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

Part Two


Tsar Peter as liberator of the Republic. - The general council of the confederacy of Sendomir (February-April 1710) confirms the treaties with Russia of 1686 and 1704 in ignorance of an earlier undertaking by Peter I to give Livonia to Augustus II as Elector. The knights of Livonia swear allegiance to the tsar. - Polish-Lithuanian grievances against Russia, especially the prolonged presence of Russian troops living off the land. - Analogous Swedish 'tyranny of plunder'. - Other calamities and their consequences. Scott's report of April 1712. - The provisioning of Russian troops. Despoliations, also by Tsar Peter. Wanton destruction; bribery and extortion. 'Scorched earth' in White Russia (1708). Deportations to Russia. - Dolgorukii's promises to the council, few of which are kept. - Representations to the tsar through five successive envoys. - Controversy over Russian subsidies for the Republic's armies. Cost of the stay of Russian troops. - The aspirations of Menshikov. - Augustus II's Saxon troops in Poland-Lithuania from 1711. Tsar Peter's reaction to their presence which provokes a movement of protest led by Pociej, grand hetman of Lithuania. - General confederacies formed in the Grand Duchy and in Poland (March, November 1715).

In the words of Georgii F. Dolgorukii, the defeat of Charles XII at Poltava put an end to the hostilities in Poland and confirmed the reign of Augustus II. The king and the tsar met one another briefly in August; by the beginning of September Peter I was back in Lublin. From there he addressed letters universal to all and sundry but in particular to the officers of the armies of Poland and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, announcing his God-given victory over the King of Sweden. It had long been His Majesty's wish, expressed in his prayers, said the letters, to restore the subverted rights and liberties of the Republic, especially the free election of the kings and masters of this virtuous nation and to bring back to the throne the king who had been elected by votes freely voiced. Now the tsar had entered the dominions of the Republic to this end and also to reconcile its citizens, divided by strife. He called on those who had been led astray by the enemy quickly to rally to the leaders of the loyalists - Sieniawski and Hrehory Oginski - so that they might be pardoned by King Augustus. It is clear from this document that its author saw his position in the Republic as that of liberator, restorer of political order and, at last, king-maker (or remaker).

Between February and April 1710 a meeting of the general council (walna rada) of the confederacy of Sendomir, consisting of the king, the senators and deputies of the szlachta was held in Warsaw under the presidency of Stanisław Denhoff. Its main purpose was to restore internal peace; the reappearance of Russian troops in Poland-Lithuania made a settlement of the Republic's relations with Russia equally necessary. Although the council was not a Sejm, in February it confirmed both treaties with Russia, that of 1686 and that of 1704, as if by Act of Parliament.

The council did not know that one important provision of Działynski's treaty had meanwhile been secretly invalidated to the detriment of the Republic but to the advantage to the House of Wettin. The treaty of Thorn (Torun) by means of which Peter I and Augustus II on 20 August 1709 had renewed their earlier friendship and alliance included a separate and secret article. It stated that the tsar would attack (or, rather, renew his attack on), Livonia with his army, at his own expense. As the king, in the course of the war, had borne a heavy burden and suffered many losses because he had been obliged to rely on supplies and help not from the Republic (a half-truth) but from Saxony which had endured a Swedish invasion, the tsar would cede Livonia to him as Elector and to his successors for so long as they remained firm allies of His Tsarish Majesty and his successors. (This, it will be remembered, had in essence been the intention of Patkul.) Livonia must on no account be restored to Sweden; the tsar would keep Estonia (with Ingria). The contents of the article were known to those in whose presence it was signed, among them Dolgorukii; both he and Augustus misled the council in allowing its members to assume that no change had been made in the treaty of Narva. On top of this the tsar was deceiving the king, for he had no intention of handing over Livonia to anyone. In September 1710 the knights of Livonia swore allegiance not to the Grand Duke of Lithuania, as they had done in 1561 when he - Sigismund II Augustus, the last of the Jagellons, was also king of Poland - but to Tsar Peter.

In their own debates and in their conference with Dolgorukii, the Polish and Lithuanian representatives reproached the Russians with their failure to observe the treaty of Narva: the tsar, they said, had not paid the promised subsidies and not only had not returned Bela Tserkov but had seized other fortresses and stripped them of their ordnance and, worst of all, had introduced into the Republic's territory a multitude of troops over and above the number fixed by the alliance. The Poles took their stand on the terms of the treaty but still had no means of enforcing them. As a French diplomatic agent observed later in the year, the Republic, incapable of waging war or making peace alone, could not offend Russia without adding to its own calamities.

Their chief cause, the Great Northern War, had, as 'Otwinowski' put it, made the Republic praeda gentium, the prey of men of arms from distant lands - Swedes and other nationals, mostly German speaking, recruited by them; King Augustus's Saxons, the tsar's auxiliary contingents - Muscovites, Kalmyks, Volga Tatars, Don and Ukrainian Cossacks - all under orders to live off the land. The troops supported themselves and their mounts by means of levies in cash or kind and often jostled for quarters and sustenance with the Republic's own soldiery, no less rapacious than the strangers. The burden of provisioning the various armies weighed most heavily on the shoulders of the indigent population of the countryside. The number of the different armies, constantly marching, re-grouping, lodging in winter quarters, requisitioning supplies and occasionally fighting, varied and have not been recorded accurately. Augustus II had 12,000 men in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania in 1700, twice as many in Poland in 1704. In that year the Swedes had about 30,000 men in Poland-Lithuania. The king brought back the Saxons at the end of 1710, in 1711 they numbered between eight and ten thousand, by 1713 - 16,000. Confronting the Swedes in 1704 were the Russians with 40,000 infantry and 20,000 cavalry. The number of Polish and Lithuanian forces was comparatively small, about 15,000 in 1705-06. In 1712 the establishment of the Russian army assembled in the Republic for the tsar's Pomeranian campaign was 39,000 foot in Ruthenia, 25,800 horse in Greater Poland and 21,000 'horse and foot' in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and in Polotsk. Overall between 1704 and 1719 Russian troops were present in Poland-Lithuania (including Polish Prussia, Danzig and Courland) in each calendar year in varying numbers, usually large enough to cause an outcry.

The troops and their horses had to be fed. Tsar Peter's Articles of War of 1716 give some notion of the minimum dietary requirements of the Russians about that time. One portion was made up of two pounds (of 409,5 gr.) of bread, one pound of meat, two charki (of 0,123 l.) of spirits plus one shtof (of 1.23 l.) of beer per day and two pounds of salt and one and a half garntsa (one garnets equalling 3,28 l.) of groats per month, with the addition in quarters of vinegar, firewood, candles and beds. One daily ration consisted of two garntsa of oats, 16 pounds of hay, two garntsa of chaff and one bundle of straw. Labour was as valuable as provisions. In 1705 men were requisitioned for building breastworks at Tykocin in Podlachia; in White Russia in 1710 from every homestead one man equipped with an axe, a gouge and provisions was called up for building boats on the Dnieper. The daily portions laid down for the Swedish troops in Poland were: two pounds (of 850 gr.) of bread, two pounds of meat, half a measure (6 dl.) of buckwheat or peas, one can (2.6 l.) of beer and two groats (grosze in cash).

The Swedish armies lived off the land in various parts of the Republic mainly between August 1702 and September 1706 and again in 1708 and 1709, treating the inhabitants no less harshly than did the Russians though probably to better advantage. The authority charged with the collection of contributions in money and provisions in Poland was the General War Commissariat under the then Lieutenant-General Magnus Stenbock. His duty was to squeeze the population to the very limit of its paying capacity by the application of terror and intimidation. Stenbock organized his system of despoliation on bureaucratic lines, relying for its efficacy on written instructions, planned routes of march, quotas, schedules and 'quittances'. The rates at which the contributions were charged varied greatly. The first levy to be decreed by Stenbock was at the rate of 25 tynfy per month per hearth in the countryside (probably in accordance with the tariff laid down for the Polish army in 1661). One tynf would at that time buy 85 kg. of biscuit. Taking the rate of 24 tynfy per hearth, Przebendowski, the grand treasurer of Poland, calculated that the Swedes had raised 604,500,000 tynfy from the estates of the szlachta and the Church alone, and put the total value of the Republic's loss of money and property to the Swedes at 10,000,000 tynfy (or 1,666,666 rix-dollars). This figure, which is no more than an estimate, should include the contributions known to have been paid by the largest towns: Cracow 130,000 dollars in 1702, Warsaw 12,000 dollars in 1703 (in addition to other heavy payments in money or in kind and 'presents'), Danzig 26,600 dollars in 1703 and a further 40,000 in 1704. Thorn paid 100,000 in 1703 and Lvov 125,000 in 1704. In 1708 Mogilev (Mohylow, Mahileu) in White Russia (outside Stenbock's jurisdiction) paid 10,618 dollars. Discipline was strict, marauders were punished by flogging but as early as April 1703 the papal nuncio, Pignatelli, noted that, contrary to the commonly accepted view of Swedish strictness one heard only of violations of holy places, the plundering of churches and other sins against God. Later too those in command were not always able to check outbreaks of vandalism and looting on a large scale. In the first half of 1708 in White Russia, the Swedes, abandoning all self-restraint, used physical force and detention to compel the population to hand over money and provisions in quantities considered to be necessary; troops were quartered in churches and monasteries. The Orthodox monastery of Buinichy near Mogilev was sacked without the knowledge of Charles XII.

According to official instructions money, treasure and possessions confiscated by Swedish regiments were used for the current needs of the army; the remainder was handed over to the royal chest out of which the king distributed rewards to the various regimental officers for their services and achievements. These rules enabled the self-righteous Stenbock to claim that he was appropriating only the actual spoils of war captured on the battlefield. But what about the vestments and plate taken from the churches? These objects Stenbock presented to various places of worship in Sweden, after keeping the best of the vestments and chalices for his own house.

The essential difference between the Russian and the Swedish 'tyranny of plunder' was well understood by the veteran Russian diplomat, E.I. Ukraintsev. In 1707, while serving in Poland, he complained to his chief, Golovkin, about the inconsistency in the treatment of the Poles and Lithuanians by his own compatriots: 'We pay money to their army and give them presents and [yet] we spoil our reputation and the mutual good relations with petty plunder committed for private gain.' As far as he could see there was no public benefit in such acts (difficult to prove though they were) whereas whatever silver and plate the Swede had taken from the churches and money from the towns and other places, all of it had gone to his treasury.

The Swedes used the imposition of punitive contributions and retaliation for their non-payment as an economic weapon against the landowning opponents of their protégé, Stanisław Leszczyński, whilst shielding his friends by granting them exemptions. The Russians applied the same treatment to the enemies and adherents of Augustus II or of the confederates of Sendomir but immunity granted by the tsar was often ignored by the local commanders.

If any ill-intentioned projector had wished to bring about the downfall of the Republic through economic ruin, he could not have invented a method more effective than these extended dragonnades, foreign and native. But as if the infestation of the Republic by hostile or supposedly friendly troops were not enough, each year between 1707 and 1714 brought some fresh calamity: the plague intermittently between 1707 and 1711, cattle fever and locusts in 1711, famine in 1708 and, with instances of cannibalism in White Russia in 1710, torrential rains in 1713, a drought in 1714, followed by a crop failure in that year and the next. The scarcity of grain drove up prices. In the decade 1701-10 the cost of food index (100:1570-79) rose from 128 to 140 and did not drop to 130 until the decade 1721-1730.

The material damage caused to the country as a whole by the wars of this period, international and intestine, was truly catastrophic. Its value in demographic and monetary terms still remains to be calculated by specialists but the list of items accounting for the loss of productive capacity forms a grim pattern. The population was reduced by death from injury, illness, hunger, migration and deportation (to Russia); buildings were burnt down or damaged, agricultural implements destroyed or stolen, livestock was diminished by requisitioning or slaughter, land, often grown sterile, was abandoned or left out of cultivation, the number of landless peasants increased, the size of their holdings diminished, the yield from basic grain crops - wheat, barley, oats - fell. In one extreme instance taken from the palatinate of Lublin, the yield ratio was 1:1 in 1707 and 1:1,27 in 1708, far less than the already low average for Poland as a whole of 1:3. In another case, also extreme and also taken from the palatinate of Lublin, that of a village in the starosty (Crown benefice) of Parczew between 1707 and 1709, the manor house and its outbuildings as well as the peasant cottages were burnt down, fences and barriers removed, most of the villagers left, the fields were laying fallow. In the same starosty at some time between 1713 and 1716, presumably during the clashes between the royal (Saxon) troops and their Polish adversaries three villages vanished; in the eight remaining ones during the years 1709 to 1716 out of 336 peasant families 282 disappeared, a loss of 84 per cent. To take yet another example, this time at random - the estate of Szk£ow (Shklov, Shklou) in White Russia belonging to the Sieniawskis. In 1712 out of the previously recorded 1269 homesteads only 697 were left but there were 261 newly settled ones. 273 were deserted and 38 unaccounted for, a total net loss of 311 or 24.5 per cent; not so severe as in central Poland but grave nethertheless. 'Otwinowski' attributed the depopulation of the villages in the various starosties to the repeated levying of the hiberna (the tax for the upkeep of the army to which they were liable) by any of the native military forces crossing the country on production of warrants issued by the hetmans. This demoralized the people to such an extent that no szlachcic could keep a servant or farm-hand - all ran off in droves. The systematic levying of contributions in money (thus taken out of circulation) and provisions apparently caused damage more severe than that done by random requisitioning and pillage.

The author of Eclipsis Poloniae, presumably Szczuka, writing in 1709 (by which time he had allowed himself to be captured by the Swedes and had joined Leszczyński), denounced the war in his Ciceronian Latin as being inimical to freedom, lawless, sacrilegious, tyrannous, making no distinction between the plebeian, the szlachcic, the humble layman and the priest, the rich man and the poor man. The price of each one was the same; everyone wanted peace. It would take some twenty years to repair the damage caused by the war but prosperity and wealth would never return to their previous levels. Szczuka died in 1710. What would he have said ten years later?

The tales of woe told by native memorialists are corroborated and supplemented by the despatches of the British envoy James Scott written in the years 1712-13. On 15 April 1712 he witnessed the decision taken by the Sejm and the senate to publish letter universal forbidding the payment of any more contributions towards the maintenance of Russian troops. On 25 April he wrote '... the condition of this poor country is indeed lamentable and such devastations have been made of late years by the plague and mortality among their cattle, such oppression and such exactions they have [sic] suffered, first by the Swedes and now by the Muscovites that one must have very little humanity that can see what passeth among them and be not touched with a sense of compassion.' And on 30 April: 'Such a general discontent and rage I find amongst all sorts of people here against the Muscovites that whoever appears in Poland as their enemy will be sure to meet with friends enough ...'. Finally, in June: '... considering the warmth of the season and the swinish way of living of the common people', Scott doubted whether precautions against the plague would be sufficient.

Article 6 of the treaty of Narva had allowed Russian auxiliary troops to enter the Republic without making any provision for the control of their numbers or disposition, quartering or victualling. The troops, ill disciplined and prone to desertion, often behaved like a mob or a punitive expedition. Provisioning had immediately caused difficulties. Peter I was still at Narva when he instructed General A.I. Repnin to request grain for his men but if it was not forthcoming it was to be taken by commissaries. By 1707 the tsar had formed the opinion that his army had deserved its keep by its battles and campaigns and remarked that it was usual throughout the world for an army which was aiding another one to receive provisions in return, indeed to be paid as well, whereas he was only demanding portions and rations. It was unthinkable that an army operating so far from home could be self-sufficient. In the same year the general council of the confederacy of Sendomir tried to regulate the provisioning of the 'auxiliaries' by entering into an agreement with their commanders to supply grain or flour to their magazines to produce two pounds of bread per head per day for six months. Any supplies exacted in excess of that quota were to be regarded as plunder. This was by then a common occurence, often aggravated by other misdemeanours on the Russian side. General Ia.V. Brius (Bruce) was in 1707 appointed commissioner for the investigation of all crimes and abuses committed by the military but it would not appear that he was very active in that capacity. Nor did the joint mixed tribunal set up to investigate offences committed by soldiers from either side appear to have accomplished a great deal.

In the area of Minsk, still in 1707, the Russians ordered the szlachta to bake biscuit in their own ovens. This attempt to 'turn the Poles into bakers' was not repeated but excess and abuse continued to be a part of daily life in the years that followed the battle of Poltava. The vain attempts to regulate the raising of supplies were not renewed, the various commanders had a free hand and collected what they wanted with or without the consent of the local szlachta. In some of their acts of despoliation the Russian grandees and indeed the tsar himself showed a taste for the amenities of civilized living. In 1710 the Danish envoy, Just Juel, saw in the garden of Peter I's summer residence in St Petersburg over thirty marble statues, including busts of John III Sobieski and his wife. Altogether, according to Juel, the best and major part of the precious objects to be found in the houses of important personages in St Petersburg had been brought over from Poland. In 1707 the tsar had directed that shrubs - box, privet and lilac - be removed from the parks belonging to 'adversaries' and sent for replanting in his new capital. One particular work of art met with Tsar Peter's disapproval. In August 1707 the papal nuncio, Piazza, writing from Opava, reported that the tsar during his stay in Warsaw had ordered the destruction of a picture representing the victory of Sigismund III Vasa over the Muscovites and their subsequent imprisonment, kept in the royal castle. The reference is probably to two paintings by Tommaso Dolabella, one of the capture of Smolensk, the other of Tsar Vasilii Shuiiskii and his brother, Dimitrii Ivanovich making obeisance before Sigismund III in the chamber of the Sejm in the royal castle in 1611. It is believed, however, that the pictures were not destroyed but presented to the tsar at his insistence. Their subsequent fate is unknown. The intention of Peter, the first ruler of Russia to set foot in Warsaw, was no doubt to expunge or conceal the depiction of an inglorious episode in Russian history. The tsar's stay in July 1707 cost the city per week 150 dollars in cash for the requirements of his table and each one of the (unnamed) surrounding villages one fatted ox, 100 hens, 40 geese, four barrels of butter, six casks of beer, 100 loaves of bread and ten cartloads of hay.

Plunder sometimes degenerated into wanton destruction. Some of the undamaged booty may have been sold to Russian merchants who were trading in the Republic at the time but were accused only of avoiding payment of duty. The damage done between May and September 1711 by Russian troops bound for and returning from Wallachia on Sieniawski's estate in the region of Miedzyboz (Medzhybizh) in Podolia was estimated at 77,844 złotys. This was a large sum, considering that the war damage suffered by estates in the entire palatinate of Lublin in 1706, estimated at 30,000 zl. was regarded as substantial. It is possible that the tsar did not grant immunity to these estates of Sieniawski's because the Polish army under his command had failed to assist Russia in the war with Turkey.

Between 1706 and 1708 bribery and extortion were rife. The town of Mogilev paid protection money to Colonel (later Lieutenant-General) Adolf Felix or Rodion Khristianovich Bauer or Baur, Colonel F.M. Voeikov and a Captain Volkov. In 1707 Baur, Lieutenant-Colonel M.M. Golitsyn, General A.I. Repnin, Brigadier A.G. Volkonskii were accused of exacting unauthorized contributions; whether this was for their own pockets or for the military chest is not clear. In the same year the sum of 7,000 dollars was extorted from an estate owned by Stanisław Chometowski, palatine of Mazovia, one of the leaders of the confederacy of Sendomir. Also in 1707 the contribution to be collected from the supporters of Leszczyński (in practice from the peasants and townspeople on their estates) was to be used to form one regiment of 'mounted infantry' (dragoons?). In the autumn of 1711 Field Marshal B.P. Sheremetev accepted payment for hastening the withdrawal of his troops to the left bank of the Dnieper; later, in 1717, he received some unspecified presents from Poles; he also collected portions and rations in Mecklenburg in respect of fictitious numbers of men and mounts to the value of 7,508 dollars courant. Out of the four 'fledglings' (or 'eaglets') 'from Peter's nest' celebrated by Pushkin in his poem 'Poltava' - 'the high-born Sheremetev, and Brius and Bour [sic] and Repnin' the first three evidently had more than a touch of the vulture about them, only the fourth, Brius, seems to have been above reproach. All were past their first youth.

In most places hearth money (podymne) was collected in excess of the quantities laid down by the official tariffs laid down for the armies of the Republic by charging to a locality the number of portions wanted. In the winter months the tsar's troops took up quarters on Crown benefices, often driving out the Polish or Lithuanian units entitled to station there or, as was the case in 1710-1715, invaded the private estates of the szlachta. Here they snatched what they could lay their hands on, violating the sanctity of the manor houses and offending the honour of their owners. Perhaps the most galling outrage of all was the 'scorched earch' treatment applied in 1708 in White Russia in the district of Orsha and in parts of the palatinates of Polotsk, Vitebsk and Minsk in order to deny all sustenance to the Swedes. It would have been no great consolation to the szlachta to hear from the tsar that the damage done had helped to defeat the enemy.

Exposed to such provocation some hot-blooded individuals struck back. In February 1707 in the region of Minsk one Wyzycki, standard-bearer of Chernigov (by then in partibus) and his associates set upon and killed a captain and some non-commissioned officers and men of the Semenovskii regiment of guards. No less detrimental to public order and the good understanding between the allies were the attacks carried out by Russian detachments against Polish and Saxon units in White Russia (at an unspecified date) with the object of securing desirable quarters. Baggage and equipment were pillaged, horses abducted. The units responsible were the Ingermanlandskii and Astrakhanskii regiments and the brigade commanded by Prince A.G. Volkonskii. One of the culprits, a Colonel Shul'ts, also accused of murder, was arrested, tried by Peter I himself and probably executed. It was either Shul'ts or his namesake who had devastated Leszno and Rawicz in 1707.

In this atmosphere of mutual hostility there was little room for fraternization other than courtship. But not all the resulting unions between Russian officers and Polish women were blessed with harmony. One engagement led to parricide: a son killed his father who had forbidden his daughter, the murderer's sister, to marry a Muscovite. Furthermore, the financial expectations of some of the bridegrooms were disappointed because Polish law did not allow dowries to be taken out of the country. For ordinary people there was no security at all. Men were carried off or taken into custody and detained at the tsar's pleasure on various grounds or pretexts - resisting requisitions or intelligence with the enemy or acting against the interests of the allies. Many, especially young artisans, were deported to Russia, as were Jews. Three prominent individuals were kept in custody: the grand hetman of Lithuania, M.S. Wisniowiecki who had gone over to Leszczyński and the Swedes; the Uniate bishop of Lutsk, Dionisii (Zabokrzycki, Zhabokryts'kyi) and the already mentioned archbishop of Lvov, Zielinski, who had crowned Stanisław. The tsar later promised to grant an amnesty to Wisniowiecki, provided he swore an oath of loyalty to him and King Augustus and produced adequate recognizance. This did not come about, Wisniowiecki escaped from captivity in December 1711. Zabokrzycki was tried for having sabotaged a bridge on his estate, causing danger and delay to the tsar's army in its retreat from Grodno in 1705; he was later condemned to imprisonment for life and died in the Kirillo-Belozerskii monastery on the Solovetskii island in the White Sea in 1712 or 1715. The Sendomirians repeatedly requested the release of Zielinski, their political opponent, but the tsar was unmoved by this display of magnanimity. In any case the archbishop had already died in 1709 in the Jesuit house in Moscow.

All these and many other controversial issues and complaints relating to the previous six years were aired in the special discussions between delegates of the general council and Dolgorukii. In his formal response, given on 15 March, the envoy made the following promises on behalf of the tsar: the treaty of Narva would be observed, the payment of subsidies would be resumed if requested, all the auxiliary troops would depart 'at the first grass' and meanwhile the Russian commanders would receive orders to come to an understanding with their Polish and Lithuanian counterparts as to the occupation of quarters, Wisniowiecki and Zabokrzycki would be released if the Republic would undertake to put them on trial for their transgressions, the guns and ammunition taken from fortresses in the Grand Duchy, White Russia and Ukraine (including Bela Tserkov) would be returned, such Russian garrisons as subsisted in any of the fortresses would be withdrawn, as would the garrison now occupying Elbing (Elblag) on the Baltic coast and finally, Major-General Ia.V. Polonskii would hear all complaints concerning pillage, the ill-treatment of the inhabitants of various palatinates and the imposition of illicit contributions. The tsar himself threatened those found guilty of causing injury or vexation or taking bribes with severe punishment; the penalty for murder was to be death.

But Polonskii's commision achieved very little. As it was difficult to bring the parties in each dispute together, the adjudicators were able to hear only a few cases and Polonskii himself left on being appointed military governor of Riga at the end of 1711. As his successors were concerned only with keeping up appearances, justice was not done. The Russian troops, as a contemporary put it, did not leave even after the last harvest, let along the first grass. Their behaviour did not improve and the Republic continued to serve as a supply and strategic base for Russian operations in Moldavia in 1711 and in Pomerania and Mecklenburg between 1712 and 1717. Although the peace treaty between the Porte and Russia of 1713 allowed the tsar's troops returning from Pomerania to cross the territory of the Republic only once, he disregarded this restriction. As Przebendowski was to remark with some bitterness to Sheremetev in 1716, 'where the fence is low, the house becomes a passage way'.

Altogether very few of the promises given by Dolgorukii were kept and this made necessary further representations to the tsar through five successive envoys: Marcjan (Marcin) Wołłowicz, grand marshal of Lithuania since 1704 (February-March 1711), Krzysztof Szembek, bishop of Livonia (September-October 1711), Micha£ Puzyna, registrary of the chancellery of Lithuania (July 1712), Jakub Dunin, registrary of the chancellery of Poland (February 1716), Franciszek Poninski, starosta of Kopanica in the palatinate of Poznan (May 1717-August 1718). On two occasions, however, some of the Polish leaders close to Augustus II connived at the prolongation of the stay of Russian troops as a precaution - in 1711 against a possible attempt by Charles XII to sally forth from Bender and march through Poland towards Pomerania, and in 1715 against the breakdown of public order expected to result from an assault by the szlachta on the king's Saxon troops. But in April 1712 the Sejm of that year declared that the Republic no longer needed any auxiliary troops and prevailed on the king to promulgate letters universal prohibiting the szlachta from supplying provisions or paying contributions to the Russians. This was the only time when the three estates of the Republic - the king, the senate and the Sejm (representing the szlachta) - united to resist these unending demands.

As far as the subsidies were concerned it is not clear to this day how much money the Russians paid or should have paid the Poles and Lithuanians or, for that matter, how much of it reached the armies as distinct from their commanders. Under article 6 of the treaty of Narva by 1709 the Republic should have received a total of 1,200,000 roubles or 12,000,000 złotys, calculated at the unfavourable rate of exchange of 10 złotys to the rouble assumed by the Russians. But Dolgorukii argued that under article 1 payments were due to begin after the ratification of the treaty by the king which took place only in 1706, and that even in that year the Polish infantry had not reached the strength of 26,200 stipulated in article 6. Furthermore, in the following year the bulk of the Lithuanian army under its grand hetman, M.S. Wisniowiecki, had changed sides so that the Republic had been treated quite generously, having received a total of 3,640,000 złotys.

No doubt Patkul, the designer of these loopholes, had he lived long enough, would have congratulated himself on such an outcome. The official extract from the Russian records gives a total of 264,000 roubles equivalent to 2,640,000 złotys. The difference of 1,000,000 złotys is accounted for by the omission from the extract of three sums said by Dolgorukii to have been paid: 300,000 to one Nesterowicz (perhaps Jan, an ensign in Pociej's company of hussars) who denied having received the money, 200,000 to the Lithuanian army and 500,000 to the Polish army through General Gol'ts. The last two sums may have been paid after the date of the extract which is 1708. In addition, according to 'Otwinowski', in August 1709 Sieniawski received 18,000,000 złotys (surely an error) in kopecks. These may have been the kopecks 'imitating silver' that had already been used in the Republic for soldiers' pay. In 1710 the tsar ordered that Sieniawski be paid the sum of 100,000 roubles requested by him in 'Russian tynfy', debased Polish coins minted in Russia for use in the Republic. In 1709 Augustus had received a subsidy for his (Saxon) troops from the tsar via Amsterdam. In the same year the leaders of the pro-Russian faction in Lithuania received gifts of rix-dollars, presumably as private individuals: Hrehory Oginski 6,000 out of the estate of Mazepa and Pociej 5,000, presumably from the same source. No further sums were paid and the armies of the Republic did not thereafter take any part in the war with Sweden or directly assist the tsar in his expedition against Turkey in 1711 but on their march into Moldavia the Russian armies collected food and forage, having been strictly forbidden to exact any money.

The amount of money received in subsidies appeared trifling by comparison to the estimated cost of the stay so far of the Russian troops in the Republic - over 100,000,000 złotys in Poland alone in supplies, money and damage, according to one deputy. Wołłowicz, the grand marshal of Lithuania, said that the tsar had exacted 30,000,000 złotys in his country as shown in the written accounts he had submitted. According to the official representations made by the council to Dolgorukii, the auxiliary armies had twice collected portions for 100,000 troops as well as 'untold' contributions in money - 200,000,000 złotys in the Grand Duchy and 100,000,000 in Little Poland alone, apart from whatever goods or property had been taken by force or destroyed. Just Juel repeats the last two sums and adds another 100,000,000 złotys for Greater Poland. None of these data inspire confidence, the only approximately reliable figure to hand is the cost of maintaining the Russian troops in the palatinate of Lublin between 1707 and 1711: about 700,000 złotys.

Sieniawski and Szaniawski, speaking in the debates of the council, were able to argue that the Republic had made a signal contribution to Russia's military effort by pinning down the enemy over several years and giving the tsar time to reform his army, by remaining loyal to him in extreme adversity, by standing firm and keeping General Krassow's army in check, only to be repaid with subjugation. As if in reply the tsar declared in writing two years later that by defeating the Swedes he had saved the Republic and its liberties and restored its dignitaries to their offices and estates. It is significant that on this occasion he made no reference to the restoration of the king.

Not all the deputies were in a militant mood, indeed some went out of their way to cringe, albeit at a distance, to the man described by Pushkin as 'the low-born favourite of fortune', 'the demi-sovereign potentate' - Tsar Peter's minion, Menshikov. A brilliant commander of both infantry and dragoons, Menshikov had risen from the ranks to become a Major-General in 1704, a prince of the Holy Roman Empire in 1706, Serene Prince of Ingria in 1707 and Field Marshal in 1709. The deputies of Samogitia had been instructed by their electors to commend to His Majesty His Serene Highness whom Messrs Mezyk (armorial bearings Wadwicz), citizens of the palatinate of Nowogrodek (Novogrudok), had admitted to their line and whose recognition as a denizen of the said palatinate they now requested. In order to ingratiate himself with the all-powerful prince, Augustus had already, in October 1709, bestowed on him two starosties in White Russia, that of Dzisna in the palatinate of Polotsk and that of Orsha in the palatinate of Vitebsk 'in recognition of his faithful predilection for the Polish nation'. Both starosties had belonged to adherents of Stanisław Leszczyński. There were no legal grounds for conferring such privileges on a foreigner; hence Menshikov's need to establish his kinship with a local armigerous family bearing a name supposedly similar to his own. The assignment by the king to Menshikov in 1706 of Po£onne and Miedzyrzecz Korecki (Mezyrichi Koretski) in Volhynia, the hereditary estates of Jerzy Dominik Lubomirski, a prominent if temporary adherent of Leszczyński, had been equally illegal. Menshikov also acquired landed property in the Grand Duchy by purchase, mortgage or outright seizure. One such act committed in 1711 provoked an angry reaction from Tsar Peter: 'I beg of you that you do not forfeit your reputation and credit by making such petty [illegal] acquisitions.' Menshikov did not take much notice; he had come to embody some of the chief vices of Russian public life - venality, profligacy, contempt of the law, abuse of authority - which his master was trying to eradicate. Compared to Menshikov, Stenbock was probity itself. But there were no bounds to the favourite's ambition. It was rumoured that he wished to become Duke of Courland on the death of the heirless Ferdinand Kettler or King of Poland and ipso facto Grand Duke of Lithuania. As 'Mezyk', starosta of Orsza and Dzisna and a landowner in the Grand Duchy he may have seen himself as a well qualified candidate in a future royal election. But so long as he remained a 'schismatic', reputedly hostile towards Roman Catholicism, his chances of success were virtually nil.

Regardless of the distress and resentment caused by the continuous presence in Poland-Lithuania of Russian troops, Augustus II from 1711 brought into the country his own Saxon soldiers in ever increasing numbers: 10,000 in the first instance. These transfers could be justified as a safeguard against the possibility of a Swedish attack from Pomerania but were above all a means of providing the Saxons with free winter quarters outside the financially overburdened Electorate. In 1713 the papal nuncio, Grimaldi, spoke of a Saxon army which, Augustus II being unwilling to disband any part of it, had to live at the expense of Poland. In 1714 the Saxon war chest in Poland was empty and the regiments were resorting to the collection of contributions in cash, requisitions and worse but in September a part of that force was temporarily withdrawn to Saxony. Stanisław Chometowski, the Republic's envoy to Turkey learnt of the new extortions from his already devastated property at a time when he was performing an arduous public service; many less prominent landowners were no less indignant.

In the opinion of 'Otwinowski', the 'irruptions' of the Swedes, Muscovites, Cossacks and Kalmyks, compounded by the stationing of the Republic's own troops did not weigh so heavily on the common people as the presence of the Saxons in the rainy years (1714, 1715) when corn and hay had to be harvested while still damp and cattle were dying of the plague. Worst of all was the collection of supplies in the last weeks before the new harvest. The cash levied was allegedly exported to Saxony or used by the king for presents to Polish grandees. In some quarters it was suspected that the king had brought in the Saxons without permission of the Republic for no other purpose than to turn it into an absolute and hereditary monarchy. It is still not clear whether this really was the king's intention at that time but Tsar Peter was able to turn these apprehensions to account, never losing an opportunity to tell the Poles and Lithuanians that he was the defender of their liberties and to warn the king against any attempt to make himself 'sovereign' in the Republic. But, no doubt recalling the difficulties created by the interregnum of 1707, he never contemplated the dethronement of Augustus, even though he may have pretended the opposite before Pociej. At the end of 1714 and again at the beginning of 1715 the tsar stated privately his attitude towards the crisis: the dissatisfaction of the nation was caused by the presence of the Saxon troops; his own interest, however, demanded that the king should continue to reign. The bulk of the troops should leave and be used in 'Germany' (Pomerania), only the king's life-guards should stay behind and perhaps be incorporated with the Polish army.

The movement of protest against the infestation of the Republic by the king's troops originated in Lithuania at the instigation of Pociej. After acting at first in concert with Sieniawski, he soon went on to pursue his own murky ends. Even if his ultimate goal was the secession of the Grand Duchy from Poland and its union with Russia, Tsar Peter did not trust him. Ivan Gorokhov, a captain in the Guards, appointed resident with Pociej in November 1714 was instructed to watch the hetman's movements and all his actions and to report them to His Majesty. Early in 1714 Pociej expected the tsar to help him and other prominent Lithuanians to check the king and either assist in his dethronement or, as a last resort, to place the Grand Duchy under Russian protection. But the king, early in 1715, resisted Pociej's demand that he remove his troops, while the tsar threatened the hetman with the use of force if he prevented the Saxons from collecting whatever provisions were needed for their sustenance.

His personal position, however, remained strong because the tsar, playing off the king against the hetman, made it clear to Augustus that he would not allow him to remove Pociej from office. In September the two parties reached agreement on the stationing of the Saxon and Lithuanian troops without mutual encroachment. By that time Russian troops, bound ultimately for Pomerania, had begun their march from Livonia, through Lithuania and Poland, towards the Prussian frontier. In September the king left Warsaw for Saxony, having made no concessiions with regard to the contributions and supplies demanded by his troops. Fighting broke out between the Polish and the Saxon military. In March 1715 a general confederacy was formed in Lithuania, soon to be joined by the army and Pociej. In October various units of the Polish army formed a confederacy for the elimination of 'the auxiliary - Saxon - oppressors who overburden the clergy, the szlachta and the common people with their exactions whilst consuming in idleness the bread due to the active soldiers'. The confederates vowed to defend the diminishing liberties of the Republic. On 26 November, after months of preparation in the various palatinates (where local confederacies had first been organized in 1714), at Tarnogrod (in central Poland) a general confederacy of the Polish szlachta was formed for essentially the same purpose: whilst harbouring no evil intentions against the king, to be free of the contributions imposed and the oppression inflicted by the Saxon troops.


The tsar's representatives stir up trouble and are replaced by Dolgorukii. - Peter I deprecates strife in the Republic and offers his mediation. His aperçu of the political institutions of the Republic. - Russian troop movements. - The fighting and negotiations between the military confederates and the Saxons. - Ledochowski, marshal of the confederacy requests mediation by the tsar. - Peter I and Augustus II meet in Danzig (April 1716). Mutual recriminations. - Character sketch of Ledochowski. - The 'Danzig Plan' introduces Russian mediation and provides for the use of force. Tsar Peter's instructions to the mediator, Dolgorukii: the future agreement to be ratified by the tsar as mediator and guarantor. - A future confederacy might receive Russian help. - Were the confederates 'imbued with the Swedish spirit'? - News of the defeat of the Turks at Pozharevats. - Russian troops under General Renne enter the Republic from the east, also under General Baur from the west. - The confederates demand their withdrawal. - The treaty of 3 November 1716 ends the conflict between the king and the szlachta and is included in the enactments of the Sejm held on 1 February 1716 - the 'Dumb Diet'. Dolgorukii gratified. - Misdeeds of Renne. - Terms of the treaty and resolutions of the Diet. The tsar is not guarantor of the treaty. Some of the enactments are reforms: power of the hetmans curtailed, etc. - The 'Dumb Diet' not a turning point in relations between Peter I and the Republic. But an undesirable precedent was set. - The price of mediation: indefinite stay of Russian troops, soon to cause concern abroad. -

It seems strange that during the previous period or at any rate since the end of the Swedish invasion of the Republic the szlachta should not have risen in arms against the Muscovites who had been no less rapacious and oppressive than the Saxons were now showing themselves to be. Was it because the szlachta would have needed the backing of the Polish and Lithuanian armies which Sieniawski and Pociej would have withheld? Another question still to be answered is whether the turmoil that preceded the emergence of the confederacies was spontaneous or instigated and if so, then by whom? What is clear is that the tsar's official representatives in exacerbating the animosity of the szlachta against the king acted more like political propagandists than like diplomats. A.I. Dashkov, hitherto the resident with Sieniawski, took up his duties as resident in the Republic at the end of 1712, A.A. Matveev, the tsar's minister at the Imperial court was transferred to that of King Augustus in July 1714. Both men spread rumours intended to discredit the king, accusing him of preparing to make a separate peace with Sweden and assume absolute power in the Republic, something which, they hinted, the tsar was ready to prevent by obtaining the removal of the Saxon troops. Having gone further in this direction than the tsar had intended them to go or to be seen to be going, both were transferred to other duties. Matveev was recalled at the request of the king and returned to Vienna, Dashkov went back to Sieniawski, probably at the same time, in March 1715. They were replaced by the more experienced and less adventurous G.F. Dolgorukii, for the third and last time appointed envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary, after being recalled at the end of 1712.

It would appear that Dolgorukii resumed payments on behalf of the tsar to Szaniawski and Sieniawski. The latter wanted 10,000 roubles a year but whether he received as much is doubtful. In May 1714 Sieniawski had informed Sheremetev for the ear of the tsar that Augustus II with the King of Prussia and the Elector of Hanover had resolved to declare war on him, that the king had promised to replace Pociej with Jan Kazimierz Sapieha and Sieniawski with Jozef Potocki. Both supposed substitutes were adherents of Leszczyński. False information of this kind was hardly worth paying for but Sieniawski did not omit to ask Sheremetev to commend to the tsar the two Szembeks (the Primate and the grand chancellor), Denhoff and some smaller fry. Dolgorukii's task was to keep a watchful eye on the Poles and their king, especially with regard to any secret negotiations that might be afoot between him and the King of Sweden. In that case Dolgorukii was to endeavour to retain the loyalty of the Poles.

At a time when Tsar Peter's attention was concentrated on the progress of the military campaign in Pomerania in which Russian troops were to take part using Poland-Lithuania as a base, the Republic's gradual lapse into chaos was a most unwelcome turn of events. In September 1715 the tsar gave expression to his displeasure in a rescript, the contents of which Dolgorukii was to convey to the senators and the king. The part of the document which dealt with the recent conflict between the king and Pociej was no longer relevant but the tsar's offer to mediate between the king and the szlachta in order to preserve peace had an ominous ring about it and was connected with the tsar's suspicion, now openly voiced, that the king was seeking a pretext for imposing absoliutstvo on the Republic. The rest was still topical: the ulterior motives of the king and his lack of moderation might lead to the renewal of internal strife which could not be tolerated in the middle of a war. After an interval of nearly ten years the Autocrat again presented himself as defender of the liberties of the Republic on which he now expatiated, not altogether accurately: His Polish Majesty would do well to reflect that in Poland he cannot act arbitrarily (samovlastno) as he might in some other despotic or absolutist state (sc Saxony), for the Monarch, the Crown [sic] and the Republic have their own liberties and constitutions (i.e. Acts of Parliament) by which the king himself is bound. Moreover, neither the Polish nation nor the neighbouring states could ever tolerate any régime contrary to the established constitutional order. In its essence this classic statement of the internal and extraneous constraints inhibiting political change in the Republic was to serve as a guide-line for Russia's attitude towards Poland-Lithuania until the end of the century.

In November 1715 even before the general confederacy was announced, Peter I made his first formal offer to act as mediator in the dispute between the king and the szlachta on condition that he was formally invited to do so. Meanwhile he was ready to intervene if the unrest in the Republic continued to grow. Mediation by the tsar with some unnamed associates of his between Maiestas and libertas as a means of restoring internal harmony had been contemplated in 1703 but was never proposed officially. This time the same notion appears to have originated among the hetmans or to have been the brainchild of Pociej. The tsar embraced it with eagerness and cherished it as if it had been his own, adapting it to his particular ends. It was generally understood from the beginning that mediation could succeed only if carried out under the threat of the use of military force and that the future settlement would be guaranteed by the tsar. Such a guarantee had already been contemplated in September 1707 by Stanisław Denhoff, at that time marshal of the confederacy of Sendomir, now (since 1709) also deputy hetman of Lithuania. It was to be expected that a successful mediation, followed by a guarantee, would pacify the Republic and once again make the tsar its arbiter, this time for good.

Military force was available in plenty. In October Field Marshal B.P. Sheremetev, the commander of the corps destined for Pomerania and consisting of fifteen battalions of infantry and one thousand dragoons, having advanced as far westwards as P£ock (on the right bank of the Vistula) reported that he had great difficulty in collecting provisions for his troops because of the turmoil among the Poles who wanted to drive out the Saxons. After holding consultations with Dolgorukii, and at the request of the Polish senators and of Flemming, he decided to move southwards and halt between P£ock and Warsaw. He had no wish to quell the disorders; the tsar wanted him to continue his march to Pomerania in order to take part in the military operations there, thus fulfilling Russia's obligations as an ally of Denmark and Prussia. In case troops were still needed for 'the Polish business' (which should, however, be settled amicably) the tsar was sending a reserve force. At the end of October he ordered General Renne (K.E.M. von Rönne) to move with his contingent of ten regiments from the left-bank Ukraine towards the 'Lithuanian' border and thence, if called upon to do so by Dolgorukii, to Poland. About the same time the tsar put it to the confederates that there were better ways of easing the burden of the Saxon contriburtions and restoring peace than strife. Dolgorukii would advise them what to do; rejection of his advice would suggest that the (military) confederacy had been formed in order to help the common enemy, the King of Sweden, by creating confusion. If Dolgorukii's advice was not heeded, sterner measures would be taken. At the end of November Dolgorukii informed the confederates that as the intestine war was leading to desolation and disaster, his principal was ready to mediate between the parties if called upon to do so. Soon afterwards, on learning that Sheremetev's corps was still in Poland, occupying the line of the Pilica (a western tributary of the Vistula) and separating the Saxons from the confederates, he wrote to Dolgorukii: 'I am mightily astonished that in your old age you should have lost your reason and allowed yourself to be tricked by those habitual deceivers and because of this have kept the troops in Poland.' The tsar blamed Flemming - such behaviour was his trade, the Saxons had long been trying to harm Russia's interests in Pomerania. To his Adjutant-General P.I. Iaguzhinskii, Tsar Peter (who was ill at the time) complained of Sheremetev's and Dolgorukii's sluggishness: 'I much regret that I am not close at hand, from here [Reval, now Tallin] it is impossible to manage everything.' Sheremetev resumed his march, reached Skwierzyna in Greater Poland but here, at the beginning of December, the Adjutants-General sent by the kings of Denmark and Prussia told him that the tsar's troops were not needed after all and had better remain in Poland. Sheremetev therefore retraced his steps. In February 1715 the King and Republic lodged yet another protest with the tsar against the continuing presence of Russian troops; in April Sheremetev's corps was ordered to Polish Prussia and this made possible the formation of a regional confederacy in Greater Poland.

The fighting between the military confederates and the Saxons having died down after an armistice negotiated in October 1715, resumed in December when Flemming crossed the Vistula and at the end of the month took the fortress of Zamosc. A truce was called and soon extended until 15 January 1716. The negotiations held at Rawa Ruska led three days later to the signing of a peace treaty which, however, the marshal of the confederacy, Stanisław Ledochowski (d.1725), succamerarius (podkomorzy, chief legal officer) of the district of Krzemieniec (Kremenets, in Volhynia), refused to countersign on the grounds that it did not fix a date for the departure of the Saxons or stop the raising of contributions and had not been sanctioned by the still absent king. Ledochowski had apparently acted at the instance of Pociej with whom he had conferred and who in turn was carrying out the wishes of the tsar, bent on mediation. The two hetmans of Poland, Sieniawski and Rzewuski, had been in favour of accepting the treaty of Rawa. Some senators at a meeting held in Lvov warned the confederates against accepting foreign - Russian - help, a cure that was worse than the disease. It was the maxim of statesmen, they said, that the weaker should never seek the help of the stronger side, and asked: 'Have we no recollection of the conduct of the auxiliary [Russian] armies?' Ledochowski nevertheless announced that he was ready to accept the tsar's offer of mediation but meanwhile gave orders for guerilla action against the Saxons. The confederates collectively endorsed their leader's acceptance whilst stating that they were open to similar offers from other neighbours of the Republic. On 30 February Ledochowski, in a letter addressed to Dolgorukii, requested the tsar to step in as intermediary between the Republic (with which the confederates identified themselves) and the Saxon military: the confederates, acting on behalf of a slighted and deluded nation, were putting the concerns of the Republic in the hands of the arbiter of the whole world, the glorious victor of Poltava. They were grateful to His Majesty who, on seeing an arm extended for the perdition and oppression of the Republic, had declared his wish to restore the nation's ancient rights and liberties and to maintain the former condition of the Republic together with its honour and integrity. Ledochowski's letter to Dolgorukii reads like the homage of a vassal to his liege lord, it marks the lowest point to which the szlachta's self-esteem sank in this period.

The confederacy was essentially a movement of the middle szlachta, it comprised very few senators and none of the great officers of state. Out of the four hetmans only Pociej had joined the confederacy but although he had played so important a part in bringing about the Russian mediation, he was not trusted by the confederates or his own troops; the Lithuanian army mutinied against him and forced him to go into hiding. The shortsightedness and waywardness shown by the szlachta in resorting to mediation by the ruler of a neighbouring state rather than negotiating direct with their king are hard to understand. The explanation lies perhaps in the conviction that the tsar was indeed the most trustworthy if interested guardian of their rights and liberties, whereas the shifty king might wish to assume absolute power in the Republic.

The king's endeavours to engage the confederates in direct negotiations failed and were followed by heavy fighting. In April 1716 Augustus II and Peter I by design visited Danzig at the same time, paid calls on one another and separately received representatives of the confederates. Szaniawski, who was in the king's suite, caustically described these delegates as 'sitting under a Russian escort and awaiting redemptorem Israel'. They accepted the tsar not only as mediator but, by implication, also as guarantor of the eventual settlement. The king reluctantly agreed solely to the tsar's mediation. During the stay of the two monarchs in Danzig the Emperor (on 13 April 1716) declared war on Turkey. This redounded to the tsar's advantage because the attention of the belligerents was for the time being distracted from the crisis in the Republic.

While in Danzig Tsar Peter served King Augustus with a specification of grievances which illustrates the steady deterioration in the relations between the two monarchs over the past three years or so. The tsar upbraided the King and Elector with: having accepted France's offer to mediate between himself and Charles XII and having concluded a formal agreement with France (the inconsequential treaty of friendship signed on 20 August 1714), in both cases without the tsar's knowledge; attempts to make peace with Sweden through the good offices of the French ambassador to the Porte and through secret agents sent to Turkey; lenient treatment of the former adherents of Leszczyński; further efforts - in Pomerania - to make peace with Sweden; systematic efforts there to prevent Russia from taking an effective part in the war with Sweden; ingratitude for being allowed to detain the Russian troops in Poland at the cost of preventing Russia's participation in the last stage of the Pomeranian campaign, a furtive rapprochement with George I (as Elector of Hanover) and Frederick William I and, finally, with misrepresentation in and outside Poland of the tsar's motives for keeping his troops in the Republic. The king's spokesmen rebutted all these charges, arguing that he and his servants had been denigrated before the tsar and that no harm had been done to Russian interests or to those of the alliance with Russia through any of the contacts mentioned, some of which had not occurred at all. The tsar did not trust Augustus II any more than he trusted Pociej or Flemming but when the secretary of the confederacy, Jan Frezer, burgrave of the royal castle in Cracow, suggested first to him and later again to Dolgorukii, that Augustus II should be dethroned and replaced with Prince James Sobieski, the tsar, even more cautious than suspicious, did not respond. In any case Ledochowski disavowed Frezer who later resigned the secretaryship. Elzbieta Sieniawska, however, still seemed to enjoy the confidence, real or feigned, of the tsar and was able to report in a letter that he had described the confederates as 'fools' (duraki).

They were indeed a fairly mediocre lot, except for their leader. Pierre Groffey, the French resident at Danzig, described Ledochowski as firm, zealous for the liberty of his fatherland, disinterested and contemptuous of the Court from which he had never sought a favour. Dolgorukii in reporting to the tsar went into greater detail:

Ledochowski is intelligent and cunning, very like Mazepa in all his actions. He enjoys great credit with the Republic, has been able to take in everyone and make himself loved by the whole nation so that even those whom he is harming are glad to swear by him. If any ill were to befall the king the Poles would elect Ledochowski in his place. I have never seen so artful a man in the whole of Poland: outwardly pious and righteous, he swears that he want peace but in secret foments discord, drags out the proceedings, increases the army and everywhere seeks other means [than mediation of resolving the conflict].

The comparison with Mazepa may have been, at best, an allusion to Ledochowski's secret communication with Leszczyński intended, however, not to deceive the tsar but to reconcile him with Charles XII.

At Danzig the representatives of both sides approved a preliminary protocol. According to this 'plan', dated 15/26 April 1716, negotiations were to begin [at Jaros£aw] in mid-May; the mediator appointed by the tsar was to be Dolgorukii. At the inception of the congress an armistice was to be declared and the collection of contributions by both sides was to stop. After the conclusion of an accord the Saxon troops were to be evacuated from Poland-Lithuania within four weeks. The king would keep [in the Republic] only a guard of 1,200 men for his own protection and convoke a Sejm as soon as possible. In the event of a renewed attack by the King of Sweden, the Republic would defend itself without help from the king. Both confederacies, that of the military and that of the szlachta in the palatinates, were to be dissolved not later than a fortnight after the departure of the Saxons. If, contrary to expectation, either party were to refuse to make peace on reasonable terms, the mediator would on behalf of His Tsarish Majesty declare himself against the recalcitrant party and command General Renne to enter the Republic from Ukraine and act against that party. This proposed course of action had the approval of the king; in addition His Tsarish Majesty promised that he would strive to ensure that the treaty was observed by His Royal Majesty. This promise comes very close to a statement that the tsar saw himself as the guarantor of the future treaty. The 'plan' did not specify a time limit for the conclusion of the negotiations; had it done so, it might have prompted the parties to come to an agreement instead of dragging their heels until the patience of the mediator was exhausted and, 'contrary to expectation' or perhaps, rather, in accordance with expectation, the threat to use force, or force itself, had to be applied. The plan was amplified in a proclamation from the tsar of the same date to 'the confederates of the Republic and the army of Poland' and in an undated 'response' from the tsar's ministers to the confederates. The first document states that the tsar asks of the Republic nothing more than the restoration of internal peace and concord and is not seeking, through his mediation, any recompense or benefit for himself. The second replies in detail to the confederates' demand that the tsar's troops be withdrawn and not brought back: the Russians will soon leave for Pomerania and will not be reintroduced into the Republic for its defence 'sine cogente necessitate' and then only with the Republic's knowledge and at its request. The legal validity of these pledges was questionable as they were given to a political body that was both ephemeral and partisan.

Peter I's message informing the Russian senate of the Danzig plan had ended on a triumphal note: 'You will see that they have so bound themselves to the mediator's discretion that they cannot now wriggle out.' It was to be one of Dolgorukii's tasks, laid down in his instructions, to keep the confederates entangled: he may insinuate to them that if the tsar does not guarantee the future treaty they can never be sure that the king will observe it. Dolgorukii was therefore to insist that three copies of the treaty be prepared and each one be signed by the two parties as well as by the mediator. The third copy should be handed to Dolgorukii and ratified by the tsar as mediator and guarantor. Further, Dolgorukii should suborn the two marshals of the confederacy, Ledochowski and his Lithuanian counterpart Krzysztof Sulistrowski (or at least one of them) so as to be able to find out their intentions, especially in case the king, contrary to expectation, should engage in some action contrary to Russia's interests, such as seeking absolute sway (samovlastvo). It would then be necessary to have a strong party in Poland, led by one of the marshals and supported by the tsar. Were anything to be undertaken to the prejudice of the privileges and liberties of the Republic, 'not only will it not be objectionable to Us that they should set on foot another confederacy against such intentions of the king but, on the contrary, We shall help them with Our armies.'

It would be a mistake to regard the instructions for the future instigation of a confederacy as an indication of Russian involvement in the formation of that of Tarnogrod. It is more likely that the experience gained in dealing with that confederacy, and the one of Sendomir, led Tsar Peter to believe that a confederacy mounted for the defence of the rights and liberties of the political nation provided an opportunity for the protection of Russia's vested interest in Polish anarchy.

In a further message, sent from Copenhagen on 5 September 1716 the tsar informed the senate that despite Russian attempts at mediation the confederates would not make peace with the king and, incited by Swedish intrigues, were keeping up the commotion. It was therefore necessary to prepare more troops to be sent from Smolensk into Lithuania while Renne entered the Republic from Kiev to join those combatants who were well disposed towards the tsar and compel their opponents to make peace. A part of Renne's contingent crossed the frontier at the end of September but in December the order regarding reinforcements from Smolensk was countermanded.

Tsar Peter's suspicion that the confederates were 'imbued with the Swedish spirit' was, according to 'Otwinowski', well founded because all those who had earlier adored the good fortune of the King of Sweden were now falling over one another to join the confederacy. This is no doubt an exaggeration but it cannot be denied that the adherents of Sweden constituted a powerful section of the confederate movement. Their secret intention would have been the restoration of Stanisław. In August 1716 the British envoy, Charles Whitworth, reported from Berlin that one 'Steenflieth' - Colonel Johan Stenflycht - a Swedish prisoner of war in Saxony, had broken parole and 'resolved to follow Colonel [Krzysztof] Urbanowicz, having heard that he had been sent to follow the King of Sweden's interest in Poland. 'The marshal of the confederacy of Greater Poland had dispatched two officers to Stanisław to invite him to return. In November Whitworth further reported that Stenflycht and Urbanowicz were continuing their intrigues with the confederates who were 'fed with hopes and advice at Zweibrücken [Stanisław's residence in the Palatinate] that a peace [treaty] was secretly on foot between Goertz [on behalf of Charles XII] and Kurakin [the tsar's envoy at the Hague]'. In July, Dolgorukii accused the confederates, not for the first time, of intelligence with Sweden. The confederates had always denied all reports to that effect but it must have counted against them that Ledochowski had just received the secretary of the Tatar khan (Kaplan Giray), Abdulla by name. This messenger informed Ledochowski that as soon as Renne began his march into the Republic, the khan, together with 'Mustafa Pasha of Aleppo' would rush from Tutura towards the Polish frontier to succour the Republic. But the motives for this intention to intervene, probably inspired by the confederates themselves, were muddled: the Muscovites were siding with the king who might wish to rule as a despot and this would be a danger to the Porte. On 5 August the Imperial army under Prince Eugen defeated the Turks at Pozharevats in northern Serbia. The news was received in Poland, some three weeks later, with jubilation in both camps but with consternation by the adherents of Sweden among the confederates. An act of aggression by the Porte now seemed less likely and the Emperor Charles VI acted quickly to restore his influence in Eastern Europe. Early in September it was accurately reported from Vienna that he would offer to mediate between the two camps in Poland through his ambassador. Nevertheless, August II in September and Dolgorukii in October thought it necessary to explain to the Tatar khan (now Devlet Giray) that the Russian troops were being brought in not in order to oppress the Republic but in accordance with the official agreement reached at Danzig. By this time the Russian troops were already in the Republic.

The negotiations under the direction of Dolgorukii had begun only in the middle of June. The representatives of both sides discussed at length the evacuation of the Saxon troops and the dissolution of the general confederacy as the basis for a possible agreement. A truce was made early in June only to be broken towards the end of the month: a Saxon general had caused an outcry by hanging a szlachcic for an inadvertent breach of the truce and Colonel Chryzostom Gniazdowski occupied Poznan on behalf of the confederates. The negotiations were faltering and a resumption of hostilities was feared. Dolgorukii laid the blame on the confederates, rebuking them for refusing to disband until a Sejm had been convened while demanding the immediate withdrawal of the Saxons, for inciting the Turks and Tatars against the tsar and constantly heaping up fresh difficulties. The king tried again to by-pass the mediator and come to a direct agreement with the confederates but failed to win their confidence. After eleven weeks of fruitless negotiations, the exasperated mediator from 11 August onwards gave a series of orders to Renne. Their gist was that he should cross the frontier to act against that party which was hindering the negotiations. On 24 September Renne himself issued a proclamation in that sense. The confederates, having reason to fear for the safety of their forces, withdrew them westwards to Wegrow (some 60 km north-east of Warsaw) and accepted Dolgorukii's advice to move to Praga (on the Vistula, opposite Warsaw) in order to complete the negotiations. These were resumed in the capital. Early in October, at Kowalewo (north-east of Thorn), the Saxons defeated the confederate troops led by Gniazdowski and Stenflycht. The Polish and Lithuanian losses amounted to about 1,000 dead, 100 wounded, over 600 prisoners of war and six field guns. Dolgorukii had already ordered Renne to halt as the parties were about to reach an agreement. Nevertheless, by mid-November Renne's detachment or perhaps its vanguard was reported to have advanced to within about 112 km to the east of Lvov. In the same month more Russians were expected to enter Polish Prussia from Mecklenburg; the arrival of a force of 6,000 men under General Baur was reported at the end of November.

The confederates were now calling on the king to obtain the withdrawal of the Russians as vociferously as they had demanded the evacuation of the Saxons. Szaniawski reminded them that the presence of the Russians was a direct consequence of the mediation by the tsar which they themselves had requested but assured them that the Russians would be made to leave in due course. This was more than Dolgorukii himself was able to promise, for he was not authorized to give orders to Bour. The stay of the Russians was seen with increasing clarity as a means of exerting pressure not only on the refractory party but on the Republic as a whole to settle its internal differences in accordance with the wishes of the tsar. By 9 January 1717 some Russian troops had reached Wegrow. Their proximity did not cause any uneasiness to Szaniawski who agreed to ask that they should not come closer to Warsaw than the Saxon and Polish units, that is about seven miles or about 52 km.

The conflict between Maiestas and libertas, between the Crown and the szlachta was brought to an end by the treaty between both parties signed on 3 November 1716, ratified on 30 January 1717 and included in the enactments (konstytucje) of a Sejm held on 1 February 1717. The Sejm consisted of the king, the senators present in Warsaw and the commissioners or plenipotentiaries previously elected by the confederates in the districts and palatinates to represent them in the newly concluded negotiations. Held without debate under the presidency of Ledochowski it later became known as the Dumb Diet (Sejm Niemy). This extreme variety of the parliamentary guillotine, 'un temperamento, (a device) 'insinuato segretamente' by Szaniawski in order to preclude the use of the liberum veto was much resented by many of those present. The Primate, Stanisław Szembek, on withdrawing from the Diet, passed the throne with the words: 'Sire, questo è un grandissimo torto (a grievous wrong).' According to Dolgorukii, had the Sejm been a voting one, not only would it have lasted longer but the whole treaty would have been overturned.

In recognition of services rendered to the Republic and in compensation for expenses incurred, the Sejm voted Ledochowski an annual pension of 300,000 złotys (about 37,500 rix-dollars). Dolgorukii, the papal nuncio, Grimaldi, reported on 27 January 1717, had demanded for his services and expenses a payment of 150,000 złotys, having already received gratifications from both parties and various individuals. The Sejm apparently voted him 5000 dollars in good money, a modest sum (which was still outstanding in 1721) but on 10 February Grimaldi further reported that Dolgorukii would receive a total of 320,000 złotys (about 40,000 rix-dollars) from unspecified sources. This sounds like a gross exaggeration even if the sum included the value of the customary presents made by the king to an ambassador. Dolgorukii had discharged his duties with tact, firmness and fairness, he remained popular with the szlachta throughout the negotiations; all they asked of him at the end was that he should not send them any more mediators bearing flintlocks. He himself informed the tsar that he had been publicly thanked for his services; many Poles had said that there would have been no peace if His Majesty's mediation and troops had not compelled both sides to make it.

Dolgorukii also reported that Renne, having entered 'Poland', exempted for his own benefit nearly all the prominent and rich landowners from the obligation to maintain the Russian troops and imposed the bulk of the burden on the poor szlachta. They complained to Dolgorukii, he wrote to Renne many times, Renne replied that the Poles were lying; after Renne's death at the end of 1716 his successor, General Veisbakh (Johann Bernhard von Weisbach), sent Dolgorukii a long list of the exemptions granted by Renne. 'Judge for yourself, Sire,' wrote Dolgorukii, '... how one was to disbelieve so distinguished and so meritorious a general?'

The tsar had good reason to be satisfied with the result of Dolgorukii's mediation. The confederacy of Tarnogrod was dissolved, as was that of Sendomir, now obsolete. Order in the Republic was restored, the Saxon troops, except for the king's life-guards to the number of 1,200 were to leave the Republic within 25 days of the ratification of the treaty whereas, contrary to the tsar's promise, a good part of his own troops stayed put in Greater Poland. Only the detachment formerly under the command of Renne (six regiments of dragoons), now under that of Veisbakh had orders to return to the left-bank Ukraine. The tsar had already demanded in 1710, at the time of the general council of Warsaw, that the size of the Republic's armies (more dangerous as a breeding ground of discontent than as a fighting force) be reduced. Now the undisclosed fixed sum allocated by the Sejm to military expenditure allowed for an army of 18,000 for Poland and 6,200 for the Grand Duchy but in effect could support only a total of 12,000. This looked like an act of compulsory disarmament but was in the first place a spending cut. (A measure of this kind was not irreversible. In 1718 Saxony would reduce the size of its army to 15,000, likewise by way of retrenchment, but by 1730 the effectives had been raised to 27,120.) The traditional form of government, including the exercise of the liberum veto in the Sejm, was confirmed together with those ancient liberties which Peter I had always professed to defend. He had proved, if proof was needed, that he was the arbiter and protector of Poland-Lithuania.

But in one respect this demonstration fell short of Tsar Peter's expectations. The signature of Dolgorukii in Latin characters stands out on the original document as a symbol of unneighbourly intrusion; the preamble of the treaty refers to the friendly intervention of His Tsarish Majesty through his envoy extraordinary yet the designation of the tsar as mediator and guarantor of the treaty, coveted by him and used at one time even by the confederates, is absent from the text. Peter I eventually obtained the status of guarantor of the system of government of a neighbouring power only in relation to Sweden in 1721 under the peace treaty of Nystad (in virtue of the ambiguously worded article 7) but never in relation to Poland-Lithuania. The false notion of a Russian guarantee nevertheless gained credence and seems to have become so widely accepted that in 1733 Fr Stanisław Konarski S.P., the advocate of political reform, thought it necessary to dispel the misapprehension: 'mediation and guarantee', he wrote, 'are as far removed from one another as are these parts from Ultima Thule'; mediation was not to be confused with 'evictio et defensio'. This did not prevent the Russian college (or ministry) of foreign affairs, perhaps at the suggestion of the Russophile Czartoryski party, from arguing in 1755 that Russia had a right to intervene in Poland on the strength of the treaty of 1716. A French memorandum (undated but written perhaps in 1764) on the treaty of Warsaw reads:

On ne peut conçevoir sur quel fondement les ministres russes prétendent que l'Impératrice de Russie a droit en vertu du traité de Varsovie de se meler des affaires intérieures de la Pologne.

Contrary to a number of popular misconceptions there was no 'Constitution of 1717', the treaty and parliamentary resolutions were not imposed and enforced by Russia and did not provoke the already existent anarchy but, rather, made an effort, albeit a feeble one, to put an end to political disorder. The chief royal plenipotentiaries, Flemming and Szaniawski, and perhaps also the less prominent Stanisław Chometowski, succeeded, no doubt with the help of Ledochowski, in including in the treaty and in the resolutions a number of measures designed to put in order the ramshackle system of government of the Republic. Some of these enactments (konstytucje) deserve, in retrospect, to be described as reforms and as such would have been contrary to the wishes of the tsar who was a reformer only at home. The circumscription of the authority of those war lords, the grand hetmans of Poland and of Lithuania, was a case in point. They retained the command of their armies and the authority to wage war at the orders of the Republic but lost the power to impose taxes, issue warrants by way of payment and exercise patronage by appointing to the appropriate administrative offices. The four hetmans - Sieniawski and his deputy, Stanisław Rzewuski, in Poland, and Pociej, first as deputy hetman of the Grand Duchy and, since 1709 as grand hetman, together with his deputy, Denhoff, had been among the tsar's most devoted and effective henchmen. Sieniawski between 1712 and 1715 had still been on the tsar's payroll. Throughout the negotiations that preceded the signing of the treaty of reconciliation and during the subsequent preparations for the Sejm, Dolgorukii had remained impartial and refrained from interfering in the Republic's domestic affairs with one exception: the standing of the hetmans which he tried to preserve. He failed, having been advised at court not to meddle in matters that did not concern him. The grand hetmans, much put out, asked Dolgorukii to be accorded, as before, a Russian resident, to show that they were still under Tsar Peter's gracious protection but the tsar did not grant their request.

There were to be no more confederacies. This prohibition would have reduced the scope for renewed intervention by the tsar and his successors but for being allowed to fall into abeyance. The treaty required the senators-resident appointed by the Sejm to assist the king in the discharge of day-to-day business to take their decisions, as had been the practice in the past, by a majority vote. Only a devotee of Polish anarchy could have disapproved of this rule which corrected at least one defect of the parliamentary system and was to become a lex perpetua, a fundamental law. Lastly, the declaration that the Duchy of Courland, a fief of the Republic, should be freed from extraneous - Russian - pretensions and interference could not but have angered the tsar.

Nor was the Dumb Diet the turning point in the relations between the Republic and the tsar. That point had been reached ten years earlier during the interregnum caused by the abdication of August II when Peter I assumed the role of kingmaker. After the battle of Poltava he was able to reduce the Republic to the level of a military base, supply depot and transit camp. In August 1715 George Mackenzie, until recently minister resident in Russia, informed his superior, Charles Townshend, that the tsar had 'gained absolute sway in Poland'. This was well before the Danzig plan had allowed him formally to interfere in the Republic's domestic affairs. But neither the events of 1707 nor those of 1717 were fatal. Although Russia had eclipsed Poland-Lithuania, its ultimate disappearance from the political firmament of Europe was not predetermined or due to the predominance of Russia but to Russia's complicity with Prussia and Austria. This having been said, it is beyond dispute that in 1716 an undesirable precedent was set: Dolgorukii was the first of a long line of ambassadors who were to act as intermediaries between the Crown and the successive confederacies of Dzikow (1733), Radom (1767) and Targowica (1792) to the benefit of their principals.

Contrary to his recent assertions that he was acting disinterestedly and would definitively withdraw his men from Poland-Lithuania, the tsar exacted a price for his services as mediator. This was a tacit extension of his unofficial licence to keep as many troops in the Republic free of charge as he found convenient at any particular time. General Veisbakh may have treated the szlachta more fairly than his predecessor, Renne, had done but late in January 1717 he was reported to have demanded in the palatinates of Ruthenia and Volhynia cash (8,000 and 10,000 dollars respectively) in lieu of fodder in addition to portions. Dolgorukii ordered Veisbakh to withdraw into the left-bank Ukraine, explaining to the Poles once more that he had no authority over Baur in Greater Poland. He would, he said, consult his court on this point, knowing that no answer could be expected before the spring. In any case Baur died early in 1717. King Augustus for his part was this time true to his word: in February the Saxon troops were in full march on their way home. They numbered over 20,000 men and consisted, apart from the bulk of the guards, of fourteen regiments of foot and eighteen horse. About the middle of February the tsar, writing from Amsterdam, congratulated the senate on the happy conclusion of the Polish business despite interference from third parties and informed the senators that all the Russian troops had now left Poland. In reality they began to move slowly out of Volhynia and Ruthenia only in March. What the tsar did not tell the senate was that he had just ordered Sheremetev to move his corps of about 18,000 men from Mecklenburg to Greater Poland. In April Groffey, writing from Danzig, said: '... emboldened by the weakness and disunity of the Poles, they will stay, or, having left, will come back, acting in accordance with their nature which makes them, like flies, return to where they were chased from until they are squashed.' But his was sheer bombast. Groffey's earlier remark that 'the tsar should reflect that he has no allies' was more to the point. The treaty of friendship concluded between France, Russia and Prussia on 15 August 1717 was 'colourless' and the continuing presence of Russian troops in the Republic was soon to cause concern beyond its boundaries.


Chometowski's mission to St Petersburg. - Ambassadors sent only in exceptional circumstances. - Russia's new capital. The waning of Polish cultural influence in Russia. - Chometowski's arrival. - His original instructions supplemented. - The tsar protests undying friendship for the Republic but resents the treaty of Vienna (1719). - The fate of the Polish and Lithuanian prisoners of war and deportees. - Chometowski's recredentials testify to the failure of his mission. Livonia not to be ceded. - One reason for this: lack of political unity in the Republic. - Poland-Lithuania defenceless in strategic terms - The tsar's new title causes unease. - Tsar Peter as arbiter of Poland. - The Sejm of 1724. The authority of the hetmans partially restored. - The tsar as matchmaker: Stanisław Denhoff marries Zofia Sieniawska (1722). - 'The system of Peter the Great.' - The tsar wishes to settle the Polish succession. - His intentions at odds with those of Augustus II. - 'The Testament of Peter the Great.' - Intended connection between the marriage of tsarevna Elizabeth Petrovna to a French prince of the blood and the Polish succession. - Fr Arcelli's plan for the marriage of Don Fernando of Spain to Nataliia Petrovna. - The betrothal of Louis XV to Maria Leszczynska. The next royal election will test Russia's predominance in the Republic.

The mission of Stanisław Chometowski, palatine of Mazovia, to St Petersburg was the last Polish-Lithuanian embassy to the tsar (or, for that matter, to any monarch) in the grand style. The ambassador was to appear before His Tsarish Majesty with a train and an éclat appropriate to his status as well as to the dignity of the King and Republic. This was not easy to achieve. The preparations for Chometowski's departure reveal disagreements among the senators in the king's entourage as to the desirability and purpose of the mission. Flemming and Dolgorukii too were involved in these divisions. The latter argued that as the Russian troops had now left the Republic (which was not the case) the mission was unnecessary and likely only to sharpen the differences between the king and the tsar. By failing to supply the necessary funds - 60,000 rix-dollars - the grand treasurers of Poland and of the Grand Duchy - Przebendowski and M.K. Kocie££ - strengthened the hand of the opposition. Chometowski registered a protestation against their tardiness in the records of the starosta (capitaneus, district commissioner, as it were) of Warsaw. Szaniawski, now bishop designate of Cracow and, according to the French ambassador, J.V. Besenval, en grande liaison with Flemming, offered to advance 10,000 rix-dollars. Chometowski finally left at the end of December 1719.

As foreign affairs belonged to the domain of the grand chancellors and the deputy chancellors, the Republic lacked a clearly designated foreign secretary, a foreign office and a diplomatic service, to say nothing of foreign policy. This kind of political activity was regarded by the szlachta as suspicious, being outside parliamentary control and liable to abuse by the monarch. The Republic was consequently at a disadvantage in being unable to keep up relations with foreign powers through permanent envoys. Once in St Petersburg, Chometowski explained this difficulty in his first audience: embassies were sent only in exceptional circumstances and for their dispatch the consent of all the estates of the Republic - the king, the senate and the Sejm - was needed. When the Republic sent an ambassador he was charged with very weighty matters.

The new capital which had superseded Moscow was a symbol of imperial Russia in the making, Muscovy remodelled by military and administrative reform, a westward-looking naval power, soon to triumph finally over Sweden. The modernized service state, headed by its principal servant, the tsar, and dedicated to aggrandizement, was now far ahead of the libertarian, self-serving Republic of the szlachta. Unlike Muscovy of the later seventeenth century the Russia of Peter the Great did not copy anything from Poland in everyday life - dress, adornment or design - or in secular literary culture - speech and reading matter. Polonomania was a thing of the past. Only in the Slavonic, Greek and Latin Academy in Moscow did the influence of Western European baroque culture in its Latin-Polish variety still linger. Russian political culture owed nothing to the institutions of the Republic, with one possible exception. In all probability the senate, created by Peter I in 1711, was adapted from that of the Republic or rather from its core circle of senators resident.

Chometowski arrived in the vicinity of St Petersburg on 3 March 1720. The cortege which brought him to his quarters, a palace on the bank of the Neva, consisted of fifteen carriages, each one drawn by six horses, and was escorted by three companies of dragoons. The carriage in which he rode was conducted by four haiducks on foot and six horsemen, his own men also rode in the cavalcade. In the carriage Chometowski sat at the back, opposite him was Zotov, probably Vasilii Nikitin, the general-revizor of the senate, the ambassador having refused to have him at his side, just as in 1711 Wołłowicz had refused to rub elbows with Petr Matveevich Apraksin, governor general of Kazan and Astrakhan. The street was full of gentle-people and ordinary folk; somewhere in the crowd was the tsar himself. When the ambassador was passing by, the tsar withdrew in order not to be seen but the Tsarina Ekaterina Alekseevna who was with him stopped by the carriage and greeted Chometowski. At the palace he was received by Bia£oszycki, the tsar's Polish secretary, who entertained him at a banquet. Chometowski had his first audience of the tsar on 7 March; a battalion of the Preobrazhenskii regiment formed the guard of honour. Later he called on the tsarina, as did his wife on the next day. In the conferences that followed the tsar was represented by Golovkin, Shafirov, P.A. Tolstoi, all three of ministerial rank, and A.I. Osterman, the future chancellor, then a junior official at the newly formed college of foreign affairs. Bia£oszycki was in attendance. It was a formidable team to face single-handed. But, a former ambassador to the Porte (where he had coincided with Shafirov and Tolstoi) between 1712 and 1714, Chometowski was an experienced negotiator and well able to stand his ground, although in the many battles of words with his hosts he gained practically nothing.

Grzymułtowski in 1686 had made a treaty of alliance - against the Ottomans; Działynski, in 1704, another one - against Sweden. The former had, indirectly, brought some benefits in 1700 through the terms of the treaty of Karlowitz, the latter nothing but disaster. The treaty of Vienna had tried to repair some of the damage and succeeded in removing from Poland-Lithuania the auxiliary troops which should not have been allowed to enter without proper safeguards in the first place. After Tsar Peter's victory at Poltava in 1709 the successive Polish and Lithuanian envoys - Wołłowicz, K.Szembek, Puzyna, Dunin, Poninski, had been little more than petitioners and Chometowski's role, although disguised by pomp and a little bluster, was hardly that of an avenger since he lacked the necessary bargaining power. His instructions, drawn up in October 1718, were firm in tone: he was to demand the fulfilment of obligations entered into by the tsar in 1704 and the redress of subsequent wrongs and breaches of faith. On the first count common people had been abducted, the affairs of Courland interfered in and that duchy invaded. On the second subsidies had not been paid, Riga with Livonia had not been ceded and separate peace negotiations had been conducted on Åland. These forceful directives were attenuated by supplementary instructions issued in March 1720. If Grimaldi's report is correct, the ambassador was to remove from the tsar's mind any suspicion capable of spoiling the good understanding and union which it was desired in Warsaw to keep up with him. Nevertheless Chometowski at one point pressed for the handing over of Livonia and the evacuation of Courland with such vigour that Shafirov saw fit to say to him: 'Mr ambassador, you could surely put your case without making threats.' But late in May a person of importance in the king's entourage (perhaps Flemming) condemned the ambassador's rejoinders made with so much modesty and meekness and regretted that he did not refute specious objections with truthful ones. For already in April Chometowski had shown signs of caving in. He and Tolstoi agreed on the importance of preserving the friendship so necessary to both sides and in his dispatch the ambassador advised the senators against making treaties that might entangle the Republic in action against Russia. In May he virtually disavowed the treaty of Vienna as having been transacted by Flemming without proper authority. In June Chometowski reported that he doubted more strongly than ever whether the tsar would keep his promise to restore Livonia to the Republic as part of a general peace settlement. This notwithstanding the ambassador had given a magnificent banquet for the tsar and his ministers; the guest of honour continued to protest his undying friendship for the Republic; not only would he maintain it for the rest of his life but would also leave instructions in his will that it should continue and would 'do everything for us'. It is hard in this instance to find the dividing line between irony and hypocrisy. The oblique message for and about King Augustus was far from diplomatic: 'He has tricked me, when I have got even with him we shall perhaps become good friends.' The treaty of Vienna was not to be forgiven. Tsar Peter honoured Chometowski with a gift of 5,000 ducats; his wife received presents worth 5,000 roubles. It was estimated that the embassy cost the tsar as host 10,000 rix-dollars per week.

Chometowski had demanded the release of Polish-Lithuanian prisoners of war and captives, just as his predecessor, Wołłowicz had done in 1711. The Russian regiments had taken with them a large number of country lads. Many of them went of their own accord, some from self-will, others from hunger and penury, to be enrolled in the army or sent to Moscow (and presumably taken into service). 'Otwinowski' estimated their number at 100,000 in 1711 and again in 1717. These figures are unlikely to be accurate but it is clear that the presence of Russian troops in Poland-Lithuania contributed to the country's depopulation. However, these losses were to some extent counterbalanced by the desertion of Russian soldiers. Between 1705 and 1709 each year no fewer than 10,000 men are said to have deserted: in the 23 regiments of dragoons stationed on the Vistula in 1707 there remained only 8,000 men instead of 23,000. Some Polish civilians had been arrested and deported on the grounds of endangering the security of the Russian forces.

The examination of Chometowski's request by the Russian authorities shows that the actual prisoners of war had been taken in battles with the Swedes or with their Polish supporters. The latter were to be released but not the former. Apart from those inhabitants of Poland-Lithuania who were in the army, some had been sentenced to hard labour (katorga) in perpetuity, some for definite terms, some were employed in the (St Petersburg) Admiralty as artisans. Of these some had enrolled voluntarily, others had been handed over against their will by landholders (pomeshchiki) who presumably had taken them captive during the war. Some (or perhaps many) of the prisoners had married Russian, Finnish or Swedish women and fathered children. These dependants were not to be released, nor were Jews who had been baptised. With regard to the rest the tsar and the college of foreign affairs ruled as follows: those detainees who had offered themselves for private service voluntarily should be set free, those who had made agreements should be called upon in a public announcement to register with the college of foreign affairs where their nationality will be checked as a condition for release. Those sentenced to hard labour in perpetuity should not be released but the cases of those sentenced to limited terms should be examined. Those in the army and in the Admiralty who had concealed their nationality should not be released but those who had not thus offended, and whom landholders had handed over against their will, should be set free. The detainees who qualified for release were to be sent back with Chometowski. Their numbers could not have been large; in the few months available and in so vast a country surely not more than a small proportion could have been traced, moreover, many of those who had been allowed to leave only without their families would have stayed on.

Chometowski left St Petersburg at the beginning of August. The recredentials which he brought back testify to the failure of his mission, being an amalgam of bluntness, prevarication and mischief-making. Riga with Livonia were not to be ceded because the Republic lacked the means of defending that position on its own and had, without consulting the tsar, concluded a preliminary peace treaty with the common enemy under which Livonia would be retroceded to Sweden after being reconquered in an invasion of Russia. Flemming was specifically blamed for the conclusion of this treaty (which in reality did not contain any provision harmful to Russia) and accused of having earlier committed at foreign courts other acts prejudicial to the interests of the tsar. Peter I wanted to see how the Poles would frustrate these evil intentions. They were being given to understand that they might yet receive Livonia from the tsar, whereas the king would only return it to Sweden. Having been requested by Chometowski not to re-enter Poland, the tsar now ominously promised not to intervene again by force of arms in the internal affairs of the Republic except in case of 'factions' inimical to his interests. But he would act only if invited to do so by the Republic and for the sake of its preservation. Only with regard to Courland did the tsar relent: he had no claims against the duchy but defended the Duchess's right to the dowry promised her in 1710 on the occasion of her marriage to Duke Frederick William. He also promised to return all the prisoners and ordnance taken by the Russian forces. In September 1720 300 former prisoners arrived in Warsaw but it does not appear that any guns were handed over.

The British and French ministers in Warsaw, Scott and Besenval, were of one mind in judging the outcome of Chometowski's mission: the tsar was too clever for the 'gens d'ici' and they had been duped. Both diplomats believe that the Poles would want to be reconciled with the tsar. The earlier links would be restored; this would make any alliance against the tsar impracticable and destroy the credibility of the Court of Warsaw. In March 1721 Scott reported that the Poles were no longer tempted by the hope of recovering provinces which the tsar held unjustly, indeed they would give him more provinces so that Poland does not become a theatre of war and 'they are not obliged to set the table for one side and the other'. It is striking that Scott does not attribute the Republic's failure to achieve its aims to the lack of military power (pointed out earlier by the tsar) but rather to the lack of political unity: harmony between the estates would have contributed much to make the tsar tractable. Similarly the Prussian envoy in Sweden, F.E. von Knyphausen, had told his British counterpart, Lord Carteret, in December 1719 that the Commonwealth of Poland was 'a disjointed body by its natural composition, rendered more so not only by their [mutual] jealousy but their ill opinion of their king'. ...'That the tsar has a party. That the king his master has a party. That anybody, using the means, may have a party.'

In strategic terms Poland-Lithuania was left defenceless and even more widely open to invasion from the north and from the east. There could not be only one invader, the tsar. As far as any hindrance by the Turks was concerned, the Russo-Turkish treaty of November 1720 formally allowed the tsar to march into the Republic at the head of an army in order to ward off invasion and subversion. The Russians had withdrawn from the right-bank Ukraine in 1713 but were able to enter the Republic from the region of Kiev and from the left bank of the Dnieper. Most of the fortresses (many of them in private hands but garrisoned by the Republic) which had previously guarded the frontier had been destroyed or rendered useless in the early years of the war with Sweden. The northernmost of these, Birze, the property of the Radziwills, was destroyed by the Swedes in 1704. The bastions on the Dvina and the upper Dnieper - Mogilev, Stary Bychow (Bykhov, Bykhau) and Polotsk, were respectively burnt down, severely damaged and destroyed by the Russians between 1706 and 1707. In central White Russia in 1706 the Swedes destroyed fortresses which could have formed centres of resistance against the invader - Nieswiez (Niasvizh) and Mir (both owned by the Radziwills); Lachowicze (Liakhovichi), the property of the Sapiehas but held by the Russians before being stormed by the Swedes, was severely damaged, also in 1706.

The change in the name of erstwhile Muscovy and in the status of its ruler was causing unease in Poland-Lithuania. As early as 1718 Franciszek Poninski, starosta of Kopanica, reported to the Sejm that the country from which he had newly returned had been ordered to call itself Rus rather than Moskwa and no longer Imperium Moscoviticum but Imperium Rossicum. Yet, Poninski pointed out, the dominions of the Republic comprised two parts of Rus, one, White, in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, the other, Red, in Little Poland: only the third, Black Rus (in the northern portion of the former palatinate of Kiev), formed part of the Muscovite lands. Poninski had forgotten that the rulers of Muscovy traditionally styled themselves, among other titles, 'tsars and grand dukes of All Rus' - Great, Little and White and that the Russo-Polish treaty of 1686 had already in its preamble, conceded to the tsars the title of Most Serene and Most Mighty and Sovereign Lords of Kiev, Chernigov and Smolensk. In 1721 Tsar Peter accepted the title of Father of the Fatherland, the Great, pan-Russian (Vserossiiskii) Emperor. S.M. Rzewuski, deputy hetman of Poland, considered this title of Imperator Magniis et Parviis Russiis to be incompatible with the security and dignity of the Republic which had in its possession substantial parts of the provinces concerned, previously 'joined to the nest of the Polish Eagle by the blood of our ancestors. The present usurper of these provinces in name, could in future become one in fact, for every title is related to the ownership of the thing which bears the title.' The apprehensions of Poninski and Rzewuski were shared by others and were not groundless. The classical style of the Imperial title was probably intended to be understood to the west of the Heartland as a claim to the unredeemed areas of Rus'. In due course Catherine II found some justification for her annexation of Polish-Lithuanian territories in 1772 and 1793 in that part of her Imperial title (recognized by the Republic in 1764) which bore relation to the ethnic character and descent of those territories: 'dans le partage j'ai eu [sic] pour ma part pas un pouce de la Pologne.'

In diplomacy Tsar Peter outflanked his former ally by keeping him and the Republic out of the treaty of Nystad but even before its conclusion on 30 August 1721 Peter's position as arbiter of Poland was unassailable. In the course of that year, contrary to the expectation of the under-secretary of state, George Tilson, he took care not to embroil himself in the plan for a partition of the Republic sniffed at by Augustus II and Frederick William I; it was not a price worth paying for a reconciliation with the King of Poland. The tsar would not accept his offer to renew their alliance and would not enter into any engagements with him whatever. None of this was necessary, Poland being, in the words of Saint-Saphorin, 'comme de la dépendance du tsar'. The Russian party became the strongest in the country; by 1724 the Russian envoy could, without alliances or conferences, accomplish more than any of his counterparts. He did not insist on the recognition of his master's Imperial title but his countenance showed self-confidence and indifference - with good reason.

At the Sejm of that year, under pressure from the friends of Russia, Flemming handed back the command of the troops 'on the foreign model' (artillery, infantry, dragoons) to the grand hetmans - Sieniawski and Pociej, palatine of Vilno since 1722. This partially restored their authority and deprived the king of the means by which he could have tried to seize absolute power, the suverenstvo so abhorrent to Tsar Peter. In the same year Sieniawski and Denhoff, the deputy hetman of Lithuania, made a family alliance through the marriage of Denhoff to Maria Zofia Sieniawska, the daughter of the grand hetman and his wife Elzbieta, née Lubomirska. The match, like so much else in Poland, was the work of the tsar. Denhoff died in 1728; in 1731 his widow, now the richest parti in Poland-Lithuania, married Prince August Aleksander Czartoryski, palatine of Ruthenia, much to the advantage of his political career. The faces of the 'Trinitas Sieniaviana' with the addition of Denhoff, as depicted by an anonymous artist, suggest gross appetites and little refinement.

'The system of Peter the Great', as Frederick II called it in 1740, designed to prevent the augmentation of the Republic's army, a royal election vivente rege and an alliance with Austria, extended further than mere cooperation between Russia and Prussia; it consisted in a network of international agreements and understandings in which the Republic - itself without allies - was to be enmeshed. In treaties concluded with Russia's and Poland-Lithuania's other neighbours - Sweden in 1724, Turkey in 1720, Tsar Peter made provision also for the preservation of the Republic's political institutions so precious to him because of their notorious inadequacy. Clauses in two draft treaties - one with France of 1723, the other with George I of 1724, were intended to serve the same purpose. The Russo-Turkish treaty of 16 November 1720 was negotiated by Dashkov who had been active in Poland between 1712 and 1715. It allowed the tsar to enter Poland at the head of an army to counter any attempt at a coup d'état by the king, including the intention to make the succession to the throne hereditary. To crown the work of a political lifetime in Poland the tsar wished the Polish succession to be settled 'à sa mode'. Rumours on this subject began to circulate as early as the summer of 1721 - it was whispered that the tsar's choice was the Young Pretender, Prince Charles Edward Stuart, the husband of Maria Clementine Sobieska, a daughter of Prince James, and that he had the backing of the Pope - presumably Innocent XIII (elected in May) and of the Emperor, but by November it was said in denial of the rumour that the tsar would prefer a native gentilhomme. By the end of the year this preference was labelled a maxim with regard to both Sweden and Poland in order to have neighbours 'sans force et sans appui'. Tsar Peter's last written instructions on the subject date from April 1722: if by the will of God the King of Poland were to die - as he was expected to because of his inveterate debauchery and the languishing state of his health - Prince Grigorii Fedorovich Dolgorukii was to go to Warsaw as envoy and endeavour to find a good candidate from among the Poles. In conversation the tsar had in this connexion mentioned Prince Constantine Sobieski. In harbouring such intentions Tsar Peter was at odds with King Augustus's 'grand but' that the Electoral Prince should succeed him in Poland. This aim provoked much hostility. Ilgen in 1720 thought it odious to the Republic and impracticable and the grand hetmans in 1721 sent a secret messenger to dissuade the tsar - if dissuasion was necessary - from any liaison with the Saxon court.

Contrary to assurances given in 1720 Tsar Peter did not leave a testament and this omission gave anonymous political propagandists of later generations the opportunity to fabricate one. Their purpose was to sound the alarm at the relentless and systematic expansion of the Russian Empire. This canard is probably the work of several hands. Article four, perhaps based on a memorandum written by the chevalier d'Éon about 1757, imputes to Peter the Great the intention to divide the Republic by keeping up constant jealousies and confusion there; to corrupt the authorities and the assemblies so as to influence the election of kings, to form a Russian party and send in Russian troops with the object of keeping them there permanently. Were the neighbouring states to object, they should be placated by being allowed a share of the Republic's territory until it can be recovered. The text implies that in enforcing in 1733 the election of the former Electoral Prince as Augustus III by a minority of the szlachta (after a majority had voted for Stanisław Leszczyński), the Empress Anne was acting in accordance with instructions left by Peter the Great despite his well known opposition to a Saxon succession. As for the means of overcoming objections to Russia's future high-handed action, any offer of territory was wholly out of keeping with the intentions of Tsar Peter and contrary to the requirements of elementary prudence.

But when it came to dynastic affairs, determined as the tsar was to prevent the Electoral Prince from mounting the Polish throne, he was even more bent on marrying the younger tsarevna, Elizabeth Petrovna (born 1709) to a French prince of the blood or perhaps even to the youthful Louis XV (born in 1710). Such a match would have opened the way to a political entente. Tsar Peter gave the first instructions in the matter in May 1721 but it was his envoy in Paris, J.C.E. von Schleinitz, who slipped into the Russian proposals the connection between the eventual election to the Polish throne and the future husband of the tsarevna. Much of the ensuing diplomatic bustle (which extended into the reign of Catherine I) was due to the initiative of zealous diplomats lacking solid instructions and acting on the false assumption that the days of August II were numbered. The connection contrived by Schleinitz complicated matters, for the election of a French candidate was a traditional object of French foreign policy, most recently achieved in 1697, whereas marriage to a tsarevna, especially one of plebeian descent on her mother's side and not a Roman Catholic, was a novel proposal. The Regent and Dubois, his first minister, accordingly wished the election to precede the marriage. The first possible suitor, Louis Duke of Chartres, succeeded his father, the Regent, as Prince of Orleans in 1723 and soon afterwards married a German princess. The next potential bridegroom, the new premier ministre, Louis Henri Duke of Bourbon (Condé), hoped in the first place to gain the Polish throne on the death of August II. The tsar politely declined his offer early in 1724.

Meanwhile another intrigue was afoot. Its author was Fr Francesco Arcelli, a Theatine cleric who combined the functions of tutor to the children of G.F. Dolgorukii with those of envoy to Russia from the Duchy of Parma and Piacenza. Arcelli followed Dolgorukii to Moscow and thence to St Petersburg. Between them they worked out a plan for the marriage of Don Fernando, Infant of Spain, eventually Ferdinand VI (1713-1759), and the youngest tsarevna, Nataliia Petrovna (1718-1725). The union was to provide the basis for an alliance between Spain and Russia and for the sponsorship by the tsar of the candidature of Don Fernando for the Polish throne. But what with the death of Dolgorukii in 1723 and that of the tsarevna in 1725, the plan was abandoned.

About the same time the betrothal between the juvenile Infanta Maria Anna Victoria to Louis XV was broken off and the French ministry, still with Poland rather than Russia in mind in connection with a Bourbon marriage, turned its attention to Stanisław Leszczyński. Poland's former (and future) king, living in exile in Lower Alsatia, was the father of a nubile daughter, the plain and pious Maria. Peter the Great died on 8 February 1725 and was succeeded by his consort, Catherine. The Empress (advised by Menshikov) renewed the proposal for a marriage between her younger daughter and the King of France. The false information that Maria Leszczynska was promised to the Duke of Bourbon prompted the Russian court to improve its offer by making it known that in the event of Louis XV's marriage to Elizabeth Petrovna the bridegroom could count on the Polish crown being at his disposal - in other words being reserved for Louis Henri de Bourbon. But by that time Louis XV had already asked for and been promised the hand of Maria Leszczynska, France thus entering the contest for the Polish succession. Russian predominance in the Republic was to be put to the test of the next royal election. Meanwhile Poland-Lithuania, brought to the verge of ruin by the baleful actions of an ill-chosen king and his supposed ally, the tsar, was to remain in the shadow cast over it by the new Russia.

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