Danzig -- History -- War of Polish Succession

Engraving depicting the war's dilemma: 'The city of Danzig must decide between two powers' (courtesy Herzog August Bibliothek)


February 1733 -- August II, King of Poland (1696-1704, 1709-1733) and Elector of Saxony dies. The nobles of the Polish republic were called to elect a successor.

12 September 1733 -- Meeting at Praga, near Warsaw on the left bank of the Vistula, the Elective Diet votes for Stanislaus Leszczynski (1677-1766). (Stanislaus had been the elected King of Poland between 1705-1709, the puppet of Charles XII of Sweden. He fled to France when August II recovered the Polish crown in 1709 and in the intervening years had become the son-in-law of Louis XV, King of France.) Neither the Saxons nor the Russians were disposed to see an ally of France on the Polish throne, and when Stanislaus called upon the Polish gentry to resist Russian advances from the eastern border, they refused.

2 October 1733 -- Stanislaus flees to Danzig, accompanied by the Marquis de Monti, representative of Louis XV. Monti promises French and Swedish support. In the King's entourage is also the son of Luise Kulmus's godfather, Count Bielinski. He will also oversee the oath of allegiance commanded of the city by King Stanislaus.

4 October 1733 -- The Danzigers entertain the King lavishly, including guild performances on the Langer Markt.

6 October 1733 -- Russian troops under General Lascy appear on the right bank of the Vistula near Warsaw, where supporters of August's son vote for the new Elector of Saxony as King of Poland. (Since the Lithuanians had refused to participate in the election of Stanislaus, there was also doubt about his legitimacy. )

16 November 1733 -- Der großmüthige Siröe, a drama about a legitimate and an illegimate aspirant to the throne, is presented to the town notables in the theater newly converted from the fencing school. Still, Danzigers prepared for the worst, inspecting fortifications and calling up the citizen militia (Mennonites were not obliged to carry weapons, but they fought fires).


January 1734 -- August III is crowned King of Poland in Krakow. This places Danzig in an awkward position. One of the city's few obligations to Poland was to support the crown. However, support for Stanislaus seems more than obligatory, the ruling classes appear to have accepted him as their rightful King. Georg Daniel Seyler (1700-1765) wrote: "Dieser liebenswürdige Herr gewann die Gemüther aller Menschen durch sein sanfftmüthig und gnädiges Bezeugen, daß es schiene, wie ihn so wohl seine Freunde anbetheten als seine Feinde verehreten . . ." (6)

February 1734 -- General Lascy and 12,000 Russian troops arrive in Langefuhr (about 15 minutes from Danzig) and stop the flow of a mill stream into Danzig. Bread and water become scarce.

March 1734 -- Russian General Münnich arrives and demands the key to the city and the extradition of Stanislaus. When the city refuses, Russian troops begin digging trenches. While the Russians blockade the Vistula and take various surrounding villages, the Danzigers burn others (including Schottland and Neugarten) to avoid their occupation by the Russians.

21 March 1734 -- At 5 pm. Russian troops begin bombarding the city.

29 March 1734 -- The Russians interrupt mail service, allowing it into town only after it had been opened. Both sides continue burning.

Easter 1734 -- Münnich warns that he will begin bombarding the city in earnest on April 30.

30 April 1734 -- At 8 pm. more severe bombing begins and continues day and night for two months. French ambassador Monti continues to promise the arrival of French and Swedish aid. Many townspeople try to take refuge in the Langgarten section, where Stanislaus has fled. But rooms become very expensive and very crowded. Empty and damaged houses are looted.

9 May 1734 [image] -- This night sees the worst bombing. Luise Kulmus's mother dies.

13 May 1734 -- A ship with 1500 Frenchmen arrives, soon estimates its troops are outnumbered and departs the next day. There are shortages of meat.

25 May 1734 -- Saxon troops arrive after a long and deadly march through Prussia and Poland.

12 June 1734 -- The Russian fleet appears and is at first mistaken for French reinforcements. English families almost all retreat to ships on the Motlau. Repeated appeals to Stanislaus only bring further assurances of French support and admonishments to hold out.

24 June 1734 -- The gate to the fortress at the mouth of the Vistula is taken by the Russians, and two days later these soldiers swear allegiance to August III.

27 June 1734 -- Münnich agrees to a ceasefire. That evening, dressed as a peasant, Stanislaus creeps over a wall and into a waiting boat to make his escape to Prussia. Livid that Stanislaus has escaped the Russians continue to bombard the city.

30 June 1734 -- The fighting ends. Terms of capitulation are discussed.

9 July 1734 -- The capitulation treaty is signed and Saxons march through the Oliva Gate.

19 July 1734 -- August III, King of Poland and Elector of Saxony, arrives at Oliva Cloister outside the city.

25 July 1734 -- August III receives the magistrates of the city, but refuses to visit Danzig. The reception is followed by a celebration.

Summary of damage: In May and June 4,430 bombs had hit Danzig, 1500 people were killed or maimed, 1800 houses were damaged. Most public buildings and churches suffered damage. In addition to swearing August allegiance the town had to pay one million Speciesthaler. Later August demanded an additional 2 1/2 million Prussian Gulder as war reparations, but this was reduced by 2/3. The port remained under occupation until these fines were paid in 1736. The City Council forbade occasional poems for weddings and funerals as items of superfluous luxury.

For contemporary accounts of the siege, see:
Georg Daniel Seyler
Anna Renate Breyne: Das klagende doch nicht verzagende Dantzig and Auf den Commandirenden Rußisch Feld Marschall Münich

[Georg Daniel Seyler. Accurate Nachricht von der Russisch und Sächsischen Belager- und Bombardirung der Danzig. Nebst einem dazu nöhtigen Anhange derer Manifeste, Edicte, Briefe, und anderen Schriften. Cöln, Hans Paul Merian 1735.]
[F. A. Brandstäter. Chronologische Uebersicht der Geschichte Danzigs. Danzig: Theodor Bertling (= Bd. I Gedanensia) 1879.]