Inter-Confessional Strife and Foreign Relations

Part One

I – Religious Tensions in the Republic

The religious landscape of Poland-Lithuania at the end of the seventeenth century. Diversity did not spell amity. - The progress of the Counter-Reformation, militant and expansionist in character. - Kazimierz Łyszczyński beheaded for atheism (1689). A tumult against the Protestants in Vilno (1682). - Russian fears of the Pope and the Jesuits. - Orthodoxy in the right-bank Ukraine under a cloud. Oleksandra Voinarovs'kaia. Danylo Bratkovs'kyi. - Mounting xenophobia. - The position of Augustus II as keeper of the peace among the 'dissidentes in religione Christiana'. - The Protestants in the Republic. Their denominations and number. Those in the king's entourage disliked by the 'szlachta', as are Jewish entrepreneurs. - The 'schismatics' and the 'heretics' as a factor in the Republic's external relations.

A century after the end of the Jagellonian epoch (1386-1572) the religious landscape of Poland-Lithuania was, in its richness and variety, still unique in Europe. In this panorama were to be seen kościóły (sing. kościół from the Lat. castellum), many of them in the baroque style, Uniate cerkwie (sing. cerkiew from the H.G. kiricha), Orthodox churches (likewise cerkwie), surmounted by domes, monasteries of the three denominations, their affinity to Rome or Byzantium marked by the form of the cross on their bell towers and sometimes by their layout, Protestant zbory (sing. zbór, congregation, as it were, chapel), plain and austere, outside West Prussia inconspicuously sited and sometimes wooden, bożnice (sing. bożnica) (cf. Bóg = God) or synagogi, often built of wood, sprawling and barn-like and finally the occasional minaret pointing to the presence of a mosque (meskit, meczet). In Vilno in the middle of the seventeenth century the Roman Catholics had 29 churches, the Uniates nine, the Orthodox, Lutherans and Calvinists one each. But contiguity did not spell amity and the worshippers in these Christian shrines were not animated by a spirit of mutual love or even respect. Many of the churches themselves were, after 1573, the objects of dispute between the Roman Catholic, Protestant, Uniate and Orthodox hierarchies.

To the Roman Catholics the Protestants taken as a whole, were dissenters, dysydenci (a designation applied originally to Catholic and Protestant nobles who differed among themselves in point of religion) or, pejoratively, as heretycy (sing. heretyk), divided into Lutherans (lutrzy, sing. luter) and Calvinists (kalwini, sing. kalwin). The Orthodox, known officially as people of the Greek or Ruthenian religion, were also described negatively as dyzunici, dis-Uniates, not in union with Rome, in contrast to the Uniates (unici).

In its heyday, in the second half of the seventeenth century, the Counter-Reformation in Poland-Lithuania was a movement not only of Catholic renewal but also of assimilative expansion in all directions, inimical to the secular concept of mutual forbearance in religione and dedicated to the extirpation of heresy and schism. The Society of Jesus had much to do with the adoption of these attitudes and their consequences.

Free thinking, however private, was held to be a threat to the authority of Church and State, putting the thinker in mortal danger, as was the case with Kazimierz Łyszczyński. A former Jesuit, on bad terms with the Society and the Church, since 1682 deputy judge (pods´dek, subiudex terrestris) of the district of Brest-Litovsk, Łyszczyński was the author of a manuscript treatise entitled De non existentia Dei. A malevolent neighbour denounced him, the bishop of Vilno (1687-1722), Konstanty Brzostowski, later active against the Protestants as well as the Orthodox, instituted legal proceedings against him, the consistory court which tried Łyszczyński condemned him to death. The szlachta of the district of Brest appealed to the king requesting Łyszczyński's release, John III handed the matter over to the parliamentary court (sàd sejmowy) which consisted of the king, the senators and twelve deputies appointed by the Sejm. Łyszczyński's chief legal representative was his judicial colleague, L.K. Pociej (later deputy hetman of Lithuania). The bishops from among the senators demanded the death sentence, the Papal nuncio, Giacomo Cantelmi, titular bishop of Caesarea proposed further questioning under torture but was overruled. Łyszczyński abjured his errors but was nevertheless beheaded in Warsaw in March 1689.

On 3 April 1682 a tumult was raised in Vilno against the Protestants, the fourth after the earlier ones of 1581, 1611 and 1639. The palatine of Vilno, M. K. Pac, gave permission for the forcible removal of the cross from the top of the Protestant (Reformed) chapel outside the city boundary. Thereupon a mob, led by a group of students from the Academy egged on by some Jesuits, attached and wrecked the chapel as well as the ministers' living quarters and the hospital. The cemetery was desecrated. Among those charged with having taken part in the ensuing plunder were the local Jews as well as the Franciscan and Dominican friars unwilling to hand back the chapel's treasure which had been entrusted to them by the rioters. Pac died suddenly on the following day from natural causes.

Three years later, according to the Muscovite resident, Boris Mikhailov, royal commissioners were sent at the prompting of the Jesuits to the village of Ozery (to the north-east of Grodno). Having initiated the destruction (on unspecified grounds) of the Orthodox church of SS. Peter and Paul, they invited the Tatars living nearby to finish the work.

In the same year of 1685 in Lvov, an Orthodox szlachcic of Greek extraction, one Papara, informed Mikhailov of his certain knowledge that the Poles had agreed in secret with the Pope, the Emperor and the King of France to establish the Roman Catholic religion in Muscovy by the instrumentality of the Jesuits.

The Russians' atavistic fear of the Pope and of the Society of Jesus is recorded by Pushkin. In Boris Godunov a short dialogue takes place at the residence of Prince Wiśniowiecki in Cracow between the Impostor (the False Dmitri) and Pater Czernikowski, S.J.:

I warrant that within two years
My entire people and the whole Eastern Church
Will bow before the authority of St Peter's vicar.
May St Ignatius assist you when other times arrive.
Meanwhile hide in your soul
The seeds of Heaven's blessing.
Religious duty sometimes
Commands us to dissemble
Before a frenzied world.
(The scenes are unnumbered)

The Ukrainian annalist Samoilo Velychko records the circumstances of the death in 1695 of the sister of the Cossack hetman, Ivan Mazepa, Oleksandra Voinarovs'kaia or Wojnarowska. She was the wife of Jan Wojnarowski, judge (s´dzia, presumably ziemski, iudex terrestris) in the palatinate of Kiev and the mother of several children, including Andrzej Stanisław, eventually an adherent of Mazepa. Some time before her death she had taken up residence with her mother, Mariia Magdalyna, prioress of the convent of the Caves in Kiev. Her grief-stricken husband attributed her desertion to aspersions cast on him by an unnamed individual but, according to the annalist, the chief cause of the separation was the difference in religion: the wife was of the pious Ruthenian faith, whereas the husband was a Liakh of the Roman confession into which he had begun to coerce her. One suspects that in this way more than one conscience was violated and more than one heart broken but not many Orthodox wives of Roman Catholic husbands could find a congenial haven in the Convent of the Caves. Generally, in a mixed marriage the Roman Catholic ousted the Greek Orthodox religion, giving rise to feuds over rights of inheritance. To the west of the Dnieper, in the eyes of right-thinking Roman Catholics, membership of the Greek Church was no longer compatible with high social standing or adherence to Polish political culture, or both.

But these were private concerns. The changing fortunes of Daniel Bratkowski (Danylo Bratkovs'kyi), versifier, public servant and political activist exemplify the conflict of a more public nature between loyalty to King and Republic and devotion to an Orthodox faith oriented towards Kiev and the Eastern Patriarchs. Bratkowski was appointed (nominal) cupbearer (podczaszy, pocillator) of Venden in 1688. In a piece of verse published in 1697 (but probably written earlier) Bratkowski noted the altered attitude in Polish ruling circles towards the Ruthenians: 'The Rusin who wants to make his mark has to dissemble, to ingratiate himself, so that when he has succeeded no one will notice.' This growing distrust may well have been due to the continuing unrest in the Ukraine fomented by Palii. After the failure of a campaign conducted by Bratkowski and his associates to require the Sejm of 1699 to restore the rights of the Orthodox, he first sought the support of Mazepa and finally, in 1702, set out to join Palii. He was captured, sentenced to death and beheaded.

Religious intolerance blended easily with xenophobia. The resolutions adopted by the Sejm of 1699 with regard to the two bastions of Christendom in the south-eastern marches illustrate this propensity of long standing. The Sejm forbade people of the disunited Greek religion to live in the fortified own of Kamieniec (Kamenets-Podolsk), newly liberated from the Turks. Nor, ruled the Sejm, must Jews own property or trade there; as guests they must not stay longer than three days. The city of Lvov was to be fortified and supplied. Since Lvov had never been inhabited by dissenters, only a Roman Catholic could be commandant of the fortress. Jews who were elbowing their way into the city would not be allowed to dwell there.

Augustus II was a half-hearted Catholic. His conversion, in the words of the Venetian envoy, Girolamo Alberti, had produced nec lux, nec crux, there was not even a crucifix in the king's apartments, meat was constantly being served at table, no alms were being given to the poor; in the absence of his wife the king did not scruple, in his own words, to live as did so many other Catholic monarchs. As Elector of Saxony he also remained de iure president of the Corpus Evangelicorum in the Empire. A man so clearly free of prejudice – or lacking in principle – could with an easy conscience accept the terms concerning religion laid down in the pacta conventa, the solemn compact between a new king and the Republic. In his oath, sworn in 1699, he accordingly declared that the peace inter dissidentes in religione Christiana would be preserved, noting that there were not a few such dissentients. He promised them all peace and security, notwithstanding any objections to the confederacy of 1573 (which for the first time had required the newly elected king to keep the public peace among people diverging in faith and worship), saving, however, the rights of the Roman Catholic Church. The differences between 'the Uniates and dis-Uniates of the Greek religion' were to be settled at the next Sejm which meant, appropriately, an adjournment ad kalendas Graecas.

Indigenous Protestantism had been holding its own in the towns of West Prussia but in Greater Poland, Little Poland and in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania it had been steadily losing ground, retreating before the re-Catholicizing advance of the Counter-Reformation. The Lutherans, Calvinists (of the Reformed Church, Jednota) and Bohemian Brethren (also known as the Episcopal Reformed Church) alike had been experiencing the odium reserved for nonconformists. The leaders of these communities, divided by theological differences, did not always act in concert.

There are no reliable data from which the number of Protestants in Poland-Lithuania in the first quarter of the eighteenth century could be accurately calculated. W. Kriegseisen puts the total number of noble and pseudo-noble Protestant families at the beginning of the century at about 600 and of persons in the same group in Little Poland at the end of the first quarter of the century at not more than 4,000 persons. The total number of Protestants in Greater Poland at the time of the first partition (1772) has recently been estimated at just over 92,000 persons. This corrects an earlier figure of 200,000.

The king's religious laxity was probably not widely known but it was obvious that his entourage consisted largely of German-speaking Protestants from outside the Republic. According to the new Papal nuncio, Fabrizio Paulucci, bishop of Ferrara, within a year of the royal election the szlachta were voicing their dissatisfaction at the number of Germans – Saxon officials and others – whom the Elector of Saxony had brought with him. The Primate, Cardinal Micha∏ Radziejowski, only recently described by the previous nuncio, Giovanni Antonio Davia, archbishop of Rimini, as infirm of purpose and paying little attention to ecclesiastical matters, was fanning the flames by calling attention to the danger caused to the Roman Catholic religion by the intermingling of so many Lutherans and Jews with a lukewarm laity. The Primate, having discovered that Lutheran services were being held in a house let by the concierge of his own palace to the quartermaster of the German troops (needed for the campaign in Moldavia against the Turks), gave instructions that the letting cease at once. He feared that the Protestants might next seize hold of a church or build one of their own. The king himself ordered the suspension of the meetings of the conventicle. The leasing of the salt mines at Wieliczka and Sambor (Sambir) to some Jewish entrepreneurs caused further indignation. Jewish contractors in the king's suite were also supplying the army, although all Jews should have left the capital at the end of the parliamentary session. In 1701 the bishop of Culm (Chełmno), Teodor Potocki, without consulting the Holy See, promulgated an edict prohibiting marriages between Roman Catholics and heretics.

Drawing a comparison between 'the schismatics' and 'the heretics' at the time of the royal election of 1697, Davia described the former as few in number, without credit in the senate and having no support other than that of the Muscovite, a rival of 'this realm', and suspect in the eyes of the Republic; whereas the latter, assisted by the favour shown to them by the Elector of Brandenburg and subsidized by money from Holland, would wish to have their temples in the principal towns and a fixed number of their sect admitted to the senate. The mention of money from Holland is possibly connected with the establishment of two studentships for Protestants from Greater Poland at the university of Leyden. The nuncio makes no reference to the Republic's other Protestant neighbour, Sweden, and leaves out of account the large number of Orthodox townspeople and peasants – estimated at two million before the Great Northern war and one million after its end – but his report does have the merit of drawing attention to the condition of the nonconformists as a factor not only in internal politics but also in the Republic's external relations.

II – Peter I, The Holy See, Church Reunion and the Uniate Church

Tsar Peter's dealings with the Papacy. He heightens expectations of the reunion of the Churches of East and West. - Rome's response to the tsar's hints. - Irenic thinkers in Western Europe after 1685: Leibniz, Jablonski, Wake. - The Doctors of the Sorbonne approach the tsar who points to differences between East and West. - His diplomatic feint in Vienna in 1719. - The chief obstacle: the Uniate Church in Poland-Lithuania, abhorred by Peter I. - What the tsar said to the Uniate metropolitan (1698). - The Papacy's practical aims: Roman Catholic worship in Russia and the transit of missionaries. - The good offices of Tomasz Działyński, the Republic's envoy to the tsar (1704). He obtains a diploma which inter alia concedes the freedom of Roman Catholic worship in Moscow. - The plight of Polish-speaking Roman Catholics in Russia. The non-observance by the Russians of article nine of the treaty of 1686, still unratified by the Republic. - Hopes entertained in Rome are dashed by the events at Polotsk (1705). - The tsar grants a diploma to the Capuchins which allows them to establish a mission in Moscow (December 1705). - The General Council of the confederacy of Sendomir ratifies the treaties with Russia of 1686 and 1704 (1710). - An accommodation between Rome and Moscow with regard to the Uniates and the Orthodox in the Republic is contemplated but its prerequisite, the installation of the Capuchins in Moscow, is not realized. The Capuchins at Astrakhan (1715). - Peter I denies the rumour emanating from his own ambassador at the Porte that he will resume negotiations about Church reunion (1709). - Rome renews its efforts to obtain freedom of worship for Roman Catholics in Russia. The unsuccessful mission of bishop K.A. Szembek (1709). - The snub to Wołłowicz in 1711. - Thereafter relations between Rome and Moscow deteriorate. Poles no longer used to communicate with the tsar. - The first formal meeting between Peter I and an official representative of the Pope takes place in 1717 but produces no immediate results. The Capuchins installed in Moscow and St Petersburg in 1720 after the explusion of the Jesuits. - Peter the Great protests in Rome against the coercion of Orthodox Christians into the Union and threatens reprisals (1722). Fr. Niccolo Gian Priamo, S.J. acts as intermediary. - The compassionate attitude towards the Orthodox of the new nuncio in Warsaw, Santini. He hears out the Orthodox clergy from the diocese of Lutsk and calls on the Uniate and Roman Catholic bishops to moderate their zeal. - The Holy See's reply to Tsar Peter. - Little change by 1724 in the positions of the parties - the Papacy, the Church of Rome in Poland-Lithuania and the tsar, defender of Orthodoxy and adversary of the Union.

Tsar Peter's dealings with the Papacy, inseparable from the relations between Russia and Poland-Lithuania, were for a time dominated by the age-old and illusory hopes, cherished in Rome, of the reunion of the Churches of East and West. Peter I heightened these expectations by consistently hinting at and alluding to, his wish for the consummation of this great enterprise. His display of reverence for the Mass and respectful confabulations with Jesuits, be it in Vienna, in Polotsk (immediately before the affray of July 1705) or in Grodno, were calculated to present the picture of a broad-minded and well-intentioned Christian, open to persuasion by his estranged brethren. But at home, having allowed the Jesuits to return to Moscow after their first banishment in 1685, he merely tolerated their presence. At court his favourite entertainment were the orgiastic parodies of ecclesiastical ceremonial of both East and West, regularly performed by the 'Most Drunken Council' composed of his intimates. In his heart of hearts Tsar Peter had as little respect for the Bishop of Rome as he had had for the Patriarch of Moscow. Rome's response to the tsar's discreet overtures was defined as early as 1702 by the secretary of state, Cardinal Fabrizio Paulucci: The Pope [Clement XI] does not consider whether the tsar is wholly sincere in appearing to wish to reunite his subjects to the bosom of Holy Church. But given the existence of an opportunity to enlighten and save so many souls, may the mercy of God bless the efforts needed to accomplish so worthy an aim.

But Davia, now nuncio in Vienna, previously accredited at Warsaw, whilst also putting his trust in God and taking into account all the positive signs coming from Muscovy, doubted the success of the steps that were being taken when he saw how the ruler chosen for this great task abused his talents and abilities by indulging in drunkenness and the lusts of the flesh and inflicting tyranny and cruelty on his own subjects. However, in 1703 the new nuncio in Warsaw, Francesco Pignatelli, archbishop of Taranto, was ready for vicarious sacrifice: the Republic should make territorial concessions to win Muscovy for 'la Santa Religione'.

The next nuncio, Orazio Spada, titular archbishop of Thebes, contrary to his intention, did not succeed in meeting the tsar in the autumn and winter of 1704-1705 and consequently did not extend to him the Pope's promise that, if the reunion were to come about, he would grant to the Muscovites the same privileges as those which his predecessors had bestowed on the Uniates in Poland. This was just as well, for such a piece of condescension could only have enraged the tsar. In reality union with Rome was as far from Tsar Peter's mind as it was impracticable, a task, as will be seen presently, fraught with enormous difficulties.

In western Europe, after the revocation of the edict of Nantes in 1685, irenically disposed religious thinkers had searched for ways of bringing down the doctrinal barriers that divided Protestants from Roman Catholics and threatened to provoke a fresh outbreak of religious strife. At the end of the century in their epistolary discussion J.B. Bossuet, bishop of Meaux, in Versailles or Paris, and Leibniz in Hanover, tried but failed to find a theological basis for a reconciliation between Catholics and Protestants. Bossuet died in 1703; Leibniz, keeping alive their interest in the restoration of Christian unity turned his attention to the differences between Lutherans and Calvinists, and , in passing, to Russia. Although he did not concern himself with the union between the Greek and Latin Churches, he believed that it could be achieved only by an oecumenical council. In 1707 Tsar Peter's envoy in Vienna, J.Ch. Urbich, conveyed this view to his master, suggesting that Leibniz might be invited to work out a plan of action. The tsar considered the idea but remarked that it could be put into effect only after peace had been made with Sweden. Another promoter of Church unity was Daniel Ernst Jablonski (1660-1741), a member (and later bishop) of the community of Bohemian Brethren (Unitas Fratrum) in Greater Poland as well as of the Reformed Church in Prussia and, since 1693, official preacher at the Court of Berlin. Inspired by the exchange of views between Leibniz and another correspondent of his, Ezechiel von Spanheim, Jablonski worked for a union between the Reformed and Lutheran Churches. He also discussed by letter, with John Sharp, Archbishop of York, the possibility of introducing episcopacy into the Church in Prussia. In England William Wake, Archbishop of Canterbury from 1716, after an interval of 20 years, resumed his correspondence with some Gallican theologians at the Sorbonne and envisaged a union between their Church and his own. Given the existence of these widespread contacts, the approach made by the Doctors of the Sorbonne to Tsar Peter during his visit to Paris in the spring of 1717 can be seen as a logical step, all the more so as the Jansenist Doctors were under the impression that the tsar shared their disbelief in Papal infallibility. When they called on him to reconcile and reunite the Russian Church with that of Rome, he pointed to the differences in doctrine and ritual between the two and asked for a memorandum on the subject which he promised to refer to the bishops of his realm. This was as near as Peter I ever came to expressing a candid opinion on the question of reunion.

When the tsar for the last time held out the prospect of reunion, he did so by way of a diplomatic manoeuvre. At the end of 1719 he found it necessary to win the approval of the Emperor for the terms of a peace treaty with Sweden that would be favourable to Russia. To this end he sent to Vienna as his personal envoy General I.B. Veisbakh (Johann Bernhard von Weisbach), a Silesian and a Catholic, formerly in the Imperial service. Some of Charles VI's ministers were anxious to take this opportunity to secure the tsar's support in the conflict within the Empire between Catholics and Protestants at a time when the latter were receiving encouragement from George I and Frederick William I. According to a report from the pen of the Prussian envoy in St Petersburg Gustav von Mardefeld, Veisbakh put forward a proposal for the reunion of the Greek and Roman Churches. Although a move of this kind lacked any real meaning, it was apparently well received by the vice-chancellor of the Empire, Friedrich Carl von Schönborn and the Vienna Jesuits, as a possible pointer towards the formation of an anti-Protestant league. The sole purpose of Veisbakh's overture, however, was to aggravate the trouble in the Empire without involving Tsar Peter in the conflict. In the spring of 1721 the tsar declared to Mardefeld in the same connection that his – the Orthodox – religion was entirely neutral and that, after 20 years war, all he wanted was peace.

The chief obstacle barring the way to Church reunion was the existence in Poland-Lithuania of the Uniate Church. The Holy See pretended not to notice this stumbling-block; the tsar abhorred the Union. In August 1698 Peter I on his way home from Western Europe stopped at Brest Litovsk (Brześć Litewski) at the house of the castellan of Vilno, J.B. Słuszka. Here a significant incident occurred. Two accounts of what passed possibly complement one another. According to the report received from Brest by the nuncio in Warsaw, Davia, while the tsar was at table (there is no reference to his being the worse for drink) Leon Załęski (Lev Zalen'skyi), the Uniate metropolitan of Kiev, presented himself to the illustrious guest and, amid compliments, spoke censoriously of 'the schism'. The tsar retorted by saying that he esteemed good Catholics but loathed impertinent ones like the bishop; in Moscow he would have the likes of him cudgelled and throttled. He asked his hostess (Anna, née Potocka) to show Załęski the door, declaring loudly that otherwise he could no longer restrain his own hands. According to Załęski's own testimony, as reported by Davia, he introduced himself to the tsar as being of the Greek religion united to the Church of Rome whereupon the tsar flared up and described him as being, therefore, of the religion of the halt, for being Greek by rite he wanted to be Latin in sentiment. Yet, as there were only two Churches, the one Greek and the other Latin, the tsar regarded the Uniate as a monstrous cross-breed. In all probability he did not know that Załęski was just then engaged in the forcible conversion of some monasteries in the eparkhy of Lutsk. Little more than a mention of the Unon, apparently, made Tsar Peter's blood boil; it was a reaction that boded ill for the future. In courting Rome nevertheless, the tsar was acting from ulterior motives of high policy dictated by the need to have the support of the Papacy in Warsaw and in Vienna during the critical years of the northern war. In one instance he envisaged a mutual advantage: if the Tsarevich Aleksei Petrovich were to marry an archduchess – an unlikely event – the alliance would revive hopes of the union between Muscovy and the Church of Rome.

But the Papacy too, whilst entertaining high-minded hopes of Muscovy's entry into its fold, had ends of a more practical nature in view. It needed to persuade the tsar to allow unhindered passage to missionaries bound for, or returning from, the East through Muscovy and, within its borders, to sanction the free exercise of the Roman Catholic religion and the building of churches. In the absence of direct diplomatic relations between Rome and Moscow, the good offices of Polish dignitaries, lay and ecclesiastical, were the most convenient channels of communication available to the two parties. Accordingly Tomasz Działyński, palatine of Culm, the envoy sent to the tsar in 1704, was instructed to present the three desiderata just mentioned but these remained outside the matters covered by the treaty concluded by Działyński at Narva. Działyński did, however, receive a document, a diploma issued by the department of foreign affairs (posol'skii prikaz), which included the statement that in response to requests made by the Polish envoy in a personal capacity the following privileges had been conceded: the freedom of Roman Catholic worship in Moscow and other towns, permission to have a church built in stone and unhindered passage for missionaries travelling to Persia. For reasons of safety Działyński sent the document from Narva to Moscow. It enabled the Jesuits established in the Russian capital to replace in 1706 their church, destroyed by fire in 1705, with a more solid building but was later lost. A transaction such as this may have enhanced the standing of the Poles with the tsar and of Augustus II with the Pope but it blurred the distinction between the interests of Rome and those of Warsaw. In one respect, however, these interests were identical and in need of defence. There lived in Russia Polish-speaking Roman Catholics dispersed over wide areas which had, before 1667, formed part of the Republic: the region of Smolensk to the north and south of the upper Dnieper and the western portion (to the west of the Desna) of the former duchy of Chernigov – Seversk. In addition the northern war would soon bring to Russia many prisoners and deportees from Poland-Lithuania. How many Roman Catholics had in the earlier period been pressed into the Orthodox Church cannot be estimated. According to the memorialist Kazimierz Sarnecki who was writing in 1693-1694, one Golovin, the voevoda (governor) of Smolensk, compelled some of the szlachta remaining in that region (and still recognized as a distinct category for purposes of state service) to receive baptism by Orthodox rites 'like so many pagans' and made them bond-slaves. Tsar Peter, on receiving from Golovin's victims complaints of extortion, imprisonment and beatings, had him knouted and dismissed him from his post. But the relief of the szlachta did not last long, for soon afterwards, according to Sarnecki, the tsar decreed that they must not keep servants from over the border for fear of treason, that all were to adopt the Orthodox religion and to make declarations perpetuae servitutis (kabala). The Golovin in question was in all probability Ivan Ivanovich, voevoda not of Smolensk but of Pskov. A reference to him in a printed source shows that he was still alive in 1707. The accuracy of Sarnecki's account is therefore questionable but it probably contains a grain – or more than a grain – of truth.

Outrages such as those described by Sarnecki would have been contrary to the provisions of the treaty of permanent peace of 1686 between Muscovy and the Republic. Article nine of that treaty, as well as safeguarding the rights of the Orthodox community in the Republic, guaranteed a modicum of religious freedom in the tsar's dominions, and especially in the Polish-Lithuanian provinces recently annexed to Muscovy, for Roman Catholics: they were not compelled to change their religion which they were free to practise in their houses. Any request for permission to build Catholic churches, if granted, would therefore have been an additional concession. But article nine also stipulated that, with the rest of the treaty, it was to be confirmed by the King and Republic at a session of the Sejm, and published. Peter I did not deny the existence of Roman Catholics on his side of the border. In 1703 it was reported that he had offered inter alia, in return for the ratification of the treaty of 1686 with the Republic, to establish Catholic clergy in the 'duchies' of Smolensk, Chernigov and Kiev and to restore their estates. The corollary would have been the official recognition of the tsar's claim to protect the rights of the Orthodox community in Poland which the Republic chose to disregard. In April 1705 in a letter to the nuncio, Orazio Spada, now bishop of Lucca, J.M. Zgierski, nominal bishop of Smolensk, raised the question of the freedom of Catholic worship in his diocese and elsewhere in Russia. In a further letter he was able to report that two influential Russians, Major-General Aleksandr D. Menshikov and Field Marshal Boris P. Sheremetev, would ask Peter I to allow the nuncio and some Missionary Fathers (presumably Lazarists) to enter the diocese of Smolensk and Muscovy itself.

Direct communication between Rome and Moscow was now judged desirable. Clement XI therefore made arrangements to send to Peter I a semi-official envoy, Fr Corrado dell'Assunta, a Discalced Carmelite, assisted by Fr Giovanni Fabri, a Lazarist residing in Vilno, with instructions to prepare the way for a papal legate authorized, however, to discuss ecclesiastical matters only. The reason for which Fr Corrado never carried out his mission, and for which the great hopes entertained in Rome were dashed, was strictly connected with Tsar Peter's attitude towards the Union of Brest.

On 11 July 1705 in the Uniate (formerly Orthodox) cathedral church of St Sophia in Polotsk four monks of the Basilian Order perished at the hands of the inebriated tsar and members of his retinue. Before the altar dedicated to Josaphat Kuncewicz (Iasafat Kuntsevich), archbishop of Polotsk, the party heard from one of the monks the explanation of Josaphat's martyrdom: he had been done to death by the 'schismatics' of Vitebsk in the course of a riot on 12 November 1632. Such insolence was more than the tsar and his companions could bear. Two monks were killed outright (one of them beheaded by the tsar himself), two were wounded. Of these one survived, the other was hanged, as was the superior of the Basilian monastery. The contrite tsar later explained that his religious feelings had been deeply hurt and that he had acted under provocation. Unwittingly, the villains and victims of the murder in the cathedral had re-enacted in miniature the earlier tragedy of Vitebsk. The political world, secular and ecclesiastical, took comfort from Tsar Peter's display of contrition or looked the other way.

Religious affairs came under discussion again at a Russo-Polish conference held at the end of 1705 in Grodno to consider matters arising from the treaty of Narva. A section of a memorandum submitted by the Polish side proposed a quid pro quo: the Greek Church in Poland-Lithuania would benefit fully from the liberties to which it was entitled whilst the Roman Catholics would be allowed freedom of worship in Moscow, the construction of a church and the transit of missionaries. In this connection the Capuchins (Ordo Fratrum Minorum S. Francisci Cappucinorum) were now named. The initiative for the establishment of a Capuchin mission in Russia may have come from Fr. Benigno described as 'della Stiria', a Capuchin and an official preacher at the court of Augustus II; the chief patrons of the scheme were Jan Szembek, vice-chancellor of Poland and K.F. Szaniawski, bishop designate of Cuiavia, newly honoured by Tsar Peter with the gift of a gold pectoral cross, studded with sapphires and sprinkled with diamonds, which he himself had received in 1698 from the then nuncio, Davia. The motives for their patronage are obscure; any expectations they may have had of gaining some degree of influence over the relations between Rome and Moscow by means of this project were to be disappointed by its lack of progress.

The Russians in accepting the Polish proposal offered the Capuchins more than they had hitherto conceded to the Jesuits: permission to build in Moscow not only a church but also a monastery for which the tsar would find and buy a suitable site. In order, however, to obtain these concessions for the Capuchins, it was necessary that the king, with the approval of the Republic, promulgate decrees throughout its territory, confirming the liberties of the Greek religion in accordance with ancient custom and formal treaties. This would have amounted to the ratification by the back door of article nine of the treaty of 1686 which inter alia forbade forcible conversion to the Union. It is possibly in this connection that F.A. Golovin, the head of the department of foreign affairs, referred to being 'under pressure from our monks'. Their counterparts at the Holy See, probably realizing the contingent nature of the tsar's offer eventually spurned a bargain which in the eyes of the nuncio, Spada, would have been a backward step after 'so much time and energy had been spent on taking away the ancient liberties and privileges of the schismatics. ... Rather than confirming or augmenting the disadvantages of past laws, one should think of revoking them'.

The Russians took this opportunity to protest at the ill-treatment in the Republic of people of the Greek religion, many of whom, they said, suffered abuse and compulsion to embrace the Union, most of all at the hands of those who had already done so. The negotiations did not result in any formal sequel to the treaty of Narva but the differences between the two sides over the acknowledgement of the validity of article nine were, on the surface, resolved by fitting the ecclesiastical matter of the Capuchins into the framework of the political relations between Muscovy and the Republic. The diploma granted by the tsar to the Capuchins early in December 1705 in effect confirmed the provisions contained in the document that had been issued to Działyński at Narva in 1704. It allowed the friars to live in Moscow in accordance with the rules of their Order, to come and go as they wished and to build a church in honour of St Peter. Although Tsar Peter in making this gesture of good will may have been moved by a wish to expiate for his part in the recent assault on the Basilians at Polotsk, it has been suggested that this was a separate issue altogether.

The elaborate wording of the draft of the diploma emanating from the Polish side gives the impression that the privileges conferred on the Capuchins followed from the Russo-Polish treaties of 1686 and 1704 (which was not the case), as well as from the recent meeting between the two monarchs. The definitive but possibly defective published text of the diploma refers only briefly to its formal antecedents but the final clause notes that by way of reciprocation his Polish Majesty will, in his entire realm, allow full liberty to the Greek religion. These words, put, as it were, in the mouth of Augustus II, had no legal validity and could not have made up for the unsatisfactory response of the Polish side to the virtual Russian demand for a confirmation of article nine of the treaty of 1686. This demand was met only four years later when the general council of the confederacy of Sendomir ratified the treaties of 1686 and 1704, thereby precluding any further prevarication over the validity of any particular article. The preamble to the Act of 1710 which confirmed the two treaties with Muscovy refers to the assurances received from the Russian envoy, Georgii F. Dolgorukii, concerning the withdrawal of Russian troops from the territory of the Republic and safeguards the integrity of the Holy Roman Catholic faith in its existent state and condition. A further resolution of the council put the faithful of the Greek rite under the protection of the King and Republic with the obvious intention of precluding any change, under constraint by Russia, in the state of the Uniate Church seen as the front line in the cold and unacknowledged war of religion between the Republic and its ally, the Tsar.

At the end of the same year of 1710 the enemies of the Cross declared war on the tsar who in turn called on all the Christian peoples in the Balkans to rise against the Turk. In such an emergency an attempt by the Holy See to accommodate the tsar would have been timely. The secretary of state, Cardinal Fabrizio Paulucci, had received from the Uniate Metropolitan of Kiev, Jerzy Winnicki (Iurii Vynnyts'kyi), a supposed copy of the Russian text of the diploma for the Capuchins. This text comprises in the form of a postscript an extended and more plausible version of the final clause: it is now not the king of Poland but His Tsarish Majesty who wishes the Orthodox religion under Polish rule to enjoy its legal and traditional rights.

Here the secretary of state correctly perceived a note of reciprocity which, however, was not in harmony with the thoughts of the Holy Father. Nevertheless, as Paulucci put it to the new nuncio in Warsaw, Niccolò Spinola, titular archbishop of Thebes, now that the Greek Catholics of Ruthenia and Lithuania were in the majority, reciprocity could be understood to mean that force should not be used against the remaining schismatics who should be free to embrace the Union at will. But the call for the cessation of interconfessional hostilities in return for the installation of the Capuchins in Moscow was never made. The scheme itself fell into abeyance. As early as June 1706 Fr Benigno had complained that the tsar had forgotten all about the monastery and it was the bishop designate of Cuiavia, Szaniawski, who first secured, and later paid for, the building plot which the tsar was to have given to the Capuchins. The friars did, however, succeed in establishing a mission in Astrakhan in 1715. Tsar Peter's diminished trustworthiness notwithstanding, his ambassador at the Porte P.A. Tolstoi let it be known some time in 1709, before the battle of Poltava, that after the end of the war with Sweden, the tsar would send an envoy to Rome to resume the negotiations about Church reunion, this time in relation to the revival of a Christian league against the Turks. This information, meant for the ear of Clement XI, evidently also reached Charles XII in the Ukraine, enabling him to fling in the face of the tsar his intended betrayal of Orthodoxy, together with some other accusations. Peter refuted all of them in print. As to the union of Churches, he declared, the idea had never entered his head, still less been the subject of negotiations. The news of this half-truthful démenti apparently never reached Rome and therefore caused no embarrassment.

Peter I's victory at Poltava and the congratulations which it called for provided the Holy See with an opportunity to renew its efforts to obtain an official diploma granting the freedom of worship to Roman Catholics in Russia. In return the tsar would be addressed as His Majesty and, eventually, a nuncio could be accredited to the Court of St Petersburg. The good offices of highly placed Poles were called on for this purpose. But the members of the Szembek clan – the Primate, the vice-chancellor of Poland and their distant cousin, Krzysztof Antoni, by now bishop of Livonia – exerted themselves to no avail. The bishop visited Moscow in August 1709. He congratulated the tsar on his victory and raised the subject of the building of Roman Catholic churches in Russia but was side-tracked into a debate on the question of the Procession of the Holy Spirit and the primacy of the Pope. He also met Prince B.A. Kurakin who, in 1707, had carried out an unofficial mission from Peter I to Clement XI to prevent the recognition of Stanislas Leszczyński as King of Poland. The Prince hinted that the reunion of the Churches was not far off but the bishop left Moscow without having achieved any concrete results. His colleague, Szaniawski, was disappointed at these lofty generalities and vague prospects, to be attributed perhaps to the native genius of a nation which was quick to make promises under the pressure of necessity but did not keep them when circumstances had improved.

Early in 1711 the Republic demanded through its envoy, M.D. Wołłowicz, that freedom of worship be granted in Muscovy to Roman Catholics of both the Latin and Greek rite and that a site be designated in Smolensk for a Roman Catholic chapel. The Russians replied that there was no discrimination against Catholics of either rite and that the Roman religion could be practised freely; Roman Catholic churches were allowed where there were Catholic inhabitants but that was not the case in Smolensk. By that time the relations between Augustus II and Peter I had deteriorated: in an interview with the nuncio in February 1710 the king evaded the question of the free exercise of the Roman Catholic religion in Moscow and merely mentioned the tsar's supposed dislike of the Jesuits. By 1712 it was becoming clear in Rome that the tsar, buoyed up by his recent narrow escape from defeat at the hands of the Turks on the Pruth, was paying less atention to the Holy See than might have been expected. In any case, Spinola's successor, Benedetto Odescalchi-Erba, titular archbishop of Salonica, was instructed early in 1712 to work for the withdrawal of the demand for a quid pro quo. It was pointed out to him that in dealing with the Muscovites one must proceed with dexterity, they being astute, wary and 'Greek no less in fidelity than in ritual'. However, the threat of a 'second blast from the Ottomans' might make the tsar think again. But this salvo, in the shape of a new Turkish offensive, was not fired, a truce was signed and Russia resumed her upward course. The same instructions noted that the tsar was interfering in the internal affairs of Poland and that his fury against the 'united Ruthenians' had not diminished. Clement XI had already, in 1710, had occasion to entreat Augustus II to plead with Tsar Peter to restore to the Basilian monks and all Uniates in Poland-Lithuania their former security and liberties and to curb the audacity of those who had violated sacred objects and persons. It seems that in the estimation of the Holy See, given the circumstances, the execution of the tsar's diploma for the Capuchins was not of sufficient value to requite him with any easing of the pressure on the Orthodox inhabitants of Poland-Lithuania to embrace the Union. The King and Republic having kept out of the tsar's Turkish campaign of 1711 their standing as allies of Russia declined further still and the Court of Rome ceased to use members of Augustus II's entourage as a channel of communication with the tsar. The task of overseeing the efforts of the Capuchins to secure a base for the Roman religion in Russia was delegated to the Sacra Congregatio de Propaganda Fide. The first formal meeting to take place between Peter I and an official diplomatic representative of the Pope, was that in May 1717 with the nuncio in Paris, Marco Cornelio Bentivoglio d'Aragona, titular archbishop of Thebes. It did not result in any positive decision concerning the freedom of worship for Roman Catholics in Russia to which the Holy See still attached great importance. But in 1720, a year after the expulsion of the Jesuits, the Capuchins were at last installed in metropolitan Russia, both in Moscow and St Petersburg, without any reciprocation on the part of Rome. Clement XI, as well as expecting to be addressed as His Majesty and His Holiness, now wished for a further diploma from the tsar, to be written on parchment and granting the freedom of Catholic worship as well as the safe passage of missionaries through Russia. These desiderata, discussed by Cardinal Pietro Ottoboni and the tsar's agent in Venice, S. L. Raguzinskii in 1720 were regarded by the Russian authorities as acceptable, provided that the missionaries were instructed to concern themselves with spiritual matters alone and that the Jesuits were kept out of Russia. But Clement XI died in March 1721 before the negotiations could be completed.

As defender of Orthodoxy in Poland-Lithuania Tsar Peter knew as well as anyone that the blame for the breaches of article nine of the treaty of 1686 lay at least as much with the Holy See as with the ecclesiastical and civil authorities in the Republic. In 1722 he addressed himself directly to the Papal authorities to protest against the use of violence to bring the Greek Orthodox inhabitants of Poland-Lithuania into union with Rome. The chancellor and president of the college of foreign affairs, G.A. Golovkin, wrote a letter to the Cardinal secretary of state and at the same time Tsar Peter authorized one Fr Niccolò Gian Priamo (or Gianpriamo), S.J., who was returning to Rome from Persia, to explain the circumstances to the new Pope, Innocent XIII.

The choice for this mission of a Jesuit is surprising. The Society of Jesus had been banished from Russia (for the second time) in April 1719, ostensibly in retaliation for the expulsion from Vienna of the Russian resident, Avram P. Veselovskii. In reality the tsar regarded the Jesuits as a set of people who give biassed accounts of the state of affairs in Russia to their correspondents abroad and meddle in things that do not concern them. The purpose of the communications carried by Fr Gian Priamo was to prevail on the Pope to direct the bishops of the dioceses concerned to desist, and cause their subordinates to desist, from acts of violence. His Holiness, it was further suggested, might also send a brief to the King of Poland for the instruction of his ministers in the same sense. The tsar declared (presumably to Fr Gian Priamo) that if the acts of violence did not cease, he would feel obliged to forbid the Catholics in his dominions to practise their religion and would destroy their churches. It is possible that in threatening these reprisals Peter the Great was following the example of the action recently taken by Protestant rulers against Catholics in the Empire. Enquiries made by Rome in the Republic corroborated the substance of the tsar's accusation. In 1722 the newly appointed nuncio in Poland-Lithuania, Vincenzo Santini, titular archbishop of Trebizond, adopted a distinctly compassionate attitude towards the Orthodox community in the Republic. It was a stance dictated as much by expediency as by charity. Santini had hardly arrived in Warsaw when at the beginning of March Orthodox monks and priests living within the bounds of the Roman Catholic diocese of Lutsk complained to him that they had been driven out of their monasteries and churches and deprived of their possessions, allegedly at the orders of the local bishop, Stefan Rupniewski. The nuncio's reaction was prompt and resolute. In a letter to the bishop (dated 24 March) Santini gave his reasons for hearing out the complainants: the 'secretary' of the tsar in Warsaw (Ignacy Rudakowski, soon to be appointed the tsar's commissioner to watch over the condition of the Orthodox in White Russia) had pointed out that the Orthodox bishops in Muscovy had helped 'our people' and were protecting them from any harm that might befall them. The 'Greeks' therefore, should not be molested but be treated with respect, especially at a time when their complaints might change the tsar's disposition towards Rome. He also exhorted the bishop to reflect whether the public law allowed such displays of officiousness. Clearly taken aback at these grave breaches of the peace Santini, in an official declaration published on the same day, referred to the treaties between Poland-Lithuania and Muscovy as well as the laws of the Republic which gave protection to the rights of the Orthodox community, and reaffirmed the principle that union with the Roman Catholic faith should be effected not by compulsion but by loving kindness and by special grace of the Holy Spirit. He also urged Leon Kiszka (Lev Kishka), the Uniate metropolitan of Kiev, three Uniate bishops, Florian Hrebnicki (Floriian Grebnyts'kyi) of Polotsk, Wawrzyniec Drucki Sokoliƒski (Laurentsii Drutski Sakalinski), nominally of Smolensk, and Teofil Godebski of Pinsk, and the Roman Catholic bishop of Lutsk, Rupniewski, not to inflict injuries on non-Uniates or disturb them in the exercise of public worship and to return to them the churches which had been taken away by force. But Rome did not always speak with one voice. The Sacra Congregatio de Propaganda Fide suggested to the secretariat of state that the nuncio should be asked to associate himself with the zeal of the bishop of Lutsk (whose conduct was fully approved of and commended) and encourage him to watch over the reduction of schismatic churches to the Holy Union with the Church of Rome. It looks as if Santini had been acting without authority.

The response of the Holy See to the formal note sent by Golovkin was not the same as that to the unofficial approach made through Father Gian Priamo. The reply addressed to the chancellor stated that since the Russian complaints were lagely unfounded, a detailed report was needed before any action could be decided upon. With regard to the Jesuit's report an anonymous internal memorandum, dated 25 January 1725, proposed that in order to avoid any harm that might befall the Roman Catholics in Russia (whose numbers were growing together with the population of St Petersburg) the following things be done. Irrespective of the tsar's complaints, on the grounds of the collected evidence alone, as well as of Christian prudence, moderation and gentleness should be recommended to the bishops concerned in gathering schismatics in those parts to the bosom of the Church of Rome. An appropriate message should be sent to the tsar's ambassador in Warsaw; in Rome Augustus II's diplomatic representative should be informed of the Holy See's concern so that he might convey it to officials in the Republic; the tsar might be informed of this step.

This plea for mildness, reminiscent of the attitude of Santini, was not in line with official Papal policy and seems to have gone unheeded. By the time the memorandum was written, Tsar Peter's attitude towards the Church of Rome and the Jesuits had already played a part in the epilogue of the tumult of Thorn.

By 1724 little had changed in the positions held at the beginning of the century by the three parties engaged in negotiations during the intervening years – the Papacy, the Roman Catholic Church in Poland-Lithuania and the tsar. Their respective spiritual aspirations had proved as hard to reconcile as their practical interests. Pending the reunion of the Churches which only a miraculous conversion of Tsar Peter could have brought about, Rome promoted the progress of the Union of Brest which Moscow-St Petersburg opposed by all the means it could muster. The only practical gain made by Rome in this contest was the free transit of missionaries and the regularization by the Russian authorities of the status of the Roman Catholic community in the old and in the new capital (but nowhere else), without any reciprocal concessions by Rome in Poland-Lithuania. Throughout this period Tsar Peter acted as defender of Orthodoxy and, by implication, as adversary of the Uniate Church with consistency and dexterity, repeatedly obfuscating the issue by feigning to wish for an overriding reunion of the Churches. Meanwhile the physical struggle between East and West for supremacy over the originally Orthodox faithful of Poland-Lithuania persisted.

III – Peter I, the Orthodox and the Uniates


Relations between the Republic and Muscovy at the turn of the century. - Serapion Połchowski appointed Orthodox bishop of White Russia. - The Orthodox discriminated against at Vilno. - Tsar Peter as financial patron of the Orthodox confession.

During the last years of the reign of John III, the interregnum of 1696-97 and in the early years of the reign of Augustus II, the progress of the Union in White Russia, Red Ruthenia and Volhynia lost nothing of its momentum. In White Russia the Jesuits pointed the way. Their most notable achievement was the conversion of a minor monastery at Miori in the district of Braslav in 1695 after their attempts to convert the church of the All-merciful Saviour at Mogilev and the monastery of Sts Peter and Paul in Minsk had ended in failure. Taking advantage of the confusion that accompanied the interregnum, the deputy grand chancellor of Lithuania, K. S. Radziwiłł, converted the monastery of the Exaltation of the Cross at Tsapra (near Kletsk), affiliated to the confraternity (bratstvo) of the Descent of the Holy Spirit in Vilno.

Although these events were causing unease in Moscow, the Republic and Muscovy in their mutual relations concerning religious affairs settled down to a pacific routine. The Orthodox would complain of all-treatment to the central authorities in Moscow, ecclesiastical or civil, or even to the tsar himself when the exigencies of war brought him to Poland-Lithuania. His diplomatic representatives would thereupon make a formal protest. The Polish-Lithuanian authorities in their turn, having considered the matter, would dismiss the objection as groundless or promise redress and sometimes kept their promise. If no satisfaction was obtained, the tsar would send a note to the king and receive one in return, couched in conciliatory terms. Both sides were equally determined, the Russians not to give any ground, the Poles and Lithuanians to gain as much as they could while the treaty of 1686 was still unratified. But even after its ratification in 1710, the Roman Catholic and Uniate Churches continued to strive for the suppression of Orthodoxy and the extinction of the feelings of kinship with Russia that informed it. This persistent religious conflict never ceased to sound a jarring note in the supposedly harmonious relationship between Augustus II and his staunchly Roman Catholic camp on one side and Peter I, the defender of Orthodoxy, on the other. But for all his detestation of the Union, the tsar even after the end of the northern war never used this rôle to reinforce his position in his dealings with the Republic in the secular sphere. To do so would have been to estrange his adherents and clients among the hetmans, bishops and mnisters of state on whom he would rely to prevent Augustus II from making himself an absolute and hereditary monarch.

In the early years of his reign Augustus, a recent and unenthusiastic convert to Roman Catholicism, went to some trouble to cool the ardour of the promoters of the Union. In so doing he was following what appeared to be his natural inclination as well as fulfilling the Republic's obligations under the treaty of 1686. At the same time he was repaying Peter I for his support during and after the royal election and accommodating him as a prospective ally.

On 17 September 1697, two days after his coronation, the king addressed a rescript to the Uniate metropolitan of Kiev, Leon Załewski (Lev Zalens'kyi), the Uniate clergy and the mayor and municipal authorities of Vilno, calling on them to restore to the Orthodox the monasteries and churches that had been taken from them, together with their property, confirming all earlier privileges conferred on the Orthodox by the Polish kings and ordering that the Orthodox of Vilno be admitted without hindrance to offices in the municipality and the guilds. The directive as well as the command went unheeded; the monastery at Tsapra remained in the hands of the Uniates. This gesture was quickly followed by a valid and substantial concession, the only one in this period to the Orthodox interest: the appointment to the see of White Russia of Serapion (Połchowski, Palkhovski), archimandrite of the monastery of the Holy Trinity at Markava near Vitebsk. He had been elected bishop of White Russia by representatives of the clergy and laity in 1690 and in 1691 appointed administrator of the diocese by Varlaam (Iasinskii), metropolitan of Kiev. In October 1697, at the instance of the Russian envoy, A.V. Nikitin and out of friendship for the tsar, Augustus II formally appointed Połchowski to the bishopric. There are no grounds for the assertions made by the Papal nuncio, Davia, that the royal diploma which guaranteed the bishop's freedom to carry out his duties without hindrance on the part of 'the Uniates of the Greek rite' or the 'Polish population' had been obtained surreptitiously and that Augustus II had been 'taken unawares'. Even the formality of presenting the king with four candidates had been observed on this occasion. But Radziwiłł, newly promoted grand chancellor of Lithuania, affixed his seal to the document only because by not doing so he would have exposed some of his estates to the danger of being invaded by Russian troops. (The same tactics had recently been used against the Sapiehas.) The nuncio pulled every possible wire to rescind an appointment which saved the see of White Russia for the Orthodox.

Po∏chowski was consecrated in Kiev in September 1698 but did not arrive in Mogilev until the following year. On his initiative an Orthodox church was built in Shklov, presumably with the consent of A. M. Sieniawski, grand hetman of Poland. Po∏chowski may also have been instrumental in obtaining Augustus II's permission by royal privilege to build in Mogilev a church dedicated to the Blessed Virgin. He died in 1704. The loss of the opportunity not to confirm him in his office and to replace him with a Uniate caused much annoyance in Rome. But even a Papal brief exhorting the king in May 1699 to revoke the restoration of the 'pseudo-bishopric' of White Russia, so prejudicial to the holy Union in those parts, did not persuade the king to go back on his word.

Early in 1700 the Orthodox conveyed their grievances, already echoed in Augustus II's rescript of 1697, to Tsar Peter who in February formally represented them to the king. But for the time being Augustus did nothing further to help the Orthodox, indeed, as if to redress the balance, he turned his attention to the Uniates. On 15 June 1700 to mark the official adhesion to the Union of the bishop of Lvov, Józef Szumlański, he promulgated a diploma which conferred a variety of liberties on the Uniate Church. On 26 June he bestowed his grace and protection on the still Orthodox laura of the Assumption at Poczajów (Pochaiv) in Volhynia but it is safe to presume that in so doing he was acting in the belief that the laura too had entered into union with Rome. In 1701 the Uniates of their own accord seized, albeit temporarily, the monastery of the Assumption at Novy Dvar in the district of Pinsk.

Meanwhile Nikitin had been succeeded by Liubim Sudeikin and he in turn by Georgii F. Dolgorukii, furnished with instructions to work for the entry of the republic into the war with Sweden side by side with the tsar and Augustus II. But Dolgorukii did not neglect the interests of the Orthodox; in 1701 he prevailed on the king to command Szumlański to respect the rights of the Orthodox confraternity in Lvov by removing his throne from its church of the Assumption. The members of the bratstvo of Vilno were still aggrieved at the loss of the monastery at Tsapra and the sacking of a village belonging to the monastery at Novy Dvar (affiliated to the confraternity) at the orders of K.S. Radziwiłł. The wider Orthodox community in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania had weightier causes for complaint: coercion to adopt the Union, bans on funeral processions, the continued exclusion of Orthodox townsmen from civic office and of Orthodox applicants (unwilling to apostasize) for places at the Academy of Vilno, a Jesuit foundation. These grievances were submitted in Moscow by the superior of the monastery of the Descent of the Holy Spirit in Vilno, Osip (Iurchevski). In consequence, in a note dated 31 January 1703, Peter I requested Augustus II to put an end to the oppression of the Orthodox and appropriate instructions were given to Dolgorukii in Warsaw. In the previous year the mayor of Vilno, Stefan Moroz, had refused to swear in the newly elected Orthodox masters of the local guilds. By doing so he may have been fulfilling the intenton of the Parliamentary resolution of 1699 which recommended the appointment of Uniate rather than Orthodox townsmen to civic offices. But the king ordered Moroz to comply with his earlier command given in accordance with the ancient laws and customs of the Republic and imposed a heavy fine on the municipality. It cannot be taken for granted that the order was obeyed or the fine paid. The last communication to be sent by Peter I to Augustus II in this connection for the time being was perhaps that of 3 March 1703; it refers to the tsar's instruction to G.F. Dolgorukii to protest against the oppression of the Orthodox clergy and laity in Vilno.

Like any other religious community at bay in the midst of war, civil and foreign, the Orthodox of the Grand Duchy suffered also from a shortage of funds. Between 1697 and 1715 requests addressed to Tsar Peter for benefactions were no less numerous than petitions for intercession with the authorities. The cost of completing the construction of a brick-built church, repairing a church building damaged by fire or a church roof, adorning an iconostasis, or helping to feed a monastic community – all this was asked of the tsar though not always defrayed by his treasury. Hence the appeals for charters – zhalovannye gramoty – from the tsar, granting either permission to collect alms in Moscow or a regular allowance in money. The monastery of the Descent of the Holy Spirit in Vilno was thus favoured in 1703 and 1708. In the second decade of the century it became the practice to refuse permission to monks arriving from foreign parts to beg for charity in Moscow wihout this form of licence, as the three delegates from the monastery of the Holy Trinity in Vilno discovered in 1715. They were refused a grant, a passport to St Petersburg and even a subsistence allowance although one of their horses had died, the other had to be sold and they could not afford to feed the third one. This may well have been a sign of Peter I's diminishing regard for monks and monasticism.

In earlier days the tsar had acted as a patron of the Orthodox confession whenever the opportunity arose. In 1706-1707 the Russian army had its headquarters in ˚ó∏kiew (Zhovkva). During that period the monastery at Uhornyky (beyond the Dniester) received from the tsar a charter of protection and the confraternity at Lvov his permission to sell its publications in Muscovy free of duty, as well as money from two members of his entourage, A.D. Menshikov and G.I. Golovkin. By that time the relations between the Orthodox and the Uniates in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania had already assumed a different aspect.


Between 1705 and 1711 Russian troops strike at the clergy and the property of the Uniate Church in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. - In response to an appeal from lay and ecclesiastical notables, Peter I orders restraint. - The conduct of Dionizy Zabokrzycki, Uniate bishop of Lutsk, provides grounds for Russian hostility towards the Uniates. - The career of Zabokrzycki. His act of sabotage against the tsar's army bound for the Ukraine (1706). His arrest and exile. - Further acts of pillage by Russian troops between 1707 and 1710, including reprisals for an explosion at Polotsk. - Feofan (Prokopovich), eventually bishop of Pskov, praises Menshikov for his intention to extirpate the Union (1709). Augustus II asks Peter I to put an end to the persecution of Uniate clergy. The tsar again issues the appropriate order and accuses the Polish-Lithuanian side of ill-treating the Orthodox. - The Papal nuncio, Spinola, shows scant sympathy with the Uniates. - The acts of violence committed by Russian troops arouse fear of the Muscovites and doubts as to the loyalty of the Orthodox community. - Augustus II appoints Cyryl Szumlański Uniate bishop of Lutsk but, yielding to Russian pressure, he opts for consecration in Kiev by the Orthodox metropolitan (1711). Deprived by the king, he fleeds to Kiev and is later appointed bishop of Pereiaslav (1715). Orthodoxy declines in Volhynia. Recovery of the Uniate Church. The synod of Zamość (1720).

One may assume that memories of Tsar Aleksei Mikhailovich's successful campaigns in Poland-Lithuania (1654-55, 1658-59) and the feelings that had inspired them lingered on. According to the former nuncio in Warsaw, now a cardinal, Francesco Pignatelli, writing in 1705, the tsar, before moving with his army into Lithuania, asked all the prelates of his realm for their benediction. They replied unanimously that no blessing would be given if he did not undertake to eradicate in Poland and the adjacent provinces the Union by the agency of which several vast dioceses had been severed from their faith to be joined to the Church of Rome. To this the tsar having with some reluctance agreed, he received their benediction. Not that much encouragement was needed. Once Peter I's armies had entered the Grand Duchy of Lithuania as allies and auxiliaries it did not take long for the inveterate hostility of the Russians towards the Union to manifest itself in the cathedral of Polotsk, the very one which Aleksei Mikhailovich had temporarily returned to Orthodoxy in 1659. Peter Alekseevich sober regretted and did not repeat the atrocity he had committed when drunk. But this one involuntary act of violence set a bad example and was followed by many more outrages that were less extreme but deliberate and necessarily associated with Tsar Peter's name. Between 1705 and 1711 (when his armies moved towards Wallachia), physical blows struck at the clergy and the property of the Uniate Church by supposedly friendly troops reinforced the succour given to the Orthodox community by dispensing alms and making representations on its behalf. Many of these assaults must be reckoned as the acts of rapine perpetrated by an ill-paid and increasingly undisciplined soldiery. The tsar himself took care to appear tolerant and humane: he would slip a few coins to a begging monk – one of six in a monastery – though not without expressing surprise that the Lord was able to feed the whole world but not a community of six Bernardines. To a burgher of Mogilev he was heard to say: 'Don't be afraid, I know that in your father's time some of our people were slaughtered here but there was a war then and the Muscovites were bad.'

The events at Polotsk, already described, caused many of the Uniate religious, Basilian monks and their superiors, to flee in terror from their houses and go into hiding. Leon Kiszka (Lev Kishka), at that time protoarchimandrite or general of the Basilians, enlisted the support of some Lithuanian notables, in the first place of K. S. Radziwiłł, grand chancellor of Lithuania, and through him appealed to Tsar Peter for protection. In response the tsar, in October 1705, promulgated a carelessly worded order to his armies, forbidding them to do violence to the Basilian monastery at SupraÊl (over 400 km to the west of Polotsk) in particular and to Uniate priests, archimandrites and monks in general, and also to private and ecclesiastical estates in 'the whole eparkhy'. In February the Papal nuncio, Spada, reported that Peter I had ordered the military governor of Polotsk to leave the local monks in peace and to exempt their estates from any kind of contribution. But the Uniate metropolitan of Kiev (Załęski) doubted the efficacity of this order. In reality Tsar Peter's animosity towards the Uniates did not abate for one moment. The conduct, later in the year, of Dymitr (Dmytro), in religion Dionizy (Dyonyzyi) Zabokrzycki (Zhabokryts'kyi), Uniate bishop of Lutsk, provided an opportune justification of this attitude which was also that of the tsar's subordinates.

Because of the Great Northern War the case of Zabokrzycki was different from that of the bishops who had adopted the Union in the reign of John III. A landed proprietor and office holder, originally married but later divorced, Zabokrzycki, born in 1652, took monastic vows early in 1695. In February of that year he was elected bishop of Lutsk and Ostrog by an assembly of the szlachta and clergy of Volhynia. In May John III, after persuading him to accede to the Union, appointed him bishop. But Zabokrzycki's wife had been a widow and in consequence neither the Patriarch of Moscow, Adrian (disregardng a clear directive from the tsar) nor the Eastern Patriarchs would allow his consecration. All Zabokrzycki's efforts to obtain exoneration from the charge of digamy (I Tim. 3-2) proved fruitless. His consecration in Lutsk in September 1696 by Iosif (Stoika), Orthodox bishop of Maramorosz (in Hungary) had no canonical validity but John III's successor, Augustus II, confirmed Zabokrzycki in his office. He enjoyed the support of the Orthodox community in his eparchy and beyond but in 1700, impelled by the need to regularize his status, he approached the nunciature in Warsaw. He had already put out feelers in that direction through his son in 1697. Meanwhile he kept in touch with the tsar, the Orthodox bishop of Kiev, Varlaam, and with the Cossack hetman, Mazepa. Rome proved to be more accommodating than Moscow or the Orient had been and steps were taken to obtain the necessary Papal dispensation. This was granted in April 1702 and was followed by Zabokrzycki's consecration at the hands of Leon ZałęskiZałęski (Lev Zalens'kyi), Uniate metropolitan of Kiev. Presumably on this occasion Zabokrzycki made a Catholic confession of faith. Dionizy-Dionyzyi paid dearly for his apostasy. Although his consecration had been preceded by an exhaustive processus informativus, his unsuitability for high ecclesiastical office soon became apparent. His ruthlessness in the promotion of the Union aroused the hostility of the Orthodox clergy and szlachta whilst his private life was plagued by family feuds and tainted with irregularity. His adversaries enlisted the help of officers in the Russian army which was from 1706 infesting Volhynia. Perhaps in protest against the outrageous behaviour of the Russian troops, Zabokrzycki committed, in May 1706, an act of sabotage against units of the tsar's army bound for the Ukraine and closely followed by the Swedes. The damage done by Zabokrzycki to a bridge on the river Styr did not, however, win him favour with Charles XII (who later turned north-westwards in the direction of Saxony). The bishop next sought the protection of the Russians but was denounced to them by a hostile kinsman as a traitor and by the abbot of the Orthodox laura of the Assumption at Pochaiv (Poczajów) as a persecutor of Orthodoxy. The Orthodox clergy and szlachta of Volhynia for their part asked Tsar Peter to punish Zabokrzycki for his misdeeds as bishop. The tsar, as intolerant of apostates as he was of suspected traitors, gave orders for Zabokrzycki to be sought out and arrested. Virtually compelled to abandon his eparchy he went into hiding but in 1709 managed to attend a congress of Uniate clergy. Hounded by his personal enemies in league with the Russians, he was finally seized in 1710 by a detachment of dragoons, stripped of his chattels, defrauded of his fortune and incarcerated, first in Kiev and next in Moscow without trial. It was reported that Tsar Peter called on him to renounce the Union and spat in his face when he refused to do so. Thereafter he was badly treated and in 1711 exiled in perpetuity to the Kirillovo-Beloozerskii monastery on the Solovetskii island in the White Sea where he died in 1712 or 1715. As the drama of his life progressed so his rôle of zealot and turncoat became that of victim of a lawless society in his own country and of that country's supposed ally, a despot above the law.

In 1707 Russian troops, said to have been incited by monks of the Orthodox monastery of the Assumption at Novy Dvar in the district of Pinsk, among wholesale depredations committed by Russian, Kalmyk and Cossacks units, plundered the Uniate monastery of the Exaltation of the Cross and its estates at Tsapra (Cepra, near Kletsk). The acts of pillage which occurred in February 1708 in Minsk were indiscriminate and, although the Basilian monastery of the Holy Trinity was particularly affected, did not bear the marks of persecution. As the Russians advanced into the Ukraine they were followed in turn in Minsk by the auxiliaries of the auxiliaries, Kalmyks and Cossacks, who again did not distinguish between denominations, sparing neither Uniate nor Orthodox nor Roman Catholic churches.

Syl'vester Chetvertyns'kyi (Sylwester Czetwertyƒski) was no enemy of Muscovy, he owed his consecration as bishop of White Russia in Kiev in 1707 to a fiat from Tsar Peter. Nevertheless, in 1708, after the Russians had moved on, he registered with the sheriff's court at Orsha a complaint at the depredations recently committed by the tsar's troops: churches both Orthodox and Catholic, and manor houses had been set on fire and ravaged, horses, cattle, clothes, gold and silver stolen. Mogilev in that year had been laid in ashes. More pillaging by marauding Cossacks and Kalmyk bands followed in 1708-1709, obliging the Basilians to leave their monasteries at Zhyrovichy and Bytsen’ (Borowice, Byten). After an interval occasioned by the preliminaries of the battle of Poltava, the troops returned to take up winter quarters in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and in the spring of 1710 the assaults on the Uniates reached their peak.

The explosion in May 1710 of the powder magazine which the Russians had installed in the Uniate cathedral church of St Sophia in Polotsk was an accident but it gave the signal for a further series of raids on Basilian objectives. The casualties were the monasteries in Polotsk (of Sts Boris and Gleb and of St Sophia), at Ushachy in the district of Lepel (of the Nativity of the Virgin), and at Berezvets (in the district of Dzisna), their respective landed estates, especially the one at Charstviaty (in the district of Lepel), as well as an estate owned by the monastery of the Holy Trinity of Vilno.

Once again the the monks took to flight. In raids thinly disguised as requisitions for the army some of the estates were repeatedly plundered, losing horses, cattle, grain, clothes, personal belongings, household goods, pewter, copper, iron and silver. The officer in charge of these expeditions was a certain Captain Korobkov, acting on orders from Aleksei Kropotov who was in charge of the Russian garrison in Polotsk. In one instance the Basilians accused the prior of the Orthodox monastery of the Epiphany in Polotsk of having egged on the troops, but the prime overall instigator was the supreme military commander, Menshikov, who had given orders that the Uniate renegades were to be stripped of all they possessed. Menshikov, it will be remembered, had been one of the participants in the mayhem of Polotsk and became a sworn enemy of the Union. It was he who after the battle of Poltava reminded Tsar Peter to demand the return of Uniate churches to Orthodoxy. In December 1709 Feofan (Prokopovich), eventually bishop of Pskov, at that time prefect of the academy at Kiev, in a panegyric addressed to Menshikov praised his intention 'to extirpate the accursed Union'. It was thought that the political purpose of the persecution of the Uniates directed by Menshikov was by intimidation to bring them back into the fold of the Orthodox Church.

In July 1710 the Basilians through K. S. Radziwiłł, Grand Chancellor of Lithuania, turned for protection to the king. There followed an exchange of notes between Augustus II and Peter I. The former asked the latter to put an end to the oppression and persecution of the clergy of the Greek rite in union with Rome. The tsar's note of 30 August (N.S.?) informed the king that orders had been given to military commanders not to interfere with or hinder the performance of religious rites and ceremonies by the Uniate clergy and went on to accuse the other side of acts of cruelty and persecution that had not been suffered by Christians even at the hand of pagans. The tsar presumably had in mind events that had occurred in the previous century. Anger subsided after Menshikov was sent to take part in the siege of Riga early in 1710 and the Russian troops moved into Wallachia in 1711 on the renewal of the war with Turkey. The complaints of the Uniates were added to the list of Polish-Lithuanian accusations, accompanied by demands for investigation and redress.

During the crisis the Papal nuncio, Niccolò Spinola, titular archbishop of Thebes, had shown rather less sympathy with the Uniates in distress than might have been expected of a representative of the Holy Father. It was inconvenient to have to face the stark facts which dimmed the prospects for an improvement in the relations between Rome and Muscovy. In July 1710 in reporting the explosion of the powder magazine and its sequel, the nuncio remarked that 'the Ruthenians' were not always trustworthy and, in their own interest, had fomented prejudice against the tsar. In September he again expressed the view that the Uniates were less than trustworthy; they used personal connections to obtain advancement or win favour for particular laymen and wrote innumerable petitions to the tribunal of the nunciature and the Sacra Congregatio de Propaganda Fide.

The ill-treatment by Russian troops of the Uniates as well as of other sections of the population of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania left among the victims a legacy of fear and suspicion of the Muscovites of which, by association, the Orthodox community became the object. These feelings contributed to the renewal in the Republic of inter-confessional strife no less intensive but more dangerous than before.

In the mistaken belief that Dionizy Zabokrzycki, Uniate bishop of Lutsk, had already died in Russia, Augustus II on 10 April 1710 appointed as his successor Cyryl Szumlański (Kyrylo Shumlians'kyi), a nephew of the recently deceased Józef, Uniate bishop of Lvov. The appointment was made on the understanding that Szumlański would be consecrated in Poland by the Uniate metropolitan of Kiev. His election by the szlachta of Volhynia followed on 16 June. But in 1711, to the consternation of the king and the Papal nuncio, Szumlański turned his back on the Union and went to Kiev to be consecrated there by the Orthodox metropolitan, Ioasaf (Krokovskii). By so doing he restored the eparkhy of Lutsk to the Eastern Church in accordance with the terms of article nine of the Russo-Polish treaty of 1686, recently ratified by the Republic. There can be little doubt that the presence in Lutsk in the first half of March 1711 of Tsar Peter had much, if not everything to do with Szumlański's relapse: the tsar may well have asked him whether he wished to share the fate of Zabokrzycki. The Danish envoy to the court of Peter I, Just Juel, who was passing through Kiev at that time witnessed Szumlański's consecration in the cathedral of St Sophia and describes it in his journal without mentioning the new bishop's name. In addition to the metropolitan four bishops officiated. The candidate made a speech in Slavonic, the metropolitan replied, his clerk read out the tsar's edict confirming Szumlański's appointment, the metropolitan put to him questions concerning his duties and heard his answers. The political significance of the event was marked by its date: 29 June (O.S.), the feast day of SS. Peter (the tsar's patron) and Paul and by firing a salute of nine guns. In October, on hearing what had happened, the king deprived Szumlański of his dignity on the grounds that he had acted in contempt of royal authority and in disregard of the rites prescribed by the Roman Catholic Church. In October the sejmik (provincial diet or dietine) of the palatinate of Volhynia endorsed the king's decision and annulled the election of Szumlański. The king handed over the administration of the eparchy to Józef Lewicki (Iosyf Levyt'skyi), Uniate bishop of Che∏m (Kholm). Nevertheless Szumlański, benefiting from the presence of Russian troops in the area, was able to force his way into the cathedral at Lutsk but eventually, subjected to a variety of vexatious measures initiated by the szlachta, took refuge in Kiev. From there he petitioned Peter I to intercede on his behalf with Augustus II. This the tsar did but to no avail. In 1715 Szumlański was appointed bishop of Pereiaslav (in the left-bank Ukraine) and in this capacity was able to ordain the parish priests needed on the Right Bank. He died in 1726. Once again the provisions of article nine were frustrated; there still remained in Poland-Lithuania only one Orthodox eparchy, that of White Russia.

After the virtual expulsion of Szumlański Orthodoxy in Volhynia began rapidly to decline, giving way to the Union. The centre to hold out longest, until about 1730, was the monastery of the Exaltation of the Cross associated with the confraternity (bratstvo) at Lutsk .

Under the skilful direction of Leon Kiszka, metropolitan of Kiev from 1713, the Uniate Church recovered with surprising rapidity from its recent tribulations and the disarray in its hierarchy. The synod held in ZamoÊç in 1720 adopted measures which in due course brought the doctrine and ritual of the Uniate Church into line with Rome. Invigorated by these and other reforms, among them the reorganization of the Basilian Order and its monasteries, it was able to resume its task of imposing the domination of Rome on the Christian East. But this mission, of which the Basilians were the vanguard, was, in the second half of the eighteenth century, hindered by resistance on the part of the Orthodox Church and inadequate support from the Roman Catholic szlachta. Such at any rate was the trend in the south-eastern palatinates. In White Russia the Uniates fared better.


Despite Russia's preponderance in Poland-Lithuania the plight of the Orthodox still causes concern in St Petersburg. - Article four of the Act of 1717 as a pretext forpersecution. - 'A proposal for the undoing of the united Rus' '. - Repeated protests from Tsar Peter. - The Russian aide mémoire for the Republic's ambassador (1720). - Augustus II's diploma of 28 November 1720 confirms the rights and privileges of the Orthodox. - Forced conversions and appropriations to the Union in and around Pinsk by the local bishop, Teofil Godebski (1722). - Interpositions by the Russian envoy, S.G. Dolgorukii and the Papal nuncio, Santini. - Refutation by the Roman Catholic bishop of Lutsk, Rupniewski. - Tsar Peter appoints Ignacy Rudakowski his commissioner in the Republic with instructionsto protect the interests of the Orthodox. - Augustus II arraigns Godebski; the court orders the restitution of churches and monasteries (end of 1720). - The activities of Rudakowski. Irregularity of his status. His reports. The Orthodox community - a potential fifth column? - A sop to the szlachta: Catherine I recalls Rudakowski (1725).

Despite the frequent presence of Russian troops in various parts of the Republic, in St Petersburg the plight of the Orthodox community in Poland-Lithuania remained a cause for concern. In March 1715 Peter I instructed Dolgorukii to take up again the matter of the continual oppression of the Orthodox, contrary to the provisions of the treaty of 1686, including the expulsion from the diocese of Lutsk of the Orthodox bishop, Cyryl Szumlański, which had already been the subject of fruitless representations in 1712. This new protest coincided with Augustus II's edict of 12 March, restraining Jerzy Sapieha, stolnik (dapifer, sewer) of Lithuania, and his wife from oppressive action against the monastery of the Holy Spirit at Buinichy near Mogilev and the nunnery of the Exaltation of the Cross at Barkalabava (to the north of Bykhov). The protest was ignored and further sporadic incidents occurred. In 1715 at Drohiczyn (in Podlachia) an Orthodox monk was carried off and tormented until K. S. Zawisza, starosta (sheriff) of Minsk secured his release; in the same place in 1717 a crowd of students from the Jesuit college broke up an Orthodox funeral procession and desecrated the corpse; in Brest-Litovsk in 1716 unidentified non-Orthodox Christians burned down the monastery of St Simeon Stylites with its new church.

Although article four of the treaty of Warsaw of 1716, approved by Act of Parliament in 1717, looked at from the Orthodox point of view, seems harmless, Dolgorukii had feared that it would be prejudicial to the Greek religion. His misgivings proved to have been justified: article four was here and there used as a pretext for persecution. The Russians raised belated objections. In 1718 the vice-chancellor, Petr P. Shafirov, told Franciszek Poniński, the emissary from the King and Republic, that his Court did not like article four because it was directed against the Orthodox. Poniƒski explained that all the doubts expressed by Dolgorukii at the time had been dispelled and that there was nothing in the treaty against cerkwie (Orthodox churches), only against zbory (Protestant 'congregations' or chapels). But in 1720 Chom´towski reported that the Russians took the term to apply to sobornye tserkvi (major churches, Pol. zbór corresponding to Russian sobor).

The leaders of the Orthodox Church had been the first to raise the alarm. In January 1718 the superiors of the 29 monasteries and nunneries in the Republic petitioned the tsar for help. The next Sejm, they feared, would try to approve a proposal designed to eradicate Orthodoxy completely by establishing the Uniate rite in its place. If their call was not answered they would have to flee from the violence and the penalties that were being inflicted on them. Recently the Uniates had taken two more (unnamed) monasteries by force. The petitioners believed that a declaration by the tsar in defence of their safety would prove effective, for, they said, 'the Poles and Uniates' greatly feared, and trembled at, the sound of the name of His Tsarish Majesty.

Peter I reacted with a letter to King Augustus, extending the ground from which he usually fulminated against the persecutors of the Orthodox faith. Such occurrences, he wrote, not only constituted a violation of the treaty of permanent peace but were contrary to the law of nations, for the human conscience was responsible to God alone and no monarch was allowed to compel his subjects to embrace another faith. But since the compulsion came from another quarter this particular thunderbolt was misdirected. The wording of the tsar's utterance foreshadows the terms in which George I was to plead with Augustus in 1719 on behalf of the Protestants in Poland-Lithuania, requesting that 'they may enjoy , for the future, their former liberty of conscience, which cannot be forced by any human power and over which God hath reserved to himself the sole command.'

The common source of these arguments has yet to be traced. More to the point, a rescript went out on the next day to Dolgorukii, enjoining him to ensure that the nearest Sejm passed an act giving full religious freedom to the Orthodox; in the meantime he was to lodge the strongest protest with the king, the Primate and the senators. Both letter and protest were ignored. In March Peter I once more demanded of the King of Poland that, in accordance with the treaty of 1686, freedom of worship be allowed to the faithful of the Greek Church. But the treaty of Vienna of January 1719 and the consequent withdrawal of the Russian troops from the territory of the Republic greatly reduced the fear and trembling of the szlachta and no doubt increased the zeal of the missionaries.

The pamphlet entitled Projekt na zniszczenie Rusi zjednoczonej, który w roku 1717 wyszed∏, zapewne w XVI wieku przez Jezuitów uknowany (A proposal for the undoing of the united Rus' [i.e. the Uniate, but in fact also of the Orthodox Church], probably hatched by the Jesuits in the seventeenth century, revealed in 1717) does not belong to the period covered by this chapter but a reference to its existence, character and purpose seems appropriate at this point. The text published in 1862 by the historian O. M. Bodianskii reproduces one of the many copies of the untraced original. The date is presumably an allusion by the copyist responsible for the wording of the title to the Act of Parliament of 1717. The 'Proposal' is an obvious forgery. It purports to be a compendium of methods: calumny, discrimination, brute force and deception, recommended for the extirpation of the Uniate and Orthodox persuasions with the ultimate aim of uniting, and safeguarding the integrity of, the Polish state. The retrospective and cumulative character of this incriminating survey of wrongdoing, made up from fact and fiction, suggests a time of composition perhaps as much as half a century later than 1717.

In April 1720, on the eve of the arrival in St Petersburg of the King and Republic's ambassador, Stanisław Chomętowski, the bishop of White Russia, Sylwester Czetwertyński (Syl'vester Chetvertyns'kyi) consecrated in Kiev in 1707 and appointed by the king in 1713, made a well timed plea for his flock. Having already paid a visit to Moscow, the bishop now complained in writing of still more forced conversions and of fines wrongfully imposed under the Act of 1717 and asked the tsar to demand full equality of rights for the Orthodox inhabitants of the Republic. Leaving nothing to chance he arranged for a reminder to be sent to Peter I at the last moment by Menshikov.

The bishop's plea supplied the Russians with fresh ammunition in their encounter with Chomętowski. In June he was handed an aide mémoire which brought up to date all the Russian and Orthodox grievances. In recent years, said the memorandum, monasteries, churches and persons of the Orthodox confession have been converted to the Union by force, clergy and laymen are subjected to assaults and insults and hindered in their acts of worship, imposts were levied until 1716 by the [grand] hetman of Lithuania [L. K. Pociej] on the Orthodox while Uniates and Roman Catholics were exempt. Only one Orthodox bishop now remains in the Republic – Czetwertyƒski of White Russia – but his eparchy is as if in fetters. Between 1715 and 1720, 70 churches were converted to the Union (though one attempt, against the church of St Nicholas in Mstislav, was foiled). The Uniate metropolitan of Kiev, Leon Kiszka (Lev Kishka) is, at the time of writing, especially active in effecting conversions in the whole of the Grand Duchy. In 1719 the Carmelites with the help of W.P. Wołłowicz, referendary* of Lithuania (a future Jesuit), annexed to their own land just outside Mogilev an estate belonging to the bishop of White Russia. People of the Greek religion do not benefit from liberties enjoyed by other inhabitants of the Republic; the clergy are not allowed to hold councils to attend to the concerns of the Greek confession, Orthodox bishops have no seats in the senate; members of the szlachta are not only denied senatorial rank but are debarred from the Sejm and not appointed to any of its commissions, the townspeople are excluded from municipal offices. The aide mémoire accordingly demanded that these grievances be redressed and in particular that the formerly Orthodox episcopal sees, monasteries and churches be handed back and their clergy be allowed to return to the Orthodox Church, that such clergy and institutions as were still Orthodox be protected from forced conversion to the Union, that justice be dispensed to the Orthodox clergy in civil courts as opposed to Roman Catholic consistory courts and, finally, that for the investigation of the various wrongs done to the Orthodox and the restoration of the disputed bishoprics, monasteries and churches a commission be appointed by the King and Republic to which His Tsarish Majesty's own commissioner would be attached.

This time the tsar's protest did not go unheeded. Augustus II and some of his counsellors were already moving towards a reconciliation with the Russians and here was an opportunity for coaxing the king into making a friendly gesture towards the tsar without loss of ground or face. In a diploma or charter dated 28 November 1720 the king guaranteed the preservation of the eparchy of White Russia and confirmed the rights and privileges of the Orthodox. The diploma did not confine itself to generalities but enumerated all the monasteries and churches which the Orthodox could expect to keep in perpetuity. It also safeguarded the rites and ceremonies of the Orthodox Church and the personal liberty of its clergy. Coming so soon after the Uniate Synod held at Zamośç earlier in the year, the diploma appeared to set a limit on the expansion of the Union to the detriment of Orthodox monasteries and churches. The document was sealed by the grand chancellor of Lithuania, M.S. Wiśniowiecki, and was entered in the records of the starosty (shrievalty) of Warsaw at the instance of the self-styled Count (comes) Ignacy Rudakowski of indeterminate nationality, secretary of His Tsarish Majesty (in fact an interpreter at the Russian embassy). Since the diploma lacked constitutional validity until it was endorsed by the Sejm, it carried little weight with the Roman Catholic hierarchy, officials high and low and high and mighty individuals. But, in keeping with the spirit of the charter, the king in December 1720 allowed the Orthodox clergy and laity of Slutsk to carry out repairs to the local church of the Holy Trinity. Such permisssion could only have been made necessary by the application also to Orthodox churches in need of repair of article four of the Act of 1717.

The Polish-Lithuanian side, however, ignored the tsar's demand for the appointment of a commission of investigation to which his own representative would be attached. Peter I had contemplated the establishment of such a post as early as 1718 and now took the necessary steps to make the appointment, giving the impresssion that he was responding to popular demand. A collective letter of thanks addressed in March to the Russian chancellor, Gavriil I. Golovkin, praised Rudakowski for having wrung out of the king the diploma in favour of the Orthodox in many nights and days of ceaseless labour, and requested that he be appointed the tsar's commissioner or resident in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. It is possible that the letter was inspired by Czetwertyński, who, early in 1721, had again visited Moscow to report on the still parlous state of his flock. Czetwertyƒski was soon to cooperate closely with Rudakowski who was yet to receive his instructions.

In February 1722 a double wedding was solemnized at Pinsk. Two daughters of Wiśniowiecki were given away in marriage: one, El˝bieta, to M.Z. Zamoyski, grand master of the King's Hunt in Poland, the other, Anna, to J.J. Ogiński, eventually palatine of Troki (Trakai). The Uniate bishop of Pinsk, Teofil Godebski, added to the lustre of the occasion by converting, with the aid of Zamoyski's private regiment, supported by seven guns, three monasteries, respectively of the Epiphany, affiliated to the confraternity (bratstvo) in Pinsk, of the Mother of God at Kupiatsichy and of the Assumption at Novy Dvar. All three had been included in the king's charter. Also converted were a large number of churches, together with their 20,000 parishioners in the town of Pinsk and the surrounding district. S.G. Dolgorukii (who had replaced his father as Russian envoy in 1721) reacted to this outrage by protesting in writing to the grand hetman of Lithuania, Pociej, and to the Roman Catholic bishop of Lutsk, Stefan Rupniewski, while Rudakowski, it would seem, advised the victms to lay their case before the tribunal of the nunciature in Warsaw. The nuncio, Vincenzo Santini, fixed a date for a hearing and issued an interim injunction restraining the defendants from taking any action against the plaintiffs under pain of excommunication and the payment of a heavy fine.

Rupniewski's reaction to the intervention of Dolgorukii and the nuncio shows a leader of the Roman Catholic hierarchy in Poland-Lithuania in that militant and bigoted frame of mind which characterized il cattolicesimo della frontiera . The bishop of Lutsk, renowned also for his detestation of the Protestant religion into which he was born, saw no essential difference between the collective character of the 'schismatics' and that of the 'heretics' since both groups professed creeds that were alien and imported from abroad. This equation enabled Rupniewski to interpret article four of the Act of 1717 as applying also to the Orthodox: they had no right to build new churches as they had recently done at Drohiczyn, the scene of repeated attacks on Orthodox clergy said to have been instigated by the Jesuits. The Orthodox, the bishop argued in his rejoinder to the nuncio's admonition, were heretics, their religion was of inferior status, they were disloyal to the Republic and he would not accept any blame for their voluntary defection to the Union. He hoped that the tribunal of the nunciature would not give the schismatics the least protection. Dolgorukii blamed Rupniewski not only for driving out and dispossessing Orthodox priests himself but also for inciting other bishops to do the same, hinting that such persecution and violence could mar the relations between two allied countries. But Rupniewski remained obdurate and defiant. Turning the tables on the envoy, he suggested that the tsar would not allow complainants in his own country to seek support abroad instead of appealing to their own monarch.

Yet another note from Tsar Peter to King Augustus followed on 2 May 1722, O.S. It repeated the earlier Russian demands, protested against the most recent outrages, including a physical assault on Czetwertyński, and announced the appointment of a commissioner, Rudakowski, and his assistant, a monk-priest from Moscow. If the tsar's demands were not met, said the note, he himself would feel compelled to seek satisfaction for the wrongs done to the Orthodox. The text of the note was printed in Latin translation without the date or place of publication, presumably for circulation in the Republic. Rudakowski received his instructions in June. He was to take up residence in Mogilev (which he did in January 1723) and protect the interests of the Orthodox by acting on their behalf in the courts and in dealings with officials, to collect evidence for the commission of investigation and report on his activities to the tsar. A part of Rudakowski's duties may therefore be compared to that of the 'actor' appointed by the Protestants of the Grand Duchy to defend their rights in legal proceedings and engage in dealings with the authorities. His position, however, was weaker than that of the 'actor' because, unlike the congregations in the Grand Duchy, the Orthodox community was not a legal entity.

Peter the Great's note had convinced the Poles that Russia, now free of the burden of the northern war, meant business, and caused dismay in the Polish capital. About this time too the Tsar made to the Court of Rome the indirect representations, already related, obliquely directing his strictures at the bishops in Poland-Lithuania.

In August, at last, the king stepped in and, with unwonted resolution, on the advice offered to him by Flemming and Franciszek Załewski, palatine of Plotsk, took the matter out of the nuncio's hands. Acting upon the accusation laid by the superiors of the three monasteries affected by the recent events at Pinsk, he called Godebski before his own court, the sàd relacyjny (which inter alia, took cognizance of disputes between the Orthodox and the Uniate clergy over the ownership of ecclesiastical buildings and benefices), to answer charges of conversion by force and illegal seizure of monastic property. A royal warrant guaranteeing the safety of the plaintiffs pending the examination of their case was issued forthwith. In his reply, dated 26 September 1722, to the tsar's note, Augustus II informed him that he had ordered a thorough investigation of the events at Pinsk and that the commission called for by the tsar was therefore unnecessary.

The bishop did not obey the summons; the case was heard in his absence and decided in favour of the superiors of the monasteries but, owing to the registration of a protest, had to be retried. This time the decision was final; the king's manifesto containing the decree was published on the last day of the year. The monasteries were to be restored to the monks and the churches to the priests by commissioners apointed for the purpose. For breaking the peace between the Orthodox and the Uniates which the king had sworn to safeguard in the pacta conventa agreed between himself and the Republic, Godebski was ordered to pay damages and a fine of 10,000 zlotys – about 1,600 rix-dollars. Whatever the cause of this outcome may have been – skilful advocacy or bribery or both – the setback suffered by the Uniate Church was unprecedented. In January 1723 by the agency of Rudakowski the churches in Pinsk were, amid much rejoicing, returned to the Orthodox clergy; the monasteries too were recovered. Rupniewski threatened to excommunicate all those who acting on the king's orders, had taken part in the reinstatement of the Orthodox.

Apart from having at the outset supervised the transfer of the premises at Pinsk Rudakowski later, according to his own testimony, found and repossessed a total of 50 churches and protected some more, still Orthodox, from conversion to 'the Uniate heresy'. Attempts to this end had been made on a large scale, mostly by Augustinians, Bernardines, Dominicans and Jesuits in Brest-Litovsk in 1721. Many folk of the Orthodox persuasion left their Church, yielding to fear and 'priestly blandishments'; many of those who resisted were forced off their land, others only just managed to hold their own thanks to Rudakowski's subsequent intercessions with the 'Roman' bishops and officials. But he could not prevent the seizure in 1724 of the Orthodox church of St Elijah at Mstislav by the Uniate (nominal) bishop of Smolensk, Wawrzyniec Drucki Sokoliński (Laurentsii Drutski Sakalinski), assisted by the stolnik (dapifer, cupbearer) of the palatinate of Mstislav, A. T. Ilinicz. On this occasion the students from the Jesuit college attacked and beat up some Orthodox priests.

Rudakowski's last feat was to contrive, as he put it, 'by means of various intrigues', the removal from White Russia of the Roman Catholic 'apostle', Fr. Wawrzyniec (Laurentius) Gintowt, S.J. The list of Rudakowski's achievements should perhaps also include the permission given to build two Orthodox churches, one in the village of Maslaki in 1722, and the other at Borisov in 1723, respectively by A. M. Sieniawski, grand hetman of Poland and M. M. Ogiński, castellan of Vitebsk. In the same year S. M. Rzewuski, deputy hetman of Poland, found it difficult not to recognize the justice of complaints concerning Orthodox churches and monasteries taken away by violent hands, moved by untimely zeal, in contravention of past and present treaties. He recommended that the tsar be soothed with kind words and a promise to despatch a commission of enquiry and make due restitution.

Given the circumstances, Rudakowski could hardly have accomplished more. His status was irregular, he often lacked the funds needed for his own subsistence and for bribery, he was exposed to the dangers of physical attack but his principal did not allow him an armed escort. Nor did he receive adequate support from Dolgorukii who failed to solicit the authorities in Warsaw on behalf of the Orthodox. As an advocate in the law courts he was doubly handicapped by prejudice against the Orthodox and the stigma of his allegiance to the tsar. Constantly frustrated in his efforts, he proposed what he considered to be an infallible remedy for success: in the port of Riga the goods sent there by certain great lords and others for shipment overseas should be impounded and released only in return for the surrender of unlawfully converted churches, for in order to save their profits the landowners would overturn the Union itself.

The appointment of Rudakowski as a commissioner without proper accreditation or an exequatur may have had a precedent: in 1710 one B. Ia. Shipnevskii had been sent by Peter I to protect the 'stauropigial' Orthodox monasteries of White Russia from intrusion into their affairs by the local bishop, Czetwertyński as well as from conversion to the Union. Rudakowski's presence in Mogilev was nevertheless contrary to the conventions of international relations and was resented by the szlachta as a sign of the Republic's weakness.

Rudakowski's reports suggest the existence of a high degree of cooperation between the great nobles or 'magnates' and the heads of the Roman Catholic and Uniate hierarchies. He found the mass of 'the Poles' – the szlachta – wholly devoted to the Roman cause: every one of them was 'an apostle'; not only the Roman secessionists but even the Jews, he complained, call the people of the Greek religion accursed schismatics, imbued with the Muscovite spirit. 'The Romans', says Rudakowski, 'distinguish us from the [Protestant] dissenters in calling us dis-Uniates but persecute us with even greater vigour', adding that article four of the Act of 1717 was being applied also to the Orthodox and that the election of Orthodox deputies to the Sejm was being prevented. The Orthodox gentry receive no other mention but, according to Rudakowski, there were over one million ordinary Orthodox inhabitants of the Republic ready to lay down their lives for their faith. The diplomat B.I. Kurakin in some notes jotted down about the same time on the relations between Russia and the peoples of the eastern provinces of the Republic expressed a similar view: in a future war with Poland these Orthodox peoples could be of great help in creating confusion in the enemy ranks.

In the discharge of his duties Rudakowski was given to exceeding his instructions. Dolgorukii criticized him and the tsar chided him for embroiling himself in the feud between some of the 'stauropigial' monasteries, jealous of their autonomy, and the authoritarian Czetwertyński.

Early in 1725 Rudakowski was recalled by the Empress Catherine I who had succeeded her husband, Peter the Great, in February of that year. According to the former commissioner's final report, he had fallen victim to false accusations made by his enemies in White Russia, although he also mentions as a motive for his recall the need to keep the szlachta quiet at the forthcoming Sejm and in another paragraph states that 'the Poles' had demanded his recall in order to be able to convert the Republic's inhabitants of the Greek faith for the sake of political unanimity so that they could deprive the Russian Empire of Kiev, Smolensk and Livonia. The demand in question had been addressed to the new Russian envoy, V.L. Dolgorukii, towards the end of 1724 after the Sejm of that year by the Polish ministers and senators. Rudakowski, they said, was breaking the peace between the Catholic clergy and the dis-Uniates, his presence on the Republic's territory was without precedent (which was not the case). The memory of the tumult of Thorn was still fresh in Polish minds and the fear of more interconfesional strife was genuine.

Rudakowski in his report asserted that to have first given the Orthodox official protection and next to have withdrawn it (by recalling him) was shameful and put them in jeopardy. There is some justice in this opinion but what Rudakowski saw as loss of face was proof that the Russians – by that time led by Catherine I and her favourite, Menshikov, a sworn enemy of the Union – like Peter the Great before them, set greater store by their good relations with the Poles and Lithuanians than they cared for the condition of the Orthodox confession in White Russia and could afford a small tactical concession. In place of Rudakowski a member of the suite of Vasilii L. Dolgorukii was to be sent occasionally to White Russia to report on the treatment of the local Orthodox inhabitants.

* The adjudicator in disputes between peasants on Crown estates and their landlords and a judge in a variety of courts.

Go To Chapter 4, Part II

Go To Chapter 5, Part II

Return to Contents Page