Stanisław II August (1732-1798) was the last King and Grand Duke of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth (1764–95). Born into a Polish noble family he received a great education and traveled all over Europe. In 1756, he visited St. Petersburg, Russia and met the future Russian Empress Yekaterina Alexeyevna (later known as Catherine the Great).
They became lovers and Stanislaw tried to use the relationship for personal gain. In 1763, King August III died and Stanislaw returned to Poland to campaign for the Polish-Lithuanian throne. Catherine the Great invested 2.5m rubles in Stanislaws campaign and “coincidentally” the Russian army was just stationed outside Warsaw when the election took place. Unsurprisingly, Stanislaw was elected King in 1764. Though Stanislaw had succeeded, Catherine the Great’s agenda was to retain control of the Polish-Lithuanian region all along…
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Photo Credits / Sources:
Marcello Bacciarelli [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons