First Partition of Poland
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The First Partition of Poland took place in 1772 as the first of
three partitions
three partitions
that eventually ended the existence of the
Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth The Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, formally known as the Kingdom of Poland and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, and, after 1791, the Commonwealth of Poland, was a country and bi-federation A federation (also known as a federal state) is ...
by 1795. The growth of power in the
Russian Empire The Russian Empire, . commonly referred to as Imperial Russia, was a historical that extended across and from 1721, succeeding the following the that ended the . The Empire lasted until the was proclaimed by the that took power after the ...
threatened the
Kingdom of Prussia The Kingdom of Prussia (german: Königreich Preußen) was a German kingdom Kingdom may refer to: Monarchy * A type of monarchy * A realm ruled by: **A king, during the reign of a male monarch **A queen regnant, during the reign of a female m ...
and the
Habsburg Monarchy Habsburg Monarchy (german: Habsburgermonarchie), or Danubian Monarchy (german: Donaumonarchie), or Habsburg Empire (german: Habsburgerreich) is a modern umbrella term In linguistics, hyponymy (from Greek language, Greek ὑπό, ''hupó'', "u ...

Habsburg Monarchy
and was the primary motive behind the First Partition.
Frederick the Great Frederick II (german: Friedrich II.; 24 January 171217 August 1786) was King in Prussia King ''in'' Prussia ( German: ''König in Preußen'') was a title used by the Prussian kings (also in personal union Electors of Brandenburg) from 1701 t ...

Frederick the Great
,
King of Prussia The monarchs of Prussia were members of the House of Hohenzollern The House of Hohenzollern (, also , , german: Haus Hohenzollern, ro, Casa de Hohenzollern) is a German royal whose members were variously s, , s and of , , , the , and . Th ...

King of Prussia
, engineered the partition to prevent Austria, which was envious of Russian successes against the
Ottoman Empire The Ottoman Empire (; ', ; or '; )info page on bookat Martin Luther University) // CITED: p. 36 (PDF p. 38/338). was an empire that controlled much of Southeastern Europe, Western Asia, and North Africa, Northern Africa between the 14th a ...
, 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 Central Europe is an area of Europe between Western Europe and Eastern Europe, based on a common History, historical, Society, social and cultural identity. The Thirty Years' War between Catholic Church, Catholicism and Protestantism was a signifi ...

Central Europe
among those three countries. With Poland unable to defend itself effectively and foreign troops already inside the country, the Polish
Sejm The Sejm (English: , Polish: ), officially known as the Sejm of the Republic of Poland (Polish Polish may refer to: * Anything from or related to Poland Poland ( pl, Polska ), officially the Republic of Poland ( pl, Rzeczpospolita Pol ...
ratified the partition in 1773 during the Partition Sejm, which was convened by the three powers.


Background

By the late 18th century, the
Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth The Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, formally known as the Kingdom of Poland and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, and, after 1791, the Commonwealth of Poland, was a country and bi-federation A federation (also known as a federal state) is ...
had been reduced from the status of a major European power to that of a country under major Russian influence almost becoming the
protectorate A protectorate is a state that is controlled and protected by another sovereign state. It is a dependent territory that has been granted local autonomy over most internal affairs while still recognizing the suzerainty of a more powerful sovereign ...
of the
Russian Empire The Russian Empire, . commonly referred to as Imperial Russia, was a historical that extended across and from 1721, succeeding the following the that ended the . The Empire lasted until the was proclaimed by the that took power after the ...
(or
vassal A vassal or liege subject is a person regarded as having a mutual obligation to a lord Lord is an appellation for a person or deity who has authority, control, or power (social and political), power over others, acting as a master, a chief ...
or
satellite state A satellite state is a country A country is a distinct territory, territorial body or political entity. It is often referred to as the land of an individual's birth, residence or citizenship. A country may be an independent sovereign state ...
), with the Russian
tsar , by Ivan Makarov Tsar ( or ), also spelled ''czar'', ''tzar'', or ''csar'', is a Royal and noble ranks, title used to designate East and South Slavic monarch A monarch is a head of stateWebster's II New College DictionarMonarch Houghton Mi ...

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 The Repnin Sejm ( pl, Sejm Repninowski) was a Sejm (session of the parliament In modern politics and history, a parliament is a legislature, legislative body of government. Generally, a modern parliament has three functions: Representa ...
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 The Ottoman Turks or Osmanlı Turks ( tr, Osmanlı Türkleri), were the Turkic people The Turkic peoples are a collection of ethnic groups of Central Asia, Central, East Asia, East, North Asia, North and West Asia as well as parts of Europe and ...
in the
Russo-Turkish War (1768–1774) The Russo-Turkish War of 1768–1774 was a major armed conflict that saw Russian arms largely victorious against the Ottoman Empire The Ottoman Empire (; ota, دولت عليه عثمانيه ', literally "The Sublime Ottoman State"; Mode ...
strengthening Russia and endangering
Habsburg The House of Habsburg (), alternatively spelled Hapsburg in English (german: Haus Habsburg ; es, Casa de Habsburgo ; hu, Habsburg-család), also known as the House of Austria (german: link=no, Haus Österreich; es, link=no, Casa de Austria), ...

Habsburg
interests in the region (particularly in
Moldavia Moldavia ( ro, Moldova, or , literally "The Moldavian Country"; in : or ; chu, Землѧ Молдавскаѧ; el, Ἡγεμονία τῆς Μολδαβίας) is a and former in and , corresponding to the territory between the and t ...

Moldavia
and
Wallachia Wallachia or Walachia (; ro, Țara Românească, lit=The Romanian Land' or 'The Romanian Country, ; : ', : ) is a and geographical region of . It is situated north of the and south of the . Wallachia is traditionally divided into two sections ...
). Habsburg Austria then started considering waging war against Russia.
France France (), officially the French Republic (french: link=no, République française), is a spanning and in the and the , and s. Its extends from the to the and from the to the and the ; overseas territories include in , in the N ...

France
was friendly towards the
Ottoman Empire The Ottoman Empire (; ', ; or '; )info page on bookat Martin Luther University) // CITED: p. 36 (PDF p. 38/338). was an empire that controlled much of Southeastern Europe, Western Asia, and North Africa, Northern Africa between the 14th a ...
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 The Province of Silesia (german: Provinz Schlesien; pl, Prowincja Śląska; szl, Prowincyjŏ Ślōnskŏ) was a province A province is almost always an administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , ...
, and
Prussia Prussia, , Old Prussian Distribution of the Baltic tribes, circa 1200 CE (boundaries are approximate). Old Prussian was a Western Baltic language belonging to the Balto-Slavic branch of the Indo-European languages The Indo-Europ ...

Prussia
would regain Ermland (Warmia) from the Polish part of Prussia and parts of a Polish
fief A fief (; la, feudum) was the central element of feudalism Feudalism, also known as the feudal system, was the combination of the legal, economic, military, and cultural customs that flourished in Medieval Europe In the histor ...
, the
Duchy of Courland and Semigallia The Duchy of Courland and Semigallia ( la, Ducatus Curlandiæ et Semigalliæ; german: Herzogtum Kurland und Semgallen; lv, Kurzemes un Zemgales hercogiste; lt, Kuršo ir Žiemgalos kunigaikštystė; pl, Księstwo Kurlandii i Semigalii) was ...
, already under
Baltic German The Baltic Germans (german: Deutsch-Balten or , later ; and остзейцы ''ostzeitsy'' 'Balters' in Russian) are ethnic German inhabitants of the eastern shores of the Baltic Sea, in what today are Estonia and Latvia Latvia ( o ...

Baltic German
hegemony. King
Frederick II of Prussia Frederick II (german: Friedrich II.; 24 January 171217 August 1786) was King in Prussia from 1740 until 1772, and King of Prussia from 1772 until his death. His most significant accomplishments include his military successes in the Silesian war ...

Frederick II of Prussia
had no intention of giving up Silesia, having recently gained it in the
Silesian Wars The Silesian Wars (german: Schlesische Kriege, links=no) were three wars fought in the mid-18th century between Prussia Prussia, , Old Prussian: ''Prūsa'' or ''Prūsija'' was a historically prominent Germans, German state that originated i ...
, but was also interested in finding a peaceful solution. The
Russo-Prussian alliance 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 Treat ...
would draw him into a potential war against Austria, and the
Seven Years' War The Seven Years' War (1756–1763) is widely considered to be the first global conflict in history, and was a struggle for world supremacy between Great Britain Great Britain is an island in the North Atlantic Ocean off the northwest c ...
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 of Prussia (1726-1802), 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 Szepes County, 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 for Prussia claim to some of the 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, Ukraine, 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 A protectorate is a state that is controlled and protected by another sovereign state. It is a dependent territory that has been granted local autonomy over most internal affairs while still recognizing the suzerainty of a more powerful sovereign ...
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 alliance with 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 Moldavia ( ro, Moldova, or , literally "The Moldavian Country"; in : or ; chu, Землѧ Молдавскаѧ; el, Ἡγεμονία τῆς Μολδαβίας) is a and former in and , corresponding to the territory between the and t ...

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.


Partition begins

Already by 1769–1771, both Austrian occupation of Spiš and Podhale, Austria and Prussia had taken over some border territories of the Commonwealth, with Austria taking Szepes (county), Szepes County in 1769–1770 and Prussia incorporating Lębork-Bytów Land, 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 sybiracy, deported to Siberia by the Russians.


Division of territories

The partition treaty was ratified by its signatories on September 22, 1772. It was a major success for
Frederick II of Prussia Frederick II (german: Friedrich II.; 24 January 171217 August 1786) was King in Prussia from 1740 until 1772, and King of Prussia from 1772 until his death. His most significant accomplishments include his military successes in the Silesian war ...

Frederick II of Prussia
: Prussian partition, 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 Warmia, Ermland, which allowed Frederick to link East Prussia and Margraviate of Brandenburg, Brandenburg. Prussia also annexed northern areas of Greater Poland along the Noteć River (the Netze District), and northern Kuyavia, but not the cities of Gdańsk, Danzig (Gdańsk) and Toruń, Thorn (Toruń). In 1773, the territories annexed by Prussia became the new province of West Prussia. Overall, Prussia gained 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. 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 of Austria, Maria Theresa, the Austrian statesman Wenzel Anton Graf Kaunitz considered the Austrian partition, 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: and 2,650,000 people. Austria gained Zator, Lesser Poland Voivodeship, Zator, Auschwitz (Oświęcim), part of Lesser Poland, 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 Russian Partition, Russian share, on the northeast, was the largest, but the least-important area economically. By the "diplomatic document", Russia came into possession of the commonwealth territories east of the line formed roughly by the Daugava River, Dvina, Drut River, Drut, and Dnieper Rivers, the section of Livonia that had remained in Commonwealth control, and of Belarus embracing the counties of Vitebsk, Polatsk, Polotsk and Mstislavl. Russia gained and 1,300,000 people, 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 first partition, the Commonwealth lost about (30% of its territory, amounting to about ), with a population of over four to five million people, about a third of its population of fourteen million before the partitions.


Aftermath

After they had occupied their respective territories, the three partitioning powers demanded for King Stanisław August Poniatowski and the
Sejm The Sejm (English: , Polish: ), officially known as the Sejm of the Republic of Poland (Polish Polish may refer to: * Anything from or related to Poland Poland ( pl, Polska ), officially the Republic of Poland ( pl, Rzeczpospolita Pol ...
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 Magnus von Stackelberg (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 Marszałek sejmu, Marshals of the Sejm, Michał Hieronim Radziwiłł and Adam Poniński (1732-1798), Adam Poniński. The latter in particular was one of many Polish nobles who were bribed by the Russians into following their orders.Jerzy Jan Lerski, Piotr Wróbel, Richard J. Kozicki, ''Historical Dictionary of Poland, 966–1945'', Greenwood Publishing Group, 1996,
Google Print, p. 466
/ref> 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.


Other countries

The
Ottoman Empire The Ottoman Empire (; ', ; or '; )info page on bookat Martin Luther University) // CITED: p. 36 (PDF p. 38/338). was an empire that controlled much of Southeastern Europe, Western Asia, and North Africa, Northern Africa between the 14th a ...
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). ', 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.


See also

*Administrative division of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth in the course of partitions *Administrative division of Polish territories after partitions *Second Partition of Poland


Notes

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 Frederick II (german: Friedrich II.; 24 January 171217 August 1786) was King in Prussia from 1740 until 1772, and King of Prussia from 1772 until his death. His most significant accomplishments include his military successes in the Silesian war ...

Frederick II of Prussia
. The inner figure on the right is the Habsburg Emperor Joseph II, Holy Roman 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 of Austria, 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.


References


Further reading

* Herbert H. Kaplan, ''The First Partition of Poland'', Ams Pr Inc (1972), * Tadeusz Cegielski, Łukasz Kądziela,'' Rozbiory Polski 1772–1793–1795'', Warszawa 1990 * Władysław Konopczyński ''Dzieje Polski nowożytnej'', t. 2, Warszawa 1986 * Tomasz Paluszyński, ''Czy Rosja uczestniczyła w pierwszym rozbiorze Polski czyli co zaborcy zabrali Polsce w trzech rozbiorach. Nowe określenie obszarów rozbiorowych Polski w kontekście analizy przynależności i tożsamości państwowej Księstw Inflanckiego i Kurlandzkiego, prawnopaństwowego stosunku Polski i Litwy oraz podmiotowości Rzeczypospolitej'', Poznań 2006. * S. Salmonowicz, ''Fryderyk Wielki'', Wrocław 2006 * Maria Wawrykowa, ''Dzieje Niemiec 1648–1789'', Warszawa 1976 * Editor Samuel Fiszman, ''Constitution and Reform in Eighteenth-Century Poland'', Indiana University Press 1997 * Jerzy Lukowski ''Liberty's Folly The Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth in the Eighteenth Century'', Routledge 1991 * Adam Zamoyski ''The Last King of Poland'', Jonathan Cape 1992


External links

*James Fletche
First Partition of Poland
*D. B. Horn, review of The First Partition of Poland by Herbert H. Kaplan, The English Historical Review, Vol. 79, No. 313 (October, 1964), pp. 863–864 (review consists of 2 pages)
JSTOR
*O. Halecki, Reviewed work(s): British Public Opinion and the First Partition of Poland. by D. B. Horn, American Slavic and East European Review, Vol. 4, No. 3/4 (December, 1945), pp. 205–20
JSTOR
* J. T. Lukowski, ''Guarantee or Annexation: a Note on Russian Plans to acquire Polish Territory prior to the First Partition of Poland'', Historical Research, Vol. 56, Issue 133, p. 60, May 1983
The Three Partitions, 1764–95: First Partition
Library of Congress Country Study
The Period of Partitions (1772–1918)
– resources


Polish–Russian
an
Polish–Austrian
treaties of the First Partition

{{Authority control Partitions of Poland, *01 1772 in the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth Treaties of the Habsburg Monarchy Treaties of the Kingdom of Prussia Treaties of the Russian Empire 1772 in the Habsburg Monarchy Treaties of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth