|First Partition of Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth|
|To Prussia||36,000 km²|
|To Austria||83,000 km²|
|To Russia||92,000 km²|
The First Partition of Poland took place in 1772 as the first of three partitions that eventually ended the existence of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth by 1795. The growth of power in the Russian Empire threatened the Kingdom of Prussia and the Habsburg monarchy and was the primary motive behind the First Partition.
Frederick the Great, King of Prussia, engineered the partition to prevent Austria, which was envious of Russian successes against the Ottoman Empire, from going to war. Territories in Poland were divided by its more powerful neighbours (Austria, Russia and Prussia) to restore the regional balance of power in Central Europe among those three countries.
With Poland unable to defend itself effectively and foreign troops already inside the country, the Polish Sejm ratified the partition in 1773 during the Partition Sejm, which was convened by the three powers.
By the late 18th century, the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth had been reduced from the status of a major European power to that of a country under major Russian influence almost becoming the protectorate of the Russian Empire (or vassal or satellite state), with the Russian tsar effectively choosing Polish–Lithuanian monarchs during the free elections and deciding the outcome of much of Poland's internal politics. For example the Repnin Sejm of 1767-68 was named after the Russian ambassador who had unofficially presided over its proceedings.
The First Partition occurred after the balance of power in Europe shifted, with Russian victories against the Ottomans in the Russo-Turkish War (1768–1774) strengthening Russia and endangering Habsburg interests in the region (particularly in Moldavia and Wallachia). Habsburg Austria then started considering waging war against Russia. [ page needed ]
France was friendly towards the Ottoman Empire but also both Prussia and Austria and suggested a series of territorial adjustments in which the Ottoman Empire would not suffer from Austria and Russia. In return, Austria would be compensated with parts of Prussian Silesia, and Prussia would regain Ermland (Warmia) from the Polish part of Prussia and parts of a Polish fief, the Duchy of Courland and Semigallia, already under Baltic German hegemony.
King Frederick II of Prussia had no intention of giving up Silesia, having recently gained it in the Silesian Wars, but was also interested in finding a peaceful solution. The Russo-Prussian alliance would draw him into a potential war against Austria, and the Seven Years' War had left Prussia's treasury and army weakened. Like France, he was interested in protecting the weakening Ottoman Empire, which could be advantageously used in the event of a Prussian war either against Russia or Austria.
Frederick's brother, Prince Henry, spent the winter of 1770–71 as a representative of the Prussian court at Saint Petersburg. As Austria had annexed 13 towns in the Hungarian Szepes region in 1769 in violation of the Treaty of Lubowla, Catherine II of Russia and her advisor General Ivan Chernyshyov suggested to Henry that Prussia claim some Polish land, such as Ermland. After Henry had informed him of the proposal, Frederick suggested a partition of the Polish borderlands by Austria, Prussia and Russia, with the largest share going to Austria, the party most weakened by the recent changes in the balance of power.
Thus, Frederick attempted to encourage Russia to direct its expansion towards the weak and dysfunctional Polish instead of the Ottomans.The Austrian statesman Wenzel Anton Graf Kaunitz made a counterproposal for Prussia to take lands from Poland in return for relinquishing Silesia to Austria, but his plan was rejected by Frederick.
Although for a few decades, since the Silent Sejm, Russia had seen the weak Poland as its own protectorate,Poland had also been devastated by a civil war in which the forces of the Bar Confederation, formed in Bar, attempted to disrupt Russian control over Poland. The recent Koliyivschyna peasant and Cossack uprising in Ukraine also weakened the Polish position. Besides, the Russian-supported Polish king, Stanisław August Poniatowski, was seen as both weak and too independent-minded. Eventually, the Russian court decided that the usefulness of Poland as a protectorate had diminished.
The three powers officially justified their actions as compensation for dealing with a troublesome neighbor and restoring order to Polish anarchy, and the Bar Confederation provided a convenient excuse although all three were interested in territorial gains.
After Russia had occupied the Danubian Principalities, Henry convinced Frederick and Archduchess Maria Theresa of Austria that the balance of power would be maintained by a tripartite division of the Commonwealth instead of Russia taking land from the Ottomans. Under pressure from Prussia, which had long wanted to annex the northern Polish province of Royal Prussia, the three powers agreed on the First Partition of Poland.
That was in light of the possible Austrian-Ottoman alliancewith only token objections from Austria although it would have preferred to receive more Ottoman territories in the Balkans, a region that had long been coveted by the Habsburgs. The Russians also withdrew from Moldavia, away from the Austrian border.
An attempt of Bar Confederacy to kidnap King Poniatowski on 3 November 1771 gave the three courts another pretext to showcase the "Polish anarchy" and the need for its neighbors to step in and "save" the country and its citizens.
Already by 1769–1771, both Austria and Prussia had taken over some border territories of the Commonwealth, with Austria taking Szepes County in 1769–1770 and Prussia incorporating Lauenburg and Bütow.On February 19, 1772, the agreement of partition was signed in Vienna. A previous agreement between Prussia and Russia had been made in Saint Petersburg on February 6, 1772.
In early August, Russian, Prussian and Austrian troops simultaneously entered the Commonwealth and occupied the provinces that had been agreed upon among themselves. On August 5, the three parties signed the treaty on their respective territorial gains.
The regiments of the Bar Confederation, whose executive board had been forced to leave Austria, which had supported them,after Austria joined the Prusso–Russian alliance, did not lay down their arms. Many fortresses in their command held out as long as possible. Wawel Castle in Kraków fell only at the end of April; Tyniec Fortress held until the end of July 1772; Częstochowa, commanded by Casimir Pulaski, held until late August. In the end, the Bar Confederation was defeated, with its members either fleeing abroad or being deported to Siberia by the Russians.
The partition treaty was ratified by its signatories on September 22, 1772. 36,000 square kilometres (14,000 sq mi) and about 600,000 people. According to Jerzy Surdykowski, Frederick the Great soon introduced German colonists in territories he conquered, and enforced the Germanization of Polish territories. Frederick II settled 26,000 Germans in Polish Pomerania, who influenced the ethnic situation in the region, which had around 300,000 inhabitants. According to Christopher Clark, in certain areas annexed by Prussia like Notec and Royal Prussia, 54% of the population (75% in the urban areas) were German-speaking Protestants. That condition in the next century would be used by nationalistic German historians to justify the partition, but it was irrelevant to contemporary calculations. Frederick was dismissive of German culture; he pursued an imperialist policy, acting on the security interests of his state with dynastic rather than national identity.It was a major success for Frederick II of Prussia: Prussia's share might have been the smallest, but it was also significantly developed and strategically important. Prussia took most of Polish Royal Prussia, including Ermland, which allowed Frederick to link East Prussia and Brandenburg. Prussia also annexed northern areas of Greater Poland along the Noteć River (the Netze District), and northern Kuyavia, but not the cities of Danzig (Gdańsk) and Thorn (Toruń). In 1773, the territories annexed by Prussia became the new province of West Prussia. Overall, Prussia gained
The newly-gained territories connected Prussia with Germany proper and had major economic importance. By seizing northwestern Poland, Prussia instantly cut off Poland from the sea and gained control of over 80% of the Commonwealth's total foreign trade.Through levying enormous customs duties, Prussia accelerated the inevitable collapse of the Commonwealth.
Despite token criticism of the partition from the Austrian archduchess, Empress Maria Theresa, 83,000 square kilometres (32,000 sq mi) and 2,650,000 people. Austria gained Zator, Auschwitz (Oświęcim), part of Little Poland (which constituted the counties of Kraków and Sandomierz), including the rich salt mines of Bochnia and Wieliczka but not the city of Kraków itself, and the whole of Galicia.the Austrian statesman Wenzel Anton Graf Kaunitz considered the Austrian share an ample compensation. Although Austria was the least interested in the partition, it received the largest share of the former Polish population and the second-largest land share:
The Russian share, on the northeast, was the largest, but the least-important area economically. 92,000 square kilometres (36,000 sq mi) and 1,300,000 people,[ citation needed ] and reorganized its newly-acquired lands into Pskov Governorate, which also included two provinces of Novgorod Governorate, and Mogilev Governorate. Zakhar Chernyshyov was appointed the Governor General of the new territories on May 28, 1772.By the "diplomatic document", Russia came into possession of the commonwealth territories east of the line formed roughly by the Dvina, Drut, and Dnieper Rivers, the section of Livonia that had remained in Commonwealth control, and of Belarus embracing the counties of Vitebsk, Polotsk and Mstislavl. Russia gained
By the first partition, the Commonwealth lost about 211,000 square kilometres (81,000 sq mi) (30% of its territory, amounting to about 733,000 square kilometres (283,000 sq mi)), with a population of over four to five million people, about a third of its population of fourteen million before the partitions.
After they had occupied their respective territories, the three partitioning powers demanded for King Stanisław August Poniatowski and the Sejm to approve their action.The king appealed to the nations of Western Europe for help and tarried with the convocation of the Sejm. The European powers reacted to the partition with utmost indifference, and only a few voices like Edmund Burke were raised in objection.
When no help was forthcoming and the armies of the combined nations occupied Warsaw, the capital, to compel by force of arms the calling of the assembly, no alternative could be chosen but passive submission to their will. The senators who advised against that step were threatened by the Russians, represented by the ambassador, Otto von Stackelberg, who declared that in the face of refusal, the whole of Warsaw would be destroyed by them. Other threats included execution confiscation of estates, and further increases of partitioned territory.According to Edward Henry Lewinski Corwin, some senators were even arrested by the Russians and exiled to Siberia.
The local land assemblies (Sejmiks) refused to elect deputies to the Sejm, and after great difficulties, less than half of the regular number of representatives came to attend the session led by Marshals of the Sejm, Michał Hieronim Radziwiłł and Adam Poniński. The latter in particular was one of many Polish nobles who were bribed by the Russians into following their orders.The Sejm became known as the Partition Sejm. To prevent the disruption of the Sejm via liberum veto and the defeat of the purpose of the invaders, Poniński undertook to turn the regular Sejm into a confederated sejm in which majority rule prevailed.
In spite of the efforts of individuals like Tadeusz Rejtan, Samuel Korsak, and Stanisław Bohuszewicz to prevent it, the deed was accomplished with the aid of Poniński, Radziwiłł, and the bishops Andrzej Młodziejowski, Ignacy Jakub Massalski, and Antoni Kazimierz Ostrowski (primate of Poland), who occupied high positions in the Senate of Poland.The Sejm elected a committee of thirty to deal with the various matters presented. On September 18, 1773, the committee signed the treaty of cession, renouncing all claims of the Commonwealth to the lost territories.
The Ottoman Empire was one of only two countries in the world that refused to accept the partitions, the other being the Persian Empire,and reserved a place in its diplomatic corps for an Ambassador of Lehistan (Poland).
Il Canto degli Italiani , the Italian national anthem, contains a reference to the partition.
The ongoing partitions of Poland were a major topic of discourse in the Federalist Papers in which the structure of the government of Poland and the foreign influence over it were used in several papers (Federalist No. 14, Federalist No. 19, Federalist No. 22, Federalist No. 39 for examples) as a cautionary tale for the writers of the US Constitution.
a ^ The picture shows the rulers of the three countries that participated in the partition tearing a map of Poland apart. The outer figures demanding their share are Catherine II of Russia and Frederick II of Prussia. The inner figure on the right is the Habsburg Emperor Joseph II, who appears ashamed of his action (although in reality, he was more of an advocate of the partition, and it was his mother, Maria Theresa, who was critical of the partition). On his right is the beleaguered Polish king, Stanisław August Poniatowski, who is experiencing difficulty keeping his crown on his head. Above the scene the angel of peace trumpets the news that civilized eighteenth-century sovereigns have accomplished their mission while avoiding war. The drawing gained notoriety in contemporary Europe, with bans on its distribution in several European countries.
The Partitions of Poland were three partitions of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth that took place toward the end of the 18th century and ended the existence of the state, resulting in the elimination of sovereign Poland and Lithuania for 123 years. The partitions were conducted by the Habsburg monarchy, the Kingdom of Prussia, and the Russian Empire, which divided up the Commonwealth lands among themselves progressively in the process of territorial seizures and annexations.
The Bar Confederation was an association of Polish nobles (szlachta) formed at the fortress of Bar in Podolia in 1768 to defend the internal and external independence of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth against Russian influence and against King Stanislaus II Augustus with Polish reformers, who were attempting to limit the power of the Commonwealth's wealthy magnates. The founders of the Bar Confederation included the magnates Adam Stanisław Krasiński, Bishop of Kamieniec, Karol Stanisław Radziwiłł, Casimir Pulaski, his father and brothers and Michał Krasiński. Its creation led to a civil war and contributed to the First Partition of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth. Maurice Benyovszky was the best known European Bar Confederation volunteer, supported by Roman Catholic France and Austria. Some historians consider the Bar Confederation the first Polish uprising.
Stanisław II August, known also by his regal Latin name Stanislaus II Augustus, was King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania from 1764 to 1795, and the last monarch of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth.
The Crown of the Kingdom of Poland, known also as the Polish Crown, is the common name for the historic Late Middle Ages territorial possessions of the King of Poland, including the Kingdom of Poland proper. The Polish Crown was at the helm of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth from 1569 to 1795.
The Kościuszko Uprising, also known as the Polish Uprising of 1794 and the Second Polish War, was an uprising against the Russian Empire and the Kingdom of Prussia led by Tadeusz Kościuszko in the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth and the Prussian partition in 1794. It was a failed attempt to liberate the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth from external influence after the Second Partition of Poland (1793) and the creation of the Targowica Confederation.
The Polish–Russian War of 1792 was fought between the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth on one side, and the Targowica Confederation and the Russian Empire under Catherine the Great on the other.
The Constitution of 3 May 1791, titled the Governance Act, was a constitution adopted by the Great Sejm for the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, a dual monarchy comprising the Crown of the Kingdom of Poland and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. The Constitution was designed to correct the Commonwealth's political flaws. It had been preceded by a period of agitation for—and gradual introduction of—reforms, beginning with the Convocation Sejm of 1764 and the ensuing election that year of Stanisław August Poniatowski, the Commonwealth's last king.
Tadeusz Reytan was a nobleman from the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth. He was a member of the Sejm of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth from the Nowogródek Voivodeship. Reytan is remembered for a dramatic gesture he made in September 1773, as a deputy of the Partition Sejm. There, Reytan tried to prevent the legalization of the first partition of Poland, a scene that has been immortalized in the painting Rejtan by Jan Matejko. He has been the subject of many other art works, and is a symbol of patriotism in Lithuania, Belarus and Poland. Despite his efforts, the partition of Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth was legalized soon afterwards.
The 1793 Second Partition of Poland was the second of three partitions that ended the existence of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth by 1795. The second partition occurred in the aftermath of the Polish–Russian War of 1792 and the Targowica Confederation of 1792, and was approved by its territorial beneficiaries, the Russian Empire and the Kingdom of Prussia. The division was ratified by the coerced Polish parliament (Sejm) in 1793 in a short-lived attempt to prevent the inevitable complete annexation of Poland, the Third Partition.
The Great Sejm, also known as the Four-Year Sejm was a Sejm (parliament) of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth that was held in Warsaw between 1788 and 1792. Its principal aim became to restore sovereignty to, and reform, the Commonwealth politically and economically.
The Patriotic Party, also known as the Patriot Party or, in English, as the Reform Party, was a political movement in the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth in the period of the Four-Year Sejm of 1788–1792, whose chief achievement was the Constitution of 3 May 1791. The reformers aimed to strengthen the ailing political machinery of the Commonwealth, to bolster its military, and to reduce foreign political influence, particularly that of the Russian Empire. It has been called the first Polish political party, though it had no formal organizational structure. The Party was inspired by the ideals of the French Revolution, and its name, proudly used by themselves, was a tribute to the Dutch Patriots.
Grodno Sejm was the last Sejm of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth. The Grodno Sejm, held in autumn 1793 in Grodno, Grand Duchy of Lithuania is infamous because its deputies, bribed or coerced by the Russian Empire, passed the act of Second Partition of Poland. The Sejm started on 17 June and ended on 23 November 1793. It ratified the division of the country in a futile attempt to prevent its subsequent complete annexation two years later in the 1795 Third Partition of Poland.
Ambassadors and envoys from Russia to Poland–Lithuania in the years 1763–1794 were among the most important characters in the politics of Poland. Their powers went far beyond those of most diplomats and can be compared to those of viceroys in the colonies of Spanish Empire, or Roman Republic's proconsuls in Roman provinces. During most of that period ambassadors and envoys from the Russian Empire, acting on the instructions from Saint Petersburg, held a de facto position superior to that of the Polish king, Stanisław August Poniatowski. Backed by the presence of the Russian army within the borders of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, and leveraging the immense wealth of the Russian Empire, they were able to influence both the king and the Polish parliament, the Sejm. According to their demands, the king dispensed the Commonwealth offices among the Russian supporters, and the Sejm, bribed or threatened, voted as the Russians dictated. The agenda of the Permanent Council was edited and approved by the Russian ambassador, and the members of the council were approved by him.
The Partition Sejm was a Sejm lasting from 1773 to 1775 in the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, convened by its three neighbours in order to legalize their First Partition of Poland. During its first days in session, that Sejm was the site of Tadeusz Rejtan's famous gesture of protest against Partition. The Sejm also passed other legislation, notably establishing the Permanent Council and the Commission of National Education. Cardinal Laws were confirmed.
The Polish-Lithuanian and Prussian Alliance was a mutual defense alliance signed on 29 March 1790 in Warsaw between representatives of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth and the Kingdom of Prussia. It was signed in the brief period when Prussia was seeking an ally against either Austria or Russia, and the Commonwealth was seeking guarantees that it would be able to carry out significant governmental reforms without foreign intervention.
The Prussian Partition, or Prussian Poland, is the former territories of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth acquired during the Partitions of Poland, in the late 18th century by the Kingdom of Prussia. The Prussian acquisition amounted to 141,400 km2 of land constituting formerly western territory of the Commonwealth. The first partitioning led by imperial Russia with Prussian participation took place in 1772; the second in 1793, and the third in 1795, resulting in Poland's elimination as a state for the next 123 years.
The early modern era of Polish history follows the late Middle Ages. Historians use the term early modern to refer to the period beginning in approximately 1500 AD and lasting until around 1800.
The History of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth (1764–1795) is concerned with the final decades of existence of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth. The period, during which the declining state pursued wide-ranging reforms and was subjected to three partitions by the neighboring powers, coincides with the election and reign of the federation's last king, Stanisław August Poniatowski.
The Russo-Prussian alliance signed by the Kingdom of Prussia and the Russian Empire on 11 April 1764. It was pivotal to the people of Prussia and Russia, and it followed the end of the Seven Years' War. The alliance agreement expanded on the Treaty of Saint Petersburg of 1762, which ended the war between those two countries. It was a defensive alliance, in which each party declared it would protect the territorial stability of the other. It further allowed both countries to intervene in the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, which was one of the primary intentions of the treaty.
Rejtan, or the Fall of Poland is an oil painting by the Polish artist Jan Matejko, finished in 1866, depicting the protest of Tadeusz Rejtan against the First Partition of Poland during the Partition Sejm of 1773. Both a depiction of a historical moment, and an allegory for the surrounding period of Polish history, the painting is one of Matejko's most famous works, and an iconic picture of an emotional protest.