Canicula is upon us, so we should take a trip to the XVIII century and see some paintings of the Imperial Russia, namely the images of Yekaterina II or Catherine II (the Great)
, who being a nice Anhalt princess ended up as one the greatest Russian monarchs of all times.
True, she is not the most favorite with our Polish national tradition, being in effect one of three 'partitioners
' - Russian Empire, Austria Hapsburg Empire, Prussia - of the Polish State, but upon the Polish Partitions she had become de jure the Polish peoples' ruler too.
and the last painting by Jan Bogumił Plersz
from circa 1787 showing the ending of a conference
on the Dniepr River (Dnieper) then in the Polish Kingdom, between Yekaterina and her one-time paramour, our Polish ruler, his majesty king Stanisław August (pretty much bovine in his approach to politics - his coat of arms was Ciołek
), who was rather flippant and always in need of funding which he spent on art and sumptuous living, generating vast debts, thus he was constantly on Yekaterina's pay roll and always asking her for money. His reign started with his election fully forced by the Russian arms (there is a book coming about the war of 1764 election), then continued with the first national uprising known as the Bar Confederation, 1768-72) that also sought to dethrone
him but eventually ended up in a exhausting defeat by Russian armies, and in turn this complete subjugation of the Polish state lead to the First Partition of Poland. Nota bene this act was proposed by the Prussian monarch who at that time was a rather sly thief( why a thief, well amongst others he debased Polish gold coins stealing gold etc), known as Frederic II the Great.
Twenty years later King Poniatowski led his kingdom into a war with Russia over the May Constitution in 1792, but being the commander in chief and the actual architect of the whole situation he refused to lead his armies in field, instead remianing in his castle and just ordering the armies through the letters to his commanders, among his many war 'achievements' he refused to even visit the army camps when they needed a boost in morale, but upon surrender he eventually singed off the 2nd partition - great book
in English written by an American scholar in 1915. 1795 Kosciuszko Uprising was the last war for our independence with Poniatowski as our king, and he did nothing to help the cause, worried about his private affairs more than the state's. So when Polish armies were defeated, three powers went to divide the country.
Poniatowski abdicated on behalf of Russian Empire and thus singed off on the document dissolving the Polish Kingdom, on November 25, 1795, and then went to live his life in Saint Petersburg, Russian Empire, with 3/5of his debts and his life pension paid by Russia, Prussia and Austria. He died in 1798, again awfully in debt, leaving his estates under the Prussian occupation to prince Józef, who would become one of our national heroes. Rather disgraced former king Stanisław Poniatowski is not buried in the national sanctuary along our other kings and heroes inside the Wawel Castle Cathedral
In the bottom left-hand corner there is our Polish national cavalry with lances.