Dzieje Rosji w piśmiennictwie stanisławowskim po pierwszym rozbiorze
Russian History in the Writings of the Times of the Reign of King Stanislaus II after the 2nd Partition of Poland
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The article constitutes a supplement and summary of the cycle dedicated to the view of Russian history in the writings of the times of the reign of King Stanislaus II (Dzieje Rosji w piśmiennictwie doby stanisławowskiej. Part I: until the 1st partition, „Z Badań nad Książką i Księgozbiorami Historycznymi”, vol. 9: 2015; Dzieje Rosji w piśmiennictwie doby stanisławowskiej. Part II: „Recherches sur les titres...” Feliksa Łoyki, „Z Badań nad Książką i Księgozbiorami Historycznymi”, vol. 11: 2017). The starting point of the preliminary research on this subject was Kazimierz Bartkiewicz’s list, which includes five items concerning Russia. This preliminary research disclosed several more titles and the work also covered cycles of articles „Pamiętnik Historyczno-Polityczny”, entries of Zbiór potrzebniejszych wiadomości, as well as a manuscript thesis of Łoyko Recherches sur les titres portés en différents tems par les souverains de Russie et de Moscovie. It still didn’t consider enough of the dominating role of Russia in public life of the Republic at that time. With certain reservations, only two texts can be viewed as an attempt of a comprehensive review of the history of our Eastern neighbour (Lacombe/Kniażewicz with Wyrwicz’s comments and Syruć/Rousset de Missy). A symbol of superficiality and brevity of Polish opinions on Russian topics is Zbiór potrzebniejszych wiadomości. Interest in the history of our powerful neighbour in the Polish writings of the 18th century became visible already in the Saxon times. It was accompanied by widening of the examination of life and undertaking by people attached to the Załuski Library of an editorial programme based on erudite model of historiography: thus came the questions concerning sources, subject bibliography, chronology, and fact-finding. This kind of “technical” attempts could be observed until 1781. Among the discussed publications translations formed a dominating part but none of them can be considered an adaptation or compilation. Polish translators concentrated on converting measures and values of money into our reality, stressed the issue of international obligations towards the Republic, and were sensitive to the issue of defence of the Catholic Church or Jesuits from external accusations (Syruć). The front runners here were French authors (Lacombe, De Mauvillon, De Bauclair) and German ones but closely connected with Russia (Pallas, Von Stӓhlin, Von Manstein, Schmidt). In Poland, also William Coxe’s Travels into Poland, Russia... were noticed, of which descriptions of the rule and “characters” of the rulers, from the times of Peter I onwards, were made available to the Polish public. Furthermore, there were attempts made to publish Russian texts but the basis of Russian history was still popular Western literature, mainly francophone. Writers of the times of the reign of King Stanislaus II were not willing to use their better understanding of the Russian world, blended in the cultural space of the Republic. They preferred to use French writers compiling texts, to copy or adapt their points of view, formulas and evaluations, even when being aware of structural errors of this historiography. After 1772, also voices of German authors were heard, who had known Russia from personal experience (Pallas, Von Stӓhlin, Schmidt), as well as an English historian, participant of a trip “to Northern countries” (Coxe). We should also confirm a traditional, negative stereotype of a “Muscovite”, which was particularly dominant in the description of the neglected epoch before the rule of Peter the Great. In the historiography of the times of the reign of King Stanislaus II that ruler is the central figure of Russia’s history. Voltaire presentation was for a long time a pattern of the description of his rule and not until the 1780s Coxe’s publication gave rise to the correction of this picture. At the same time an important source of hagiographic legend of the tsar – Von Stӓhlin’s Anegdoty – was translated into the Polish language. At the close of the First Republic, translations of De Mauvillon appeared, and particularly of De Bauclair that were addressed to the audience who welcomed sensational topics, which presented brutality of the fight at the time of Elisabeth, Peter III, and Catherine II. Those publications appeared in the provinces, and the rest in the enlightened Warsaw dedicated for people connected with Stanislaus Augustus. Zbiór dziejopisów polskich and, until certain time, also Kodeks by Dogiel (the work was continued under the auspices of the King) were the only effects of the activities of the milieu of Załuski Library thriving mainly in the Saxon times – “end of the world of noble erudites” can be connected with the turning point of the first partition. Descriptions of Russia’s history were dominated by chronicle perspective and we can try in vain to search for philosophical deliberations, or tribute to Voltaire’s postulates, who demanded from historians to include civilizational, economic, moral threads.
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