Early modern theorists of diplomacy in Poland: Ławryn Piaseczyński

by Michał Nowakowski

Unlike Krzysztof Warszewicki (1543–1603), Ławryn Piaseczyński (c.1550–1606), author of Powinności poselskie (Ambassador’s duties, c.1603), was and still is an almost unknown figure. He was born circa 1550 in Ruthenia, on the territory of today’s Ukraine. As a child he resided at the court of the Grand Duke of Lithuania, and then took up a position in the Lithuanian chancellery. In 1569, he was, however, brought to the chancellery of the Polish Crown by Franciszek Krasiński (1525–77). There, Piaseczyński was responsible for keeping the Ruthenian register (Metryka ruska). Thus, he was required to have the knowledge of not only the Ruthenian language, but also the Second Lithuanian Statute of 1566.

Around 1583, Piaseczyński was appointed chamberlain of Bratslav, while in 1585, he participated in an unidentified diplomatic mission, probably to Crimea. At the election sejm of 1587, he was an elector of Sigismund Vasa (1566–1632). Newly-elected king eagerly used Piaseczyński’s diplomatic talents and his influence among the Ruthenian nobility by, for example, sending him as his own representative to the provincial parliaments in Bratslav.

More importantly, on April 14, 1601 Piaseczyński was sent as a king’s ambassador to the Crimean khan, Ğazı II Giray (1554–1607)—which was, by far, the most serious task in Piaseczyński’s long career. The goal of his mission was to finalize the talks on the Polish-Crimean ceasefire and the alliance. Due to many factors, not only this, but also two subsequent Piaseczyński’s missions (both in 1602), turned out to be ineffective. The key obstacles were mainly the ongoing Cossack and Tatar raids on each other territories, some of Sigismund III’s conditions and the delay in handing over the so-called “gifts”, i.e. the annual tribute to khan by the Polish kings, to which the Commonwealth acquiesced many times.

Nevertheless, Piaseczyński received a favorable assessment for his work, constantly enjoying the trust of his superiors, as evidenced by the preserved documents and the fact that he was sent with similar task thrice. Most probably it was during these legations, or immediately after, when Piaseczyński composed his diplomatic manual. After the Crimean affairs were finalised, the diplomat possibly applied for the senatorial office of castellan—if so, then unsuccessfully. Then, he withdrew from public life and died soon after, probably in the first half of 1606.


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Kołodziejczyk Dariusz: The Crimean Khanate and Poland-Lithuania. International Diplomacy on the European Periphery (15th–18th Century). A Study of Peace Treaties Followed by Annotated Documents, Leiden-Boston 2011.

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