Zamojski or Zamoyski, Jan (both: yän zämoiˈskē) [key], 1542–1605, Polish statesman, general, and author. He championed the rights of the lesser nobility; after the extinction (1572) of the Jagiello dynasty, he used his influence to restrict the royal power with constitutional limitations, thus transforming Poland into a royal republic. A humanist, he supported art and learning and founded both the city and the university of Zamość. His De senatu Romano (1563) showed great admiration of ancient Rome, and he sought to apply constitutional principles of republican Rome to the Poland of his time. As a result of his reforms, Poland avoided the trend toward absolutism that characterized the other states of Europe. Always opposing the candidacy and influence of the Hapsburgs, Zamojski secured the election (1573) of Henry of Valois (later Henry III of France) as king of Poland; in 1575 he supported Stephen Bathory, whose chancellor he became in 1576; in 1587 he succeeded in putting Sigismund III on the throne. Appointed (1580) commander in chief, he distinguished himself against Russia, Sweden, the Crimean Tatars, and the hospodar [governor] of Moldavia. During his last years his relations with Sigismund III were strained because of the king's pro-Hapsburg policy.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
See more Encyclopedia articles on: Polish History: Biographies