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Stanislaus I

Stanislaus I, 1677–1766, king of Poland (1704–1709, 1733–35) and duke of Lorraine (1735–66). He was born Stanislaus Leszczynski. Early in the Northern War (1700–1721), Charles XII of Sweden overran Poland and expelled King Augustus II. In 1704, Charles secured the election of Leszczynski, a Polish nobleman. The majority of Poles remained loyal to Augustus, and Stanislaus, entirely dependent on Swedish arms, went into exile when Charles was routed (1709) at Poltava by Peter I of Russia. Stanislaus settled in France, emerging from oblivion when his daughter, Marie Leszczynska, married (1725) Louis XV of France. On the death (1733) of Augustus II, Stanislaus returned to Poland and was again elected king. Under Russian pressure, a minority of the Polish diet chose instead Augustus III, precipitating the War of the Polish Succession. Stanislaus, besieged at Danzig, received only moral support from France, while his rival was backed by Holy Roman Emperor Charles VI and had full military aid from Russia. Stanislaus was obliged to flee from Danzig in 1734, and in 1735 he accepted the terms of the preliminary Treaty of Vienna. He kept the royal title but renounced his actual rights in favor of Augustus III. In exchange, he received Lorraine and Bar, with the provision that they were to pass directly to the French crown upon his death. The former duke of Lorraine (later Holy Roman Emperor Francis I) was compensated with the promise of Tuscany. Stanislaus, an enlightened, humane, and cultured man, held a small but distinguished court at Lunéville. He contributed to the embellishment of Nancy, where the celebrated Place Stanislas still exhibits his generosity and good taste. Through his thought and writings he continued to influence Polish political ideas, and despite his concern with Polish affairs he ably administered Lorraine. He corresponded with the finest thinkers of his time, notably with Jean Jacques Rousseau, who on his request drafted a new constitution for Poland.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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