Christian Ludwig von Kalckstein (1630 – 8 November 1672) was a
Prussian count, colonel, and politician who was executed for
2 In popular culture
3 See also
4 External links
Kalckstein was the son of Count Albrecht von Kalckstein, a strong
critic of Frederick William, Elector and Duke of Brandenburg-Prussia.
During his youth Kalckstein had served in the French army under
Turenne, but was dismissed as being disorderly. He entered the
Polish army in 1654, but fought for Duke Frederick William at the 1656
Battle of Warsaw, for which he was rewarded with a captaincy in the
district of Oletzko. In 1659 the duke dismissed Kalckstein after the
clerk of Oletzko accused the young noble of embezzlement and
maltreatment of his subjects.
The Kalckstein family were staunch defenders of the Prussian estates
and opposed the centralizing absolutism of Frederick William; Prussia
had been a fief of the
Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth until Frederick
William achieved sovereignty in the 1660 Treaty of Oliva. After being
dismissed from Oletzko, Kalckstein reentered the Polish army and
plotted against Frederick William from the Polish capital, Warsaw.
After Albrecht's 1667 death, his sons disputed the inheritance;
Christian Ludwig was accused by his siblings of conspiring to murder
Frederick William and invite Polish troops into Prussia. Although
his siblings' evidence was dubious, Kalckstein contrived the idea of
asking his servants to perjure on his behalf in the case. When this
was found out, Kalckstein was convicted of lèse majesté and
sentenced to life imprisonment. Upon the arrival of the duke in the
Prussian capital, Königsberg, the following year, Kalckstein begged
for mercy and had his sentence reduced to a fine and exile to his
In March 1670 the
Junker fled by sledge to
Warsaw to present a
protest to the Sejm of the
Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth as the
self-appointed representative of the Prussian estates.
Frederick William was alarmed that the rebellious Kalckstein would
inspire opposition in the estates, which met in July 1670 to discuss
the duke's requests for funds for his army. When King Michał Korybut
Wiśniowiecki of Poland refused to extradite Kalckstein, Frederick
William ordered his diplomat in Warsaw, Eusebius von Brandt, to
capture Kalckstein. Brandt had the noble secretly bundled in a
carpet and returned to Prussia at the end of 1670.
Frederick William disregarded Michał's objections, accurately
predicting the Polish king would not make "an elephant out of a
gnat". In order to make an example for the Prussian estates, the
duke had Kalckstein tried in 1671 by a special court consisting mostly
of non-Prussians. The prisoner was also tortured in order to reveal
his accomplices. Kalckstein was sentenced to death in January 1672 and
beheaded at Memel on 8 November 1672. The execution of Kalckstein,
the only political execution during Frederick William's reign,
contributed to the submission of the estates to the duke's authority
during the 1670s.
In his last letters to his family Kalckstein asked his wife to move to
Poland and there, raise their children up in the Lutheran faith and
teach their children the fundamentals of arithmetic as well as the
Polish language. In a separate letter to his children he told them to
"learn Polish, and secure yourselves in Poland for there is no place
for us left in the now enslaved Prussia".
In popular culture
von Kalckstein was the prototype for the character of Krzysztof
Dowgird in a popular 70's Polish TV action series Czarne Chmury (Dark
Lizard Union (medieval)
the original Adjudgment (German)
^ Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie
^ a b c Fay, p. 60
^ a b c Fay, p. 64
^ a b c Koch, p. 57
^ a b c d McKay, p. 142
^ McKay, p. 143
F. L. Carsten, The New Cambridge Modern History: volume V: the
ascendancy of France 1648-88, CUP Archive, 1961,
ISBN 0-521-04544-4, Google Print, p.549
Fay, Sidney B.; Klaus Epstein (1964). The Rise of Brandenburg-Prussia
to 1786: Revised Edition. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston.
Koch, H. W. (1978). A History of Prussia. New York: Barnes & Noble
Books. p. 326. ISBN 0-88029-158-3.
McKay, Derek (2001). The Great Elector. Harlow: Pearson. p. 286.
Margaret Shennan, The Rise of Brandenburg-Prussia, Routledge, 1995,
ISBN 0-415-12938-9, Google Print, p.34