Tuesday 5 December 2023

Battle of Khotyn 1621

Prolific author Michal Paradowski’ latest offering in Helion’s Century of the Soldier series is The Khotyn Campaign of 1621. Polish, Lithuanian and Cossack armies against the Ottoman Empire.

Michal’s approach to this subject is to give the reader a clear day-by-day account of the operations of the armies involved in this rather prolonged battle waged from 2 September to 9 October 1621. At its end the allies had successfully held off numerous assaults by the Ottoman’s on their defended camps, a feat lauded as a victory insofar as the advance of the Ottoman army was stopped in its tracks.

Before describing chapter on the battle, the author provides the reader with an introduction to the relationship between the Commonwealth and the Ottoman Empire in the early seventeenth century. The Khotyn campaign actually began in 1620 with the defeat of a Polish army and the subject of this book is on what would be the final battle of the war one year later.

Before launching into the operations around Khotyn Michal provides a detailed description of the campaign in 1620, a fascinating introduction to the military systems of the nations involved, their commanders and the preparations for the forthcoming campaign. The Battle of Khotyn is covered in great detail and the day-to-day approach works really well as a means of documenting the action. Of course, while this was all going on, the Cossacks and Tatars were engaged in numerous cross border raids which help put the main subject of the book into a wider context.

Michal has again made great use of primary sources, such as diaries and official letters otherwise inaccessible to non-Polish speakers, which allow the English-speaking world a much deeper understanding of the conflict.

As ever, the book is packed full of contemporary black and white illustrations and the central bloc of eight colour plates depicting troop types involved in the campaign are wonderful, as are the four pages of flags and banner of both sides. The appendices are splendid, and include orders of battle and ‘army lists’ for both the 1620 and 1621 campaigns. There are also several contemporary documents, and I found the one describing the English and Irish troops who were sent to Poland (although they were deployed against the Swedes rather than the Ottomans) particularly interesting, if only because I had no idea that such an expedition took place.

This is a well written and, judging by the extensive bibliography, meticulously researched book covering a subject largely unknown to me, and the author is to be commended on the end result of his labours.

Of course, this book will provide plenty of itching for wargamers to scratch. Thankfully I already own more Poles and Ottomans than you could shake a stick at (where did that saying come from?), although I don’t have any Cossacks having sold them all (unpainted and doomed never to see the brush) a few weeks ago. 

ISBN 978-1-804513-50-7. 250 pages. Soft back.


  1. It's a good book and I enjoyed learning more about the campaign. I have Ottomans and Poles... but have no Cossacks (at the moment ..)

  2. Thank Colin, I'm glad you enjoyed it.