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John III of Poland

John III of Poland

John (Jan) III Sobieski (1629-1696), king of Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth (1674-1696).

Personal data:

August 17, 1629, at Olesko (now in the Ukraine)
Parents: Jakub (James) Sobieski (1580-1646), Governor of Ruthenian Voivodship and Castellan of Krakow, Zofia Teofillia (Daniłowicz).
Elected king: 28 May 1674
Crowned: 2 February 1676
Died: 17 June 1696 at Wilanow now part of Warsaw, Poland

Royal titles:

Official Latin version: Joannes III, Dei Gratia rex Poloniae, magnus dux Lithuaniae, Russie, Prussiae, Masoviae, Samogitiae, Livoniae, Smolenscie, Kijoviae, Volhyniae, Podlachiae, Severiae, Czernichoviaeque, etc.

English translation: John III, by God's grace King of Poland, Grand Duke of Lithuania, Ruthenia (Ukraine & Belarus), Prussia, Masovia, Samogitia, Livonia, Smolensk, Kiev, Volhynia, Podlachia, Sewierz and, Czernichow, etc.


In 1668 King Jan II Kazimierz appointed John Sobieski the Commander-in-Chief of the Polish army. After a distinguished military career, and following the death of King Jan II Kazimierz's successor, Michael Korybut Wisniowiecki, John Sobieski was elected by the nobility as king of Poland on May 21,1674.

John Sobieski's military prowess, as exhibited in a war against Turkey, contributed to his election as king of Poland. Later he allied with the Holy Roman Emperor. His greatest success came on September 12, 1683 as victor at the Battle of Vienna, with German and Polish troops, once more against the Turks under Kara Mustafa.

He married Marie Casimire Louise de la Grange d'Arquien (1641-1716), of Nevers, Burgundy, France. Their children were:

  1. James Louis Henry, (1667-1736) - Crown Prince
  2. Teresa Kunegunde, (1676-1730) - In 1695, the Princess married Maximilian II Emanuel, elector of Bavaria
  3. Aleksander Benedykt, (1677-1713)
  4. Konstanty Wladyslaw, (1680-1720)
  5. Jan, (1682-1685)

According to Oscar Halecki, noted Polish historical writer, John III planned to occupy Prussia with Swedish cooperation and French support. This undertaking was doomed to failure, because of the war with Turkey, the skillful diplomacy of the Elector of Brandenburg, and the frequent shifts of alliances amongst the western powers.

It is noteworthy that John III came belatedly to the battlefield, but rushed to Vienna in order to receive a hero's welcome, while the Elector of Saxony's German and Austrian troops were still busy on the battlefield tending to their dead and wounded. This may be why John Sobieski's hopes for imperial Habsburg marriages for his children were not fulfilled. His son James married Hedwig Elizabeth Amelia von Pfalz-Neuburg, and James' daughter Maria Clementina married the Duke of Cornwall, the Stuart pretender to the British throne.

In a strange twist of events a statue of John III Sobieski was brought to the city of Gdansk by people from his native land (from L'viv), when they were resettled there. Already John's family had been famous guests in the city. Now the statue overlooks the little park at the old Gdansk town hall, now a museum.

King John III Sobieski, the last great king of Poland, died in Wilanów, Poland on June 17, 1696. His wife, Marie Casimire, died in 1716 in Blois, France and her body was returned to Poland. They are interred together in Wawel Castle, Krakow, Poland.

King John III was succeeded by Augustus II, elector of Saxony who stayed in power primarily because of Russian support. On his death in 1733, a struggle for the crown of Poland ensued, referred to as the "War of the Polish Succession."

Preceded by:
Michael Korybut Wisniowiecki
List of Polish rulers Succeeded by:
Augustus II the Strong