Vol. XXI (XCV). Mirosław Lenart, Miles Pius et Iustus. Christian Soldier of Catholic Faith in the Culture and Writing of Early Republic of Poland (16th – 18th Century), Warszawa 2009

     The book Miles Pius et Iustus. Christian Soldier of Catholic Faith in the Culture and Writing of Early Republic of Poland (16th – 18th Century) is a study into how a role model of a pious and just soldier, long present in the Christian tradition, underwent transformations and how it was propagated. This role model enclosed ethical fundaments crucial for modelling behaviours, in the first place among the gentry, which was of particular importance in the times of the Counter – Reformation.
    The study has been based on source material which so far had not been adequately analyzed and interpreted, especially as refers to mutual relationships between the texts used for modelling the religious behaviour and attitudes of people engaged into the military struggles of Poland, among all in the 16th and 17th century.
    The presentation of the title subject required an extensive introduction into the issue, covering the origins and meaning of notions such as militia Christi, Miles Christi, pugna spiritualis, miles christianus along with some remarks on the confrontation of the ideas milizia and lettere in the Renaissance culture. Analysing the presence of such themes on the Polish ground allowed for a more detailed presentation of the most important prayer books and formative spiritual texts intended for soldiers against the background of the European literature of such character, and primarily against the sources which had been used by Polish authors. Special attention has been paid to the relationship between Żołnierskie nabożeństwo (Soldiers’ service) by Piotr Skarga, Bellatorem Christianum by Mateusz Bembus as well as Prawy rycerz (The righteous knight) by Szymon Starowolski and their common source which had been the treaty on writing books for the military by Antonio Possevino („Trattato… sopra il modo di fare un compito libro militare, non solo pei capitani et soldati, ma insieme pei sacerdoti, che ò ne gli esserciti, ò ne i presidii viuono con essi”) which can be found in the Venice edition of Il soldato christiano (Venetia 1604), taken from an earlier work by this author: Bibliotheca selecta… (Romae 1593).
    As the authors of formative texts intended for the military were most often military chaplains, part of this work has been devoted to their presence in the Polish army and to the service they rendered, the evidence of which remained in numerous texts they wrote. A separate part has been devoted to the presentation of works dealing with the spiritual warfare, such as Wieża Dawidowa (The Tower of David) by Stanisław Kołakowski or Żołnierz duchowny (The spiritual soldier) by Szymon Okolski. The subject of spiritual gear has been shown against the background of the Christian tradition, stressing the importance of this topic for the literature and culture of the Reformation. A full chapter of the book presents liturgical texts the tradition of which is related to the chivalrous culture of the Middle Ages and analyzes liturgical and private prayers on the basis of the source material available. In this context the work discusses phenomena closely related to liturgy, such as the presence of aspirations (pious ejaculations) on arms and armour as well as the usage of magic signs and items.
    Another matter discussed is the cult of holy soldiers in the history of Christianity and the cult of saints related to it and widely present in the Polish military. It was related to the search of the perfect commander, who was seen not only in Christ or the leader of the heavenly hosts St. Michael Archangel but also in the person of Mary, who was named in Poland the Hetman of the Sarmatians. The last chapter is a discussion of the soldier prayers used since the times when Christians began to appear en masse in the structures of the Roman army. The most important elements of such texts used to communicate with God have been shown. In this part of the work an attempt has been made to present phenomena such as the usage of aspirations as battle cry and to reconstruct the condition of soldier life basing on the texts of battle songs which contain fragments mentioning the misery and suffering of soldiers.

                                                                                                                 przełożyła Wanda Rak