The Tercentenary of the Polish Princess Clementina’s Escape
Edited By Richard Maher
In May 1719, the rescue and escape of Princess Maria Clementina Sobieska from her detention in Innsbruck was celebrated throughout Catholic Europe. It was a feat of painstaking planning, daring execution, and steel-nerved improvisation. Masterminded by Kildareman Charles Wogan, he and his Irish and French companions influenced the course of international relations, shocking King George I’s government in London, and providing a much-needed boon to the followers of the exiled Stuart claimant, James Stuart III.
This unique collection of essays does not merely recount the factual story of Maria Clementina’s rescue and subsequent marriage, it provides for the first time in any publication an authoritative analysis of its political and cultural significance and the full historical context in which the event took place. A full image of Europe at the time of the rescue is sketched out, including such topics as the question of the Irish in Europe in the eighteenth century; the illustrious Sobieski family and their origins; a short account of the rescue itself; the fate of Charles Wogan and
his followers after the rescue; the Habsburg-Hanoverian alliance and its context; the marriage of James Stuart III and Maria Clementina Sobieska; details of the collection of Stuart artefacts housed at Trinity College Dublin; and contemporary musical compositions which were written and dedicated to Maria Clementina.
This book is a follow-on publication from a public seminar titled The Irish the Rescue: The Tercentenary of the Polish Princess Clementina’s Escape. The seminar was held at Europe House in Dublin on 30th April 2019.
The seminar and the publication of its proceedings have been generously sponsored by the Embassy of the Republic of Poland in Ireland and the Embassy of France in Ireland.
2 The Sobieskis: A Polish Royal Family in the History of Europe (Jarosław Pietrzak)
The genealogical legend of the Sobieski family, developed in the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries during the reign of Jan III Sobieski, claimed that the progenitor of the family was Lestek, so-called the Goldsmith, who led the Lechites against the Macedonian army of Alexander the Great.1 Lestek, guided by cunning and intelligence, made golden shields, which were positioned by him and his soldiers in such a way so that they reflected the sun’s rays, which in turn blinded the enemy. For his deed and bravery, a simple craftsman was rewarded with the royal crown. Other versions claimed that the mythical creator of the Sobieski dynasty was a knight, ‘Janik’, fighting in the ranks of Prince Leszek called ‘the Black’ against the Yajvings. During the fight, Janik lost his weapon and was exposed to the enemy’s attack. St Michał Archangel came to Janik’s rescue. The voivode (prince) of the heavenly hosts gave him his shield, thanks to which not only did he save his life, but also the prince’s. In exchange for being of help to the prince, Janik received the coat of arms and the hand of Prince Leszek’s niece, thereby becoming related to the Piast dynasty. Wojciech Stanisław Chrościński, the chief literary celebrant of the deeds of Jan III Sobieski, went even further, creating an ←33 | 34→imaginary picture of the unions linking the legendary ancestors of King Sobieski with representatives of foreign ruling houses. Published in 1717, this was undoubtedly an expression of...
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