Russophobia in London, Hanover, and Vienna

The Treaty of Vienna of 5 January 1719

Peter I's conduct in northern Europe arouses apprehension of Emperor and George I (September 1716). - The treaty (April 1716) between the tsar and Charles Leopold, Duke of Mecklenburg-Schwerin where Russian troops are quartered. - Russian troops moving to Poland (autumn 1716). - Hanoverian and English interests overlap on Poland's seaboard. Danzig 'the key to Poland' (August 1717). - Augustus II ready to make an alliance with the Emperor (Charles VI) and George I (August 1717). - The situation in Poland as seen by Goertz. - The missions of Poniński to the tsar (spring 1717 and 1718). - The need to complement the Quadruple Alliance by a northern counterpart. Britain's concern for Danzig. - The Sejm of Grodno (September - December 1718). - Charles XII killed, Peter I orders eventual evacuation of Poland-Lithuania (November 1718). - The terms of the treaty of Vienna (5 January 1719). Its effect: the Russian troops begin a slow withdrawal but not from Courland. - Tsar Peter's efforts to prevent the Republic from adhering to the treaty. - The marriage between the Electoral Prince of Saxony and the Archduchess Maria Josepha (August 1719). - The Vienna allies' plan for the pacification of the North. Stanhope stricken with Russophobia. - A diversion on the side of Poland and Courland to be supported by action in the South by the Turks and Tatars. Filip Orlik in Sweden offers cooperation of disaffected Cossacks. - Russian frigates obstruct trade between Danzig and Sweden (1719-20). - George I sends Scott to Warsaw to promote peace and friendship between Poland and Sweden. - The Sejm of January-February 1720. Discussions with Dolgorukii. The Sejm fails to confirm the treaty of Vienna and breaks up on the question of Flemming's command of the 'foreign' model troops. - Crucial agreement of February 1720 between Russia and Prussia for the preservation of the Republic's political system. - Swedish and British plans for action against Russia prove to be visionary (July 1720). - Polish ministers engaged in re-establishing a good understanding with the tsar. - The Emperor virtually withdraws from the Vienna alliance. - Peter I resumes relations with the Emperor. - George I does not go beyond representing the danger of Russian expansion. - Augustus II outwitted by Peter I and thrust aside by him in scurry for peace with Sweden. - Other reasons for failure of treaty of Vienna. The Republic reduced to the rank of a secondary player. The downfall of Dolgorukii - the episode of the Cossacks.

A foreigner, an Elector of the Empire, a dual sovereign cast in the double role of absolute monarch in Saxony and constitutional ruler in Poland-Lithuania, Augustus II was Poland'd George I. In the last septennium of the Great Northern War the two kings, united by a formal defensive treaty of a local character and by the bonds of the loosely knit northern alliance, pursued analogous aims in relation to Sweden: what Livonia was to the one, Bremen with Verden was to the other. The disintegration of the northern alliance in September 1716 in the thick of the preparations for a Russo-Danish landing in Sweden opened the way for negotiations that were intended to lead to a separate peace between Charles XII and Peter I at the expense of the remaining northern allies. The Northern Crisis had begun: as the tsar concentrated his military and diplomatic activities in the Baltic so the Russophobia that had for so long affected the actions of the Porte now erupted in the North.

The tsar's conduct had first aroused suspicion in April of the same year when in Danzig he gave away in marriage his niece, Ekaterina Ivanovna, to Charles Leopold, Duke of Mecklenburg-Schwerin. The terms of the alliance between the duke and the tsar concluded on that occasion suggested that Peter had wider aims in view than those of the northern alliance warranted. The tsar promised the duke military aid against the duchy's rebellious gentry; the duke allowed the tsar to use his territory as a naval and military base for operations in the Empire and elsewhere, presumably but not necessarily to be directed against Sweden; the tsar undertook to ensure that the Swedish fortress of Wismar, 'the strongest town and the best fortified in Germany', should pass into the hands of the duke. The declared principal object of the treaty was to promote trade in the Baltic and to provide for the conclusion of a commercial treaty. The signatories noted that the situation of the ports and rivers in both countries had much to contribute to their mutual advantage and security, thus hinting at the tsar's unavowed aim: the construction between Wismar and Dömitz of a canal that would link the Baltic with the Elbe and by-pass the Sound, avoiding the payment of dues to Denmark. This was yet another bold project, characteristic of the period, expected to bring vast returns from a relatively small investment. The marriage between Charles Leopold and Ekaterina Ivanovna was the second dynastic union since that of 1710 between Frederick William, Duke of Courland (a feudatory of the King and Republic, d.1711), and Anna Ivanovna (a niece of Peter I) to put a ducal house commanding an important stretch of the Baltic seaboard under the protection of the tsar.

It was in consequence of the treaty between Charles Leopold and Peter I and of the countermanding of the landing in Scania that in the autumn of 1716 up to 30,000 Russian troops came to be quartered on the estates of the gentry of Mecklenburg in the immediate vicinity of Brunswick-Lüneburg. The arrangement was to the mutual advantage of visitor and host. The tsar obtained food and quarters for his troops practically free of charge; the duke received armed assistance in his conflict with the gentry. The ultimate use to which these troops might be put was a question to which possibly even the tsar himself did not know the answer. The situation in Mecklenburg, in so far as it was the result of Russian interference, did not differ fundamentally from that which was soon to arise in Courland and caused as much concern in Hanover as was to be aroused in Warsaw, with the important difference that in western and central Europe the repercussions were wider: George I's indignant apprehension was shared by the Emperor and by the British ministry, which, strategic considerations apart, could not remain indifferent to the possible economic consequences of the Russian presence in Mecklenburg. Charles Whitworth, at that time minister to the Imperial diet, thought that 'it might deserve the consideration of the Lords Commissioners of Trade as to how far the commerce of Great Britain might be affected if that of Russia should return into the old channel from Novgorod and Ingria to Lubeck and other ports of Germany, whither the Russians might make six or eight voyages every summer, be their own carriers and settle a sort of staple for their commodities, whilst the ships from England or Holland to Narva, etc. can hardly make above two turns a year'. To Whitworth's rhetorical question there could be only one reply: the consequences of the loss of any part of the indispensable Baltic trade would have been harmful in the extreme.

For Britain in particular the situation in northern Europe posed the urgent and complex problem of how to check the tsar and to prevent him from joining hands with Charles XII without going to war with either. The Quadruple Alliance of July 1718, between Britain, France, the Emperor and, nominally, the Netherlands (an extension of the defensive treaty between Britain and the Emperor of June 1716 and of the Triple Alliance between Britain, France and the Netherlands of January 1717) was concerned only with central and southern Europe and provided no formal safeguard against a reversal of alliances in the North. This was a serious deficiency, for by now the tsar had become very bit as troublesome as Philip V of Spain and the 'good correspondence' with King Augustus in respect of Poland as necessary as Whitworth had foreseen in 1711. On the Saxon side, at the time of the accession of George I, Flemming, Augustus II's chief Kabinettsminister, had expressed pro-Hanoverian sentiments and later spoken in favour of a separate peace with Sweden and a league against Muscovy. But two and a half years went by before events obliged George I to adopt this very course. The tsar's interference in the dispute between the duke and gentry of Mecklenburg in which the Aulic Council had already pronounced in favour of the gentry facilitated an approach to the Emperor with a view to concerted action in the North. Among the proposals that A. G. von Bernstorff, the Hanoverian first minister, made in December 1716 to Charles VI's envoy, J. C. von Pentenriedter, were some for driving the Russians out of the Empire and coming to an agreement with Poland to prevent their return. In Bernstorff's eyes Poland was 'the gateway into the Empire' and it was to Poland that, under pressure from the Emperor and George I, the Russian troops were moving from Mecklenburg. By May 1717 nine-tenths of them were in Polish Prussia and Greater Poland. Together with those which in the previous September had poured into the country from the east to impose a settlement on the king and on his opponents, the confederates of Tarnogród, they lived off the land, exacting food for some 40,000 men and fodder for an unspecified number of horses. With an allied army 'gnawing at the vitals of the realm', Poland was becoming a second Mecklenburg and the interests of George I, Augustus II and the Emperor were converging. George I's instructions for Saint-Saphorin, his chargé d'affaires in Vienna, drawn up in March, presumably by Bernstorff, put the point concerning Poland more clearly: Augustus II was to be protected from any further molestation by Russian troops. In May Saint-Saphorin, echoing his principal, indicated the impracticability of taking action against the Russians in Mecklenburg whilst ignoring their presence in Poland. In Poland itself as early as November 1716 a high-ranking senator had informed the Emperor's envoy by the good offices of the papal nuncio that the Republic was in a desperate mood and would go to any lengths to be rid of the Russians. If the Emperor and the other princes wished to keep the tsar's troops out of the Empire, then the best way to achieve this was to prevent them from entering, and staying in, Poland.

The official British view of this aspect of the situation was by degrees coming closer to the Hanoverian one. After Earl Stanhope had, in September and October of 1716, even before being appointed secretary of state for the North, given the impression that he would have been satisfied with the removal of the Russian troops to Poland, in April of the following year Lord Polwarth, the British envoy in Denmark, was wishing 'they were all in Syberia'. The tsar, so far from moving the rest of his troops out of Mecklenburg, was trying to bring back more and 'under hand [was] threatening Lüneburg and Holstein'. On Poland's seaboard, as in Mecklenburg, Hanoverian and English interests practically overlapped. As Britain's political relations with the tsar deteriorated and called in question the future of Anglo-Russian trade, the value of her long-standing connexion with Danzig (Gdansk) naturally increased. For their own part, the commercial Protestant and German-speaking communities of Danzig and Elbing (Elblag) looked to George I for general support and for the protection of the freedom of trade and navigation by Britain's Baltic fleet. When at the critical time of Danzig's harrassment by the tsar in 1716 it became necessary to replace the commander of the city's garrison, a Scottish officer in the Hanoverian service was appointed, in all probability on Bernstorff's recommendation. For him Danzig was 'the key to Poland'. In July George I instructed Sir John Norris, 'his envoy now at Amsterdam, to interpose' with the tsar 'to obtain the most favourable treatment he can for Danzig'. But Britain's position in the Baltic was soon weakened by the withdrawal of all but ten of her ships in case they should be needed to counteract the designs of Spain and the duke of Savoy against the Emperor in Italy. Nothing indicates more clearly the political and strategic interdependence of the Baltic and the Mediterranean theatres at this time. In August 1717 John (Jean) Robethon, Bernstorff's and George I's mouthpiece, wrote of 'increasing uneasiness over the tsar's designs on Danzig'. Saint-Saphorin was to ask for some Imperial officers to be sent there to outline the consequences that would follow from the tsar's acting upon his intention to occupy the city and turn it into a base for his army and his fleet. He could then buy Prussia's connivance by allowing her simultaneously to occupy Elbing and Polish Prussia. The whole operation would form part of the basis required for a separate peace with Sweden in that it would enable the tsar to part with Reval (Tallin). George I set great store by the security of Danzig. To his mind its survival as a free city would have the twofold advantage of frustrating the designs of the tsar and the King of Prussia and preventing the conclusion of a separate peace between the tsar and Charles XII. If the tsar was not master of Danzig he could neither restore Reval to Charles XII not put Danzig at his disposal as a landing-place for his return to Poland. There was no time to be lost in protecting Danzig and driving the Russians from Poland. The Imperial ministers were in no need of being reminded that from Poland the tsar could interfere in Upper Hungary and in Transylvania by giving support to the insurgent adherents of Francis II Rákóczi. Swedish propaganda played skilfully on fears of Russian predominance in the Baltic by disseminating anonymous pamphlets under such neutral-sounding titles as Lettre d'un ami à Dantzig à son ami à Amsterdam or Lettre d'un ami de Petersbourg à son ami d'Amsterdam.

Augustus II and George I had already shown a reciprocal interest in an alliance with one another and the Emperor. In February 1717 G.S. von Nostitz, the Saxon envoy to Great Britain, writing from Dresden, informed Robethon of the progress of the withdrawal of the Saxon troops from Poland-Lithuania and asked him: 'Please see to it, my dear Sir, that we are not overlooked in any opportunity that might arise and believe me that no prince is more disposed than the King my Master to enter with the King of England into concerted action for the good of their common cause, provided that His Britannic Majesty be willing to put forward some proposals.' Augustus II may at that time not have had a single friend among the western powers but negotiations were already in train for the marriage of the Electoral Prince of Saxony, Frederick Augustus, to an Austrian archduchess. A dynastic link between the Houses of Hapsburg and Wettin would at last rescue Augustus from his state of isolation. The first step in this direction had been taken in 1712 when, in the words of the then secretary of state, Lord Bolingbroke (Henry St John), the Electoral Prince was 'perverted to the Roman superstition'; on 2 July 1717 the Prince openly professed himself a Roman Catholic. But none of the three parties had as yet committed itself and Augustus was still exploring the possibility of a closer alliance with the tsar, Prussia and France, reinforced by the marriage of the Electoral Prince to Anna Ivanovna, now dowager duchess of Courland. It was one of Flemming's projects: Courland would be the duchess's dowry. In return the tsar would help Augustus to turn the Republic into a hereditary and despotic monarchy. In the process Lithuania would be annexed to Russia. But before the end of the summer the tsar's measures against Danzig and his part in the plot to restore Stanlisław Leszczyński to the Polish throne had convinced Augustus of his ally's insincerity, while Prince Eugène's victory over the Turks at Belgrade on 16 August - that 'great and decisive affair' - led him to believe that an alliance with the Emperor would be an effective one. Hitherto Charles VI and his advisers had continuously stressed their inability to enter into any fresh engagements until a successful conclusion of the Turkish war was in sight. Late in August Augustus II as Elector declared his readiness to enter into an alliance with the Emperor and George I to be negotiated in Vienna. On 6 August 1717 Augustus II gave Flemming the requisite authority. The principal objects of the negotiation, as seen from the court of St James's, were by ousting the Muscovites from Poland and sundering from the King of Prussia his right-hand man, the tsar, to prevent the latter from making a separate peace with Sweden and forming a league with Prussia, Poland-Saxony and Mecklenburg. A combination of this kind, supported in France by the enemies of the Regent and in England by the Jacobites, would, it was feared, throw the Empire into confusion, overturn the House of Austria and re-establish Stanlisław in Poland. The separate and final parallel negotiations for the marriage of the Archduchess Maria Josepha to the Electoral Prince began in Vienna about the same time.

Taking courage, it seems, from the good news from the Turkish front and from the changing orientation of their king and of the Saxon ministers, some Polish dignitaries assailed the tsar's delegate, Lieutenant-General V.V. Dolgorukii, with protests at the blockade of Danzig, threatening to break off the Russian alliance and to adopt other measures. Realizing that the Poles had been touched on a sensitive nerve, Dolgorukii felt uneasy at this prospect, and in his report to the tsar recommended leniency towards Danzig for fear of losing an ally. His anxiety, however, though well founded, was premature. The king and the Polish ministers and senators resident did not as yet see eye to eye where the crisis in their relations with the tsar was concerned and were not yet prepared to show a common front. From the Swedish point of view the situation in Poland looked reassuring, or so Goertz (Charles XII's roving chief minister who was travelling back to Sweden after being released from custody by the Dutch) made it out to be. He found in Warsaw that although Russian troops were quartered across the whole of Poland as far as the Silesian border, the efforts of the Saxon court to bring about their departure were rather half-hearted but that, by contrast, the court was working hard to prepare the ground for making the Polish throne hereditary in the house of Saxony. In this respect the Saxon ministers had high hopes of the Imperial court though they doubted whether its support for a hereditary monarchy in Poland would go beyond the person of the Electoral Prince. They were outraged at the insulting treatment they had received from the tsar and realized that they might have their revenge in establishing a hereditary monarchy but knew that they were running the risk of being left out of the peace negotiations with Sweden. Goertz derived as much satisfaction from the knowledge that the Russians, knowing him to be in favour of peace talks with the Swedes, were praying for his return to Stockholm before the British stole a march on him, as from the inner conviction that his journey and clandestine contacts with the Russians would cause similar anxiety to Bernstorff. Having resumed the journey which was to take him to Sweden by way of Riga, Reval and Helsingfors, Goertz stopped somewhere in Lithuania to meet the Duchy's grand hetman - a fact little known to historians outside Poland. Pociej was still determined to nullify the recent curtailment of the authority of the hetmans and saw in the forthcoming attempt at a pacification of the North a chance of retrieving his fortunes. He had already sent a messenger to Stockholm with an offer, in return for a full rehabilitation, to support Stanlisław Leszczyński and was also in touch with the former king's agent in Breslau (Wrocław). During the subsequent months differences arose among the szlachta of Lithuania in their attitude towards the presence of the Russian troops. Some demanded their evacuation, others, led by Pociej, wanted them to stay in order to enforce the settlement that would follow the conclusion of a peace from which Augustus II would be excluded. The extent to which these attitudes were associated with genuine Lithuanian separatism has yet to be determined. Goertz in his report from Warsaw had underestimated the degree of resentment felt there at the continuing presence of the Russians and the determination of the King and Republic to demand redress. As early as March 1717, Augustus II, having held a meeting of the senators resident (senatus consilium) sent Franciszek Poniński, starosta of Kopanica (near Wolsztyn, in the palatinate of Poznan) to the tsar, wherever he might be, with instructions to demand the removal of his troops from the territory of the Republic. The starosta could not have been the king's first choice; Augustus described him as a persona non grata with the tsar and Dolgorukii, a man 'di natura alquanto aspra' and a former adherent of the Swedes. Poniński tracked down Peter I and his suite at Abbeville in Picardy and followed him to Paris. There, at a conference held with Shafirov and Petr A. Tolstoi (ministers in the department of foreign affairs) in mid-May, he received yet another promise that the troops would be evacuated. But the relevant letter from the tsar to Sheremetev ordered the Field Marshal only to prepare to march and to make the necessary arrangements with commissaries from the palatinates. The order, therefore, resulted merely in a regrouping of the troops, augmented by the arrival of the contingent from Mecklenburg - two regiments - under Lieutenant-General A.A. Veide (von der Weide). A conference of the king and some senior senators, held in October, instructed Poniński to resume his mission. But his credentials were not issued until December; he arrived in Moscow on 1 March. Meanwhile the Russian troops had been creeping, tortoise-like, towards the frontier but during March General A.I.Repnin's division took up quarters in Lithuania and was under orders to move to the environs of Danzig. The pretext for this disposition, given to Poniński in writing in St Petersburg at the beginning of August, was that the Republic had not confirmed the convention made in the previous year between the tsar and the city under which Danzig was to equip four frigates for privateering against Swedish trade. Moreover, the tsar's ministers informed Poniński that, according to the latest intelligence, the King of Sweden, unable to maintain his army in his own country, was preparing a landing at Danzig in order to attack Poland or Brandenburg. It was therefore necessary to protect the city. The tsar's ministers were disingenuous. The tsar needed to keep the maximum number of troops in Poland-Lithuania in readiness for joint action with Charles XII. For a plan agreed upon at Lövö in the Åland islands included the scheme which Goertz had adumbrated during his halt in Lithuania: the tsar would recognize the treaty of Altranstaedt - which meant the restoration of Stanlisław as king of Poland (to the possible satisfaction of Pociej). To this end he would intervene in the Republic in the spring with at least 80,000 men while Swedish troops would act in force in Germany. To a Swedish army of 40,000 the tsar would add 20,000 or 25,000 from his troops in Poland. Stettin might be retroceded to Sweden in return for an equivalent to be found for Prussia in Poland - Elbing and the bishopric of Warmia.

Poniński's mission, difficult enough to accomplish in a hostile atmosphere and a harsh climate, was made doubly so by the machinations in St Petersburg of one Galinski. Posing as a messenger from the tribunal (the supreme court for the szlachta) of Lithuania to Menshikov in connection with a law suit in which the prince was a party, Galinski was in fact an agent sent by Pociej to obtain support from the Russian troops in Lithuania for his secret plans. Through Menshikov he was granted an audience of the tsar. Poniński, who was not thus favoured, complained with good reason that one hand was undoing what the other - his own - was trying to build. He left St Petersburg in mid-August with nothing to show for his pains, mortified by the treatment he had received from the tsar's ministers and embittered against his fellow countrymen. On his return journey, in Tilsit, Poniński learned that ten Russian regiments had crossed the Lithuanian frontier and were advancing towards Minsk; by September six regiments of 1,200 men each under the command of Repnin were reported to be only one league away from the city of Danzig.

But already the consequences of the Hanoverian approach to Augustus II were beginning to make themselves felt. By November 1717 rumours of British proposals for an alliance had percolated to Poland. By the spring of 1718 the tsar was accusing King Augustus of secret intelligence with Britain and Shafirov, the vice-chancellor or deputy foreign secretary, was heard to threaten retaliation. In May the long-awaited peace negotiations between Russia and Sweden began; in July, almost simultaneously, the Emperor made peace with the Turks at Passarowitz and the treaty of the Quadruple Alliance between the Emperor, France, Great Britain and the Netherlands was signed in Paris. Neither the alliance nor the destruction of the Spanish fleet by Admiral Byng at Cape Passaro on 11 August deterred Spain from trying to interfere in the affairs of the North in concert with Charles XII and Peter I; rather was the failure of such attempts due to the inability of Russia and Sweden to come to terms in the first instance on the only basis acceptable to the tsar, the cession of Livonia and Estonia to Russia. But so long as the possibility subsisted of a separate peace and of a subsequent reversal of alliances, Danzig remained the danger point. Even without being joined by the Swedes the Russian forces around Danzig prevented the Emperor from intervening in Mecklenburg. In June James Craggs, secretary of state for the South, alarmed at the 'Muscovite pretensions upon Danzig', had been asking what the Polish court intended to do towards the protection of a city which ought to be under its care? In August the Russians were reported as behaving with unwonted arrogance in the Baltic but said not to be troubling Dutch or English ships when they met at sea. The general self-restraint shown by Russia and Prussia, attributed to the Quadruple Alliance and the peace with the Turks, was, however, limited in range. In September Bernstorff thought that the two powers were contemplating an attack on Hanover or a coup de force in Poland and must be checked. The completion of a northern counterpart of the Quadruple Alliance was becoming a matter of the greatest urgency; a treaty must be made without delay with the King and Republic of Poland before that republic was subjugated by Russia and Prussia and reduced to a state of helplessness. Flemming arrived in Vienna on 16 September, by which time Saint-Saphorin had prepared a draft text of the treaty, under a separate article of which George I undertook to protect Danzig and Elbing and to use his navy to that end. The king had been looking forward to the treaty's being approved by the Sejm which was due to assemble in the autumn at Grodno, but Flemming was pessimistic as to its outcome: the country was inundated with Russian troops. Saint-Saphorin hoped that the diet would at least demand their evacuation. George I's orders to Admiral Norris in his naval role, to protect Danzig in case of necessity, bear witness to the king's resolve to do so irrespective of being bound by any formal obligation, as do his instructions for Norris the diplomat: 'if he is well disposed towards us the tsar will free Danzig from the trouble it is under'. Britain, the king pointed out, had a treaty of commerce with Danzig and British subjects a considerable trade to that place and this was being interrupted by the Muscovite troops. In view of the king's relations with his British ministers and with Parliament, trade was a safer ground for him to take a stand upon than the security of Hanover. Only eight years had gone by since St John, the secretary of state, in a directive to Whitworth had circumscribed Britain's concern for Danzig with the words: 'there are so many princes and states nearer to that city in their affairs than we, that there seems to be no need for the Queen's servants to interest themselves further than using their good offices and by applying favourable representations on their behalf'. For the benefit of his ally the Emperor, George I's instructions relating to Danzig applied also to Mecklenburg and 'the confines of the Empire', in other words Poland's Silesian frontier. If the tsar had good dispositions towards Britain he would free these areas by withdrawing his troops towards his own dominions. The importance that Charles VI and George I obviously attached to Mecklenburg put the Russians on their guard and reports of the surprisingly defiant mood of the Polish diet must also have had their effect.

At Grodno the exit of the Russians was the business of the day, made even more appropriate by the recent arrival of ten more regiments in the area of Minsk which brought up to the peak figure of 85,000 the total number of the portions and rations exacted by the tsar's forces. With this backing, added to the support of the hetmans aggrieved at the curtailment of their authority by the previous diet, G.F. Dolgorukii felt himself to be in command of the situation. Sparing his master the expense of large-scale bribery and dispensing with diplomacy, he resorted to invective and intimidation. The king, he informed any senators and members of the Sejm who were willing to listen, was plotting to have the Electoral Prince declared heir to the Polish throne. He was counting on the help of the Imperial troops concentrated on the Polish border, but the Russian troops in the country were the guardians of Poland's republican freedom. The tsar's soldiers were content to feed on bread whereas the Imperialists would demand geese. Dolgorukii's audience was not convinced, and in the chamber speaker after speaker called for the withdrawal of the Russian regiments. A report of the tsar's refusal to recall these until his demands concerning Danzig had been satisfied arrived in time to meet with a rebuff. A messenger, one Lesiowski, a gentleman of the king's bedchamber, was dispatched to the tsar with letters from the king, the senate and the Sejm, calling on him to clear the republic of his troops in accordance with his original promise and without resorting to pretexts for any further delay. The messenger was to be followed by an ambassador with instructions to discuss all the issues outstanding between the two countries. Although senators and members of the Sejm were at pains to stress their unwillingness to go to war with the tsar and the need to be on good terms with him, the customary weakness and lack of dignity that so emboldened the Russians were not displayed at Gordno and the message to the tsar intimated that if the troops were not removed the republic would consult its own interests. The Sejm, moreover, was not discharged but only prorogued and the king was empowered to recall it when he saw fit. There was therefore something more genuine than mere regal courtesy in the pleasure that George I expressed at Augustus II's being so well satisfied with the proceedings of the late diet at Grodno and at everything having 'gone on so smoothly in that kingdom'. The day after Lesiowski's arrival, the tsar having no doubt assessed the situation in Poland in relation to the European scene and not least to the lack of progress in the negotiations on Åland, ordered General Repnin to carry out the withdrawal of the troops under his command for which the Poles had been pressing since the spring of 1717, but not to complete it before the end of March of the following year. In December 1718, however, they were still in Poland and the envoy of the Tatar khan, Saadet Giray, felt obliged to ask the Polish senators and ministers of state whether they approved of the Russian's presence. For when a friend was stricken one wanted to know with what sickness and whether one could be of help to him. The Republic was indeed sick, replied Szaniawski, the bishop of Cuiavia, but a new remedy was being prepared by doctors who applied treatment from a distance. Was such sympathetic treatment effective? That remained to be seen; the surest therapy was to discover and remove the cause of the sickness.

On 30 November 1718, one day after the tsar had given the order for the evacuation of Poland, Charles XII was killed in action. Well-informed contemporaries are at one in attesting that if Charles XII had lived on, the tsar would not have been obliged to fight the Swedes to a finish. However that may be, it is unquestionable that the sinister prospect looming before George I had dissipated. that Russia, Prussia and Mecklenburg did not after all join Sweden and Spain in an offensive and defensive alliance based on an eventual redistribution of the disputed areas of northern Europe. In so far, therefore, as the purpose of the treaty of Vienna was to prevent the formation of such a coalition, that purpose had been achieved even before the treaty was signed but by no means entirely in consequence of the shot fired by an unknown hand at Frederikshald. The very aura emanating from the negotiations leading up to the treaty had had a damping effect on the negotiations on Åland, had prevented Frederick William I of Prussia from interfering in Mecklenburg, had sowed distrust between him and Peter I and had obliged the Russians to evacuate Poland.

The broad aim of the treaty concluded in Vienna on 5 January 1719 between the Emperor as sovereign of his hereditary dominions and the kings of Great Britain and Poland as Electors, respectively, of Hanover and of Saxony, was 'to secure the peace and tranquillity of the Empire according to its constitutions'. The treaty was to 'subsist until the entire and solid pacification of the troubles of the north' and other powers, including the Netherlands and Denmark, were to be invited to join it. Its specific character was that of a defensive alliance providing for direct or indirect military assistance to be given by the participants either by supplying military contingents to take part in hostilities or to replace troops thus engaged or by carrying out a diversion against the common enemy. The number of troops to be contributed by each party was fixed at 8,000 horse and as many foot for the Emperor, 2,000 horse and 6,000 foot for George I, 2,000 horse and 4,000 foot for Augustus II as Elector and 4,000 cavalry, 2,000 dragoons and 4,000 foot as King of Poland. One of the express purposes of the alliance was to defend and preserve the Kingdom of Poland and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania 'with their appendages and dependencies without the least diminution' and to maintain the King of Poland himself on his throne. The substance of one whole article - the ninth - was calculated to dispel any suspicion in the minds of the szlachta of a plot to make Augustus II an absolute ruler. It states that the only intention of the alliance with regard to Poland is that 'the prerogatives of the King's Majesty, and the rights and liberties of the people should be safe on both sides' without any infringement of the liberties, rights and privileges of the szlachta in accordance with the constitutions and immunities of the republic. The next article clearly defines the potential or actual dangers against which both King and Republic were to be guarded: 'all insults, oppressions or molestations whatsoever, whether they are the effect of open war and foreign force, or of clandestine contrivancies and cabals, secretly fomented and abetted by foreign powers'. The part to be played in return by the troops of the Republic is again plainly stated: they were to prevent the passage of any foreign - in other words, Russian - troops that might attempt to cross Poland or Lithuania towards or against the Empire or the dominions of the two other allies, Hungary included. Reinforcements for this purpose were to be provided by the Emperor or George I in response to a formal request from the Republic. The identy of the other potential agressor is implied in the consideration of the possibility of either of these monarchs being attacked from nearer home. In that event Augustus II was to carry out a retaliatory diversion from Poland, clearly against Prussia.

The separate and secret articles that complete the treaty specify in greater detail, though still only by implication, the contingencies that the treaty was expected to meet. One was a Prussian intervention in Mecklenburg, either in the form of military aid supplied to the duke in case he should want to resist the execution of the decree of the Aulic Council which was to be carried out joinly by Hanover and Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel, or in the form of permission for the passage of Russian troops making for Mecklenburg. Another such eventuality was a request for help from the King and Republic of Poland consequent upon hostile action by Russia or Prussia or both against Danzig and Elbing; a third the failure of the Russians to keep their promise to withdraw their troops from Poland-Lithuania. The provisions of the treaty relating to King Augustus (or to Poland), however, were not to apply until the Republic had joined the alliance. The question of the protection of Danzig and Elbing by the British navy in an emergency was dealt with by means of a special undertaking given to that effect by Saint-Saphorin. But Saint-Saphorin, having no official character as a British diplomat, had exceeded his authority, and by a subsequent arrangements between the parties concerned the declaration regarding Danzig and Elbing was to have been elicited by the Saxon chargé d'affaires in London, Jacques Le Coq. In this respect Bernstorff was showing excessive caution, for the principle that Danzig must not suffer by attack or bombardment or any other military enterprise had been established in the reign of Queen Anne. Le Coq was a Calvinist from Metz who had migrated to Germany. He had been tutor to the children of the grand treasurer of Poland, J. J. Przebendowski, before being taken up by Flemming.

What effect had the treaty on the danger areas specified in it? Peter I did not yield to its pressure with a good grace: he wished to be informed about the negotiations with the Emperor, otherwise he would take steps to protect his interests. Golovkin and Shafirov informed the Hanoverian and British envoys, Friedrich-Christian Weber and James Jefferyes, that the tsar had no need of any regular troops if he were minded to punish King Augustus and the Poles for plotting against him; a good number of Tatars and Kalmyks would be enough to make the Poles repent - if fire and sword could effect anything. The tone of this utterance conveys something of the tsar's resentment at having been worsted by Augustus II and so do his reported instructions to Shafirov: for every time Jefferyes made representations about the march of the Muscovite troops out of Poland, Shafirov was to order Repnin to remain there a week longer. About Mecklenburg the Russian minister spoke in conciliatory terms; the tsar would endeavour to compose the matter in the friendliest manner possible.

In February the Russian troops began their deliberately slow and circuitous withdrawal from Poland, 'stripping the poor inhabitants of all' - provisions, cattle, horses - as they went. Behind them followed the Russian force newly recalled from service with the Duke of Mecklenburg and ordered by the tsar to cross Poland at a slow pace as a reprisal for the Republic's refusal to compel Danzig to supply the three privateers demanded by him in 1716. These had been built but were never fitted out. The promise that no Russian troops would be kept in Courland beyond a battalion of infantry and some squadrons of cavalry forming the duchess's bodyguard was not kept. In November 1720 there were three or four Russian regiments at Libau (Libava, Liepaja) and Windau (Vindava, Ventspils) and it looked as if they were going to winter there. Some of these troops stayed on until the end of the hostilities with Sweden. In July 1719 the evacuation of Poland-Lithuania was still in progress but the danger of a coup de force against Danzig had been finally removed early in February of that year when Repnin departed with his troops after collecting the last instalment of the contribution of 140,000 rix-dollars imposed in 1717. The three Russian frigates which had wintered in the harbour set sail in April 'to cruise upon the trade to Sweden'. There is no reason to doubt the veracity of Weber's emphatic assurance that in withdrawing his troops from Poland the tsar was actuated by fear of the indignation of the Emperor and his allies and that 'while the lips of Russians were uttering threats their hearts were faint'. The execution of the Imperial decree against the Duke of Mecklenburg was carried out in February by the troops of Brunswick-Lüneburg and Wolfenbüttel without meeting with any hindrance from the tsar.

The immediate aims of the treaty being thus accomplished, it remained to be seen whether the alliance could with equal success serve its ulterior purpose, the re-establishment of peace in the North. That it could not be expanded into a coalition capable of compelling the tsar to make peace and pay the territorial cost of a settlement without the formal adhesion of Poland-Lithuania was obvious. This was still in the balance but already the tsar was threatening to take counter-measures in conjunction with Prussia and expressing the hope that these would defeat all hostile designs and secure the two countries from the danger of any alliance that might be made against them. Such confidence seems to have been as yet unjustified by the facts. In April, after the instruments of ratifications had been exchanged in Vienna, a jubilant Saint-Saphorin considered that the treaty had created the utmost mistrust between the tsar and the King of Prussia. Peter I had apparently protested that he would never have taken any steps apt to alarm Europe without Prussian instigation; in the present circumstances the best he could expect of Prussia was that her king's outsize grenadiers should not join his, the tsar's, enemies. His foremost aim was to prevent the Republic from adhering to the treaty. In notes addressed to the king and to chief dignitaries of church and state but intended for the eyes and ears of the szlachta at large, the tsar touched the cord of aurea libertas: Flemming in Vienna, by entering into an international commitment on Poland's behalf behind the back of Parliament, had acted against the laws and customs of the Republic as well as against the letter and the spirit of the alliance with Russia. The true purpose of the treaty, he insinuated, was the establishment of a hereditary and absolute monarchy in Poland. Flemming thought that he could see fear showing through the tsar's blustering and encouraged a conference of senators to reject his protests and to counter them with maximum demands so as the better to implicate the Republic in the treaty of Vienna. This the conference, on constitutional grounds, considered itself unable to join but it went as far as calling upon the tsar to hand over Livonia, cease interfering in Courland, withdraw his troops, pay compensation for damage inflicted by them on the Republic and on private persons, pay back the contribution extorted from Danzig and desist from fomenting discord in the country. The tsar should not force the Republic's hand and oblige it to seek its own means of safeguarding its security. The note stated categorically that the king had no thought of establishing a hereditary succession to the throne and always had rejected and always would reject such notions. The Primate wrote to the tsar in similar terms. The prudent Flemming, having egged on the Poles to provoke the tsar, covered himself by ensuring that the king's German chancery dispatched a parallel note couched in more moderate language. Early in 1719 Peter responded with a letter probably addressed to each one of the principal senators. Its lack of coherence betrays genuine anxiety about the purpose of the treaty of Vienna and conveys the usual assurances with regard to peace and friendship as well as the freedom and integrity of the Republic. It also makes a concession with regard to Courland: the tsar does not intend to detach the duchy from Poland and wishes it to remain always under the protection of the King and Republic. By this time, however, the negotiations for the marriage between the Electoral Prince of Saxony - the future Augustus III of Poland - and the Archduchess Maria Josepha had been completed. The wedding which took place on 13 August furnished the tsar with irrefutable evidence of the king's true intentions and made Flemming's and George I's previous and subsequent protestations to the contrary sound hollow. But with the Republic's territory clear of foreign troops and their cherished institution of an elective and limited monarchy in danger the Poles might well ask themselves what further benefit was to be obtained from joining the allies of Vienna.

The plan for the pacification of the North drawn up by the allies' representatives in the spring of 1719 provided for the definitive incorporation of Courland in the Republic together with the possible restitution of Kiev and Smolensk to Poland as well as of all the tsar's Baltic conquests to Sweden and sanctions for a refusal to comply with the conditions offered to him. But the chances of Tsar Peter's submitting to any dictation diminished as Frederick William I's unwillingness to break with the tsar became apparent, so that after George I had made peace with Sweden in July his British ministers began to think of enforcing a settlement. Stanhope, stricken with a Russophobia more accute than Bernstorff's had ever been, spoke of collective action for driving the tsar back to his former bounds. By a curious process of mimicry he came to adopt the language of Lord Carteret, the newly appointed ambassador in Sweden, and Carteret that of General Stanisław Poniatowski, the erstwhile adherent of Leszczyński and lieutenant of Charles XII, who had recently transferred his allegiance to King Augustus. A league consisting of Hanover (tacitly supported by Britain), Sweden, Hesse-Cassel, Prussia, Saxony and Poland would attack the tsar simultaneously by land and sea. Sir John Norris received the appropriate instructions in August. A 'diversion on the side of Poland and Courland' would be supported by a blow to be struck from the south by the Turks and the Tatars. It would appear that one of Carteret's informants in Stockholm not only about the redoubtable power of the tsar but also about his vulnerability in the South was Filip Orlik (Pylyp Orlyk), the hetman in exile of the Ukrainian Cossacks who had found refuge in Sweden in 1715. At the end of the 1719 Orlik submitted to Queen Ulrika Eleonora a memorandum (composed in execrable German) in which he reported that he had written to the King of Poland, the two hetmans of Poland, the principal senators and Field Marshal Flemming with proposals for an alliance with the Crimean Tatars and a promise to stir up a revolt against the Muscovites in Ukraine. This, he asserted, would be an opportunity for the Republic to recover the (left-bank) Ukraine and the region of Smolensk. His own army of 20,000 men was quartered close to the lands of the Crimean Tatars. Orlik was clearly living in a world of make-believe (so often the habitat of politicians in exile), deceiving not only himself but also his Swedish hosts. Intending nevertheless to return to the political scene he obtained from Queen Ulrika and her husband King Ferdinand (who had replaced her on the throne) letters informing the khan of the Crimean Tatars (Saadet Giray), the seraskier of Silistria and the hetman of the Zaporozhian Cossacks (Kost' Hordienko), (probably present at Khotin on the Ottoman frontier), of the queen's succession to Charles XII and her consort's elevation to the throne. In October 1720 he reported to the king that in preparation for his mission he was sending abroad his Ensign General Ivan Hertsyk with the royal letters and his own. In Poland Hertsyk was to join his brother Hryhorii, Orlik's Adjutant General, who had left Sweden earlier. Hryhorii Hertsyk was staying in a house outside Warsaw under the protection of Stanisław Poniatowski. This was a precaution against investigations being carried out by 'the Russian minister'. G.F. Dolgorukii was evidently taking steps to thwart a revival, a decade on, of the cooperation between Orlik and Poniatowski. Poniatowski had already brought with him two Cossacks from Orlik's entourage - Fedor Myrovich and Fedor Nakhymovs'kyi. Orlik left Sweden in October and in December was received by Bernstorff in Hanover. From there he made his way to Breslau and, eventually, to Turkey but failed for the time being to revive his cause. In September Stanhope, on learning that the three Russians frigates under the command of the privateer captain Franz Villebois (Vil'bua) had returned to Danzig, instructed Norris to concert with the Swedes whatever measures were necessary to make the Russians leave or to prevent their obstructing the trade between Danzig and Sweden.

Villebois meanwhile was engaged in trying to hinder 100 or so English and Dutch merchantmen from shipping Polish grain across to Stockholm or Carlscrona. On the pretext of having to carry out urgent repairs he had requested admission to the harbour for one of his frigates. This granted, he had placed the allegedly damaged craft beneath the fort of Weichselmünde (Wisłoujscie) and, having brought up the rest, proceeded to stop all inward- and outward-bound ships, inspect their papers and compel some of the masters to change the destination of their cargoes. In October three Swedish men of war, soon to be reinforced, appeared in Danzig roads. These were the ships that the Queen of Sweden, Ulrika Eleonora, had sent to reopen the trade with Danzig and Königsberg 'at all hazards', with the knowledge but without the active co-operation of Sir John Norris, whose squadron was about to sail for England. Once again Danzig was between two fires. The Swedish commander, Thomas von Rajalin, threatened to arrest and confiscate all the city's ships if the city councillors did not get rid of Villebois, whereupon Villebois himself, to the prejudice of the city's neutrality, appealed to its council for help and protection. Deaf to their pleas to spare his hosts the fatal consequences of his presence, he took refuge with his frigates in the mouth of the Vistula, where he lay 'as safe and secure as a thief in a mill'. The Swedes left but were expected to return and the councillors feared that in that event Villebois would be as good as his word and scuttle his ships, thereby wrecking the harbour, which had recently been repaired at great expense. It would appear that, with or without authority, Rajalin had added weight to his ultimatum by threatening the arrival of the 'whole British fleet'. The distressed councillors turned for deliverance and protection to George I. As always, George I's concern for freedom of navigation in the Baltic was more heartfelt than Augustus II's, whose handling of the situation did not augur well for the future of the Vienna alliance. So far from taking advantage of Villebois's conduct at Danzig to elicit from the British ministry the declaration that it had promised with regard to the security of Danzig and Elbing, Augustus II did exactly the opposite. Upon receiving a petition from the city to intervene on its behalf, he requested the tsar in a note to recall Villebois and transmitted Rajalin's reported threat without comment. But that he flinched from the prospect of the arrival of Sir John Norris's squadron before Danzig is clear from his note addressed in the same connection to George I. This requested the King of Great Britain to cancel any orders concerning Danzig that he may have issued to his navy and to prevail on the Queen of Sweden to do likewise. In January the city council had to remonstrate with Villebois on his having seized some Dutch ships; in February Stanhope was drawing the attention of Scott to the fact that merchant ships were being exposed to the insults of the Muscovite commander and instructing him to persuade Augustus II to give 'such orders ... as will effectually secure the freedom of that port'; in March 1720 Villebois was again interfering with the trade to Sweden. In April three Swedish frigates and four or five armed ships cast anchor in Danzig roads. They were equipped with artillery and all that was necessary for a vigorous attack upon the Russians who in October withdrew from the mouth of the Vistula to the island of Holm (Ostrów). In the spring of 1720 they made terms with the Swedes and set sail for Windau. On his arrival in St Petersburg Villebois was arrested for putting to sea only for five days after receiving orders to leave Danzig; his officers reported that he had done so in order to dispose of some prize for his personal gain. The liberation of Danzig from the troublesome presence of Villebois achieved by the unaided efforts of the Swedes against the express wishes of Augustus II does not speak well for the efficacy of the treaty of Vienna.

In November 1719, however, George I apparently had as yet no reason to complain of Augustus II's lack of cooperation and in Hanover accepted Flemming's offer of Saxon help against Russia on condition that funds would be furnished to persuade the Poles to support their king and his designs. The sum of 60,000 crowns was promised, as well as the equivalent amount of French money, if it could be obtained from the Regent. Le Coq, sent for this purpose to Paris, returned empty-handed but eventually, in January 1720, Philip d'Orléans relented and the money was granted. This tentative association of France with a German ruler augured well for a coalition designed to drive Russia from the Baltic and North Germany. In October Stanhope had conveyed to the abbé Dubois (who was in charge of French foreign affairs) his hope that M. de Bonnac, the French ambassador at the Porte, would conduct himself in accordance with his principal's ideas. Stanhope also expected the Turks and Tatars to attack the tsar from their side. But the insubordinate Bonnac did not abandon his view that one should not leave the tsar to confront the Turks for the benefit of the Emperor, Saxony and the Germans, had acted accordingly, promoting a secret rapprochement between the Porte and Peter I, represented in Istanbul by Dashkov. In December George I had dispatched James Scott to Warsaw with instructions to promote peace and friendship between Sweden and Poland, without whose joint participation no effective coalition for the pacification of the North could be mounted. The instruction anticipates that the tsar would persist in his resolve to keep Livonia and Estonia, thus ruling out the possibility of a peaceful settlement. The solemn embassy decided upon by the diet of Grodno would stimulate the Republic to 'exert itself' against the tsar by inevitably showing up his intransigence. The king hoped that the Republic would easily see its own true interest and conceive so great a jealousy of the 'too formidable power of the tsar' - the phrase is the burden of the whole document - that it would concur in such measures as may best induce him to give up his conquests in Livonia and Estonia; not to Poland, however, but to Sweden. To encourage the Poles to be 'resolute and hearty' Scott was to point out that this was an ideal opportunity for recovering from the Russians the provinces of Kiev and Smolensk. By declaring that George I was averse to promote or approve any attempt to make the Polish crown hereditary, Scott was to counteract the distrust that the tsar's imputations were creating between King and Republic. He was also to take care to remove any misunderstanding there might be between Poland and Prussia and contribute his good offices to the cementing of a good and lasting friendship between them. The king would have preferred Augustus II to proceed independently of his notoriously obstreperous Parliament but was convinced that should the tsar 'find a firmness in the Dyet' and should the senators and deputies 'neither soften under his caresses nor regard his threats', he would 'seriously take it into his thoughts to hearken to peace on such terms as may be both safe and honourable for Poland'. The Sejm should therefore proceed with unanimity and vigour to join the treaty of Vienna as the speediest and most likely way to obtain that end. To help him achieve these aims Scott was entrusted with the sum of 60,000 rix-dollars in the application of which (as in the general discharge of his mission) he was to be guided by Flemming, who was best able to employ it in the most useful manner. Stanhope had intended the money to be used principally as a contribution towards the cost of the Polish embassy to the tsar, but it appears eventually to have been earmarked for providing Flemming with the means of 'animating the Dyet to come to vigorous resolutions'. In the experience of one of Scott's colleagues, Whitworth, much could be done in Poland with a little money. The tsar shared this view but attached rather more importance to quantity. As early as October his emissaries had been distributing large sums in Lithuania and the contents of three cartfuls of cash and furs - presumably sable pelts - in Poland.

Foreseeing obstruction, King Augustus made an attempt to by-pass the diet. In September he startled the Polish senators and ministers of state assembled at Fraustadt (Wschowa) by declaring that in order to complete the salutary task of providing the Republic with friends capable of protecting her, it remained only for the council of the senate to declare Poland's adhesion to the treaty of Vienna. The senators protested: they could not possibly usurp the functions of a general diet. 'Then you are doomed,' the king retorted, setting off a heated discussion about the validity of a treaty that had been entered into without the Republic's knowledge or approval. The Poles, the French envoy reported. saw themselves as a man trapped in a lion's den and liable to be mauled to death on making the slightest movement. It was pointless to ask them whether they would like to be set free, for any indication to that effect could be fatal; anyone wanting to come to their rescue must offer them a means of escape and a chance of using it with impunity. In November Dolgorukii gave out that the tsar had 200,000 men around Kiev and Smolensk and in Livonia with orders to enter Poland if the armies of any other power were to do so. As well as these regular troops, 50,000 Cossacks and Tatars were ready to burst into Poland and lay waste her border territories to a depth of forty miles. At the same time it was rumoured that the treaty of Vienna contained secret articles concerning the establishment of a hereditary succession and perhaps also for a partition of Polish territory among the neighbouring powers and it was not long before forged copies of the treaty's secret separate articles were put into circulation. The diet had not even begun when the French resident was foretelling its break-up on account of the Poles' suspicions of their king's intentions and of the secret understanding between the tsar and his Polish adherents, which was said to be particularly close in Lithuania. The papal nuncio likewise believed as early as October that the Sejm would not take any decision that was likely to give offence to the tsar.

In January the deliberations of the diet opened with a discussion whether it was proper for a delegation of senators and deputies to meet Dolgorukii to whom the tsar had in advance referred the Poles in all matters outstanding between himself and the Republic. An interview, similar to that of 1710, duly took place. In it the Russian envoy was allowed to put questions framed in a way that enabled him to retort by holding up the treaty of Vienna as evidence of Polish hostility and breach of faith and of Saxon interference in the good understanding between the tsar and the Republic. The Poles refuted these charges and stated the position of the Republic as not being committed to the treaty so far but wishing not to feel obliged to have recourse to it. Szaniawski asserted that the treaty of Vienna was an offspring of the megotiations on Åland (it was know that the king had been receiving intelligence of their progress from the Hanoverian court). Adopting a tone at once menacing and aggrieved, the delegates complained of the molestation of Danzig by the tsar's ships and hinted that Villebois might find himself in danger of attack by an enemy fleet; they flung in Dolgorukii's face the exclusion of a Polish representative from Åland and the concoction of sinister anti-Polish schemes in the course of the Russo-Swedish negotiations and reiterated the Republic's demands: Livonia was to handed over and Courland evacuated. The delegates seem to have had the better of the encounter and the supporters of the treaty and advocates of a firm stand against the tsar gained strength and influence from this small moral victory. The instructions for Stanisław Chometowski, palatine of Mazovia, the ambassador who after many delays had left for Petersburg late in December, had been drawn up in this spirit of defiance. But the initial success of the tsar's opponents was not followed by further triumphs in the diet. Scott feared that the tsar was all 'too well persuaded the Poles will go no further than words'. The more Scott conversed with them the more difficult he believed it would be to prevail upon them to approve measures tending to engage them in a war. Despite the indignity and ill-usage they had met with from the tsar they would put up with anything rather than 'expose their nakedness or give occasion ... to their king to practise uon the liberty of their Constitution which they suppose [mistakenly, in Scott's opinion] he might do in case of a rupture with the Muscovite'. And it was undeniable that, if the treaty of Vienna were to lead to hostilities, Poland would once more become a threatre of war. According to Scott it was the 'jealousy' or mistrust of their king conceived by the Poles at the beginning of the diet that gave rise to the violent outcry against Flemming, that man 'of an active shining genius' who had 'the principal direction of the affairs of the King of Poland', whereas Flemming himself blamed Russian money. He was doing all he could to hold his own, he informed Saint-Saphorin early in January, but Dolgorukii's 'dazzling arguments' were hard to counter. The Poles were blindly vociferating against the treaty of Vienna and confusing the issue by dragging into it faction and personal prejudice. On 23 February the diet broke up on the question of Flemming's command of the Republic's troops organized on a 'foreign' footing - the infantry, artillery and dragoons - the only effective part of the army which as a whole remained under the authority of the hetmans. They insisted on removing Flemming order that, being in command themselves, they could deprive the king of the military means of acting against the tsar. This issue, on the face of it a domestic one, had in fact a direct bearing on foreign affairs, the protest against Flemming's command being a veto on joining the treaty of Vienna. Whitworth thought that the Poles 'must be madmen if they suffer themselves to be sacrificed to the tsar for a few hundred ducats which have been disposed to some of the discontented nobility, to make this confusion'. Flemming had apparently asserted his right to sign the treaty in virtue of his military command and this in turn was taken as an indication of Poland's reliability as an ally. Regarding the alliance as illicit and suspecting its aims to be nefarious, the opposition, egged on by Dolgorukii acting in unison with the Prussian envoy, F.W. von Posadowski, succeeded in preventing the validation of the treaty.

Scott's instructions to bring about an improvement in the relations between Poland and Prussia proved unrealistic in view of the conclusion of a fresh agreement between Russia and Prussia the signature of which on 17 or 24 February O.S. coincided with the last stages of the Polish diet. After six months of negotiation Peter I and Frederick William I agreed to prevent Poland's adhesion to the treaty of Vienna and the establishment of Saxon absolutism in the Republic, two aims assumed to be concomitant by the native as much as by the foreign opponents of the treaty. The mutual pledge (the first of many) to preserve Poland's archaic and anarchic constitution amounted to a declaration of intent to eliminate the republic from European affairs by imposing a preservation order on its political system. The treaty provides by implication that very external guarantee which Peter I had wanted to see included in the settlement of 1717, with the difference that it is a joint one. The tsar abdicates, likewise by implication, his sole tutelage of the traditional form of government in the Republic and, by the same token, of its territorial integrity. The vocabulary used is identical with that which is to be found in the tsar's earlier pronouncements on the subject: the text speaks of established liberties, laws, enactments and privileges. This was a high price for Peter I to pay for preventing the treaty of Vienna from becoming a reality. It was the Russo-Prussian treaty of 1720 rather than the internal settlement of 1717 that marked a further stage in the decline of the ancient Republic, all the more so as, in the words of George I, it unbolted the door which had debarred Prussia from entering into secret engagements with the tsar for a dismemberment of Poland. All in all, the Russo-Prussian rapprochement was proving to be a dangerous side-effect of the treatment from a distance hinted at by Szaniawski in December 1718. Prussia was for the time being a sleeping partner in the association but potentially a powerful one. The same concern for the preservation of the status quo in Poland-Lithuania was shown in the Russo-Turkish treaty of November 1720 and again in a secret article of the Russo-Swedish treaty of defensive alliance of 2 March 1724 which was, however, of short-lived importance. Every one of these steps strengthened the tsar's already free hand in Poland. It was still not too late to reform the archaic and anarchic political system which was so highly prized by the Republic's unfriendly neighbours but the will directed to that end would have to reckon with external as well as internal opposition.

By co-operating with Dolgorukii Posadowski had been acting in the spirit of the Russo-Prussian agreement even before its completion, but his proleptic contribution in the form of bribe-giving and wire-pulling was of token rather than of actual value; Dolgorukii could easily have achieved his aim of breaking up the diet single-handed. The neutralization of Prussian territory determined by the Russo-Prussian treaty on the other hand was of decisive importance since it made nonsense of any designs for the expansion of the treaty of Vienna into a coalition against Russia. A plan approved in September 1719 by the Queen of Sweden had proposed the mustering of an army of 70,000 men in Polish Prussia, Lithuania and Courland for an attack on Pskov and a siege of Riga or Reval. A quarter of this army was to come from Hesse-Cassel, inevitably via Prussia, and a contingent of 12,000 from that kingdom itself. Under a British plan reported in January 1720 a military corps made up of contingents to be supplied by George I, the landgrave of Hesse-Cassel and Frederick William I was to assemble in north Germany and march eastwards through Prussia. But the road to Russia or, more properly, to Livonia and St Petersburg through Prussia was and remained barred. In July 1720 Frederick William I declared that he would not help Sweden to recover from the tsar any of her former territories and would not intervene to the detriment of Russia in the event of the continuation of the northern war. The alternative possibility of shipping a Swedish army across to Courland was seen to be impracticable once it became clear that Sweden had lost faith in the effectiveness of an attack on Russia, for which in any case she lacked the necessary resources. From this moment at the latest any plans for driving the tsar from the Baltic at the eleventh hour should have been dismissed as visionary. Indeed Whitworth's phrases about 'a strange planet ruling in the northern circle' and 'chimeras, romantick fancys and shadows being preferred to sound reason' are more appropriate to this illusion which was jointly cherished by Frederick I of Sweden, Stanhope, his assistants and his royal master than to the wary vacillation of the king of Prussia. From a meeting-point the treaty of Vienna was destined to become a parting of the ways.

As early as March Augustus II, whose consistently cautious handling of the situation at Danzig shows that he had long been aware of what was in store, informed the courts of Vienna, London and Stockholm that he valued their efforts in the interests of the pacification of the North, but being bound by the terms of the Russo-Polish alliance he must consult the tsar before associating himself with their action. Chometowski's instructions were now modified; he was to act so as not to give offence to the tsar. At the end of May Augustus, while out hunting, paid a courtesy call on Dolgorukii, and a month later the Polish ministers were engaged in re-establishing a full and harmonious understanding with the tsar, who had taken to playing off the Poles against the Saxons.

The Emperor's assessment of the situation was a sober one: no anti-Russian league could be effective without Poland and Prussia, for without Prussia it would not have enough troops and, moreover, it was dangerous to seek out the Russians so far away and leave the powerfully armed Frederick William behind without being sure of his intentions. The arguments whereby Lord Cadogan, the British ambassador in Vienna, tried to refute this contention were advanced in obvious ignorance of the recent Russo-Prussian understanding and of the state of affairs in Poland: at the very least one could be sure that Frederick William would let through the armies that were to act against the tsar and would do nothing in his favour. If money failed to hinder the Russians from intriguing in Poland and to deprive them of the dangerous ascendancy that they were gaining there, the Swedes could still land in Polish Prussia, the 'regular' Polish troops and the szlachta would join them and all factions would cease. In October the Emperor stated definitively that he could not participate in any plans for a northern alliance before Poland had acceded to the treaty of Vienna prior to joining such an alliance herself. The whole scheme was fraught with too many difficulties, the Poles were unwilling to pull their weight and it was impossible to drag them in. The Imperial court therefore, having discerned the effects of the plan for reducing Muscovy to her former bounds and having reached the conclusion that military action against the tsar was doomed to failure, was going to try and gain his favour while keeping the plan alive in so far as this was necessary for bringing pressure to bear upon him.

The diet which opened on 30 September 1720 turned out as disappointing for the supporters of the Vienna alliance as its predecessor. The deputies hostile to Flemming and manipulated by the tsar rather than the hetmans jealous of Flemming's command of the 'regular' troops frustrated the efforts of the court to bring the Sejm to a successful conclusion. Scott's fear of a change in the king's foreign policy were soon proved to have been justified by an official declaration that Augustus had not entered into any engagements that might prevent his maintaining good relations with both the King of Great Britain and the tsar. Towards the end of the year it was decided in Warsaw to send to St Petersburg a trustworthy person capable of making it known that the sole object of the king's recent conduct had been the security of his person and of his dominions, but that in various measures adopted to that end he had been ever mindful of the circumspection that had to be exercised in order to keep the tsar's friendship.

To this end Sergei G. Dolgorukii, the son of the Russian envoy, was sent to St Petersburg and, in trying to buy support in Russia, Augustus II copied the methods so successfully applied by Peter I in Poland. The tsar's ministers presumably pocketed the bribes but he himself rebuffed the king's advances. Having undermined the alliance of Vienna by neutralizing Prussia and Poland, Peter I had resumed diplomatic relations with the Emperor and was, in the spring of 1721, in an impregnable position. In the expectation of a victorious peace with Sweden the tsar was 'much more haughty than formerly'; he could dispense with Augustus II's offer to reconcile him with the Emperor in return for possible concessions in Livonia, and could afford to let fall into abeyance his own request for Augustus's good offices in a proposed reconciliation with George I. Lord Townshend, who had succeeded Stanhope on the latter's death in February 1721, thought that, piqued with its disappointment, the Polish court was likely to change its language and talk again of forming concerts against the Muscovites, but instructed Scott that if the Polish ministers were to say anything to that effect he was to reply that George I had 'already discharged himself in that affair by representing in the most lively colours to the court of Vienna the dangers and disadvantages that may arise from letting the Muscovites grow so great and formidable as they do both by sea and land'. It was probably the prospect of the tsar's maintaining his grip on the Baltic coast from Riga to Viborg that moved the Board of Trade to consider the revision of the treaty made in 1706 with Danzig, the only independent outlet for naval stores produced outside the tsar's dominions. The subsequent negotiations for altering and amending the terms regulating the trade between Britain and Danzig, although inconclusive, indicate the degree of Britain's concern at the fate of Danzig during the northern crisis.

Saint-Saphorin's indignant complaint that Augustus II was left in the lurch obliquely lays the blame for the failure of the alliance of Vienna on the Emperor. In view of the difficulties that Augustus had run into in Poland the reproach is neither wholly justified nor an adequate comment on what had passed. It would have been more accurate to say that the King of Poland had been outwitted by the tsar and elbowed aside by him in the general scurry for a separate and favourable peace with Sweden. In the course of it, having mistimed the Hapsburg marriage of the Electoral Prince, he forfeited the confidence of the war-weary szlachta and was severely if not decisively handicapped by the attitude of Prussia. As early as the spring of 1721 Saint-Saphorin recognized that the tsar would remain master of the whole of Livonia and endorsed Townshend's view that this would be one of the greatest calamities that could occur. Once peace had been concluded on that footing the Polish Republic would become a virtual dependency of Russia. It was also true that, after Kiev and Smolensk, Livonia was the third base from which a Russian army could invade the Republic or threaten to do so. Russia's acquisition of Livonia and the consequent displacement of Breslau (Wrocław) by Riga as the terminus for the export trade of the left-bank Ukraine also had the perhaps unexpected effect of putting the tsar in possession of a valuable bargaining counter in relation to the Emperor, Charles VI being under pressure from commercial interests in Silesia to enter into negotiations with the tsar with a view to reviving the trade betwen Breslau and the Ukraine.

A league of the kind contemplated by Stanhope might have succeeded in driving the tsar from Livonia and Estonia - but it would have had to be set up first. As a starting-point for such a venture the treaty of Vienna was unserviceable, if only because it had been conceived to meet a situation which differed fundamentally from that brought about by the death of Charles XII. The danger of a separate peace and an alliance between Russia and Sweden was suddenly removed and the Anglo-Hanoverian fear of Sweden was transferred to Russia. The Emperor, however, was cured of Russophobia once the Russians had been driven from Mecklenburg and from Poland. This, as well as the preservation of Danzig and Elbing from the designs of the tsar and the King of Prussia, was the achievement of the treaty. Flemming had every reason to be gratified at the evacuation of the Russian troops having been enforced so speedily and at no great cost to the Republic. But the Republic's failure to accede to the treaty of Vienna could only have shown her up as an unreliable and unrewarding partner in the game of international power politics and it is surely no coincidence that her rank was henceforth reduced to that of a secondary player. The relations between the tsar and the Republic nevertheless remained an issue of international importance.

The next British reign in which the security of Poland affected the interests of Great Britain was that of George VI. The threat to the second - or inter-war-Republic - came from the Third Reich. But the bond of the Anglo-Polish treaty of mutual assistance signed in August 1939 loosened during the subsequent war under pressure from the USSR. In 1945 its leader, Stalin, followed the example of Peter the Great by imposing Russian dominance on the whole of Poland which he refashioned geographically and politically, turning it into a People's Republic.

The fiasco of the treaty of Vienna and the failure of the two diets of 1720 (that carried over from 1719 and that of 30 September - 11 November), largely due to the machinations of Dolgorukii, had made his position in Warsaw look unassailable. It mattered little that King Augustus could not bear to look at him and ignored him. But Tsar Peter's instructions caused him to commit a flagrant abuse of diplomatic immunity which led to his downfall.

It will be recalled that Filip Orlik, the hetman in exile of the Ukrainian Cossacks, temporarily resident in Sweden had sent to Poland his Ensign General, Ivan Hertsyk, with some letters from the King of Sweden and himself to the Tatar khan, the seraskier of Silistria and the hetman of the Zaporozhian Cossacks, and that Dolgorukii had taken steps to prevent this correspondence. Having arrived in Warsaw, Hertsyk handed over the letters to his brother Hryhorii but the latter, instead of actig as courier himself, entrusted the letters to his fellow Cossack, Fedor Nakhymovs'kyi. It is possible that Ivan Hertsyk accompanied Nakhymovs'kyi who was to reside at Khotin. Dolgorukii's quarry, Hryhorii Hertsyk, was lodging with Major-General Krzysztof Urbanowicz, a former adherent of Leszczyński, newly reconciled with the king. In a bold and elaborate operation which could have served as a model for the K.G.B., Dolgorukii had Hertsyk abducted and brought to his residence by a kind of double agent, one Myszecki, who had served in the Swedish army and had recently been befriended by the Swedish envoy, General J. R. von Trautvetter. In Dolgorukii's view Trautvetter, the representative of a hostile power, had no business to be in Warsaw. Once Myszecki was inside the embassy, Dolgorukii appointed him to a captaincy in the tsar's dragoons. Dolgorukii had committed a serious breach of protocol and of the law of nations but neither the Grand Marshal of Poland Józef Mniszech, nor Flemming was inclined to bring Dolgorukii to book. It was Trautvetter who, seizing an opportunity to embarrass Dolgorukii, brought the scandal to the notice of the other foreign diplomats resident in the Polish capital and insisted on Dolgorukii's being called on to explain himself. Mniszech sent a note to Dolgorukii, demanding the release of the Cossack (not referred to by name) and another one to Golovkin, the chancellor and president of the college of foreign arrairs in St Petersburg, protesting at the ambassador's unwarranted action; the king himself wrote to Peter I saying it was well known that the tsar would not wish anything to happen in a foreign country which he would not tolerate in his own. Dolgorukii pleaded that he had acted on the orders of his principal and without his permission could not set the Cossack free, but this argument did not bear examiation. Tsar Peter, however, was not to be put out of countenance and in February 1721 replied, justifying his ambassador's action as taken in the best interest of both countries since Hertsyk, Nakhymovs'kyi and Myrovich had been sent to stir up the Polish Republic, the Crimean khan and the rebellious Zaporozhian Cossacks against Russia. He accordingly demanded the extradition of the three traitors, citing article 5 of the Russo-Polish treaty of 1686 (which, however, does not mention extradition). A Wallachian colonel, one Kegich, was sent from Kiev to seize them and bring them to Russia. This was no wanton provocation but a deliberate blow aimed in fear and anger at the remaining followers of Mazepa. His nephew, Andrzej Wojnarowski (Andrii Voinarovs'kyi), had recently (in 1718) been seized at the tsar's orders in Hamburg, brought to Russia, interrogated and eventually banished to Iakutsk in Siberia.

Meanwhile Hertsyk had managed to escape and go into hiding but in March 1721, according to Scott, 'a Russian lieutenant and twenty five dragoons' found him and took him to Russia. He was interrogated in the fortress of Sts Peter and Paul in St Petersburg, kept under guard there and later in the Admiralty. In 1727 (after the death of Peter I) he was allowed to live under surveillance in Moscow and was released in 1735. His brother Ivan died in exile in unknown circumstances; Nakhymovs'kyi and Myrovich ended up in the Crimea.

Augustus II had quickly dissociated himself from the whole affair; in January 1721 he and the tsar had exchanged assurances of their mutual and enduring friendship. In April Grigorii Fedorovich Dolgorukii, having carried out his master's instructions and thereby compromised his position, was recalled and replaced by his son, Sergei Grigorevich (although the official letters of recall were sent out only a year later). Thus the services of an upright and seasoned diplomat were sacrificed to the minor object of rounding up a few played out Cossack separatists. But Dolgorukii's major task too had been accomplished; only Peter I himself had contributed more to the subjugation of the Republic by Russia.

Grigorii Dolgorukii's departure may have given pleasure to the king and to some senators but it was not a triumph. The papal nuncio, Grimaldi, had already commented at the end of 1720 that the episode of the Cossacks was generally regarded as a symptom of the predominance which the tsar seemed to want to exercise over Poland, 'it continues to arouse much ill feeling against him and raises many reflections on the independence which this nation ought to enjoy'.

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