THE CATHOLIC REACTION, AND THE VALOIS AND BÄTHORY
ELECTIONS, IN POLAND.
By R. NISBET BAIN, Assistant Librarian of the British Museum.
Poland after the battle of Mohâcs . 73
Heresy and reform in Poland. Calvinism. Jan Laski . 74
Stanislaus Orzechowski. The Bohemian Brethren in Poland . 75
Accession of Sigismund II Augustus, 1548 . 76
Condition of the Church . 77
The szlachta and the Reformation . 78
The Reformers assume the offensive. Synods of Pinczow and Kozminek 79
Protestantism at its height in Poland, 1558-9 . 80
Beginning of the Catholic Reaction . 81
Commendone's mission, 1563-5 . 82
Recovery of Catholicism. Union of Lublin. Cardinal Hosius . 83
Death of Sigismund II Augustus . 84
Interregnum. Compact of Warsaw, 1573 . 85
Meeting of Election Diet . 86
Election of Henry of Anjou. The pacta conventa . 87
His coronation, 1574 . 88
Difficulties of his position . 89
His flight back to Prance . 90
Second interregnum . 91
Diet of Steczyc, 1575. 92
Tartars in East Poland. Election Diet of Warsaw. The candidates and their advocates . 93
Intervention of Jan Zamoyski . 95
Elections of Maximilian II . 96
and of Stephen Bâthory . 97
State entry and coronation of Stephen, 1676 . 98
King Stephen and the Nuncio Laureo . 99
Stephen's foreign policy Surrender of Danzig . 100
His Muscovite campaigns . 101
His domestic policy . 102
His death, 1586. 103
THE CATHOLIC REACTION, AND THE VALOIS AND BÄTHORY ELECTIONS, IN POLAND.
TOWAEDS the end of the sixteenth century the vast Polish Republic was one of the most interesting actual and potential factors in European politics. Originally a small and struggling military monarchy, wedged in the midst of hostile and oppressive neighbours, who excluded her altogether from the sea, Poland's dynastic union with the still vaster Grand-Duchy of Lithuania (1386) was the beginning of a fresh period of expansion ; and during the following two centuries, under the ambitious impetus of the great Jagiello Princes, she gradually grew to be the mightiest State in Eastern Europe. In 1387 Red Russia, and, in 1431, Podolia, were definitively incorporated with her other territories. By the end of the fifteenth century the almost perpetual warfare between the Republic and its most dangerous and persistent enemy, the Teutonic Order, had terminated in the collapse of the Knights and the restitution to Poland of all the territory of which they had deprived her. A subsequent attempt of the Grand Master, Albert of Brandenburg, to reconquer West Prussia was defeated ; and, by the Compact of Cracow (1525) Albert was recognised as Duke of Prussia under the suzerainty of Poland. Six-and-twenty years later the Order of the Sword also fell completely to pieces after a long decay, and the last Grand Master, Gotthard Kettler, ceded Livonia to Poland and did homage for Semigallia and Courland, which latter was erected into a semi-independent duchy under Polish protection. Poland had now reached the height of her power and territorial extension, her domains embracing the whole of the vast plain which lies between the Baltic, the Oder, the Carpathians, the Dniester, and the Dnieper. She had thus recovered her northern seaboard, and even touched the Black Sea towards the south. She was therefore indisputably the foremost of the Slavonic States, and, after the Spanish monarchy, the most considerable Catholic Power in Europe. Her political significance, however, was mainly due to the fact, that, .since the battle of Mohàcs (1526) and the fall of the Hungarian kingdom, she had become the one permanent barrier against the rising tide of Ottoman aggression.
From the churchman's point of view, the Polish Republic in the sixteenth century was equally interesting and important. It marked the extreme limit of Catholicism towards the east, and, situated as it was midway between Greek schismatics and German heretics, might well be regarded and utilised as a battle-ground against both. Hitherto Poland had given the Holy See but little anxiety. Hussite influences, in the beginning of the fifteenth century, had been superficial and transitory. The love of orthodoxy proved stronger, in the long 'run, than fellow-feeling for a kindred race. The Edict of Wielun (1424), remarkable as the first anti-heretical decree issued in Poland, crushed the new sect in its infancy ; and it was with the general approval of the nation that the five Hussite preachers, who had found a temporary refuge at the castle of Abraham Zbaski, were publicly burnt to death in the market-place of Posen. Lutheranism, moreover, was at first regarded with grave suspicion by the intensely patriotic Polish gentry, because of its German origin. Nevertheless, the frequent and extremely severe penal edicts issued against it during the reign of Sigismund I (1506-48), who in this respect, be it remarked, anticipated the action of the clergy, seem to point to the fact that the heresy was spreading widely throughout the country.
Sigismund's motives in opposing the Reformation were mainly political; and certainly the violent outbreaks of the sectaries at Cracow, 1518 and 1520, to say nothing of the civil war resulting from the revolt of Danzig in 1526, seemed to justify his suspicions that the new doctrines were not merely anti-Christian but anti-social. For a time, therefore, the Protestants had to be cautious in Poland proper, but they found a sure refuge in Prussia, where Lutheranism was already the established religion. Duke Albert gladly welcomed the Polish Reformers at his Court, and the newly erected University of Königsberg, where Polish printing-presses were speedily set up, became a seminary for Polish ministers and preachers, one of the ablest of whom, Jan Seklucyan, was actually the Duke's chaplain.
While Lutheranism was thus threatening the Polish Church from the north, Calvinism had already invaded her from the west. Calvinism, indeed, rather recommended itself to the Poles as being of non-German origin; and it is a curious coincidence that, in 1539, the same year in which Catharine Zalaszowska, the wife of a town-councillor of Cracow, was burnt for propagating Lutheranism, Calvin should have dedicated his Commentary on the Mass to the young Crown-Prince Sigismund Augustus, from whom Protestantism expected much in the future. Meanwhile conversions to Calvinism, among the higher classes in Poland, became more and more frequent. In 1544 Stanislas Luto-mirski, Canon of Konin, openly embraced the Helvetian Confession. A still more notable defection was that of Jan Laski, nephew of the Primate, who, after studying abroad and cultivating the acquaintance
On April 1, 1548, Sigismund I died after a troubled but not inglorious reign of forty-two years, leaving the sceptre to his only son, Sigismund Augustus, now in his twenty-eighth year. The Protestants generally entertained great hopes of the new monarch. Brought up by and among women, under the eye of his refined Italian mother, Queen Bona, he had from his infancy been imbued with the speculative humanising spirit of the Renaissance, and was of a disposition gentler and more pliable than his father's had been. He was known to be familiar with the writings of the leading Reformers, and to delight in religious discussions ; he was surrounded by Protestant counsellors ; and, most promising symptom of all, he had become enamoured of Barbara, daughter of Prince Michael Radziwill (Black Radziwill), the all-powerful chief of the Lithuanian Calvinists. On the other hand, it was not so generally known that Sigismund Augustus was by conviction a sincere, though not a bigoted Catholic ; and nobody suspected that beneath his diplomatic urbanity lay a patriotic firmness and statesmanlike qualities of the first order.
Indeed, the young King had need of all his ability to cope with the extraordinary difficulties of the situation. Poland was at this time on the threshold of a period of political transition of an almost revolutionary character, the most remarkable feature of which was the elevation to power of the Polish szlachta, or gentry. In Poland, as elsewhere, the growth of political liberty was originally due to the impecuniosity of the Sovereign. The proverbial extravagance of the bountiful Jagiello Kings had encumbered at last even their vast estates, and they were consequently compelled to depend more and more upon the nobility and gentry for aids and subsidies. Naturally, such accommodation was not to be had for nothing, and the price which the monarchs paid for it was the liberal bestowal of special rights and privileges on the popular representatives. Thus in the course of the fifteenth century an elaborate parliamentary system grew up in Poland, although for a long time the szlachta, still uncertain of its own strength, permitted its " elder brother " the Senate, or Royal Council, composed of the wealthier magnates and prelates, to monopolise the chief dignities of the State. But as, towards the beginning of the sixteenth century, the parliamentary representation became more thorough and extensive, and the Sejm, or Diet, was dominated by the lesser gentry of Great and Little Poland, and especially by the grey-coated squires of the well-to-do and populous central province of Masovia, whose chief town, Warsaw, was now becoming a formidable rival of the old coronation city Cracow, the
Such was the situation when Sigismund II began his reign. The Bishops, desiring to conciliate a prince whose antecedents were more than suspicious, at once made a high bid for the favour of the new King by consenting to his marriage with his fair Calvinist mistress ; and, on December 7, 1550, Barbara was solemnly crowned Queen of Poland at Cracow by the Primate Dzierzgowski himself. Five days later Sigismund II issued the celebrated edict in which he pledged his royal word to preserve intact the unity of the Church and the privileges of the clergy, and to enforce the law of the land against heresy. Encouraged by this pleasing symptom of orthodoxy, the Bishops, with singular imprudence, instead of first attempting to put their own dilapidated house in order, at once proceeded to summon before their Courts all persons suspected of heresy, and threaten them with various pains and penalties. The szlachta instantly took alarm. They had not uttered a word of protest when Bishop Peter had burnt the wife of a town-councillor of Cracow, an old woman of eighty, for heresy; they had regarded with supine indifference the debasement of the essentially middle-class University of Cracow by the clerical authorities, culminating, in 1549, in a wholesale exodus of the students because of the unpunished murder of one of their number in the streets by the servants of Canon Czarnkowski. But when they saw their own privileges, already confirmed and guaranteed by the King, jeopardised by the precipitancy of the ecclesiastical Courts, their alarm and indignation knew no bounds. In the midst of the general agitation the Sejm met at Piotrkow in January, 1552. The temper of the assembly may be gauged from the fact that, during the
Thus relieved from all immediate fear of persecution, and imagining, moreover, that the politic and temporising King was secretly on their side, the Reformers began to propagate their opinions openly. Soon they felt strong enough, with the assistance of the sympathising szlachta, to assume the offensive and molest the Catholics. Those of the Protestant gentry who had the right of presentation to benefices began bestowing them upon chaplains and ministers of their own persuasion, in many cases driving out the orthodox incumbents and substituting Protestant for Catholic services. Presently Reformers of every shade of opinion, even those who were tolerated nowhere else, poured into Poland, which speedily became the battle-ground of all the sects of Europe. Indeed, the Protestants soon became numerous enough to form ecclesiastical districts of their own. The first Calvinist Synod in Poland was held at Pinczow in 1550, when Felix Krzyzak was elected Superintendent. The Bohemian Brethren, too, now proceeded to evangelise Little Poland and found schools and churches, and finally, at the Synod of Kozminek (August, 1555) they formally united with the Calviniste. A Catholic Synod held the same year at Piotrkow, at which the famous Hosius, the youngest but by far the most capable and conscientious of the Catholic Bishops, appeared prominently for the first time, proved utterly helpless to stem the rising tide of Protestantism. In the Sejm itself the Protestants were absolutely supreme, and they invariably elected a Calvinist or even a Socinian to be their Marshal. At the Diet of 1555 they boldly demanded a national
The Sejm of 1558-9 indicates the highwater-mark of Polish Protestantism. From this time forward it began to subside, although very gradually, yet unmistakably. The chief cause of this subsidence was the divisions among the Reformers themselves. The almost absolute religious liberty which they enjoyed in Poland, proved, in the long run, far more injurious to them than to the Church which they professed to reform. From the chaos of creeds resulted a chaos of ideas on all imaginable moral and social subjects, which culminated in a violent clashing of the various sects, each one of which naturally strove for the mastery. The first to sow discord among the Polish Protestants was Francis Stankar, professor of Greek at Cracow, who published a treatise against the divinity of Christ entitled De Mediatore, which was condemned by a Calvinist Synod in 1554. Crypto-Socinians were, however, very numerous in Poland (Socinus himself had spread his doctrines there as early as 1551). They held at first with the Calvinists, although their peculiar opinions gave rise to fierce debates in the Calvinist synods. Their leaders, Blandrata, Ochino, Abyat and others, although differing more
An auxiliary cause of the decline of Protestantism in Poland was the beginning of a Catholic reaction there. Not only the far-seeing statesmanlike monarch himself, but his chief councillors also, could no longer resist the conviction that the project of a national Church was a mere Utopia in view of the interminable dogmatic disputes of the hopelessly irreconcilable Reforming sects. The bulk of the population, moreover, still held languidly yet persistently to the faith of its fathers ; and the Holy See, awakening at last to the gravity of the situation, gave to the slowly reviving zeal of both clergy and laity the very necessary impetus from without. Never, indeed, was the immense value of an independent external authority in ecclesiastical government so strikingly illustrated as at this critical period ; for there cannot be any doubt that in the first instance it was the papal Nuncios who reorganised the scattered and faint-hearted battalions of the Church militant in Poland, and led them back to victory. The first of these reconstructing Nuncios, Berard, Bishop of Camerino, who arrived in 1560, was charged by the Pope to put an end to the paralysing dissensions of the Polish prelates, to enquire into the alleged heresy of the Archbishop designate, Jakob Uchanski, who was actually under the ban of Rome, and to induce the King to send deputies to the Council of Trent. The diplomatic finesse of the gentle and insinuating Berard proved far more efficacious than the blustering zeal of his predecessor. Perceiving that Uchanski was so powerful and so popular as to be practically unassailable, he skilfully enlisted him on the side of Rome by absolving him from all ecclesiastical censures and warmly espousing his cause, with the result that UchanskiV translation to the primacy was confirmed. He also persuaded the King to send delegates to the Council at Trent, where Hosius was already actually engaged not as a Polish Bishop, but as a Cardinal Legate. Moreover at a Catholic synod held in 1561, he opposed all violence and persecution, and persuaded the Bishops to respond liberally to the financial requirements of the King. His efforts were less successful at
Commendone arrived in Poland at the end of November, 1563. His earlier dispatches were anything but reassuring. The higher Catholic clergy were described as disunited and disaffected, and strenuously adverse to the Tridentine reforms which it was his mission to impose upon them. The Protestants, with the audacity of perfect impunity, were guilty almost daily of outrages against the Catholic ceremonies and religion. The childless King, to the delight of the Protestants, seemed intent on a divorce from his third wife (his first wife's sister), Archduchess Catharine of Austria, widow of the Duke of Mantua, whom he had married for purely political reasons in 1553-two years after the death of his beloved second wife Barbara, when she had been crowned only six months-and who was now living apart from him at Radom, an incurable invalid. According to Commendone, moreover, the condition of the country parishes was deplorable. One-third of the churches had been turned into meeting-houses ; whole monasteries were infected with heresy ; in many places mass was said as rudely and clumsily as if it were now being celebrated for the first time ; the people at large were steeped in drunkenness and debauchery. Nevertheless, these manifold difficulties seemed to melt away at the touch of the capable and courageous Nuncio, whose consummate tact and indefatigable energy speedily worked wonders, especially as the King, despite the strong influence of Black Radziwill and his Calvinist surroundings, despite even the alluring precedent of Henry VIII of England and the Scandinavian Princes, did not press to an issue the much dreaded question of the divorce. In August, 1564, Commendone presented the Tridentine Decrees to Sigismund, who promised to accept and promulgate them ;
The great political event of Sigismund's later years, the union of Poland and Lithuania into a single State with a common Diet and executive, accomplished at Lublin in 1569, threw purely religious questions somewhat into the background ; but the Catholic revival gained in strength every year, although the King continued judiciously to hold the balance between the opposing parties, and preserved order by occasionally nominating Protestants to the highest offices of State, and always preventing persecution. Moreover, a new order of bishops, men of apostolic faith and fervour, such as Konarski of Posen and Karnkowski of Cujavia, were gradually superseding the indolent and corrupt old prelates of Bona's creation, and, under the skilful leadership of Cardinal Hosius, and with the silent cooperation of the Jesuits, were everywhere recovering lost ground. Many of the magnates were about this time reconverted to the Catholic religion, the most notable acquisitions being Adalbert Laski and Jan Siewakowski, both of whom the Protestants could ill afford to lose. The long-deferred union of the Bohemian Brethren, Lutherans, and Calvinists (Consensus of Sandomir, 1570), points to an effort on the
Fortunately for Poland, the political horizon was absolutely unclouded on the death of Sigismund II ; otherwise, the situation would have been serious, for domestic affairs were in an almost anarchical condition. The Union of Lublin, barely three years old, was anything but consolidated, and in Lithuania it continued to be extremely unpopular. In Poland proper, too, the szlachta was fiercely opposed to the magnates ; and the Protestants seemed bent upon still further castigating the clergy. Worst of all, there existed no recognised authority in the land, to curb and control its jarring centrifugal political elements. It was nearly two hundred years since the Republic had last been saddled with an interregnum, and the precedents of 1382 were obsolete. The Primate Uchanski, on hearing of the demise of the Crown, at once invited all the senators of Great Poland to a conference at Lowicz, but passed over the szlachta altogether. In an instant the whole Republic was seething like a cauldron. Jan Ferlej, Grand-Marshal of the Crown and the head of the Protestant party, simultaneously summoned to Cracow a confederation of the gentry, which received the support of the senators of Little Poland, who resented the exclusiveness of the Primate's Assembly. Civil war was happily averted at the last moment by the mediation of Peter Zborowski, Castellan of Sandomir ; and & convocation or National Convention, the first of its kind, composed of senators and deputies from all parts of the kingdom, assembled at Warsaw, in the heart of Catholic
Maso via, in April, 1573, for the purpose of electing a new King. The Protestants had proposed Calvinistic Lublin as the place of meeting, but were outvoted.
Meanwhile, five candidates for the throne were already in the field. Lithuania was in favour of her near neighbour, Tsar Ivan IV, whose election would have guaranteed her territories against the chronic Muscovite incursions. In Poland the Bishops and most of the Catholic magnates and senators were in favour of an Austrian Archduke. But the tyrannous and persecuting House of Habsburg was so obnoxious to the nation at large, that the szlachta was disposed to accept almost any other candidate, except a Muscovite, who came with a gift in his hand. It was therefore no very difficult task for the adroit and energetic French ambassador, Montluc, who had besn sent to Poland (October, 1572) by Catharine de1 Medici, to promote the candidature of her favourite son, Henry, Duke of Anjou, to win over the majority of the szlachta, especially as it was notorious that Poland's most dangerous neighbour, the Ottoman Porte, while inclined to tolerate a French Prince on the Polish throne, would certainly regard the election of an Austrian Archduke as a casus belli. Montluc, well provided with funds, had already succeeded in purchasing many of the leading magnates, notably Adalbert Laski, Palatine of Siradia, a dashing adventurer of heroic courage, but absolutely devoid of conscience in money matters. He placed his chief hopes, however, in the ignorant and credulous masses of the szlachta, in whose hands, as he acutely perceived from the first, the issues of the election really lay. He therefore devoted his energies to captivating all the lesser gentry, irrespective of religion. The Protestants were reassured by his exaggerated accounts of the tolerant policy adopted just then by the French Court towards the Huguenots, while he insinuated mysteriously to the Catholics that the French candidate, as a loyal son of the Church, would leave nothing undone to promote the glory of God. Montluc's popularity reached its height when he strenuously advocated the adoption of the powszechne prawo glosowania, or open popular mode of election by the gentry en masse (which the szlachta now proposed to revive), as opposed to the more orderly " secret election " by a congress of senators and deputies sitting with closed doors. It was mainly due to his efforts and the impassioned eloquence of young Jan Zamoyski, Starosta of Belz, now on the threshold of his brilliant political career, that the Sejm decided in favour of the more popular method. The religious difficulty, meanwhile, had been adjusted to the satisfaction of all parties by the Compact of Warsaw (January 28,1573), which granted absolute religious liberty to all non-Catholic denominations ("Dissidentes de Religione(tm) as they now began to be called) without exception, thus exhibiting a far more liberal intention than the Germans had manifested in the Religious Peace of Augsburg, eighteen years before. Nevertheless, the Warsaw Compact was eventually vitiated by the clauses which reserved to every
Early in April, 1573, the Election Diet began to assemble at Warsaw; and across the newly-built bridge, the first that ever united the banks of the Vistula, flowed a stream of 40,000 electors, swelled to 100,000 by their retainers and dependents, hastening to pitch their tents in the plain of Kamienie near Warsaw, where the fate of the Republic was to be decided. The next fortnight was passed in fierce debates and in listening to the orations of the foreign ambassadors. The Imperial ambassador, who spoke in Bohemian, first addressed the electors in favour of his candidate, the Archduke Ernest. But, though he had a very great deal to say, he had very little to offer. Consequently the electors soon found him tedious and clamoured impatiently for Montluc to speak. But it was now late, and the sagacious Frenchman, to avoid addressing a tired audience, feigned illness and postponed his harangue till the following day, when he exceeded the fondest expectations of his admirers by delivering an oration " worthy of eternal remembrance,'" which took the whole assembly by storm. The speeches of the Swedish envoys which followed were considered tame and sober in comparison, especially as they were not reinforced by golden arguments. Nevertheless, as the prospects of the Duke of Anjou approximated to certainty, the more cool-headed of the electors began to feel some natural anxiety as to how far this foreign prince, the offspring of a despotic House, would be likely to respect the liberties of the Republic. The tidings of the Massacre of St Bartholomew had come as a shock to many, especially to the Protestants, although to them Montluc plausibly represented the catastrophe as a spontaneous and unauthorised endeavour of the loyal city of Paris to crush a dangerous Huguenot rebellion. It was therefore decided that the election should be postponed to a " correctura jurum" or reform of the Constitution ; and a special Commission was appointed for that purpose. This precautionary measure was, however, by no means to the liking of the Catholic party ; and accordingly Montluc instigated " his pretorians," the 10,000 enthusiastic but grossly ignorant Masovian electors, to protest energetically against any further delay. The Commission was consequently obliged to confine itself to drawing up certain preliminary conditions considerably curtailing the royal authority.
The " Henrican Articles," as they were called, deprived the future King of the privilege of electing his successor ; forbade his marrying without the previous consent of the Senate; required him to protect all the
A few days later, pacta conventa, corresponding to our coronation oath, were laid before the French ambassador at Warsaw for signature. By these articles the King of France was to bind himself within six months to keep on foot in Poland 4000 Saxons for service against Muscovy. Henry was to maintain a fleet in the Baltic at his own expense ; place 450,000 ducats at the disposal of the Republic ; provide learned professors for the Cracow Academy ; educate one hundred of the young Polish nobles abroad; espouse the late King's sister, the Korolewna Anna, a Princess eighteen years his senior, immediately after his arrival in Poland ; confirm the Compact of Warsaw, and obtain religious liberty for the French Huguenots. Onerous and extravagant as these conditions were, Montluc instantly accepted all of them except the last, whereupon Firlej's party also proclaimed Henry King of Poland ; and a magnificent
"Many of us," writes the contemporary Marcin Bielski in his Chronicle, alluding to the new King, " promised ourselves all sorts of good things from this gentleman, and had such an opinion of him as to make us fancy that nobody could rule us better or more profitably. So thought we, but the Lord God ordered it otherwise." And indeed Catharine de1 Medici's corrupt, frivolous, and despotic son was not equal to the double duty of curbing and conciliating his unruly subjects. The Polish szlachta, who had grown up in the austerely dignified Court of the Jagiellos, were revolted by Henry's nocturnal vagabondage in the streets of Cracow, by his bacchanalian debauches at the castle, and by his indecent revels in the presence of the Korolewna and her ladies. Henry himself, moreover, nurtured as he had been in the hotbed of luxurious absolutism, could not breathe freely in the rude and boisterous atmosphere of Sarmatian liberty; and, with the new papal Nuncio, Vincenzo Laureo, perpetually at his elbow and urging him to perform some great act of faith in the eyes of all men-such, for instance, as closing the dissenting conventicles of Cracow, or publicly revoking the oath imposed upon him at Paris by the Polish delegates, which bound him to confirm the statutes of the Diet of Warsaw in favour of the Dissidents-the new King's position, in view of his obligations to the Protestants, was difficult to desperation. Indeed, the violent scene which took place at his coronation in the Cathedral of Cracow on February 21, 1574, three days after his arrival, convinced him that the Dissidents would never submit tamely to any such cavalier treatment. The oaths having been duly administered, Henry had risen to his feet again, when the Palatines of Cracow, of Wilna, and of Sandomeria, the leaders of the Dissidents, came forward, and with great importunity, pressed the King to confirm the oath which he had made at Paris ; but the Archbishop would hear of no such innovation, and withstood them with high words. Thereupon Grand-Marshal Firlej rose, and, placing his hand upon the crown, insisted categorically that the coronation oath should be recited in full before the
The position of the new King between such jarring elements was therefore difficult at the best of times, and might at any time become really dangerous. Every moment he had reason to regret his haste in accepting so thorny a crown. For seven hours a day he had to endure the interminable and only half-intelligible debates in the Senate, whose president he was ; while the fierce dissensions of the coronation Diet, which assembled at the beginning of April to confirm the pacta conventa, and in which a bare Catholic majority stood face to face with a strong and aggressive Protestant minority, distracted and dismayed him. Moreover, his gross partiality for his chief supporters, the powerful Zborowskis, speedily and completely alienated from him the hearts of the gentry. At a tournament held in his honour shortly after his coronation young Samuel Zborowski, in a fit of pique and without any extenuating circumstances, mortally wounded Wapowski, Castellan of Przemysl, who died a few days afterwards. The kinsfolk of the murdered man clamoured for justice, well aware that death was the statutory punishment for the homicide of a nobleman ; but the King allowed himself to be influenced by the powerful friends of the accused, and the sentence finally pronounced-perpetual banishment without either loss of honour or forfeiture of goods-was received with general astonishment and indignation, the szlachta regarding it not only as ridiculously inadequate, but as an outrage upon their whole order. The result was a general revulsion of feeling against the entire French party. Hundreds of pasquinades began to circulate against the King and his following ; and members of the royal suite were frequently assaulted in the street. Yet still the King continued to lean almost exclusively upon the Zborowskis, and all the principal offices at his disposal were bestowed upon their friends and relations. His uniform coldness towards the Korolewna, moreover, did not tend to make him less unpopular. He continued to stay at Cracow, in order to be nearer to France in view of the speedy
On Friday evening, June 18,1574, the King, having gone to bed and dismissed the Polish gentlemen-in-waiting on the plea of weariness, issued secretly from the castle by a little gate, and having taken horse near the stables, departed half-an-hour after midnight, accompanied by a few French lords. He took the shortest way to Silesia ; was joined on the road by a party of French gentlemen mounted and well armed, who had been waiting for him, and made such haste that he had passed the frontier and entered Silesia before he was overtaken by any of those Polish lords who, with a great company of horsemen, had set out in pursuit two hours after his Majesty had quitted the castle. Of these only the Count of Tenczyn, his under-chamberlain, overtook him (about a league beyond the frontier), and, with all due submission, used every argument to persuade the King to return. Henry excused himself with words full of deep emotion, saying that he must needs hasten on to France, as otherwise he ran a great risk of losing that kingdom altogether, but gave hopes that he would speedily return, and referred Tenczyn, in the meantime, to the letters which he, the King, had written to the Senate, and left behind him, accounting for his sudden disappearance. A week later Henry was dancing at a ball at Chambéry, to which place he was pursued by a troop of cavaliers sent after him by Karnkowski, the militant Bishop of Cujavia.
The indignation of the Poles at this disgraceful flight was vehement and alarming. Perjurer, swindler, craven, were the mildest epithets bestowed upon the defaulting monarch; all who were compromised in his support went for weeks in terror of their lives. The wealth, dignity, and influence of the Palatine of Sandomeria could not save him from insult. The Bishop of Cujavia narrowly escaped stoning in the streets of Cracow, while the Nuncio was reviled to his face, and threatened with death or banishment. The Senate, after a turbulent session, agreed to address a solemn remonstrance to the King, and the Primate (Jacob Uchanski) as mterrex convoked a new Diet, which was to meet at Warsaw on August 24, 1574.
The Diet of Warsaw was short and stormy. The vast majority of the deputies, both Catholic and Protestant, were of opinion that the
King was civilly dead, and that the public safety demanded the instant election of his successor. The majority of the Senate, however, and most of the prelates, including the Primate, were of the contrary opinion. Meanwhile audiences were given to the ambassadors of the competitors for the crown, no fewer than three of whom were already in the field, viz., the Emperor Maximilian II of Germany, King John (Vasa) of Sweden, and Duke Alfonso II of Ferrara. The Emperor, from his vicinity, dignity, and power, was most acceptable to the Senate ; but the lesser nobility declared they would rather die than accept a German, and they found an ally in no less a person than Sultan Amurath III, who had also sent a chiaus, or special envoy, to the Diet. The Turkish envoy, on this occasion, displayed a tact eaiAßnesse very unusual just then with the envoys of a nation which, invincible in arms, affected to despise the circuitous methods of diplomacy. The Sultan well knew, he said, that there was no hope of Henry's return. A new King must therefore be elected, but he was not to be taken from among the Sultan's enemies, of whom the Emperor was the chief. Their choice must fall upon one who would live at harmony with the Porte. His master had heard that in the confines of Danzig there was a man in every way worthy of the royal dignity. This was Jan Kostka, Palatine of Sandomeria. Why not elect him ? Or there was the Swedish King, or Bâthory, prince of Transylvania, the Sultan's trusty friend and ally, renowned for his courage, integrity, and prudence. Elect any one of these three, and the Sultan would not only not disturb but even actively assist the Republic.
The Diet was much flattered by the tone and manner of the chiaus. All three of the proposed candidates were agreeable to the Poles, though for different reasons. The Palatine of Sandomeria, perhaps the most popular, certainly the most powerful magnate in the land, was one of themselves. King John of Sweden was connected by marriage with the ancient and illustrious Jagiello dynasty which had ruled Poland gloriously for three hundred years. Lastly, the Hungarian, Bâthory, though a stranger, could scarcely be called a foreigner, for he belonged to a nation which had much in common with the Poles, and had stood by them in weal and woe for centuries ; besides, he had the additional personal recommendation of being one of the greatest captains of his age. The multiplication of candidates, however, so divided and perplexed the Diet, that no resolution could be come to ; and the Nuncio's party, aided by the machiavellian Palatine of Podolia, skilfully took advantage of the general confusion to carry through a compromise whereby King Henry was given till Ascension Day, May 12, 1575, to return and resume the government ; failing which he was to be degraded and dethroned, and a new Diet convoked to meet at the little town of Steczyc, which the Nuncio dejectedly describes as the " most heretically infected hole in the kingdom." The Steczyc Diet, which met on May 12, 1575,
A few weeks later the Poles were taught the evils of anarchy by a terrible lesson. In the beginning of October, 1575, the eastern provinces of the Republic were ravaged by a predatory Tartar horde, said to be 120,000 strong. The gentry shut themselves up in their strongholds ; the common people fled to the nearest fortified towns, while " the scourge of God" swept over the rich plains of the Ukraine, leaving a smoking
The great plain round Warsaw was the meeting-place of the new Diet. The Senate, anxious for the maintenance of order, and with the warning example of the last Diet before its eyes, had issued a proclamation limiting the retinue of each magnate to fifty persons, and strictly forbidding the lesser nobles to carry any other arms than the sword and halbert, without which no Polish gentleman considered himself fully dressed. But a decree that cannot be enforced is so much waste-paper. And so it was now. Everyone of the Palatines who came to the Diet was surrounded by a body-guard of at least 1000 horsemen, Cossacks, Heyduks, or Wallachs. The gentry also came armed cap-a-pie. The prohibited arquebuses and spiked battle-axes were in everybody's hands, and there were whole forests of lances.
On November 7, 1575, the assembly marched in solemn procession to the cathedral, where mass was celebrated by the Primate, who accompanied the deputies back to the kolo, and, after invoking the aid of the Holy Spirit, declared the Diet opened. Prom November 13 to 18 audience was given to the ambassadors of the various competitors, who extolled the virtues of their principals, and sought to outbid one another for the support of the Senate and the Diet. The Bishop of Breslau spoke first on behalf of the Archduke Ernest. He eloquently expatiated upon the gifts, the graces, the martial virtues, above all upon the linguistic accomplishments of the young prince. So well versed was he in the Bohemian tongue that the acquisition of the cognate Polish language would be a mere trifle to him. Then, too, his great experience of affairs and his religious tolerance should not be overlooked. Where else would the Poles expect to find a prince of such majesty and influence ? The support of the Emperor, the alliance of Spain and the Empire, the union of Bohemia, the friendship of the European Powers-all these things were at his disposal. He would also solemnly engage to keep inviolate the laws, the liberties, the ancient constitution of Poland ; to live at peace with the Turk ; to make new and more advantageous commercial treaties with Denmark and the Hanseatic League ; to erect new fortresses for the defence of the frontiers ; to rule through none but natives ; to send one hundred noble Polish and Lithuanian youths annually to the foreign universities ; to pay the arrears due to the army and the debts owing by the State-in short, he not only promised "mountains and seas," as the Nuncio expresses it, but anticipated his rivals by engaging, in the Emperor's name, to grant everything that any of them might subsequently offer.
Count Francis Thurn, "with all the dignity of age and all the
The ambassador of John of Sweden, who had nothing to offer but an alliance against the Muscovite, was, despite his connexion with the Jagiellos, but coldly received ; whereas the spokesman of the fabulously wealthy Duke of Ferrara, whose " indescribable love for the noble Polish nation " prompted him to promise to restore the cathedral of Cracow at his private cost, to lead 6000 horsemen, equipped out of the revenues of his Italian estates, against the Muscovite, to replenish the exhausted Polish exchequer, and to educate fifteen young Poles every year in Italy, was held to have spoken much more to the point.
Last of all came George Blandrata, the ambassador of Stephen Bâthory, Prince of Transylvania, who spoke with soldierly frankness and precision. It was no time, he said, for meretricious words, but for meritorious deeds. The safety of Christendom, of which Sarmatia was the iron bastion, depended upon the prudence and concord of the Estates of Poland, It was their bounden duty to lay aside all private ends and personal animosities, and, with uplifted hands, seek the Divine counsels. The prince, his master, was animated by no vain lust of power. He was well aware of his own deficiencies, and none knew better than he that the Sarmatian diadem must always be a constant care and a heavy burden to the wearer. The orator then briefly alluded to the well-known homogeneity of Hungary and Poland ; to their frequent union, fraternal concord, ancient alliances ; to their time-honoured fellowship in peace and war. Still more briefly he touched on the merits of his master, for whom he justly claimed all the requisites of a great soldier and statesman, adding that his ignorance of the native language of Poland was more than atoned for by his perfect command of Latin, her official tongue. Next, with great skill, he anticipated the objection which might be taken to Bâthory as being the Sultan's nominee. The Sultan, he said, did not command them as a master ; he advised them as a friend. If his advice were good, why not thankfully embrace it with both arms ? If they thought it inj urious, however, who prevented them from rejecting it ? Finally, he promised on behalf of Bâthory to preserve the national liberties, to pay the national debt, to recover all the Muscovite conquests, to make the frontiers of Poland invulnerable,
Blandrata's oration made a profound impression upon the Diet, and was greeted with loud applause. The Emperor's party, which began to despair of winning over the countless host of deputies, now placed all their hopes on the Senate, where, chiefly owing to the skill and audacity of the Nuncio they were very strong. Laureo, indeed, had so far compromised himself in support of the Emperor, as to run the risk of banishment in case of failure-nay, on one occasion, he had even thought it necessary to obtain a special absolution from the Pope for sundry diplomatic irregularities. Yet there is no reason to suppose that he was guided by other than the highest motives ; and, though only the most signal success could justify his conduct as a whole, he never seems to have faltered for an instant on his self-chosen path. To extirpate Polish Protestantism, to form a grand league against the Turk, had all along been his objects; and the shortest cut to them both now seemed to him to be the establishment of a Habsburg on the Polish throne. His exertions were so far successful that, after a few days' debate (November 18-21), the Senate by a large majority declared itself in favour of the Emperor Maximilian.
But the Diet had yet to be reckoned with. The debates in that turbulent assembly began on November 22, and lasted till November 30. The numerous factions, which had so long divided it, now resolved themselves into two-those who were for the Emperor and those who desired a Piast. Most of the Lithuanians and Prussians were for the former; but the Poles (who formed three-fourths of the Diet) were, almost to a man, against a German, and they found an eloquent and intrepid champion in Jan Zamoyski, Castellan of Belz, whose intellectual superiority was already generally recognised, and who was destined to become Poland's greatest Chancellor.
Jan Zamoyski belonged to one of the most ancient and illustrious families in Poland. After completing his education at Paris, Strassburg, and Padua, he returned home one of the most consummate scholars and jurists in Europe. But his essentially bold and practical genius sought at once the stormy political arena; and he was mainly instrumental, after the death of Sigismund II, in remodelling the Polish constitution and procuring the election of Henry of Valois. After the flight of that prince Zamoyski seems to have aimed at the throne himself, but quickly changed his mind, and resolved to support one of his compeers. All his life long, both on the battle-field and in the council-chamber, he was the most determined and dangerous enemy of the Habsburgs, the rock on which all their anti-Polish projects went to pieces.
Zamoyski now delivered an impassioned harangue against the Emperor and his family. After holding up to the Diet the warning examples of
Bohemia and Hungary, the historical victims of Austria's craft and cruelty, he asked whether it was prudent to irritate their good friend the Sultan, all for the sake of a decrepit old man (Maximilian II) who could not defend them, or of a sickly youth (Archduke Ferdinand), inoculated from his cradle with Spanish bigotry and superciliousness. Zamoyski's speech was decisive. Despite the counter-arguments of the opposite party, the Diet, on November 30, decided by an enormous majority to elect a Piast ; and on the following day the Grand-Marshal officially informed the Senate of their decision. Negotiations now ensued. Zamoyski, as the spokesman of the Diet, eloquently declaimed in the Senate against the Emperor. The Polish deputies thereupon seceded from the Diet, and, encouraged by the accession of the minority of the Senate, sent a second deputation to the Interrex and his faction, demanding the repudiation of the Emperor. The Senate retorted by requesting the Diet to name its candidates, and, after some hesitation, Jan Kostka, Palatine of Sandomeria, and Jan Tenczynski, Palatine of Belz, were nominated. Both these noblemen instantly declined the dangerous distinction ; and the Primate, egged on by the Imperialists to proclaim the Emperor, rose from his presidential chair, raised the crucifix aloft, and had already pronounced the first words of the coronation formula, "In nomine Patris? when he was interrupted by the more cautious of his own party, who, to avoid bloodshed, postponed the proclamation till the following day.
By daybreak on December 10, the field of election resembled a field of battle. Both parties stood face to face in full panoply, behind entrenchments bristling with cannon-the outbreak of a bloody civil war hung upon a thread. A last attempt at a compromise was made by the Bishop of Cracow on behalf of the Senate, while Zamoyski, at the head of a deputation from the Diet, bitterly reproached the Imperial commissioners for sowing dissensions in Poland. " We are determined," cried the orator, "not to suffer the fate of Hungary, and will on no account have a German King." On the 12th the Senate, perceiving the futility of further negotiation, and fearing the violence of the armed nobility, barricaded themselves within the citadel of Cracow; but at sunset the Primate, secretly issuing from the gates with a slender retinue, proceeded a quarter of a league from the city to a sequestered nook, and there, beneath the uplifted crucifix, and in the midst of a little group of Senators, declared in the name of the Most Holy Trinity, Maximilian II of Austria, King of Poland, by the will of the Senate and nobility of Poland and Lithuania ; then, returning with the utmost speed to Cracow, he closed the gates, planted artillery on the walls, and thereupon sang, with chattering teeth, a hasty Te Deum in the Cathedral.
But the triumph of the Senate was short-lived. At sunrise next morning 7000 Polish noblemen had assembled outside- the city to protest, sword in hand, against the election of the Emperor. The
And now began a sheer race for the Crown. The last act of the Diet was to despatch a deputation to Transylvania to congratulate Bathory on his election, and invite him to come instantly to Poland with as much money and as many men as he could get together. Escaping, as by a miracle, an ambush laid for them on the way by the Imperialists, the deputation reached Stuhlweissenburg, Bâthory's capital, and delivered their message. Stephen acted with characteristic vigour. Fortified by a friendly letter from the Sultan, he prepared at once to take possession of his new realm, and, after drawing a military cordon along the Austrian frontier and appointing his brother Christopher vice-regent of Transylvania, he hastened with 2500 picked troops by forced marches into Poland.
Meanwhile his partisans had not been idle. By the advice of Zamoyski another Diet was summoned to confirm the decision of the Diet of Warsaw. It met on January 18, 1576, at Jedrzejow, on the Vistula, about ten leagues from Cracow ; and here 10,000 Polish nobles, without awaiting the Lithuanians or Prussians, confirmed the election of Stephen and Anna, sent an embassy to Vienna forbidding the Emperor to enter Poland, and then, after a fortnight's session, remarkable for its unanimity and tranquillity, marched in a body to Cracow, put to flight all the Emperor's partisans, and sent another deputation to meet the King Elect, and escort him from the frontier to the coronation city.
Yet even now the Imperialists did not abandon all hopes. The Nuncio was the life and soul of this party. He did all that energy and adroitness could do for a badly beaten cause. He boldly pronounced
In Poland, too, Bâthory was carrying everything before him. He had postponed his coronation for a fortnight, as the day originally appointed fell within Holy Week, so that it was not till Easter Monday (March 23, 1576) that he made his State entry into Cracow. The procession was headed by George Banfy, captain of the Hungarian Hussars, the Palatine of Cracow, his brother the Marshal of the Diet, and the Bishop of Cujavia, who, in the absence of the Primate, was to crown the new King. Next rode 500 Transylvanian gentlemen, two abreast, with leopard skins over gold and silver cuirasses. In the midst of this brilliant retinue towered the herculean form of the monarch, distinguished by his manly carriage and majestic gravity. He wore
On May 1, after making the customary pilgrimage to the tomb of St Stanislas, Stephen and Anne were crowned by the Bishop of Cujavia with the usual ceremonies, though not before Stephen had sternly warned the assembled nobles and prelates that he would hold them responsible for the possible consequences of their precipitancy. The coronation was followed by the nuptials of the sovereigns, banquets and tourneys, the distribution of offices and dignities (Zamoyski's appointment to the Vice-Chancellorship was one of the first), and the issue of circular letters summoning a general Diet to Warsaw in the beginning of June; all who failed to appear there at the appointed time were to be regarded as traitors and rebels. Immediately afterwards Bàthory, who was determined, he said, to show that he was "neither a painted nor a ballad king,11 set off for Warsaw to meet the Diet.
The night before Bâthory's entry into the Polish capital the Nuncio had been obliged to leave it. Stephen had done everything in his power to win over Laureo ; but his protests, his remonstrances, and his threats, had alike been thrown away. Laureo, though sorely troubled and dismayed, never wavered in his allegiance to the Emperor. At last an ultimatum from the indignant King (already on his way to Warsaw) to the obdurate prelate, bade the latter either come and meet him forthwith or leave the kingdom. The legate chose the latter alternative, and was escorted to Silesia by a royal chamberlain. His banishment, however, was not for long. The sudden death of the Emperor Maximilian at the very moment when that potentate, in league with the Muscovite, was about to invade Poland, completely changed the face of things. Stephen, whose orthodoxy was unimpeachable (he had before this extirpated the Transylvanian Unitarians), had already satisfied the Pope of his perfect devotion to the Holy See, and Laureo was now ordered back to Poland.
It was with no small anxiety that he looked forward to his first interview with a monarch whom he had so grievously offended, and whose chief counsellor he regarded as his bitterest foe. Comforted, however, by " a most humane letter" from the King, who was too great a man to bear malice and too prudent a politician to make foes of possible friends (especially as his own position, for the moment, was insecure and even perilous), the Nuncio returned at last to Warsaw, where he was received with open arms. In many subsequent interviews Stephen detailed his political plans to his new friend. He justified his hatred of the Habs-burgs by reason of the treachery with which the Princes of that House had always treated Transylvania, and convinced Laureo that it was simply and solely political expediency which attached him to the Sultan, but that he was resolved to break these bonds and take up arms against the Turk ("quern odio habebat cane pejus et angne") to the glory of God, on the first opportunity. Of the Poles generally he had a very poor opinion. He appreciated their valour indeed, and hoped to make the most of their splendid military qualities ; but a man of his stern simplicity and sobriety could not fail to be disgusted with their vanity, flightiness, and extravagance. " I do not wonder," he said, " that Henry of Valois escaped from them, but if ever I go it shall be by broad daylight, and not in the dead of night."
All Laureo's efforts during the remainder of his stay in Poland were directed towards bringing about an amicable understanding between the King and the Emperor. He exhorted Bâthory " to burn all past offences in the fire of Christian charity,1" and though Stephen's distrust of the Habsburgs remained invincible, he consented at last to enter into a defensive alliance with the Empire, which the Nuncio personally carried through on his way back to Rome in August, 1578, where the zealous, though not always successful, services of the aged prelate were rewarded by the red hat.
The leading events of Stephen Bâthory's glorious reign can here be only very briefly indicated. All armed opposition to him collapsed with the surrender of the great city of Danzig, since 1454 a self-centred Free State under its own oligarchy and nominal Polish suzerainty. The " pearl of Poland," encouraged by her immense wealth and almost impregnable fortifications, as well as by the secret support of Denmark and the Emperor, had shut her gates against the new monarch, and was only reduced (December 16, 1577) after a six months' siege beginning with a pitched battle beneath her walls, in which she lost 5000 of her mercenaries, and the famous banner with the inscription "Aurea Liberias" long regarded as the palladium of the city. Danzig was compelled to pay a fine of 200,000 gulden into the royal treasury, but her civil and religious liberties were wisely confirmed. Stephen was now able to devote himself exclusively to foreign affairs, which demanded equally decided and delicate handling. In those days the Turkish Power was
Two campaigns of wearing marches, and still more exhausting sieges, ensued, in which Bàthory, although repeatedly hampered by the parsimony of the short-sighted szlachta, which could not be made to see that the whole future fate of Poland depended on the issue of the war, was uniformly successful, his skilful diplomacy at the same time allaying the growing jealousy of the Porte and the Emperor. But for the loyal support of his wealthy Transylvanian principality, however, and frequent loans raised on his personal credit from foreign Powers, he would have been unable to prosecute his sagacious Imperial policy. In 1581 Stephen penetrated to the very heart of Muscovy, and, on August 22, sat down before the ancient city of Pskov, whose vast size and imposing fortifications filled the little Polish army with dismay. But the King, despite the murmurs of his own officers and the urgent representations of the papal Nuncio Possevino, whom the Curia, deceived by the delusive mirage of a union of the Churches, had sent expressly from Rome to mediate between the Tsar and the King of Poland, closely besieged the city throughout a winter of arctic severity, till, on December 13, 1581, Ivan IV (the Terrible), alarmed for the safety of the third city in his dominions, consented to treat for peace. Négociations were opened at Possevino''s residence near Zapoli, and resulted, January 15, 1582, after nearly five weeks of acrimonious wrangling, in the cession of Wielicz, Plock, and the whole of Livonia, to Poland, whereby Muscovy was entirely cut off from the sea, and the Polish frontier pushed further forward towards the East than it had ever been before. It is a melancholy and significant fact that Stephen Bâthory's brilliant services to his adopted country, so far from being rewarded by the dutiful gratitude of his new subjects, absolutely made him unpopular with both the magnates and the szlachta. Not one word of thanks did the King receive from the stem rycerski (estate of nobles in the Diet) for defeating Muscovy, acquiring Plock, and reviving the ancient glories of Poland, till the Chancellor Zamoyski put the whole assembly to shame by rising in their midst and delivering an eloquent panegyric in which he publicly thanked his sovereign in the presence of "this ungrateful people" for his inestimable benefits. The opposition was marshalled round the immensely wealthy and powerful Zborowski family, which had grown to undeserved greatness and monopolised the principal dignities in the kingdom during the short reign of Henry of Valois. From the first they had treated the new King insolently. At a levée held soon after his coronation, as
Stephen's policy in religious matters aimed at consolidation and pacification. Devoted Catholic as he was, he nevertheless respected the liberties of the Protestants, severely punished the students of Cracow for attacking their conventicles, and even protected the Jews from insult and wrong. A man of culture himself, moreover (Caesar's Commentaries was his constant companion, and he revised and corrected the MS. history of his Muscovite campaigns written by his secretary Heidenstein), he justly appreciated the immense value of education, and, at the beginning of his reign, entertained the ambition of reforming the University of Cracow by placing it in the hands of the ablest scholars of the day, men like Muretus, Zabarella, and Gregory of Valencia. His chronic poverty, due to the obstructive parsimony of the Diet, rendered this large and liberal scheme abortive ; and he was therefore obliged to rely more and more upon the Jesuits, who happened to be the best educational instruments at his command. He established the Order in Wilna, Posen, Cracow, Riga, and other places, despite the protests of some of the Catholic Bishops and all the Protestant Superintendents; and from these seminaries, whose superiority was speedily and universally recognised
High political reasons also bound Stephen Bàthory to the Jesuits. They alone had the intelligence to understand and promote his Imperial designs, which aimed at nothing less than incorporating Muscovy with Poland, and uniting the kingdoms of Poland and Hungary, with the object of ultimately expelling the Turks from Europe, and settling the Eastern Question once for all. These grandiose but, in view of the peculiar circumstances and of Stephen's commanding genius, not altogether impracticable designs, were first suggested by the death of Ivan the Terrible in 1584. Stephen's views found an ardent supporter in the new Pope, the vigorous and enterprising Sixtus V, to whom the King sent Sokolowski, Archbishop of Lemberg, and his own nephew, Cardinal Bäthory, on a special mission to explain his plans. The King offered, in return for subsidies amounting to 3,648,000 ducats, to put on foot 84,000 men-at-arms for the Turkish campaign, and 24,000 for the conquest of Muscovy, at the cost of 200,000 ducats a year for four years. The Pope thereupon despatched Possevino on a second special mission to Poland and Russia, to pave the way for this vast undertaking ; and a Diet was summoned by Stephen to meet at Grodno, in February, 1587, to consider the whole scheme, when the entire project was for ever dissipated by the sudden death of Bäthory, who was carried off by a fit of apoplexy on December 12, 1586, in the flower of his age and vigour. No other Polish monarch (not even John Sobieski) ever deserved so well of his country. In his all too brief reign of ten years he had already approved himself one of the foremost statesmen and soldiers of his age. Not without reason does Poland reckon him among the most illustrious of her rulers.