August III. (Poland)

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
August III. by Pietro Antonio Rotari , 1755
Portrait of Prince Elector August in armor by Nicolas de Largillière , 1715
Louis XIV of France receives the later King of Poland and Elector of Saxony, August III., At Fontainebleau Palace in 1714 from Louis de Silvestre , 1715

Friedrich August II. (Born October 17, 1696 in Dresden ; † October 5, 1763 ibid) was elector and Duke of Saxony in 1733 after the death of his father August the Strong and as August III. also King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania . In continuation of his father's foreign policy, he led the Electorate of Saxony into the devastating Seven Years' War . The personal union of Saxony-Poland ended with his death. His rank as one of the greatest art patrons of his time is undisputed. In 1736 he founded the Order of St. Heinrich .

Upbringing and marriage

Usually it is said of the son of King August II and Christiane Eberhardine of Brandenburg-Bayreuth that he often withdrew into the private sphere and paid little attention to politics. In the older literature it is emphasized that he liked to organize big hunts, often went to the opera, looked after his extensive art collections , and showed a great sense of family. The more recent Polish research, such as Jacek Staszewski, however, also emphasizes that August III. was a very hardworking and prudent Polish king.

His upbringing initially took place at the court of his grandmother Anna Sophie , a Danish king's daughter with a widow's residence in Prettin , and was influenced by members of the aristocratic opposition who rejected the king and his Polish policy. The most serious family point of contention was the question of religion, because both Friedrich August's mother Christiane Eberhardine (resided in Pretzsch ) and his grandmother refused to convert to Catholicism, which was the prerequisite for a later succession as king in Poland. August the Strong then decided to withdraw him from the influence of the two women and the aristocratic opposition and in May 1711 unexpectedly sent him on a multi-year cavalier tour across Europe.

In November 1712 the prince converted to the Catholic faith. But the conversion was kept secret for years so as not to challenge the opposition in the motherland of the Reformation . Although Friedrich August (II.) Became a Catholic at the request of his father and after years of cavalier tour showed himself inclined to the beautiful sides of life (art, music, hunts, etc.), he also became a thoroughly pious man with moral claims, who rejected the mistress economy and the almost endless, noisy celebrations of his father and later led a functioning marriage. In October 1717, his conversion to the faith was announced in Vienna, which triggered a domestic political crisis in Saxony, but also enabled him to apply for the hand of the emperor's daughter.

As electoral prince, in 1719 he married the daughter of Emperor Joseph I , Maria Josepha of Austria (* December 8, 1699 in Vienna, † November 17, 1757 in Dresden), Archduchess of Austria , Princess of Hungary and Bohemia, etc. The marriage should follow him later claim to the Habsburg inheritance for the will of his father (cf. Pragmatic Sanction ). The so-called planetary celebrations as part of the wedding made city history in Dresden. Maria Josepha was unusually religious. Even as a young girl, she had accompanied priests in their work with the sick and dying, and cared for the elderly and the sick herself. Her favorite saint was the Jesuit Franz Xaver , which is also reflected in the naming of several sons (their daughters were all called Maria). She was equally religious and open-minded towards the Enlightenment and shared the joy of hunting with her husband. The physical handicap of the later Crown Prince Friedrich Christian is probably due to the fact that she fell from a horse while hunting during pregnancy.

In the course of the 1720s, Friedrich August (II.) Was gradually introduced to the government and took over the management of the secret cabinet and the deputy of his father in his absence in Poland. Even then, however, he preferred the "collegial form of decision-making".

As elector and king

Election of August III. to the Polish king

The elector was elected King of Poland with the support of Austria and Russia as well as the usual bribery of the magnates and slaughtera , which triggered the War of the Polish Succession (1733-1738). His election only came about when Russian troops under Peter von Lacy appeared on the Vistula and the supporters of King Stanisław Leszczyński , the candidate of France and Sweden, who had been elected a few days earlier, had withdrawn from Warsaw . August III. was crowned on January 17, 1734 in Cracow and during his visit to Leipzig on October 5, 1734, was honored with the cantata Praise your luck, blessed Saxony , for which Johann Sebastian Bach had composed the music. He maintained the crown in the Peace of Vienna (1738) with a significant loss of sovereignty of the once very powerful state of Poland-Lithuania , which, however, had already established under August the Strong . For example, the uprising of the Confederation of Dzików under Adam Tarło , who opposed the election, had to be suppressed in 1734–1736 . Period of the reign of August III. Russian troops remained stationed in the east of the country, even if that was not viewed negatively in view of the good relations with Tsarina Elisabeth at the time.

The leeway for his government in Poland-Lithuania was extremely narrow in view of the dispute between the two large magnate groups, the Czartoryski and Potocki in the Sejm . In reform proposals on the part of the crown one usually saw attacks on law and freedom, so that the electoral-Saxon and royal-Polish Prime Minister Heinrich von Brühl advanced one of the various groups to protect the royal interests. The magnate parties for their part enjoyed foreign support, so that Poland-Lithuania became the plaything of rival neighboring powers. Almost all of the Reichstag remained inconclusive despite an abundance of reform proposals from both parties (see Liberum Veto ). One example was the diets of 1744 and 1746, in which the Crown and the Grand Chancellor wanted to initiate carefully defined reforms in the economic and military sectors. Ultimately, they failed in the Sejm because of the delaying tactics of the opposing party and under foreign interference. Without properly held Sejms, ministers were also not required to account, which fueled corruption.

In view of this state of affairs, the King and his Prime Minister Brühl in Poland hoped to keep themselves afloat with the “ministerial system” of magnates loyal to the Saxony (who sat or were placed in key positions) and to be able to connect both countries politically. During the Seven Years' War they even obtained the approval of their three allies for Saxony to run for the throne again, but the successes were only apparent and not permanent. So at the end of the 1750s there was a barely disguised dispute between the Czartoryski and the supporters of the court, which, among other things, once again unsuccessfully split the Sejm apart in autumn 1762. The king offered the Czartoryski reconciliation, but in the end they demanded that all vacancies be granted in their favor and that Brühl be removed, which he could not grant.

August III. from Poland on horseback, engraving after Johann Elias Ridinger
August III. of Poland and Saxony in Polish costume, Louis de Silvestre , around 1737
Sarcophagus of August III. in the donor crypt of the Wettiner crypt
Friedrich August of Saxony as electoral prince in armor and with a Mohr by Hyacinthe Rigaud , 1715, Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister , Dresden
Friedrich August of Saxony

A modest economic upswing was still noticeable in Poland, later impaired by the effects of the Seven Years' War (Prussian coin forgery, contributions, requisitions and, in some cases, looting by Russian troops).

In Saxony, Heinrich von Brühl led the sole government after the overthrow of Alexander Sulkowski from 1738 to 1756 and united a large number of offices and posts. In 1746 he became formally prime minister. Brühl had the sole right to speak to the king and a court of around 300 people. From the spring of 1738 onwards, the other ministers were no longer allowed to appear before the king without a request, which made Brühl practically unassailable, but made his weaknesses and mistakes all the more serious.

Brühl was a successful diplomat and consolidated the administration, but was sharply attacked in the state parliament in 1749 for wrong financial policy. It became the last state parliament until 1763. Despite ruthless financial measures Brühls steered Saxony into a state crisis. The forced exchange of assets for government bonds shook the economy, the already too small army had to be disarmed and a significant portion of the taxes mortgaged. In addition, there was pressure from outside, because Saxon exports were severely hindered by the Prussian and Austrian (customs) policy of the time.

In the first two Silesian Wars , the Brühl government first tried to isolate Prussia, which had occupied Silesia. The Dresden Alliance of February 16, 1741 seemed to offer the opportunity, but in practice neither Saxony nor Austria had an operational army - and Russia was no longer a political partner with the death of Tsarina Anna - so that the alliance became invalid. Saxony therefore joined the Nymphenburg Alliance on October 19, 1741 . Five weeks later, the Saxon troops moved into Prague with their allies and Karl Albrecht of Bavaria was elected Emperor on January 24, 1742 with the vote of Saxony (see Vicariate Coins (Saxony) #Friedrich August II. ). In the joint Prussian-Saxon campaign to Moravia (1742) and the subsequent peace treaty , however, it became clear that nothing could be gained from this alliance. Saxony subsequently joined Austria again, but the decisive battle of Kesselsdorf ended on December 15, 1745 despite several advantages, such as: B. the presence of the Austrian army with the defeat of the inexperienced Saxon General Staff against the Prussians, Dresden was occupied. The peace of Dresden ended this war.

After the peace, Brühl pursued a mediation policy aimed at bringing the imperial family closer to France and thus encircling Prussia. He quickly succeeded in restoring the foreign-political reputation of Saxony-Poland through diplomatic channels ( subsidy treaty with France; marriage of the French crown prince to a daughter of August III in February 1747; double wedding with Bavaria in June 1747). But when his and other similar efforts finally culminated in the overthrow of the alliances or a strong anti-Prussian coalition (1756) many years later , Saxony found itself on the basis of the above. State crisis already in the diplomatic sidelines. Frederick II (who knew largely about the plans of the alliance through informants in the Dresden and Petersburg offices) decided to take a preemptive strike at a time when Saxony was neither politically nor militarily prepared for war.

The too small Saxon army surrendered under Count Rutowski (without a fight against the will of the king) at Lilienstein (cf. Siege near Pirna ), August III. and his court moved to Warsaw , where they remained in relative political impotence until the end of the war. Nevertheless, the presence of the king in Warsaw is also rated positively, as the permanent court holding (despite the severely limited financial resources) enhanced the capital city function of this city by giving cultural impulses and also forcing the Polish magnates to be more present. When in 1759 a further stay in Dresden no longer seemed appropriate, even dangerous, for the Elector Friedrich Christian , he fled with his family to Munich, where he was met by his brother-in-law, Elector Maximilian III. Joseph was hospitable and stayed for two years.

Saxony, on the other hand, now temporarily administered by the Prussians and (at least temporarily) by some cabinet ministers around Wackerbarth-Salmour , became a theater of war and suffered from the high contributions on both sides, as well as the confiscation of all state coffers, tax increases and coin forgery by the Prussians, as well as the forced recruitment . Prussia alone drew contributions of around 48 million Reichstalers from the country; the profits from the Prussian coin forgeries (to the detriment of Saxony and Poland) are estimated at around 45 million thalers. Overall, Saxony paid over a third of the Prussian war costs (see quote attributed to Friedrich II. V. Prussia : "Saxony is like a sack of flour, no matter how often you hit it, something always comes out."), The Prussians of their own Means, in spite of the English subsidies, could not have paid. Dresden itself changed occupation and was besieged by Friedrich II in 1760, which resulted in extensive destruction in the city.

When the Seven Years' War ended in the Treaty of Hubertusburg in 1763, Saxony, which had been quite wealthy until then (despite mismanagement), was ruined, which the royal court was reluctant to acknowledge. Although Brühl formally remained in office and dignity, a new era began with the establishment of a restoration commission around Baron Thomas von Fritsch . The commission consisted mainly of people with political-administrative experience and upper-class origins, was under the protection of Prince Elector Friedrich Christian and began its work in April 1762. However, the implementation of the proposals did not take place until the following years. At least in August 1763, d. H. the state parliament was convened during the reign of the king, in which the acceptance and reduction of the debt burden by the estates was the main theme.

August III. died while attending the opera on October 5, 1763, Brühl died three weeks later. The king was buried in the Wettiner crypt of the Catholic court church. In the subsequent award of the Polish crown had Sachsen no influence. Poland-Lithuania was more than ever come under the domination of Russia, and the successor of Augustus III . Stanisław August Poniatowski , determined the Empress . Catherine II lasting fame, however, gave the Elector -King his love for art.

Of operas and paintings

The Dresden opera at that time was one of the biggest and best stages of Europe. It held 2,000 spectators in the 1750s and consumed millions for its upkeep. Johann Adolf Hasse's annual salary alone was 12,000 thalers, the total staff cost over 100,000 thalers a year. A ballet opera performed twice cost over 36,000 thalers in February 1752. The prima donnas were Faustina Bordoni and her rival Regina Valentini . For example, the productions Solimano (1753) and Ezio (1755) were worth mentioning . For Ezio , 500 actors, 102 horses and eight dromedaries were brought on stage and paid 30,000 thalers for them. But nothing happened that had a musically revolutionary effect, rather the late baroque development reached its brightly shining climax and end.

In Warsaw, too, the king tried to promote opera. But the opera house in the Saxon Garden , built on his instructions in 1748, was never fully occupied with 540 seats, to the regret of the king. The Poles strongly criticized the foreign (i.e. Italian and French) character of the programs carried out by foreigners.

August III. was also known as a painting collector for whom buyers (e.g. Francesco Algarotti ) worked all over Europe. After the arrival of the collection of the Duke of Modena , the paintings were represented in the converted stable building at Jüdenhof from 1747 and at the same time made into a public, generally accessible collection, which was not a matter of course at the time. According to Heinecken, they were divided into four classes: the first-class were in the gallery, the second-class in Hubertusburg Castle, the third-class in Warsaw and the fourth-class (i.e. many copies) in the archive. The Sistine Madonna acquired by Raphael in 1754 is regarded as the most important painting today ; in the 18th century it was the Holy Night of Correggio (acquired in 1746 with the Duke of Modena's gallery); The long unrecognized slumbering Venus of Giorgione is also of great art historical importance . Brühl emulated his master and bought his own gallery , which had fewer paintings, but was longer than the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles . His heirs later sold a large part of his collection to the Tsarina Katharina .

Construction work during his time in Saxony

Since August III. His father's knowledgeable building passion was missing, so the administrative and artistic direction of the building process fell to Johann Christoph Knöffel , the youngest among the senior building officials, August the Strong. Also, the king was no longer the main client, but the influential representatives of the court and civil servant nobility, above all Prime Minister Count Brühl, a patron of Knöffels. In spite of this, Dresden architecture was still up to date. Knöffel was succeeded by Julius Heinrich Schwarze in 1752 .

Construction work of his time in Poland

Saxon Palace in Warsaw , 18th century

Warsaw only had about 25,000 inhabitants around 1750 (compared to Dresden 60,000) and lagged behind other European capitals in its development. The city also changed its appearance during the Saxon period, which Canaletto recorded between 1767 and 1780 in his vedute for King Stanislaus II Poniatowski.

The royal building activity in Poland was directed by the Warsaw Building Department, which under August III. until 1754 Joachim Daniel Jauch and then Johann Friedrich Knöbel chaired. The younger Pöppelmann also played an important role in Polish building affairs . For the buildings in Poland, according to Count Hennicke's estimate, six times the sum that August II had spent on it was required.

On the Polish side, the work in the capital was subject to the authorities under Grand Crown Marshal Bielinski . He tried to plan and pave the streets, build sewers and demolish dilapidated or abandoned houses and huts (cf. Komisja Brukowa ).


Archduchess Maria Josepha of Austria, later Electress of Saxony

On August 20, 1719, he married Maria Josefa Benedikta (1699–1757), Archduchess of Austria in Vienna . Together they had the following fifteen children, eleven of whom survived childhood:

  • Friedrich August Franz Xaver (born November 18, 1720 in Dresden; † January 22, 1721 there), Royal Prince of Poland and Prince Elector of Saxony
  • Joseph August Wilhelm Friedrich Franz Xaver Johann Nepomuk (born October 24, 1721 in Pillnitz, † March 14, 1728 in Dresden), Royal Prince of Poland and Prince Elector of Saxony
  • Friedrich Christian (1722–1763), Royal Prince of Poland and Elector of Saxony
  • stillborn daughter (* / † June 23, 1723 in Dresden)
  • Maria Amalia (1724–1760), Royal Princess of Poland and Princess of Saxony ⚭ Karl, Duke of Parma and Piacenza, King of Spain, Naples and Sicily
  • Maria Margareta Franziska Xaveria (born September 13, 1727 in Dresden, † February 1, 1734 ibid), Royal Princess of Poland and Princess of Saxony
  • Maria Anna (1728–1797), Royal Princess of Poland and Princess of Saxony ⚭ Maximilian III. Joseph, Elector of Bavaria
  • Franz Xaver (1730–1806), Royal Prince of Poland and Prince of Saxony, Count of Lusatia, Administrator of Saxony
  • Maria Josepha Karolina (1731–1767), Royal Princess of Poland and Princess of Saxony ⚭ Ludwig Ferdinand, Dauphin of France
  • Karl Christian (1733–1796), Royal Prince of Poland and Prince of Saxony, Duke of Courland and Semigallia
  • Maria Christina (1735–1782), Royal Princess of Poland and Princess of Saxony, Lady of the Star Cross and Prince Abbess of Remiremont
  • Maria Elisabeth Apollonia (born February 9, 1736 in Warsaw, † December 24, 1818 in Dresden), Princess of Poland and Saxony, lady of the Star Cross
  • Albert Kasimir (1738–1822), Royal Prince of Poland, Prince of Saxony, Duke of Teschen and Governor General of the Austrian Netherlands
  • Clemens Wenceslaus (1739–1812), Royal Prince of Poland and Prince of Saxony, Canon of Cologne, Provost of St. Johann and Ellwangen, Prince-Bishop of Freising, Regensburg and Augsburg, Elector and Archbishop of Trier
  • Maria Kunigunde (1740–1826), Royal Princess of Poland and Princess of Saxony, Lady of the Star Cross, canons of Münsterbilsen, Abbess of Thorn and Essen


He was played by actor Rolf Hoppe in the film series Sachsens Glanz und Preussens Gloria .


Pedigree August III.

Johann Georg I (1585–1656)
⚭ 1607
Magdalena Sibylle of Prussia (1586–1659)

Christian of Brandenburg-Bayreuth (1581–1655)
⚭ 1604
Marie of Prussia (1579–1649)

Christian IV (1577–1648)
⚭ 1597
Anna Katharina von Brandenburg (1575–1612)

Georg of Braunschweig and Lüneburg (1582–1641)
⚭ 1617
Anna Eleonore of Hesse-Darmstadt (1601–1659)

Christian of Brandenburg-Bayreuth (1581–1655)
⚭ 1604
Marie of Prussia (1579–1649)

Joachim Ernst (1583–1625)
⚭ 1612
Sophie von Solms-Laubach (1594–1651)

Johann Friedrich von Württemberg (1582–1628)
⚭ 1609
Barbara Sophia von Brandenburg (1584–1636)

Johann Kasimir von Salm-Kyrburg (1577–1651)
⚭ 1607
Dorothea zu Solms-Laubach (1579–1631)

Great grandparents

Elector Johann Georg II. (1613–1680)
⚭ 1638
Magdalena Sibylle of Brandenburg-Bayreuth (1612–1687)

King Friedrich III. (1609–1670)
⚭ 1643
Sophie Amalie von Braunschweig-Calenberg (1628–1685)

Erdmann August von Brandenburg-Bayreuth (1615–1651)
⚭ 1641
Sophie von Brandenburg-Ansbach (1614–1646)

Duke Eberhard III. (1614–1674)
⚭ 1637
Anna Katharina Dorothea von Salm-Kyrburg (1614–1655)


Elector Johann Georg III. (1647–1691)
⚭ 1666
Anna Sophie of Denmark (1647–1717)

Margrave Christian Ernst of Brandenburg-Bayreuth (1644–1712)
⚭ 1671
Sophie Luise of Württemberg


King August II (1670–1733)
⚭ 1693
Christiane Eberhardine of Brandenburg-Bayreuth (1671–1727)

August III.

See also


The first August d'or gold coin for Poland 1753–1756
21 carat 8 grän fine = 902.778 ‰ gold fine weight = 6.032 g


Web links

Commons : August III. (Poland)  - collection of images

Individual evidence

  1. So says z. B. Marcin Matuszewicz (1714–1773), quoted by Marian Drozdowski in: Saxony and Poland between 1697 and 1765 ( ISBN 978-0-01-437043-6 ), that he was an "exemplary Roman Catholic, thoroughly pious", " also inclined to music and opera, and comedy, not greedy and a very generous supporter ”, and that he“ avoided any work and efforts for the welfare of the state ”and“ did not want to know anything and relied on his ministers for everything. " Giacomo Casanova wrote of him:" Never was a monarch such a rejected enemy of thrift; he laughed at the rascals who stole from him and spent a lot to be able to laugh a lot. Since he did not have enough spirit to be able to laugh at the stupidity of other princes and at the ridiculousness of the human race, he had four jokers in his wages ", chap11.html Count Poniatowski remarked: “During the hunt, especially during a happy hunt, the king seemed dissimilar to himself: funny, accommodating, talkative, so that everyone [...] almost doubted that the same proud, serious, silent king could do it that was otherwise only seen surrounded by strict etiquette that prevented almost any approach. ” Memoirs, p. 57
  2. see also: Ingrid S. Weber: Planetary Festival August the Strong for the wedding of the Crown Prince in 1719 . Battenberg, Munich 1985
  3. Stasz., P. 172.
  4. For more information on the sovereignty crisis and reform policy, see August III. see e.g. B. Michael G. Müller: Poland between Prussia and Russia, Berlin 1983.
  5. On the looting of the Russians and Prussians in Poland: there were compensation payments around 1760 (cf. Staszewski, p. 244)
  6. Jester Fröhlich (posthumously) about Brühl: “You are a lawyer without understanding a word of law. You are a warrior without understanding anything other than a shotgun. But most of all you are a collector. […] You lose whole hundred pounds of gold and silver and turn them into papers, a wonderful art! "
  7. So z. For example, there has been a stagnation of the previously steadily increasing number of manufactory foundations with a simultaneously higher number of succumbing from 1740. (Der stille König, p. 8)
  8. The Austrian tariff restrictions (up to 60%) were introduced in 1730 in the course of the dispute over the pragmatic sanction and only lifted again in the Seven Years' War in 1758.
  9. August III. exceptionally passed over Brühl before going to the opera and left Frederick II's army for the upcoming campaign against Bohemia. Without having fought a battle, Frederick II burned the Saxon army so that their combat strength was only 50 percent. The siege of Brno had to be omitted for lack of artillery, since August III. had no money for it after buying a large emerald for 400,000 thalers. Brühl then kept the Saxon army out of the battle of Chotusitz (May 1742) without the knowledge of the king .
  10. As early as 1751, the arrears in pay in the Saxon army were one and a half to two years, so that some of the officers were insolvent. In 1756 the General War Treasury did not even contain 4,000 thalers for the first mobilization measures and August III. reached into the private box to pay for it.
  11. “My God, what are you thinking of? Do you want to sacrifice the army without taking a single shot? […] Do you lack the courage to fight? ”Cf. Klaus Hoffmann-Reicker : Unknown facts from Saxony's history, p. 118 f. - Scharnhorst said in 1792 about the situation of the electorate: “If it (that is, Saxony) could have opposed 40,000 (men) to the King of Prussia in 1756, as now, he might have granted him the required neutrality; and so the standing army would have protected this country against irreplaceable damage and tribulations. "
  12. Cf. chapter on Poland's capital Warsaw from Jacek Staszewski: August III. Elector of Saxony and King of Poland, p. 224 ff.
  13. Cf. Frank Metasch: The coinage as a weapon. The Prussian counterfeit coins in Saxony during the Seven Years' War, in: Prussia and Saxony. Scenes from a neighborhood, p. 280.
  14. See Dresdner Hefte 68: Saxony and Dresden in the Seven Years' War, p. 32. - The trade fair city of Leipzig alone paid him over 10.7 million thalers in contributions during the war . Cf. D. Vogel: True stories about Count Brühl, p. 55.
  15. According to Friedrich II. In "Memories from the Peace of Hubertusburg to the End of the Partition of Poland", the intrigues of the Viennese and Dresden courts initially had an impact on the politics of the Tsarina. Only the death of August III. and his son, the Elector Friedrich Christian, gave things a different turn. The successor was still a minor and Count Panin persuaded the Tsarina to put a Piast on the throne of Poland. Catherine II communicated her plans to the King of Prussia, who had her diplomatic support through his envoy in Warsaw. In March / April 1764 the alliance treaty between Russia and Prussia was concluded. (Cf. The works of Frederick the Great. In German translation, edited by Gustav Berthold Volz, 10 vols., Berlin: Hobbing, 1913 f., 5th volume: old history, state and pamphlets, p. 7 f.)
  16. a b (Secret Diary, p. 33)
  17. (Ortrun Landmann in: Der stille König, p. 46)
  18. Staszewski p. 225 and a.
  19. cf. Staszewski: AIII., P. 224.
predecessor Office successor
Friedrich August I. Elector of Saxony
Friedrich Christian
August II.
Or Stanislaus I (anti-king)
King of Poland
Grand Duke of Lithuania
1733 / 36–1763
Stanislaus II