Peter the Great: Emperor of All Russia

By Ian Grey | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XXVI
The Treaty of Altranstadt 1706-1707

THE approach of the Swedish army spread terror among the Saxons. Many fled over the frontier to seek refuge in the neighbouring states. But their panic was unnecessary. Charles marched into Saxony with the sole purpose of compelling Augustus to renounce the Polish throne, and in this he was so successful that he had no need to resort to arms.

From Cracow, where he had retreated after learning of the defeat of his army at Punitz, Augustus had moved with his small force into Lithuania. Here he received news of Charles's invasion of his hereditary electorate and his first thought was to come to terms. Secretly he sent two representatives, his secretary, Pfingsten, and Count Imhof, to the Swedish camp with proposals for peace on the basis of divid>ing Poland equally between Stanislas and himself. But Charles would not consider such terms. He ordered Count Piper, his chief minister, to lay down as his immutable conditions that Augustus should renounce the Polish throne for all time, denounce treaties of alliance directed against Sweden, and especially his alliance with the Tsar, and that he would surrender all Swedish traitors in his service, and in particular Patkul. They were humiliating terms, but Pfingsten and Imhof, knowing the temper of their King, accepted them.

Six weeks later, on 13 October 1706, at Altranstadt, where Charles had moved with his army, the peace treaty, incorporating these and other conditions, was signed in strict secrecy.1 On the following day Charles sent trumpeters and drummers through the country to pro-

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