Catherine Opalińska

Queen consort of Poland
Grand Duchess consort of Lithuania
Tenure 1705–1708
Coronation 4 October 1705
Born (1680-10-13)13 October 1680
Poznań, Poland
Died 19 March 1747(1747-03-19) (aged 66)
Lunéville, France
Burial Notre-Dame-de-Bonsecours, Nancy
Spouse Stanisław I
Issue Anna Leszczyńska
Maria, Queen of France
House House of Opaliński (by birth)
House of Leszczyński (by marriage)
Father Jan Karol Opaliński
Mother Zofia Czarnkowska

Catherine Opalińska (Polish: Katarzyna Opalińska; 13 October 1680 – 19 March 1747) was Queen consort of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth twice and Duchess consort of Lorraine through her marriage with Stanisław I of Poland.


Catherine was the daughter of magnate Jan Karol Opaliński and his wife Zofia Czarnkowska. On May 10, 1698 in Kraków she married Stanisław Leszczyński, who became Duke of Lorraine and was, briefly, king of Poland (reigned as Stanisław I). In 1699, she gave birth to Anna Leszczyńska, and in 1703, to Marie Leszczyńska, the future wife of Louis XV of France.

In 1704, her spouse was elected King of Poland after having been supported as a candidate by Charles XII of Sweden, who had at the time placed Poland under his occupation. Between November 1704 and July 1705, Charles XII had his headquarters at Rawicz, and the royal couple held court at Rydzyna Castle nearby, were queen Catherine hosted balls and masquerades for the Swedish power holders and welcomed the wives of the Swedish commanders stationed there, such as for example Christina Piper, who visited Carl Piper in Ravicz and were introduced at the Polish court at the same time.[1]

In 1709, her spouse was deposed when the Swedish army lost the military upper hand in Poland, and the family was by Charles XII granted refuge in the Swedish city of Kristianstad in Scania.[2] In Sweden, the family was welcomed by the Queen Dowager Hedwig Eleonora and became popular members of the society life on the estates of the nobility around Kristianstad: one of their acquaintances among the Swedish nobility were Christina Piper, whom they had met in Ravicz in 1705 and with whom they spent several months in Norrköping in the autumn of 1713.[3] In 1712, they also visited Medevi, the spa of the Queen Dowager.[4] In 1714, Charles XII gave them permission to live in the Swedish province of Zweibrücken in Germany, where they were supported by the income of Zweibrücken: they lived there until the death of Charles XII in 1718[5] Catherine, as well as her daughter queen Marie, maintained a political correspondence with Margareta Gyllenstierna, the spouse of Arvid Horn, with whom she had made the acquaintance during her stay in Sweden[6] After the death of Charles XII, they lived in Wissembourg in Alsace in France.

In 1725, her daughter Marie was chosen to be the queen of France, which made Catherine mother-in-law to Louis XV of France. After the wedding, Catherine and Stanisław resided at the Chateau du Chambord.[7]

In 1737, her spouse was made Duke of Lorraine, which made Catherine duchess consort of Lorraine, and she was thereby installed at the Ducal court in Nancy. Until her death, however, she kept her title of Queen. As long as she lived, Stanisław reportedly benefited the Catholic church and the Jesuit order financially.[8] In contrast to Stanisław, Catherine did not adjust to life in France or Lorraine, but felt a certain bitterness over her exile,[9] and continue to long for Poland.[10] Catherine Opalinska was described as homely, pious and charitable, but also as a "dour" personality who Stanisław regarded to be boring.[11] As soon as they were installed with their court in Lorraine, Stanisław took numerous mistresses, many among her ladies-in-waiting, such as Catherine Ossolińska and Anna Maria Ossolińska, Marie-Louise de Linanges, Madame de Bassompierre and Madame de Cambres, until from 1745 he had a permanent relationship with the marquise de Boufflers, all relationships which Catherine could not prevent.[12]

When his mother-in-law, the wife of the dethroned king of Poland, died in 1747, Louis XV ordered a commemorative ceremony, in her honour at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. The ceremony glorified the deceased who underwent a veritable deification.

Her tomb is in the church of Notre-Dame-de-Bonsecours, in Nancy, next to her husband and the heart of their daughter.


Piotr Opaliński, voivode of Poznań
Krzysztof Opaliński, voivode of Poznań
Zofia Kostka
Jan Karol Opaliński, castellan of Poznań
Adam Sędziwój Czarnkowski, voivode of Łęczyca
Teresa Konstancja Czarnkowska
Katarzyna Leszczyńska
Catherine Opalińska
Kazimierz Franciszek Czarnkowski, castellan of Poznań
Adam Uriel Czarnkowski
Princess Konstancja Lubomirska
Zofia Anna Czarnkowska
Remigian Zaleski, Castellan of Łęczyca
Teresa Zaleska
Anna Miełżyńska

See also

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Catherine Opalińska.


  1. Norrhem, Svante, Christina och Carl Piper: en biografi [Christina and Carl Piper: a biography], Historiska media, Lund, 2010 (Swedish)
  2. Lundh-Eriksson, Nanna (1947). Hedvig Eleonora (in Swedish). Wahlström & Widstrand.
  3. Norrhem, Svante, Christina och Carl Piper: en biografi [Christina and Carl Piper: a biography], Historiska media, Lund, 2010 (Swedish)
  4. Lundh-Eriksson, Nanna (1947). Hedvig Eleonora (in Swedish). Wahlström & Widstrand.
  5. Lundh-Eriksson, Nanna (1947). Hedvig Eleonora (in Swedish). Wahlström & Widstrand.
  6. Norrhem, Svante (2007). Kvinnor vid maktens sida : 1632-1772. (Women alongside power: 1632-1772) Lund: Nordic Academic Press. Libris 10428618. ISBN 978-91-89116-91-7 (Swedish)
  7. Renata Tyszczuk: The Story of an Architect King: Stanislas Leszczynski in Lorraine 1737-1766
  8. The National Review, Volym 19.W.H. Allen, 1892
  9. Bogdan, Henry: La Lorraine des ducs
  10. Nesta H. Webster: The Chevalier De Boufflers (1916)
  11. Nesta H. Webster: The Chevalier De Boufflers (1916)
  12. Bogdan, Henry: La Lorraine des ducs
  13. Zamek w Sierakowie, Historia Zamku.

Further reading

Catherine Opalińska
Born: 13 October 1680 Died: 19 March 1747
Royal titles
Preceded by
Christiane Eberhardine of Brandenburg-Bayreuth
Queen consort of Poland
Grand Duchess consort of Lithuania

Succeeded by
Christiane Eberhardine of Brandenburg-Bayreuth
Preceded by
Christiane Eberhardine of Brandenburg-Bayreuth
Queen consort of Poland
Grand Duchess consort of Lithuania

Succeeded by
Maria Josepha of Austria
Preceded by
Maria Theresia of Austria
Duchess of Lorraine
Succeeded by
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