Original papers document 17th century ex-pat life in Poland

In 1633, King Władysław IV of Poland recognised the bravery of Scotsman James Mori at the battle of Smoleńsk, and granted him the right to raise an infantry body of some 1,000 men.

The letter granting Mori the privilege also conferred on him command over four captains – and even offered to pay the soldiers ‘in three months’ time.’

The document is one of many relating to the Scots in Poland between 1596 and 1793, collected and published in 1915 by A. Francis Steuart. The collection is fascinating reading for anyone interested in how Poland interacted with its foreign guests in the past, and forms an invaluable first-hand resource for historians.

The letter to James Mori is reproduced below. Read and download the full document, in a variety of formats, at Openlibrary.org.

Copy of His Royal Majesty’s Letters on behalf of  Colonel James Mori, given to him for the raising of Infantry.

Done in the Castle of Cracow.

[Translated from the Polish.]


Vladislas the Fourth, by the Grace of God King of Poland, Grand Duke of Lithuania, Russia, Prussia, Zmudzia, Masovia, and Inflantia ; Hereditary King of the Swedes, Goths, and Vandals ; Elected Grand Tsar of Muscovy.


To the Noble James Mory, our faithful Colonel, welcome to us by our grace, noble, faithful, and agreeable, being

much recommended to us by our Counsellors and Courtiers for his knightly valour and victories in the present Muscovite expedition.


We and the Republic have been witnesses of your bravery under the walls of Smolensk during the whole

time of the siege, so that we not only gave our approval of your command over 200 Dragoons by our private letter, but have chosen you as our Colonel, so that, in addition to the above-mentioned 200 Dragoons, you may collect, by virtue of this present letter, Eight Hundred Foot of foreigners.

Over these, for Captains you shall have the Noble Abraham Zalko, Jacob Heykin, Hedda Hernek, and Thomas Lipin, whose energy, courage, and daring are well known to us. They shall be under your command, so that you may present yourself at Smolensk by the first day of the month of June in the year 1634.

By which time the Well-born Alexander Korvin Gonewski, AVojewoda of Smolensk, as Field-Scrivener of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, shall summon these foot-men together and also make a list of those 200 Dragoons. According to your old list and according as you sign shall our Treasury pay them, that is, inasmuch as you shall draw up new Cavalry. The pay of the foreign soldiers shall be according to that of other Infantry. Pay ought to be in three months’ time, and if the Treasury can pay quicker, then you must show your accounts every month. And if their number does not reach the sum mentioned, the amount they would be paid shall be defaulted to the Colonel — the amount to be paid to the wounded and those who have died. If likewise, the Colonel or Captains gave to a wounded soldier or to one who has since died, for his needs, then this sum, upon his showing proofs, shall be rewarded to him. We likewise allow you for your rations as to other Colonels, by the month, for every squadron, at the rate of 100 zloty.

The Infantry must give us and the Republic the ordinary oath, and at times dig trenches and help the Polish army to make earthworks. If, also, one of the officers of foot were wounded or bulleted then he must be cured and set free from looking after his work.

If, after the formation of this regiment, it happened they were not needed, we shall have a mind for their costs and trouble. This also we add, that you, sir, and your regiment shall be under the command and jurisdiction of

the Well-born Wojewoda of Smolensk, who has our confidence.

This our letter we sign with our own hand, and set thereto the Seal of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania.

Given in copy at Smolensk on the 19th day of October 1633.



3 thoughts on “Original papers document 17th century ex-pat life in Poland

  1. Pingback: Original papers document 17th century ex-pat life in Poland | Halina's Blog

  2. Pingback: This month in history – November in Poland « Gdańsk Polska

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