Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Queen Marie Lesczcynska

Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil--1 Corinthians 13:4-5

Queen Marie Lesczcynska ("Frenchified" into Lezincka) is certainly one of the most forgotten queens of France. She was born in 1702 to Stanislas and Katarzina Lesczcynska, in the midst of international turmoil. In 1700, Peter the Great (of Russia) and Augustus II (of Poland) had devised a scheme to rob the 18 year old King of Sweden, Charles XII, of his Swedish empire. However, they picked the wrong man. In the first large battle of the Great Northern War, Charles XII crushed the Russians at Narva. In 1702, Charles turned against the Poles, and defeated them at Klissow. He deposed Augustus II, and installed Stanislas as King of Poland. Stanislas was king of Poland for four years until 1709, until Charles XII was defeated at Poltava and Stanislas resigned as king.

He and his family (he had two daughters, Marie and Anne) moved to Alsace, a territory somewhat under French control.

King Louis XIV died in 1715, and his great-grandson Louis XV succeeded him. In 1725, the Regent (Louis, Duke of Bourbon) was looking for a suitable queen for the young king, because there was a fear that he would die childless. His choice fell on Marie. When Stanislas heard it, he went to inform his wife and daughter (Anne had died at this time) of the good news:

"Fall we on our knees, and thank God!"

"My dear father, can you be recalled to the throne of Poland?"

"God has done us a more astounding grace, you are Queen of France!"

In 1733, Augustus II died, and Stanislas returned to the throne, backed by France. Russia and Austria put Augustus III on the throne instead, igniting the War of the Polish Succession. Stanislas was forced out of Poland, but France compensated him with the duchies of Lorraine and Barrois (conquered by the French in the war).

Marie was a good wife to Louis XV, but he was a terrible husband to her. However, Marie seems to have borne it patiently. She has the distinction of being grandmother to three French kings: Louis XVI, Louis XVIII, and Charles X.

She died in 1762, four years before her father died.

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