|Grand Duchy of Posen|
|Client state of Prussia|
The Grand Duchy of Posen (red) in 1848.
|28,951 km2 (11,178 sq mi)|
|• Type||Absolute Monarchy|
|Frederick William III|
|Frederick William IV|
|Eduard von Flottwell|
|Adolf von Arnim-Boitzenburg|
|9 June 1815|
|19 March 1848|
|5 December 1848|
|Part of a series on|
The Grand Duchy of Posen (German: Großherzogtum Posen; Polish : Wielkie Księstwo Poznańskie) was part of the Kingdom of Prussia, created from territories annexed by Prussia after the Partitions of Poland, and formally established following the Napoleonic Wars in 1815. Per agreements derived at the Congress of Vienna it was to have some autonomy. However, in reality it was subordinated to Prussia and the proclaimed rights for Polish subjects were not fully implemented. The name was unofficially used afterward for denoting the territory, especially by Poles, and today is used by modern historians to refer to different political entities until 1918. Its capital was Posen (Polish : Poznań). The Grand Duchy was formally replaced by the Province of Posen in the Prussian constitution of December 5, 1848.
Originally part of the Kingdom of Poland, this area largely coincided with Greater Poland. The mid-17th century brought devastation from invading Swedish forces during "the Deluge". The eastern portions of the territory were taken by the Kingdom of Prussia during the Partitions of Poland; during the first partition (1772), Prussia took just the Netze District, the portion along the Noteć (German: Netze) river. Prussia added the remainder during the second partition in 1793. Prussia briefly lost control during the Kościuszko Uprising in 1794.
It was initially administered as the province of South Prussia. The Poles were the primary ally of Napoleon Bonaparte in Central Europe, participating in the Greater Poland Uprising of 1806 and supplying troops for his campaigns. After the defeat of Prussia by Napoleonic France, the Duchy of Warsaw was created by the Treaty of Tilsit in 1807.
According to the Congress of Vienna, put into action after the fall of Napoleon in 1815, parts of the Prussian territory partitioned from Poland were passed on to Russia. From the remainder the Grand Duchy of Posen was to be created, that was to be a nominally autonomous province under Hohenzollern rule with the rights of "free development of Polish nation, culture and language", and was outside the German Confederation. Originally the Grand Duchy was to include Chełmno and Toruń. Prussia however disregarded this promise [ citation needed ] from Congress of Vienna. At this time the city of Poznań was the administrative centre and the seat of the Statthalter "Prince Antoni Henryk Radziwiłł of Poznań". In reality the actual administrative power over the region was awarded by Prussia to provincial upper-president Joseph Zerboni di Sposetti, who was a Prussian of German ethnicity.
At the beginning of the Prussian takeover of Polish territories, the discrimination and repression of Poles consisted of reducing their access [ citation needed ] to education and the judicial system. Prussian officials identified Germanisation as the progress of higher culture over a lower one. As a result, the local administration discriminated against Poles. After 1824 attempts to Germanise the school system were hastened and the government refused to establish a Polish university in Poznań. Polish politicians issued protests against Prussian policies and a secret, patriotic Polish organisation was founded called Towarzystwo Kosynierów (Society of Scythemen). Resistance activity of Poles resulted in reaction from Berlin, where a trial was held in connection to links between Poles from the Grand Duchy with Poles from Russian-ruled Congress Poland.
The 1830 November Uprising within Congress Poland against the Russian Empire was significantly supported by Poles from the Grand Duchy. Afterward, the Prussian administration under Oberpräsident Eduard Flottwell known for his anti-Polonismintroduced a stricter system of repression against the Poles. Prussian authorities attempted to expel Poles from administration to weaken the Polish nobility by buying its lands out, and, after 1832, the role of the Polish language in education was significantly repressed. Local self-government in the landed estates of land-lords, which was dominated by Polish nobility, was abolished, and instead the Prussian state appointed commissioners. Monasteries and their assets were confiscated by Prussia. The office of the governor (Statthalter) was abolished. Germanisation of institutions, education as well through colonisation was implemented.
Before 1848 repressions intensified in the Grand Duchy, censorship was strengthened, settlers of German ethnicity were brought in.Large patriotic demonstrations were held in memory of Antoni Babiński, a member of the Polish Democratic Society. He had been wounded by a gunshot, when the Prussian gendarme attempting to arrest him, engaged in a fight with him. Babiński was then captured, sentenced to death and executed in Poznań. His public execution in February 1847 was accompanied by public mourning. Cloth soaked in his blood and other remains were distributed as national relics. Large prayers were held in his memory, often against orders of Prussia. Members of such gatherings were persecuted by police. At the same time the national self-awareness grew among the rural population of Polish and German ethnicity alike. Whereas two thirds of the grand ducal population identified as ethnically Polish (mostly in the centre, south and east), one third envisioned themselves as being of German ethnicity. Anti-Prussian sentiment grew as response to policy of Germanisation and repression by Prussian authorities and the conspiracy organisation called Związek Plebejuszy found a potent ground. It was led by bookseller Walenty Stefański, poet Ryszard Berwiński and lawyer Jakub Krauthofer-Krotowski.
During the Revolutions of 1848 the Frankfurt Parliament attempted to divide the grand duchy into two parts: the Province of Posen, which would have been annexed to a to-be-created united Germany, and the Province of Gniezno, which would have remained outside Germany, but because of the protest of Polish parliamentarians these plans failed and the integrity of the grand duchy was preserved. However, on February 9, 1849, after a series of broken assurances, the Prussian administration renamed the grand duchy to the Province of Posen. Nevertheless, the territory formally remained outside of Germany until the dissolution of German Confederation and the establishment of North German Confederation as late as 1866, while the Prussian Kings up to William II, German Emperor still held the title "Grand Duke of Posen" until 1918.
The area was 28,951 km² and contained most of the territories of the historical province of Greater Poland, which comprised the western parts of the Duchy of Warsaw (Departments of Poznań, Bydgoszcz, partly Kalisz) that were ceded to Prussia according to the Congress of Vienna (1815) with an international guarantee of self-administration and free development of the Polish nation.
Since in the first half of the 19th century there was no census or other statistics also recording the ethnic identities of the inhabitants of the grand duchyits ethnic composition can only be derived from its religious makeup then recorded in the census. By 1815 in the grand duchy Catholics were by majority Polish-speaking, most Protestants were native speakers of German and many Jews then spoke Yiddish. Based on the religious data it was estimated that in 1815 ethnic Poles made up about 657,000 persons (or 73% of the overall population), while ethnic Germans were 225,000 (25%) and 18,000 (or 2%) were of the Yiddish culture. In 1819, according to Georg Hassel ethnic Poles were 77% of the population, ethnic Germans 17.5% and Jews 5.5%.
However, a simple identification of religion and ethnicity is misleading.
Whereas in 1812 Jews in then Prussia proper had been emancipated and naturalised, the Jews of the grand duchy were excluded from citizens franchise, but like women and non-propertied classes mere subjects of the grand duke. Only Christian men, if owning land, were enfranchised as citizens. Whereas Christians had freedom of moving from the grand duchy to Prussia proper, the grand duchy's Jews were forbidden to immigrate into Prussia.Prussian policy, however, opened an exception, Germanized Jews were enfranchised as citizens and granted freedom of move. So most adherents of the Yiddish culture Germanised themselves within a short period. Many traditional or newly established educational institutions using German language were attended by local Jews who, equipped with Prussian educational and German language skills, often emigrated to Prussia proper with some making their careers. Despite Germanisation efforts, the Polish-speaking population more than doubled to 1,344,000 and remained the majority, however, its percentage decreased to 64% of the population by 1910. However, there were regional differences, with Polish being the prevailing language in the centre, east and south, and German speakers majorities in the west and north.
According to contemporary statistics of 1825 the population consisted of the 65.6% Roman Catholics, 28.1% Protestants and 6.3% Jews.The Roman Catholic congregations formed part of the Ecclesiastical Province of Gnesen-Posen led by Primates of Poland, a Roman Catholic jurisdiction formed in 1821 by merging the archdioceses of Gniezno and Poznań, separated again in 1946. The bulk of the Lutheran and Reformed (Calvinist) congregations became part of the Ecclesiastical Province of Posen within the Evangelical Church in Prussia after 1817, with the congregations usually retaining their previous separate confessions. With the persisting resistance of some Lutherans against this administrative Prussian Union of churches the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Prussia emerged in 1841, government-recognised in 1845, with about 3,000 Old Lutherans in several congregations spread in the area of the grand duchy. Jewish religious life was organised in about 130 congregations spread all over the grand duchy. Since the government tolerated Judaism, but did not recognise it, no Jewish umbrella organisation, comparable to those of the Christian denominations or the former Council of Four Lands, forbidden in 1764, did emerge in the grand duchy. The migration of Posen Jews to Prussia was mostly blocked until 1850, when they were finally naturalised.
The monarch of the grand duchy, with title of Grand Duke of Posen, was the Hohenzollern king of Prussia and his representative was the Duke-Governor (Statthalter): the first was Prince Antoni Radziwiłł (1815–1831), who was married to Princess Louise of Prussia, the king's cousin. The governor was assigned to give advice in matters of Polish nationality, and had the right to veto the administration decisions; in reality, however, all administrative power was in the hands of the Prussian upper-president of the province.
The Prussian administrative unit that covered the territory of the Grand Duchy was called the Province of the Grand Duchy of Posen in the years 1815–1849, and later to simplify just the Province of Posen (German: Provinz Posen, Polish : Prowincja Poznańska).
The territory of the grand duchy was divided into two regions (Polish : Rejencja), that of Bromberg and of Posen, whose borders reflected those of the Bydgoszcz and the Poznań Department of the previous Duchy of Warsaw. The regions were further divided into 26 original districts (German: Kreis(e), Polish : Powiat(y)) headed by Landräte ("district councillors"). Later, these were redivided into 40 districts, plus two urban districts. In 1824, the Grand Duchy also received a provincial council (term started in 1827) but with little administrative power, limited to providing advice. In 1817, the Culmerland (Chełmno Land) was moved to West Prussia. From the 1820s, the grand duchy had a parliament, the Sejm of the Grand Duchy of Posen.
Organisations for items of general interest or province-wide purposes:
Organisations aiming at promoting German-speaking culture, settlements, or expressively addressing German-speaking audiences:
(in alphabetical order)
(see also Notable people of Province of Posen)
The Greater Poland uprising of 1918–1919, or Wielkopolska uprising of 1918–1919 or Posnanian War was a military insurrection of Poles in the Greater Poland region against German rule. The uprising had a significant effect on the Treaty of Versailles, which granted a reconstituted Second Polish Republic the area won by the Polish insurrectionists. The region had been part of the Kingdom of Poland and then Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth before the 1793 Second Partition of Poland when it was annexed by the German Kingdom of Prussia. It had also, following the 1806 Greater Poland Uprising, been part of the Duchy of Warsaw (1807–1815), a French puppet state during the Napoleonic Wars.
Kreis Birnbaum was a district in Prussia (Kreis) in the west of the Grand Duchy of Posen and the succeeding Province of Posen, as part of Regierungsbezirk Posen between 1815 and 1920. Today the area belongs to the Polish voivodeships of Greater Poland and Lubusz.
Kreis Wirsitz was one of 14 or 15 Kreise in the northern administrative district of Bromberg, in the Prussian province of Posen. The county existed with essentially the same boundaries beginning in 1815 as a German Kreise then from 1919 as a Polish Powiat until 1975. Its administrative center was the town of Wyrzysk (Wirsitz). The county contained additional municipalities such as Bialosliwie, Lobzenica (Lobsens), Miasteczko Krajeńskie (Friedheim), Mrocza (Mrotschen), Nakło nad Notecią (Nakel), Sadki and Wysoka (Wissek) plus over 100 villages. Many villages that had Germanic names were changed to completely different Polish names following World War II, such as Radzicz. In 1954 the central government abolished the commune as the smallest unit of government, dividing the county into 28 clusters. In 1973 municipalities were restored. After the administrative reform of 1975, the territory of the county was divided between the new (lower) region of Bydgoszcz and the region Piła. The territory of the defunct county was annexed by Naklo County, Kujavian-Pomeranian Voivodeship and Pila County, Greater Poland Voivodeship. Wyrzysk was incorporated into Piła County.
The Prussian Settlement Commission, officially known as the Royal Prussian Settlement Commission in the Provinces West Prussia and Posen was a Prussian government commission that operated between 1886 and 1924, but actively only until 1918. It was set up by Otto von Bismarck to increase land ownership by Germans at the expense of Poles, by economic and political means, in the German Empire's eastern provinces of West Prussia and the Posen as part of his larger efforts aiming at the eradication of the Polish nation. The Commission was motivated by German patriotism.
Prince Antoni Henryk Radziwiłł was a Polish and Prussian noble, aristocrat, musician, and politician. Initially a hereditary Duke of Nieśwież and Ołyka, as a scion of the Radziwiłł family he also held the honorific title of a Reichsfürst of the Holy Roman Empire. Between 1815 and 1831 he acted as Duke-Governor of the Grand Duchy of Posen, an autonomous province of the Kingdom of Prussia created out of Greater Polish lands annexed in the Partitions of Poland.
The Province of Posen was a province of Prussia from 1848 to 1920. Posen was established as a province of the Kingdom of Prussia in 1848 after the Greater Poland Uprising, converted from the Grand Duchy of Posen annexed by Prussia in the Polish partitions of 1815, and became part of the German Empire in 1871. After World War I, Posen was briefly part of the Free State of Prussia within Weimar Germany, but was dissolved in 1920 when most of its territory was ceded to the Second Polish Republic by the Treaty of Versailles, and the remaining German territory was later re-organized into Posen-West Prussia in 1922.
Łabiszyn is a small town in Żnin County, in the Kuyavian-Pomeranian Voivodeship in Poland, with 4,403 inhabitants (2004). It is located on the Noteć river near Żnin, on the border between the historic regions of Pałuki and Kuyavia.
Karol Libelt was a Polish philosopher, writer, political and social activist, social worker and liberal, nationalist politician, and president of the Poznań Society of Friends of Learning.
Greater Poland uprising of 1806 was a military insurrection by Poles in Wielkopolska against the occupying Prussian forces after the Partitions of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth (1772–1795).
The Greater Poland uprising of 1848 or Poznań Uprising was an unsuccessful military insurrection of Poles against Prussian forces, during the Spring of Nations period. While the main fighting was concentrated in the Greater Poland region, fights also occurred in other part of the Prussian Partition of Poland, and protests were held in Polish inhabited regions of Silesia.
Karol Marcinkowski was a Polish physician, social activist in the Greater Poland region, supporter of the basic education programmes, organizer of the Scientific Help Society and the Poznań Bazar - the Polish mall in Poznań that included a hotel, meeting rooms, crafts and shops.
Eduard Heinrich Flottwell was a Prussian Staatsminister. He served as Oberpräsident (governor) of the Grand Duchy of Posen and of the Saxony, Westphalia and Brandenburg Provinces. He was also Prussian Minister of Finance (1844-1846) and Minister of Interior (1858-1859).
Tytus Adam Działyński was a Polish political activist and protector of arts and a Prussian politician.
Międzychód is a town in Greater Poland Voivodeship, Poland, the administrative seat of Międzychód County. It is located on the southern shore of the Warta river, about 75 km (47 mi) west of Poznań. Population is 10,915 (2009).
Margonin is a town in Chodzież County, Greater Poland Voivodeship, Poland, with 2,941 inhabitants (2004).
After partitioning Poland at the end of the 18th century, the Kingdom of Prussia and later the German Empire) imposed a number of Germanisation policies and measures in the newly gained territories, aimed at limiting the Polish ethnic presence and culture in these areas. This process continued through its various stages until the end of World War I, when most of the territories became part of the Second Polish Republic, which largely limited the capacity of further Germanisation efforts of the Weimar Republic until the later Nazi occupation. The genocidal policies of Nazi-Germany against ethnic Poles between 1939 and 1945 can be understood as a continuation of previous Germanization processes.
Śmigiel is a town in Kościan County, Greater Poland Voivodeship, Poland, with 5,420 inhabitants (2004).
Kcynia is a town in Nakło County, Kuyavian-Pomeranian Voivodeship, Poland, with 4,712 inhabitants (2004). It is located in the Pałuki ethnographic region in the northern part of historic Greater Poland.
The Germanisation of the Province of Posen was a policy of the Kulturkampf measures enacted by German Chancellor Otto von Bismarck, whose goal was to Germanize Polish-speaking areas in the Prussian Province of Posen by eradicating and discrimination of Polish language and culture, as well as to reduce the influence of the "ultramontanist" Roman Catholic clergy in those regions.
The Sejm of the Grand Duchy of Posen was the parliament in the 19th century Grand Duchy of Posen and the Province of Posen, seated in Poznań/Posen. It existed from 1823 to 1918. In the history of the Polish parliament, it succeeded the general sejm and local sejmik on part of the territories of the Prussian partition. Originally retaining a Polish character, it acquired a more German character in the second half of the 19th century.