Russian Efforts to Preserve the Liberum Veto and to Obtain a Guarantee during the Interregnum of 1763-1764
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The study focuses on sources demonstrating the Russian attitude towards plans of eliminating or at least limiting the liberum veto during the interregnum of 1763-1764. The planned imposition of a systemic guarantee was envisaged by St. Petersburg as an instrument of control and hindering all transformations aimed at a rebirth of the Commonwealth. The promoter of the pro-reform undertakings was the Czartoryski 'Family', representing a pro-Russian orientation, with whose assistance Catherine II wished to realise her election plans without, however, permitting the implementation of the pro-reform strivings of the leaders of the 'Family'. The steps taken by the Russian envoys in Poland in the defence of the liberum veto, supported by the diplomatic representatives of Prussia, are evidence that Russia was hostile towards all reforms leading towards the reinforcement of the Commonwealth. The consent expressed by St. Petersburg for some of the transformations (the Fiscal and Military Commissions) stemmed from a conviction that, contrary to the intentions of the reforms, they would weaken executive authority and facilitate the control wielded by the neighbouring states over public life in Poland. The author tried, on the one hand, to show the sequence of events which despite the prohibition issued by the Russian court, led at the convocation Seym to a partial restriction of the liberum veto. On the other hand, she describes the persistent striving of the envoys of Catherine the Great to impose systemic guarantees. One of the paths leading to the latter projects (conceived as a guarantee offered both by Russia and Prussia) was the question of dissidents launched by St. Petersburg. The praxis of consecutive confederation parliaments, to which Russia agreed in 1764-1776, rendered universal the custom of decisions made by the majority and, despite the preservation of the liberum veto which was sealed in 1767 by a systemic guarantee, it dealt a permanent blow to it.
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