History of Polish Intelligence Services - Commonwealth


Though the first official Polish government service entrusted with espionage, intelligence and counter-intelligence was not formed until 1918, Poland and later the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth had developed networks of informants in neighboring countries. Envoys and ambassadors had also gathered intelligence, often using bribery. Such agents included the 17th-century Polish poet Jan Andrzej Morsztyn.

Polish kings and Polish-Lithuanian military commanders (hetmans) such as Stanisław Koniecpolski maintained intelligence networks. The hetmans were responsible for intelligence-gathering in the Ottoman Empire, its vassal states and disputed territories such as Wallachia, Moldavia and Transylvania. Intelligence networks also operated in Muscovy and among the restless Cossacks.

In 1683, during the Battle of Vienna, the Polish merchant-spy Jerzy Franciszek Kulczycki secured a promise of military assistance for Vienna, besieged by the Turkish forces of Kara Mustafa Pasha, and thus facilitated the victory of a Christian European coaltion led by Polish King Jan III Sobieski. Kulczycki is reported to have received as reward for his services the Turks' supplies of coffee beans and to have established Vienna's first coffee house.

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