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JAN LASKI

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Originally appearing in Volume V16, Page 234 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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JAN LASKI, the elder (1456—1531), Polish statesman and Constantinople as his intermediary. On his way thither he was ecclesiastic, appears to have been largely self-taught and to have attacked and robbed of everything, including his credentials and owed everything to the remarkable mental alertness which was the rich- presents without which no negotiations were deemed hereditary in the Laski family. He took orders betimes, and in possible at the Porte. But Laski was nothing if not audacious. 1495 was secretary to the Polish chancellor Zawisza Kurozwecki, proceeding on his way to the Turkish capital empty-handed, in which position he acquired both influence and experience. he nevertheless succeeded in gaining the confidence of Gritti, the The aged chancellor entrusted the sharp-witted young ecclesiastic favourite of the grand vizier, and ultimately persuaded the with the conduct of several important missions. Twice, in 1495 sultan to befriend Zapolya and to proclaim him king of Hungary. and again in 1500, he was sent to Rome, and once on a special He went still further, and without the slightest authority for his embassy to Flanders, of which he has left an account. On these action concluded a ten years' truce between his old master occasions he had the opportunity of displaying diplomatic talent King Sigismund of Poland and the Porte. He then returned of a high order. On the accession to the Polish throne in 15or of to Hungary at the head of 10,000 men, with whose aid he enabled the indolent Alexander, who had little knowledge of Polish affairs Zapolya to re-establish his position and defeat Ferdinand at and chiefly resided in Lithuania, Laski was appointed by the Saros-Patak. He was rewarded with the countship of Zips senate the king's secretary, in which capacity he successfully and the governor-generalship of Transylvania. But his influence opposed the growing separatist tendencies of the grand-duchy excited the jealousy of the Magyars, and Zapolya was persuaded and maintained the influence of Catholicism, now seriously to imprison him. On being released by the interposition of the threatened there by the Muscovite propaganda. So struck Polish grand hetman, Tarnowski, he became the most violent was the king by his ability that on the death of the Polish opponent of Zapolya. Shortly after his return to Poland, chancellor in 1503 he passed over the vice-chancellor Macics Laski died suddenly at Cracow, probably poisoned by one of his Dzewicki and confided the great seal to Laski. As chancellor innumerable enemies. Laski supported the szlachta, or country-gentlemen, against See Alexander Hirschberg, Hieronymus Laski (Pol.) (Lemberg, the lower orders, going so far as to pass an edict excluding 1888). henceforth all plebeians from the higher benefices of the church. JAN LASKI, the younger (1499—1560), also known as Johannes Nevertheless he approved himself such an excellent public a Lasco, Polish reformer, son of Jaroslaw (d. 1523) voivode servant that the new king, Sigismund I., made him one of his of Sieradia and nephew of the famous Archbishop Laski. During chief counsellors. In 1511 the chancellor, who ecclesiastically his academical course abroad he made the acquaintance of was still only a canon of Cracow, obtained the coveted dignity Zwingli and Erasmus and returned to Poland in 1526 saturated of archbishop of Gnesen which carried with it the primacy of with the new doctrines. Nevertheless he took orders, and owing the Polish church. In the long negotiations with the restive to the influence of his uncle obtained the bishopric of Veszprem and semi-rebellious Teutonic Order, Laski rendered Sigismund in Hungary from King John Zapolya, besides holding a canonry most important political services, proposing as a solution of the of Cracow and the office of royal secretary. In 1531 he resigned question that Sigismund should be elected grand master, while all his benefices rather than give up a woman whom he had he, Laski, should surrender the primacy to the new candidate secretly married, and having incurred general reprobation and of the knights, Albert of Brandenburg, a solution which would the lasting displeasure of his uncle the archbishop, he fled to have been far more profitable to Poland than the ultimate Germany, where ultimately (1543) he adopted the Augsburg settlement of 1525. In 1513 Laski was sent to the Lateran Confession. For the next thirteen years Laski was a wandering council, convened by Pope Julius II., to plead the cause of Poland apostle of the new doctrines. He was successively superintendent against the knights, where both as an orator and as a diplomatist at Emden and in Friesland, passed from thence to London where he brilliantly distinguished himself. This mission was equally he became a member of the so-called ecclesia peregrinorum, a profitable to his country and himself, and he succeeded in obtain- congregation of foreign Protestants exiled in consequence of the ing from the pope for the archbishops of Gnesen the title of legati Augsburg Interim of 1548 and, on being expelled by Queen nati. In his old age Laski's partiality for his nephew, Hieronymus, Mary, took refuge first in Denmark and subsequently at Frank-led him to support the candidature of John Zapolya, the protege fort-on-Main, where he was greatly esteemed. From Frankfort of the Turks, for the Hungarian crown so vehemently against he addressed three letters (printed at Basel) to King Sigismund, the Habsburgs that Clement VII. excommunicated him, and the Augustus, and the Polish gentry and people, urging the con-shock of this disgrace was the cause of his sudden death in 1531. version of Poland to Protestantism. In 1556, during the brief Of his numerous works the most noteworthy are his collection of triumph of the anti-catholics, he returned to his native land, Polish statutes entitled: Statuta provinciae gnesnensis antiqua, took part in the synod of Brzesc, and published a number of (Cracow, 1525—1528) and De Ruthenorum nationibus eorumque polemical works, the most noteworthy of which were Forma ,erroribus, printed at Nuremberg. ac ratio Iota ecclesiastici ministerii in peregrinorum Ecdesiae See Heinrich R. von Zeissberg, Joh. Laski, Erzbischof in Gnesen instituta (Pinczow, 1560), and in Polish, History of the Cruel (Vienna, 1874) ; and Jan Korytkowski, Jan Laski, Archbishop of Persecution of the Church of God in 1567, republished in his Gnesen (Gnesen, 188o).
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