"Eastern European History Review", Vol. 4, 2021, s. 219-229
Melchior de Polignac was a French ambassador in Poland whose task was to carry out a few political aims, including the most important one – starting cooperation with the royal couple, especially with Marie Casimire de la Grange d'Arquien, in order to prepare the election for one of her sons. Louis XIV wanted to see one of John III Sobieski's sons on the throne, assuming that this would maintain good relations between Poland and France without spending money on a costly election fight. Initially, the ambassador pursued a lively cooperation with the court and he enjoyed the queen’s trust, but towards the end of John III’s life, he began cooperating with the magnates who convinced him that none of the princes would win the throne. From then on, Polignac started efforts for the election of a French prince. Louis XIV gave in to his arguments and put forward the candidature of Francis Louis, Prince de Conti, but he announced that he would not get financially involved in the election fight, he would not pay any gratifications until his cousin was enthroned. Polignac did not pass this information to his followers and tried to encourage them to take action by promising the payments. This was ongoing until the election when the bifurcated sympathies and strong support given to the Saxon, Frederick Augustus, triggered concerns of French supporters whether the payments would take place; at that moment, fantasies that Polignac used to feed his party were exposed. As a consequence, the party fell apart and Prince de Conti’s chances were lost. The aim of this article is not only to present the activities of Melchior the Polignac in Poland, but also to draw attention to the fact that the magnates did not betray the French candidate, but fell victim to the false assurances of the ambassador who took advantage of both the king’s trust as well as the French supporters in Poland.
Special Issue: Diplomats and diplomacy in the early modern Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth (XVII Century) / ed. by Dorota Gregorowicz , Alessandro Boccolini.