Konrad Bobіatyńskі. The Great Hetman of the GDL Mіchaі Kazіmіerz Pac’s career and mіlіtary actіvіty

Michał Kazimierz Pac (1624-1682), the Great Hetman of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and Voivode of Wilno, belonged to the most interesting, and at the same time most controversial figures that left their mark on the history of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth of the second half of the 17th century.

Pac’s military career should be recognized as the one of the most spectacular in that times. In August 1656 Pac was made a Rotmistrz and as early as at the turn of 1666/1667, that is just over ten years later, he became Great Hetman. Naturally, in the 17th century the chances to advance the career depended mainly on social standing and political protection the individual person could counted on, as well as on vacancies following deaths or promotion to the higher offices. It is obvious in the case of Pac that without certain favourable factors — mainly the favourism of his cousin Krzysztof (Grate Chancellor) and the royal couple who in 1654 began to establish a new regal party in Lithuania — he would have never been promoted over the middle rank of the command cadre in the Lithuanian Army.

Pac cannot be regarded as one of the most outstanding and brilliant commanders such as Janusz Radziwiłł or Wincenty Gosiewski, not to mention Jerzy Lubomirski or John Sobieski. Pac was a practitioner who acquired experience and shaped the art of war on the battlefield, but he lacked a thorough theoretical education and apprenticeship in the Western foreign armies. He was good cavalry commander but he lacked the experience and ability to coordinate various arms; he had difficulties with handling sieges or commanding the units of infantry regiments and artillery.