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Title: Francuskie zabiegi o koronę polską po śmierci Jana III Sobieskiego
Authors: Skrzypietz, Aleksandra
Keywords: Interregnum in Poland; France; Poland
Issue Date: 2009
Publisher: Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Śląskiego
Abstract: Interregnum in Poland was always the time of tensions and caused confusion both in the country and on an international political stage. The European countries believed that the choice of a pro-European candidate to the Polish throne could bring particular benefits during his reign. Because the 17th century was marked by the French-Habsbourg rivalry, the two powers were interested in favourable elections in Poland. With time, weakening Poland had fewer and fewer chances to choose the elect that would be very much in favour of its own interest. Especially the magnates got used to the benefits the rivalry gave to the foreign diplomacy, and paid less attention to the election of a strong ruler and the one capable of reigning in a beneficial way to the Republic of Poland. The elections were more like a bargaining, but the real profits did not come from this transaction. It was rather the game of promises, both financial and political ones. In the period preceding the death of Jan III, the foundations of the new French party were formed, which would save the interests of Versailles in the course of the expected interregnum and election. Its development and reinforcement took place in the summer and autumn of 1696, thanks to the energetic struggles of Melchior de Polignac, an MP, being the River Vistula since 1693. The aim of the diplomat was to bond Poland with the French policy. He was to do it, building the support for Versailles, and, at the same time, cooperating with the Polish monarch couple. Fulfilling Louis XIV's orders, initially the ambassador co-worked with the queen Maria Kazimiera, and, subsequently, against the institution, he left her party, joining the representatives of the Polish magnates, i.e. the queen's enemies. When the ambassador realised that the Sobieski family would not reach the crown, encouraged Versailles to propose the French prince during the election. The candidacy of François Louis prince de Conti to the Polish throne was the result of pressure. The very prince was proposed by the representatives of the Polish magnates, but Louis XIV was not in favour of his participation in the election battle for a long time. The French candidate was at first known only in the narrow circle of Polignac's closest associates. The point was to consolidate the chances of the French candidate to the Polish throne, but, also to obtain the element of surprise, and, thus, make the gentry unable to scrutinize the candidate too precisely. The course of the election battle and the election itself showed simultaneously that the very plan, rejected by the ambassador later on, was legitimate and turned out to be efficient when executed by the Frederick Augustus Vettin. Finally, the election finished with the selection of two candidates — prince de Conti and Frederick Augustus proposed at the end of the interregnum. The 1697 election took place, as all previous elections, among the pressures coming from the foreign courts. However, the split took place, above all, because of weaknesses and ineffectualities of the Polish leaders. Hesitation, lack of decisiveness in action, actions centred on one's own benefits led to the failure of their intentions, and, in consequence, the country as well. It is difficult to find the reason of state in the actions taken by Poles between 1696 and 1697. If the part of the Polish magnates wanted to free themselves from the Emperor's commitments and end the Turkish war, translating into the election of the right candidate to the throne, their expectations were fulfilled, though not because of the fact that the right man was on the Polish throne. In 1699, the peace was announced in Karłowice, and the struggles with Porta ended. If the aim of the senators was to fight with Russia, the very option was not to be realized any more, though the Republic of Poland, involved in the whirl of the north war, was soon divided among the followers of Sweden and Russia. France did not stop the attempts to gain support in Poland, and, thanks to the help of some families, tried to have an influence on Hungary. The rivalry of powers did not finish, and it was only Poland that was, to a greater extent, becoming the object, not the subject and the puppet in the European game. The magnates' attitude from the interregnum period reveals certain political plans. However, there is no evidence as to whether the senators sticked to the accepted programme. If they wanted to end war with Turkey and free themselves from the connections with Vienna, they should have asked France for support. The choice of the Sas denied it. Besides, when Jan III lived, the majority of Poles was against the king, irrespective of his cooperation with Vienna or France. The anti-king opposition first of all aimed at being against the Sobieski dynasty plans and weakening the monarch's position. That is why they tried not to allow prince Jakub Sobieski to take over the power. The sticked not as much to the positive programme as to the opposition actions, aimed at the king, and took all the attempts to reinforce his power, and, thus, that of the country. After the death of Jan III, a part of families, above all, the Lubomirski and Sapiecha families, started to cooperate with France. The question that still arises is how sincere they were in their actions. If they wished to have the power for themselves, and supposingly, Stanisław Jabłonowski wanted the same, they efficiently blocked the candidate from the Piast monarchy, closing all the magnates the path to the throne. At the very last moment, perhaps on the occasion of some indecisiveness on the part of France, saving visibly on the election, they supported Vettin. The withdrawal from de Conti, almost at the end of the road, could reflect panic that was instilled in them, as well as distrust towards the French ambassador they deluded and deceived as much as he misled them. For many, it was the attempt to consolidate the position of their families at the winner's side. Certainly, the election must have been profitable. As France was not inclined to pay, in a decisive moment, its side was rejected immediately. It was obvious that Augustus II, as a German, would not conduct the policy the magnates expected. Under his ruling, the rejection of the Holy League and acting against Russia were not to be expected. However, if, at first, they were against Augustus II, it was rather in the name of bargaining bigger financial profits. Yet another element of magnates behaviour proves their uncertainty and readiness to accept the candidate who will win. Stanisław Herakliusz Lubomirski and Kazimierz Sapieha, convinced by younger brothers — both court clerks joined the French party, but did not show too much dedication to de Conti's candidacy. Watching the weakening chances of the French candidate, he was abandoned by the great marshal immediately, and hetman with some greater hesitation. Their brothers stayed with the elect for some time. This division was the reflection of their willingness to still have the possibility of retreating and unblocking the family the access to the winner's favours. Though, one should know that the aim of the prelimnary election battle for senators was to gain a strong position in the country and reinforce the significance of their own family. The two families in question aimed at playing the main role in the country, if not on the throne at the king's side. None of them managed to do it as Augustus II was not willing to realize their intentions. Also, the primate, connected with France to the very end, turned out to be a rather poor political player. In his attempts to reinforce the position, he tried to promote his own candidate, Jakub Sobieski at first, and prince de Conti later on, and did not achieve success. The changeability of political combinations caused trouble. Trying to act against the winner, he alienated the new king and never reached the influences he wanted despite his attempts to expose himself. Polignac, a polite courtier, wily diplomat, and flexible politician, appeared to be a big loser. All features he had seemed to be profitable, but, finally, were used against him. Convinced that he would manage the Polish political stage, he believed that it was enough to be in proper relations with magnates. Although he was afraid of the gentry's decision, he did not try to either contact them or prepare the option of the actions saving him from the objection on their part. Seemingly well-oriented in the domestic situation of Poland, he gave in the magnates' instigations. Deceiving and deluding each other, they tried to use themselves. In such a way, none of the interested reach ed success. Polignac was not severely punished for failure in Poland. It seems to be the best evidence of the fact that he did not disappoint Louis XIV as much as it seemed. The battle of the throne in Poland was the tool in the French hands, leading to the negotiation of peace in the West, and despite the fact that the ambassador's actions appeared to be unsuccessful in Poland, they were indirectly profitable for France in Ryswick.
ISBN: 978-83-226-1806-6
Appears in Collections:Książki/rozdziały (W.Hum.)

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