Born Anna Constantia von Brockdorff in 1680, this German noblewoman rose from a minor lady-in-waiting to become the mistress of the King of Poland and finally, the most famous prisoner in Saxony.
In her youth, she had an affair and the scandal was covered up. Then she made a respectable marriage but that proved inconvenient once she caught the King’s attention. She withstood his advances until she had gained everything; title, position and power. But in the process she made enemies who would one day prevail against her.
Her fate was to be 49 years a prisoner, never giving the King the one thing he desperately wanted. In doing so she chose death in prison over freedom.
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About the Author
Kraszewski was one of the most prolific writers of all times. His works fill more than 600 volumes. He wrote over 220 novels, around 150 novellas and short stories, some 20 plays and more than 20 volumes of historical studies (including the 3-volume Historia Wilna ("History of Vilnius") and the 3-volume Polska w czasie trzech rozbiorów 1772-1799 ("Poland during the Three Partitions 1772-1799).
He travelled widely and visited the whole of pre-partition Poland and almost all of Europe. He took an active part in political activities and he was sent to prison twice.
Kraszewski was born into a noble family whose manor was located in Dołhe near Prużany (now Belarus) and though he was born in Warsaw (his mother fled there in 1812 in fear of Napoleon's Moscow-bound army) he regarded the Grand Duchy of Lithuania as his homeland. He spent his childhood in his grandmother's mansion in Romanowo in Podlasie, now the site of Kraszewski Museum.
After the outbreak of the Warsaw Uprising in November 1830, he and a group of his friends were arrested and he was imprisoned in Russian for more than a year.
In 1859 he accepted the the position of editor of the Jewish owned "Gazeta Warszawska" and he moved with his family to Warsaw. The number of "Gazeta" subscribers within half a year rose from 500 to 8000, but at the same time he had to withstand vicious remarks of anti-Semites. At the outbreak of the 1863 Uprising, he was politically active and was designated persona non grata and forced to emigrate, leaving his family in Warsaw. He went to Dresden, where he lived till 1884.
In Dresden he became a one-man Polish institution helping the political refugees, and organising literary life and information about Poland. In 1870 as the editor of "Tydzień" he expressed his scepticism about the dogma, approved at the 1st Vatican Council, that the pope is infallible as far as questions regarding the faith are concerned. That made him unpopular among the national orthodox church authorities, but he did not lose popularity among his readers. While he was in Dresden he concentrated on historical novels including the so called Saxon series (Hrabina Cosel 1873, Brühl 1874).
In 1879 in Kraków week-long celebrations on the 50th anniversary of the beginning of his literary career were held.
In 1883 he was arrested in Berlin and charged with collaboration with French military intelligence, and a year later he was sentenced by the tribunal in Leipzig to three and a half years of imprisonment in a fortress. He served the sentence in Magdeburg. As a result of his illness he was temporarily released on bail and went to Italy to improve his health, and after an earthquake there he sought refuge in Geneva in 1886. There, suffering from cancer and pneumonia, he died.