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STANISLAW FELIX POTOCKI (1752–1805)

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Originally appearing in Volume V22, Page 209 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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STANISLAW FELIX POTOCKI (1752–1805), Polish politician, son of Franciszek Salezy Potocki, palatine of Kiev, of the Tulczyn line of the family, was born in 1752. He entered the public service, and owing to the influence of his relations became grand standard-bearer of the Crown at the age of twenty-two. In 1782 he was made palatine of Russia, in 1784 a lieutenant-general, and in 1789 he purchased the rank of a general of artillery from the Saxon minister, Bruhl, for 20,000 ducats. Elected deputy for Braclaw at the famous Four Years' Diet, he began that career of treachery which was to terminate in the ruin of his country. Yet his previous career had awakened many hopes in him. A grand seigneur ruling patriarchally in his vast estates, liberal, enlightened, a generous master and a professed patriot, his popularity culminated in 1784 when he presented an infantry regiment of 400 men as a free gift to the republic. But he identified the public welfare with the welfare of the individual magnates. His scheme was the division of Poland into an oligarchy of autonomous grandees exercising the supreme power in rotation (in fact a perpetual interregnum), and in 1788 he won over to his views two other great lords, Xavier Branicki and Severin Rzewuski. The election of Malachowski (q.v.) and Kazimierz Sapieha as marshals of the diet still further alienated him from the Liberals; and, after strenuously but vainly opposing every project of reform, he retired to Vienna whence he continued to carry on an active propaganda against the new ideas. He protested against the constitution of the 3rd of May 1791, and after attempting fruitlessly to induce the emperor Leopold to take up arms " for the defence of the liberties of the republic," proceeded with his friends in March 1792 to St Petersburg, and subsequently with the connivance of the empress Catherine formed the confederation of Targowica for the maintenance of the ancient institutions of Poland (May 14, 1792), of which he was the marshal, or rather the dictator, directing its operations from his castle at Tulczyn. When the May constitution was overthrown and the Prussians were already in occupation of Great Poland, Potocki (March 1793) went on a diplomatic mission to St Petersburg; but, finding himself duped and set aside, retired to Vienna till 1797, when he settled down at Tulczyn and devoted himself for the remainder of his life to the improvement of his estates. He wrote On the Polish Succession (Pol.) (Amsterdam, 1789); Protest against the Succession to the Throne (Pol.) (ibid. 1990); and other political works. See Friedrich Schulz, Poland in the year 1793 (Pol.) (Warsaw, 1899); Josef Zajaczek, History of the Revolution of 1794 (Pol.) (Lemberg, 1881). (R. N. B.)
End of Article: STANISLAW FELIX POTOCKI (1752–1805)
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