Stanisław Leszczyński

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Stanisław I Leszczyński (Lithuanian: Stanislovas Leščinskis; Polish: Stanisław Leszczyński) (20 October 1677 – 23 February 1766) was King of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, Duke of Lorraine and a count of the Holy Roman Empire (a rank bestowed by Emperor Frederick III on the Leszczyński family).

Born in Lwów (then in Poland, but now in Ukraine) in 1677, he was the son of Rafał Leszczyński, voivode of Poznań Voivodeship, and Anna Katarzyna Jabłonowska. He married Katarzyna Opalińska, by whom he had a daughter, Maria, who became Queen-Consort of France as wife of Louis XV. In 1697, as Cupbearer of Poland, he signed the confirmation of the articles of election of August II the Strong. In 1703 he joined the Lithuanian Confederation, which the Sapiehas with the aid of Swedish gold had formed against August.


King for the first time

The following year, Stanisław was selected by Charles XII of Sweden after a successful Swedish invasion of Poland, to supersede Augustus II, who was hostile towards the Swedes. Leszczyński was a young man of blameless antecedents, respectable talents, and came from an ancient family, but certainly without sufficient force of character or political influence to sustain himself on so unstable a throne.

Nevertheless, with the assistance of a bribing fund and an army corps, the Swedes succeeded in procuring his election by a scratch assembly of half a dozen castellans and a few score of gentlemen on 12 July 1704. A few months later, Stanisław was forced by a sudden inroad of August to seek refuge in the Swedish camp, but finally on 24 September 1705, he was crowned king with great splendor. Charles himself supplied his nominee with a new crown and scepter in lieu of the ancient Polish regalia, which had been carried off to Saxony by August. During this time the King of Sweden sent Peter Estenberg to King Stanislaw to act as an ambassador and correspondence secretary. The Polish king's first act was to cement an alliance with Charles XII whereby the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth engaged to assist Sweden against the Russian tsar. Stanisław did what he could to assist his patron. Thus, he induced Ivan Mazepa, the Cossack hetman, to desert Peter the Great at the most critical period of the Great Northern War between Russia and Sweden, and Stanisław placed a small army corps at the disposal of the Swedes. But Stanisław depended so entirely on the success of Charles' arms that after the Battle of Poltava (1709) Stanisław's authority vanished as a dream at the first touch of reality. During this period Stanisław resided in the town of Rydzyna.

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