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The Polish Revolution and the Catholic Church, 1788–1792A Political History$
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Richard Butterwick

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199250332

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199250332.001.0001

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‘Une renaissance de barbarie’? The autumn of 1790

‘Une renaissance de barbarie’? The autumn of 1790

(p.206) 9Une renaissance de barbarie’? The autumn of 1790
The Polish Revolution and the Catholic Church, 1788–1792

Richard Butterwick

Oxford University Press

The autumn of 1790 saw the decisive turning point of the Polish Revolution. The enlightened republican vision of Ignacy Potocki, already bogged down, encountered both a royalist counter‐attack and the hostility of provincial nobles. This chapter examines the debates over the status of the dominant Catholic and tolerated faiths, before analysing the instructions of the November 1790 sejmiks. Most criticized the Commission of National Education, called for the return of the Jesuits. The case of the Wilno sejmik reveals the tactics to which opponents of such a call resorted. The sejmiks also overwhelmingly rejected an hereditary throne, and articulated ‘unenlightened’ social, political, and cultural ‘prejudices’. Many also expressed strongly anti‐clerical views, mostly of a traditional kind. The majority of the new cohort of envoys were supporters of King. These instructions and elections disillusioned Potocki, who soon afterwards handed the initiative on the new form of government to the monarch.

Keywords:   Ignacy Potocki, King Stanisław August Poniatowski, Cardinal Laws, Roman Catholicism, religious toleration, sejmiks, education, Jesuits, enlightenment, republicanism

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