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On this date in History: Final abdication of King Stanislaus I of Poland, January 27, 1736.

Stanislaus I (October 20,1677 – February 23, 1766) was King of Poland, Grand Duke of Lithuania, Duke of Lorraine and a count of the Holy Roman Empire. Reigned as King of Poland.


Stanislaus was born, Stanislaus Leszczyński, into a powerful magnate family of Greater Poland. Because of his family’s great wealth this gave him the opportunity to travel to western Europe in his youth. In 1702 King Carl XII of Sweden invaded Poland as part of a continuing series of conflicts between the powers of northern Europe. Carl XII forced the Polish nobility to depose Poland’s king, Augustus II the Strong, and then placed Stanisław on the throne on October 4, 1704.

In 1709 Carl XII was defeated by the Russians, under Czar Peter I the Great, at the Battle of Poltava and returned to Sweden. In the absence of Swedish support, former king Augustus II returned to Poland and regained the Polish throne. Stanislaus left the country to settle in the French province of Alsace. In 1725 Stanisław’s daughter Marie Leszczyńska married King Louis XV of France.

When Augustus II died in 1733, Stanisłaus sought to regain the Polish throne with the help of French support for his candidacy. Stanislaus’ son-in-law Louis XV supported his claims to the Polish throne which led to the War of the Polish Succession.

In September 1733, Stanislaus himself arrived at Warsaw, having traveled night and day through central Europe disguised as a coachman. On the following day, despite many protests, Stanislaus was duly elected King of Poland for the second time. However, Russia was opposed to any nominee of France and Sweden. Russia protested against his election at once, in favor of the new Elector of Saxony, Friedrich-August II, (son of Augustus II of Poland) as being the legitimate candidate of her Austrian ally.

After Friedrich-August II of Saxony was proclaimed King August III of Poland at Warsaw, a Russian army of 20,000 under Peter Lacy, proceeded to besiege Stanislaus at Danzig where he was entrenched with his partisans (including the Primate and the French and Swedish ministers) to await the relief that had been promised by France.

On May 20, 1735 the long-expected French fleet appeared and disembarked 2,400 men on Westerplatte. A week later, this little army bravely tried to force the Russian entrenchments, but was finally compelled to surrender. This was the first time that France and Russia had met as foes in the field. On 30 June 1735, Danzig capitulated unconditionally, after sustaining a siege of 135 days which cost the Russians 8,000 men.

Disguised as a peasant, Stanisłaus fled Poland and reappeared at Königsberg where he briefly met the future King Friedrich II the Great of Prussia. While at Königsberg he issued a manifesto to his partisans which resulted in the formation of a confederation on his behalf. A Polish envoy was sent to Paris to urge France to invade Saxony with at least 40,000 men. In Ukraine too, Count Nicholas Potocki kept on foot to support Stanislaus a motley host of 50,000 men, which was ultimately scattered by the Russians.

On January 27, 1736, Stanisław again abdicated the throne, but received in compensation the Duchy of Lorraine and of Bar for life, which was to revert to France on his death. In 1738, he sold his estates of Rydzyna and Leszno to Count (later Prince) Alexander Joseph Sułkowski. He settled at Lunéville, founded there in 1750 both the Académie de Stanislas and Bibliothèque municipale de Nancy, and devoted himself for the rest of his life to science and philanthropy, engaging most notably in controversy with Rousseau. He also published Głos wolny wolność ubezpieczający, one of the most important political treatises of the Polish Enlightenment.

Stanisłaus was still alive when his great-great-granddaughter, Archduchess Maria Theresa of Austria, was born in 1762. She was the daughter of Holy Roman Emperor Joseph II and his wife Princess Isabella de Bourbon-Parma (herself the daughter of Princess Louise Élisabeth of France who, in turn, was the granddaughter of King Stanislaus). In his last years, his close friend, the Hungarian-born Marshal of France Ladislas Ignace de Berchenylived on his estate to provide company.

Stanislaus Leszczyński died in 1766, aged 88 as a result of serious burns – his silk attire caught fire from a spark while the King was snoozing near the fireplace in his palace in Lunéville. He was medically treated for several days but died of wounds on 23 February. He was the longest living Polish king.

Originally buried in the Church of Notre-Dame-de-Bonsecours, Nancy, following the French Revolution his remains were brought back to Polandand buried in the royal tomb of the Wawel Cathedral in Kraków.