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PONIATOWSKI, the name of a Polish princely family of Italian origin, tracing descent from Giuseppe Torelli, who married about 1650 an heiress of the Lithuanian family of Poniator, whose name he assumed.

The first of the Poniatowskis to distinguish himself was STANISLAUS PONIATOWSKI (1677-1762), who only belonged to the family by adoption, being the reputed son of Prince Sapieha and a Jewess. He was born at Dereczyn in Lithuania, and was adopted by Sapieha's intendant, Poniatowski. With his father he attached himself to the party of Stanislaus Leszczynski, and became major-general in the army of Charles XII. of Sweden. After the defeat of Pultowa he conveyed Charles XII. across the Dnieper, and remained with him at Bender. From there he was sent to Constantinople, where he extracted from the sultan Achmet III. a promise to march to Moscow. When the grand vizier, Baltagi Mehemet, permitted the tsar Peter I. to retreat unharmed from the banks of the Pruth, Poniatowski exposed his treason. He rejoined Leszczynski in the duchy of Zweibriicken, Bavaria, of which he became governor. After the death of Charles XII. in 1718 he visited Sweden; and was subsequently reconciled with Leszczynski's rival on the throne of Poland, Augustus II., who made him grand treasurer of Lithuania in 1724. On the death of Augustus II. he tried to secure the reinstatement of Leszczynski, who then resumed his claims to the Polish crown. He was taken prisoner at Danzig by the Russians, and presently gave his allegiance to Augustus III., by whom he was made governor of Cracow. He died at Ryki on the 3rd of August 1762.

His second son Stanislaus Augustus became king of Poland (see STANISLAUS II.). Of the other sons, Casimir (1721-1780) was his brother's chancellor; Andrew (1735-1773) entered the Austrian service, rising to the rank of feldzeugmeister; and Michael (1736-1794) became archbishop of Gnesen and primate of Poland. Joseph Anthony Poniatowski (q.i).}, son of Andrew, became one of Napoleon's marshals.

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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