Although references to the king's party, known as regalists, and regalism appear in practically every study of the reign of Zygmunt III Vasa, it has not yet been the subject of a specialized monograph. Furthermore, we hardly know the regalist ideology (if indeed there was a set of beliefs they had in common). The term itself is popular with historians, yet they do not appear to use it with sufficient consistency. This short study cannot pretend to clarify all those problems; it is rather focused on the way in which the presence of such a faction affected the character of Zygmunt III's rule. There can be little doubt that the royal party was a notable factor in the shaping of Poland's internal and foreign policy and that the king's individual successes and failures depended on the regalists' fluctuating strength and discipline. Presumably they were never as influential as in the final phase of Zygmunt III's reign, when the opposition was still licking its wounds after the suppression of the Sandomierz Rebellion (1606-1608). An analysis of the pattern of formal and informal connections between the king's supporters and the current workings of the patronage system offers a number of clues into the functioning of the regalist network. The findings of this article, based on an examination of sources published by 19th and 20th century historians and various studies of contemporary patronage clientelism and protectionism, are by no means conclusive. They should be treated first of all as introduction to a fresh round of discussion and a pointer to further research.
Financed by the National Centre for Research and Development under grant No. SP/I/1/77065/10 by the strategic scientific research and experimental development program:
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