The Holy See and Jan Kazimierz's abdication 1667-1668 Cover Image

Stolica Apostolska wobec abdykacji Jana Kazimierza 1667-1668
The Holy See and Jan Kazimierz's abdication 1667-1668

Author(s): Dorota Gregorowicz
Subject(s): Fine Arts / Performing Arts, History of Art
Published by: Arx Regia® Wydawnictwo Zamku Królewskiego w Warszawie – Muzeum
Keywords: abdication; diplomacy; Holy See; papacy; election; parliament; nuncio

Summary/Abstract: The abdication of Jan Kazimierz is an event which, in historiography, is discussed in the broadly understood context of European international relations in the second half of the seventeenth century. In addition to diplomacy in France, Neuberg, Brandenburg and Hapsburg, the diplomatic service of the Holy See was also very involved in the matter. It transpired that the reform programme in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and election of a vivente rege, which had been endorsed by the papacy, was impossible to implement in practice which is why, after the death of Queen Marie Louise, the Holy See’s priority was to persuade the king to re-marry as this could guarantee the line of succession in the Polish-Lithuanian state. However, having made political commitments to France, Jan Kazimierz was not interested in a new marriage and in May 1668 he informed the Pope of his plans to abdicate. Clement IX, however, resisted these proposals, and personally appealed to the king not to abdicate. The measures taken by papal diplomacy to prevent the abdication rested on the shoulders of the papal nuncios to the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth: Antonio Pignatelli and Galeazzo Marescotti. Rome was worried about further political instability in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and the election of the Tsarevich, which would threaten the position of the Catholic Church. The Holy See was clearly against Jan Kazimierz’s abdication, but it could not remain impartial to the on-going diplomatic efforts concerning the Polish-Lithuanian succession. Rome had to become involved in the political game being played out in Europe, and engaged in negotiations regarding the future election with Philip Wilhelm of Neuburg, Charles V, Duke of Lorraine and Friedrich VI, Margrave of Baden-Durlach. Contrary to the papal appeals and persuasions, on 16 September 1668 in the presence of the papal nuncio, Jan Kazimierz gave up the throne of Poland, handing it back to the state. The Holy See’s authority proved insufficient to steer the king away from the plans drawn up many years earlier, which had been influenced by the French-dominated European political game and by the internal divisions among the Polish szlachta.

  • Issue Year: 2/2015
  • Issue No: 2
  • Page Range: 139-165
  • Page Count: 27
  • Language: Polish