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Poland marks great victory

Silver proof 20 zlotych struck to commemorate the victory of a small Polish cavalry unit over a large force of Muslim invaders in 1694. (Images courtesy Narodowy Bank Polski)

On June 5, Narodowy Bank Polski released a 38.61 mm, 28.28 g, .925 fine silver proof 20 zlotych to mark the anniversary of the Battle of Hodów, one of Poland’s greatest hours.

In June 1694, a force of some 40,000 Tatar Muslims invaded Poland. Seven cavalry units numbering about 400 from two Polish strongholds and commanded by Konstanty Zahorowski rode forth to stem the Tatar advance. They first clashed in fields outside the village of Hodów on June 11.

A Polish cavalry charge forced the Tatar vanguard to withdraw. However, the arrival of overwhelming Tartar numbers drove the Poles into the village, which they fortified using stakes and palisades left from earlier Tatar invasions.

For the next six hours, Polish troops resisted the Tatar attacks. When they ran out of bullets, they improvised ammunition from Tatar arrows. Finding they could not defeat the Poles, the Tatars tried to parley and convince them to surrender. Despite all his Polish soldiers being wounded, Zahorowski refused, and eventually the Tatars withdrew.

King John III Sobieski, himself a victor of numerous battles against the Muslims, hailed his cavalrymen as heroes, comparing them to the 300 Spartans who had defended Thermopylae.

Coin mintage is 18,000. The obverse design is the work of Urszula Walerzak and the reverse that of Dominika Karpinska-Kopiec.


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