The Tsar, The King, and The Republic, 1697-1725

Part One


The double royal election of 1697. The Elector of Saxony forestalls the Prince de Conti and is established on the throne as Augustus II with some Russian help. - Denmark, Sweden and Prussia at the turn of the century. The Elector of Brandenburg crowns himself King in Prussia (1701). - Discontent in Livonia represented by Patkul. - Russian military intervention in White Russia on behalf of Augustus II. - Patkul prepares the ground for an alliance against Sweden between Frederick IV of Denmark and Augustus II as Elector, likewise between Peter I and Augustus II. Outbreak of northern war (1700). - Treaty of Birze between Peter I and Augustus II (1701). Further action against Sweden agreed, entry of Poland-Lithuania into war desired. Lack of support in the Republic. - Scission in Grand Duchy of Lithuania facilitates Swedish intervention favourable to the Sapiehas (December 1701). Charles XII takes Warsaw (May 1702). - Peter I too has allies in Lithuania - the Oginskis and Pociej. - Lithuania and Augustus II (prompted by Patkul) move by degrees towards an alliance with Russia. Peter I lays siege to Narva (April 1704). - Instructions for mission to the tsar of Działynski and Bia££ozor (July 1704). The Russo-Polish treaty of Narva (August 1704).>

At the turn of the seventeenth century, several events occurred in northern and eastern Europe which favoured the renewal of the conflict between Sweden and its neighbours. A new generation of monarchs appeared. In Russia Peter I took over the government in 1694. In Poland-Lithuania in 1697 the Elector of Saxony was elected king to reign as Augustus II. His political path and that of Tsar Peter crossed on that occasion for the first time.

The candidates in the field were: François-Louis de Bourbon, Prince de Conti (1664-1709), Friedrich August (Frederick Augustus), Elector of Saxony (the only Protestant on the list), Prince James (Jakub) Sobieski (1667-1737), the eldest son of John III, Johann Wilhelm, Prince of Pfalz-Neuburg, Leopold Joseph, Duke of Lorraine and Bar, Don Livio Odescalchi, a distinguished military commander (who was also a nephew of the late Pope Innocent XI and a prince of the Holy Roman Empire) and Maximilian II Emmanuel, Elector of Bavaria, husband of Teresa Kunegunda Sobieska, daughter of John III.

Tsar Peter, breaking with tradition, did not wish to stand for election himself and did not have a Romanov candidate to put forward, the tsarevich, Aleksei Petrovich, being only seven years old. From Warsaw the papal nuncio, Antonio Davia, archbishop of Thebes, reported that the head of the powerful clan of Lithuanian oligarchs, the grand hetman Kazimierz Jan Sapieha (1637-1720), had hopes of being supported by the tsar but at the same time took the precaution of asking the King of Sweden to reinforce his garrisons in Livonia. Sapieha's hopes and fears were for the moment unfounded; the tsar left the Poles and Lithuanians to form their own factions and to sell their votes to other potentates. It was the kind of purchase that Muscovy, involved in a costly war with Turkey, could not afford. The best the tsar could do was to prevent the election of the one candidate whose establishment in Poland-Lithuania might frustrate the plans of the coalition newly mounted by the Emperor, Muscovy and Venice for ousting the Turk from Europe. That candidate was Conti, sponsored by the Primate and interrex, Cardinal Micha£ Radziejowski. More than six months before the election diet (Sejm) which was held between 15 May and 28 June 1697, the tsar's resident in Warsaw, A.V. Nikitin, was reported to have informed the Imperial envoy, Count J.P. Lamberg, bishop of Passau, that he had been instructed by his master to oppose the election of a king connected with, or dependent on, France, to the point of an open declaration of war. It was thought nevertheless that the ultimate success of the French party would be decided by the support of the Sapiehas, paid for by the French ambassador, Melchior de Polignac, abbot of Bonport. But the results of ducat diplomacy were unpredictable, so much money did not necessarily produce so many votes. About the same time, towards the end of 1696, some members of the Sapieha family made a secret expedition to Sweden, apparently still in the hope of obtaining support from that quarter. This contact proved fruitless but it did foreshadow the future cooperation between the Sapiehas and Charles XII.

On 2 June 1697 Christian August, bishop of Raab (Györ), Duke of Saxe-Zeitz, announced officially that the Elector of Saxony had abjured the Lutheran religion and had been received into the Church of Rome; two days later the Elector himself informed the Primate by letter that if he were raised to the throne of Poland he would see his way to making a public confession of the Catholic faith. His chances of being elected were now greatly enhanced, for it was the rule that the king must be a Roman Catholic.

On 13 June Sapieha warned Radziejowski of the possibility of a double election which would be followed by a joint intervention of Brandenburg, the Emperor and Muscovy directed again Conti. Tsar Peter was by then on his way to western Europe as a member of his own Grand Embassy. He stopped in Prussia - first in Königsberg, next at Pillau - concentrating his attention on the situation in the Republic. His note, addressed to 'the Primate, the senate and the whole Republic' and delivered in Warsaw on the very eve of the election, confirmed the Sapiehas' fears. It declared, inter alia, that if the Prince de Conti were elected, not only the alliance against the enemies of the Cross but also the permanent peace between Muscovy and Poland would be gravely harmed. The French king was a friend and ally of a common enemy, the Turkish Sultan, and if a Frenchman were to be king of Poland, what would become of the coalition, the treaty of permanent peace, the unity of Christendom and neighbourly friendship? The tsar had no wish to see such a monarch established in Poland. It was a carefully drafted document, not a clear ultimatum but an oblique threat calculated to create uneasiness and confusion.

At the Primate's palace Radziejowski refused to accept the note under the pretext that its bearer, Nikitin, had arrived unannounced but the resident, undaunted, read out its contents in Polish translation. On the next day, the first of the election, copies of the note were sent to all the senators and distributed among the voters.

In the election out of the seven candidates Don Livio Odescalchi and James Sobieski were eliminated in the first round on 26 June, 214 'companies' representing twenty-nine constituencies declaring for Conti. Whatever the exact number of votes may have been, the majority was on his side but that was still well short of the required unanimity. On that night the representatives of the Electors of Saxony and of Bavaria, of the Duke of Lorraine and of the Prince of Neuburg together with the Imperial, Prussian and Venetian envoys met at the nuncio's residence and decided to pool their financial resources in favour of the Elector of Saxony. His position had been greatly strengthened during the afternoon by the arrival of a small party from Saxony carrying cash for immediate distribution. The party included Augustus's Jewish banker, Berend Lehmann. Gifts made during the night from the joint fighting fund resulted in a change in the state of the camps. On the morning of the 27th forty 'companies' were ready to acclaim Augustus; at the same time the palatinate of Volhynia, the territory of Wielun and a few Lithuanian 'companies' left the Contist ranks in a show of neutrality. At their head was the grand hetman of Lithuania who declared his wish to arbitrate between the parties. It transpired that his fears of the Empire, Brandenburg and, perhaps particularly, of Muscovy, had revived. It was put to him that, having given his word to and received his reward from Polignac, he was in honour bound to keep it. After spending the whole morning in debating the question with himself and with others he eventually returned to his former place. In a last effort to avoid a division, the principal dignitaries of the Republic entered into a series of intricate negotiations among themselves but failed to reach agreement. Yielding to the clamour of the Contist rank and file the Primate declared the Bourbon elected and shortly afterwards Stanisław Dambski, bishop of Cuiavia, a disappointed supporter of Conti, did likewise on behalf of the Saxon. The dreaded double election, the third since 1573, had become a fact.

Suspecting Radziejowski's hostility, Peter I had sent out a virtual duplicate of his note but this arrived only after the election. Nikitin now handed the tsar's note to Stanisław Jan Jab£onowski (1634-1702), castellan of Cracow and grand hetman of Poland, adding the threat that the tsar would send 80,000 men to seek satisfaction for the unreasonable constraint to which he had been subjected. The note was opened and read out by Dambski, at a session of the adherents of the Elector of Saxony. Those present resolved to have the note printed and circulated throughout the country; they also empowered the bishop to inform the tsar of Frederick Augustus's election and impending coronation. In a letter to the tsar the bishop stated that his note had produced a strong effect even on those who had been most firmly opposed to the election of Frederick Augustus - a possible allusion to Sapieha.

At least some of those who had voted for Frederick Augustus were swayed by the fear of jeopardizing the Holy League. This may be seen from the declaration issued by the Saxon party immediately after the election. It opens with the statement that Conti's victory might have forfeited the friendship of neighbouring monarchs and plunged the whole of Europe into a new war, endangering the Holy League, as the Grand Duke of Muscovy had been good enough to point out in his message.

No one could possibly deny that the double election was to some extent due to Russian interference. By preventing the unanimous election of Conti, Peter I had achieved his limited and negative aim. Had the French prince been so elected it is extremely doubtful whether the tsar could have done anything to dislodge him. His instructions to Nikitin show caution and foresight: if Conti has been elected unanimously the minatory note must not be delivered and again, if the Republic has rejected Frederick Augustus or if another election is to be held, Nikitin should take no action. But the tsar did not overlook the possibility of having to defend Russia from those Poles who had declared for Conti and were rattling their sabres in preparation for 'taking back Smolensk as soon as he arrived,' and accordingly charged four foreign engineers employed in Moscow with the task of putting in readiness the fortresses of Kiev, Smolensk and Sevsk.

The Polish throne was now open to the first comer with money and men, to Conti as much as to Augustus. On 24 July the Elector's representative in Poland applied to Nikitin for military aid. The envoy referred the request to the Grand Embassy but the answer was already foreshadowed in Tsar Peter's latest instructions dispatched on 26 July. According to these Nikitin was to inform the Saxon party that if Conti were allowed to establish himself in Poland, the Russian army concentrated on the Lithuanian border would help to drive him out. Conti sailed from Dunkirk on 6 September. On 15 September, the day on which he passed the Sound, Augustus was crowned in Cracow and on the 22nd Nikitin was able to report that the Contist party was disintegrating under the impact of Russian diplomatic pressure. Another and more important reason for this turn of events was that the new king had begun to exercise his prerogative of filling the vacant offices of state. Even before Conti anchored in the roads off Danzig on 28 September the grand hetman of Lithuania, anxious not to cut himself off from the source of patronage in the Republic, had already been in secret communication with Augustus.

From his headquarters now at Amsterdam, now at The Hague, in the very centre of European affairs, Tsar Peter was able to conduct the second phase of his action against Conti more conveniently than he could ever have done from his own distant capital; for Augustus the tsar's accessibility was a most welcome opportunity. On 29 September C.D. Bose, the Saxon envoy to the United Provinces, set about persuading the Grand Embassy to put at the king's disposal the Russian corps stationed on the Lithuanian frontier. The ambassadors, while raising no objection to the delegation of the tsar's authority, thought not twice but many times about committing a breach of the permanent peace treaty of 1686 while appearing to observe it. Eager as they were to intervene, they insisted on being invited to do so in terms suggested by themselves. For three weeks the form of the written request was drafted, discussed and re-drafted, and as Augustus's appeals multiplied, the argument grew more and more academic. At long last a rescript to Prince (kniaz') M.G. Romodanovskii was issued in anticipation of a written request for intervention which Bose undertook to elicit from the Republic. As it happened, the request was never submitted; it would appear that even those senators who were loyal to Augustus could not bring themselves to sign it. By the end of November the king was already being criticized for having made use of the tsar's troops without the Republic's consent. Romodanovskii's orders were to put the armies under his command at Augustus's disposal and at his request to strike at his enemies - the Prince de Conti, the grand hetman of Lithuania and their adherents - making sure that no harm was done to the persons and property of the king's loyal subjects.

Conti had arrived late, but not too late. The grand hetman, regardless of the threat of Russian intervention, undertook to help the prince with all his might and with the entire army of the Grand Duchy, provided he had adequate means of waging war both for his tropps and himself. This meant two instalments 920,000 złotys each (a huge total of about 526,000 rix-dollars) being paid and French diplomatic pressure being brought to bear on Sweden so as to set in motion a diversion on Romodanovskii's right flank. But only on 31 October did Louis XIV, having learnt from his ambassador that the Swedes were maintaining a neutral attitude towards the events in Poland, point out for the benefit of the regents that if Sweden allowed the Muscovites to enter Poland, a further expansion of Muscovy would be the result. The Swedes did not, apparently share this opinion and were only considering when to recognize Augustus.

The plan of action agreed upon between Sapieha and Polignac which provided for ten or so companies of the army of the Grand Duchy to escort the prince wherever he wanted to go, could not be executed for want of mutual confidence. The prince, no doubt wisely, was unwilling to pay an army of which even the advanced guard was not to be seen while the Sapiehas were waiting at Grodno to be paid cash down. By the time the Lithuanians were about to set forth, 3,000 Saxon horse were closing in on Danzig; Hrehory (Grzegorz) Oginski, standard-bearer (chorazy) of Lithuania, the leader of the recently dissolved confederacy against the Sapiehas, was back on the war-path, stirring up discontent in the Lithuanian army and agitating the szlachta of Samogitia. The troops did not move. The reasons given for their inactivity by the grand marshal of Lithuania, A.P. Sapieha, were the overwhelming strength of the Saxon troops and the hostile acts committed against the Sapiehas by the Lithuanian malcontents. On 29 October Conti, convinced that those of his supporters who had not yet abandoned him were prepared to do so, announced his intention to leave the shores of Poland and began to make the necessary preparations. Nevertheless, on hearing from Jerzy Aleksander Lubomirski, starosta (capitaneus) of Sacz, that 1,500 horse were following him from Podolia, he expressed his willingness to lead them. But on 8 November it was the Saxons who came into view and on the 9th the Prince set sail for France.

The two fires between which A.P. Sapieha considered his party to have been caught came from the Saxons and the rebellious Lithuanians; the grand hetman speaks in his undated letter of the Muscovite invasion as of something worse to come, but regards the existent situation (allegedly created by Conti's failure to pay the Lithuanian army in time) as quite bad enough. It is hard to imagine that Tsar Peter's orders could have been transmitted to Romodanovskii any sooner than at the end of three weeks, i.e. before 1 November. Yet the king in his letter of thanks dated 9 November expresses his gratitude to the tsar for the operations which his troops were carrying out despite the cold weather and other hardships. This rather early date, together with the rumours of Russian incursions already current in Warsaw in July could be taken to indicate that the Russian commander had answered the call of the Sapiehas' enemies led by Oginski and joined the twenty-eight companies of the Lithuanian army in plundering the Sapiehas' estates in anticipation of Tsar Peter's orders. Russian military intervention was therefore responsible for Conti's departure inasmuch as it had intimidated the Sapiehas.

Whether Romodanovskii's army was fitted for activities other than plunder may be doubted. The four regiments of strel'tsy (or musketeers) recently withdrawn from Azov were hungry, underpaid and seething with discontent; it was their mutiny that brought Peter back to Moscow in the following autumn. In the opinion of J.J. Przebendowski, (1639-1729), castellan of Culm, soon to be appointed grand treasurer of Poland, the remainder were simply 'a random collection of unseasoned men whom the Tatars would wolf like so many lambs'. It seems unlikely that in the circumstances Peter I would have gone to the extreme of attacking Poland-Lithuania, had this turned out to be the only means of keeping Augustus II on the throne.

On 23 November in Vilno the Sapiehas celebrated their reconciliation with the king. Before the year was out many other Contists made terms with him; early in March 1698 Hieronim Lubomirski, grand treasurer of Poland, soon to be appointed grand hetman, and the Primate, followed suit. The potential threat to Russia's security had passed much earlier and yet, even with Conti gone and the Sapiehas brought to heel, Romodanovskii's troops kept up their raids until these were finally countermanded at Augustus's request some time in February. These dubious operations had long ceased to serve Russian policy and were being conducted on behalf of the anti-Sapieha movement in Lithuania. So far from Peter I extinguishing the flames of civil war, his subordinates were tricked into fanning the fire which finally flared up and consumed the supremacy of the Sapiehas at the conflagration of Olkieniki (Valkininkas) in 1701.

Peter I's limited military intervention against one side in a domestic dispute was only one of the factors that contributed first, as a threat, to the election, and next, as a reality, to the establishment in Poland-Lithuania of Frederick Augustus. Yet none of these factors was 'decisive': Polignac's lack of funds, Augustus's bounty, Conti's late arrival, Sapieha's endless waverings, Peter's threats, Romodanovskii's incursions, Swedish neutrality - all of them affected the outcome in more or less equal measure. Tsar Peter's own account of the course of events, given in 1707, somewhat exaggerates his own role:

Our firm action for the common good prevented the Prince de Conti,
already elected by a part of the Republic, from taking possession of
the Polish crown. Even before the conclusion of Our alliance with King
Augustus and before his arrival in Poland, Our numerous armies were
offered to the Polish senators and later put under the king's command
to enable him to overcome his opponents. In addition, We threatened
them with fire and sword and compelled them to recognize him as king

and so, with Our help he was firmly established on his throne.

As Jan Stanisław Jab£onowski remarked in his diary, the election of Augustus II was the foundation of the friendship and the bond of the confidence between him and the tsar. From then on the relations between the two monarchs, alongside of those between Tsar Peter and the Republic, became a powerful force in the political life of Poland-Lithuania. For the moment, however, Tsar Peter's interest in the Republic was of a secondary character and governed by his relations with Turkey. He was still animated by a crusading zeal and there is a grain of truth in his representative's boast before the Swedish envoy that if the tsar were seeking his own profit he could take advantage of the present confusion and annex the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, but, being a Christian monarch, he had no such wish; on the contrary, all he wanted to do was to fight the Turk. In actual fact, after Prince Eugen's victory at Zenta peace with the Porte was already imminent. But some of the principles that were to determine Tsar Peter's attitude towards Poland-Lithuania were already discernible: to intervene in the domestic affairs of the Republic only in exceptional circumstances and when invited to do so, to exercise influence rather than to snatch an opportunity to make territorial gains and, generally, to abide by the treaty of 1686.

Poland-Lithuania gained little or nothing from the election of Augustus II. Looking back in 1707 on the events of 1697 Jerzy Dzieduszycki, Master of the King's Horse (koniuszy wielki koronny) reflected on the election of Frederick Augustus: 'He was chosen for his prowess (potencja) and in the expectation of martial genius in one who had led the Imperial army against the Turk in 1695-96.' That genius, says Dzieduszycki, was ill-starred (indeed it materialized only in the next generation in the person of Count Moritz of Saxony, better known as the maréchal de Saxe, the natural son of Augustus II and Aurora von Königsmarck, born in 1699). In the same year the Electress (never crowned queen of Poland), Christiane Eberhardine, née von Brandenburg-Bayreuth, gave birth to the Electoral Prince, later Augustus III of Poland-Lithuania.

The Church of Rome was not overjoyed at the blatantly opportunistic conversion of the Elector of Saxony; the Protestant world was shocked at the apostasy of the hereditary president of the Corpus Evangelicorum in the Imperial Diet. In London one Richard Burridge wrote a satire entitled 'The Apostate Prince', published in 1700:

Now like a Porcupine I dart my Pen
Against the least of kings and last of men,
What Sat'rist can forbear the lashing you,
Who neither will to Man or Heav'n be true?
Who ran from Saxony to cruel Rome
Only the throne of Poland to assume,
That ticklish Seat of Empire; which allows
None there to Rule, but what will pay their Vows
To such like Saints, which commonly depart
This world upon a Ladder or a Cart.
Were there but such a one as Ravillac
(That would but laugh at tortures on the Rack,
So he could wash his hands in Royal Gore)
To stab you, Europe would the fact adore.

Augustus II was the first elective king of Poland to remain the active ruler of his native land. It will be seen that as a dual monarch he did not use his position to the best advantage of the Republic. Twenty years later Field Marshal J.H. von Flemming (who as a mere colonel of dragoons had organized Frederick Augustus's electoral campaign) virtually complained to the papal nuncio, Gerolamo Grimaldi, archbishop of Edessa, that August II had not a single friend among the western monarchs; his apostasy appeared to have earned him hatred in his own country and distrust everywhere else.

In Sweden, in April of the year in which the Elector of Saxony became King of Poland, Charles XII, aged fifteen, succeeded Charles XI and in Denmark, in August 1699, Frederick IV inherited the throne from Christian V. The Elector of Brandenburg, Frederick III, belonged to the preceding generation. On 18 January 1701, in Königsberg, he crowned himself king in Prussia with the consent of the Emperor Leopold I and King Augustus but without that of the Republic. In February, as King Frederick I, he issued a declaration to the effect that his title did not in any way infringe the rights of the Republic with regard to Prussia as the possible ('eventual') successor of the new royal line in the event of its extinction and would not be used as a pretext for laying any claim to Polish Prussia. The opponents of Augustus II in the senate were not convinced by these assurances and demanded that the matter be considered by the Sejm but both diets held in 1701 were disrupted and the matter fell into abeyance. The Republic, however, did not recognize the royal title of the Hohenzollerns until 1764, eight years before Frederick II joined Russia and Austria in the first partition of Poland-Lithuania. Were a conflict to break out again in the North and be resolved to the detriment of Sweden, Prussia stood to gain something at the expense of the Swedish provinces in Germany, especially Pomerania.

In Livonia the leaders of the discontented gentry were accused by the Swedish authorities of rebellion; in 1694 some of them were sentenced to death. One of their number, Captain Johann Reinhold Patkul (or von Patkul), had fled to the continent in the previous year. In 1694 he paid several visits to Poland where he met the grand hetman of Poland, Stanisław Jan Jab£onowski. According to his son, the diarist Jan Stanisław, the Elector of Brandenburg suggested to Patkul that he should persuade King Augustus to lay a claim to Livonia as an avulsum (a territory taken by force from the Republic), since he had promised the Poles in the pacta conventa concluded with them to try to recover such territories. Next Patkul should unite the tsar and the King of Denmark in a league which he, the Elector, would join. It is hard to believe that Patkul, well known for his ingenuity, should not have thought of all this himself before he visited Prussia in 1698. By this time Christian V whose suzerainty over Holstein was threatened by Sweden, had already made a secret defensive alliance with Augustus II. This treaty could well have served as a starting point for the discussions between Augustus and Tsar Peter when they met for the first time at Rawa Ruska (some 80 km to the north-west of Lvov) in July and early August 1698. The prevailing atmosphere was one of effusive cordiality; the mutual affection - embraces kisses and expressions of love - had to be seen to be believed.

The tsar was on his way home from western Europe; from Rawa to Moscow in his train went the Saxon general, Georg Karl von Carlowitz in an unspecified capacity but evidently with orders to promote the friendship newly struck up by the two monarchs. This was Carlowitz's second mission from the king to the tsar. In the spring of 1698, in Vienna, he had discussed with the Russian 'Grand Embassy' a common line of conduct in relation to the future peace negotiations with Turkey. At the beginning of Carlowitz's stay in Moscow the tsar let it be known in the presence of his boyars and other dignitaries that he loved the King of Poland more than all of them put together. Wearing the king's sword which he had received in exchange for his own, he declared that their bond of pledged friendship was stronger than the Gordian knot and was never to be severed by any blade. In March 1699, when Carlowitz was about to rejoin his sovereign in Poland, Peter I gave the general a kiss to take to the king as a token of his everlasting affection and handed him a portrait of himself set with a profusion of diamonds, a 'fruit of that good will which Carlowitz had managed to win.' But neither Carlowitz nor the Danish envoy, Paul Heins, had succeeded in persuading the tsar to accede to the alliance between Denmark and Saxony because at that time he was still preoccupied with the war with Turkey. At the end of 1698 Carlowitz had asked for 20,000 Russian troops to be sent to the border with Lithuania for fear of fresh disturbances there. The official envoy of the Republic, Jan Stanisław Bokiej, puisne judge (subiudex terrestris) in the palatinate of Troki, protested against this démarche and warned Carlowitz to 'reflect whether he was negotiating on behalf of the Poles or of the Muscovites, as it was not to be believed that the Russians would retire without attempting rapine and plunder.' Yet Bokiej himself had earlier made a request to the same effect. V.D. Koroliuk has tried to explain the connection between Bokiej's mission and the conflict in Lithuania involving the prepotent clan of the Sapiehas and their 'republican' opponents: Bokiej's credentials did not give his name. (But if this really was the case it is most unlikely that the Russians who were notorious sticklers for correctness in such matters, would have allowed him to stay in Moscow.) He had apparently been designated by J.B. S£uszka, castellan of Vilno, not only to carry the orders given by Tsar Peter in Holland commanding Romodanovskii to enter Lithuania and act against the adherents of Conti, viz. the Sapiehas, but also to follow the oral directives coming from their enemies to request further military action aimed specifically against some of the Sapiehas' estates which lay within striking distance of the fortress and military base of Smolensk. Both Romodanovskii's corps and the detachment based on Smolensk had been withdrawn early in 1698 once it became known in Moscow that Augustus had got the better of his opponents and once the Poles themselves had requested the withdrawal of the troops. In the middle of the year the 'republicans' obtained the king's promise to send Saxon troops into Lithuania and to go there himself. Thereafter they would regard a further Russian incursion into Lithuania as unnecessary and undesirable.

Meanwhile in the west Patkul, the freelance projector unhampered by official instructions, had made some progress. In May he was introduced to Augustus's confidant, Flemming, who invited him to Poland where he arrived in November. In May of the following year he went to Copenhagen under an assumed name and there prepared the ground for an offensive treaty against Sweden to be concluded by Augustus II as Elector and the King of Denmark. In August, on behalf of the knights of Livonia, he signed an agreement with Augustus II which declared the incorporation of Livonia with the Republic and contained a secret article providing for the enfeoffment of the Electors of Saxony with Livonia, irrespective of their being or not being kings of Poland. Assuming that Livonia would be joined to the Republic it was to be expected that in the next royal election, for fear of losing so valuable an acquisition, the szlachta would vote for the Electoral Prince of Saxony. It went without saying that Livonia would be detached from Sweden by force. According to Augustus II approval for this secret and controversial compact by the principal dignitary of the Republic, the Cardinal Primate Micha£ Radziejowski was obtained in return for a bond for 100,000 rix-dollars drawn in favour of the Cardinal by the knights. Radziejowski later declared that he had given his approval to a proposal to build a harbour at Po£aga (Palanga) in Samogitia but not to one for a war with Sweden and had accepted the bond not by way of acceding to a compact with the knights of Livonia but only in order to have proof of the consent already given by the king, knowing, moreover, the authority produced by Patkul, the agreement of the knights and the bond itself, to be fictitious. It seems unlikely that Radziejowski knew of the existence of the secret article. Soon afterwards, at the end of August, Patkul entered the service of Augustus II with the rank of Colonel and before long was promoted Major-General. The treaty drafted by him in May was completed and signed at Dresden on 25 September 1699, in the form of an offensive alliance between Frederick IV and Augustus II. Its object was the recovery of territories wrested by Sweden from its neighbours and it was to come into force upon the accession to it of the tsar within four months. In order to bring this about Carlowitz and Patkul (the latter again incognito) went to Moscow and at Preobrazhenskoe (just outside the city), on behalf of August II as Elector made a treaty against Sweden. Peace with Turkey being in the balance, the tsar promised only to supply auxiliary troops in case of need and to begin operations in Ingria and Karelia as soon as circumstances allowed. The king (referred to throughout not as Elector but as His Polish Majesty) for his part undertook to help the tsar to secure a foothold on the Baltic and to ward off any attack on Russia by Sweden from Livonia or Estonia. The participation of Poland-Lithuania in this enterprise was mentioned as a hope cherished by His Polish Majesty and to be realized by him. In January 1700 Denmark acceded to this alliance. Thus, in the words of a Swedish historian, was the last link added to the chain which bound together Sweden's enemies. Patkul, the Livonian patriot, had been the forge-master. His motives were mixed and therefore somewhat confused: he wanted to wreak revenge on Sweden and to win self-government for the knights in Livonia. Nothing, however, was further from his intentions than an excessive aggrandizement of Russia.

In February 1700 the Saxons attempted to capture Riga but had to retreat in May; the Danes invaded Holstein-Gottorp in March but were defeated by the Swedes and forced to withdraw from the war in August under the terms of the treaty of Traventhal. The chain had snapped and the confirmation of the Russo-Danish alliance in January 1701 would do little to repair it. Tsar Peter fared even worse. Having made peace with Turkey he declared war on Sweden in August 1700 and early in October besieged Narva. In November Charles XII raised the siege and routed the Russians. What had been intended as a walk-over was about to turn into a long-drawn out war between Tsar Peter in alliance with Augustus II, and the King of Sweden. A contest of this kind could not be waged without the participation, willing or unwilling, of Poland-Lithuania, patently incapable of acting as mediator or defending its neutrality. As things stood at the time it seemed that the outcome of the war would be decided in Poland or in Lithuania and each of the belligerents wished to have both nations of the Republic on his side.

The subjects discussed and the decisions reached during the meeting between Tsar Peter and King Augustus at Birze (Birzai) in the palatinate of Troki in February-March 1701 show the growing importance of the relations between Russia and Poland-Lithuania as distinct from those between the tsar and Augustus II as Elector. On this occasion too Patkul was in attendance and, in contrast to the negotiations at Peobrazhenskoe, the Republic was represented, albeit unofficially, by several prominent personages. Among them were Jan Szembek (d.1731), soon to be appointed deputy chancellor of Poland, Stanisław Morsztyn (or Morstin, d.1725), palatine of Mazovia, Jan Gomolinski (d.1711), Roman Catholic bishop of Kiev and a King's Secretary, Stanisław Szczuka (1654-1710), deputy chancellor of Lithuania. Hrehory (Grzegorz) Oginski (d.1709), starosta (capitaneus) of Samogitia, Ludwik Konstanty Pociej (d.1730), straznik (praefectus vigiliarum) of Lithuania and some other Lithuanians probably spoke for those of their fellow-countrymen who, united in a confederacy, were engaged in fighting the Sapiehas and anxious to receive help from the tsar. It was reported after the meeting at Birze that the Lithuanian representives had signed a declaration in favour of establishing the king as hereditary and absolute ruler in their duchy. Augustus promptly denied this rumour but it is possible that the enemies of the Sapiehas would have welcomed a form of government that might have prevented the rise of another oligarchy, just as the king would have been glad to take this first step towards la souveraineté in the Republic.

Before the negotiations began the tsar made a point of showing his good will towards 'the Poles' by visiting the local Roman Catholic church during a service. Szczuka and Gomolinski, aware of the weakness of Russia's position caused, among other things, by the prospect of a long war and the possibility of King Augustus's withdrawal from the alliance, proposed a revision of the treaty of 1686. The Russians for their part presented the existent circumstances as an opportunity for the Republic to recover Livonia with the help of the Russian and Saxon armies to which it was necessary to join those of Poland-Lithuania. The Tsar could not understand why this conjunction was being delayed. Szczuka replied that the Republic, exhausted by the war with Turkey, preferred a certain peace to an uncertain profit but that the restitution of Kiev and Smolensk with the adjacent territories and the removal of the ban on the colonization of the neutral zone on the right bank of the Dnieper would be genuine gains. A retort such as this was the height of impertinence. Neither Szczuka nor Gomolinski attended the banquet given that night but their obstructive behaviour had no effect at the time. Cardinal Radziejowski later castigated the dignitaries concerned for having taken part in perilous and unauthorized negotiations with the Russians behind the back of the Republic.

The terms of the treaty between the King-Elector and the tsar, signed at Birze on 9 March 1701, being calculated to lure the Republic into the war, were distinctly favourable to Augustus II. The king was to receive an auxiliary corps of Russian infantry numbering between 15 and 20 thousand, equipped and paid, and a loan for two years of 200,000 rix-dollars. Military operations were to be coordinated; the king would carry out a diversion in Livonia and Estonia, enabling the tsar to campaign in Ingria and Karelia and preventing a Swedish attack on Russia. Livonia and Estonia would go the King and Republic (although in the discussions the tsar had demanded Narva). The Polish-Lithuanian claim to Kiev and Smolensk was disregarded. A secret article noted the tsar's eagerness for the Republic to participate in the war. This the king would do his utmost to bring about and in order to enable him to buy the support of influential senators the tsar promised to put at the king's disposal the sum of 100,000 roubles - but failed to do so. Had he sent the money it would not necessarily have found its way into the right pockets or hastened the Republic's entry into the war.

In his message to the dietines (sejmiki) to be held in preparation for the forthcoming session of the Sejm the king plainly recommended an alliance with the tsar for the reconquest of Livonia and Estonia (the latter never held but only claimed by Poland), to be achieved while the Russians carried out a diversion in Ingria. The mass of the szlachta showed neither enthusiasm for a war with Sweden for the recovery of Livonia nor any understanding of the benefits that this might bring. It was held against the king that he had begun the war without the prior approval of the Republic. A contemporary pamphleteer suspected him of having made the league with Muscovy in order to lay low the Swede, to deprive him of Livonia with its fortresses and thereafter to trample on the rights, freedom and liberties of the Motherland and replace them with absolutum dominium. His designs had been thwarted and now he was seeking to act in unison with the Republic. But this was not be allowed because 'your ancestors never made alliances with the Muscovite but rather with others against him and because he is always the declared enemy of the Polish nation'. Further, when the Republic was at war with other enemies, the Muscovite was always fishing in troubled waters and now holds provinces which he took illegitime and in turbido. It was wrong to make an alliance with so perfidious a neighbour; the right thing to do now was to attack him and recover what he had seized, irrespective of the alliances made with him in secret by His Majesty at Birze and elsewhere contrary to the terms of his oath to the Republic. Given such sentiments it is not surprising that it should have taken over three years to bring the Republic into the war with Sweden, even though in December 1701 Charles XII's troops invaded Lithuania, the weak spot of the Republic where continuing internal strife provided an opening for foreign intervention.

The Sapiehas, hard pressed by the local confederates - Hrehory Oginski and his associates - had withdrawn into the northern part of Samogitia and from there had turned for help to Charles XII. In complying with their request the king, in December 1701, engaged with Oginski and pursued him as far as Kowno (Kaunas). The fighting among the Lithuanians continued into the spring of 1703. Oginski had by that time journeyed to Moscow to ask for help against the Sapiehas on the grounds that they were allied with the Swedes. Charles XII continued his march, reaching the vicinity of Grodno at the end of 1702, Ostrow Mazowiecka in May and on the 24th of that month took possession of the royal castle in Warsaw. As he insisted that his quarrel was not with the Poles but with their king who had committed an act of unprovoked aggression against Sweden, the Republic tried to remain neutral.

The Oginskis and their principal followers were: the already mentioned Hrehory, his brother Miko£aj Franciszek (d.1715), court treasurer of Lithuania, and his half-brothers Kazimierz Dominik (d.1733) and Marcjan Antoni (d.1703), castellan of Mscis£aw (Mstislavl), L.K. Pociej, de facto grand treasurer of Lithuania from 1703, Micha£ Serwacy Wisniowiecki (1680-1744), Colonel-in-Chief of the confederates, deputy hetman of Lithuania from 1702, castellan of Vilno from 1703, and Marcjan Wołłowicz, standard-bearer (chorazy) of Mscis£aw. In the years 1701-1702, seeking safety, they drew close to the tsar and acted virtually as his allies. Although in entering into direct diplomatic relations with a foreign power independently of Poland they were infringing the terms of the union of Lublin of 1569, they showed no sign of wishing to repudiate Augustus II as Grand Duke or to break away from 'the Crown' (Korona, Poland) and cannot therefore be accounted separatists. Enemies of the Sapiehas at least as much as of the Swedes, they often referred to the common interests of the Grand Duchy and Poland; one such concern was the fate of the fortress of Bela Tserkov in Ukraine occupied by the rebel Cossack leader Semen Palii: the Lithuanians consistently pressed for the Russians to have him removed. While the Sapiehas tried to dissuade Charles XII from making peace with Augustus II the Oginskis protested to the tsar against these endeavours and early in 1702 asked him for money and military aid. Tsar Peter was quick to take advantage of the divisions in the Grand Duchy to recruit from among the 'republicans' some of his most devoted and powerful political friends, the Oginskis and Pociej. Without their enmity towards the Sapiehas and their consequent leaning towards Moscow, the Republic would have been even more reluctant to enter the war.

Three successive agreements resulted from the common wish of the Lithuanians and the Russians to fight the Swedes. In the first one, of April 1702, the Lithuanians while alive to the possibility of a separate peace between Augustus II and Charles XII, looked ahead to the eventual conclusion of an alliance between the entire Republic and Russia. The tsar for his part expressed his willingness, if the worst came to the worst, to treat the Duchy as his own dependency and to establish there a junta consisting of the Oginskis and their friends. In the second agreement, of midsummer 1703, the Lithuanians, encouraged by the success of their joint operations with the Russians against the Swedes, undertook to stay in the war even if Poland were to attack Russia. This precaution was a response to the situation in Poland where the Swedes were gaining ground and their adherents began to form a party. In the spring of 1703 the Lithuanians, now united in a national confederacy, sent a diplomatic mission to the tsar which in midsummer signed a third agreement: the Lithuanians in return for Russian protection and aid again promised to stay in the war come what might. At best, a treaty of alliance with the whole Republic would follow, at worst Poland would turn against Russia. This fear was misplaced. In November King August, won over by the promise of considerable subsidies declared himself willing, admittedly in strict secrecy, to enter into an alliance with the tsar. The agreement, negotiated by Patkul, was concealed by the transaction of a fictitious loan, because the king still had a powerful anti-Russian opposition among his own supporters to contend with. The two hetmans of Poland, Lubomirski and A.M. Sieniawski, did not wish a Russian army to enter Poland. The contracting parties were the tsar, the king as Grand Duke and 'the Republic of the Grand Duchy'; its subject was yet again monetary and military aid, including now the entry into Lithuania of an auxiliary Russian corps and, further, the tsar's protection over the Duchy and the prominent persons in it. The plan, laid by Patkul, of bringing the Republic piecemeal into an alliance with Russia was well on the way to being realized. For the time being, however, Augustus II was showing no less caution than the tsar. The latest treaty, lacking the king's signature and the seal of the Grand Duchy, bore only the small royal seal.

A sequel to this latest compact was the mission to the tsar on behalf of the Grand Duchy and, informally, of the king, carried out by Pociej, now officially grand treasurer of Lithuania, in the spring of 1704. His task was to assure the tsar that the Republic would enter into an alliance with him, to obtain more money and to request the entry of the auxiliary troops. Pociej received 40,000 roubles in cash and a promise of military aid. Thus the age-old Smolensk gateway into the Republic was opened to the Russians even before a formal treaty of alliance between Muscovy and Poland-Lithuania was made.

After the meeting at Birze the tsar had gradually retrieved his fortunes. While Charles XII was chasing Augustus II up, down and across Poland, Russian armies were operating in Livonia and Ingria. According to the papal nuncio in Warsaw, Francesco Pignatelli, archbishop of Taranto, Charles was indifferent to the fate of Livonia because he regarded most of the local gentry as felons. In 1703 Peter I took Nyenskans at the mouth of the Neva and on this site laid the foundations of a fortress and a church, both named after SS. Peter and Paul. The fortress, completed in 1705, and known as St Petersburg, became the symbol and bulwark of Russia's newly regained foothold on the Baltic. In June 1704 siege was laid to Dorpat, Narva had been surrounded since April. In the words of Tsar Peter, the Almighty by his sword had restored to him a large part of his inheritance. But it was in Poland-Lithuania rather than in the Baltic provinces that the outcome of the war with Sweden was likely to be decided. If it was the case that the Russians were dragging the Republic into the war, it was also true that the Swedes themselves by their harsh treatment of that portion of the szlachta which had stood up to them, were working to the same end. The systematic requisitioning of supplies, quartering of troops and pillaging of property ultimately drove those who would not yield to violence into the arms of Russia. On 16 February 1704 the general confederacy formed in Warsaw by the adherents of Charles XII declared the Polish throne to be vacant. The tsar, fearing that Augustus might be replaced by an enemy of Russia, addressed to the Republic a long and convoluted message in which he offered to mediate, together with his unnamed friends, between the two sides in the internal conflict. He also declared his intention, in the last resort, to defend the rights of the Republic's legitimate ruler. Peter I had signed his letter as early as April 1703 but it was not sent to his envoy, G.F. Dolgorukii until a year later, to be used by Augustus II if necessary. Even then it was left in abeyance supposedly because, according to Dolgorukii, the majority of the 'Poles' were supporting their king but probably because the tsar's appeal showed an undesirable tendency to interfere in the Republic's internal affairs. Meanwhile, however, the text of the message became known abroad in two translations, one German, the other Latin, and was read out to the confederates by the Cardinal Primate, Radziejowski, in February 1704. The polemic that followed concentrated on the nature of kingship in the Republic. On 20 May at Sendomir the Poles loyal to Augustus II formed a general confederacy pro fide, Maiestate et libertate. In June that confederacy declared the dethronement of Augustus null and void and authorized him to make alliances with foreign powers if a diversion directed against Sweden could be brought about thereby. In the latter respect the confederates were only endorsing decisions and measures that had already been taken. The session of the Sejm held at Lublin in the summer of 1703 had allowed the king to make alliances with foreign princes; the conference of senators held in September accordingly resolved that envoys be dispatched.

The instructions for an envoy to the tsar were drawn up in October by a group of dignitaries guided by Szczuka and Fr Konstanty Felicjan Szaniawski (1668-1732), canon of Vilno and referendary (a senior judicial officer) of Lithuania. Both were known at that time to be opposed to an alliance with Russia. The envoy was to demand that the ban on the colonization of the neutral zone on the right bank of the Dnieper be rescinded and that the treaty of alliance be for two years and in relation to the king of Sweden only. Military operations were to be conducted in enemy territory by the tsar and also by the Republic after it had driven out the enemy; the Republic would raise an army of 48,000 men, the tsar in return would hand over any pieces of territory conquered in Livonia and Estonia that had formerly appertained to the Republic; he would pay the Republic an annual subsidy of at least 2,000,000 złotys. These conditions having been met, the extension of the validity of the treaty would be referred to the Sejm. The brunt of the war being borne by the Republic, the envoy should obtain the promise of the restitution of a province formerly taken away by Russia or of a sum of money. Bela Tserkov and the areas held (with Russian connivance) by Palii should be returned as a conditio sine qua non unless prudence dictated otherwise. These stipulations, laid down in advance of the pourparlers with the Russian diplomatic representatives in Poland, G.F. Dolgorukii and Patkul, were pitched too high to be of much practical use except as the statement of a bargaining position and soon became known to the Russian side. It was most unlikely that the tsar would accept such unfavourable terms. The envoy was to be Tomasz Działynski (d.1714), palatine of Culm. But in November, at a congress of representatives of the senators and deputies of the szlachta, the king's critics led by the two hetmans denounced the preparations for the dispatch of an envoy as irregular. Działynski, who had already set out, was called back and did not leave again until February 1704.

In the interval further discussions took place between the tsar's envoys and the Poles - Działynski and other notables. Patkul kept in touch with F.A. Golovin, the head of the department (prikaz) of foreign affairs by letter but contrary to Golovin's wish, the negotiations did not lead to the conclusion of a treaty on the spot. The discussions did, however, enable Patkul to sound out the Poles and to draft for Golovin's use in the final negotiations articles so phrased as to enable the Russians at the critical moment to wriggle out of their obligations concerning territorial gains and military subsidies.

Działynski also received additional instructions. The first 'supplement', drawn up by Szaniawski in October 1703 commanded the envoy to obtain the assurance of an unhindered and safe passage through the tsar's dominions of Roman Catholic missionaries bound for Persia, China, India and other places. Działynski was also to make every effort to ensure that Roman Catholics in Russia were able to hold religious services in accordance with the Latin rite and, in some places, to have their own churches. He was further to ascertain the intentions of the tsar with regard to a union between the Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches. These additions were made at the request of the apostolic internuncio, Settimio Paluzzi. A further 'supplement' to Działynski's instructions was issued in March 1704 by the king. It concerned Moszny, a property of the princes Janusz Antoni and Micha£ Serwacy Wisniowiecki (respectively palatine of Vilno and grand hetman of Lithuania) in the vacant zone on the right bank of the Dnieper. Działynski was to support their request for permission to recolonize Moszny. The envoy was also to ask for an estate in the region of Chernigov on the left bank of the Dnieper, formerly the property of Szczuka, to be returned to him. These additional instructions were obviously sops to the particular interests of Szaniawski, an ambitious cleric anxious to be in the good books of Rome, Szczuka and of the Wisniowieckis whose loyalty may already have seemed doubtful. It has been noted in another chapter that the Russians regarded the consideration of private interests as out of order in international negotiations.

Pignatelli, papal nuncio since 1700, left Poland in October 1703 and could not therefore have commented on the treaty of Narva, concluded in 1704. But before his departure he had been observing the negotiations that were slowly leading up to the conclusion of the treaty. He was not hostile towards the tsar but before taking his leave he described the state of the Republic with regard to its relations with Russia as perturbing and giving rise to fear that their outcome would be fatal and tragic. He had seen senators, some of whom had wanted to enter the war on the side of Sweden, yielding to the tsar's threats to use military force against the Republic or allowing themselves to be bribed, and the king being won over by promises to protect him from his internal enemies. He noted that the king was more disposed to make peace with Sweden than an alliance with Russia and that the tsar was making every effort to enter into such an alliance with the Republic solely in order to make peace. Whether this was the case or not, the outcome was not peaceful.

The chief promoter of the alliance between the two powers since it was first mooted at Birze or even earlier, had been Patkul. As early as 1701 the tireless intriguer and projector had declared his wish to enter the service of the tsar; he did so in the spring of 1702 during his stay in Moscow. At first appointed privy councillor and Major-General, he was promoted Lieutenant-General in 1704. For a professional diplomat initiated into many state secrets to leave one royal master for another was an unusual step to take and it is not easy to account for this move. It is possible that Patkul was as greatly displeased at the irresolution and profligacy of Augustus II and at the unreliability of his ministers (Flemming in particular) as he was attracted by the energy, single-mindedness and vision shown by Tsar Peter. As a servant of the tsar a Livonian patriot would be well placed to secure a generous measure of independence for his native province. Presumably that is why, in the military sphere, Patkul was persistently advocating Russian-Polish and Saxon military operations which would surround and annihilate Charles XII's armies in Poland, at the same time advising the tsar against concentrating his efforts in the Baltic region. But this bias did not diminish his value as a diplomatic agent.

Działynski arrived at Narva on 1 July. The fall of the fortress was only five weeks away and the Russians were entering the negotiations from a position of strength with a Republic divided against itself, equally incapable of driving out the Swede and regaining possession of Bela Tserkov, the key to the right-bank Ukraine, without Russian help. Patkul had described Działynski to the tsar as a man not to be trusted - he was not a friend of His Tsarish Majesty and had taken money from the Swedes. His motives were entirely selfish and the foreign envoys in Poland regarded him as a crook. Later the Russians suspected him of wanting to appropriate the money that they were remitting to Poland by way of subsidy. Patkul's colleague, Dolgorukii, was kinder in his description of the envoy as a brave man and no fool. His Lithuanian partner, Krzysztof Bia££ozor, canon of Vilno (d.1741) was known as 'the gory cleric', thanks to the part he had taken in a vendetta against the Sapiehas. He had spent some time in Russia as resident on behalf of the Grand Duchy and, blinded by partisan hatred, was said to have been no more than a tool in the hands of the tsar. Działynski and Bia££ozor, mere amateurs, were no match for their Russian counterpars - Golovin, a seasoned professional diplomat and his by now experienced secretary, P.P. Shafirov, born a Jew in the region of Smolensk. Moreover, the Pole and the Lithuanian were handicapped by the lack of up to date, realistic and secret instructions.

The offensive and defensive alliance between the King and Republic on the one hand and the tsar on the other, concluded at Narva on 30 August 1704, was to be valid from the time of the ratification of the treaty until the end of the war with Sweden (article 1). Military operations were to be coordinated, peace was to be made jointly, there were to be no separate negotiations or treaties (articles 2 and 3). Since the King and Republic were unable to find effective means of making the law prevail against their disobedient subject, Palii, they had requested the help of His Tsarish Majesty as their friend and neighbour and powerful ally. In virtue of the present alliance His Majesty undertook to compel Palii to return the fortified and other places occupied by him in the recent disturbances. But if Palii were to make the restitution of his own accord, he would be pardoned (article 4). The places in Livonia and the territories appertaining to that province which had belonged to the Republic and with God's help might now be taken by His Tsarish Majesty would be willingly handed over to the King and Republic (article 5, which is not as ambiguous as its author, Patkul, intended and believed it to be). In addition to aid already given to the Grand Duchy of Lithuania the tsar would supply a corps of 12,000 foot soldiers, armed, clothed and equipped, without any reimbursement by the Republic of the cost incurred (article 6). The annual subsidy to the Republic would be 200,000 roubles, after the current year to be paid as the armies took the field, on condition that the Polish and Lithuanian force would number 48,000 men, 21,800 horse and 26,200 foot (article 7). The Republic was bound to pursue the enemy even after he had left its territory (article 8).

The treaty abounded in loopholes and catches. The Russians knew that they would not observe article 4 because they had already forestalled its application by detaining Palii and occupying Bela Tserkov. Article 5 was a mere promise, unsecured by any guarantees and might or might not be honoured. But some reassurance could be found in the expected opposition of the maritime powers to the annexation of Livonia by Russia. Early in 1706 Queen Anne's envoy to Peter I, Charles Whitworth, reported that the King of Poland had more than once sounded him 'if the English were not jealous of the tsar's footing on the East Sea'. It could also be hoped that under any multilateral settlement of the northern conflict, Livonia would be apportioned to the Republic. Article 7 was self-cancelling since it was known that the Republic could not possibly raise an army of the required size or quality. The core of the treaty was article 6 in that it sanctioned the sending of a Russian auxiliary corps into Poland-Lithuania while leaving open the vital question of provisioning. The points concerning the Roman Catholic religion were dealt with separately. Działynski received a document from the tsar's chancellery containing the promise to allow, out of friendship for the Republic, the erection of a church in Moscow (with the addition of a Capuchin monastery) and the passage of missionaries bound for the East.

In the alliance with Muscovy comprised in the treaty of 1686, the Republic had made concessions for the sake of a higher good - a Christian victory over the Ottomans. It had been a treaty between equals. In 1704 an alliance against a common enemy, Sweden, could be regarded as a logical extension of that of 1686 in so far as it put into effect the earlier, anti-Swedish plans of Ordyn-Nashchokin. But, like his predecessor Grzymułtowski, a native of western Poland without any experience of dealing with Muscovy, Działynski conceded too much. Evidently realizing that he had made a bad bargain, he delayed the signing of the treaty by demanding that the first instalment of the subsidy be paid immediately and article 7 was finally drawn up in this sense. For his pains he received a payment of 10,000 roubles, one half in cash, the other in sable pelts, and a promise of 5,000 each year until the end of the war. The tsar had been well served by Działynski's pliancy but in fairness to him it has to be recalled that the pass into Lithuania (or, in geographical terms, White Russia) had already been sold by Pociej and Augustus II in the spring of the same year.


Charles XII and the Republic: the election of Stanisław Leszczyński (July 1704), the treaty of Warsaw (November 1705). - The disgrace of Patkul. - The treaty of Narva gives rise to friction and controversy between Russians and Poles. - 'La Pologne ... un vrai pays poor la guerre.' The progress of the war 1705-1708. - After the abdication of August II the confederacy of Sendomir fills the void. The men in charge: Stanisław Szembek, Sieniawski, Jan Szembek, Szaniawski, Denhoff. - Tsar Peter as protector of the Republic demands a royal election but proves an ineffectual kingmaker. The field of possible candidates, including Prince Eugène of Savoy. - The Swedes re-enter Poland. The Sendomirian leaders scatter but still prefer the tsar to Charles XII. - Peter I and the Poles in their mutual estimation. Sieniawski's operations tie down Leszczyński and General Krassow but do not affect the outcome of the battle of Poltava (June 1709). - The further activities and abdication of Leszczyński (December 1712). - Peter I and ex-king Augustus in secret contact between November 1706 and April 1707. Augustus indicted by the tsar in an open letter. - Augustus makes a treaty with Frederick IV, revokes his abdication, sets out for Poland (June-August 1709).

The Republic was doubly unfortunate in having another protector in Charles XII, the patron of Stanisław Leszczyński (1677-1766), palatine of Poznan, elected king on 12 July 1704 by the adherents of the pro-Swedish confederacy of Warsaw and crowned on 4 October 1705. The obsequious Stanisław I has been described by his still authoritative biographer as a vassal if not a slave of the King of Sweden. He was before long recognized as the legitimate king of Poland by France, the Emperor, the maritime powers, the King of Prussia and the Elector of Hanover. Polish descriptions of this 'wild lion' were thus summarized by a contemporary memorialist:

... tall, thin, with a large nose and small eyes, all his hair
standing on end like bristles, as is the way with the priests
of his religion. He is said to be brave to the point of temerity;
hard-working to excess, for he stays on horseback day and night.
His hatred of pomp and comfort around his person verges on the
sordid, his torn shirt and coat will drop off him one day. He
sleeps on a bundle of straw, no one has ever seen any gold or
silver on his horse or on his person, he tolerates no counsellor
other than his own head and is so self-willed that he does
everybody's work. Whoever wants to win him over has to propose
the most difficult course of action. He avoids wine and strong
liquor so that he drinks only water or small beer. He does not
know any women, it is said that having once met a coach in which
some women were riding he looked inside and said to his
companion: 'I believe these are women.' He speaks little, mixing
bad Latin with bad French. This is the antagonist whom Divine
Providence has called forth to face our king who, though his
cousin, does not resemble him in any respect.

Lord Raby, the British ambassador in Berlin, in a letter written in 1707 to an anonymous recipient, drew a pen-portrait of Charles XII very similar to the one just quoted. It is, as the writer himself acknowledges, rather lengthy and, although little known, not relevant enough to be quoted here except for the final lines.

Raby with a friend and a footman went incognito to Leipzig where they saw King Stanisław:
... he very willingly came and spoke to me and my friend, seeing
we were strangers. His court has a much better air than that of
his master, and his mother and wife were there, a couple of well-
bred women, well-dressed and spoke very good French. He is a
tall handsome young man, with a great pair of whiskers in the
Polish Dress, but inclinable to be fat and a little on the dirty,
as all the Poles are. He was lodged in a very pretty castle,
belonging to King Augustus, but against that king's will, who
will never see him and cannot abide to hear him spoke of, yet the
Swedes would oblige him to see him, which they say he ought to
do by the treaty [of Altranstädt].

The treaty of Warsaw, dated 28 November 1705, between Sweden and the Republic, comprised an article (no.18) analogous to article 9 of the Russo-Polish treaty of 1686 in that it made the King of Sweden and the Republic joint guardians of the personal safety and the existent rights of the Protestant community, including the freedom of worship and religious education. Furthermore, the article confirmed the rights, privileges and immunities of the towns in Polish Prussia (inhabited mostly by Protestants), obtained both before and since the treaty of Oliva of 1660. The other provisions of the treaty of Warsaw bear comparison only with that of Narva of which it is something of a mirror image though wider in scope. Peremptory in its tone, it reads like a diktat to a conquered nation. The treaty allows Charles XII all the facilities needed for military action, such as garrisoning, the use of ports, the free movement of troops and the recruiting thereof even after the end of the war, should internal conditions make this necessary, in other words until the rule of Leszczyński was firmly established. In the more distant future the Republic was not to enter into any alliances detrimental to Sweden. The new king's adversaries were allowed three months in which to declare their loyalty; the Sapiehas were to be restored to all their dignities, offices and estates, their enemies were to be punished. A series of articles prepared the ground for the economic domination of the Republic by Sweden through preferential terms for trade plied by Swedish merchants and the levying of customs duties. The only perceptible advantage offered to the Republic was the eventual restitution of the provinces annexed by Muscovy under the treaty of 1686, a promise no more binding than that given by the tsar in respect of Livonia.

Tsar Peter knew better than openly to violate the sovereignty of the Republic and its constitution as Charles XII had done but in the course of time came to treat its citizens as roughly the King of Sweden had set out to do. Although the advance of the Russian auxiliary troops into Lithuania and Poland had begun as early as the summer of 1704, the treaty of Narva still had to be ratified by Parliament. By the time the necessary preparations had been set in train, the szlachta were already beginning to turn against the new ally. Early in 1705 Whitworth reported from Vilno that 'the imperious carriage and exactions of their [sc.the Lithuanians'] new guests whom, though they are bid to look upon as friends, they cannot so soon forget to have been their ancient and almost hereditary enemies'. 'Otwinowski' relates that in 1706 the Muscovites having established a commissariat at Kazimierz (in Cracow) managed by a Jew named Godfred, collected large sums of money in the palatinate of Cracow 'under the pretext of [garnering] supplies.' These were the first of the Muscovite 'auxiliaries who helped the Poles to eat their bread'. It was a mere hors d'oeuvre. The main course was to follow after the battle of Poltava.

At an assembly of senators and deputies of the szlachta loyal to Augustus II held in Grodno in November 1705 Działynski refused to give an account of his mission on the grounds that he could only speak on so important a subject before a gathering of the entire Republic, that is to say a full Sejm. At a meeting with Golovin and other Russian ministers he owned to not having submitted the text of the treaty to the king for ratification, pretending that no such act was required. Ratification by the king and by the assembly now followed.

The abrupt end of the political career of Patkul conveniently marks the end of this, the first, phase of the relations between Russia and the Republic during the Great Northern War. Parkul had exceeded his authority as general officer commanding the Russian auxiliary corps in Poland, in which capacity he had succeeded D.M. Golitsyn. His enemies in Saxony, as deeply involved in intrigue for a separate peace treaty between their Elector and Charles XII as Patkul himself had become in machinations for a settlement between that king and the tsar, tripped him up. Imprisoned in December 1705 regardless of the unwritten law of diplomatic immunity, he was extradited by the Saxons to the Swedish authorities under the terms of the treaty of Altranstaedt and, in October 1707, at Kazimierz near Poznan, at the orders of the unforgiving Charles XII, broken on the wheel and quartered. To ask what other treaties he might have contrived, had he lived longer, is idle speculation.

As was to be expected, over the next few years the provisions of the treaty of Narva provoked friction and controversy. Large sections of the population of the Republic murmured at the exactions inflicted by the tsar's armies; the Russians held on to Bela Tserkov while pretending to be willing to move out, refused to hand over Livonia because, they said, in the ultimate peace negotiations the Swedes might demand a slice of Polish territory by way of compensation and would not pay the agreed subsidies to the Polish army on the grounds that it was not numerous enough.

The native soldiery apart, troops drawn from all manner of nations and nationalities were at this time able to march and ride up, down and across the vast and open territories of a defenceless Republic. The ease with which they did so confirms the geographer's view of Poland-Lithuania as an area of transition and the professional opinion of the maréchal de Saxe:

La Pologne est un pays ouvert, très grand, sans villes fortifiées,
assez peuplé, rempli ... de toutes les choses nécessaires à la
vie ... c'est un vrai pays pour la guerre.

The progress of the war in the Polish-Lithuanian theatre of operations between the middle of 1705 and the autumn of 1708 did not bring decisive gains to either side. In July 1705 the Swedes (suffering heavy losses) defeated Field Marshal B.P. Sheremetev in Courland but in February 1706 a joint force of Saxons and Russians worsted the Swedes in the battle of Wschowa (Fraustadt) in Greater Poland. In January the Swedes had surrounded the Russians commanded by Field Marshal G.B. Ogilvy in Grodno; the Russians broke out in March only to be routed and driven in disorder into Volhynia. These setbacks were to some extent counterbalanced by the temporary occupation of Courland by Russian troops from August 1705 till May 1706, the raid of some Saxon, Lithuanian and Russian horse on Swedish positions on the Vistula opposite Warsaw in October 1705 and the earlier razzias by Mazepa's Cossacks against the adherents of Leszczyński. The victory on 19 October 1706 at Kalisz over the Swedes (assisted by some Poles), of an army consisting of Saxons, Russians and Poles from the opposite faction, led by Major-General A.D.Menshikov and King Augustus, came too late to prevent Charles XII's invasion of Saxony and the abdication of Augustus II in favour of Stanisław Leszczyński under the terms of the treaty of Altranstaedt concluded on 26 September 1706.

The battle of Kalisz obliged the Swedes temporarily to evacuate Greater Poland, leaving behind only a garrison in Poznan. This greatly weakened Leszczyński's hold on his native province. Early in 1707 the Russians and the Poles loyal to the confederacy of Sendomir went over to the offensive. The Russian cavalry took Warsaw and Thorn and later drove the Swedes out of Polish Prussia; in the spring a Russo-Polish force occupied Cracow and cleared Greater Poland of the newly returned Swedes and of Leszczyński's men. In July 1707 the Russians raided the towns of Leszno - the property of Leszczyński - and Rawicz in Greater Poland. The purpose of the operation was to hinder a westward march of the Swedes out of Saxony which was now expected and, incidentally, to punish Leszczyński. Both towns were laid waste and many of their inhabitants, weavers by trade, were carried off to Russia.

During the crisis created by the forced abdication of Augustus II the much maligned political system of the Republic showed a surprisingly high degree of resilience and adaptability. The institutions of confederacy and of its general council, the status of the grand hetmans as supreme war lords, the executive authority of the Primate as interrex, assisted by the acting chancellor of Poland, helped to fill the void created by the absence of the Crown. The alliance of military power with spiritual authority in particular enabled the confederates of Sendomir to exercise political control over a large area of the Republic.

The grand hetman of Poland had, since the end of the sixteenth century, occupied a position of great power and influence. An important political figure, he was often regarded as a potential candidate for the throne. Thus John III Sobieski had been first deputy hetman and next hetman, before being elected king. The hetman was appointed by the king for life (usually during a session of the Sejm) and was irremovable; he was not a senator ex officio but as the holder of some other office, such as that of palatine. As commander in chief of the army he was responsible for its pay, discipline and quartering - the tenants of Crown benefices were said to hold the hetman in particular reverence because of his power to station troops on their land. He did not draw a stipend but charged his expenses as he saw fit to the funds designated for the upkeep of the army which he disbursed. He also had at his disposal a fair amount of patronage; in the last quarter of each year he recommended to the king deserving military men for appointment to vacant offices and Crown benefices. His powers extended beyond home affairs; he handled the Republic's day-to-day relations with the hetman of the Cossacks on the left bank of the Dnieper, with Turkey and with the Crimea.

The dignity of Primate, by reason of the seniority of his see, attached to the archbishop of Gniezno. In both Church and State he occupied a position superior to that of any prelate in a Roman Catholic country, being both legatus natus and, in an interregnum, interrex. He presided over the senate, took precedence of senators and princes of the blood and was treated with appropriate deference. Although not necessarily a cardinal, he wore purple. The king received him in accordance with the ceremonial prescribed for an ambassador of the Holy Roman Emperor; outside his palace stood a military guard of honour. In his carriage he never gave up his seat to anyone. At this particular juncture the Primate was Stanisław Szembek (1650-1721).

The grand hetman of Poland, Adam Miko£aj Sieniawski (ca 1666-1726), was the last and least glorious hetman of that name. His considerable fortune was greatly increased by his marriage to Elzbieta Lubomirska, a sharp-witted political intriguer in her own right and, in that capacity, a partisan of France. Her acquaintance with Tsar Peter dated from 1698 when he was crossing Poland on his return journey to Russia. The hetman was by nature wary and adaptable, these attributes were well suited to the defensive strategy which circumstances obliged him to practise in the field. A man less given to calculating his chances might well have rushed his army into the camp of Leszczyński in the expectation of tipping the scales in the anti-king's favour and met with disappointment. The news of the Russian victory over General A.L. Lewenhaupt at Liasnaia (Lesna, Lesnaia) on 29 September 1708 and the tsar's boast that he had put the Swedes to rout evidently did not convince the hetman that further successes would necessarily follow. Devious into the bargain, he kept the tsar, Leszczyński and Mazepa guessing as to his true intentions, contemplated betrayal but in the end, overcoming doubt and temptation, remained committed to the alliance with Russia. 'Otwinowski', clearly biassed, brands Sieniawski as both a traitor to his country and its oppressor, accuses him of abuse of authority, favouritism, misappropriation of funds and extortion, reproaches him with serving entirely his own interests or accommodating King Augustus who in turn followed the harmful counsel of Flemming.

The characteristics of Szembek (also spelt Schönbeck) were of quite another order. After ordination he obtained in Rome a doctorate of both laws. In 1690 he was appointed suffragan bishop of Cracow; in 1697, having, with other members of his family, supported the candidature for the throne of the Elector of Saxony, he was allowed to officiate in the coronation of the new king. In 1699 Augustus II used his influence to secure for Szembek the bishopric of W£oc£awek (Vladislavia), commonly known as that of Cuiavia. At the beginning of the Swedish invasion he evacuated the regalia and the royal archive; in 1705 he accompanied the king on his journey to a meeting with the tsar at Tykocin and remained on hand. In the same year, on the death of the Cardinal Primate, Micha£ Radziejowski, the king nominated Szembek for appointment to the archbishopric of Gniezno; Pope Clement XI confirmed the nomination in June of the following year. The new Primate owed his preferment at least as much to his exemplary private life as to the king's appreciation of the loyalty and devotion to his person of another Szembek, Jan, deputy chancellor of Poland since 1702 and half-brother of Stanisław. Just as it was clear that the king cared more for the prestige of his line than for the welfare of his Saxon people, it was the pseudo-Otwinowski's opinion of Szembek that this good and worthy cleric loved his family more than the public weal - vitium supra vitia in a Primate. Szembek was indeed a nepotist on a Roman scale. Of his four brothers or half-brothers one became dean, and the other three canons, of Cracow; two more distant relatives were introduced into the chapter of Gniezno and Krzysztof Antoni (1667-1748), a cousin of the Primate, was appointed canon of Warmia before becoming by turns bishop of Livonia, Poznan, Cuiavia and finally, in 1739, archbishop of Gniezno. Szembek himself partly gave and partly bequeathed to his family a moderate sum of money - 35,703 rix-dollars.

Jan Szembek (d.1731) was deputy chancellor of Poland from 1702 but acted as chancellor from 1705 when the holder of that office, A.Ch. Załuski, bishop of Warmia, was detained on suspicion of intelligence with the enemy. Jan Szembek eventually succeeded him in 1712. He appears to have been as eager to promote the interest of his family as Stanisław but lacked his brother's virtues. An unprincipled courtier, wholly the creature of his royal master, adroit but shallow, he had of late made great efforts to foster the friendship between Augustus II and Peter I. In this task he was seconded by Konstanty Felicjan Szaniawski (1668-1732), canon of Vilno and referendary of Lithuania, now nominated by the king for the see of W£oc£awek, vacated by Szembek. As bishop he would at last become a senator. The king, in his precarious position, wished to have the assistance of both men. The Pope confirmed Szaniawski's nomination in June 1706. Tsar Peter was present at his consecration in February 1707 and marked the occasion by presenting him with a large pectoral cross studded with sapphires worth 1500 rix-dollars. A highly talented upstart, suspected of false modesty, Szaniawski came in due course to be known as a man who had to be consulted before anything was done in the Republic and one who enjoyed an income from a capital of 100,000 livres (about 18,518 rix-dollars) invested in rentes sur l'Hotel de Ville in Paris.

Equal in importance to the Szembeks and Szaniawski was the marshal (or leader) of the confederacy of Sendomir, Stanisław Denhoff (or Dönhoff, ca 1673-1728). He had voted for the Elector of Saxony in the election of 1697 and became an unswerving supporter of the new king. His political base was in the palatinate of Sendomir where he owned several estates. He was appointed grand master of the king's hunt (£owczy wielki) in Lithuania in 1697 and after being elected marshal of the general confederacy in 1704, grand sword bearer (miecznik wielki) of Poland. In 1709, after his return to Poland, Augustus II would make him deputy hetman of Lithuania but it was only in 1722, on his appointment as palatine of Polotsk, that he entered the senate. As well as holding together the confederacy during the critical years of its existence (it remained in being until 1717), in 1708 he dispersed by force in the palatinate of Sendomir several rallies of the supporters of Leszczyński which might have led to mass defections to his camp. An Austrian 'specification' of 1713 was to describe Denhoff as more upright than other members of the king's entourage and a man of his word.

These four men, with the cooperation in Lithuania of Oginski and Pociej, representing the legitimate ecclesiastical, military and civil authorities of the Republic, exercised as much power as the presence in the country of Russian troops would allow. They also handled the relations with the tsar of the general council (walna rada) of the confederacy, made up of senators and deputies of the szlachta.

In spite of having suffered many setbacks and notwithstanding the strong and often successful competition for Polish support from Charles XII and Leszczyński, Tsar Peter was able to dominate by force of arms the Grand Duchy of Lithuania as well as large areas of Red Ruthenia and Greater Poland. The Swedish advance into northern Poland concentrated his mind and that of the Sendomirians on the military situation and, in consequence, on the potential value of the Polish army. On receipt of part of the subsidy due from the tsar and of individual gratuities, the hetmans, Sieniawski and his deputy, S.M. Rzewuski, ordered the taking of an oath of loyalty. From the middle of October 1707 the troops swore by the Holy Trinity to stand by the Roman Catholic faith, the free elections of kings and the alliance with the tsar. They also declared that they would maintain the bond of confederacy and fight the Swedes until the election of a new king. In Lithuania in December 1707 'the Estates of the Grand Duchy', as the congress of the szlachta held at Nowogrodek (Novogrudok) called itself, swore to support the election of a new king 'with the help of Russian troops' and a month later the Lithuanian senators promised Hrehory Oginski their unanimity in an election.

During the difficult months that followed Sieniawski was to be seen at his unheroic best - squeezing out of the population the money needed in addition to the 45,000 roubles or thereabouts received from the tsar to raise more troops, keeping them in order, deploying them for the protection of south-east Poland as the need arose and, much of the time, waiting on events. Leszczyński, now the only king, active in the western part of the country in the Swedish interest, was receiving considerable support.

In his relations with the confederates the tsar assumed the part of defender and protector of the rights and liberties of the Republic, especially of the institution of the free royal election. No sooner had Augustus II abdicated than the tsar asked the Primate to convoke a Sejm with a view to holding an election failing which he would take all the steps needed to safeguard his interests as a neighbour of the Republic. The reasons were obvious: Peter I must have in the Republic a royal counterpart to deal with and rely on in a future contest with Charles XII who in turn must not be allowed to legalize Leszczyński's usurpation of the Polish crown. The confirmation of the treaty of Narva came second in the order of importance.

The council of the confederacy met three times during the year of 1707: in Lvov between 7 January and 15 March, in Lublin between 23 May and 7 July (the day on which the interregnum was officially declared) and again between 8 August and 9 September. In March the protector and the protégés confirmed the treaty of 1704 by means of an exchange of assurances. Both sides undertook to continue the war against the common enemy and promised not to withdraw from the alliance or make a separate peace. The assurances extended the scope of the treaty of Narva to the domestic affairs of the Republic. The confederates pledged themselves to defend their freedom and not to accept coercion by any foreign power, in return they received the tsar's guarantee of their constitutional rights. The Russians would recognize only a king elected by the concordant voices of the Republic, would not interfere in its affairs of state (which was precisely what they were doing) and observe the treaties of 1686 and 1704. This was even less of an accord between equals than the treaty of Narva had been; it was, rather, the first attempt at imposing a Russian protectorate on the Republic. The assurance ruled out the recognition of Leszczyński and virtually announced a royal election which, however, the deputies were in no hurry to hold. The meetings of the confederate council protested at various times at the abuses committed by the Russian soldiery, demanded that the tsar fulfil his obligations under the treaty of Narva and bargained over the conditions of future military cooperation but achieved very little beyond giving a display of bluster and could not prevent the tsar from gradually taking charge of the preparations for an election. In June he assured the Szembeks and Szaniawski that if they remained loyal to him, he would, in accordance with their request stand by them through thick and thin and pay each one of them 10,000 roubles a year - after the election. This the tsar wanted to be held there and then. In announcing the interregnum from the castle in Lublin surrounded by Russian troops, the deputies were playing for time, knowing full well that an election held under Russian supervision would be neither free nor fair but enforced, like that of Leszczyński in 1704 under Swedish surveillance. A small contingent of voters could be compelled to acclaim a client of the tsar, and the Republic could end up with three kings, each one less legitimate than his predecessor.

An interregnum in the Republic was an opportunity not to be missed by a tsar of Russia, even though it occurred at an awkward time. To be elected King of Poland would have gratified Ivan IV in the sixteenth century and Aleksei Mikhailovich in the seventeenth but too many obstacles had stood in the way between their velleities and the Polish throne. A more realistic aspiration and one better suited to the relationship created by the permanent peace treaty of 1686 was to secure the choice of a candidate acceptable to Russia. It will be recalled that Peter I's military intervention had contributed first to the election and next to the establishment on the throne of Augustus II. The abdication of Augustus now gave Tsar Peter the chance of replacing him with his own nominee. In wooing the Poles and Lithuanians he had professed his respect for the principle of free and lawful royal elections and would now be expected to be true to his word. It was a false position for an autocrat to occupy and in playing the part of kingmaker in a nobiliary republic this paragon of single-mindedness and resolution showed himself to be vacillating and inconsistent. It was never clear what he really wanted.

When the tsar called for action the Sendomirians responded by putting forward the names of the sons of John III Sobieski, James (Jakub), Alexander and Constantine, in that order of preference. The names of the two grand hetmans, Sieniawski and Wisniowiecki were also mentioned but the one was not willing to stand and the loyalty of the other was coming under suspicion. The candidatures of the tsarevich, Aleksei Petrovich, and of the tsar's favourite, Menshikov, recently created a Prince of the Holy Roman Empire, were mere invention, like the other Russophobe propaganda which the Swedes had been disseminating in Vienna, as the tsar's envoy there, Heinrich von Huyssen, reported in a letter to Menshikov, written in March: the tsar can in time, with his numerous, well paid and well equipped army, attack other kingdoms and provinces, conquer them and subdue them after the Scythian manner. He has ordered the tsarevich to Poland and will make him or Prince Alexander (Menshikov) king of Poland so as to augment his power and put an end to the confusion in the Republic. In the same letter Huyssen said that he doubted whether any trust could be put in the bows, compliments and assurances of the Poles and whether their innate hatred of the Muscovites expressed by their ancient writers could be turned into a genuine friendship. In point of fact the tsar had recently summoned Aleksei to Poland to reprimand him for having visited his mother who was confined to a nunnery but for no other purpose. With regard to the possible candidature of the tsarevich the now Cardinal Protector of Saxony, Christian August Duke of Saxe-Zeitz had written to the Pope, also from Vienna, in January, in the same vein as Huyssen: it would not be possible for the tsarevich to mount the Polish throne because of the innate antipathy that exists between the Polish and the Muscovite nations.

The tsar, from the outset intending to use the Polish election as a means of entry into the diplomatic system of western Europe, had looked further afield than Russia or Poland. It was on the advice of Huyssen that he invited Prince Eugen of Savoy, the foremost military commander in the service of the Emperor (and an associate of Marlborough), to stand for election. The prince gave an evasive answer, leaving the decision to the Emperor, no doubt in the knowledge that neither Joseph I nor his advisers would do anything that might provoke the anger of Charles XII. Prince James Sobieski too, in deference to the king of Sweden, declined parallel invitations from the tsar and from the Sendomirians but remained in touch with the former. On paper Sobieski, the eldest son of an illustrious father, a Pole and a Catholic, was the most suitable candidate; as an adherent of neither party he might have succeeded in uniting the divided political nation. Next, moving from one extreme to the other, the tsar, at the suggestion of Sieniawski, approached Francis II Rakoczi. This leader of the Hungarian insurrection against Austrian rule, elected Prince of Transylvania in 1704, being a protégé of Louis XIV, might prompt his patron to mediate between Sweden and Russia. In this process Elzbieta Sieniawska, a partisan of France, would play an important part. But Rakoczi at this stage was more interested in obtaining the tsar's diplomatic support for his movement than in winning the Polish crown. These attempts having failed, the tsar once more turned to James Sobieski who finally declined the offer because he could not obtain the approval of the Emperor and feared Charles XII no less than before. Sieniawski was next on the list as a reserve candidate. The hetman stated his terms in a lengthy document, showing as much concern for his personal interest as for the welfare of the Republic but made his candidature dependent on peace not being made and Prince Rakoczi's declining a renewed overture from the leaders of the confederacy. A formal invitation was accordingly extended to Rakoczi and accepted but in September his plenipotentiary, Miklos Bercsényi, arrived in Warsaw to find that the confederates, now facing the prospect of a renewed Swedish invasion, were no longer in the mood for holding an election. The vote was nominally deferred for three months. But as Rakoczi and the tsar still needed one another's support, an alliance between those two parties was made a week before the Swedes re-entered Poland by way of Silesia, bringing to an end the episode of the abortive royal election.

By the end of 1707 Sieniawski and Denhoff were the only leaders of the confederate party still to be found in Poland. The Szembeks had left for Moravia (on Imperial territory), Szaniawski followed later. While still in Poland, in February and March 1708, he had received a total of 30,000 rix-dollars from Augustus II. From Olomouc and Opava all three kept in touch with their former king. Szaniawski was said also to have been in correspondence with Leszczyński. At the end of 1708 Denhoff went to Silesia and thence, in June 1709, to Dresden with the Primate for talks with Augustus. Nothing suggests that any of the Sendomirians, with the possible exception of Sieniawski, were envisaging a Russian victory although they probably hoped (and prayed) for one or, better still, for the attrition of both sides. The most that they could expect in the nearest future was the return to Poland of Augustus at the head of a Saxon army (a dubious blessing), failing which they would not have been averse to an accommodation with Leszczyński, had Charles XII sanctioned it. But the King of Sweden was unwilling to allow his protégé to pardon his Polish enemies and buy their loyalty with places and dignities; there was no provision in the Swedish political programme, as outlined in the treaty of Warsaw of 1705, for the defence of Polish liberties, the Roman Catholic faith and the free election of kings. In the name of Leszczyński, parties of soldiers acting on orders from Charles XII compelled the chapters of Gniezno and W£oc£awek to appoint episcopal administrators on the pretence that the appointments of Szembek and Szaniawski were invalid. Faced with the choice between the King of Sweden and the Tsar of Russia, the Sendomirians would always choose the tsar as the lesser evil but still one of enormous magnitude, considering all the human suffering and material devastation that the Russian troops had caused by their depredations in Poland and the Grand Duchy. For the Roman Catholic and Uniate Churches a change of front by the Primate, the bishop of Cuiavia and their associates would have had grave consequences. In the opinion of the papal nuncio, Giulio Piazza, archbishop of Nazareth, (writing from Opava in August 1707), the tsar would then commit unspeakable outrages, putting the whole of the kingdom to fire and sword, destroying and overwhelming churches, monasteries and religion as a whole. The union with the Greeks would perish completely. Moreover, no bishop of nobleman of this (the loyalist) party would be safe because they would be seized and sent to Russia. The tsar had already done injury to the Church when, on the occasion of the mayhem in Polotsk in 1705 he ran his sword into a Basilian monk. More recently, in February, he had ordered the detention of the archbishop of Lvov, Konstanty Zielinski, who had performed the coronation of Stanisław, before deporting him to Moscow.

Through his direct involvement in Polish affairs at this critical juncture, Peter I gained a thorough knowledge of Poland-Lithuania's political system and came to know many of the Republic's leading public figures. In later years he was able to make full use of this expertise which no other foreign monarch possessed. The tsar had made himself agreeable to Sieniawski, to his wife Elzbieta, to Denhoff and at the beginning, had treated the leaders of the confederacy of Sendomir with such courtesy and consideration as he could muster. But in March 1707, losing patience, he described them as 'lunatics' and in June, on learning that the grand hetman of Lithuania, M.S. Wisniowiecki and the bulk of his army had gone over to Leszczyński, he raged at the hetman's Lithuanian colleagues, accusing them of duplicity and threatening reprisals. At one point in the interregnum, perhaps on the eve of the invasion of Russia (or rather Ukraine) by the Swedes, Tsar Peter appealed for support over the heads of the confederate leaders to the political nation as a whole. In a proclamation published by his ministers (but assuredly with his approval) he invoked the consanguinity and the common descent of the Muscovites and the Poles, at the same time pointing to the danger that was threatening the Slav lands which had so far escaped enslavement by the Germans (not mentioned by name) and by the Swedes.

His dislike of the Poles was well known from the time when he first set foot in the Republic. In 1698 he felt sorry for Augustus II who had to govern so unruly a nation and vowed that he would help the king towards 'sovereignty', little knowing that in years to come he would do his utmost to prevent just that from happening. The crisis of the Polish interregnum, occurring a mere decade after the double royal election of 1697, must have aroused in Tsar Peter a deep disapproval of this aspect of the Polish system of government. Years later, in 1722, his mouthpiece, Feofan (Prokopovich), bishop of Pskov, in drawing for the benefit of his monarch's subjects a comparison between elective and hereditary rule, declared that it was difficult to describe the disorders and unrest created in Poland by the death of the monarch. The division of the state as if into two nations was accompanied by intestine strife, bloodshed, violence and ruin: 'An elective monarchy, by the death of its ruler, draws close to its own death.' It was not an institution to be recommended to Russia. By the same token it was imperative to preserve it in Poland-Lithuania.

Not all Poles reciprocated Tsar Peter's antipathy. Some saw him as he wanted them to see him - the guardian of the Republic and the defender of the liberties of the szlachta whom he had saved from the Swedes and their armies. No contemporaneous Polish writer has left even a thumbnail sketch of the man who influenced their destiny at least as much as Charles XII or their own two kings had done; the references to him are incidental. Thus 'Otwinowski' calls Peter 'the third tsar to have opened his greedy maw (lit. 'heart') to swallow up Poland'. In 1742 the advocate of reform, Stefan Garczynski (d.1753), palatine of Poznan, wrote that Tsar Peter had brought his vast dominions to a more civilized condition in a short time by working hard and heeding the advice of wise foreigners.

How did the confederates of Sendomir fulfil the obligations of the Republic as an ally of Russia in the war with Sweden? In September 1707 the military initiative passed to the Swedes when they invaded the Republic yet again, this time entering Greater Poland from Saxony via Silesia. In June of the following year, after parting company with Charles XII at Radoszkowice (Radashkovichy, to the north-west of Minsk), Leszczyński withdrew into Poland in order to link up with the Swedish army's German regiments commanded by Major-General E.D.von Krassow, before making for Ukraine to join the main body and, in due course, Mazepa, when he was ready to change sides. But the presence at different times in Little Poland, Red Ruthenia, Podolia and Volhynia of the army of the Kingdom of Poland under the command of Sieniawski, barred Leszczyński's way into Ukraine. With only 6,000 men at his disposal Sieniawski was too weak to be able to challenge the enemy and only kept up a deterrent stance. In February 1709 he deployed his troops to form an arc to the north of the 50th parallel between the rivers San and Styr. This barrier, it has been suggested, weakened Charles XII's offensive power, contributing to his eventual defeat at Poltava. Unable to overcome the obstacle by persuading the chronically hesitant Sieniawski to come over, Stanisław resorted to the use of force, expecting military success to win him the support of the szlachta in central Poland. But in a preliminary attack on the confederate forces a large detachment of his troops was routed at Koniecpol (to the north of the source of the Pilica). In any event Leszczyński and Krassow could not at first agree on a common plan of action and began to move towards Ukraine only at the beginning of March. They reached Lvov and occupied the city at the end of that month by which time the ice on the Dnieper had begun to melt and a crossing became more difficult. Sieniawski thereupon withdraw into Podolia. The confederate army consisting of his men and another 1,500 or so under the deputy hetman of Lithuania, Hrehory Oginski, was of little account in comparison with its adversary. The very existence of this force made up some 6,750 men under Krassow and 16,500 under Stanisław (including the, say, 4,000 under Jan Kazimierz Sapieha, grand hetman of Lithuania, detached from his main army) was a factor in the strategic calculations of both principal belligerents. The Swedes believed that eventually Leszczyński and Krassow would arrive in Ukraine. This the Russians feared and strove to prevent. They also supposed that in their march eastwards Leszczyński and Krassow, unless intercepted, would be joined by the six regiments under the command of Major-General Karl Gustav Creutz. (An attack on the flank of the main body of the Russian army would then presumably have followed.) Later the Russians suspected that Charles XII might want to withdraw to positions prepared by Leszczyński and Krassow. So strong were these apprehensions, coupled with a deep and not altogether unfounded suspicion of Sieniawski's loyalty, that an army corps of 13,000 men under the command of General Field Marshal-Lieutenant Heinrich von der Goltz (Gol'ts) was ordered to reinforce Sieniawski and Oginski in December 1708. The Russians also had some field guns which their enemies lacked. If these data are more or less correct, they suggest that the existence of a second front weakened both main armies in Ukraine in equal proportion and therefore did not affect the outcome of the battle of Poltava. But locally the measures adopted by the Russians and carried into effect rather late in the day had a decisive effect on the military situation. In May 1709 Sapieha's cavalry, after scoring an initial success in an encounter with Gol'ts's, was forced to retreat by his infantry and artillery; Leszczyński and Krassow were pushed back and, in July, driven across the Vistula. This enabled Tsar Peter to re-enter the Republic without hindrance. Krassow marched on by way of Wielun, Kalisz and Drezdenko (Driesen) to Stettin (Szczecin). Leszczyński, in August, having, in his own words, 'put his crown in the hands of the Republic', set about preparing an election which he expected to win. But he did not gain the necessary support among the leaders of the szlachta and left Poland for Stettin before moving on to Stockholm. Here he acted as an intermediary between the absent Charles XII and the senate and assisted Field Marshal Magnus Stenbock in the organization of an expeditionary corps which landed in north Germany in September 1712. Stanisław entered the fortress of Stralsund in triumph but on finding that it was in danger of being surrounded by the Saxons persuaded Stenbock to engage in negotiations with their commander, Flemming. The Swedes succeeded in breaking through into Mecklenburg but the talks that followed led to the conclusion of a convention regulating the abdication of Stanisław. In December 1712, in order to open the way to peace negotiations between Charles XII and Augustus II, he gave up his royal title and then, in disguise, hastened to Moldavia to present his plan to the Swedish king who rejected it in favour of continuing the war with Russia in league with the Porte. The convention was never put into effect.

It is possible that the tsar expected the desultoriness of some of his démarches during the interregnum to induce Augustus II to resolve the crisis by returning to Poland, preferably at the head of an army. The continual secret negotiations between the two monarchs reinforce this supposition. As early as November 1706 Augustus had informed Peter of his intention to come back with an army at the earliest opportunity. In January 1707 he repeated the message but, as he had done so many times before, also asked for money - 1,2000,000 rix-dollars a year with which to pay his troops. In February Russian and Saxon representatives exchanged visits and thereafter Saxon agents frequently carried messages from the former king to the tsar in Poland and later also to the Primate in Opava. However, in April the Russians spoke of the hopes of Augustus's return having been disappointed. It was about this time that Peter I sent identical copies of a virtually open letter to the Emperor, the Queen of Great Britain, the King of Prussia, the King of Denmark and the States General in protest against article XXI of the treaty of Altranstaedt, according to which Augustus was to seek guarantees of the treaty from the recipients of the letter. Obviously dashed off in a moment of anger, it gives the tsar's own version of the relations between himself and the former king from the time of his election until his abdication. It rails against the hollowness of his erstwhile ally's promises, his forgetfulness of the many favours and the assistance granted to him, his profligacy and indifference to the fate of the Russian auxiliary troops and his scandalous detention of Patkul in violation of the law of nations. After so vehement and so public an indictment any future reconciliation between the accuser and the accused could only be superficial. It was also in April that Denhoff and Jan Szembek promised the tsar to make formal the arrangements required for a new election.

In April and May 1709 the Elector of Saxony's scouts returned to Dresden from Ukraine with reports of the lamentable state of the Swedish army, diminished in numbers and short of food and ammunition. The news of the victory of the Russians over the Swedes at Poltava on 27 June was brought by a messenger from Poland on 24 July. On 28 June, also in Dresden, a treaty of offensive and defensive alliance had been concluded by the ministers of the Elector and those of the King of Denmark. A secret clause in the treaty gives away Augustus's intention to profit from his forthcoming restoration. He wished to receive from Frederick IV support towards enhancing his authority in Poland or, if this were impracticable or inopportune, help in obtaining for his Electorate a piece of Polish territory in compensation for the heavy expenses he had incurred for the benefit of the Republic. That piece of territory could only have been Livonia - provided it was relinquished by Tsar Peter. On 8 August the Elector in a manifesto repudiated the treaty of Altranstaedt, thereby annulling his abdication. On 21 August, having mustered an army of over 9,000 men, he set out for Poland by way of Lusatia.

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