The Negotiation on the 1717 “Silent” Diet’s Constitutions (November 1716-January 1717): The Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth between the Golden Freedom and the Ministerial Reform


Mindaugas Sapoka (University of Aberdeen)

The internal conflict between King Augustus II and the noble Confederacies of Tarnogród and Vilnius was ended when a peace treaty was signed on November 3, 1716. After this the two parties, which previously had seemed irreconcilable, began to work hand in hand on the Diet’s resolutions.  My paper rejects the conventional assumption that the 1717 Diet lasted only one day—1 February. I show that contemporaries perceived the Diet to have begun de facto after November 3.  The right of liberum veto was applicable at the conferences where the constitutions were negotiated; however, it was voided at the final session, at which the resolutions were approved. This agenda was contradicted by a large portion of the nobility, who were afraid that this practice might become entrenched in the future and that the liberum veto could be abolished permanently. During the negotiations, clear differences between the Lithuanian and Polish Confederacies became evident.  If it took two months for the Poles to finish their work on the new law, the Lithuanians completed theirs in two weeks, with hardly any disputes.  Another important factor, overlooked in previous scholarship, is the exclusion from the conferences of the Russian mediator Dolgorukii.  The fact that the 1717 Diet’s resolutions were agreed upon with no interposition by Moscow proves wrong the previously held view of a decisive Russian role in the affairs of the 1716-1717 Commonwealth.  The ministerial reforms confirmed by the 1717 “Silent” Diet were an ingenious solution to the contemporary situation and a compromise which showed significant potential in the Republic’s political system.

Keyword: Šapoka

Comments are closed.