Hieronim Radziejowski’s Mission to Turkey in 1667
Museum of King Jan III’s Palace at Wilanów

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Museum of King Jan III’s Palace at Wilanów

Hieronim Radziejowski’s Mission to Turkey in 1667 Roman Marcinek

After the conclusion of the Polish-Russian truce in Andrusovo (1667), anxiety prevailed in Istanbul. The Sultan’s officials and military men began to suspect that the agreement could put the Turkish and Tatar lands at risk. The angry murmurs of the Crescent were somewhat exaggerated, as the Polish-Muscovite alliance was still a long way off, and Turkey, involved in a war with Venice, did not intend to open a second front. To avert a crisis, the Commonwealth, exhausted with fighting, decided to send a mission to the Porte, headed by the Vice-Chancellor of the Crown, the Governor of Livonia Hieronim Radziejowski. In February 1667, Radziejowski received the necessary powers, and in early June 1667 he entered Edirne. From that time comes an interesting document (issued in print by Sadok Barącz [1]) entitled Droga Pana Posła Radziejowskiego do Porty Othomańskiej (Lord Envoy Radziejowski’s Way to the Ottoman Porte).

It is worth quoting its passages referring mainly to the ceremonial and social aspects, as the political consequences of the mission are well known to historians.

Having entered the Wallachian land on the Dniester frontier at Khotyn His Lordship the Legate  was greeted by a courtier from the Wallachian Hospodar [Radu XII Leon]. And the man provided HL the Legate with victuals through the whole Wallachian land. [...] He [the Legate] let himself be persuaded to stop in Jass and the Hetman, the Chancellor and other [Wallachian] officials greeted His Lordship the Legate, who, with one foot out of the carriage, bowing his cap a little, greeted them, and reproached the  Hospodar for not coming. After these ceremonies, the officials  mounted their horses, and rode on both sides at a distance; while the youth, or rather the Boyars and Wallachians on very beautiful horses, keeping the Hussar order, [...] raced behind. Towards Jass, about thirty companies with drum beating and playing escorted them to their quarters. A great multitude of ordinary people came out, and, music playing and drums beating, they were given bread and other things as gifts. Having come to the quarters, HL the Legate thanked them and stayed while they rode off. HL the Legate invited them to the banquet, but  all of them declined.

The next day [...] His Lordship the Legate gave gifts to the Hospodar and his wife. In return, HL the Legate received gifts from the Hospodar. In these three days, in the morning and in the evening for a good night’s sleep drums were beaten and played under the windows of HL the Legate. On the fourth day, HL the Legate left Jass escorted by the local officials and troops whom, having disembarked the carriage, he thanked as well as the Hospodar. When he was back in the carriage and going, each of the troops separately showed in vim Felicis gressus, playing and beating drums [...] Five weeks later HL the Legate was entering Edirne where  the Turkish Emperor [Mehmed IV] resided. About a mile therefrom, a grizzled horse was brought from the Emperor with a gold embroidered velvet seat and a harness of gold, which was mounted by HL the Legate and we all followed. So entered the one hundred and twenty strong retinue, followed by the youth, the servants and the company. Behind them rode the Secretary of the Legation preceded by the Janissaries on foot, approaching Edirne, and  we were met by the Chaush Pasha and the Aga with their people, similar to our crown officials, who bent their heads and greeted His Lordship the Legate [...] Then they escorted HL the Legate to his quarters through the whole city. [...] After a little while the Chaush Pasha sent in fruit and meat to the kitchen to banquet him. The next day the Aga also sent in fruit and mutton; we lived there two and a half weeks before we were allowed an audience when they let us know that HL the Legate would be received by the Emperor in the camp under tents outside the town where they had moved tens of Janissaries. So we entered there like Edirne, when tents were pitched for us, too. Then the Legate got off and fruit was immediately sent in from the Kaymakam as well as  several sheep for the kitchen.

On the third day, thirty horses were sent to the audience to the Kaymakam who was substituting for the Vizier. Then the Chaush Pasha and the Aga, preceded honoris causa by the Janissaries, led us there. Having ridden to the tent, HL the Legate got off his horse. Two old men came out and led HL the Legate by the elbows to the place where a chair was put for him, [...] HL the Legate spoke French to the Interpreter and the Interpreter spoke Turkish to the Kaymakam. After the welcome and handing the letters, coffee was served and then sherbets to which the assembled were treated. Next, gifts were given to Kaymakam, his wife and the court, as well as to the great Chaush Pasha. Interim, sherbet was brought in a golden goblet with a gold embroidered scarf which was given to the Kaymakam who took a drink and passed it to HL the Legate, while wiping his lips at the same time, and the others drank, too.  After a little while they brought a  foulard under which there was incense and they incensed, first the  Kaymakam and then the Legate. [...] So they escorted us to the quarters. The next day, the Kaymakam sent for the Legate, asking him for a register of gifts, and asked from whom they were, from the King or from the Commonwealth. The Legate said: I have not come from the King of Persia, not from the Moldavian or Wallachian Hospodar, but from the Polish King my Lord, though I have no gifts from him; but if I have any, they are from me, […] so I will give the register when I give the gifts. They replied: the Emperor will not take them, if they are from you and not from the King, and if you do not give them at the audience; he said: I will not give them but I am sending the Envoy Markoni and Mr Stadnicki  to tell the Kaymakam that these are my private gifts because they come from myself and the audience  is public, which makes them private and public gifts at the same time. […]

The next day at dawn 30 horses were sent in, a beautiful grizzle horse with  Hussar tack for the Legate which he mounted quickly, followed by the youth and servants who rode at their own pace, and when they left the town, the military arranged themselves on both sides  between which we rode up to the Emperor’s tent, [...] mares decorated so beautifully, in different clothes, saddles set with pearls, with precious stones whose splendour the human eye could not have enough of and it was difficult to see the beauty of one hundred and forty horses so richly dressed. Furlongs ahead of the tents, HL the Legate dismounted his horse and was led to the tent, and there he was banqueted, and served in clay bowls, [...] after dinner the gifts from the Legate were taken by the Janissaries and kept until after the audience  in order for the populace not to see that they were from His Majesty the Polish King. Then he was led to the Emperor and was seated at the gate for more than an hour, and there he was given a caftan, His Lordship kissed it, then it was put on him. [...] Having received the caftan,  His Lordship the Legate again sat half an hour by the fence at the gate, then the Chaush Pasha came to let him know it was time for the audience, and as soon as he stepped in the gate two men took  quickly His Lordship by the underarms and led him up to the Emperor,  and HL the Legate bowed low, and the other gentlemen were made to bow down to the ground and told to give way, and there HL the Legate handed the letter from the King over to the Emperor, who himself replied that whatever was in the letters from his neighbour, he was ready to establish relations when agreed through the agency of his Legate.

In his letter to Sultan Mehmed IV, King Jan Kazimierz, indicating the difficulties in the Polish-Turkish relations, at the same time asserted that Poland wanted to maintain friendship and good relations with Turkey. The Emperor’s attire was as follows: first some whitish robe which could not be well seen as it all glittered with kanaks [necklaces], white feathers on the sides of his head with emeralds as large as goose eggs hanging from them, and on the forehead another feather hanging down, his small turban was set with kanaks. On the fourth day, HL the Legate was invited by the Kaymakam to a banquet where they were conferring secretly, and three days later the Legate asked the Kaymakam to come to him with a small company for a friendly talk.

Radziejowski negotiated, being aware that the Turkish party conditioned peace with Poland on breaking the treaties with Moscow. As long as you are with Muscovy, we will not treat with you. The mission was additionally impeded by a disease, probably contagious, which Radziejowski contracted in Edirne. It was rumoured that the angry Sultan would certainly imprison them all in a distant fortress. Those concerns caused Radziejowski to fall heavily ill on July 20. In the days to follow, his sufferings did not abate, when on the 29th [of  July] the Chaush Pasha came to him with the Emperor’s order for the Legate and his entourage to vacate the previously occupied houses and move to a caravanserai allocated to him, a stuffy, cramped, uncomfortable place, and even dangerous for the patient for lack of air. He was denied even a few days in the house he occupied, with no consideration for the initiated treatment and the arrogant Kaymakam’s deputy announced that his exasperated lord commanded, in the event of resistance, to throw them all out not fearing to offend the Giaours. So the patient was transported, the whole retinue being carefully guarded, he was forbidden to walk around the city, and the concern was still magnified by the news of the furious anger of Muhammad, who had some of his courtiers beheaded, others imprisoned, still others ear- and nose-pruned. All that was caused by the news of the Polish forces being gathered in Ukraine [ 2]. On the 8th of August, 1667 the legate died, and the mission was continued by the Cześnik [Cup-Bearer] of Sochaczew Franciszek Wysocki [who was the legation secretary]. He also completed the document cited above whose manuscript version (The Account of Polish Mission to Turkey, i.e. in Edirne Performed on the 16th of August 1667 by His Lordship the late Honourable Hieronim Radziejowski, the former Vice-Chancellor of the Crown, [...] commenced by His Majesty the King’s Legate, and by me, Franciszek Kazimierz Wysocki, the Cześnik of Sochaczew of HM the King, the secretary of this legation, finished) is in the Ossolineum collections.

It was he who managed to achieve the “peace pact” with Turkey, dated the 21st of July. According to it, Jan Kazimierz was to forbid the Cossacks to attack the property of Tatars and Turks, the Polish King was to send gifts to the Khan every year (in return, the Khan was to appear whenever called for). On the 19th of August, 1667 Wysocki set off on his way back home. The conditions he brought with him to Poland turned out to be unacceptable. Their fate was to be finally decided by the Sejm convened for December 1667. However, when in October the Crown Hetman Jan Sobieski defeated the Tatars at Podhajce, supported by Petro Doroshenko’s Cossacks, the situation changed abruptly. Turkey waited in vain for the Commonwealth’s response; and received it indirectly. On the 4th of December, 1667 a treaty was signed in Moscow on cooperation of Russia and the Commonwealth against Turkey and the Tatars, on the demarcation of the border between the states and on compensation for the Polish nobility, banished from the lands occupied by Russia.

And for future envoys travelling to Turkey, Joachim Benedykt Chmielowski compiled the following instructions in the mid-18th century: “The Legate has to have great patience towards some disgusts of the Turks, however, he must be brave with the dignity of his  Monarch. 2. He should have magnam prudentia, rerum gerendarum magistram. 3. He must sometimes satisfy non obstat the Turks’ spirit, however, without degrading his own character. 4. Gifts are most important for this nation until si nihil attuleris, ibis Homere foras; but you need to manage this in order to keep their eagerness under control, by sharpening their appetite but not satisfying it at the same time. Non ita, ut dare plus non possis  5. They respect above all stability, solemnity, preferably emphasized by a severe facial expression. 6. One should not engage in too much familiarity with the Turks, in accordance with Seneca’s words: Utrumque Vitium est & omnibus credere, & nulli. You can consort with anyone politically, but with no one intimately. 7. Your interpreter should be a foreigner, not a Turk, because in Turkey indigena, ut indigne creatura may not talk with the Monarch. 8. In general, a Legate is required to have omnigena Virtus, temperantia in food and drink, in speech, an abstemious and corruption-free hand. 9. The splendour of mind against Turkish threats. 10. Full loyalty to his Principal both in commissis and in responsis. 11. A beautiful mind, language skills, knowledge of history, knowledge of status of every Monarch with the Porte.” Every diplomat should read these recommendations carefully, even in our times.

[1] Droga pana posła Radziejowskiego do Porty Othomańskiej, [in:] S. Barącz, Pamiątki dziejów polskich, Lwów 1855, pp. 74-81.
[2] L. Hubert, Zatargi Polski z Turcyą w 1667 i poselstwo Hieronima Radziejowskiego, „Biblioteka Warszawska. Nowa Serya” 1858, vol. II, p. 489.

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