The Battle of Hodow, the second Polish Thermopylae, is remembered on a new silver coin

The National Bank of Poland (NBP) is continuing its series of coins showcasing some of the battles in Polands history where the home nation was very much the underdog. The second coin in the series, following one released last May featuring the Battle of Zadworze, it’s struck in an ounce of sterling silver and eschews colour and gimmickry for a classic look. This one depicts the Battle of Hodow and is a much more interesting design than the 2017 coin.

A mounted Hussaar in full charge is a dynamic piece of work and the map background grounds the imagery to a specific time and place. Last years portrait is quite staid in comparison and we feel this one will have wider appeal outside of Poland. The obverse is common to the series. Packaging comprises of the standard grey box used by the NBP and they’re decent enough, also enclosing a certificate of authenticity. Minatge is set at 18,000 pieces and it will be available from 5th June.

REVERSE: presents a hussar companion sent to “elears from Okopy”. The image of the hussar in full armour, wearing a leopard pelt, with a wheel lock arquebus and 2 wheel lock pistols (according to the guidelines of Stanisław Jabłonowski, Great Crown Hetman, from 1693, on armour and weaponry of Polish hussars from “trench banners”) has been placed against the background of a rough drawing depicting fortifcation of Okopy Świętej Trójcy.

OBVERSE: depicts Athena, the Goddess of just war and wisdom.

MINTS DESCRIPTION: Hodów, a village near Pomoryany, about 80 km from Lviv (in the borderland between Halych Land and Podolia; at the present a village in Ternopil Oblast (province) in Ukraine). It is here that on 11 June 1694 a historical battle took place between a cavalry group of the Polish Crown army and the Tatar troops intending to launch a sabotage raid on the Ruthenian Voivodship.

Polish forces consisted of cavalry banners from the garrison: Okopy Świętej Trójcy (Holy Trinity Trenches) (at the mouth of the Zbruch River near Kamianets-Podilskyi), among which there were almost 100 hussars and maybe 300 mediumcavalrymen (pancerni). They were commanded by Konstanty Zahorowski. The Okopy forces were supported by 200 Mikołaj Tyszkowski’s cavalrymen from other border fort – Szaniec Panny Marii (Virgin Mary Rampart). Zahorowski’s subordinates distinguished by excellent defensive skills and fortitude. Enemies called them “undefeated men”.

The group of cavalry from Okopy, called by their contemporaries “elears from Okopy”, cut across the path of the Tatar invasion near Hodów. Due to the number of the enemy’s troops, estimated by some witnesses at 40 thousand soldiers, the“elears from Okopy” garrisoned rural buildings from where they defended themselves against the Tatars, on foot and using long frearms. Interestingly, when they had run out of bullets, they loaded their arms with heads of Tatar arrows, which hailed down in a huge amount during several-hour-long exchange of fre. According to contemporary reports, all Polish soldiers were wounded during the defence. Despite this, the soldiers from Okopy did not surrender, and the Tatars withdrew, discouraged by the conduct of Zahorowski’s subordinates. Thus their sabotage raid had proved futile.

The valiant defenders of Hodów were compared, even in their own times, to the 300 Spartans defending Thermopylae. John III Sobieski, the King of Poland, commissioned a monument commemorating their victory. “They fulflled their need to demonstrate a steadfast attitude as Spartans did against Persians”, as a hussar, Kazimierz Dłużewski, commented on the soldiers’ attitude.

Zbigniew Hundert, Ph.D.

COMPOSITION 0.925 silver
WEIGHT 28.28 grams
DIAMETER 38.61 mm
MINTAGE 18,000
BOX / COA Yes/ Yes