Portrait of Frederick Augustus I (1750-1827), King of Saxony (1806-1827), Elector of Saxony (Frederick Augustus III) from 1763 to 1806; Duke of Warsaw (1807-1815)
Frederick Augustus I (German: Friedrich August von Sachsen; Polish: Fryderyk August Wettyn; 23 December 1750 – 5 May 1827) was a member of the House of Wettin who reigned as Elector of Saxony from 1763 to 1806 (as Frederick Augustus III) and as King of Saxony from 1806 to 1827. He also served as Duke of Warsaw from 1807 to 1813. Succeeding his father in 1763 as the elector Frederick Augustus III, he brought order and efficiency to his country's finances and administration. In foreign policy, he was neutralist but drifted towards Prussia, whose side he took in the Bavarian succession dispute (1778–79), when it prevented Bavaria's cession to Austria. For his cooperation he received substantial financial compensation from Prussia. In 1785, Frederick Augustus joined the Prussian-sponsored Fürstenbund (League of Princes), but remained neutral during the Austro-Prussian dispute in 1790. Offered the Polish crown in 1791, he declined as he feared that his "risky" politics may cause further damage to the Polish state, which was already weak and eventually stopped existing in 1795. The next year Saxony reluctantly joined the coalition against Revolutionary France but was defeated by 1796. Again entering the struggle on Prussia's side in 1806, after the decisive defeat at Jena in the same year, Frederick Augustus made peace with Napoleon, which secured the title of king of Saxony for him. A year later, Napoleon secured the Duchy of Warsaw for him. Frederick Augustus remained a loyal ally to France even after the disastrous Russian campaign (1812–13). Although he had started half-hearted negotiations with Austria, he broke them off after the French victory at Lützen (May 1813). In the Battle of Leipzig (October 1813), however, his troops went over to Prussia and he was taken as prisoner to Berlin. At the Congress of Vienna in 1815, Frederick Augustus lost three-fifths of his territory to Prussia. He spent the rest of his life attempting to rehabilitate his truncated state. Throughout his political career Frederick Augustus tried to rehabilitate and recreate the Polish state that was torn apart and stopped existing after the final partition of Poland in 1795, however he did not succeed - for this he would blame himself for the rest of his life. He was the second (but eldest surviving) son of Frederick Christian, Elector of Saxony, and Maria Antonia of Bavaria, Princess of Bavaria. Because he was underage at the time of the death of his father in 1763, his mother served as Regent until 1768. His uncle Prince Franz Xavier functioned as his representative. In 1765 Prince Franz Xavier ceded the Polish throne to Stanisław II Augustus on behalf of the underage Elector. Frederick Augustus was named successor to Stanislaw, however, when a Polish Constitution was ratified by the Polish Sejm. At the same time, the head of the Saxon Royal House was established as heir to the Polish throne (Article VII of the Polish Constitution). Frederick Augustus declined to accept the crown upon Stanislaw's death in 1798, because he feared becoming entangled in disputes with Austria, Prussia and Russia, who had begun to partition Poland in 1772. As a matter of fact, a full partition of Poland among the neighboring powers of Austria, Prussia, and Russia had already taken place by 1795.
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