Remembering Commonwealth of Both Nations: Winged Hussars back in Belarus’s Hrodna

About 50 Polish reenactors came to the Belarusian city of Hrodna to honor the memory of King Stephen Bathory.

The Poles brought a lot of costumes and uniform which contributed to reenacting the life of the militare elite of the Commonwealth of Both Nations.

“Hussars is part of the history of both Poland and Belarus as well. The two nations lived in the Commonwealth. And the richest Belarusian aristocrats joined the Hussars as well. They won battles together! Let’s recall the battle of Kircholm in 1605, when the hussars defeated Sweden’s army in spite of being outnumbered. Interestingly, after the battle the winner, Hetman Jan Chodkiewicz, came to Hrodna with the army and quatered here, in the Old Castle. This is our common history,” Belarusian historian Andrey Vashkevich says.

“Stephen Bathory was one of the best rulers in the history of the Commonwealth, not only that of Poland. Earlier, on the day of his death we pay a tribute to him in Krakow, but now visa-free regime gave an opportunity to do it here, in his favorite city, from which he started out for winning our territories back. And I think that the Belarusians should respect Stefan Batory as an outstanding king. After all, if he had failed to reclaim Polatsk and Vitsebsk areas from Ivan the Terrible, these cities would hardly belong to Belarus these days,” Polish reenactor Bartosz Sedliar believes.

It is the first time that Hrodna has hosted such an event. The occasion was the 430th anniversary of the death of Stephen Bathory, who died in Hrodna in December 1586 when preparing the next march on Moscow. To make sure his death was natural, the king’s mistrustful associates sanctioned an anatomic dissection of his body – the first one in Eastern Europe.

Although reenactors from Warsaw, Krakow, Lublin, Lodz, Katowice, Wroclaw and other cities had to spend four hours stood at the Belarusian-Polish border, they were pleased with the warm welcome and sunny weather.

“Of course, it is easier to organize such an event in the EU, where there are no boundaries, where one can safely carry [reenactors’] arms,and so on. But here we managed to establish contacts with Belarusians. Of course, we do not have influence on politics and diplomacy, but we would like it to be a ray of positive light for further cooperation between Poland and Belarus, for improving relations. As far as we know, these relations are very good. Our peoples are like-minded, we are neighbors,” adds Sedliar.

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