Konstanty Kalinowski

Konstanty Kalinowski

Konstanty Kalinowski ( _be. Касту́сь Каліно́ўскі [Name "Kastus" began to be used in XX century] (Kastuś Kalinoŭski), also known under his Polish and Lithuanian names of Konstanty Kalinowski or and Kostas Kalinauskas; 1838-March 24, 1864) was a writer, journalist, lawyer and revolutionary. He was one of the leaders of Belarusian and Lithuanian national revival and the leader of the January Uprising in the lands of the former Grand Duchy of Lithuania. His coat of arms was Kalinowa.

Kastuś Kalinoŭski was born to an impoverished szlachta family of a manager of the "Mostowlany" farm and manor near Haradok. After graduating from a local school in Svislach in 1855 he went to Moscow, where he started studying at private law school. Soon he moved to St. Petersburg, where he continued his studies at the University of St. Petersburg and got involved in several Polish students' conspiracies and secret cultural societies. After graduating in 1860 he returned to the area of Hrodna, where he continued to work as a revolutionary.

He also started publishing "Mużyckaja praŭda" ("Peasant's truth"), one of the first periodicals in Belarusian (written in lacinka) and two other Polish language clandestine newspapers. In his literary work, Kalinoŭski underlined the need to liberate all peoples of the former Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth from Russia's occupation and to conserve and promote the Greek-Catholic faith and Belarusian language. He also promoted the idea of activisation of peasants for the cause of national liberation, the idea that was until then dominated by the gentry. He also referred to the good traditions of democracy, tolerance and freedom of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, as opposed to national oppression of cultures dominated by Imperial Russia.

After the outbreak of January Uprising he was involved in the secret "Provincial Lithuanian Committee in Wilno" ("Prowincjonalny Litewski Komitet w Wilnie"). Soon he was promoted to the commissar of the Polish government for the Grodno Voivodeship. His writings made him popular both among the peasants and the gentry, which enabled the partisan units under his command to grow rapidly. Because of his successes he was promoted to the rank of "Plenipotentiary Commissar of the Government for Lithuania" ("Komisarz Pełnomocny Rządu na Litwę"), which made him the commander-in-chief of all partisan units fighting in the areas of today's' Eastern Poland, Lithuania, Belarus and Ukraine.However, after initial successes against the Russian armies, the Russians moved a 120,000 men strong army to the area and the revolutionaries started to lose most of the skirmishes. Finally Kalinowski was betrayed by one of his soldiers and given into the hands of the Russians. He was imprisoned in Vilna (modern Vilnius), where he wrote one of his most notable works - the "Letter from Beneath the Gallows" ("Pismo z-pad shybienicy"), a passionate "credo" for his compatriots. He was then tried by a court martial for leading the revolt against Russia and sentenced to death. He was publicly executed on Łukiszski square in Vilna on March 24, 1864.

Because of his involvement in liberation of the nations of Central and Eastern Europe, he is considered by marginal political forces to be a national hero of Belarus, Lithuania and Poland alike.

Related reading

* Jan Zaprudnik, Thomas E. Bird: "Peasant's Truth, the Tocsin of the 1863 Uprising" in: "Zapisy Belarusian Institute of Arts and Sciences. Vol. 14". New York, 1976
* Kastuś Kalinoǔski, commentaries by Jan Zaprudnik and Thomas E. Bird: "The 1863 Uprising in Byelorussia: "Peasants' Truth" and "Letters from Beneath the Gallows". Byelorussian Institute of Arts and Sciences, The Krecheuski Foundation, New York, 1980


External links

* [http://www.belarusguide.com/culture1/people/Kastus.html Detailed biography]
* [http://www.belarus-misc.org/writer/kalinouski.htm Biography]
* [http://www.cus.cam.ac.uk/~np214/lacin.htm History of Lacinka]
* [http://purl.oclc.org/belarus/010 Kastuś Kalinoŭski, an article by Leŭ Haroška]

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