1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Augustus III.

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AUGUSTUS III., king of Poland, and, as Frederick Augustus II., elector of Saxony (1696–1763), the only legitimate son of Augustus II. (“the Strong”), was born at Dresden on the 17th of October 1696. Educated as a Protestant, he followed his father’s example by joining the Roman Catholic Church in 1712, although his conversion was not made public until 1717. In August 1719 he married Maria Josepha, daughter of the emperor Joseph I., and seems to have taken very little part in public affairs until he became elector of Saxony on his father’s death in February 1733. He was then a candidate for the Polish crown; and having purchased the support of the emperor Charles VI. by assenting to the Pragmatic Sanction, and that of the czarina Anne by recognizing the claim of Russia to Courland, he was elected king of Poland in October 1733. Aided by the Russians, his troops drove Stanislaus Leszczynski from Poland; Augustus was crowned at Cracow in January 1734, and was generally recognized as king at Warsaw in June 1736. On the death of Charles VI. in October 1740, Augustus was among the enemies of his daughter Maria Theresa, and, as a son-in-law of the emperor Joseph I., claimed a portion of the Habsburg territories. In 1742, however, he was induced to transfer his support to Maria Theresa, and his troops took part in the struggle against Frederick the Great during the Silesian wars, and again when the Seven Years’ War began in 1756. Saxony was in that year attacked by the Prussians, and with so much success that not only was the Saxon army forced to capitulate at Pirna in October, but the elector, who fled to Warsaw, made no attempt to recover Saxony, which remained under the dominion of Frederick. When the treaty of Hubertsburg was concluded in February 1763, he returned to Saxony, where he died on the 5th of October 1763. He left five sons, the eldest of whom was his successor in Saxony, Frederick Christian; and five daughters, one of whom was the wife of Louis, the dauphin of France, and mother of Louis XVI. Another daughter was the wife of Charles III., king of Spain, but she predeceased her father. Augustus, who showed neither talent nor inclination for government, was content to leave Poland under the influence of Russia, and Saxony to the rule of his ministers. He took great interest in music and painting, and added to the collection of art treasures at Dresden.

See C. W. Böttiger and T. Flathe, Geschichte des Kurstaates und Königreichs Sachsen (Gotha, 1867–1873); R. Röpell, Polen um die Mitte des 18. Jahrhunderts (Gotha, 1876).