2012 | 2 | 27-40
Article title

„Odkryta maszkara” Maria Kazimiera d’Arquien w pismach politycznych końca XVII wieku

Title variants
“A Discovered Monster”: Marie Casimire d’Arquien in Political Writing of the End of the Seventeenth Century
Languages of publication
Marie Casimire d’Arquien, despite legal and moral restrictions, engaged herself at the side of her husband King John II Sobieski, in an intense political activity. Thus, she exposed herself to a sharp criticism of adversaries, who in anonymous political writings revealed her purportedly real face. Unmasking her, that is “discovering the monster”, they created her biased image of a bad queen, wife and mother. They reproached her with ignominious political practices and “fiendish concepts”, i.e. the establishment of the female political party, backstage masterminding the Sejm sessions, trading in offices and titles, and dividing of the subjects. In the first place, however, appealing to the nobility’s constant fear of the decline of Golden Liberty, they accused this Polish Agrippina of thirst for power and desire for tyranny, together with pursuing a dynastic policy. Alarmed by her growing political independence (especially in the final years of King Sobieski’s reign and after his death during the convocation), they went as far as to cast aspersions on her, accusing the queen of having a love affair with Courland Prince Kettler or with the closest associate of the late king, Stanisław Szczuka. The king, criticised for succumbing to the influence of a lady, seldom responded to those attacks, not wanting to participate in such a loutish discussion, repugnant to regal majesty. He tried, on the other hand, to create a positive image of his beloved wife, commissioning both her high-quality representations, painted, drawn or coined on medals, and eulogies extolling her as the Morning Star, Mother Gaea-Rea and the founder of a new dynasty. The queen herself deplored the lack of sympathy from the misogynist nobility that was unable to accept in that patriarchal system a woman in the sphere of politics. Yet, according to the contemporary accounts, she was a thoughtful carer of the king and children, while some of her political concepts (such as, for instance, the idea to create an alliance of the Three Crowns) were worthy of attention from the perspective of the Commonwealth interest. She was also active in various other fields, and her financial ingenuity was amazing (she built an advanced shopping centre at Marywil). She was also taking care to increase the prestige of the royal family, organising a theatrical life of the court in line with the latest European fashion. Yet, finally, also due to negative propaganda evoking a lively response among the nobility, she has been remembered as a political intriguer, plotting to the detriment of Poland.
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