he first, still wooden-earth fortification may have been erected here in the 12th century. It served as the capital of the castellany, one of the main centers of state administration in the then Mazovian district, which indicates the mention of a Sochaczew castellan named Falanta (1221). The settlement was irretrievably destroyed in 1286 by the troops of the Ruthenian Duke Vladimir Vasylkovich supported by the Lithuanians, so it functioned for little more than a century. It was only on the initiative of one of the Mazovian dukes:
Siemowit II (d. 1345) or Siemowit III (d. 1381), that a Gothic castle was erected on the grounds of the former wooden stronghold. Its existence in the middle of the 14th century is confirmed by a document from December 27, 1355, which lists the brick castles in Mazovia, among them castrum in Sochaczew.
RUINS BEFORE AND AFTER REVITALIZATION
he oldest mention of Sochaczew as a town dates back to 1323, although it is possible that it was located as early as the end of the 13th century. During the reign of the dukes of Mazovia, it played an important role as the military, administrative and political center of the region, which is evidenced by the fact that it was here that the convention of noblemen and dukes took place in 1377, during which the customary laws binding in the whole region were codified. In 1410, at the foot of the castle the royal army of
Władysław Jagiełło marched, and probably also stopped here, on their way to war with the Teutonic Order. Four years later, although not in the castle but in the town square, on the fourth anniversary of the Battle of Grunwald, the king's deputy Zawisza Czarny (d. 1428) solemnly declared war on the Teutonic Knights (known as the Hunger War).
RUIN ON PAINTING BY KAZIMIERZ STRONCZYŃSKI, 1850
MAZOVIAN RULERS IN SOCHACZEW (THE PERIOD OF THEIR RULE)
Leszek of Mazovia (1173-1186) - son of Bolesław IV the Curly and Wierzchosława of Nowogród, ruled from the age of thirteen. An ally of the Sandomierz Duke Kazimierz II the Just. Since childhood he had serious health problems, which made his life short. He died childless at the age of about 23.
Kazimierz II the Just (1186-1194) - the youngest son of Bolesław III and Salomea of Berg. Duke of Wiślica, Sandomierz, Cracow, and from 1186 Mazovia and Kujawy. As a young man, he stayed at the court of Frederick Barbarossa as a hostage of his brother's loyalty to the emperor. He was regarded as an excellent commander and skillful politician. Kazimierz had five sons and two daughters. He died during a feast, drinking from a cup.
Konrad of Mazovia (1194-1247) - son of Kazimierz II the Just and Helena. Duke of Lesser Poland, Mazovia and Kujawy (until 1200 co-ruled with his brothers). He brought the Teutonic Knights to Poland. Konrad became known as a tyrant, for political purposes he repeatedly kidnapped, imprisoned, maimed and killed. He married Agafia, a princess of Nowogród-Siewierz. Ten children were born to him from this marriage: five daughters and five sons.
Siemowit I of Mazovia (1247-1262) - son of Konrad of Mazovia and Agafia. While Konrad was still alive, he became a cruel executor of his sentences (including the torture and hanging of the Płock scholastic Jan Czapla). Siemowit came into conflict with his brother Kazimierz, as a result of which he was imprisoned in the castle of Sieradz. He was killed in Jazdów (now Ujazdów, a district of Warsaw) during an armed raid of Lithuanian troops. He had three children: two sons and one daughter.
Konrad II of Czersk (1264-1275) - son of Siemowit and Perejesława. During his youth he was held in Lithuanian captivity. He took over the rule at the age of 16, after returning from Lithuania. An ally of the Hungarian king in his dynastic conflict with Bohemia. In 1275 he was forced to cede a part of Mazovia with Sochaczew to his brother Bolesław. Konrad married princess Jadwiga, the daughter of Silesian Duke Bolesław Rogatka. He had only one daughter.
Bolesław II of Mazovia (1275-1313) – Konrad's brother. He ruled in the Duchy of Płock from 1275, and in the whole of Mazovia from 1294. At the beginning of the 14th century, he founded a castle in Warsaw. Bolesław married twice: to Gaudemunda of Lithuania, and to Kunegunda, daughter of the King of Bohemia. From these marriages he had three sons and two daughters.
Siemowit II of Rawa (1313-1345) - the eldest son of Bolesław II and Gaudemunda. The duke of Warsaw and Liw, from 1313 the Duke of Rawa. Siemowit II made alliances with Teutonic Knights, which made him a threat to Polish Duke
Władysław Łokietek. Siemowit never married. He is considered to be one of the most probable founders of the castle in Sochaczew.
DRAWING BY F. BRZOZOWSKI, 1882
MAZOVIAN RULERS IN SOCHACZEW (THE PERIOD OF THEIR RULE)
Bolesław III of Płock (1345-1351) - son of the Duke of Płock Wańko and Elizabeth of Lithuania. He considered himself a vassal of Czech King
Jan Lucemburský, which was supposed to guarantee him the territorial integrity of his duchy (located between two mighty countries - Poland and Teutonic state). Bolesław died, hit by an arrow while chasing Kiejstut, the ruler of Lithuania. He never married.
Kazimierz I of Warsaw (1351-1355) - son of the Duke Trojden I of Czersk and Maria Halicka from the Ruryrkowicz family. Duke of Czersk, Rawa, and from 1349 of Warsaw. In 1351, he paid homage to
Kazimierz the Great, King of Poland, in exchange for a promise to receive the whole inheritance of Bolesław III of Płock, if the king died childless (Bolesław bequeathed a large part of his lands to the king). Kazimierz of Warsaw died young and had no wife.
Siemowit III (1355-1381) - brother of Kazimierz of Warsaw, one of the most eminent rulers of Mazovia. For many years he was an ally of the Polish King
Kazimierz the Great, in 1364 participated in the famous congress of European monarchs in Cracow. After the king's death, Siemowit united Mazovian lands, issued a collection of laws, reformed judiciary, administration, and ducal tax system. He built castles in Gostynin and Rawa. He was married twice: to the Princess Euphemia of Opawa and the Princess Anna of Ziębice. The prince accused Anna of marital infidelity and had her strangled (historical fact), and gave the alleged bastard child (now a legend) to the villagers to bring it up. This story is supposed to have inspired
William Shakespeare, who used it in his drama The Winter's Tale.
Siemowit IV of Płock (1381-1426) - son of Siemowit III and Euphemia of Opawa, candidate for the husband of Queen Jadwiga and would-be king of Poland. After the death of
Nagy Lajos (King of Hungary and Poland) he actively participated in the struggle for the royal throne (some nobles proclaimed him king), during which he made an attempt to kidnap Jadwiga from Wawel. During his reign in the duchy, he continued its economic reconstruction, modernized the law, and located new towns. He married the Polish king's sister, Aleksandra Olgierdówna. Siemowit had as many as twelve children: five sons and seven daughters. He became blind in his old age.
Siemowit V of Rawa (1426-1442) - the eldest son of Siemowit of Płock and Aleksandra. He participated in the Battle of Grunwald, the war with Lithuania, and the Hussite expedition to Gdańsk. He was a candidate for the title of Grand Duke of Lithuania and for the Polish throne (after King Jagiełło's death). He was also involved in a famous argument between princes and bishops about who should take the place closest to King
Władysław III Warneńczyk during his coronation. Siemowit married the princess of Racibórz, Małgorzata. He had one daughter.
Władysław I of Płock (b. 1442-1455) - brother of Siemowit V, political man, participant of many alliances, but generally not favorable to Poland. He was married to Anna Oleśnicka and had two sons with her. He died of tuberculosis.
Anna of Oleśnica (1455-1476) - daughter of the Silesian Duke Konrad V and Władysław's wife. As a widow, she received the castellany of Sochaczew, which she ruled until 1476, when the land was annexed to the Kingdom of Poland.
THE CASTLE IN PHOTOGRAPHS FROM THE BEGINNING OF THE 20TH CENTURY
Kazimierz Jagiellończyk (d. 1492) incorporated a part of Mazovia with the town of Sochaczew to the Kingdom of Poland and the act of incorporation was signed just in the castle in Sochaczew. From then on, the stronghold no longer served as a ducal residence, but as the seat of a castle starost with a chancellery and archive, as well as a royal station serving the ruler in his numerous trips around the country. In peacetime, the castle was inhabited by a small crew, called castri family, which consisted of, apart from the starost and his deputy, a small contingent of militia, a key-keeper, a gate-keeper or a doorkeeper, night watchmen, a cook and a water-carrier. Sixteenth-century documents also mention the chaplain and the baker, who worked in the castle bakery but lived in the nearby village of Czerwonka.
THE RUINS IN 1909
lready at the beginning of the 16th century the condition of the castle left much to be desired, which could be attributed to the unstable slope of the castle hill, or perhaps by the lack of proper care by its hosts. This is evidenced by the description of the castle from before 1509, which states that its exterior walls, blanked, of brick, destroyed... After the death of
Jakub Szydłowiecki (d. 1509) the starosty was taken over by
Krzysztof Szydłowiecki (d. 1532), the Grand Chancellor and Voivode of Cracow, who also held the rare title of Count of Szydłowiec. He repaired the castle walls, renovated some of the rooms, and may have also established a royal chapel. At the same time, earthen ramparts adapted to the use of firearms were built around the castle. Later, the starosts of Sochaczew were, among others: Rafał Cybulskicoat of arms Prawdzic (d. 1567), Piotr Szczawiński
coat of arms Prawdzic (d. ca. 1594), and Stanisław Tarłocoat of arms Topór (d. 1599). Apparently, however, they did not care enough about the castle, because by the end of the 16th century it was in a very bad condition.
DESTRUCTION OF THE NORTHERN SLOPE OF THE CASTLE ESCARPMENT, PHOTO FROM THE 1920S
RECONSTRUCTION WORKS ON THE WESTERN SLOPE, 1936
n 1608 the northern part of the castle collapsed as a result of a landslide on the north-eastern slope of the hill. The damage was so extensive that King
Zygmunt III Vasa ordered the then starost Stanisław Radziejowski
(coat of arms Junosza, d. 1637) to demolish the medieval walls and rebuild the entire structure in the Renaissance or early Baroque style. The Polish king was keen on this investment, as he probably planned to use the newly built castle for a royal station or residence, which would host foreign envoys going to Warsaw. However, with time - perhaps due to the king's financial problems - the enthusiasm for the project waned, and the construction work lasted a very long time and was eventually never completed. In 1638 the height of the walls reached only above the first floor and the entire building was covered with a provisional roof.
SOCHACZEW CASTLE IN THE MIDDLE OF THE XVII CENTURY, CONCEPT AUTHOR: Ł. POPOWSKI, DRAWN BY B. SZUSTKIEWICZ
n 1655 the Swedes invaded and burnt down the castle, causing irreparable damage to the documents and archives located here. From then on, it remained ruined for more than century and a half. It was not until 1789-90 that starost
(coat of arms Lada, d. 1795) managed to rebuild it and put the chancellery and archives there. This new building served its purpose for only four years, because after the outbreak of the Kościuszko Uprising in 1794 it was destroyed by the Prussian artillery. Its reconstruction was never undertaken again, and the abandoned walls collapsed or were demolished over time.
he castle hill is situated south of the town, from which it is separated by a narrow gorge. From the south and east, a deep moat was dug around the hill (seen in the photos above), which made access to the castle very difficult. The top of the hill was occupied by a brick castle, which had a plan similar to a trapezoid with sides of 35x30 m and a total area of about 1200 m2. The buildings were dominated by two towers: the eastern rectangular tower with sides of 4.5x7.5 m and the northern tower, whose plan and spatial layout is unknown. Presumably, the towers originally measured no more than 5 to 8 meters in height, and were not raised until the 16th century.
HYPOTHETICAL PLAN OF A XV-CENTURY CASTLE ACCORDING TO Ł. ADAMKOWSKI: 1. NORTH TOWER, 2. EAST TOWER
3. ROYAL HOUSE (MISSING ON PLAN), 4. OLD HOUSE (MISSING ON PLAN), 5. OLD GATE, 6. NEW GATE
t the end of the 15th century two representative residential buildings stood on the castle grounds: the royal house and the old house. The royal house was adjacent to the southern wall. It consisted of three stories with food storage and cellars and (above) spacious living quarters for the ruler. The royal house was connected to the west with the two-story old house, equipped with a chamber and a prison on the ground floor. Above them, the starost's offices were arranged. The northern part of the castle originally included the aforementioned tower, and next to it an entrance gate to the courtyard, which was probably moved to the eastern tower at the end of the 15th century and preceded by a long bridge.
VISUALIZATION OF A GOTHIC CASTLE IN SOCHACZEW BY JAN KANTY GUMOWSKI, 1938
t the beginning of the 16th century, a building called the new Szydłowiecki's house was erected in the northern part of the castle. Its ground floor housed staff quarters, and the first floor - had several rooms of a residential character. The castle arsenal was probably located in the eastern tower. Sanitary functions were performed by wooden latrines, installed outside the southern and western wall. The castle was also equipped with a bathhouse, built on stilts by the river. However, it never had its own well, so the water had to be delivered here by a water-carrier.
THE WESTERN WING, BUILT ON THE FOUNDATIONS OF THE MEDIEVAL 'OLD HOUSE'
robably at the turn of the 15th and 16th century two ramparts were built to improve the defensive system of the castle and to adapt it to the use of firearms. The main problem, however, concerned the insufficient stability of the ground on the castle hill. It caused its slopes to slip, which in turn caused the brick walls to crack, resulting in a building collapse (1608). The farmstead, situated outside the castle walls, served as a place for the castle crew. It contained stables for up to 120 horses, workshops, timber yards and a kitchen for the servants. The vast area next to the farmstead was used for pastures, orchards and gardens.
REMAINS OF THE WEST WING
t the beginning of the 17th century the north-eastern part of the castle collapsed as a result of a landslide. Consequently, the old castle was demolished and a three-winged mansion raised on its foundations. Its most representative part was the western wing, which housed the so-called dining room. The narrower other two wings accommodated rooms of lower rank. On the foundation of the eastern tower a new octagonal tower was erected, which took over the function of the castle chapel. The mansion had a wall no more than 1 meter thick. The entrance to the courtyard was situated in the eastern wing, next to the tower, and led over the moat on a bridge made of oak timbers.
PLAN AND VIEW OF THE RUINS: 1. HALLWAY, 2. CHAPEL, 3., 4., 5. CHAMBERS, 6. DINING ROOM,
7. SMALL HALLWAY, 8. TREASURY, 9. SECOND HALLWAY WITH STAIRS
here are virtually no remains of the medieval castle. The ruins we can see today on the hill are relics of a manor house from the late 18th century, which have little to do with defensive architecture anymore, although part of the walls may date back to the early 17th century. The layout of all three castle wings and the moat, which clearly cuts off the steep hill from its surroundings, is easily identifiable. In the first decade of the 21st century, archaeological work was carried out on the castle grounds. As a result, previously unknown foundations were uncovered, which may have been a relic of the northern gate. A large amount of pottery, tiles and fragments of everyday items were also found. Then the hill got revitalized and developed for tourism. The ugly amphitheater located at the foot of the hill was demolished and replaced with a new one, which is ugly too.
OLD AND NEW AMPHITHEATER AT THE FOOT OF THE CASTLE HILL
Free admission 24 hours a day.
There is a ban on bringing dogs to the castle hill.
Flying (up to a height of 120 m) near the ruins can be done without restrictions.
AT THE CASTLE IN SOCHACZEW
he castle ruin is located on Romualda Traugutta and Podzamcze streets, a few hundred meters south of the Market Square. It is about 2 km from the railway station.
Bicycles can be left at the parking lot on Podzamcze Street. You can also bring them in along the path that goes up the hill (no need to climb the stairs).
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3. L. Kajzer, J. Salm, S. Kołodziejski: Leksykon zamków w Polsce, Arkady 2001
4. P. Lasek: Początki zamków na Mazowszu w świetle nowszych badań
5. Ł. Popowski: Zamek w Sochaczewie
6. A.R. Sypek Zamki i warownie ziemi mazowieckiej
7. A. Wagner: Murowane budowle obronne w Polsce X-XVIIw., Bellona 2019
Castles nearby: Brochów - the fortified church from the 14th century, 12 km Łowicz - relics of the bishop's castle, 28 km
Radziejowice - relics of the fortified manor house from the 15th century, currently a palace, 40 km Sobota - relics of the castle from the 15th century, currently a neo-Gothic palace, 47 km Oporów - the Gothic castle from the 15th century, 51 km Płock - the castle of the mazovian dukes from the 14th century, 57 km