Augustus II, Elector of Saxony, converted to Roman Catholicism in order to succeed to the Polish throne after King John III Sobieski’s death in 1696. His rival, François Louis, prince of Conti, procured more votes, so there was some question over the legality of Augustus’s title. Conti disappeared to France, while Augustus II arrived in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth with a Saxon army. Augustus, aka ‘the Saxon Hercules’, continued the Turkish wars, leading to victory in 1699, swiftly followed by the Great Northern War with Russia against the Swedish Empire. This conflict led to a Polish civil war, because in 1704-06 pro-Swedish Polish factions recognized Stanislaw Leszczyński, a count of the Holy Roman Empire, as Poland’s king, not Augustus. Under the Treaty of Altranstädt (1706) Augustus renounced both his kingship and alliance with Russia. Leszczyński’s rule was brief, and Augustus retook the throne in 1709. Throughout the remainder of his rule, he endured much internal opposition, with his throne ‘protected’ by Russia.
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