History of Poland (1764-1795)

Administrative division of the Republic in 1764

Administrative division of the Republic in 1773-1793

Population density by province in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth according to a 1790 table by Frederick Joseph Moszyński

Portrait of Stanislaw August Poniatowski in coronation attire, painting by Marcello Bacciarelli, 1768

Grand Hetman of the Crown Jan Klemens Branicki, portrait painted by Augustyn Mirys, the leader of the Hetman’s camp was Poniatowski’s counter-candidate for the Polish crown

Grand Chancellor of Lithuania Michał Fryderyk Czartoryski, portrait by Louis de Silvestre, was a leader of the Familia camp

Russian deputy Nikolai Repnin

The Republic in 1773-1789 as a protectorate of the Russian Empire

Prince Adam Kazimierz Czartoryski, painting by Jozef Peszka

Proconsul, Russian ambassador Otto Magnus von Stackelberg exercised de facto power in the Republic after it accepted the Russian guarantee

Protest of Tadeusz Reytan at the Partition Sejm 1773-1775, in a painting by Jan Matejko

Ignacy Krasicki, portrait painted by Per Krafft (the elder)

Andrzej Hieronim Zamoyski

Hugo Kołłątaj, portrait painted by Józef Peszka

Marshal of the Four-Year Sejm Stanisław Małachowski, painting by Jozef Peszka

Monument to Jan III Sobieski in Warsaw, founded by Stanislaw August in 1788

Constitution of May 3, 1791, painting by Jan Matejko

Tadeusz Kościuszko, Supreme Head of the National Armed Forces, painting by Kazimierz Wojniakowski

History of Poland 1764-1795, history of Poland in the Stanislaus era – the history of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth from the elevation of King Stanislaw August Poniatowski to the throne in 1764 until the liquidation of the state as a result of the Third Partition of Poland in 1795.

The Russian Empire and the Kingdom of Prussia jointly carried out the election of Stanislaw August Poniatowski in 1764. The coup d’état by the Czartoryski Familia, intending to carry out political reforms, was supported by the encroachment of Russian troops. As a result of the skillful policy of Empress Catherine II, who managed to divide the Poniatowski-bound reform camp and oppose it with the conservative magnate-republican camp, the Republic was forced to conclude a guarantee treaty with Russia in 1768, by virtue of which it became a Russian protectorate. After royal and Russian troops suppressed the Bar Confederation, which had been formed in defense of independence, Russia, Prussia and Austria carried out the First Partition of Poland in 1772, confirming the Treaty of Guarantee in 1775. The real power in the state was exercised by successive Russian diplomatic representatives, without whose consent Stanislaw August could not make any important political decisions. According to the words of the Polish deputy in St. Petersburg, Antoni Augustin Debole, with regard to the Republic, Russia adhered to the principle: leave Poland alive, but that it should always die[1]. The Four-Year Sejm’s attempt at reform, undertaken in the Republic’s favorable international position, culminated after the Russian protectorate was thrown off in 1789 and the Constitution of May 3, 1791 was passed. This work, however, was subverted by Russian intervention in 1792 in support of the Targowitz Confederation. The Second Partition of Poland, carried out by Prussia and Russia in 1793, significantly reduced the territory of the Republic. The Kosciuszko Insurrection of 1794 was the last unsuccessful attempt to save the country’s independence, ending with the Third Partition carried out by Austria, Russia and Prussia in 1795, the abdication of Stanislaw Augustus and the formal erasure of the Republic from the political map of Europe.

Table of contents

1 The international background of the election 2 The coup d’etat of the Czartoryskis in 1764, the encroachment of Russian troops 3 The civil war in the Republic in 1764 4 The Convocation Sejm of 1764 5 The election and coronation of Stanislaw August Poniatowski 6 The attempted reforms 7 The Czaplica Sejm of 1766 8 The dissident case 9 The Repnin Sejm of 1767-1768, Russian protectorate 1768 10 Bar Confederation 11 First Partition of Poland 1772 12 Partition Sejm 1773-1775 13 Royal-ambassadorial system of government 1775-1788 14 Four-Year Sejm 15 Targowitz Confederation, Polish-Russian War 1792 16 Second Partition of Poland 17 Sejm of Grodno 1793 18 Kosciuszko Insurrection 1794 19 Third Partition of Poland, abdication of Stanislaw Augustus

20 Economy

20.1 Agriculture 20.2 Industry 20.3 Trade 20.4 Finance

21 Social issues

21.1 The peasantry issue 21.2 The bourgeoisie issue

22 Education 23 Enlightenment in Poland, the flowering of culture and the arts 24 Notes 25 Footnotes 26 Bibliography

International background of the election[edit | edit code].

The end of the Seven Years’ War in 1763 was followed by the rapprochement of Russia and Prussia within the so-called Northern System. Their counterweights were the southern states: France, Spain, Austria and the Ottoman Empire. Already after the death of Augustus III in 1763, Russia in December of that year offered Prussia the partition of the Republic in exchange for an alliance. The two countries’ joint support of Stanislaw Poniatowski for the Polish crown sealed the Russian-Prussian alliance concluded on April 11, 1764, the secret article of which stipulated that Prussia would provide armed assistance to Russia in the event that any European power supported Poniatowski’s opponent militarily. Catherine II was also determined to demand recognition by the Republic of Ernest John Biron, whom she had installed with armed assistance in the fief duchy of Courland and Semigallia. The natural candidates for the Polish crown were the Polish royals François Xavier Wettin and Karol Krystian Wettin. However, France and Austria abandoned their candidacies when Turkey, fearing an increase in Austrian influence if the Saxon dynasty was retained on the Polish throne, favored the Piast candidacy[a]. Opposing Russian influence, the magnate-republican camp put forward the candidacy of Grand Crown Hetman Jan Klemens Branicki. Austria and France favored only an unfettered free election, without specifying the conditions to be met by the candidate.

The coup d’etat of the Czartoryskis in 1764, the encroachment of Russian troops[edit | edit code].

Separate article: Polish magnates.

While August III was still alive, in 1763, the Czartoryskis were preparing a coup d’état with the formation of a confederation that would allow them to carry out their reform program with Russian help. They decided to seize the opportunity and, with the support of Russian troops, impose reforms at a time when the opposing Hetman party (magnate-republican) was deprived of prominent foreign assistance. Already on the news of the interregnum, a 30,000-strong corps of Russian troops was moved to the Kurland and Smolensk regions. Russia mobilized 100,000 troops during the Polish interregnum. At the request of Familia leaders Andrzej Zamoyski and August Aleksander Czartoryski, Russian troops entered the borders of the Republic.

Civil war in the Republic in 1764[edit | edit code].

Separate article: Civil war in the Republic 1764.

The presence of Catherine II’s troops disrupted the sejmiks in many places, often ending in bloody clashes. On April 16, the Grand Horseman of Lithuania, Michal Brzostowski, formed a confederation of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. To support the confederation, two columns of Russian troops in the strength of 7-8 thousand soldiers entered the borders of the Republic without the consent of its authorities. Under their protection, provincial confederations were formed, often forcing the nobility to join by force. The Hetman party issued a protest to the European courts against the entry of Russian troops into the Republic.

See also category: Members of the Czartoryski Confederation (1764).

Convocation Sejm of 1764[edit | edit code].

Separate articles: Convocation Sejm (1764), Crown Treasury Commission, Treasury Commission of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, Crown Military Commission and General Customs.

Twenty-two senators and 46 deputies from the Hetman’s party lodged a protest about the violation of international law and refused to participate in the Convocation Sejm, sitting when Warsaw was surrounded by Russian troops. The Czartoryskis recognized the sejm as confederated and continued deliberations. The Sejm carried out limited political reforms: MPs were forbidden to swear to instructions, treasury issues were to be voted on by majority, Crown and Lithuanian treasury commissions were established, and the power of hetmans in the Crown was limited by establishing a military commission. Private duties were abolished, the vetting of royal lands was enacted, and a general duty was introduced. At the same time, the Convocation Sejm approved the title of King of Prussia, appointed a commission to recognize the title of the Russian Emperor, and approved Biron in Courland.

The Hetman party’s partisans, after resisting the Russian army, were driven outside the borders of the Republic.

See also category: Signers of the manifesto declaring the Convocation Sejm of 1764 illegal.

Election and coronation of Stanislaw August Poniatowski[edit | edit code].

Separate article: Military Commission of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania.

The Electoral Sejm opened on August 27, 1764, granted the imperial title to Catherine II, and on September 7 carried out the election of Poniatowski, which was signed by 5584 people. The coronation was performed on November 25. In December, the coronation assembly held in Warsaw granted the royal brothers princely titles and distributed vacant offices exclusively to Czartoryski supporters. The knot of general confederation was maintained for an indefinite period of time.

Reform attempt[edit | edit code].

Separate articles: The School of Knighthood, Oginski Canal and the Order of St. Stanislaus.

In 1765, Stanislaw Augustus established the Knights’ School in Warsaw, with Prince Adam Kazimierz Czartoryski as its commandant. The king in 1765 created the Order of Saint Stanislaus, which was awarded to his supporters. Prince Michał Kazimierz Oginski was building a canal to connect the Neman and Dnieper rivers through the Jasołda and Szczara rivers. In 1766, a Mint Commission was established, which worked to improve coinage and led to the opening of a state mint. Provincial order commissions were concerned with raising cities from decline. However, the introduction of a general duty met with counteraction from Prussia, which established a customs chamber in Kwidzyn in 1765, forcing Polish ships to pay a 10% duty. King Frederick II the Great of Prussia abandoned the repression only thanks to Russian mediation and Stanislaw August’s commitment to withdraw the general duty.

Sejm Czaplica 1766[edit | edit code].

Separate article: Czaplica Sejm.

Faced with joint pressure from Prussian MP Gédéon Benoît and Russian MP Nikolai Repnin, opposing the introduction of majority voting in the treasury committees, while demanding the Saxon camp dissolve the confederation, the Czartoryskis were forced to abandon some of their reform projects. A suppository-shelter instead of a general duty was introduced, and the assessor’s court was reformed.

Dissident case[edit | edit code].

Separate articles: Slutsk Confederation, Torun Confederation and Radom Confederation.

Russia and Prussia jointly stepped forward demanding that the Republic give equal rights to dissidents (Protestants and Orthodox). Under the protection of Russian troops, the dissenting Torun and Slutsk Confederations were formed, seeking to grant the dissenting nobility full political rights. At the instigation of Russian envoy Nikolai Repnin, the Catholic nobility formed the Radom Confederation to restore the former freedoms of the nobility. However, under the threat of Russian troops, the Radom confederates were forced to send their representatives to Catherine II, asking for a guarantee of the Republic’s system.

Repnin Sejm 1767-1768, Russian protectorate 1768[edit | edit code].

Separate articles: Repnin Sejm and Cardinal Laws.

As a result of Russian coercion at pre-Sejm assemblies, instructions to deputies were passed, which included a point about granting rights to dissenters. The delegate Sejm began deliberations under the knot of the Radom Confederation, which made it impossible to break it up using the liberum veto. The Sejm, under Repnin’s control, was to select a delegation to carry out the desired political changes. An attempt to resist the defense of the Catholic faith was made by the Bishop of Cracow, Kajetan Ignacy Soltyk. The Sejm was held at a time when Russian troops surrounded Warsaw. Repnin terrorized the deputies, ordering the kidnapping of the leaders of the Radom Confederation who did not agree to Russian dictates: the Bishop of Cracow Kajetan Soltyk, the Bishop of Kiev Jozef Andrzej Zaluski, the Field Hetman of the Crown Waclaw Rzewuski and his son Severin, who were exiled to Kaluga for five years. The Sejm delegation enacted on February 26, 1768 the Cardinal Laws, the basic, unchanging constitutional principles of the Republic, whose sole guarantor was the Russian Empire. Catherine II also guaranteed the rights granted to dissidents.

See also category: Members of the delegation of the Sejm of Repnin to negotiate with the Russian deputies.

Bar Confederation[edit | edit code].

Separate articles: Bar Confederation and Kolishchina.

On February 29, 1768, in Bar in Podolia, the nobility formed an anti-Russian confederation, for the defense of the Catholic faith and the independence of the Republic. The confederation was joined one by one by the provinces of Lesser Poland. Stanislaw Augustus agreed that the Russian army would suppress it along with the troops of the Republic. At the same time, a rebellion of the Haidamaks, Cossacks and serf peasants, turned against the Poles, broke out in Ukraine. Crowds of nobles joined the Bar Confederation, and it soon included Greater Poland and Lithuania. The confederates benefited from French financial and military assistance, and during the Russo-Turkish War (1768-1774) they sheltered themselves in the territory of the Ottoman Empire. However, the confederate camp was internally divided, and an attempt to salvage unity was the act of interregnum declared by the confederation’s generality on October 22, 1770. The kidnapping of Stanislaw August by the confederates on November 3, 1771 finally discredited the confederation in the eyes of European courts.

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

Separate article: The First Partition of Poland.

The signing of the treaties, concerning the First Partition of the Republic, took place in St. Petersburg on August 5, 1772. On September 18, 1772, Russia, Austria and Prussia notified the Republic of the fact of the partition, demanding that a parliament be convened to carry out the cession. Resistance was broken by threats and the vexatious occupation of the country by the armies of the three powers.

See also category: Signatories of the First Partition of Poland.

Partition Sejm 1773-1775[edit | edit code].

Separate articles: Partition Sejm (1773-1775), the Permanent Council and the Commission of National Education.

In order to legalize the accomplished partition, diplomats of the 3 partitioning states led to the convening of the Sejm. To secure its work, a confederation was formed, with Adam Poninski as its marshal. After breaking the opposition of several deputies, including Tadeusz Reytan, a 99-member delegation, consisting of deputies and senators completely trusted and controlled by the neighboring states, was selected to sign the imperial treaties. On September 18, 1773, the delegation signed the partition treaties with representatives of the powers. The Sejm also introduced changes to the political system, appointing the Permanent Council to the King. The funds of the cancelled Jesuit order were granted to the National Education Commission. In addition, the Sejm established a unified tax, restored general customs duties, significantly limited the power of the hetmans and modernized the structure of the army. The nobility was given the right to engage in commerce, crafts and banking, and finally, relief was announced for the plight of the peasantry. All the constitutions of this Sejm were covered by the Russian guarantee.

See also categories: Members of the Adam Poninski Confederation 1773, Members of the delegation of the Partition Sejm 1773-1775.

Royal-ambassadorial system of government 1775-1788[edit | edit code].

Separate articles: Russian ambassadors and deputies in the Republic 1763-1794, Sejm 1776, Sejm 1780, Sejm 1782, Sejm 1786 and Collection of judicial laws.

After the imposition of political guarantees on the Republic in 1775, Russian Ambassador Otto Magnus von Stackelberg became the de facto co-governor of the state. A confederation of Andrzej Mokronowski and Andrzej Oginski was formed in the Permanent Council. The 1776 Sejm strengthened the power of the Imperial Council over the ministers, abolished the Military Commissions, limited the powers of the hetmans, gave supremacy over the army to the Military Department of the Imperial Council, and entrusted complete control over the Jesuit estate to the Commission of National Education. The king regained the right to grant all military charges.

Chancellor Andrzej Zamoyski made an unsuccessful attempt to codify the laws of the Republic, which was rejected by the 1780 Sejm. Dugrumova’s intrigue ultimately divided the opposition and the king. Stanislaw August’s reunion with Catherine II at Kaniow in 1787 did not lead to a Russian agreement to bring the Republic out of a state of inactivity.

See also categories: Members of Andrzej Mokronowski’s 1776 confederation, Receivers of salaries from the Russian embassy’s coffers in the First Republic.

Four-Year Sejm[edit | edit code].

Separate articles: Four-Year Sejm, Lustration of the Smokes and the Passing of the People, Deputation for the Form of Government, Polish-Prussian Covenant, May 3 Constitution, Mutual Engagement of the Two Nations and Military Commission of the Two Nations.

Russia, weakened by a war fought simultaneously with Turkey and Sweden, and threatened by Prussia, was forced to improve the Republic’s position. After the opening of a new Diet in 1788, a confederation of the Crown and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania was formed. On January 19, 1789, the Sejm, under the cane of Stanislaw Malachowski, abolished the Permanent Council. In May 1789, under pressure from Prussia, Russia evacuated its troops and stores from the territory of the Republic. On June 22, 1789, the Sejm passed the constitution Lustration of the Smokes and Passing of the Population, proclaiming the first statistical census of the population. On March 29, 1790, an offensive and resilient alliance was concluded with Prussia, which pledged to come to the aid of the Commonwealth should it be attacked by Russia. The Four-Year Sejm’s reforms culminated in the enactment of the Constitution of May 3, 1791, which changed the Republic from a parliamentary monarchy to a constitutional monarchy, introducing a hereditary throne.

See also category: Members of the confederations of the Four-Year Sejm.

Targowitz Confederation, Polish-Russian War 1792[edit | edit code].

Separate articles: Targowicka Confederation and Polish-Russian War (1792).

However, this was met with counteraction from Russia, which was concerned about the change in the system of the Republic, which it had guaranteed since 1768. The formation of the Targowitz Confederation, acting in defense of the old system, became a pretext for Russian intervention. After breaking the resistance of the armies of the Republic, Stanislav Augustus joined the Targowitz confederation. Its rule erased the work of the Four-Year Sejm.

Second Partition of Poland[edit | edit code].

Separate article: Second Partition of Poland.

On January 23, 1793, the treaty of partition of the Republic between Russia and Prussia was signed. Prussian troops entered Greater Poland, to which there was little resistance.

See also category: Signatories of the Second Partition of Poland.

Grodno Sejm 1793[edit | edit code].

Separate articles: Grodno Sejm (1793) and Grodno Confederation (1793).

In order for the Republic to accept the imposed territorial cessions, the Sejm was convened in Grodno in June 1793. The Sejm deliberated surrounded by Russian troops. Resistant deputies were kidnapped on orders. The Grodno Confederation was established to carry out the partition (the Targowicka advocated the indivisibility of the Republic). After the abduction of the resistant deputies by the Russian deputy Jakob Sievers, the Sejm delegation signed the partition treaties.

Kosciuszko Insurrection 1794[edit | edit code].

Separate article: Kosciuszko Insurrection.

The last attempt to save the independence of the Republic was the 1794 insurrection, directed against Russia and Prussia. After the initial success of the insurgents, both interacting powers suppressed it, ending hopes of defending the country’s independence.

Third Partition of Poland, abdication of Stanislaw Augustus[edit | edit code].

Separate article: Third Partition of Poland.

On October 24, 1795, Russia, Prussia and Austria agreed to liquidate the Republic. Poland’s last king Stanislaw August Poniatowski abdicated in favor of Russia on November 25, 1795.

Economy[edit | edit code].

Agriculture[edit | edit code].

The Commonwealth’s agricultural production grew steadily, with grain exports through Gdansk increasing continuously since Saxon times. However, agriculture was inefficient compared to other countries, and much land lay fallow.

Industry[edit | edit code].

Capital in industry was invested primarily by magnates. The first professionals were brought in from abroad for the manufactories, and the workers were usually serf peasants. Folwiseries, ironworks and forges in Końskie, the Weapons Factory in Kozienice, faience in the Warsaw belvedere, dress factories in Staszów and Machnówka, a carpet factory in Nesvizh, porcelain in Korzec, leather in Niemirów, belts in Slutsk prospered. Also active were copper mines near Kielce, salt in Busk, marbles in Dębnik.

In the Stanislavski era, there were about 250 factories, including: about 45 textile manufactories, 4 tobacco factories, 7 paper mills, 10 starch factories, 6 carriage factories, 9 tanneries and leather product factories, 9 metal product factories, 10 glass and faience manufactories, 9 salt mines and breweries. There were 42 blast furnaces, 4 shallow coal mines and 4 non-ferrous metal smelting plants.

Trade[edit | edit code].

Separate article: Trade Company of Poland.

In 1775, the Commonwealth concluded trade treaties with partitioning states. The most unfavorable was the treaty with Prussia, which introduced a 12% duty in Fordon on goods exported and imported to Poland. After the first partition, Prussia controlled 95% of the Republic’s exports.

Trade gradually passed into the hands of the townspeople. In 1776, goods worth 48 million zlotys were imported into Poland, including many items of luxury, and goods worth 22 million zlotys were exported. After the Lvov fair fell away, annual large contracts were held in Warsaw, Grodno and Dubno. After losing direct contact with Gdansk, in order to revive Polish trade across the Black Sea, Antoni Protazy Potocki established the Polish Trade Company in 1783.

Finance[edit | edit code].

Separate article: Banking crisis in Poland in 1793.

There were two forms of credit in the Republic: credit of kahal banks and credit during contracts. In the 18th century, kahal banks had between 300,000 and 700,000 Polish zlotys on deposit by secular and clerical magnates at 7-10% per year. The interest rate on loans made by the kahals to finance trade reached 22%. Between 1770 and 1772 King Frederick II of Prussia forged Polish coinage and imposed it by force on Gdansk, Pomeranians and Greater Poland. Credit was provided by the banks of Tepper, Blanc, Cabrit, Schultz, Arndt, Meisner, but in 1793 the banking system in the Republic collapsed.

Social issues[edit | edit code].

The peasantry issue[edit | edit code].

Separate articles: The Pavlovian Republic and the Polaniecki Uniwersal.

In 1768, the right of the sword over the peasant was taken away from the heirs. There were frequent cases of abolishing serfdom and converting it into rent. The May 3 Constitution took the peasants under the protection of the state. Personal freedom was granted to the peasants only by the Polaniec Universal in 1794.

The bourgeoisie’s case[edit | edit code].

Separate articles: Commissions of Good Order, Law on Cities, History of the Jews in Poland and Black Procession.

Among the 1.2 million inhabitants of the cities of the Republic, less than half a million were Polish bourgeoisie, the majority were Jews, next to whom lived in the cities, nobles who did not recognize the rights of the bourgeoisie. However, some town jurisprudences and servitories were abolished, and the 1791 law on towns expanded the political rights of the bourgeoisie.

Education[edit | edit code].

Separate article: Society for Elementary Books.

During the Stanislaus era, an attempt was made to reform university teaching in the spirit of the Enlightenment. Universities were to become essentially vocational colleges. The Commission on National Education established the Society for Elementary Books in 1775, commissioning textbooks, and colleges and secondary schools were to be one body. However, the Commission did not find favor with the general public, and the schools it ran were not popular.

Enlightenment in Poland, the flowering of culture and art[edit | edit code].

Separate articles: Enlightenment in Poland, Style of Stanislaw Augustus, Polish literature – the Enlightenment, Thursday Dinners, Monitor (magazine), Zabawy Przyjemne i Pożyteczne and Rococo architecture on the borderlands of the former Republic of Poland.

The Stanislaus period marks the culmination of the development of the Enlightenment in Poland. Stanislaw Augustus was a patron of science, art and literature. The reform program supported by the king gained the pages of Franciszek Bohomoltz’s Monitor and Adam Naruszewicz’s Entertainments Pleasant and Useful. There was a flowering of painting. In addition to foreign authors such as Bernardo Bellotto (Canaletto), Marcello Bacciarelli, Jan Piotr Norblin, Josef Maria Grassi, Jan Chrzciciel Lampi (the elder), an indigenous school of painting was established, which included: Daniel Chodowiecki and Franciszek Smuglewicz. In architecture, a certain set of stylistic features known as the Stanislavski style was marked. Great contributions to the development of Polish poetry were made by the bishop of Warmia Ignacy Krasicki, called the prince of Polish poets.Smolensk bishop Adam Naruszewicz made contributions to the development of Polish historiography.

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