The Social, Political and Cultural History of an International Prestige Language
11. The Presence of Francophonie in Poland from the Sixteenth Century to the Eighteenth
We aim in this chapter to examine the presence of the French language in the Nobles’ Republic of Poland against the background of the broader influence of French culture and civilization there and the reception of models emanating from the Valois and Bourbon monarchies. We shall therefore begin with a brief discussion of what was politically, socially and culturally distinctive about early modern Poland, before moving on to the history of its relations with France in the period in question. We shall give prominence to the wide-ranging activity of the courts of two French queens who were wives of kings of Poland in the seventeenth century. Against this background, we shall consider the presence of French in the Republic from various points of view, examining the way in which it was learned, the extent of knowledge of it and its cultural role. This latter dimension will require us to look at various domains, from literature to the theatre, the life of society and mores. Finally, we shall make a few remarks about the French press in Poland in the eighteenth century.
Poland in the early modern age has sometimes been described as a nobles’ republic over which a king presided. It was situated between countries and states which were important but very different from one another. On one side, there was Russia, Muscovy; on another, Turkey; to the west, the German Empire; to the south, Habsburg possessions; and, across the Baltic ← 307 | 308 → Sea, Sweden. These were countries...
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