Wonderful account of saber duels, Poland

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    Jean Chandler

    [Originally posted online by Michał Zaorski]

    From Jan Chryzostom Pasek in his memoirs, when partying went terribly wrong and ended up with a *dramatic* saber on saber action involving four men. The event itself took place in 1660.
    Excerpt from “Memoirs” by Jan Chryzostom Pasek, ca. 1690-95, translated from Old Polish by myself. Grammar may be weird, because this is how he wrote and I wanted to stick to that.
    Then, the regimental company, Messrs Nuczyńscy, were drinking at their cousin’s, at Mr. Marcyjan Jasiński, comrade of ours, Mr. Jasinski has also invited me there to this feast. I wish he did not! Then, after drinking hard, Mr. Nuczyński started giving me great occasions [provocations]. I was also this drunk as they were, I say to Jasiński: “Mr. Marcyjan, you had no reason to invite me here, when they are giving me reasons and spill mead on me”. And I went out from the shelter, wanting to escape troubles, saying only: “He who has any claim towards me, should tell me tomorrow, but not while drunk.” I was already halfway, when Nuczyński caught up with me: “Fight me!”. I responded: “Mr. brother, I would not like you to find me lazy, but there are two reasons: one, here’s the camp, two, I do not have a sabre with me, because I’ve been at my companion’s for a sitting, not to war of any kind. However, if it could not be otherwise, tomorrow morning, behind the camp, not in the camp.” So I go to my shelter, he meanwhile was stopped by his youngster, held. He punched the youngster at the face, he released himself, and followed me. I had to walk out, carrying saber. Each time he cuts at me, he says: “You will die”. So I say: “Lord the God rules this”.

    At the second or third cut I’ve reached his fingers and say: “See, you have found want you wanted”. I believed it will suffice him. He, either did not feel it as drunk, or he wanted to avenge himself, jumps at me again, swinging once and twice, and blood already gushes on his face. When I cut him through the pulse [throat], he fell over. Then it was let known to other drinkers, who were thinking he went out for a walk. Younger brother runs forth, starts cutting densely and frequently. Lord the God meanwhile, looked upon the innocence.

    We clash with each other: both hand and saber, fell to the ground. The company also fell out, already after the affair. Then comes Jasiński, host of this revel, and tells me: “You traitor! You have bitten my brothers! Come only at me!” I say “What they were looking for, they have found”. He started calling for a saber, because he did not have one with him, and leads me by my hand. The companions persuade: “You are the host, you should have mediated these things. Do not do this.” He did not let b persuaded by any way, he leads me. Meanwhile, a boy brought him a saber. I was just afraid of him, because few Sundays before, on the eyes of the entire banner, he slashed Paweł Kossowski, our companion. I pulled my hand from him, stood aside and say: “What do I owe you? Let me be!” The company holds him. Once he pushed Drozdowski, they have released him: “Go, until they kill you”. There was a narrow brook, which we had to go through, and narrow footbridges laid over it. “Only there, we will go, under that forest over there; whoever lays the other one down, so he may not return to the camp”.

    He pushed me on those footbridges: “You go first!”. Once I’ve stepped on this plank, he cuts me in the head from behind, only the Venetian velvet was superb, God saved, he did not cut through, only in one place the velvet let go a little, farther only a stripe like from a whiplash. He dazed me however, that I’ve fell from this plank down to the water. I got away from this place, being afraid he will try again, and got to the other side, saying “God, you see my innocence”. As soon I walked out from the water, he already crossed those planks. And I say: “You bite silently, you son of a heathen!” He comes at me: “Soon, I will bite you better here”. And here they went out from the camp, and look, because all banners stood at this brook. He cuts might at me, that the saber trembled in my hand; but I endured. We cut about ten times at each other; nothing happened to either.

    I say: “Enough, Mr. Marcyjan”. He says: “Oh, you son, you did nothing to me, and say enough”. So Lord the God gave, that just after saying this I’ve reached him through the cheek and I leapt away from him. He assaulted me even harder; and I stroke him in the head, like he was not standing on legs. Then I started bashing him with the flat, holding saber in both hands, when he was lying on the ground. And only then the company rushes from ours and other banners, calling “Stop, don’t kill”! I gave him like fifty times, for this treachery, when he chopped me at my head from behind. It was such a bad crisis on this day, that something like fifteen duels took place under different banners. Me however, God had in an obvious protection this day, when he saved me from harm, while dueling three men. And it happened not because of any mettle, but because God respected my innocence. I can remember many examples that “always loses he, who gives the reason”.

    Jean Chandler

    English translation of the source for this here:

    • This reply was modified 1 year, 10 months ago by Jean Chandler. Reason: trying to fix this link
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