Temat numeru
Szkoła języków obcych
Turystyka językowa
Oblicza języka
Warsztat filologa
Ludzie i języki



O firmie

Nauka języków obcych

Turystyka językowa

Centrum konferencyjne

Księgarnia językowa


Enjoy & Learn

Caspar Tende in Poland

Poles did not visit 17th-century England too willingly. For them, the country was distant, cold, puritan and anti-Catholic. In contrast, Poland attracted quite a number of English people at that time, mainly merchants, diplomats and royal spies. There were also a few world-curious travelers among them. One of them was Caspar Tende, officially King Jan Casimir’s treasurer, who toured Poland in the late 17th-century. His impressions were then published in an account, printed in Paris in 1686 under the pen name of Hauteville.

Tende’s travels across Poland were no bed of roses. He had to endure considerable hardships while on the move. No wonder, then, that apart from the usual descriptions of the landscape, nature and local customs, the English traveler included in his book some cautionary advice and guidelines for those who dared visit the country. One of his main complaints concerns the roads in Poland–how few there are, how those that do exist are often impossible to use because of their poor condition, and how the mud seems to be everywhere. Even horses get stuck in it, not to mention carriages. Tende advises travelers to ensure proper assistance at all times in case their means of transport have to be rescued from the Polish mud.

The Englishman is also concerned about the state of Polish bridges. They seem very rickety– he writes–and in need of immediate repair. But 400 hundred years ago this observation came as no surprise, everybody knew that perfectly well. There was even a proverb known all over Europe: “Polish bridges, German fasting and Italian devotion are three good jokes.” Caspar Tende was quite shocked that despite the fashion in European means of horse-drawn transport, the one most used in Poland was a primitive, creaky peasant’s cart. He therefore finds it highly useful for a traveler to carry a sackful of bedclothes that will serve as something to sit on when given a ride on one of those carts.

His opinion of Polish inns is even worse. In fact, Tende warns travelers that getting a decent bed is next to impossible in Poland. The local understanding of an inn is a large wooden barn with all possible creatures spending the night together under one roof . And that includes livestock. The smell of cabbage stored in a barrel does not make the stay any more pleasant. Also, Tende swears he never saw so much vermin in one place before. His advice: In summer, sleep on haystacks outside (which is another reason why you should always keep your bundle of bedclothes handy). Watch out, though. The Englishman warns that Poles drink, tend to be noisy and rowdy. Fights are not uncommon in roadside inns here, he writes.

Another thing that Tende finds curious is that a road-weary traveler may find it difficult to get… food at an inn. Polish noblemen do not pay for their meals there, so the angry innkeepers often refuse to serve food to anybody, even if they have something to eat in store. It is therefore a good idea to travel with your own wine, bread and meat. Don’t forget to buy fresh stocks when in town or you may die of hunger later!

All in all, Caspar Tende’s account is far from inviting. Those who read his descriptions must have formed an image of a wild, dangerous and inhospitable land. Poland was not alone, though–the rest of Europe in those times was similar, wherever you went. Fortunately, the decades to come marked a gradual improvement in this picture and every year brought more and more visitors to the country on the Vistula.

Aleksandra Sołtan-Lipska


 Pozostałe artykuły:

Juicy English, Fruitful English

The two Cambridges and the Ivy League

My Adventure at Harvard

My Hawaii

The Mountains of Great Britain


Powrót na góręDrukuj artykułWyślij artykuł