Stanisław Leszczyński

Stanisław I Leszczyński (Polish pronunciation: [staˈɲiswaf lɛʂˈtʂɨj̃skʲi]; Lithuanian: Stanislovas Leščinskis; French: Stanislas Leszczynski; 20 October 1677 – 23 February 1766), also Anglicized and Latinized as Stanislaus I, was King of Poland, Grand Duke of Lithuania, Duke of Lorraine and a count of the Holy Roman Empire.

Stanisław I
Portrait of Stanisław I Leszczyński.jpg
Portrait by Jean-Baptiste van Loo, 1727–1728
King of Poland
Grand Duke of Lithuania
1st reign12 July 1704 – 8 July 1709
Coronation4 October 1705
PredecessorAugustus II
SuccessorAugustus II
2nd reign12 September 1733 – 26 January 1736
PredecessorAugustus II
SuccessorAugustus III
Duke of Lorraine
Reign9 July 1737 – 23 February 1766
PredecessorFrancis III Stephen
SuccessorEscheated into the Kingdom of France
Born(1677-10-20)20 October 1677
Lwów, Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth
Died23 February 1766(1766-02-23) (aged 88)
Lunéville, Kingdom of France
SpouseCatherine Opalińska
IssueAnna Leszczyńska
Marie, Queen of France
Stanisław Bogusław Leszczyński
FatherRafał Leszczyński
MotherAnna Jabłonowska
ReligionRoman Catholicism
SignatureStanisław I's signature

In 1709, Charles XII of Sweden suffered a defeat by the Russians at the Battle of Poltava, and was subsequently driven into exile in the Ottoman Empire. As a result, Stanisław lost all stable support. Augustus II ultimately became King of Poland, and Stanisław fled the country and settled in the province of Alsace, France. In 1725, his daughter Marie Leszczyńska married Louis XV of France.[1]

In Nancy, Place Stanislas (Stanisław Square) was named in his honour.

Early lifeEdit

Born in Lwów in 1677, he was the son of Rafał Leszczyński, voivode of Poznań Voivodeship, and Princess Anna Katarzyna Jabłonowska. He married Katarzyna Opalińska, by whom he had a daughter, Maria, who became Queen of France as wife of Louis XV. In 1697, as Cup-bearer of Poland, he signed the confirmation of the articles of election of August II the Strong. In 1703 he joined the Lithuanian Confederation, which the Sapiehas with the aid of Sweden had formed against August.

King for first timeEdit

During his first reign before 1709

The following year, Stanisław was selected by Charles XII of Sweden after a successful Swedish invasion of Poland, to supersede Augustus II, who was hostile towards the Swedes. Leszczyński was a young man of blameless antecedents, respectable talents, and came from an ancient family, but certainly without sufficient force of character or political influence to sustain himself on so unstable a throne.

Nevertheless, with the assistance of a bribing fund and an army corps, the Swedes succeeded in procuring his election by a scratch assembly of half a dozen castellans and a few score of noblemen on 12 July 1704. A few months later, Stanisław was forced by a sudden inroad of Augustus II to seek refuge in the Swedish camp, but finally on 24 September 1705, he was crowned king with great splendor. Charles himself supplied his nominee with a new crown and scepter in lieu of the ancient Polish regalia, which had been carried off to Saxony by August. During this time the King of Sweden sent Peter Estenberg to King Stanislaw to act as an ambassador and correspondence secretary. The Polish king's first act was to cement an alliance with Charles XII whereby the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth engaged to assist Sweden against the Russian tsar. Stanisław did what he could to assist his patron. Thus, he induced Ivan Mazepa, the Cossack hetman, to desert Peter the Great at the most critical period of the Great Northern War between Russia and Sweden, and Stanisław placed a small army corps at the disposal of the Swedes and was beaten in Battle of Koniecpol. However, Stanisław depended so entirely on the success of Charles' arms that after the Battle of Poltava (1709), his authority vanished as a dream at the first touch of reality. Stanisław then resided in the town of Rydzyna.

First loss of throneEdit

The vast majority of Poles hastened to repudiate Stanisław and make their peace with August. Henceforth a mere pensioner of Charles XII, Stanisław accompanied Krassow's army corps in its retreat to Swedish Pomerania. On the restoration of Augustus, Stanisław resigned the Polish Crown (though he retained the royal title) in exchange for the little principality of Deux-Ponts. In 1716, an assassination was attempted by a Saxon officer, Lacroix, but Stanisław was saved by Stanisław Poniatowski, father of the future king. Forced to leave Zweibrücken in 1719 after the death of Charles XII in whose name he was Count Palatine, Stanisław Leszczyński then resided at Wissembourg in Alsace. In 1725, he had the satisfaction of seeing his daughter Maria become queen consort of Louis XV of France. From 1725 to 1733, Stanisław lived at the Château de Chambord.

King for second timeEdit

Banner of Poland during the reign of Stanisław Leszczyński
Place Stanislas in Nancy, France

Stanislaw's son-in-law Louis XV supported his claims to the Polish throne after the death of August II the Strong in 1733, which led to the War of the Polish Succession. On 11 September 1733, Stanisław himself arrived at Warsaw, having traveled night and day through central Europe disguised as a coachman. On the following day, despite many protests, Stanisław 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, as being the candidate of her Austrian ally.

On 30 June 1734, a Russian army of 20,000 under Peter Lacy, after proclaiming August III the Saxon at Warsaw, proceeded to besiege Stanisław 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.

The siege began in October 1734. On 17 March 1735, Marshal Münnich superseded Peter Lacy, and on 20 May 1735 the long-expected French fleet appeared and disembarked 2,400 men on Westerplatte. A week later, this little army gallantly attempted 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, Stanisław had contrived to escape two days before. He reappeared at Königsberg (where he briefly met the future King Frederick the Great of Prussia), whence he issued a manifesto to his partisans which resulted in the formation of a confederation on his behalf, and the despatch of a Polish envoy 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 Stanisław a motley host of 50,000 men, which was ultimately scattered by the Russians.

Duke of LorraineEdit

On 26 January 1736, Stanisław again abdicated the throne but received in compensation the Duchy of Lorraine and of Bar, 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.[2] He also published Głos wolny wolność ubezpieczający, one of the most important political treatises of the Polish Enlightenment.


The fireplace incident, drawing by Ksawery Pilati from the 19th century

Stanisław was still alive when his great-great-granddaughter, Archduchess Maria Theresa of Austria, was born in 1762. In his last years, his close friend, the Hungarian-born Marshal of France Ladislas Ignace de Bercheny lived on his estate to provide company.

Leszczyński died in 1766, aged 88 as a result of serious burns – his silk attire caught fire from a spark while the King was asleep near the fireplace in his palace in Lunéville on 5 February. He was medically treated for several days but died of wounds on 23 February. He was the longest living Polish king.[3]

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


  1. Anna (25 May 1699 – 20 June 1717) died unmarried and childless.
  2. Maria (23 June 1703 – 24 June 1768) married Louis XV of France and had issue.

His wife also suffered many miscarriages.


Play and operaEdit

Loosely based on an incident of King Stanisław's life are the play Le faux Stanislas written by the Frenchman Alexandre Vincent Pineu-Duval in 1808, transformed into the opera Un giorno di regno, ossia Il finto Stanislao (A One-Day Reign, or The Pretend Stanislaus, but often translated into English as King for a Day) by Giuseppe Verdi, to an Italian libretto written in 1818 by Felice Romani.


Further readingEdit

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Stanisław I - king of Poland". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved April 11, 2019.
  2. ^ Květina, Jan. "The Polish Question as a Political Issue within Philosophical Dispute: Leszczyński versus Rousseau". Oriens Aliter. Journal for Culture and History of the Central and Eastern Europe. Retrieved April 11, 2019 – via
  3. ^ "Stanisław Leszczyński -". Retrieved April 11, 2019.
  4. ^ Żychliński, Teodor (1882). Złota księga szlachty polskiéj: Rocznik IVty (in Polish). Jarosław Leitgeber. p. 1. Retrieved August 1, 2018.

External linksEdit

  Media related to Stanislaus I Leszczyński at Wikimedia Commons

Stanisław Leszczyński
Born: 20 October 1677 Died: 23 February 1766
Regnal titles
Preceded by King of Poland
Grand Duke of Lithuania

Succeeded by
King of Poland
Grand Duke of Lithuania

Succeeded by
Preceded by Duke of Lorraine
Annexation by France

  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainBain, Robert Nisbet (1911). "Stanislaus I.". In Chisholm, Hugh (ed.). Encyclopædia Britannica. 25 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. pp. 775–776.