Taken Lands

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Lands of the Russian partition in 1821: The Kingdom of Poland and the partitioned lands against the background of the borders of the Republic in 1772

The partitioned lands (yellow) against the background of the 1772 borders of the Republic.

The Kingdom of Poland and the western gubernias of Russia in 1902.

The Taken Lands[1] (Russian: Западный край, Zapadnyj kraj, western country) – the eastern provinces of the First Republic seized as a result of the partition of Poland (1772-1795) by the Russian Empire, constituting the territory of the Russian partition excluding the state territory of the Kingdom of Poland, established in 1815.

The term “partitioned lands” was introduced into scientific circulation and journalism by Maurycy Mochnacki in 1834[2]. In 1914, the partitioned territories were inhabited by 2.5 million Poles, making up the majority of the landed gentry and intelligentsia there[3].

Table of contents

1 Area of partitioned lands 2 Demography 3 History 4 See also 5 Footnotes 6 Bibliography

Area of partitioned lands[edit | edit code].

The area of the partitioned lands included the Livonian province lost as a result of the First Partition (1772), the northern part of the Polotsk province, the Mstislavsk and Vitebsk provinces and the southeastern part of the Minsk province (approx. 92,000 km²); the Kiev province, the Braclaw province, part of the Podolsk province, the eastern part of the Volyn and Brest provinces, the remaining part of the Minsk province and part of the Vilna province (approx. 250 thousand square kilometers); the remaining lands of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and the lands east of the Bug River (about 120 thousand square kilometers), which were lost in the Third Partition; and the Bialystok oblast obtained by Russia under the Treaty of Tilsit in 1807. The total area of the partitioned lands was more than 462 thousand square kilometers.

Demography[edit | edit code].

It is estimated that in 1910 there were about 24,500,000 – 26,013,400 people living on the partitioned lands (53-56 people per km²). According to Roman Dmowski, the Polish population was estimated at about 6 million out of 26 million (23% of the total population), while Eugeniusz Romer estimated the Polish population in the partitioned lands at about 5 million out of 24.5 million (20% of the total population)[4]. Official calculations stated that only 0.8-1.1 million Poles lived in these lands[5].

History[edit | edit code].

During the reign of Alexander I, the western governorates of Grodno, Vilna, Minsk, Volyn, Podolia and Bialystok oblasts were predominantly Polish. Since 1819, these units remained under the chief administrative authority of Grand Duke Constantine. Poles predominated in all positions of the local administration. The local nobility had extensive local self-government and enjoyed privileges in peasantry, taxation and military matters, which the landed gentry of the Kingdom of Poland lacked. During the reign of Nicholas I, higher and lower positions in the civil administration began to include Russians[6].

Initially, a part of Polish public opinion, following Alexander I’s granting of the then considered liberal Constitution of the Kingdom, hoped for further gestures from the tsar toward the Poles, including the extension of the territory of “Congress Poland” to part of the former Grand Duchy of Lithuania. However, such an expansion never took place, and in 1912 even the Chełm Governorate was separated from parts of the Siedlce and Lublin Governorates and directly incorporated into the Russian Empire.

On May 15, 1905, the 1865 and 1884 edicts restricting Poles’ right to acquire property on the territory of the partitioned lands were repealed[7].

General map of Grodno governorate and Bialystok region, 1820

General map of Kiev governorate, 1821

General map of Minsk governorate, 1821

General map of Mogilev governorate, 1821

General map of Podolia governorate, 1820

General map of Vilnius governorate, 1820

General map of Volyn governorate, 1820

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