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History of the Order of Saint Stanislas




















St. Stanislas


       Stanislaw Szczepanowski,  (July 26, 1030 – April 11, 1079) was a Bishop of Kraków known chiefly for having been martyred by the Polish king Boleslaw II the Bold. On September 17, 1253, at Assisi, Stanislaw was canonized by Pope Innocent IV. Saint Stanislaw's veneration has had great patriotic importance in Poland. The Bishop's body was then hacked to pieces and thrown into a pool outside the church. According to the legend, his members miraculously reintegrated while the pool was guarded by four eagles. In the period of Poland's feudal fragmentation, it was believed that Poland would one day reintegrate as had the members of Saint Stanislaw's body.



















King Stanislaw August Poniatowski of Poland (1768)


       In May 1765 King Stanislaw August Poniatowski established the Order of Saint Stanislaus, Bishop and Martyr, in honor of Poland's and his own patron saint, as Poland's second order of chivalry to reward Poles for noteworthy service to their king. Three partitions of Poland took place in the second half of the 18th century and ended the existence of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, resulting in the elimination of sovereign Poland for 123 years. The partitions were perpetrated by the Russian Empire, the Kingdom of Prussia and Habsburg Austria.


Allegory of the first partition of Poland









       Cathrina II of Russia (left), Emperor Josef II. and King Frederick II. of Prussia tearing a map of Poland apart. On the left is the beleaguered Polish king, Stanislaw August Poniatowski expecting difficulties keeping the crown on his head. As a result of Napoleonic victories defeated Russia and Austria had to cede the territories they had gained after the third partition and a new state was formed: the Grand-Duchy of Warsaw with Frederick August 1st of Saxony as Duke. This made him the second Grand Master of the Order of St. Stanislas. At that time a second white stripe was added to the single original stripe on the two borders of the red ribbon. 1815 the Congress of Vienna dissolved the Grand Duchy of Warsaw and created the Kingdom of Poland in personal union with the Russian Empire. Thus made Emperor Alexander I of Russia the third Grand Master of the Order of St Stanislas.


Royal and Imperial Order of St. Stanislaus


       After the November uprising of 1830/31 was crushed by a numerically superior Russian Army Poland became part of the Russian Empire. The Order together with the other Polish Orders was usurpated and downgraded and was added to the award system of Russia at the lowest rank, Tsar Nicholas I (1796-1855) being the forth Grandmaster.  In the Russian version of the badge the Polish white eagles are replaced with gold Russian double-headed imperial eagles, their wings parially overlapping the arms of the cross and the central medallion bearing the letters "SS" in red on a white enamel background instead of the original image of the saintly bishop, surrounded by a green enamel laural wreath.  During the years of Russian occupation the Order was granted to Russian generals for fighting Polish uprisings for independence and freedom and to people suporting the russification of occupied Poland. The Order lost it's polish and charitable character. 















                Nicholas I (1796-1855)             Alexander II 1818-1881         Alexander III 1845-1894           Nicholas II 1868-1917         Imperial Russian Badge

                 Fourth Grandmaster                   Fifth Grandmaster                  Sixth Grandmaster                Seventh Grandmaster


1917 the Order was abolished by the Bolshevik Government


       When Poland regained its independence in 1918, the government abolished the Order of the Knights of St. Stanislas Bishop and Martyr due to the severe abuses of its rules by the Russians who often awarded their version to those who - according to the dominant view in newly-independent Poland - had been responsible for the destruction of Poland and Polish culture.  Instead the Order of Polonia Restituta was established to once again reward the noble values that the original stood for. The Order was established on February 4, 1921 and the first Grand Master of the new Order Marshal Jósef Pilsudki awarded the first Orders on July 13, 1921.The Polish Governement in Exile (United Kingdom 1940-1990) was formed in the aftermath of the invasion of Poland by German and Soviet armies. It had considerable influence in Poland through the structures of the Polish Underground State and its military arm, the Armia Krajowa (Home Army) resistance. Though largely unrecognized and without effective power after the end of World War II, it remained in existence until the end of Communist rule in Poland in 1990, in opposition to the People's Republic of Poland, a Soviet satellite state, when it formally passed on its responsibilities to the new government. 


The Polish Government and the Order in Exile


       The first President in Exile was Wladyslaw Raczkiewicz who died in office 1947. He was succeeded by August Zaleski, in 1954, political differences led to a split in the ranks of the Government in Exile. One group, claiming to represent 80% of 500,000 anti-Communist Poles exiled since the war, was opposed to President August Zaleski's continuation in office when his seven-year term expired. It formed a Council of National Unity in July 1954, and set up a Council of Three to exercise the functions of head of state, comprising Tomasz Arciszewski, General Wladyslaw Anders, and Edward Raczynski.


       On the 22nd September 1971 August Zaleski transferred his office to his friend and Minister-in-Exile Juliusz Novina Sokolnicki instead of Stanislaw Ostrowski, who was recognised by the "Council of Three" (a body recognized by a part of emigrants as collective head of state) as President. Ostrowski is credited for uniting Polish émigree circles. He was followed by Edward Raczynski, Kasimir Sabbat and Ryszard Kaczorowski. In his function as President of the Republik of Poland (in Exile), although not recognised by all Polish emigree groups Juliusz Novina Sokolnicki held the office and supported the Polish opposition against the totalitarian communist regime in Poland and other countries under Soviet influence. 1990 he transferred all rights and duties of the Office of the President of the Republic of Poland in Exile to the now free and sovereign State of Poland and retired from politics. The main field of his activity became the Order of Saint Stanislaus, which he made an autonomous association of charity. The last event in which he participated was on May 9th, 2009 the 131st Investiture of the Order, connected with the event of 30 years of activities of the organization at Jasna Góra in Czestochowa.



Juliusz Novina Sokolnicki (1920-2009)

On the 9th of June 1979 he recreated the Sovereign Order of Saint Stanislas and declared himself

VIII Grand Master of the Order of St Stanislas.

The term "Sovereign" was dropped later after the separation of the Order from the Polish State



       Jan Zbigniew Potocki followed Juliusz Nowina Sokolnicki as IXth Grand Master of the Order in August 2009. He was dismissed from his position as Grand Master in February 2010, after he violated the Constitution of the Order repeatedly. The Order was then governed by the Regency Council internationally. The Confederacy of Priories and Commandories governed the Order in Poland.


       On the 16th February 2011 the Priors. Chancellors and Commanders of the Order of St. Stanislas Bishop and Martyr in Poland issued a statement appointing Waldemar Wilk as rightful successor of Juliusz Nowina Sokolnicki. 

       On the occasion of the Annual General Assembly in London on November 2019 the Xth Grand Master as a Titular Head was removed by vote and association with overseas Grand Priories and Senior members of the Order. Chev. Tomas Lorant, Head of the Regency Council became the Head of the Order. The Office of Grand Master remains vacant. 


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