Topics of coins

Augustus III (1733–1763)

The twenty third and final coin of the medallic series depicts Augustus III, of the Wettin dynasty, from 1733 Elector of Saxony (as Frederick Augustus II), elected King of Poland on 5 October 1733 under the protection of Saxon and Russian troops, crowned on 17 January 1734 in Kraków. At the same time, part of the nobility elected Stanisław Leszczyński as king, which resulted in a succession war that ended with the capitulation of Stanisław’s supporters. In 1736, a conciliatory Sejm (parliament session) was held, the only Sejm not broken off during the reign of Augustus III. Poland, not being a party to the Seven Years’ War and Saxony’s armed conflicts with Prussia, suffered as a theatre of foreign army marches and lost its position as a strong state. Despite this, the country enjoyed a period of economic prosperity and cultural development.

The reverse of the coin features a bust of the king, transferred from the medal (according to a painting by Marcello Bacciarelli) with the profile facing right, in a small wig with a queue, wearing a stock tie with a jabot fastened with a pin, dressed in a tailcoat with rich embroidery and ornamental buttons, with frogged lapels and the ribbon of the Order of the Golden Fleece around his neck.

On the obverse of the coin, the text from the reverse of the medal (in translation) reads: Son of Augustus II the Strong, elected Anno Domini 1733, crowned Anno Domini 1734. Pious, gracious, he did not manage to endow Poland with the goods he wished for her, as 12 Sejm sessions were successively broken off. He died in Dresden, Anno Domini 1763, aged 67, in the 30th year of his reign, on 5 October.

Friedrich August II, son of the Elector of Saxony and King of Poland Augustus II the Strong and Christiane Eberhardine, was born in Dresden in 1696 as the next Elector of Saxony. He was brought up in the Lutheran faith by his grandmother Anna Sophia, received a courtly education and completed the long-lasting eight-year Grand Tour. To ascend to the Polish throne, he converted to Catholicism in 1712. His wife, Archduchess Maria Josepha Habsburg, a staunch Catholic, supported the king in his foreign policy and cultural activities. They had 14 children, who, through their marriages, colligated with many courts of Europe. In domestic politics, Augustus III manoeuvred between magnate coteries, relying on the decisions of his minister Henry Brühl. He promoted music and opera and relished lavish festivities, mainly in Dresden. He enriched Dresden’s art collections and extended the Royal Castle in Warsaw.

Augustus III died in Dresden in 1763 and was buried there in the Catholic Cathedral of the Holy Trinity (Hofkirche).

Marta Męclewska