Topics of coins

Stanisław Leszczyński

The twenty second coin of the series depicts Stanisław Leszczyński (1677–1766), who twice ascended to the Polish throne, and spent the last 30 years of his long life as Duke of Lorraine and Bar. Aft er the outbreak of the Great Northern War, when Augustus II the Strong renounced the Polish crown on 12 July 1704, Stanisław was elected king by the will of the Polish nobility and the Swedish king and crowned on 4 October 1705. Aft er the defeat of the Swedes at Poltava in 1709, he was forced to emigrate and Augustus II the Strong returned to the Polish throne. Aft er his death, in 1733, a double election was held in Warsaw. On 12 September, during the fi rst of them, Stanisław was elected king with the support of France, and on 5 October Augustus III was elected king with the support of Russia. A succession war for the Polish throne broke out and the world powers got involved. As a result, Stanisław yielded the crown in January 1736 and, by the grace of the king of France, Louis XV, settled in Lorraine.

The reverse of the coin features a bust of the king, transferred from the medal (probably according to a painting by Jan Bogumił Plersch), with the profi le facing left , with short hair pulled back, with a moustache, wearing a cuirass and a coat with a fur collar fastened with a clasp.

On the obverse of the coin, the text from the reverse of the medal (in translation) reads: The King, raised to the throne during the Swedish riots Anno Domini 1705, gave way to the power of the returning Augustus II. Aft er the death of Augustus II, unanimously elected Anno Domini 1733. Giving in to violence, on the basis of the Treaty of Vienna Anno Domini 1736, he took possession of Lorraine. A philosopher, benefactor, always mindful of his homeland, burnt by accidental fl ames, he died in Lunéville on 23 February Anno Domini 1766, at the age of 89.

Stanisław Leszczyński of the Wieniawa coat of arms was the son of the treasurer Rafał Leszczyński and Anna née Jabłonowska. He received a thorough education at home and at the Protestant gymnasium in Leszno. In 1698, he married Katarzyna Opalińska. Augustus II the Strong appointed him the voivode of Poznań in 1699. Aft er the Swedish army invaded Poland, Stanisław Leszczyński joined the anti-royal Warsaw confederation. He formed an alliance with the Swedish king, Charles XII, who, seeing his infl uence in Greater Poland, put him forward as a candidate for the Polish throne. Following the abdication of Augustus II the Strong, Stanisław was elected King of Poland. He reigned for almost fi ve years, during which the war with the Swedes continued in Poland. Aft er Augustus II the Strong took power again, Stanisław and his family led a wandering life, making unsuccessful attempts to return to the throne. In the years 1714-1719, the Swedes appointed him lord of the Duchy of Two Bridges (Zweibrücken), and the following years, until 1733, he spent in Wissembourg in Alsace. In 1725, a wedding took place in Fontainebleau – king of France, Louis XV, married Maria, the younger daughter of Stanisław. Thanks to the patronage of his son-in-law, in 1733 Leszczyński put on the Polish crown again. Once again, despite the armed war, he failed to keep it. He returned to France, where he received the Duchy of Lorraine and Bar for life. During the 30 years of his reign there, he gained recognition as a good ruler, patron of the arts and sciences. He wore the highest French decoration, the Order of the Holy Spirit. He founded universities in Lunéville and Nancy (where his statue stands), funded a hospital for the poor, hosted the Encyclopaedists, including Voltaire and Montesquieu, and there he wrote the progressive work Głos wolny wolność ubezpieczający [A Free Voice Ensuring Freedom], which was published anonymously.

An unfortunate event ended Stanisław Leszczyński’s life. The French Revolution destroyed his tombstone in Nancy; his remains were brought to Poland, where, in 1938, they were fi nally deposited at Wawel Cathedral, in the Sigismund Crypt.

Marta Męclewska