The Dogrumowa Affair and the Consolidation of the Anti-Royal Opposition in 1785-1786
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During the 1770s and 1780s, the political scene in the Commonwealth was dominated by a struggle waged by the magnate opposition against the royal-ambassadorial system. A sudden intensification of the conflict was produced in 1785 by the so-called Dogrumowa scandal in which, upon the basis of uncertain confessions made by the adventuress Maria Teresa Dogrumowa, such malcontents as Ignacy and Stanislaw Potocki as well as Elzbieta Lubomirska accused Jan Komarzewski and Franciszek Ryx, close collaborators of King Stanislaw Augustus Poniatowski, of planning to poison Adam Kazimierz Czartoryski, general of the region of Podolia. The affair mobilised the entire opposition camp, which tried to use it for launching an attack against the monarch. The verdict issued by a marshal's court exonerated the accused royal co-workers, but did not end the antagonism between the king and the opposition, which had escalated due to the poisoning charges. As a result of the intervention made by Ignacy Potocki, the court verdict included the name of Franciszek Ksawery Branicki, providing the Grand Crown Hetman with a premise for attacking the marshal's decree and Stanislaw Augustus under the pretext of incurred injustice. Due to his connections with Grigoriy Potiomkin, Branicki managed to win the support of Catherine II for his efforts directed against the monarch. He also used them in a propaganda campaign, convincing the gentry about the correctness of his conduct, and the malcontents about the understanding and support shown by St. Petersburg for undertakings directed against the king. Owing to those endeavours, the years 1785-1786 witnessed a consolidation of the whole anti-royal camp and a radicalisation of attitudes, which predicted a turbulent course of parliamentary debates in 1786.
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