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By Adam Zamoyski

One evening in December 1755, Stanisław Antoni Poniatowski, the twenty-three-year-old secretary to the British Ambassador in St Petersburg, was once brought into the bed room of the Grand Duchess Catherine Alekseyevna. This marked the start of a torrid and clandestine affair which ended in Stanisław being topped King of Poland in 1764.

The younger king used to be a rushing determine within the most interesting eighteenth-century culture. He was once an ideal representation of the contradictions of Europe's ideological and non secular viewpoints: he worshipped cause yet used to be led via the center; professed Catholicism yet believed in windfall; toyed with the occult and practised freemasonry.

A nice believer in paintings and schooling, he spent fortunes on cultural tasks, and discovering that he was once blocked politically by means of Catherine, he placed his energies right into a social and inventive regeneration of his country. He reworked the temper and outlook of his kingdom and taken it to a brand new part of reform and independence, culminating within the passing of the structure in 1791, hailed in Britain, France and the USA as one of many maximum occasions of the century.

Poland's neighbours, although, seen this beacon of liberty of their midst with alarm, and as they invaded and partitioned it, Stanislaw used to be compelled to monitor the destruction of his life's paintings, and finally pressured to abdicate, a damaged guy, deceived and disenchanted.

‘The final King of Poland’ is the wealthy and captivating tale of a private dream with all of the components of grand tragedy, whereas whilst an immense chronicle of the beginning and dying of liberalism in Poland and the institution of Russian energy in Europe.

‘Intelligent, impressively reasearched, fantastically written.’ – Neal Ascherson, The self sustaining on Sunday.

‘Writing japanese ecu historical past is sort of actually a nightmare: a floor of operetta, underneath which lurk unending, it seems that unnecessary, problems, all finishing in catastrophe. Adam Zamoyski has risen with nice triumph above this, and has contributed a piece of actual scholarship that also is remarkably effortless to read.’ – Norman Stone, The Sunday occasions.

‘A pleasant instance of the biographer's artwork, with a textual content as delicate to the subject's character because it is specialist within the affairs of the subject's times.’ – Norman Davies, the days Literary complement.

‘A story jam-packed with pathos, and Zamoyski tells it well.’ – Niall Ferguson, The Sunday Telegraph.

Count Adam Stefan Zamoyski is a historian and a member of the traditional Zamoyski relations of Polish the Aristocracy. His books comprise ‘The Forgotten Few’, ‘Holy insanity: Romantics, Patriots and Revolutionaries’, and ‘Paderewski’.

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301] In October Catherine wrote to Stanisław that she want to see ‘a nearer intimacy’ among their international locations, and Panin started to trace at a dynastic union of a few variety. [302] but when those utterances have been calculated to fan the demise embers of Stanisław’s desires of marrying Catherine, they didn't characterize a metamorphosis of coverage. Panin recommended Repnin to maintain a watch open for any makes an attempt at tampering with the veto, and urged that Stanisław be left with a good keepsake of his betrayal of Russia within the earlier yr, within the form of a few lack of energy. [303] Stanisław’s notion of an enduring council was once a casualty of this. Frederick had smelt a rat and started caution Russia that Stanisław was once as much as his tips. Panin used to be no longer ready to face up for Stanisław and in January 1768 he wrote to Repnin teaching him to abort the plan. [304] * The Seym met back on 1 February 1768, yet because the delegation had no longer comprehensive its paintings, it adjourned for one more 3 weeks. these deputies who had attempted to talk up have been interrupted and warned by means of Repnin’s officials that they'd be flogged, trussed and despatched to Siberia. It was once no longer till 27 February that the Seym assembled once again. ‘The coup d’oeil striking,’ famous Harris. ‘The inspiration of a complete country therefore represented is aweful — yet how a lot used to be my appreciate decreased whilst I observed within the related room as myself, which had a window that appeared into the corridor, the Russian Ambassador attended via 4 or 5 generals who watched all that handed, and appeared, through placing out their heads from time to time, to threat any that presumed to Oppose! ’[305] The delegation’s proposals have been learn out. They took the shape of an ‘eternal treaty’ with Russia. This integrated laws emancipating the dissenters. It additionally integrated a whole structure expressed in a couple of ‘Cardinal legislation’ at the different. those outlined, in an inventory of ‘matters of state’, all parts within which the veto needs to receive, together with foreign money charges and exchange treaties. ‘These Cardinal legislation is probably not altered at any time, lower than any pretext, through whomsoever, no longer even by way of confederations, nor in the course of interregna, no longer even through unanimous voting,’ ran the textual content, including that ‘he who might act opposed to any of those legislation will be considered as an enemy of the motherland. ’[306] The treaty was once a mean-minded record which reads like a suite of prohibitions elaborated via a nanny whose nursery principles were bent via little ones extra clever than she. while the examining used to be over, on five March, Karol Radziwiłł requested the chamber for its assent. 5 - 6 voices mumbled contract, the remaining remained silent. Radziwiłł then closed the Seym, and later that day bought roaring under the influence of alcohol. The Cardinal legislation condemned Poland to constitutional stagnation. yet whereas the veto was once reaffirmed, the restrictions imposed on it in 1764 have been principally left intact, as have been many of the administrative alterations made because. This was once a minor triumph for Stanisław. And it was once not at all the one one, as he had controlled to place via numerous priceless measures within the lee of the dissenter laws.

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