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Konstanty Kalinowski.

Konstanty Kalinowski ( (KastuŇõ KalinoŇ≠ski), also known under his Polish and Lithuanian names of Konstanty Kalinowski or and Kostas Kalinauskas; 1838 ‚Äď March 24, 1864) was a writer, journalist, lawyer and revolutionary. He was one of the leaders of Belarusianmarker and Lithuanianmarker 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.

KastuŇõ KalinoŇ≠ski was born to an impoverished szlachta family of a manager of the Mostowlanymarker farm and manor (now in BiaŇāystok Countymarker. After graduating from a local school in Svislachmarker in 1855 he went to Moscowmarker, where he started studying at private law school. Soon he moved to St. Petersburgmarker, 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 Hrodnamarker, where he continued to work as a revolutionary.

He also started publishing MuŇľyckaja praŇ≠da (Peasant's truth), one of the first periodicals in Belarusian (written in lacinka) and two other Polish language clandestine newspapers. In his literary work, KalinoŇ≠ski underlined the need to liberate all peoples of the former Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth from Russia'smarker 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 Russiamarker.

After the outbreak of January Uprising he was involved in the secret Provincial Lithuanian Committee in Wilnomarker (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 PeŇānomocny RzńÖdu na Litwńô), which made him the commander-in-chief of all partisan units fighting in the areas of today's' Eastern Polandmarker, Lithuaniamarker, Belarusmarker and Ukrainemarker.
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 handed over into the hands of the Russians. He was imprisoned in Vilnamarker (modern Vilnius), where he wrote one of his most notable works - the Letter from Beneath the Gallows (Pismo z-pad szybienicy), 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 ŇĀukiszski squaremarker in Vilnamarker on March 24, 1864.

Thanks of his involvement in liberation of the nations of Central and Eastern Europe, he is considered to be a national hero of Belarusmarker, Lithuaniamarker and Polandmarker 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 Yorkmarker, 1976
  • KastuŇõ Kalino«Ēski, 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


  1. Name Kastus began to be used in XX century

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