Michał Serwacy Wiśniowiecki

Michał Serwacy Wiśniowiecki

Born (1680-05-13)May 13, 1680
Died September 18, 1744(1744-09-18) (aged 64)
Education Jesuit College, Lwów
Title Hetman, Prince
Religion Roman Catholicism
Spouse(s) Catherine Dolska
Maria Magdalena Czartoryska
Tekla Róża Radziwiłł
Children Anna Wiśniowiecka
Katarzyna Wiśniowiecka
Parent(s) Konstanty Krzysztof Wiśniowiecki
Anna Chodorowska

Prince Michał Serwacy Wiśniowiecki (16801744) was a Polish nobleman, magnate, politician, diplomat, general, a successful military commander and the last male representative of the Wiśniowiecki family.[1]

He was the Lithuanian Field Hetman in 1703 and between 17071735, Castellan of Vilnius from 1703, Great Hetman of Lithuania in 1703-1707 and again in 1735. Regimentarz of the Lithuanian army since 1730, Voivode of Vilnius between 1706-1707 and 1735 and marshal of the Lithuanian Tribunal. Great Chancellor of Lithuania from 1720, Marshal of the Sejm from 11 June to 19 August 1703 in Lublin and Governor of Pińsk, Wołkowysk, Gliniany, Tuchola, Wilkisk, Wilkowsk, Metel and Merecz.[2]

During Civil war in Lithuania in 1700 Wiśniowiecki was the leader of the opposition against Sapieha clan and defeated them in the battle of Olkieniki, turning their Ruzhany Palace to ashes. Supporter of Augustus II the Strong till 1707, when came on the side of Stanisław I Leszczyński. In the same year imprisoned by the Russians, since 1709 was on exile. In 1716, when accepted rule of Augustus II the Strong, returned to the country. In 1733 he supported the Russian intervention and forced election of Augustus III.[3]

Wiśniowiecki was one of the wealthiest magnates in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and his burial ceremony in Wiśniowiec is considered as the most lavish of the 18th century in Poland.

Early life and family

Because Wiśniowiecki's biological father died young, he and his older brother were raised by their stepfather, Jan Karol Dolski. Michał studied at the Jesuit college in Lwów, where he graduated in 1695. At the same time, his stepfather died and Wiśniowiecki's mother, desiring to keep the property and the wealth of her deceased husband, quickly arranged marriage of his daughter Catherine with Michał, although he was just 15 years old. The wedding took place without any publicity, in order to silence the protests of Catherine's family, who would confiscate her rightful estates and the money. Shortly after the wedding he left his wife in Poland and went on a trip abroad, during which he spent a year in the military academy in Paris. From abroad he returned in 1697 to take part in the new election of a king, during which he supported the candidacy of the Wettin family member and Elector of Saxony, Augustus II the Strong. At the same time, a conflict erupted between Michał and his mother about the former wealth of his stepfather. In this case the possession conflict also concerned his wife. Eventually, Michał and his brother inherited the fortune that Dolski left, however, this greatly and negatively influenced the relationship with his mother.

Political and military career

Wiśniowiecki's proper political career began on the eve of the Lithuanian Civil War in 1700, when he was the leader of the opposition against Sapieha family clan and defeated them in the battle of Olkieniki, turning their Ruzhany Palace to ashes. After becoming Speaker of the Parliament in Lublin, in 1703, the noble Diet appointed him Lithuanian Field Hetman, Castellan of Vilnius and eventually he gained the title of the Great Hetman of Lithuania. Throughout the civil war period in the early eighteenth century, Wiśniowiecki was a supporter of Augustus II, and only few months after Augustus' abdication in 1707, he switched sides only to favour the new king Stanisław I Leszczyński. Moreover, Michał was forced to give back the title of a Hetman and the province of Vilnius. After the defeat of the Swedish army at the Battle of Poltava that Wiśniowiecki aided and supported, he was forced (from the Russian side) to give up his family and possessions. After his refusal on September 8, 1709 he was immediately imprisoned by the Russian Imperial Army. Despite the intercession of many people, including king Augustus II himself, who then returned to Poland, Tsar Peter the Great was not going to release the prince, whom he considered a traitor and a liar. Only after a year Michał managed ot escape, but for a long time he was not able to return to the country where the Russian troops remained and stationed, especially in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania.

After several years of trying to restore the Leszczyński family on the Polish throne, and after heavy negotiations with Augustus, in spring of 1716 Wiśniowiecki returned to Poland, but the prince could not count on retaining his former titles and posts as these were already occupied by strong supporters and loyal friends of the king. It was only in 1720 that the post of Chancellor of Lithuania became vacant and after some hesitation, the king allowed Michał to become the Chancellor. Also during this time he was awarded the Order of the White Eagle. After the death of the Great Lithuanian Hetman Ludwik Pociej (1730), Prince Michał renewed his efforts to recover the title of a Hetman. But the king refused to trust him and Wiśniowiecki only received the position of commander-General (Regimentarz) in practice, however - in the absence of the Hetman - the monarch granted him full authority and command over the military of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania.[4] After the death of Tsar Peter I, Wiśniowiecki improved his relations with Russia and, therefore, in the course of the 1733 election he supported the election of Augustus III. As one of the few magnates he took part in the coronation of the king in the Wawel Cathedral in Kraków and, ironically, later fought against the supporters of Stanisław Leszczyński, although he himself preferred not to be involved in this conflict. In return for his services to the new king, in 1735 Michał fully regained the title of a Hetman. He also received numerous counties, towns, villages and towards the end of his life Wiśniowiecki has become one of the strongest magnates in the Grand Duchy and the Eastern parts of the Commonwealth.

He died on September 16, 1744 in the town of Merecz. His third wife, Tekla Róża Radziwiłł organized an extravagant and lavish funeral that lasted nearly three days. During the ceremony, the guards presented the mourners and the audience with 12 portraits of his ancestors and a ceremonial breaking of the shield was conducted as a sign of extinction of the noble family.

See also


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