls, and its huge castle, which stood on the highest hill overlooking the town, offered great protection. The castle's west section had added walls, which substantially increased its defensive capabilities. On the east side, it was protected by two massive towers, which served a shield against enemy attack. As stated earlier, this huge fortification could accommodate 3,000 men, which made it the most powerful stronghold in Podolia.

In the center of the town, somewhere in the Jewish section, there was a two-story town hall built of white cut stone. No more detail of this structure and about the activities within its walls was given in the record. One Armenian will gives a good account of the churches and other religious buildings inside and outside the town. It mentioned the Armenian church, which was surrounded with protective walls; and the Armenian monastery, located in a wooded area where the Strypa River and the Olchowczyk stream merged; it also calls attention to the Roman Catholic church, which also was surrounded by protective walls; the Dominican church and Dominican monastery; and it also takes note of two Ruthenian chapels in the town and three on the outside. Since this will was made by a member of the Armenian community, no mention was made of the massive synagogue that had been built on one of three local hills. It also says nothing about a huge slaughterhouse, located by the Olchowczyk stream, and which, as it size indicated, served the people inside and outside the town's walls.

Of the three separate communities, Catholics, Jews and Armenians, each of which exercised the right to self-government, the Armenians were the most numerous, the most prosperous and the best organized. The mere fact that they were able to mobilize their own defenses to protect the town's wealth lends credence to the above statement. As to their wealth, evidence is provided by a four page long list of valuables, which were the common treasure chest of the Armenian community.

In the case of the town's prosperity, one has only to look to the citizens' ability to support the king's treasury by toll taxes, and by providing substantial funds towards the maintenance of the castle's garrison, in addition to taking care of their own guards.

The only contemporary physical description of the town comes from Dalerac, a Frenchman who served in the court of Commander (Hetman) Jan Sobieski. This, related as part of his memoirs, paints a vivid picture of the town's center as he viewed it from the high walls of the castle, where he apparently stopped with his patron. He must have walked the streets of the town since he mentioned the beauty of the town and he must have visited the churches, in particular the Armenian which amazed him by some Slavic writing unknown to him. The description, although short in substance, gives a reasonable view of Jazlowiec at the peak of its development.

He writes:

"In the picturesque valley there is a town, Jazlowiec, arranged in the form of an amphitheater. It extends from the top of the gently descending slopes to the fairly wide stream flowing at the bottom. The stream winds around three hills and passes through the rows of houses built alongside its banks. Wide streets and sumptuous houses on both sides stand decorated with Polish and Ruthenian signs. The presence of several churches enhances the beauty of the town. Close to the impressive Roman Catholic church there is a huge Jewish synagogue. In the center there is a Greek (it had to be Armenian) church and a cemetery with cone shape stones bearing inscriptions in Slavic languages."

The reference to the Armenian church and rich architecture of their community as Greek can be attributed to author's insufficient knowledge of the town's ethnic composition at the time. There never was a Greek community in Jazlowiec, unless he meant Greek Catholics who were Ruthenians. In all likelihood he by mistake took the Armenian centrally-located church and their cemetery with "cone shape stones" as that of the local Greek Catholics. The Only Greek Catholic church in the area at the time, St. Nicholas in suburban Browary, would not have been visible to him from the castle, as the view would have been obstructed by one of the hills.

Around 1670, business in Jazlowiec still must have been substantial. In that year, the Polish king, Korybut Wisniowiecki, decreed additional trade fairs to be held in the town. According to records, the trade fairs were well-attended by local people and merchants from Poland and other countries.

Jazlowiec did not add onto this progress beyond this point in its history. This was primarily due to the invasion of the Podolian territories in 1671 by the Turks and their allies, the Cossacks and Tartars. While the armies of the Turks were checked in that same year by the Polish victory at Podhajce, the Turkish invasion, under the command of Sultan Mohamed IV, was of greater duration and infinitely more damaging to the country. As the major power in the region, the Turks had sufficient resources and manpower to their disposal to invade, capture and hold conquered territories for a substantial length of time.

In the course of this invasion, almost all the Podolian strongholds fell to the Turks, including those at Kamieniec Podolski, Zborow, Jezierna and Zloczow. Only the castles at Buczacz, Jazlowiec and Trembowla remained free of enemy occupation. The first defended by Maria Potocki in absence of her husband, was left intact when the Sultan learned that the woman was in command of the castle. In Trembowla, another woman played the decisive role in the garrison's successful stand against the invaders. The wife of the castle's commander Chrzanowski threatened to commit suicide if her husband proceeded with the planned surrender, thereby stiffening his spine and creating atmosphere for defending the castle.

The castle of Jazlowiec, well-fortified and well-supplied with provisions, manned by Koniecpolski's forces, never allowed the enemy to come close to the town's walls. Records indicate that Koniecpolski himself was in command of the garrison and dealt successfully with lesser Turk and Tartar forces. This also indicates that no major action by the Sultan was taken against the fortress of Jazlowiec.

The former hero of Jazlowiec, Bohdan Sefarowicz, mayor of the Armenian community for life, once again took arms in defense of his homeland. Having organize the Armenian home guard, he kept close watch on approaching enemy units and immediately intervened whenever danger threatened. His military actions were so effective that the town remained free from marauding units of Turks and Tartars throughout the hostilities. It was for this heroic stand that he was elevated by the Polish king to the rank of nobility and given the name Spendowski and Koniecpolski's coat of arms.

The defense of Buczacz, Trembowla and Jazlowiec were only small local victories and had no decisive effect on the outcome of the first war with the Turks. Poland suffered many battlefield defeats and was eventually compelled to sign a treaty with the Turks in 1673 in nearby Buczacz. This treaty is known in Polish history as the "Ignominious Treaty". Under its terms, Podolia and Ukraine became part of Turkish Empire, and also provided some territorial concessions to the Cossacks and Tartars, who from that point on were also to recognize Istanbul as authority in the area.

Since the Buczacz Treaty was not approved by the General Polish Assembly, the Turks again invaded, and in 1676, the Turkish commander, Ibrahim Szejtan, crossed the Danube and entered Poland with its powerful armies. Many major castles fell to the enemy, this time including Jazlowiec. The fortress, although well-manned and provided, gave in to the Turks without fight. This act of abject surrender was blamed on the castle's commander, known to be a habitual drinker and who, in absence of Koniecpolski, decided against defending the town or the castle.

By that time Bohdan Sefarowicz had also passed away and there was no other to take up the mantle left by the brave Armenian and exert influence among the towns people to defend their homes. The invading forces looted the town, burned their houses and took some citizens to be sold as slaves on the Moldavian slave markets. Some escaped this grim fate by leaving the town prior to the invasion, among them large number of Armenians who left for the town of Brody, near Lwow, taking with them the famous painting of the Madonna and the church records in which the history of their community was preserved.

The Turks, and thorn also took the castle of Buczacz to the ground. The castle of Jazlowiec, because of its size and strategic location, was spared destruction, with the Turks utilizing it as a stronghold to exercise military control over the area. They maintained a permanent garrison at the castle, and even made improvements to the fortifications. However, outside the castle, everything went into decay for the duration of the seven-year Turkish occupation.

The Turkish problem was finally resolved in 1683 when their armies were defeated at the gates of Vienna, Austria, a decisive Western victory in which Polish forces under the command of King Jan Sobieski were the decisive factor. Sobieski then followed the retreating Turkish armies of Kara Mustafa into Hungarian territory, flanking the Turks occupying Podolia. This action freed almost all Podolian territory, with the exception of the fortress of Kamieniec Podolski. At the same time, another Polish force under the command of Stefan Potocki dealt a crushing defeat to the remaining Turkish armies in Polish territory.

The main force of King Sobieski liberated Jazlowiec. There are two versions of the story of its liberation, both similar but not identical, by Rubinkowski and Dalerac. Both reported the siege of the castle and its surrender without fight. The difference on their reports relate to the moment of surrender and the behavior of the Turkish commander.

According to Dalerac, The Turkish commander, after viewing a Polish army approaching him from the north on the hill facing the castle, called his men inside to prepare for its defense. In preparation for a long siege, the Poles dug trenches on the hills surrounding the castle, during which they were subjected to Turkish artillery fire from the garrison inside. A few days after the beginning of the siege, the Polish king himself arrived at the camp; his late arrival was due to the fact that his wife, Marysienka joined him, for the first time since the victory at Vienna. Accompanying her were several foreign dignitaries, including the Spanish delegate Montecuculi, Austrian representative Wallenstein and Angelo Morozini from Venice.

Aga, the Turkish commander, refused the king's demand to surrender the castle, until he heard first salvo from the Polish cannon. When the Poles opened fire, he hung white flag from atop the castle's highest tower, but when he surrendered to the king, he expressed fears as to the fate that await him in his homeland, as he had surrendered without fight. The queen, present at the surrender ceremonies, took pity on him and retained him in her service. He served her for the remained of his life, managing one of her estates in central Poland.

Rubinowski's version relates that after laying arms before the king, the Turks marched their Jazlowiec contingent to Kamieniec Podolski, still in their possession. The Turkish commander, before leaving, expressed fears that he would pay with his life when he reported to his superiors. Someone then suggested that he join the Polish army, as some of his men done, but he replied that "I would rather die in Kamieniec Podolski than betray the great Wezyr." It is therefore likely that it was a Turk of lesser rank who was retained by the Queen in her service.

The Polish king parted with his queen and crossed the Dniester River at Zwaniec to liberate some cities south of the river. Before departing, he left a strong military unit in Jazlowiec to protect the immediate area from small groups of Turks and Tartars still present in the surrounding countryside. He gave command of this unit to one of the highest military men (Hetman Polny) in his army, which indicates a strategic importance of the castle and town in the defense of Poland's southeastern frontiers.

Shortly before its liberation, Jazlowiec's landlord, Stanislaw Koniecpolski, the Castellan of Krakow, died in 1682 in the safety of one of his other family possessions. Childless, he left his entire estate, with exception of Brody and Podhorce, to his closest relative, Jan Koniecpolski, the Voivod of Belz. The new landlord did not take up residence in the castle at Jazlowiec, but appointed a governor to administer the town, which at this time was grossly underpopulated due to the war and with many properties in ruin.

The effect of the Turkish wars was total devastation of the town and complete standstill of its former brisk business activities. Most of the public and private buildings were destroyed and severely damaged, including the churches, which suffered the heaviest damage. The Armenian exodus out of the town and the pressing of some citizens into slavery almost wiped out the once-burgeoning community. Only a small number of people survived, basically culled from those in agriculture and services, which were needed by the Turks. Thus, at the time of liberation, only a few Armenians could be found in the town, as well as Jews, Poles and Ruthenians.

The only beneficial aspect of the Turkish occupation was the introduction of fruit orchards and vineyards in the town and surrounding areas. The Turkish commander, soon after occupying the castle, ordered fruit trees and grape vines to be planted on the slopes of the hills, and by the time of the town's liberation, they were fully grown and bearing fruits. The Polish governor, after his appointment, ordered these to be cared for "for the fruits and for the appearance". It must be noted that the vineyards soon gave rise to the vine industry, which in the future became a major revenue producing commodity for the citizens of Jazlowiec and its landlords.

The wine industry became one of the main occupations of the Jewish community, indicating that they were probably the least- affected by the Turkish occupation and therefore in position to acquire the knowledge of growing and producing wine. From this time on they also became the local business and trade group, replacing the Armenians in influence, even though their numbers remained relatively small.

The name of King Jan Sobieski became a common appellation for the town and its citizens during the remaining years of his reign. In 1684, while ending the campaign against the Turks and their Tartar allies, he strengthened the castle garrison to protect against the roving gangs of the enemy. In 1685, he sued Jazlowiec as marshaling area for the troops assembled for the liberation of Kamieniec Podolski. In later years, the town served the same purpose several times. In 1686, the king's army, under the command of Hetman Chelmski, assembled on the town's periphery for the liberation of the rest of Podole. In 1687, King Sobieski visited Jazlowiec again, where he waited for his son's return from an expedition against the Turks in Moldavia. In 1692, another king's expeditionary force collected in Jazlowiec to fight the Tartars.

Activity was still part of the town's being, but this was of little consequence to its revival.

Continuous military activity and presence of the enemy did little to benefit Jazlowiec or Podolia. It did contribute a small amount to increased business activity because of the presence of the military, but the unending turmoil created negative effect on the normalization of trade on the large scale of previous years. It also acted as a drawback because the funding of the garrison maintained in the castle and services demanded from forces in transit placed a great burden on the town's population.

The first signs of improvement are seen in a record from 1700. According to the information, some of the town's former citizens began to return and resettled abandoned properties, which were given by the landlord to families who wanted to rehabilitate and live in them. A town record from the time shows that by permission of Jan Koniecpolski the right of ownership of the former Sefarowicz (Spendowski) estate was given to the Bogdanowicz family. In 1700, the Armenian church also reopened, and the Dominicans took possession of their church and monastery.

Polish history after the death of King Jan Sobieski was fraught with political and military turmoil which led the country to disaster. Sobieski's son, Jacob, the apparent candidate to the throne, was imprisoned by the Saxon King August, who was himself a pretender to the Polish throne. Due to the intrigues of Prussia and Russia, August was elected King of Poland against strong opposition from Poles, who wanted a king of Polish birth.

The Saxon, now known as King August II, was met with strong disapproval from the Polish nobility, who elected their own candidate, Stanislaw Leszczynski, with the assistance of the Swedish king, Charles XII. Leszczynski's rule lasted only five years (1704-1709). After the Swedes became embroiled in a war with the Russians, and had suffered a defeat at Poltawa in 1709, Leszczynski was forced to abdicate and leave the country. King August II then returned to the throne with the help of the Russian czar, Peter the Great. Since that time, Russian interference in Polish internal affairs became a common occurrence.

Jazlowiec, now a reduced and decaying town, no longer enjoyed wide recognition as in earlier years, and as a town no longer supplying revenue for the king's treasury, had no mention in state dispatches or royal decrees. It was not totally forgotten or ignored, however. The king's of Saxon dynasty recognized its strategic importance and made sure that a garrison of trusted men was stationed in the castle. An episode which relates the desecration of the picture of the Madonna, which was held in great reverence by the local population, by the Saxons in 1701, indicates that King August II kept a German unit in Jazlowiec from the very beginning of his election to the Polish throne.

August's antagonist, King Leszczynski, who also stationed troops there during his short reign, also recognized the importance of the Jazlowiec fortress. They were routed from the position by Russian troops in support of King August, who imposed extreme hardships on Jazlowiec's citizens during their short presence in the area.

But Jazlowiec was still recognized as an important military stronghold in the service of the country. It was chosen in 1711 as the meeting place for the conference between the Poles, Turks and Tartars to resolve their differences from prior times of conflict.

The amicable meeting ended the long-lasting state belligerence between all three nations and from that time on, Turkish and Tartar incursions into Polish territory ceased.

The following year (1712), Jan Koniecpolski, the landlord of Jazlowiec, issued a decree restoring the privilege of internal autonomy to the town's citizens. This document wavered so much from prior decrees that it provided a reform in the former system of Jazlowiec's government. The three past independent municipality's -Armenian, Jewish and Polish - were to merge into one with an elective mayoral office (wojt), to magistrates (burmistrz) and some aldermen. While the mayor was to be responsible for the town's administration, with the support of the aldermen, the magistrates were to provide legal service in all minor offenses and disputes; the more serious offenses were to be arbitrated by the governor of the castle. The same decree laid rules for taxation to maintain the newly-created administrative offices.

Koniecpolski's decree confirms the provisions of the ancient Magdeburg Law, by which justice was to be administered in the town as one of its basic components. By the new regulations, elections of the town's offices were to be held every fourth year on the day following Epiphany. All the citizens, with the exception of elected officials, were to contribute money and services for the restoration of the town, especially its decaying walls. The enclosed rates of taxation to be paid on various properties reveals that some of the populace were still engaged in trade and business. It names Armenian, Jewish and Christian shops, the public bathhouse, the barber shop and some stands in the marketplace. The town hall must have been in complete ruin, because it was declared free from taxation until it was rebuilt. The once-a-week trade fairs were still held in the town, but their scope was limited to local business.

Registry of the town's population, prepared for the landlord's needs, gives the following head count: Catholic male - 120, female of all denominations - 118, and others - 48, a total of 286 men and women. Children apparently were not considered in this count. "Others" listed related to the Jewish community, which, as numbers indicate, was at an all-time low.

According to this record, the town's main occupation was agriculture. Apiculture was also wide practiced, mainly by the Armenian monks, who still occupied their monastery in the woods outside the town. This explicitly points to the fact that Jazlowiec was relegated to the position of a small provincial town, sustained by agriculture and moderate trade. It former position as a main business center on the East-West route was now a thing of the past, the role assumed by the fast-growing city of Lwow, which had become the home for most of the Armenians from Jazlowiec.

Since the introduction of the new rules, the town's general condition began slowly to improve. In 1717, several new stores were built in the center of town, a permit was issued for two flour mills, which were built immediately thereafter. The same year, by the permission of Koniecpolski, the Roman Catholic Order of Paulists set up a branch in the castle, serving as its chaplains.

A court verdict of 1718 gives a testimony that a guild of weavers was began by Mikolaj Zadrozny. The record mentions the name of Blazej Kowalski, a weaver who for some reason attacked the guard at the local prison. For this the magistrates fined him, and the guild was to ask them for pardon for their member misbehavior.

Jan Koniecpolski died without any heirs, in 1720. The Jazlowiec estate was left in inheritance to his relatives - two brothers, Alexander and Franciszek Walewski. This was only a temporary arrangement, as they sold the estate shortly after inheriting it. They were, in fact, the last members of the Koniecpolski family who had any connection to Jazlowiec.

 


RETURN TO INDEX <== NEXT CHAPTER