Jacob Heinrich von Flemming

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Portrait of Jacob Heinrich von Flemming (approx. 1720–30)

Jacob Heinrich Reichsgraf von Flemming , also Jakob Heinrich Graf von Flemming , (born March 3, 1667 in Hoff , Western Pomerania , † April 30, 1728 in Vienna ) was the most influential minister of Augustus the Strong and his army chief. He shaped the Saxon-Polish politics for almost two decades.

Nominally, he carried the official titles of Royal Polish and Electoral Saxon Field Marshal, Real Privy Councilor and Cabinet Minister, Grand Equestrian of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania , General Field Master of the Crown of Poland , Privy Council of War. He was a knight of the Elephant, Johanniter and St. Andrew orders and u. a. Lord of the Lords of Slawentzitz , Schlabervizevia, Wolezin, castle and castle seated in Martentin and Boehe (Boeck) and hereditary land marshal of Western Pomerania.


Flemming was the son of the Brandenburg Privy Council and President of the Court of Justice of the Pomerania, Georg Caspar von Flemming, from the Flemming family . His father's brother was Heino Heinrich von Flemming , a field marshal from the Electorate of Saxony and Brandenburg from 1690, who was raised to the rank of imperial count in 1700 - together with his brother . His brothers were the Electorate Chamberlain Joachim Friedrich von Flemming and the Brandenburg Lieutenant General Bogislaw Bodo von Flemming . From 1695 he held the Brandenburg court office of hereditary land marshal from Hinterpommern, which was transferred to his family in the 14th century.

Beginnings and acquisition of the Polish crown

After completing his law degree (1688), Flemming made a trip to England and then entered service in Brandenburg . He was at the siege of Kaiserswerth and Bonn in 1689 , at the Battle of Fleury in 1690 , near Leuze in 1691 and was accepted into the Order of St. John in the same year . In 1692 he took part in the campaign near Heilbronn as an adjutant from Kurbrandenburg and in the next year under the command of the Duke of Schomberg in the battle of Marsaglia in Piedmont .

Then he switched to the Electoral Saxon service; Elector Johann Georg IV appointed him colonel and adjutant general. After the Elector's death (1694), Flemming was taken over as Adjutant General by his successor, Elector Friedrich August , mainly because, in contrast to Flemming, he spoke insufficient French, but also got to know Flemming as a brave soldier.

Since Flemming spoke fluent English in addition to German and French, but above all Polish and had extensive, influential relatives in Poland (he was related by marriage to the Polish treasurer Przebendowski , among others ), Elector Friedrich August of Saxony, who was elected King of Poland aspired to be envoy in Warsaw in 1697 . Since the death of King John III. Sobieski In 1696 the Polish-Lithuanian crown was vacant. Flemming saw that only about a quarter of the votes would go to August and used unconventional tactics to secure the crown for him - instead of directly favoring his ruler, he always helped new candidates (e.g. Don Livio Odescalchi , the Pope's nephew) until there were eight more in the end and the competition was hopelessly fragmented. Despite this circumstance - as well as huge payments to the electorate (39 million Reichstaler) - it was in the end a head-to-head race with Prince Conti , whom he presented with a fait accompli - while the one from France only arrived, Flemming swore On behalf of August the Strong, he publicly took the oath on the Pacta conventa .

Political and military leadership

Copper engraving as a cavalry general and governor of Dresden (around 1707) with Polish hairstyle
Engraving as a cavalry general (before 1712)

In 1698, the newly crowned King August II of Poland-Lithuania appointed Flemming Major General of the Electoral Saxon Army, Secret War Council and General Postmaster of Saxony (Flemming sold the latter for 150,000 thalers). In 1699 Flemming was promoted to Lieutenant General and Grand Stable Master of Lithuania.

In 1700 Flemming took part in the Livonia-Courland campaign with varying success, with August the Strong in the Great Northern War against Charles XII. opened. The attack on Riga, undertaken despite his warnings but failed, led Saxony-Poland into a military conflict with the great power of Sweden. Flemming and his troops first conquered the Düna ski jump near Riga and renamed it "Augustenburg", but in 1701 the Swedes defeated the allied Russian-Saxon army in the battle of the Düna . In 1702 he was seriously wounded in the battle of Klissow and in 1703 he was sent to Copenhagen as an envoy . Domestically, in the same year he brought about the overthrow of Grand Chancellor Wolf Dietrich von Beichlingen , whose property he personally enriched himself. He worked with the electoral governor Anton Egon von Fürstenberg-Heiligenberg , but then pushed back his influence.

In 1705 the elector made him General of the Cavalry and Minister of War. He was also entrusted with the foreign affairs of the newly formed secret cabinet. In the Peace of Altranstädt in 1706, Charles XII. Flemming's extradition, because he had goods in Pomerania and was therefore a Swedish subject. Flemming freed his elector from this dilemma by leaving for Prussia - his title as hereditary land marshal of Western Pomerania suited him because he could move freely in Prussia at any time. When the Swedes had withdrawn from Poland (Charles XII turned against Russia and was defeated at Poltava in 1709 ), August the Strong (now King of Poland again) brought Flemming back as governor of the Dresden residence in 1707.

In 1712 Flemming was appointed field marshal (and thus army chief of the electorate) and secret war council president and led the Saxon troops against the Swedes under Magnus Stenbock in the Pomeranian campaign of 1715/1716 , including the sieges of Stralsund and Tönning and in the Battle of Gadebusch . However, his work as an always loyal and omnipresent diplomat and minister was far more important than his military achievements. In 1712 the elector granted him the office of minister director and thus in fact the position of prime minister with the sole right to speak. This position, combined with the permanent favor of his employer as well as the systematically built network in diplomacy, politics and administration, enabled Flemming to maintain his now undisputed leading role in Saxon-Polish politics until his death.

In 1713 he made sure that the royal mistress, Constantia von Cosel , who increasingly tried to influence August II through her policy that was committed to the emperor, was replaced by Maria Magdalena von Dönhoff , daughter of the Polish Crown Marshal Kazimierz Ludwik Bieliński, and banished from the court .

In 1715, after the victorious end of the fighting in northern Germany, Flemming led the Saxon troops to Poland, which he wanted to maintain there. Against and against his plans to make the Polish royal crown hereditary in the house of the Wettins, the Confederation of Tarnogród was formed in 1715 , whose troops he defeated in December 1715 at Sandomierz . He then negotiated with the Confederates and in 1716 achieved August's renewed recognition as King of Poland, although the Saxon army had to withdraw up to 1,200 guards from Poland. This result was confirmed in the “ Stummen Sejm ” in 1717. Flemming himself served as the strongest pillar of the fragile personal union, which he embodied through his close family ties to the Polish nobility. One after the other, he married two women from Polish magnate families .

Portrait of Louis de Silvestre (from the year of death 1728),
Njaswisch Castle Collection

Flemming also exerted considerable influence on relations with Brandenburg-Prussia, from 1697 to 1728 he was - with interruptions - accredited as ambassador extraordinary in Berlin and often acted as a middleman between the Viennese court (Prince Eugene of Savoy ) and Friedrich Wilhelm I. From 1717, however, the relationship deteriorated in the context of the denominational crisis of the Reich Association. In 1719 Flemming signed the alliance between Augustus the Strong and the Kaiser and Hanover against Prussia and was given supreme command of the entire Polish Crown Army. In the same year he concluded the marriage contract between the Elector Friedrich August , who had become Catholic , and the Archduchess Maria Josefa . From 1723 he succeeded in gradually normalizing relations with Prussia - right up to the conclusion of the friendship treaty of 1728, on the occasion of which the "Soldier King" was a guest in Flemming's Dresden house.

Flemming also worked as a domestic political reformer and improved the state administration of Saxony. He ensured the development of a reliable civil service, separated the finances of the “court” and “state” and initiated further reforms, advised by the economist Marperger . In order to mitigate the negative consequences of the sovereign change of faith, he - himself a tolerant, Catholic married Lutheran - turned emphatically against any kind of sectarian politics. Flemming corresponded with numerous learned contemporaries. He also wrote some Latin theological treatises himself.


In his main occupation as a soldier and politician, he created considerable private wealth through ongoing economic activity, above all through skillful trading in mansions and real estate, but also with industrial activities. Between 1702 and 1714 he was the owner of the Slawentzitz estate and is considered to be one of the pioneers of the Upper Silesian metallurgy . In 1709 he had several iron and brass hammers built in Slawentzitz and the neighboring town of Jakobswalde named after him, as well as in Blechhammer (Blachownia Śląska) , the latter being the most modern ironworks in Upper Silesia at the time. For a brass factory, a wire factory and a mirror factory, which were soon added, he recruited workers from the Ore Mountains and Brandenburg with tax exemptions . In 1703 he signed a social contract with Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz about the silk production planned in Saxony. In 1714 he exchanged Slawentzitz with Adolph Magnus Graf von Hoym for castle castle divisions with shares of church divisions . In 1718 he acquired Nebra with Birkigt . In 1721 he sold the goods on again. In 1719 he had also bought Lichtenwalde at a favorable price in order to sell it on in 1722. In 1724 he bought the Posterstein estate and castle in the Altenburger Land.

In 1714 he acquired the Palais Flemming-Sulkowski in Dresden, had it expanded and equipped with a magnificent staircase; In 1724 he sold it to the king, but took it over again from 1726 to 1728. In 1715 he also built today's Elbe wing of the Japanese Palace in Dresden, which he sold to the king in 1717 and received back from 1722 to 1726. As a summer residence at the gates of Dresden he commissioned Übigau Castle around 1725 , which he sold to Elector August the Strong shortly before completion . 1724 he acquired from the bankrupt highly indebted Court and Judicial Council Thomas August from Fletscher the Schloss Crossen , which then remained as only one of its acquisitions for many generations (until 1925) in his family, while the other possessed very soon (Posterstein but only 1833) were sold. His legacy was estimated at 14 to 16 million thalers, although his widow then had to pay half of it to the lordly chamber.

In 1725, after divorcing his first wife, Countess Franziska Sapieha , Flemming married the daughter of the Lithuanian Grand Chancellor, Princess Thekla Radziwill . His three sons died young.

Jacob Heinrich Graf von Flemming died on April 30, 1728 on a diplomatic trip in Vienna. In order to avoid the splendid but costly funeral conduction that was customary for the time, his body was brought back to Saxony in a trunk and buried in the crypt of the Marienkirche there on his estate Putzkau near Bautzen, which he bought in 1724 .

A modern political biography evaluating Flemming's enormous correspondence is still not available.


In the film series Sachsens Glanz und Preussens Gloria , Flemming was played by the actor Alfred Struwe .


Individual evidence

  1. ^ Rüdiger Bier: 1500 years of history and stories of the manorial seats for church divisions and castle divisions , self-published by Rittergut Kirchscheidungen 2009, pp. 313–315

Web links

Memorial plaque on the Marienkirche in Putzkau
Commons : Jacob Heinrich von Flemming  - Collection of images, videos and audio files