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Thursday Dinners

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Thursday Dinners

Neoclassical Water Palace in Royal Baths Park where the dinners were held in summer
The chamber where the dignitaries would dine and meet with the King

Thursday Dinners (Polish: obiady czwartkowe) were meetings of artists, intellectuals, architects, politicians and statesmen held by the last King of Poland, Stanisław II August in the era of Enlightenment in Poland.

History

Stanisław II August became affectionately known as "King Stan" (Polish: Król Staś). He was a patron of the arts and learning, and it was during his reign that Poland's Age of Enlightenment or the Golden Age began (in the 1730s–40s) and reached its peak, only to go into decline with the Third Partition of Poland (in 1795), and ending in 1822 when the Age of Romanticism began. During the Age of Enlightenment, Warsaw became modernised and was a favourite meeting place for the who's who in the world of art, literature, intellectuals and statesmen. The King invited important figures of the time to his Thursday Dinners and founded the School of Chivalry. At that stage Warsaw had replaced Kraków as the centre of Poland.

The dinners were held first in the Royal Castle in Warsaw and later in the Water Palace between 1770 and 1784. During the dinners, which typically lasted three hours and resembled French salons, the King dined with his guests and discussed literature, art and politics. The number of guests varied over the years, but there were about 30 regulars, including counts, generals, politicians and bibliophiles like Ignacy Krasicki, Franciszek Bohomolec, Adam Naruszewicz, Ignacy Potocki, Stanisław Kostka Potocki, Hugo Kołłątaj, Jan Śniadecki and his brother Jędrzej Śniadecki, Stanisław Konarski, Tomasz Adam Ostrowski and Chancellor Andrzej Zamoyski.

The king also held less well-known Wednesday Dinners (Obiady Środowe). While the invitees to the Thursday Dinners were mostly painters, poets and other artists, the Wednesday Dinners brought together educators, scientists and political activists.

The Thursday Dinners spawned the first Polish literary magazine, Zabawy Przyjemne i Pożyteczne ("Diversions Pleasurable and Useful"), published from 1770 to 1777.

In the 1990s, Warsaw Mayor Paweł Piskorski picked up on the tradition by holding Tuesday Breakfasts to talk over current issues with leading businessmen and activists.

Cuisine

The importance of the dinners was not the food, but the conversation, and not many menus were recorded for posterity. It can be speculated, however that the meals had many courses and were sumptuous. Here is what might have been served at one of King's dinners.

References

  • "Literary Activities and Attitudes in the Stanislavian Age in Poland (1764-1795): A Social System?" by Jan IJ. van der Meer, ISBN 90-420-0933-0
  • "Poland's Last King and English Culture: Stanisław August Poniatowski, 1732-1798" by Richard Butterwick, ISBN 0-19-820701-8
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