Russian Activity after the Double Election - June-August 1697
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The article discusses successive stages in active Russian policy regarding candidates to the Polish throne - starting with the origin of the Russian 'gramota' addressed to the Polish gentry gathered for the purposes of holding an election, to the final support given by Peter I to Augustus II. The author conducts a polemic with the opinion expressed by the majority of historians about the significant impact of Russian involvement upon the outcome of the election and the importance of tsarist support for Augustus II. Moreover, he indicates that Russian policy vis a vis the future of the Polish throne was actually cautious and flexible. The public demonstration of adamant determination should be regarded as an element of a propaganda campaign intended to produce an illusion of the 'essential influence' of Russian engagement upon the results of the election. The thus generated conviction was presumably to be used in relations with the new Polish monarch and other states. Already the origin of the tsarist decision to become embroiled in the election and to dispatch the 'gramota' should be associated with Russian-Prussian negotiations. The harsh terms of the 'gramota' were not, however, connected with plans for intervention in Poland. Russia did not even intend to reveal the contents of the document in case the French candidate should win. Although the tsar approved the choice of Augustus II and expressed his initial support, he was not convinced about the ultimate nature of the victory enjoyed by the Saxon contender. When in August 1697 Peter was under the impression that Augustus was considering his resignation, the tsar turned directly to the Poles, offering them armed assistance against the French candidate. Only news about the arrival of Augustus II to Poland and the latter's declaration of friendship with Russia inclined Peter I to finally announce his backing for the Saxon ruler.
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