Austrian annexation

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The extent of the Austrian state on a map of modern Poland from 1846-1918

Partitions of Poland

Austrian partition – the lands of the former Republic of Poland occupied as a result of the partitions by the Habsburg monarchy, commonly referred to as Austria.

The area of the former Commonwealth lands under the rule of the Habsburg dynasty emperor, changed over the years, i.e. from the first partition in 1772 to the seizure by Austria of the Free City of Cracow in 1846. Reborn in 1918. The Second Republic included the entire territory of the Austrian partition (except Spiš).


1 Occupation of Spisz 2 Occupation of part of Podhale 3 First Partition of Poland – 1772 4 Second Partition of Poland – 1793 5 Third Partition of Poland – 1795 6 Later changes 7 History of the Austrian partition 8 Largest cities in the Austrian partition 9 See also 10 Notes 11 Footnotes 12 Bibliography

Occupation of Spiš[edit | edit code].

In 1769, Austria occupied the Spiš lands covered by the Spiš Pledge.

Seizure of part of Podhale[edit | edit code].

In 1770, Austria seized part of Podhale, which included the southern parts of the Czorsztyn, Nowy Targ and Nowy Sącz starosties.

First Partition of Poland – 1772[edit | edit code].

As a result, Austria occupied, as Eastern Galicia: the Ruthenian province, the area around Zamosc and southern Lesser Poland, part of Podolia and Volhynia (about 83 thousand km² and 2.65 million people).

Austrian troops crossed the border on May 14, 1772.Since the initial arrangements for the partition borders were not accurate, the army tried to occupy as much territory as possible. The border with Russia was to run along the Podhorce River. However, the servicemen, unable to find the river of that name (presumably the river in question was the Seret), reached as far as Zbruch.

Practically nowhere did they encounter resistance, except in Lviv, which had been occupied by Russian troops for several years. Although border treaties were signed on August 5, Russian troops did not leave Lviv until September 15, and on that day Austrian troops under the command of General Andreas Hadik de Futak entered the city. On September 16, soldiers of the Polish crown army left Lviv.

At the end of 1772, an argument was published justifying Austria’s rights to these lands. The authors of the argument were hofrat Teodor Antoni Rosenthal, custodian Adam Kollar and rector Josef Benczura, and it was entitled Wywód poprzedzający prawa Korony Węgierskiej do Rus Czerwonej i Podola, tak jak Korony Czeskiej do Duchy Oświęcimskie i Zatorskie.

Second Partition of Poland – 1793[edit | edit code].

Austria did not participate in the second partition because it was preoccupied with the war with revolutionary France.

Third Partition of Poland – 1795[edit | edit code].

The third partition included, as Western Galicia: northern Lesser Poland with Kielce, Radom and Lublin, and eastern Mazovia (about 47,000 square kilometers and 1.5 million people).

Later changes[edit | edit code].

In 1809, the Austrian partition lost all the lands of the Third Partition and part of the First Partition (the Zamosc circular) to the Duchy of Warsaw, and the Ternopil country was given to Russia. In 1815, under the provisions of the Congress of Vienna, Ternopil Krai was returned to the Austrian Empire, and after the defeat of Napoleon I in 1815, the Kingdom of Poland was formed from the Duchy’s territories. Also in 1815, a Free City was established around Krakow, which was incorporated into Austria in 1846. From 1867, the Austrian partition area had Galician autonomy, where Poles had the greatest linguistic and cultural freedom of the partitions until independence.

During World War I, Austria-Hungary jointly with Germany occupied the former Kingdom of Poland. At the time, Austria-Hungary occupied the Kielce and Lublin areas (the Lublin General Government).

After World War I, Poland regained the entire Austrian partition, except for most of Spisz.

History of the Austrian partition[edit | edit code].

Austria was a state that took part in two partitions of Poland: the first (1772) and the third (1795). The area taken by the Austrians accounted for 11% of Poland’s territory within the 1772 borders. It was inhabited by 3.8 million people. It was called the Kingdom of Galicia and Lodomeria, but is usually referred to briefly as Galicia.

After losing the war with the Duchy of Warsaw (1809), the Austrian Empire had to give up the territories occupied during the Third Partition. After the Congress of Vienna, the Free City of Krakow and its immediate environs, which had been detached from the Duchy of Warsaw, was created and placed under the joint supervision of the three partitioning states: Russia, Prussia and Austria. It covered an area of 1164 square kilometers with a population of 88,000.

After the collapse of the November Uprising, the partitioning powers decided to find a pretext that would justify the abolition of the Free City of Cracow. The outbreak of the Cracow Uprising in 1846 (it was to be a nationwide uprising prepared in exile by the Polish Democratic Society) became a convenient moment. After its defeat, the Free City was annexed to Galicia.

A few days before the uprising began on February 19, 1846, there were mass pogroms against the landed gentry, court and government officials and priests (the so-called Galician Massacre). In the Jaslo area, they were led by peasant Jakub Szela. An improvement in the living conditions of those working on the land came only in 1848 with the Spring of Nations. It was then that Galician Governor Franz Stadion decided to abolish serfdom, anticipating the decree issued by Emperor Ferdinand I. The peasants were given land for ownership. Over time, they began to take further steps to improve their situation. One manifestation of this was the formation of new organizations to represent the peasants’ cause.

The National Sejm in Lviv circa 1898

In the late 1860s and early 1870s, Galicia was granted autonomy (within the Austro-Hungarian borders). Among other things, the National Sejm and the National Council were established. The Polish language was introduced into schools, offices and courts. A sitting minister – a Pole – in the government had the right to give an opinion on draft resolutions having to do with Galicia. There was no shortage of Polish ministers in the government in charge of various ministries, and twice Poles were prime ministers. A Pole also headed the provincial administration of Galicia. Most of the lands under Austrian annexation were economically backward. On the other hand, Polish education, science and culture developed in Galicia with freedom, much greater than in other partitions. Autonomy in Galicia gave Poles the most favorable conditions since the Kingdom of Poland.

Numerous Polish political organizations were established here. Beginning in 1869, a conservative group, whose members were called Stańczyks, was active in Cracow. Its activists included: Stanisław Tarnowski, Józef Szujski and Michał Bobrzyński. While maintaining loyalty to Austro-Hungary, they wanted the cultural development of Galicia. They criticized underground activities and were against holding any demonstrations. In 1895, the Peasant People’s Party was formed at a congress in Rzeszow. In its program, it demanded that the partitioner respect civil rights, reform the electoral law and develop education. In 1903 it changed its name to the Polish People’s Party. In 1897, the National Democratic Party (later known as the National Democratic Party), headed by Roman Dmowski, was founded in Lviv.

In Galicia, as in the other partitions, workers’ organizations were also formed, such as the Galician Social Democratic Party (1892).

Largest cities in the Austrian partition[edit | edit code].

Lviv, early 20th century.

Cracow, early 20th century.

List of the largest cities of the Austrian partition in 1900[1] and their later nationality:



year of incorporation into Austria





159 877




91 323

1795, 1846[a]



46 295




34 188[2]




31 691[3]




30 415

1772, 1815[b]



30 410




23 205




22 660




19 432




17 361[4]




17 039[5]



Nowy Sącz

15 724[6]




15 010[7]


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