Jan Tarnowski

Jan Amor Tarnowski

Coat of arms Leliwa
Spouse(s) Barbara Tęczyńska
Zofia Szydłowiecka


with Barbara Tęczyńska
Jan Aleksander Tarnowski
Jan Amor Tarnowski
with Zofia Szydłowiecka
Zofia Tarnowska
Jan Krzysztof Tarnowski
Noble family House of Tarnowski
Father Jan Amor Junior Tarnowski
Mother Barbara of Rożnów
Born 1488
Tarnów, Poland
Died May 16, 1561 (aged 7273)
Wiewiórka, Poland

Jan Amor Tarnowski (Latin: Joannes Tarnovius; 14881561) was a Polish nobleman, knight, military commander, military theoretician, and statesman of the Crown of the Kingdom of Poland. He was Grand Crown Hetman from 1527, and was the founder of the city of Tarnopol, where he built the Ternopil Castle and the Ternopil Pond.


Tarnowski was born in 1488, the son of Jan Amor Junior Tarnowski, Kraków's castellan, and his second wife Barbara of Rożnów, granddaughter of the knight Zawisza the Black. He was a scion of an important family clan started in the mid-14th century by Spycimir Leliwita, castellan of Kraków. Tarnowski had five half-siblings from his father's first marriage: Jan Amor the Elder, Jan Aleksander (d. 1497), Katarzyna, Zofia and Elżbieta.[1] He had also five half-sisters from his mother's first marriage.[2] He spent his earliest years in Rożnowo and Stare Sioło. He was originally intended to become a priest; but after his father's death in 1500, his mentor Maciej Drzewiecki convinced Barbara of Rożnowo to abandon this plan. In 1501, Tarnowski was sent to the king's court; but on 17 June 1501, king John I Albert died and he returned to Rożnowo, to his mother's domain.[3]

Bust of Tarnowski on the Krasiński Palace in Ursynów.

In 1508, Tarnowski fought against Muscovy in the battle of Orsza; in 1509, against Moldavia in the battle of Chocim, and upon the Dniester as a commander of his own chorągiew (banner/company).[4] In 1512, he was involved in the battle of Łopuszna, in which the Tatars were defeated by the Polish forces.[5]

He made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, and in 1518 became a knight of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. He travelled extensively across Europe, and was knighted by king Manuel I of Portugal for his services against the Moors in Africa.

Tarnowski was the owner of Tarnów, Wiewiórka, Rożnów, Przeworsk, and Stare Sioło. In 1522, he became castellan of Wojnicz; in 1527, voivode of the Ruthenian Voivodeship; in 1535, voivode of the Kraków Voivodeship. In 1536, he became castellan of Kraków and starost of Sandomierz, Stryj, Żydaczów, Dolina, Sandecz, Chmielnów, Lubaczów and Horodło.

Tarnowski's parade burgonet morion helmet.
Hetman Tarnowski

In 1521, he participated in the Ottoman-Habsburg wars. He was among the first Hetmans of the Polish Army after its great reforms. He led the Polish Army to many victories, among them the battles of Obertyn against the Moldavians in 1531, and of Starodub against the Muscovites in 1535 during the Muscovite wars.[6]

Tarnowski developed, among other things, horse artillery, field hospitals financed by the government, headquarters services, and field sappers. Throughout his entire service as a hetman, he preached a doctrine of flexibility.[6]

Poet Jan Kochanowski wrote a poem O śmierci Jana Tarnowskiego (On the death of Jan Tarnowski). He is also one of the characters depicted in Jan Matejko's painting Prussian Homage.


In about 1511, Tarnowski married Barbara Tęczyńska, daughter of Mikołaj Tęczyński, voivode of the Ruthenian Voivodeship. She was the niece of his first mother's husband.[5] After her death, Tarnowski married Zofia Szydłowiecka in 1530. He had four children, among them Zofia Tarnowska and Jan Krzysztof Tarnowski.

Important Works


  1. Podhorodecki, Leszek (1994). Sławni hetmani Rzeczypospolitej. Warszawa: Wydawnictwo MADA. p. 17. ISBN 83-86170-06-9.
  2. Dworzaczek, Włodzimierz (1985). Hetman Jan Tarnowski. Z dziejów możnowładztwa małopolskiego. Warszawa: Instytut Wydawniczy PAX. p. 17. ISBN 83-211-0584-X.
  3. Podhorodecki, Leszek (1994). Sławni hetmani Rzeczypospolitej. Warszawa: Wydawnictwo MADA. p. 18. ISBN 83-86170-06-9.
  4. Podhorodecki, Leszek (1994). Sławni hetmani Rzeczypospolitej. Warszawa: Wydawnictwo MADA. pp. 20–21. ISBN 83-86170-06-9.
  5. 1 2 Podhorodecki, Leszek (1994). Sławni hetmani Rzeczypospolitej. Warszawa: Wydawnictwo MADA. p. 21. ISBN 83-86170-06-9.
  6. 1 2  Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Tarnowski, Jan". Encyclopædia Britannica. 26 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.


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