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Subject: Historical Background #2: August of Saxony rss

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Scott Muldoon (silentdibs)
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August II of Saxony (1670-1733)

August, nicknamed "the Strong" due to his physical prowess, was cousin through his Danish mother to Swedish King Charles XII. In 1694 he inherited the electorship of Saxony from his father, who had died in the plague of 1691. From 1695-1699 he campaigned against the Turks at the head of the Holy Roman Imperial army. August must have felt constrained by the limited power afforded him as ruler of Saxony, since when Jan Sobieski King of Poland died in 1696, August put himself forward as a successor candidate. Ironically, Sobieski had sought closer relations with Sweden, as he saw the greatest danger to Poland coming from a strong Russia rising in the future. In contrast, August’s policy would in the end subject Poland to Russian domination.

For August to become King of Poland he had to convert to Catholicism. This proved no obstacle to August himself, but his wife Christine Eberhardine of Brandenburg-Bayreuth did not convert with him. August used considerable bribes and intrigues to win the Polish election but ultimately had to back his position using the Saxon army, and he was elected King in Krakow in 1697. August now had a base for increasing his power in central and eastern Europe even further. Encouraged by the Livonian nobleman Patkul, who desired to see Livonia liberated from Swedish rule, August joined the anti-Swedish coalition formed by Russia and Denmark in 1699. After a number of setbacks, including losses at the battles of Düna (1701), Klissow (1702), and Fraustadt (1706), as well as his loss of the Polish throne to Stanislaw Leszczynski in 1704, eventually Saxony itself was invaded by Swedish troops in 1707. August was forced to sign the treaty of Altranstädt, accepting his deposition from the throne of Poland; he was out of the game, at least for the moment.

After the Swedish disaster at Poltava in the summer of 1709, August easily removed Leszczynski from the Polish throne and restored himself to power. In 1710 he rejoined the coalition and declared war once again on Sweden, a war at much lower intensity than the initial one, ending in a truce in 1719. Peace was not fully restored until 1732.

August the Strong possessed formidable physical powers, and was said to be able to straighten horseshoes with his bare hands. As well, August was a formidable drinker and a lover of great banquets and parties, but he was also a patron of fine arts and architecture. He was strong in other, more familial matters; on his deathbed he legitimized three hundred and sixty of his illegitimate children! He obviously had a number of mistresses; one of the most famous being Aurora von Königsmarck, granddaughter to the Swedish field marshal Carl Johan von Königsmarck. Aurora was well known for both beauty and intelligence and she tried several times to open negotiations between August and Swedish King Charles XII, but Charles refused even to meet with her. Some say it was due to Charles’ supposed fear of women; others say that peace negotiations held no interest for Charles in the first place.

To the bitter end, August was eager to expand his domains; just before he died he had plans against Austria, which were fortunately canceled due to his demise.

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Sean Chick (Formerly Paul O'Sullivan)
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Fag an bealac! Riam nar druid ar sbarin lann! Cuimhnigidh ar Luimnech agus feall na Sassonach! Erin go Bragh! Remember Limerick! Remember Ireland and Fontenoy!
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Well, I'm afraid it'll have to wait. Whatever it was, I'm sure it was better than my plan to get out of this by pretending to be mad. I mean, who would have noticed another madman round here?
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His son, Maurice de Saxe, was one of the greatest generals of the eighteenth century.

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mario p.
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And his father Johann Georg III was there in relief of Wien under Turks' siege, leading the left wing of Sobieski's Army.
A fighting family, indeed.
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