Partitions of Poland

Partitions of Poland

The Partitions of Poland or Partitions of the Polish Lithuanian Commonwealth [Rbert Bideleux, Ian Jeffries.A History of Eastern Europe: Crisis and Change. Routledge:1998 p.156] [Judy Batt, Kataryna Wolczuk.Region, State and Identity in Central and Eastern Europe.Routledge:2002,p.153] [Nancy Sinkoff.Out of the Shtetl: Making Jews Modern in the Polish Borderlands.Society of Biblical Literature:2004, p.271] took place in the second half of the 18th century and ended the existence of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth. The partitions were carried out by Prussia, Russia and Habsburg Austria dividing up the Commonwealth lands among themselves. Three partitions took place:

*The First Partition: August 5, 1772.
*The Second Partition: January 23, 1793 (in which Austria did not participate).
*The Third Partition: October 24, 1795.

The less often used term "Fourth Partition of Poland" may refer to any subsequent division of Polish lands, specifically:
* after the Napoleonic Era, the 1815 division of the Duchy of Warsaw at the Congress of Vienna;
* the 1832 incorporation of the "Congress Kingdom" into Russia, and the 1846 incorporation of the Republic of Kraków into Austria; and
* the 1939 division of Poland between Germany and the Soviet Union pursuant to the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact.en icon cite book | author =Michael Brecher | coauthors =Jonathan Wilkenfeld | title =A Study of Crisis | year =1997 | pages =255 | publisher =University of Michigan Press | location = | id =ISBN 0-472-10806-9 | url =]



During the reign of Władysław IV (1632-48), the "liberum veto" had evolved. This policy of parliamentary procedure was based on the assumption of the political equality of every "gentleman", with the corollary that unanimous consent was required for all measures . A single MP's belief that a measure was injurious to his own constituency (usually simply his own estate), even after the act had already been approved, became sufficient to strike the act. It became increasingly difficult to get action taken. The "liberum veto" also provided openings for foreign diplomats to get their ways, through bribing nobles to exercise it. Thus one could characterise Poland-Lithuania in its final period (mid-18th century), prior to the partitions as already not a completely sovereign state: it could be seen almost as a vassal, or in modern terms, a Russian satellite state, with Russian tsars effectively choosing Polish kings. This applies particularly to the last Commonwealth King Stanisław August Poniatowski, who for some time had been a lover of Russian Empress Catherine the Great.

In 1730 the neighbours of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth (Rzeczpospolita), namely Prussia, Austria and Russia, signed a secret agreement in order to maintain the "status quo": specifically, to ensure that the Commonwealth laws would not change. Their alliance later became known in Poland as the "Alliance of the Three Black Eagles" (or "Löwenwolde's Treaty"), because all three states used a black eagle as a state symbol (in contrast to the white eagle, a symbol of Poland). The Commonwealth had been forced to rely on Russia for protection against the rising Kingdom of Prussia, while Prussia was demanding a slice of the northwest in order to unite its Western and Eastern portions, although this would only leave the Commonwealth with a Baltic coast in Latvia and Lithuania. The Commonwealth could never be liquidated unless its longtime ally, Austria, allowed it,Fact|date=February 2007 and first Catherine had to use diplomacy to win Austria to her side.

The Commonwealth had remained neutral in the Seven Years' War, though sympathizing with the alliance of France, Austria, and Russia, and allowing Russian troops access to its western lands as bases against Prussia. Frederick II of Prussia retaliated by ordering enough Polish currency counterfeited to severely affect the Polish economy. Through the Polish nobles whom Russia controlled and the Russian Minister to Warsaw, ambassador and Prince Nicholas Repnin, Empress Catherine the Great forced a constitution on the Commonwealth at the so-called Repnin Sejm of 1767, named after ambassador Repnin, who "de facto" dictated the terms of that Sejm (and who ordered the capture and exile of some vocal opponents of his policies to Kaluga in Russian Empire.,H. Wickham Steed, [ A Short History of Austria-Hungary and Poland] , 1914, NCYCLOPÆDIA BRITANNICA, INC. Retrieved on 3 August 2007.] Hamish M. Scott, "The Emergence of the Eastern Powers, 1756-1775", Cambridge University Press, 2001, ISBN 052179269X, [ Gooble Print, p.181-182] ] including bishop Józef Andrzej ZałuskiVarious, "The Story of My Life", Penguin Classics, 2001, ISBN 0140439153, [ Google Print, p.528] ] and others). This new constitution undid the reforms made in 1764 under Stanisław II. The "liberum veto" and all the old abuses of the last one and a half centuries were guaranteed as unalterable parts of this new constitution (in the so-called "cardinal laws"Richard Butterwick, "Poland's Last King and English Culture: Stanisław August Poniatowski, 1732-1798", Oxford University Press, 1998, ISBN 0198207018, [ Google Print, p.169] ] Hugh Seton-Watson, "The Russian Empire, 1801-1917", Oxford University Press, 1967, ISBN 0198221525, [ Google Print, p.44] ] ). Repnin also demanded religious freedom for the Protestant and Orthodox Christians (those demands were the official "cover" for the pro-dependence "reforms"), and the resulting reaction among some of Poland's Roman Catholics, as well as the deep resentment of Russian intervention in the Commonwealth's domestic affairs, led to the War of the Confederation of Bar from 1768-1772, where the Poles tried to expel Russian forces from Commonwealth territory. The irregular and poorly commanded Polish forces had litte chance in the face of the regular Russian army and suffered a major defeat. Adding to the chaos was a Ukrainian peasant rebellion, the Koliyivschyna, which erupted in 1768 and resulted in massacres of noblemen (szlachta), Jews, Uniates, and Catholic priests before it was put down by Polish and Russian troops.

First Partition

In February, 1772, the agreement of partition was signed in Vienna. Early in August the Russian, Prussian and Austrian troops simultaneously entered the Commonwealth and occupied the provinces agreed upon among themselves. On August 5, 1772, the occupation manifesto was issued; much to the consternation of a country too exhausted by the endeavours of the Confederation of Bar to offer successful resistance;Poland, Partitions of. (2008). In Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved April 28, 2008, from Encyclopædia Britannica Online:] nonetheless several battles and sieges took place, as Polish troops refused to lay down their arms (most noably, in Tyniec, Częstochowa and Kraków).

The partition treaty was ratified by its signatories on September 22, 1772. Frederick II of Prussia was elated with his success; Prussia took most of the Polish Royal Prussia that stood between its possessions in Kingdom of Prussia and Margraviate of Brandenburg, taking Ermland (Warmia), Royal Prussia without the city of Danzig (Gdańsk) (which in 1773 became a new province called West Prussia), northern areas of Greater Poland along the Noteć River (the Netze District), and parts of Kuyavia, (also the Prussian city of Thorn [Toruń] ). Despite token criticism of the partition from Austrian Empress Maria Theresa, Austrian statesman Kaunitz of Austria was proud of wresting as large a share as he did, with the rich salt mines of Bochnia and Wieliczka. To Austria fell Zator and Auschwitz (Oświęcim), part of Little Poland embracing parts of the counties of Kraków and Sandomir and the whole of Galicia, less the City of Kraków. Catherine of Russia was also very satisfied. By this "diplomatic document" Russia came into possession of that section of Livonia which had still remained in Commonwealth control, and of Belarus embracing the counties of Vitebsk, Polotsk and Mstislavl.

By this partition the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth lost about 30% of its territory, with a population of four million people (1/3 of its population). By seizing northwestern Poland, Prussia instantly gained control over 80% of the Commonwealth's total foreign trade. Through levying enormous custom duties, Prussia accelerated the inevitable collapse of the Commonwealth.

After having occupied their respective territories, the three partitioning powers demanded that King Stanisław and the Sejm approve their action. When no help was forthcoming and the armies of the combined nations occupying Warsaw to compel by force of arms the calling of the assembly, no alternative could be chosen save passive submission to their will. The so-called Partition Sejm, with Russian military forces threatening the opposition, on September 18, 1773, signed the treaty of cession, renouncing all claims of the Commonwealth to the occupied territories.

Second Partition

By 1790, on the political front, the First Polish Republic had deteriorated into such a helpless condition that it was successfully forced into an unnatural and ultimately deadly alliance with its enemy, Prussia. The Polish-Prussian Pact of 1790 was signed. The conditions of the Pact were such that the succeeding and final two partitions of Poland were inevitable. The May Constitution of 1791 enfranchised the bourgeoisie, established the separation of the three branches of government, and eliminated the abuses of Repnin Sejm. Those reforms prompted aggressive actions on the part of its neighbours, wary of the potential renaissance of the Commonwealth. Once again Poland dared to reform and improve itself without Russia's permission, and once again the Empress was angered; arguing that Poland had fallen prey to the radical Jacobinism then at high tide in France, Russian forces invaded the Commonwealth in 1792.

In the War in Defense of the Constitution, pro-Russian conservative Polish magnates, the Confederation of Targowica, fought against the Polish forces supporting the constitution, believing that Russians would help them restore the Golden Liberty. Abandoned by their Prussian allies, Polish pro-constitution forces, faced with Targowica units and the regular Russian army, were defeated. Prussia signed a treaty with Russia, agreeing that Polish reforms would be revoked and both countries would receive chunks of Commonwealth territory. In 1793, deputies to the Grodno Sejm, last Sejm of the Commonwealth, in the presence of the Russian forces, agreed to Russian territorial demands. In the 2nd partition, Russia and Prussia helped themselves to enough more land so that only one-third of the 1772 population remained in Poland. Prussia named its newly gained province South Prussia, with Warsaw as the capital of the new province.

Targowica confederates, who did not expect another partition, and the king, Stanisław August Poniatowski, who joined them near the end, both lost much prestige and support. The reformers, on the other hand, were attracting increasing support, and in 1794 the Kościuszko Uprising begun.

Third Partition

Kosciuszko's ragtag insurgent armies won some initial successes, but they eventually fell before the superior forces of Russian Empire. The partitioning powers, seeing the increasing unrest in the remaining Commonwealth, decided to solve the problem by erasing any independent Polish state from the map. On 24 October 1795 their representatives signed a treaty, dividing the remaining territories of the Commonwealth between their three countries.

The Russian part included 120,000 km² and 1.2 million people with Vilnius , the Prussian part (new provinces of New East Prussia and New Silesia) 55,000 km² and 1 million people with Warsaw, and the Austrian 47,000km² with 1.2 million and Lublin and Kraków.


Napoleon set up the Duchy of Warsaw in a smaller area of Poland, but after his defeat and the implementation of the Congress of Vienna programme, things became even worse for Poles than before. Russia gained a larger share of Poland and, after crushing an insurrection in 1831, the Congress Kingdom of Poland's autonomy was abolished and Poles faced confiscation of property, deportation, forced military service, and the closure of their own universities. After the rising of 1863, Russification of Polish secondary schools was imposed and literacy rate dropped dramatically. In the Austrian portion, Poles became the second nationality Fact|date=February 2007 and were allowed representation in Parliament and to form their own universities, and Kraków and Lemberg became centers of Polish education. Meanwhile, Prussia Germanized the entire school system of its Polish subjects and had no more respect for Polish culture and institutions than Russia hadFact|date=December 2007. It would take the World War I, with the Central Powers losing to the Western Allies, the chaos of the Russian Revolution and the Treaty of Versailles to restore Poland's independence after 123 years.

As a result of Partitions, Poles were forced to seek a change of status quo in Europe.Lonnie R. Johnson, "Central Europe: Enemies, Neighbors, Friends", Oxford University Press, 1996, ISBN 0195100719, [,M1 Google Print, p.127-128] ] Polish poets, politicians, noblemen, writers, artists, many of whom were forced to emigrate (thus the term Great Emigration) became the revolutionaries of 19th century, as desire for freedom and liberty became one of the defining parts of Polish romanticism.W. H. Zawadzki, "A Man of Honour: Adam Czartoryski as a Statesman of Russia and Poland, 1795-1831", Oxford University Press, 1993, ISBN 0198203039 [ Google Print, p.330] ] Stefan Auer, "Liberal Nationalism in Central Europe", Routledge, 2004, ISBN 0415314798, [ m-InI8OGK40XK0 Google Print, p.60] ] Polish revolutionaries participated in uprisings in Prussia, Austrian Empire and Imperial RussiaDieter Dowe, "Europe in 1848: revolution and reform", Berghahn Books, 2001, ISBN 1571811648, [ Google Print, p.180]

"While it is often and quite justifiably remarked that there was hardly a barricade or battlefield in Europe between 1830 and 1870 where no Poles were fighting, this is especially true for the revolution of 1848/1849."] Polish legions fought alongside NapoleonJan Pachonski, Reuel K. Wilson. "Poland's Caribbean Tragedy: A Study of Polish Legions in the Haitian War of Independence 1802-1803". East European Monographs, 1986. ISBN 0-88033-093-7. [ review and notes on the book] .] Elena I. Fedosova, " [ Polish Projects of Napoleon Bonaparte] ", The Journal of the International Napoleonic Society, 1/2/98] and under the slogan of "For our freedom and yours" participated widely in the Spring of Nations (particularly Hungarian Revolution (1848)). [ Gods, Heroes, & Legends] ]

"Fourth Partition"

The term "Fourth Partition of Poland" may refer to any subsequent division of Polish lands, specifically:
* after the Napoleonic Era, the 1815 division of the Duchy of Warsaw at the Congress of Vienna;
* the 1832 incorporation of the "Congress Kingdom" into Russia, and the 1846 incorporation of the Republic of Kraków into Austria; and
* the 1939 division of Poland between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union.If one accepts more than one of those events as partitions, fifth and sixth partitions can be counted, but these terms are very rare.


As historian Norman Davies stated, because of the observance of the balance of power equilibrium, many contemporary observers accepted explanations of the "enlightened apologists" of the partitioning state.Norman Davies, God's Playground: A History of Poland in Two Volumes, Oxford University Press, 2005, ISBN 0199253390, [ Google Print, p.283] ] Concerning Russia, some scholars point out that Russia annexed primarily Ukrainian and Belorussian provinces with Eastern Slavic inhabitants which were no more enthusiastic about Poland than about Russia. [Nicholas V. Riasanovsky, "Old Russia, the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe", American Slavic and East European Review, Vol. 11, No. 3. (Oct., 1952), pp. 171-188] Some, particularly older historians from countries that carried out the partitions, such as 19th century Russian scholar Sergey Solovyov [E.g., Sergey Solovyov's "History of the Downfall of Poland" (Moscow, 1863).] argued that partitions were justified, as the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth had degenerated to the point of being partitioned because of the counterproductive principle of "liberum veto" that made decision-making on divisive issues, such as a wide-scale social reform, virtually impossible. Solovyov specified the cultural, language and religious break between the supreme and lowest layers of the society in the east regions of the Commonwealth, where the Bielorussian and Ukrainian serf peasantry was Orthodox. Russian authors emphasized the historical connections between Belarus, Ukraine and Russia, as former parts of the medieval old Russian state where dynasty of Rurikids reigned (Kievan Rus). [See Solovyov, inter alia.] A new justification for partitions arose with the Russian Enlightenment, as Russian writers such as Gavrila Derzhavin, Denis Fonvizin, and Alexander Pushkin stressed degeneration of Catholic Poland and the need to "civilize" it by its neighbors.Andrzej Nowak, " [ The Russo-Polish Historical Confrontation] ", The Sarmatian Review, January 1997, Volume XVII, Number 1, ] Nonetheless other 19th century contemporaries were much more sceptical; for example, British jurist Sir Robert Phillimore discussed the partition as a violation of international law;Sir Robert Phillimore, "Commentaries Upon International Law", 1854T. & J. W. Johnson, [ Google Print, p.819] ] German jurist Heinrich Bernhard Oppenheim presented similar views.Sharon Korman, "The Right of Conquest: The Acquisition of Territory by Force in International Law and Practice", Oxford University Press, 1996, ISBN 0198280076, [ Google Print, p.101] ] Other old historians who challenged such justifications for the Partitions included French historian Jules Michelet, British historian and politician Thomas Babington Macaulay, 1st Baron Macaulay, and Edmund Burke.Norman Davies, "Europe: A History", Oxford University Press, 1996, ISBN 0198201710, [,M1 Google Print, p.661] ] Edmund Burke was alone in criticizing the immorality of this act. [ [ PolandThe First Partition] ] More recent studies claim that partitions happened when Poland had been showing the beginning signs of a slow recovery and see the last two partitions as an answer to strengthening reforms in the Commonwealth and the potential threat they represented to its neighbours. [ The Army of Grand Duchy of Warsaw] ] Hon. Carl L. Bucki, , University of Buffalo's History of Poland series, [ The Constitution of May 3, 1791] ] Paul W. Schroeder, "The Transformation of European Politics 1763–1848", Oxford University Press, 1996, ISBN 0-19-820654-2, [ Google print p.84] ] Geoffrey Russell, "The Making of Modern Europe, 1648-1780", Routledge, 2003, ISBN 0415301556, [ Google Print, p.548] ]

See also

* Ambassadors and envoys from Russia to Poland (1763–1794)
* Administrative division of Polish territories after partitions

Notes and references

External links

*pl icon Krzysztof Wroński, [ Rozbiory Polski w XVIII w. " ich uwarunkowania i skutki]

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