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Subject History

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405189224.2011.x


Leading aristocratic family in poland -Lithuania. It came to prominence especially in the later eighteenth century when Princes Michael and Augustus wielded political power throughout most of the Commonwealth, and secured the election of their nephew, Stanislaus Poniatowski, to the throne in 1764. The family was also at the forefront of cultural life, with Princess Sophia playing a major role in introducing enlightenment ideas into the country. It suffered during the three partitions of Poland, and its estate at Puławy was lost to the Russians in 1794–5. Paradoxically, Prince Adam Jerzy (1770–1861), who was taken to Russia as a hostage, became friends with Tsar alexander i and served as Russian deputy foreign minister (1803–6). He became a reluctant conspirator in the revolt against Russian rule in 1830–1 (see revolutions of 1830–2), and served as president of the five-man executive which ran the provisional government. With the failure of the revolt he was forced into exile in Paris. He remained influential in the maintenance of Polish national and cultural identity, using his diplomatic and aristocratic contacts to work tirelessly for an independent Poland, though his enduring belief in the benefits of aristocratic rule gradually alienated him from younger and more radical émigrés. ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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