Kacper Karliński

Kacper Karlinski - a forgotten hero

‘Ostoja’ -  Refuge - Polish noble coat of arms

In  1587 after the death of the Polish king Stefan Batory, king Sigismund III Vasa (Zygmunt III Waza) iss elected. His opponent to the Polish throne was the Austrian Archduke Maximilian Habsburg, who then enters Poland and sets his troops for Krakow. After an unsuccessful attempt to conquer Krakow Maximilian moves forward to the north of Poland and in mid-December 1587 reaches the walls of the Olsztyn castle. The leader of the defense of the castle is a governor of Olsztyn Kacper Karliński with Ostoja (Refuge) coat of arms. His crew consists of 80 soldiers. Austrian troops launch an assault but they are beaten off. The next attempts end with the same result. Resigned Maximilian is about to withdraw the troops but his partisan Stanislaw Stadnicki called "the Devil of Łańcut" comes up with a devilish idea. Stadnicki attacks Karlinski’s court in Karlin  (today's suburbs of Zawiercie, Silesian Province sląskie), burns it, robs and kidnaps Karlinski’s 6 year old son with his nurse. The child is then used as a living shield during the next assault on the Austrian troops. The defenders of the castle freeze at this sight, but Kacper Karlinski cries: "At first I was a Pole than I was the father," and fires the cannon. A child dies on the spot. All the cannons  fire, the last attack is repulsed and the siege collapses. Plunged in despair Karlinski refuses to accept the dignities and honors. He dies 3 years later. Such poets as Fredro, Syrokomla, Wladyslaw Belza, Damrot and others write about his heroism.

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