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The Rise To Power

Slav Origins:

Most Scholars agree that the original Slav homeland lay within the boundaries of modern
Poland in the Odra (Oder) and Wisla (Vistula) basins. The Slavs subsequently expanded into
territories to the east, south and west and became increasingly differentiated until, by AD 800,
three main geographical and linguistic divisions had arisen; the East Slavs inhabiting a large
part of European Russia, the South Slavs who settled in the Balkan Peninsula, and the West
Slavs who settled in what is now Poland, Czechoslovakia and East Germany.

The West Slavs suffered different fates; the Lusatians and Veleti were absorbed by German
expansion, the Czechs and Moravians merged to form the nucleus of the Czech Kingdom,
whilst the Slovaks became part of the kingdom of Hungary. The remaining tribes, including
the Polanie, Wislanie, Pomorzanie and the Mazovians, joined together (in time) to form the
Polish State.

Foundation: 966-1138.

The Polish Baptism of 966 came about as a result of the concerns of Mieszko, or Mieczyslaw
I, chief of the Polanie, raised by the establishment of the German Empire of Otto I (962). He
decided to marry Dobrava, the daughter of Boleslav I of Bohemia, and accepted Christianity
for himself and his people, thus preserving their independence. In 1000, at the Congress of
Gniezno an independent Polish Church organisation was set up with the agreement of Otto III,
but formed according to the Czech, rather than German, system. Thus the Polish Church could
turn directly to Rome, and the Pope, for protection and would not fall under the influence of
the Germans.

The Coronation of Boleslaw Chrobry (the Brave) As the first king of Poland, in 1024,
established Poland's right as an independent kingdom.

Disintegration and Reunification: 1138 - 1370.

In 1138 the Testament of Boleslaw III shattered the precarious unity of Poland by dividing the
realm among Boleslaw's sons. This was the start of 150 years of dynastic struggle, in which
the Church played a vital role in maintaining some semblance of national unity.

In 1226, Duke Konrad of Mazovia invited the Teutonic Order to combat pagan Prussian tribes
from the base a Chelmno, thereby introducing a much more formidable enemy on the crucial
Baltic coast. In time the Order turned on the Poles and began to grab large chunks of Polish
territory, finally invading Gdansk in 1308 and massacring its Polish inhabitants. At the same
time, a steady influx of German colonists helped to consolidate the Order's wealth and power.

1241, 1259 and 1287 saw devastating Tartar invasions. During the consequent reconstruction
many new urban centres developed whilst older ones expanded. As part of the process of
repopulation large numbers of foreign settlers arrived and rural colonisation took place. Many
of these new settlers were Germans and, whilst some were gradually "Polonised" others
merely helped strengthen German political influence (especially in Silesia).
It is during this period that the first Jewish settlers came to Poland where they were treated
with more tolerance than in the rest of Europe, so-much-so that the Polish Synod was berated
by the Papal Legate, in 1266, for allowing Jews to dress like anyone else and being able to
live without restrictions in Poland, and for a royal charter having been granted them by
Boleslaw the Pious in 1264.

A brief period of Czech rule from 1300 - 1305, under Vaclav II, reunited a main part of
Poland, stimulating a national reconstruction led by Wladyslaw Lokietek. Then, in 1320,
Wladyslaw I (Lokietek) was coronated; the first ruler of the reunited kingdom.

In 1333-1370 Casimir the Great (Kazimierz Wielki) built Poland into a major Central-
European power, increasing her territory 2.5 times, bringing it's size up to 270,000 sq.kms.
There is a saying that "he found Poland built of wood, and left her in stone," so great was his
activity as founder and planner of towns.

Under Casimir, in 1346, the first Polish Legal Code was made, and in 1364 the foundations of
Krakow University (the second oldest in central Europe) were formed. Trade also became
important due to Poland's position on the commercial routes leading from East to West and
from South to North.

The Jagiellonians, 1386-1572. Rise to Greatness.

Casimir was the last King of a purely Polish state. Hence forward, dynastic problems
provoked a series of unions with neighbouring states: Hungary (1370-84; 1434-44; 1576-86);
Lithuania (1386-1795); Sweden (1587-1600); and Saxony (1697-1764). Only the Lithuanian
union succeeded, creating a state which dominated east-central Europe until the seventeenth
century (the Polish Commonwealth).

In 1386 the marriage of Jadwiga, King (sic) of Poland, to Jogaila, pagan Grand-Duke of
Lithuania, baptised as Wladyslaw Jagiello, initiated the Lithuanian union, inspired by the
common purpose of resisting the Teutonic Order. Then, in 1410 at the Battle of Grunwald
(Tannenburg), Wladyslaw Jagiello crushed the Teutonic Order. The Catholic Polish knights
were a minority in an army made up of Lithuanian pagans, Orthodox Christians, Lithuanian
Muslim Tartars and "heretical" Bohemian Hussites. This victory helped strengthen the bond
between the Poles and the Lithuanians and, in 1413, led to the Treaty of Union at Horodlo.

In 1440 the Magyars offered Wladyslaw III (Wladyslaw Jagiello's son) the crown of Hungary;
Poland's attention shifted to the plains of Hungary and the growing Turkish threat. In 1444,
the combined Polish Hungarian forces were defeated by the Turks at Varna on the Black Sea
and Wladyslaw was killed. For a brief period the Hungarian throne passed out of Polish
hands. Wladyslaw III's brother, Casimir IV, started a prolonged war against the Teutonic
Order in order to recover Pomerania and Gdansk. The subsequent victory in 1466, led to the
Peace of Torun by which the Order was humiliated and Prussia was partitioned: Royal (West)
Prussia came under direct Polish rule, the Grand-Master of the Order keeping Ducal (east)
Prussia as a vassal to the Polish Crown. During the Reformation The Grand Master split with
Rome, and by becoming a vassal of the Polish King was able to turn East Prussia into a
Duchy.

In 1471 Casimir was elected King of the Czechs. His son, Wladyslaw became King of
Bohemia and Hungary in 1490.
1490-1526 saw the Jagiellonian rule in Hungary, and the peak of Central European
dominance. The dual realm now stretched from the Baltic to the Black Sea, and from the
borders of Silesia to within 300 miles of Moscow. It contained a rich mixture of nationalities
and beliefs; Poles in the west and centre, Lithuanians, Latvians and Estonians in the north,
Lutheran Germans in Prussian and the western frontier, Orthodox Ukrainians and
Byelorussians in the east, Moslem Tartars in the east also (these are the oldest Moslem
communities in the Christian world) alongside the Karaites (a mixture of Khazar and
Kiptchatska-Polovetska peoples, and practising a unique mixture of Judaism and Islam), and
Jews scattered throughout.

This period saw some important developments in the government of Poland; in 1430 the law
"Nieminem Captivabimus" (the Polish "Habeas Corpus"), in 1493 the establishment of a
Parliament with two houses, the Senate (dignitaries, archbishops, and officers of the realm)
and the Sejm (elected representatives). In 1505 the Statute of "Nihil Novi" enacted that
nothing new could be decided without Parliament's consent.

This "Golden Age" saw many foreign scholars, writers, artists and architects attracted to
Poland, especially from Renaissance Italy. It was also the age of Copernicus and of the first
great figures in Polish literature; Mikolaj Rey (the first to write exclusively in Polish) and Jan
Kochanowski (the "father" of Polish poetry).

This was also, in Europe, a time of religious diversion and persecution. When pressed to take
sides in the dispute between Catholics and Protestants, the king, Zygmunt August, said: "I am
the King of the people-not the judge of their consciences." This spirit of tolerance attracted
many refugees from religious persecution throughout the history of Poland before the
partitions; Jews in the 13th century, Hussites in the 15th, and Catholics from England and
Scotland in the 16th and 17th centuries.

The Union of Lublin was a formal union of Poland and Lithuania; the "Rzeczpospolita
Polska" (the Polish Commonwealth). This was formed in 1569.

The Elected Monarchy.

With the death of Zygmunt, the last of the Jagiellonians in 1574, there was nobody who could
legally convene the Sejm. An "interrex" (Regent), the Archbishop of Gniezno, was appointed
by the Senate and a special "Convocational Sejm" was called which decided to let the
"szlachta" (nobility) the elect a king in a free election. Prior to his coronation the king-elect
had to swear to uphold the Constitution and all "szlachta" privileges.

The first elected monarch was Henri d'Anjou, but he resigned half-way through the year in the
hope of succeeding to the French throne instead. The second election winner was the
Transylvanian Voivod (Prince), Stefan Batory, who became one of Poland's most celebrated
rulers, great in both war and peace.

Batory carried out important reforms, encouraged further overseas trade and created the first
regular Polish infantry by conscripting peasants from the Royal estates. In 1579 he created the
University at Wilno (the eastern most outpost of Western European culture).

Between 1579 and 1582 Batory came to the aid of Inflanty (Livonia: modern day Estonia and
Latvia) which has been attacked by the Muscovite Tsar, Ivan the Terrible. After a successful
campaign and a brilliant victory at Pskov Batory accepted the Muscovite plea for peace;
Livonia joined the Commonwealth and Poland was now recognised as the greatest power in
Central Europe and only the Turkish Sultan ruled over more extensive territories.

After the unexpected death of Batory in 1586, the third election brought the Swedish crown
prince, Zygmunt Vasa, to the throne. There would eventually be three Vasa Kings and the
period would see long rivalry and wars between Poland and Sweden for the control of the
Baltic. Under his reign the Polish magnates (great lords) rose to a position of power and
would eventually destroy Poland through their greed.

In 1595 and 1596 the Synods of Brzesc (Brest) Litewski saw the Ruthenian (now
Byelorussian and Ukrainian) Orthodox clergy recognise the supremacy of the Pope whilst
retaining their distinctive religious rites and liturgy.

King Zygmunt III Vasa decided to move the capital from Krakow to Warsaw, the junction of
all major routes crisscrossing the Commonwealth. This was done in 1596.

From 1609 Poland became involved in a series of wars and was invaded by Swedes, Turks
and Muscovites in such numbers that the country was almost submerged by enemy forces;
this period became known as the "Deluge". The devastation and loss of life were tremendous
and Poland was only saved by a number of outstanding military commanders (Jan Zamoyski,
Stanislaw Zolkiewski, Jan Karol Chodkiewicz and Stanislaw Koniecpolski) who archived
some great victories (Kluszyn, 1610; Kircholm, 1605; Chocim, 1612).

One historic episode during the "Deluge" was the defence of Czestochowa, Poland's most
sacred shrine containing the picture of the Virgin Mary (the "Black Madonna"), by a small
force led by the Prior and his monks against a besieging army of 9,000 Swedes. This defence
actually changed the course of the war.

A particular danger came from within as the Cossacks (a Turkish word meaning
"freebooter"), a people of mixed origin but mainly Ruthenian and Pole, constantly changed
sides, breaking their oath of allegiance to the Polish King. In 1648 the Cossack Hetman,
Chmielnicki, led a great uprising which was put down. Chmielnicki now used the Ukraine as
a pawn between the powers of Poland, Muscovy and Turkey which resulted in further wars. In
1658, at Hadziacz, an agreement between the King and the new Cossack Hetman, Wyhowski,
was to enable Ruthenia to join the Commonwealth on equal terms with Poland and Lithuania
but a further Cossack rebellion, in 1659, instigated by Muscovy (herself attempting to annex
the Ukraine) and Polish involvement in war with Sweden, meant that the agreement bore no
fruit and in 1667, by the treaty of Andruszowo, the Ukraine was divided evenly along the
Dnieper between the Commonwealth and Muscovy. For the Polish Commonwealth this was a
disaster since it weakened an important frontier area and left a discontented people open to
manipulation by Poland's enemies.

Following a stormy election, Michal Korybut Wisniowiecki, called "Piast" (referring to


Poland's earliest dynasty) was elected in 1669. He proved to be largely ineffective and
became a tool of the magnates.

Later, in 1672. the Turks invaded the Commonwealth and imposed the treaty of Buczacz on
the Poles by which Turkey occupied Podolia and the southern part of the Kiev region. In
1673, Hetman Jan Sobieski scored a splendid victory over the Turks at Chocim which, though
not changing the provisions of the treaty, enabled Sobieski's election to the throne.

1674-1696 heralded the reign of Jan III Sobieski, a great military leader who had virtually
annihilated the Turkish forces at Chocim and had been given by them the nickname of the
"Fearful Lion of the North." Unable to break into Europe through Poland, the Turks invaded
Hungary and Austria in 1683 and swept all before them. 130,000 Turks besieged Vienna and
threatened to overpower Europe. Sobieski, at the request of the Pope, marched on Vienna,
sent the "Hussaria" into their last great charge and took the Turks unawares. It was a turning
point in history.

The Polish Army

Polish armies had to operate in all types of terrain and climates (baking plains in the south to
freezing bogs and forests in the north, wilderness or city). The enemy varied from slow-
moving pikemen and musketeers to nimble, swift-attacking horsemen and invariably the
fighting was far from home and lacking in ancillary services. Polish military thinking was
therefore based on the ideas of mobility, adaptability and self-sufficiency.

The old Hussite idea of forming a gigantic square, a mobile fortress quickly formed if caught
out in the open, became standard practice in all operations against Tartars and Turks. The
Poles also devised the idea of operating in divisions since this gave them all-important
mobility and ability to live off the land (this was at a time when most European armies
marched in a great mass). Another tradition was that of the deep cavalry raid sweeping ahead
of the main army, sometimes covering a thousand miles in a great arc behind enemy lines.
The crux of any battle was the cavalry charge, not a massed attack by heavy armour, but light
cavalry supported by artillery, probing for weak points to be exploited by the heavy cavalry
deployed in a chequerboard pattern so that the bringing down of one rank or section did not
affect the others.

The Poles set great store by artillery and were years in advance of their enemies until the
eighteenth century, using light cannon with accurate bombardment and mobility being the
crucial factors. They also used rocketry to great effect (Siemienowicz published a treatise on
multi-stage rocketry in 1650).

The infantry was lightly dressed without helmets or armour and armed with musket, short
sword and hatchet. Only one man in eight carried a pike. In the 1550's a Polish regiment of
200 men could fire 150 shots in five minutes (contemporary Spanish brigades of 10,000 men
could only deliver 750 in the same time). Polish infantry possessed ten times greater
firepower on a man-to-man basis than standard European infantries.

The cavalry was the backbone of the Commonwealth's military power, outnumbering the
infantry by three to one. The crossed Turkish and European breeds to produce horses with
speed and endurance, and rode on eastern saddles in order to place less strain on the horse.
Because of these factors they could cover tremendous distances (upto 120 kilometres a day)
without killing their mounts. Their curved sabres were the finest cutting weapon ever in use in
a European army and accounted for their endurance in battle.

The pride and glory of the cavalry, its mailed first, was the Husaria, the winged cavalry.
Operating in regiments of about 300, the front rank carried an astonishing lance of up to
twenty feet in length (thus outreaching infantry pikes and allowing the Husaria to cut straight
through an enemy square). They also carried a sabre or rapier with a six - foot blade (another
weapon which was unique to the Poles), as well as a pair of pistols, a short carbine, a bow and
arrows and a variety of other weapons, the most lethal of which was the "czekan", a long steel
hammer which could go through heads and helmets like butter.

The ultimate weapon of the Husaria was psychological. As well as wearing helmets, thick
steel breastplates and shoulder and arm guards the Husaria also wore wings; great wooden
arcs bristling with eagle feathers attached to the back of the saddle or the shoulders. Over their
shoulders they wore the skin of a tiger or leopard as a cloak. Their harnesses, saddles and
horse-cloths were embroidered and embellished with gold and gems and their long lances
were painted with stripes like a stick of rock and decorated with a five-foot-long silk pennant
which, along with the wings and jingling jewellery, made a frightful sound (described as "an
evil hiss" by some) and sight during the charge. They even sometimes painted their horses red
and white.

For over a century, the Husaria were the lords of the battlefield, delivering the decisive blow
in many an important engagement; at Kircholm (1605) 4,000 Poles accounted for 14,000
Swedes, at Klushino (1610) 6,000 Poles (of only 200 were infantry) defeated 30,000
Muscovite and 5,000 German and Scottish mercenaries, at Gniew (1656) 5,500 Polish cavalry
defeated 13,000 Swedes and outside Vienna (1683) the Husaria saved Europe from the, until
then, unstoppable might of the Ottoman Empire.

After Vienna every lancer must be a Pole or dress like one, and since there were not enough
Poles to go round armies were compelled to raise their own lancers dressed and equipped on
the Polish model. Napoleon had his Polish lancers who rendered him good service, especially
at Somo Sierra in Spain (when a squadron of 125 men cleared 9,000 entrenched infantry and
four batteries in the space of seven minutes) and once again the Poles were able to inspire the
rest of Europe. There have been few more gorgeously dressed soldiers in all the history of
armies than the lancers of the nineteenth century. The lance cap was modelled on the Polish
style and even called the "chapka" (hat). The short, double-breasted jacket of scarlet or blue
was similarly known as a "ulanka" and German and Austrian lancers were called "uhlans". To
the glittering uniforms, waving plumes, and splendidly caparisoned saddle-cloths there was
also added the colour and flutter of the waving lance pennant.

Decline and Partition

The Reign of Anarchy:

The wars of the 17th. Century had left Poland ruined; her population had decreased by a third
and the victory at Vienna was the Commonwealth's last military success. The need for reform
had become obvious even during the reign of Zygmunt III Vasa and the Jesuit preacher, Piotr
Skarga, had blamed social injustice as the main cause of evil. The general decline was
especially noticed in the Sejm; the parliamentary system grew awkward and ineffective as
deputies used the notorious "Liberum Veto", which allowed any deputy to prevent legislation
since all resolutions had to be carried unanimously.

The idea of consensus rule was, in principle, a good one but the "liberum Veto" was first used
in 1652 by a deputy in the pay or power of a magnate. It soon became obvious to Poland's
neighbours that the veto could be used to their own political ends and they soon clubbed
together to "defend Polish freedoms". The "szlachta" themselves, becoming less influential as
they lost their military valour and, in many cases, impoverished, saw the veto as the last
symbol of their ability to play a role in the running of the Commonwealth.

The Decline of Poland:

In 1697 the Elector of Saxony, Augustus, was elected King. From 1700 - 1721, Augustus II
allied himself with Russia and became involved in war with Sweden for control of the Baltic
(the Great Northern War). Poland became a battlefield and the Polish throne the prize. In 1704
Sweden won, Augustus was removed and the Voivode of Poznan, Stanislaw Leszczynski, was
elected in his place. In 1709 the Russians defeated the Swedes at Poltava and Augustus was
returned to the throne.

Conflict between Augustus and the Sejm almost ended in civil war in 1717, only prevented by
a Russian offer of mediation; 18,000 Russian troops surrounded the chamber where the
deputies met, they were denied the right to speak whilst the Russian "mediator" dictated the
Russian " solution". This Sejm became known as the "Dumb Sejm" and the Republic became
little more than a Russian client state; this was the start of the Russian "Protectorate" in which
Poland was forced to reduce her standing army. On Augustus' death, in 1733, Leszczynski
was again elected King but the Russians interfered by sending in an army and rerunning the
election; Augustus' son, Frederick Augustus, was elected.

The sixty-six years of Saxon rule, from 1697 - 1763, were a national disaster and drove the
country to the brink of anarchy. Most ominous was the fact that in 1732 Russia, Prussia and
Austria had entered into a secret alliance to maintain the paralysis of law and order within
Poland. This pact became known as the "Alliance of the Three Black Eagles" (since all three
powers had a black eagle in their coat-of-arms).

The reign of the magnate, Stanislaw August Poniatowski, 1764 - 1795, a favourite of
Catherine the Great, Empress of Russia, was totally controlled by Russia. Poniatowski was to
become the last King of Poland.

From 1768 - 1772, an anti-Russian rising known as the "Confederation of Bar" was crushed
by the Russians. Over 5000 captured "szlachta" were sent to Siberia. Among the few who
escaped was Kazimierz Pulaski who was to play an important role in the United States'
struggle for independence.

The Partitions of Poland: 1772 - 1795.

Taking advantage of a now weakened Poland, Prussia, Russia and Austria agreed to annex
parts of the country in 1772. The Commonwealth lost 733,000 sq.km (23%) of her former
territory and 4,500,000 of her population; Prussia took the smallest, but economically best,
area; Austria took the most heavily populated areas, whilst Russia took the largest, but least
important. To give the crime some legality the Sejm was forced to ratify the partition in 1773,
despite the resistance of some Deputies, led by Tadeusz Rejtan.

Despite the disaster of this first partition, Poland underwent a national revival in 1773, thanks
to the efforts of Poniatowski. The first step was the creation of the "Komisija Edukacji
Narodowej" ("Committee of National Education"), the first Ministry of Education in Europe.
Hundreds of schools were founded and the standard of education was raised. Writers, poets,
artists and scholars were encouraged by the King and the ideas of the Enlightenment were
taking hold. This was the period of Adam Naruszewicz, the historian, Ignacy Krasicki, satirist
and poet, Wojciech Boguslawski, "father" of the Polish theatre, and Franciszek Karpinski,
whose hymns are still sung in Poland to this day.

Taking advantage of Russia's involvement in a war against Turkey, the King launched a
reform programme (1788-1792) and the task was carried out by the "Four-Year" or "Great
Sejm" which established a new Constitution; the Constitution of the Third of May.
Established in 1791, under this Constitution the "liberum Veto" was abolished and a majority
rule introduced, and personal freedoms guaranteed to all the people. The Constitution was
hailed in the United States, England and France, but was seen as a threat to the absolute rulers
of Prussia, Austria and, especially, Russia. So, in 1792, at Russia's instigation a handful of
magnates led by Ksawery Branicki, Szczesny Potocki and Seweryn Rzewuski betrayed the
Commonwealth and formed the Confederation of Targowica against the new Constitution and
then "asked" for help. Russian troops crossed the borders and war broke out. The King's
nephew, Joseph Poniatowski and Tadeusz Kosciuszko, a veteran of the American War of
Independence, put up heroic resistance but all hope faded away when the Prussians joined in,
attacking the Polish armies in the rear. Many patriots were forced to flee.

In 1793 Russia and Prussia signed the Second Partition Treaty, seizing more than half the
country and about four million more of the population. The last Sejm of the Commonwealth,
which met at Grodno, was forced to legalise the partition and abolish most of the reforms of
the "Great Sejm".

Popular discontent led to Insurrection, proclaimed by Kosciuszko (as Supreme Commander)


in Krakow's Market Place on March 24th, 1794. Thousands of Poles rallied to the standard
followed by a victory at Raclawice in which peasant scythbearers played an important role.
The people of Warsaw, led by the cobbler Jan Kilinski, rose against and defeated the strongest
Russian regiment in Poland. Berek Joselewicz commanded the first Jewish military formation
since Biblical times. In May 7th, Kosciuszko issued the Polaniec Manifesto which abolished
serfdom.

Eventually, in October, the combined strength of Russia and Prussia defeated Kosciuszko's
forces at Maciejowice (where he was captured) and, in November, Warsaw was taken by the
Russians who slaughtered the population of the suburb, Praga, including women and children.

Then, in 1795, the third partition wiped what was left of Poland off the map. The King was
forced to abdicate and taken to St. Petersburg (where he died in 1798). Many captured Poles
were sent to Siberia but thousands more escaped to Italy where, in 1797, they formed a Polish
Legion, led by General Henryk Dabrowski, fighting for Napoleon Bonaparte against Austria.
The Poles hoped that by fighting on the French side against the Powers that had partitioned
Poland they could free their country. Dabrowski's Legion wore traditional uniforms which
bore the motto: "All free men are Brothers!" They marched to a song written by Jozef
Wybicki:

"Jeszcze Polska nie zginiela bugy my zyjemy,


Co nam obca przemoc wziela, szabla odbierzemy.
Marsz marsz, Dabrowski, z ziemi Wloskiej do Polski!
Za twoim przewodem zlaczym sie z narodem."
"Poland is not dead whilst we live,
What others took by force, with the sword will be taken back.
March march, Dabrowski, from Italy's soil to Poland!
Through your leadership we will reunite the nation."

When, in the twentieth century, Poland became and independent nation once more this
marching song became the National Anthem.

Revolution and Rebirth

Napoleonic Poland: The Duchy of Warsaw

The Poles felt that one way of restoring independence was to fight for Napoleon Bonaparte. In
1791 Dabrowski organised two legions to fight the Austrians in Lombardy and, later, for the
French in the Iberian Peninsula.

Kniaziewicz organised the Polish Danube Legion to fight against the Germans in 1799.

Napoleon used the Polish Legions in all his campaigns: against Russia, Austria and Prussia, in
Egypt, in the West Indies (Santo Domingo), and in Spain (where they fought the British and
inspired the formation of the English lancers equipped with Polish-style uniforms and
weapons). Some of the Poles became very disillusioned with Bonaparte, realising that they
were being manipulated.

Later, in 1806, the French armies defeated the Prussians at Jena and entered Posen (Poznan)
led by the Poles under Dabrowski. A year later Napoleon and the Tzar, Alexander, met at
Tilsit and agreed to set up a Polish State made up of the lands the Prussians had taken in the
second partition. This was the Duchy of Warsaw. Napoleon used the Duchy as a pawn in his
political game and in 1812 called upon the Lithuanians to rebel as an excuse to attack Russia.
The Poles, flocking to his standard in the hope of resurrecting the Commonwealth, formed the
largest non-French contingent, 98,000 men. Polish Lancers were the first to cross the Niemen
into Russia, the first to enter Moscow, played a crucial part in the battle of Borodino and,
under Poniatowski, covered the disastrous French retreat, being the last out of Russia - 72,000
never returned.

Despite the cynical way that Napoleon treated the Poles they remained loyal to him and, when
he went into exile on Elba the only guards that Napoleon was allowed were Polish Lancers.

The "Congress Kingdom"

In 1815 at the Congress of Vienna the Duchy was partitioned and a large part went to Russia.
In Austria and Prussia there was repression of all Polish attempts to maintain the national
culture, but in Russia, fortunately, the Tzar, Alexander I, was a liberal ruler who agreed to the
setting up of a semi-autonomous "Congress Kingdom" with its own parliament and
constitution. This became a time of peace and economic recovery. In 1817 the University of
Warsaw was founded. But the accession of Tzar Nicholas I to the throne in 1825 saw the
establishment of a more repressive regime.

In 1830, after the revolution in France and unrest in Holland, Nicholas decided to intervene
and suppress the move towards democracy in the West. He intended to use the Polish Army as
an advanced force but instead propelled the Polish patriots into action. On the night of
November 29th the cadets of the Warsaw Military College launched an insurrection. The
Poles fought bravely against heavy odds in former Polish territories around Wilno, Volhynia
and the borders of Austria and Prussia. The insurrection spread to Lithuania where it was led
by a woman, Emilia Plater. For a while victory actually lay in their grasp but indecision on the
part of the Polish leaders led to defeat. Warsaw was taken in September 1831, followed by
terrible persecution; over 25,000 prisoners were sent to Siberia with their families and the
Constitution of the "Congress Kingdom" was suspended.

The 1830 Revolution inspired the work of two great Poles living in exile: Chopin, the
composer, and Mickiewicz, the poet.

The "Great Emigration"

The failure of the Insurrection forced thousands of Poles to flee to the West; Paris became the
spiritual capital. Many of these exiles contributed greatly to Polish and European culture.
Joachim Lelewel became Poland's greatest historian, Chopin her greatest composer, and
Mickiewicz, Slowacki, Krasinski and Norwid among her greatest poets. Adam Czartoryski set
up court at the Hotel Lambert, in Paris, which played an important part in keeping the Polish
question alive in European politics.

"For Your Freedom and Ours"

The insurrection in the semi-independent City of Krakow in 1846 was doomed from the start.
The insurrectionists had hoped to gain the support of the local peasantry (recalling the victory
at Raclawice) but the peasants, having never benefited from the liberal ideals proposed by the
intelligensia, used the insurrection as an excuse to rid themselves of their landlords; it was the
last "jacquerie" (or peasants' uprising) in European history. The insurrectionist forces were
defeated by a combination of Austrian and peasant forces at the battle of Gdow and the
insurrection was put down with great brutality by the Austrians, resulting in the abolition of
the Commonwealth of Krakow.

In 1848 "the Springtime of Nations" (a revolutionary movement towards greater democracy in


much of Europe) saw large-scale contributions by the Poles. In Italy, Mickiewicz organised a
small legion to fight for Italian independence from Austria, whilst in Hungary, Generals
Dembinski and Bem led 3,000 Poles in the Hungarian Revolution against Austria. There were
also unsuccessful uprisings in Poznan (Posen), against the Prussians, and in Eastern Galicia,
against the Austrians.

Starting in 1863, the "January Uprising" against the Russians lasted for more than a year and a
half. A Provisional government was established and more than 1,200 skirmishes were fought,
mostly in the deep forests under the command of Romuald Traugutt. Italian help came from
the "Garibaldi Legion" led by Colonel Francesco Nullo. In 1864 Traugutt and four other
members of the Provisional government were captured in Warsaw and publicly executed.

The Uprising was finally put down in 1865, and the Kingdom of Poland was abolished and a
severe policy of persecution and "Russification" established. The University of Warsaw and
all schools were closed down, use of the Polish language was forbidden in most public places
and the Catholic Church was persecuted. The Kingdom of Poland became known as the
"Vistula Province".
In the Prussian occupied zone the aim was to totally destroy the Polish language and culture.
From 1872 German became compulsory in all schools and it was a crime to be caught
speaking in Polish. There was a systematic attempt to uproot Polish Peasants from their land.
A special permit was needed to rebuild any farm buildings damaged or destroyed by fire or
flood, but none were ever granted to Poles. One peasant, Wojciech Drzumala, challenged this
law by living in a converted wagon.

In Austrian Poland, Galicia, conditions were different. After 1868 the Poles had a degree of
self-government, the Polish language was kept as the official language and the Universities of
Krakow and Lwow were allowed to function. As a result this area witnessed a splendid
revival of Polish culture, including the works of the painter Jan Matejko, and the writers
Kraszewski, Prus and Sienkiewicz.

All three powers kept Poland economically weak in this period of technological progress.
Despite this the Poles managed to make some progress: the textile industry began to flourish
in Lodz (the "Polish Manchester") and coal-mining developed rapidly. In Prussian Poland,
despite ruthless oppression, the Poles concentrated on light industry and agriculture (and
before long Poznan became the chief source of food for the whole of Germany). In Silesia,
under German rule since 1742, the development of mining and heavy industry made her a
chief industrial centre and thus the Prussian attempt to exterminate all traces of Polish
language and culture was at its most ruthless, yet they survived.

Despite its abolition by Kosciuszko in 1794 the partitioning powers restored serfdom. It was
not abolished in Prussia until 1823, in Austria until 1848 and in Russia until 1861 (but not in
her "Polish" territories).

In 1905 the Russo-Japanese War saw a series of humiliating defeats for the Russians and civil
unrest in Russia. In Poland there was a wave of strikes and demonstrations demanding civil
rights. Polish pupils went on strike, walking out of Russian schools and a private organisation,
the "Polska Macierz Szkolna" ("Polish Education Society"), was set up under the patronage of
the great novelist, Henryk Sienkiewicz.

Then, in 1906, Jozef Pilsudski, a founder-member of the Polish Socialist Party (PPS), began
to set up a number of paramilitary organisations which attacked Tzarist officials and carried
out raids on post offices, tax-offices and mail-trains. In Galicia the Austrian authorities turned
a blind eye to the setting up of a number of "sporting" clubs, followed by a Riflemen's Union.
In 1912, Pilsudski reorganised these on military lines and by 1914 had nearly 12,000 men
under arms.

The First World War: 1914-1918

On the outbreak of war the Poles found themselves conscripted into the armies of Germany,
Austria and Russia, and forced to fight each other in a war that was not theirs. Although many
Poles sympathised with France and Britain they found it hard to fight with them on the
Russian side. They also had little sympathy with the Germans. Pilsudski considered Russia as
the greater enemy and formed Polish Legions to fight for Austria but independently. Other
Galician Poles went to fight against the Italians when they entered the war in 1915, thus
preventing any clash of conscience.

Almost all the fighting on the Eastern Front took place on Polish soil.
On the collapse of the Tzarist regime in Russia in 1917, the main purpose for fighting
alongside the Central Powers, Germany and Austria, disappeared. They had made many
promises of setting up an independent Poland but had proved to be very slow in carrying these
promises out. When Pilsudski's Legions were required to swear allegiance to Germany they
refused and Pilsudski was imprisoned. In 1918 when, at Brest Litovsk, the Central Powers
signed a peace treaty with Russia, which was detrimental to Poland, the Second Brigade under
General Haller revolted and marched into the Ukraine where they joined other Polish forces
already formed there and fought against the Germans, eventually being surrounded and
defeated.

At the outbreak of the revolution in Russia Polish army units had joined together to form the
First Polish Corps under General Jozef Dowbor Munsnicki and tried to reach Poland but were
disarmed by the Germans. Escapees and volunteers reorganised themselves into a new army
at Murmansk in the Arctic and fought alongside the British on the shores of the Whits Sea and
beside the French at Odessa, as well as in the Far East at Siberia. Later they managed to reach
Poland.

Roman Dmowski, founder of the right-wing Nationalist League, had foreseen that Germany
was the real enemy and gone to France where the "Bayonne Legion" was already fighting
alongside the French Army. He and Paderewski formed a Polish Army which consisted of
volunteers from the United States, Canada and Brazil together with Poles who had been
conscripted into the German and Austrian armies and had become POWs. This Army became
known as "Haller's Army" after its commander who had escaped from Russia to France.

Rebirth: 1918-1922

All sides, from Tzar Nicholas of Russia to President Wilson (in his Fourteen Points) had
promised the restoration of Poland yet in the end the Poles regained independence through
their own actions when, first Russia, and then the Central Powers collapsed as a result of the
War.

In 1918, on the 11th November, Pilsudski, having been released by the Germans, proclaimed
Polish Independence and Became Head of State and Commander-in-Chief, with Paderewski
as Prime Minister. An uprising liberated Poznan and, shortly after, Pomerania (which gave
access to the Baltic).

In the chaos that followed the collapse of the Powers new states had arisen: Lithuania,
Czechoslovakia and the Ukrainian Republic. All these states laid claims on territory occupied
by Poles.

The Poles liberated Wilno from the Lithuanians in 1919, reoccupied the area around Cieszyn
(which had been invaded by the Czechs) and annexed the Western Ukraine when the
Ukrainian Republic, which had been supported by Poland, collapsed under attack from Soviet
forces.

The Red Army, having crushed all counter-revolutionary forces inside Russia, now turned its
attention on Poland. By August 1920 they were at the gates of Warsaw. On August 15th the
Polish Army under Pilsudski, Haller and Sikorski fought the Battle of Warsaw (the "Miracle
on the Vistula"), routed the Red Army and saved a weakened Europe from Soviet conquest.
An Armistice was signed at Riga in October, followed by a Peace Treaty in March 1921
which determined and secured Poland's eastern frontiers.

In 1922 part of Upper Silesia was awarded to Poland by a Geneva Convention following three
uprisings by the Polish population who had been handed over to Germany at the Peace Treaty
of Versailles.

The Second Republic: 1921-1939

On March 17th, 1921, a modern, democratic constitution was voted in. The task that lay ahead
was difficult. The country was ruined economically and, after a hundred and twenty years of
foreign rule, there was no tradition of civil service.

Marshal Pilsudski resigned from office in 1922, and the newly-elected President, Gabriel
Narutowicz, took office only to be assassinated a week later.

Seeing that the government lacked power because of party strife, Pilsudski took control by a
coup d'etat in 1926 and established the Sanacja regime intended to clean-up ("sanitise")
political life. By 1930 this had become a virtual dictatorship.

Despite all her problems Poland was able to rebuild her economy. By 1939 she was the 8th
largest steel producer in the world and had developed her mining, textiles and chemical
industries. Poland had been awarded limited access to the sea by the Peace of Versailles (the
"Polish Corridor") but her chief port, Gdansk (Danzig) was made a free city (put under Polish
protection) and so, in 1924, a new port, Gdynia, was built which, by 1938, became the busiest
port in the Baltic.

There were continual disputes with the Germans because access to the sea had split Germany
into two and because they wanted Danzig under their control. There problems increased when
Adolf Hitler took power in Germany.

In 1939, under constant threat from Germany, Poland entered into a full military alliance with
Britain and France

In August, Germany and Russia signed a secret agreement concerning the future of Poland.

The Second World War

Invasion:

On September 1st., 1939, 1.8 million German troops invaded Poland on three fronts; East
Prussia in the north, Germany in the west and Slovakia in the south. They had 2600 tanks
against the Polish 180, and over 2000 aircraft against the Polish 420. Their "Blitzkrieg"
tactics, coupled with their bombing of defenceless towns and refugees, had never been seen
before and, at first, caught the Poles off-guard. By September 14th. Warsaw was surrounded.
At this stage the poles reacted, holding off the Germans at Kutno and regrouping behind the
Wisla (Vistula) and Bzura rivers. Although Britain and France declared war on September
3rd. the Poles received no help - yet it had been agreed that the Poles should fight a defensive
campaign for only 2 weeks during which time the Allies could get their forces together and
attack from the west.
There are many "myths" that surround the September Campaign; the fictional Polish cavalry
charges against German tanks (actually reported by the Italian press and used as propaganda
by the Germans), the alleged destruction of the Polish Air Force on the ground, or claims that
Polish armour failed to achieve any success against the invaders. In reality, and despite the
fact that Poland was only just beginning to modernise her armed forces and had been forced
(by Britain and France) to delay mobilisation (which they claimed might be interpreted as
aggressive behaviour) so that, at the time of invasion, only about one-third of her total
potential manpower was mobilised, Polish forces ensured that the September campaign was
no "walk-over". The Wehrmacht had so under-rated Polish anti-tank capabilities (the Polish-
designed anti-tank gun was one of the best in the world at that time) that they had gone into
action with white "balkankreuz", or crosses, prominently displayed in eight locations; these
crosses made excellent aiming points for Polish gun-sights and forced the Germans to
radically rethink their national insignia, initially overpainting them in yellow and then, for
their later campaigns, adopting the modified "balkankreuz" similar to that used by the
Luftwaffe. The recently-designed 7TP "czolg lekki", or light tank, the first in the world to be
designed with a diesel engine, proved to be superior to German tanks of the same class (the
PzKpfw I and II) inflicting serious damage to the German forces, limited only by the fact that
they were not used in concentrated groups. They were absorbed by the Germans into their
own Panzer divisions at the end of the campaign.

On September 17th. Soviet forces invaded from the east. Warsaw surrendered 2 weeks later,
the garrison on the Hel peninsula surrendered on October 2nd., and the Polesie Defence
group, after fighting on two fronts against both German and Soviet forces, surrendered on
October 5th. The Poles had held on for twice as long as had been expected and had done more
damage to the Germans than the combined British and French forces were to do in 1940. The
Germans lost 50,000 men, 697 planes and 993 tanks and armoured cars.

Thousands of soldiers and civilians managed to escape to France and Britain whilst many
more went "underground" . A government-in-exile was formed with Wladyslaw Raczkiewicz
as President and General Wladyslaw Sikorski as Prime Minister.

The Fourth Partition:

Under the German-Soviet pact Poland was divided; the Soviets took, and absorbed into the
Soviet Union, the eastern half (Byelorussia and the West Ukraine), the Germans incorporated
Pomerania, Posnania and Silesia into the Reich whilst the rest was designated as the General-
Gouvernement (a colony ruled from Krakow by Hitler's friend, Hans Frank).

In the Soviet zone 1.5 million Poles (including women and children) were transported to
labour camps in Siberia and other areas. Many thousands of captured Polish officers were shot
at several secret forest sites; the first to be discovered being Katyn, near Smolensk.

The Germans declared their intention of eliminating the Polish race (a task to be completed by
1975) alongside the Jews. This process of elimination, the "Holocaust", was carried out
systematically. All members of the "intelligentsia" were hunted down in order to destroy
Polish culture and leadership (many were originally exterminated at Oswiencim - better
known by its German name, Auschwitz). Secret universities and schools, a "Cultural
Underground", were formed (the penalty for belonging to one was death). In the General-
Gouvernement there were about 100,000 secondary school pupils and over 10,000 university
students involved in secret education.
The Polish Jews were herded into Ghettos where they were slowly starved and cruelly offered
hopes of survival but, in fact, ended up being shot or gassed. In the end they were transported,
alongside non-Jewish Poles, Gypsies and Soviet POWs, to extermination camps such as
Auschwitz and Treblinka; at Auschwitz over 4 million were exterminated. 2000 concentration
camps were built in Poland, which became the major site of the extermination programme,
since this was where most of the intended victims lived.

Many non-Jewish Poles were either transported to Germany and used as slave labour or
simply executed. In the cities the Germans would round-up and kill indiscriminately as a
punishment for any underground or anti-German or pro-Jewish activity. In the countryside
they kept prominent citizens as hostages who would be executed if necessary. Sometimes they
liquidated whole villages; at least 300 villages were destroyed. Hans Frank said, "If I wanted
to put up a poster for every seven Poles shot, the forests of Poland would not suffice to
produce the paper for such posters."

Despite such horror the Poles refused to give in or cooperate (there were no Polish
collaborators as in other occupied countries). The Polish Underground or AK (Armia Krajowa
or Home Army) was the largest in Europe with 400,000 men. The Jewish resistance
movement was set up separately because of the problem of being imprisoned within the
ghettos. Both these organisations caused great damage to the Nazi military machine. Many
non-Jewish Poles saved the lives of thousands of Jews despite the fact that the penalty, if
caught, was death (in fact, Poland was the only occupied nation where aiding Jews was
punishable by death).

Fighting on all Fronts:

The Polish Army, Navy and Air Force reorganised abroad and continued to fight the
Germans. In fact they have the distinction of being the only nation to fight on every front in
the War. In 1940 they fought in France, in the Norwegian campaign they earned a reputation
for bravery at Narvik, and in Africa the Carpathian Brigade fought at Tobruk.

Polish Squadrons played an important role in the Battle of Britain, accounting for 12% of all
German aircraft destroyed at the cost of 33 lives. By the end of the war they had flown a total
of 86,527 sorties, lost 1669 men and shot down 500 German planes and 190 V1 rockets.

The Polish Navy, which had escaped intact, consisted of 60 vessels, including 2 cruisers, 9
destroyers and 5 submarines ( one of which was the famous "Orzel") which were involved in
665 actions at sea. The first German ship sunk in the war was sunk by Polish ships. The Navy
also took part in the D-Day landings.

When the Soviet Union was attacked by Germany, in June 1941, Polish POWs were released
from prison camps and set up an army headed by General Anders. Many civilians were taken
under the protection of this army which was allowed to make its way to Persia (modern-day
Iran) and then on to Egypt. This army, the Polish Second Corps, fought with distinction in
Italy, their most notable victory being that at Monte Cassino, in May 1944, and which opened
up the road to Rome for the Allies as a whole. One of the "heroes" of the Polish Second Corps
was Wojtek, a brown bear adopted in Iran as their mascot; at Monte Cassino Wojtek actually
helped in the fighting by carrying ammunition for the guns. He died, famous and well-loved,
in Edinburgh Zoo in 1964, aged 22.
All the Polish forces took part in the Allied invasion of Europe and liberation of France,
playing a particularly crucial role in the significant Battle of the Falaise Gap. The Polish
Parachute Brigade took part in the disastrous Battle of Arnhem in Holland. In 1945, the Poles
captured the German port of Wilhelmshaven.

In 1943 a division of Polish soldiers was formed in Russia under Soviet control and fought on
the Eastern Front. They fought loyally alongside the Soviet troops, despite the suffering they
had experienced in Soviet hands, and they distinguished themselves in breaking through the
last German lines of defence, the "Pomeranian Rampart", in the fighting in Saxony and in the
capture of Berlin.

The "Home Army", under the command of General Stefan Roweki (code-named "Grot"), and
after his capture in 1943 (he was later murdered), by General Tadeusz Komorowski (code-
named "Bor"), fought a very varied war; at times in open combat in brigade or division
strength, at times involved in sabotage, often acting as execution squads eliminating German
officials, and often fighting a psychological campaign against German military and civilians.
It was a costly war since the Germans always took reprisals.

The Intelligence Service of the Home Army captured and sent parts of the V1 to London for
examination, providing information on German military movements (giving advanced
warning of the German plan to invade Russia), and gave the RAF full information about
Peenemunde, where the Germans were producing V2 rockets.

Betrayal:

The crime of Katyn was discovered in 1943 and created a rift in Polish-Soviet relations. From
now on the Home Army was attacked by Soviet propaganda as collaborating with the
Germans and being called on to rise against the Germans once the Red Army reached the
outskirts of Warsaw.

Secretly, at Teheran, the British and Americans agreed to letting the Russians profit from their
invasion of Poland in 1939 and allowing them to keep the lands that had been absorbed. The
"accidental" death of General Sikorski at this time helped keep protests at a minimum.

When the Russians crossed into Poland the Home Army cooperated in the fight against the
Germans and contributed greatly to the victories at Lwow, Wilno and Lublin only to find
themselves surrounded and disarmed by their "comrades-in-arms" and deported to labour
camps in Siberia.

On August 1, 1944, with the Russian forces on the right bank of the Vistula, the Home Army
rose in Warsaw; the Warsaw Rising. Heroic street-fighting involving the whole population,
using the sewers as lines of communication and escape, under heavy bombardment, lasted for
63 days. The city was completely destroyed. Not only did the Russians cease to advance but
they also refused to allow Allied planes to land on Russian airfields after dropping supplies.
After surrendering many civilians and soldiers were executed or sent to concentration camps
to be exterminated and Warsaw was razed to the ground.

The defeat in Warsaw destroyed the political and military institutions of the Polish
underground and left the way open for a Soviet take-over.
With the liberation of Lublin in July 1944 a Russian-sponsored Polish Committee for
National Liberation (a Communist Government in all but name) had been set up and the
British had put great pressure, mostly unsuccessful, on the Government-in-exile to accept this
status quo. At Yalta, in February 1945, the Allies put Poland within the Russian zone of
influence in a post-war Europe. To most Poles the meaning of these two events was perfectly
clear; Poland had been betrayed. At one stage the Polish Army, still fighting in Italy and
Germany, was prepared to withdraw from the front lines in protest; after all, they were
supposed to be fighting for Polish liberation. It is a reflection on Polish honour that no such
withdrawal took place since it could leave large gaps in the front lines and so was considered
too dangerous for their Allied comrades-in-arms.

The war ended on May 8th, 1945.

The Cost:

The Poles are the people who really lost the war.

Over half a million fighting men and women, and 6 million civilians (or 22% of the total
population) died. About 50% of these were Polish Christians and 50% were Polish Jews.
Approximately 5,384,000, or 89.9% of Polish war losses (Jews and Gentiles) were the victims
of prisons, death camps, raids, executions, annihilation of ghettos, epidemics, starvation,
excessive work and ill treatment. So many Poles were sent to concentration camps that
virtually every family had someone close to them who had been tortured or murdered there.

There were one million war orphans and over half a million invalids.

The country lost 38% of its national assets (Britain lost 0.8%, France lost 1.5%). Half the
country was swallowed up by the Soviet Union including the two great cultural centres of
Lwow and Wilno.

Many Poles could not return to the country for which they has fought because they belonged
to the "wrong" political group or came from eastern Poland and had thus become Soviet
citizens. Others were arrested, tortured and imprisoned by the Soviet authorities for belonging
to the Home Army.

Although "victors" they were not allowed to partake in victory celebrations.

• Through fighting "For Our Freedom and Yours" they had exchanged one master for
another and were, for many years to come, treated as "the enemy" by the very Allies who
had betrayed them at Teheran and Yalta.

Post War Poland

The Polish Committee of National Liberation was set up in 1944 by the Communist Poles and
Russians at Lublin, and a few days later, was recognised as the temporary Polish government
by the USSR.

The Poles had been promised the old lands up to the Oder and Neisse rivers, occupied by
Germany, in return for the eastern part of Poland. This promise was never made formal, nor
was it completely accepted by the western Allies. In May 1945, at the end of the war, the
Provisional government occupied these western territories. The Polish population of the old
eastern provinces, including Lwow, moved west as their territories were absorbed by the
USSR; the German population was largely removed to the German Democratic Republic
(later to become known as East Germany). This new Poland corresponded very closely to the
Poland of 1138, and now contained very few of the minorities (such as the Lithuanians,
Ruthenes and Jews) which had given the Commonwealth such variety.

In the January elections of 1947 the main non communist politicians were defeated (by use of
fraud and violence) and emigrated. Wladyslaw Gomulka, leader of the Polish Worker's Party
(Communist), became undisputed leader of Poland, then, in September 1948, Gomulka was
dismissed. An era of full Stalinist dictatorship and headlong industrialisation began under the
leadership of Boleslaw Bierut. In December the Polish Worker's Party and the Polish Socialist
Party fused into the Polish United Worker's Party.

After discovering that they had been cheated of some of their wages, 15000 workers of the
Cegielski and Stalin works demonstrated in 1956, and, when attacked, rioted. These were the
Poznan riots which lead to "The Polish October" when Stalinism was overthrown. Gomulka
managed to persuade Khrushchev, the Soviet Premier, that he could control the situation, and
so Soviet troops which were on stand by were not used (unlike in Hungary where the situation
led to bloodshed in the Hungarian Uprising). Gomulka returned to power and a new, more
independent relationship with the USSR was established.

With the political thaw, in 1968 the universities became centres for discussion and learning
again. The Israeli victory over the Soviet backed Arabs in 1967 was greeted with glee; "Our
Jews have given the Soviet Arabs a drumming!" Anti Russian feelings grew until, when the
authorities banned a production of Mickiewicz's anti Russian "Forefathers' Eve" in January,
student riots broke out in Warsaw and Krakow. These were forcibly put down and a period of
repression against Intellectuals and Jews ensued. Gomulka found himself under pressure from
the repressive Nationalist "Partisan" faction, led by Mieczyslaw Moczar, and reluctantly had
to "encourage" the Jews to emigrate (his own wife was Jewish). He got Soviet backing by
letting Polish armed forces take part in the Warsaw Pact repression of the Czechoslovak
attempt to create a more liberal situation.

A sudden increase in the price of food in December 1970 led to riots in the Baltic cities;
Gdansk, Gdynia and Szczecin, which were repressed with great bloodshed. The fighting
spread and led to the replacement of Gomulka by Edward Gierek, who managed to calm
down the situation by preventing the price rises and promising reforms. A policy of rapid
industrialisation, based on Western imports and credits (a policy which was to bankrupt
Poland), and an artificial rising of living standards began.

To ease the foreign debt, by 1976 Gierek had to take steps. He increased, amongst others, the
price of "luxury" consumer goods, and in June, a 60% increase in food prices. Violent strikes
in Warsaw and Radom led to a cancellation of the price increases, but also led to repression
by the Citizens' Militia (ZOMO) and severe sentences. Opposition groups were set up, like
KOR (Committee for the Defence of the Workers). The economy "overheated" and led to a
period of acute consumer shortages, especially meat, and a soaring foreign debt.

In October 1978, Karol Wojtyla, Cardinal of Krakow, was elected Pope. The Polish sense of
"destiny" began to surface. In June, 1979, Pope John Paul II visited Poland at a time when the
economic crisis was deepening.
Fresh price rises in July 1980 touched off nation wide strikes. In August they reached the
Lenin Shipyard, Gdansk, where Lech Walesa became leader. At the end of August the Gdansk
Agreement created Solidarity as an independent, self managing trade union.

On December 13, 1981, General Jaruzelski, prime minister, minister of defence and first
secretary of PZPR, declared a state of martial law and suspended Solidarity. Gradually, as the
country's political and economic life returned to normal, martial law was lifted (July 1983).
From 1986 onwards, there was great discussion as to the way the country could develop
which led, in 1988, to a referendum and fresh elections which opened the way to the massive
changes of 1989 and the return of Democracy.

In December 1990, Lech Walesa was sworn in as the first non Communist Polish President
since WW2.

The Great Dynasties


Piast;

The first Polish Dynasty is named after its legendary founder of the 9th. century, a peasant
named Piast. It was Naruszewicz who, in his "History of the Polish Nation" (1780 - 86), first
gave the name "Piast" to the Polanian dynasty which claimed descent from Piast but had
never used the name themselves. According to legend the evil prince Popiel was eaten by
mice as punishment for the murder of his family. After his death it was decided to elect the
wheelwright, Piast, as ruler because of his virtuous nature. The names of the early dynasty
have been passed down as Ziemowit, Leszko and Ziemomysl, the father of Mieszko. Mieszko
I, or Mieczyslaw I (b. ?922; d. 992), chief of the Polanie (962 - 992), is the founder of Poland.
He imposed a fiscal system by introducing the denarii (silver pennies) in the 980s, and set up
a network of defences (the royal grod). Becoming concerned by the establishment of the
German Empire of Otto I (962), Mieszko entered into an alliance with the Czechs, marrying
Dobrava, the daughter of Boleslav I of Bohemia, and accepted Christianity for himself and his
people; the Polish Baptism of 966. He placed his lands in the hands of the Holy See thus
putting it under the protection of Rome; whilst submitting to the Empire he had, in this act,
assured security and independence for his emerging nation. Mieszko established a bishopric in
Poznan (968) and its first bishop, Jordan, probably come from Rome. Mieszko's move was an
astute political one since it opened access (particularly through the German clergy that now
came to Poland) to the military knowledge and political systems of the West (which he made
full use of by entering into marriage alliances with the great families of the Empire).
Contemporary accounts credited Mieszko with significant military forces with which he
invaded Pomerania and, after defeating Hodo, the Margrave of the Ostmark at Cedynia (972),
reached the Oder in 976. He defeated Otto II, who had come to assist Hodo, in 979, becoming
undisputed lord of Pomerania. He marked his success by founding the city of Gdansk
(Danzig, 980) through which he could control the mouth of the Wisla. In 983 Mieszko aided
Otto III, to whom he had paid allegiance, in the war against the Lutitians and then helped
recover Misnia (Meissen) from the Czechs (986). Mieszko entered into a number of dynastic
alliances including ones with Hungary, Kiev and Scandinavia, aiding his son-in-law, Sweyn
Forkbeard, King of Denmark, to reconquer his kingdom of England; his grandson was Canute
the Great.

Mieszko's son, Boleslaw I Chrobry (the Brave), (b. 967; d. 1025), the first King of Poland,
992 - 1025, established Poland's right as an independent kingdom. He seized Krakow from
Bohemia (996). In 997 he organised a mission, under the leadership of the Bohemian bishop
St. Adalbert of Prague (Sw. Wojciech; b. Libice, c.956; d. 997), to christianize the Prussians.
St. Adalbert was killed by the pagans. According to legend, Boleslaw ransomed back the body
of St. Adalbert and had him buried in Gniezno Cathedral where he had been ordained.
Boleslaw was able to get Gniezno elevated to the rank of metropolitan see (1000), thus
emancipating the Polish Church from German control. Relations with the Empire underwent a
rapid change with the death of Otto III (1002) and soon led to a series of wars. Boleslaw
seized the Lusatian Marches and held them against Otto's successor, Henry II. The wars
continued until peace was settled at Budziszyn (Bautzen, 1018), much to Poland's advantage
though Henry had managed to alienate the western Slavs against Christian Poland, thus
preparing the ground for conquest and germanisation of this region in the future. Boleslaw
also campaigned in the east when Kievian forces (in alliance with the Germans) launched an
invasion (1013). He undertook an expedition against Grand Prince Yaroslav I the Wise in
order to restore his own son-in-law, Swiatopelk, to the throne of Kiev (1018). Legend has it
that on entering Kiev, Boleslaw struck the gate with his sword and dented the blade; this
sword, Szczerbiec, was later used at the coronation of all Polish Kings. Boleslaw himself was
not crowned until 1024. Ranked among Poland's greatest rulers, Boleslaw reorganised the
administration and taxation of his state, and created a large standing army. He is said to have
driven iron stakes into both the Saal and the Dnieper to mark his conquests.

Boleslaw's son, Mieszko II ( b. 990; d. 1034), King 1025 - 1034, rashly attacked the Emperor
Conrad II and thereafter exposed his realm to the rivalry of his brothers and the aggression of
Kiev and the Empire. He was overthrown by his elder brother, Bezprym (who had been
repudiated by his father) and had to flee (1031) but regained his throne on the murder of
Bezprym (1032) only to lose his own life at the hands of a disgruntled court official. In only a
few years the Polish State and Christianity within the nation were both threatened severely as
many who had never renounced their paganism revolted, and the Czechs invaded (1038).
Christianity had been forced on the populace by the ruling elite for their own political ends
and it is important to note that the real Christianisation of Poland did not occur until the
establishment of the monasteries in the 12th Century. Mieszko II's son, Kazimierz I
Odnowiciel (the Restorer) (b. 1015; d. 1058), King 1038 - 1058, was hardly more successful
and also had to flee to Hungary when civil war broke out. After regaining the throne in 1040
he made Krakow the capital of Poland (reflecting not only the economic growth of that city
but also the level of destruction and disruption elsewhere). Kazimierz's son, Boleslaw II
Smialy (the Bold) (b. ?1039; d. ?1083), king 1058 - 1079, moved against the Emperor, Henry
IV, who was engaged, initially, in a struggle against the German princes, then a Saxon
uprising before entering into a battle for supremacy with Pope Gregory VII (the Investiture
Struggle, 1075 - 1122). The Pope allied himself with the vassal princes hostile to Henry - one
of whom was Boleslaw who declared Polish independence from the Empire and was sent a
crown (his coronation was at Christmas 1076). Boleslaw seized Kiev twice and entered into a
long power struggle against Bohemia. In 1079 Boleslaw had Bishop Stanislaw of Krakow
executed (the Polish Becket, canonised in 1257); it is possible that Stanislaw had been party
to a Bohemian-German attempt to remove Boleslaw and thus bring Poland into the sphere of
the Empire and the anti-Pope, Clement. Boleslaw was expelled in a later revolt and replaced
by his weak brother, Wladyslaw Herman (b. 1043; d. 1102), ruled 1079 - 1102. Wladyslaw
distanced himself from any involvement in the east and it is during this period that the
Ruthenians colonised the lands of the Dniester and the San and we see the growth of Halicz.
Wladyslaw's son, Boleslaw III Krzywousty (the Wry-Mouthed) (b. 1086; d. 1138), Prince
1102 - 1138, was an extremely capable ruler who earned the respect of his people. He exiled
his half-brother and co-ruler, Zbigniew (1107) who, in 1109, with the aid of the Emperor
Henry V, attempted to cross the Odra but was thwarted by the rugged resistance of Glogow,
when the Germans used hostages obtained during a truce as human shields for their siege
towers - to no avail. Boleslaw defeated the Emperor and the Duke of Bohemia at the battle of
Psie Pole, near Wroclaw, 1109, forcing them to renounce all claims to Polish territory. In a
series of stubbornly resisted campaigns he also recaptured Eastern Pomerania (1122) but had
to swear fealty to the Emperor Lothar II (1135) in order to regain Dymin and the Island of
Rugen. Unfortunately Boleslaw failed to stem the decentralising tendencies undermining the
state, nor did he regain the title of king.

One of the enduring weaknesses of the Piast dynasty lay in the fact that the Poles failed to
accept primogeniture. In 1138 the nobles forced Boleslaw to divide his realm among his sons
in order to prevent a power struggle; the Testament of Boleslaw III. Each of the territorial
subdivisions (Silesia, Great Poland, Mazovia, and Sandomir) was to be held as the hereditary
domain of one of Boleslaw's sons. The senior member of the family also held Krakow and
Pomerania, ruling as grand prince over the loosely federated state. Rather than strengthen the
state by providing a means of secure succession this act, which merely served to create a
number of independent principalities vying with each other for supremacy, was the start of
150 years of dynastic struggle which shattered the precarious unity of Poland and saw a
period of internal strife with a series of rulers: Wladyslaw II Wygnaniec (the Exile), of Silesia
(b. 1105; d.1159), ruled 1138 - 1146; Boleslaw IV Kedzierzawy (the Curly), of Mazovia
(b.1127; d. 1173), ruled 1146 - 1173; Mieszko III Stary (the Old), of Wielkopolska, ruled
1173 - 1177 and 1194 - 1202; Kazimierz II Sprawiedliwy (the Just) (b. 1138; d. 1194), of
Sandomierz, ruled 1177 - 1194, organising the Polish senate and introducing laws protecting
Polish peasants. He united Sandomierz and Mazovia and was made Duke of Krakow (1177).
Although he secured hereditary rights to the crown for his descendants (1180) the dynastic
struggles continued until Wladyslaw I Lokietek restored royal authority in 1320.

Mieszko III's son, Wladyslaw III Laskonogi (Longshanks) of Wielkopolska, ruled 1202;
Leszek Bialy (the White) of Sandomierz, ruled 1202 - 1227, whose intervention in the politics
of Ruthenia (in 1205), alongside his brother, Konrad of Mazovia (b. c.1191; d. 1247), led to
its division into the twin principalities of Halicz and Vladimir. In a move of disastrous
consequences to the future history of Poland, Duke Konrad (more concerned with the dynastic
struggles to the south) invited the Teutonic Order (who had recently been expelled from
Hungary by Andrew II) to combat pagan Prussian tribes in the north-east from a base set up at
Chelmno (1226), thereby introducing a much more formidable enemy on the crucial Baltic
coast. Henryk I Brodaty (the Bearded) of Silesia, ruled 1234 - 1238; Henryk II Pobozny (the
Pious) of Silesia, ruled 1238 - 1241, in 1241 devastating Tartar (or Mongol) invasions (in
which Kiev was conquered and Muscovy fell under the yoke of the Golden Horde for over
two centuries, and, in Hungary, created an opportunity for the Vlachs to settle on the plains of
the western banks of the Lower Danube) led to a military defeat of the armies of Silesia and
Wielkopolska at Legnica (Liegnitz) where Henryk, their commander, was killed. Whilst
Poland fell further into a state of fragmentation and unrule, Europe was saved when the
Tartars withdrew on receiving news of the death of their Great Khan, Ogedei. Settling in the
Crimea the Tartars became a long-standing threat to Poland. It is from this invasion that
Krakow commemorates the Hejnal, the truncated bugle call from the tower of the Kosciol
Mariacki. The brother of Leszek Bialy, Konrad of Mazovia (b. c.1191; d. 1247), who had
invited the Teutonic Order into Poland, ruled 1241 - 43. His physician, Nicolaus Polonus,
became noted for his medical works written at Montpellier towards the end of the thirteenth
century.
Boleslaw V Wstydliwy (the Modest), ruled 1243 - 1279, and married the Blessed Kinga
(Hungarian: Cunegunda; 1224 - 1292), daughter of Bela IV of Hungary, credited with
founding the salt mines of Wieliczka and named Patroness of Poland and Lithuania by Pope
Clement XI (1715). It is during this period that the first Jewish settlers came to Poland where
they were treated with more tolerance than in the rest of Europe, so-much-so that the Polish
Synod was berated by the Papal Legate, in 1266, for allowing Jews to dress like anyone else
and being able to live without restrictions in Poland, and for a royal charter, the Kalisz
Statute, having been granted them by Boleslaw in 1264. This statute placed the Jews, as servi
camerae ("bondsmen of the prince's treasury"), under Boleslaw's direct jurisdiction, granting
them economic and religious freedom, protection of life and property, and the right to follow
their customs within their communities.

There was a further Tartar invasion in 1259. The depopulation that the Tartar invasions
brought about led to the settlement of Polish territory by German colonists, some of whom
had been invited in by the local prince (as in Silesia). The reign of Leszek Czarny (the Black),
1279 - 1288, saw the last of the Tartar invasions (1287), followed by Henryk IV Probus,
prince of Silesia and Krakow, who ruled 1289 - 1290. By this time the Church's position in
Poland had been strengthened through the work of Archbishops Kietlicz (1199 - 1219) and
Pelka who had imposed strict discipline upon the clergy and obtained immunity from
taxation. Their successor, Jakub Swinka, Archbishop of Gniezno, worked avidly for a strong
central power in Poland in order to preserve the interests of the Church. Encouraged by
Swinka, Henryk sought papal consent to crown himself King of Poland but his sudden death
(he was treacherously poisoned) prevented the realisation of that plan. It is his personal
insignia, the crowned white eagle against a red field that his successor, Przemyslaw (King
1295 - 1296), adopted as a symbol for the Kingdom of Poland. Swinka had been able to
engineer an agreement between Przemyslaw and his close rival, Wladyslaw Lokietek, son of
Kazimierz I of Kujawy, to set up an anti-Bohemian coalition and technically brought an end
to the territorial division of Poland.

In the vacuum created by the assassination of Przemyslaw by the Margraves of Brandenburg


(who feared the rise of a Polish kingdom with access to the Baltic Sea), Wladyslaw Lokietek
and Henryk of Glogow contested the succession, but it was Waclaw (Wenceslas) II of
Bohemia (1271 - 1305), expanding his state via Silesia and already in possession of the
duchies of Krakow and Sandomierz, who occupied Wielkopolska (Greater Poland) and was
crowned (1300). During the struggle for the Polish throne, Waclaw gained the support of the
magnates of Krakow and Sandomierz by guaranteeing them civil rights in the Act of
Lutomysl (1291). Waclaw became entangled in a dispute over succession to the vacant
Hungarian crown (1301) during which he provoked the hostility of Pope Boniface VIII, the
Hungarian nobility and the rulers of Southern Germany. Lokietek, who had been forced into
exile, used this situation to obtain the support of both the Pope and the nobles of Upper
Hungary in his claim to the crown and a Hungarian-German coalition was formed (1304).
Waclaw attempted to gain the support of Brandenburg by offering to hand over Eastern
Pomerania and Gdansk but only managed to alienate his Polish allies who revolted (1305).
After the death of Waclaw (1305) Lokietek, supported by Hungarian forces, managed to take
Malopolska (Little Poland), Krakow (1306), and (by 1314) Wielkopolska.

Premyslid (Przemyslid);

The only native ruling house in Bohemia, the Premyslid dynasty (a contemporary of the Piast
dynasty), provided a King of Poland towards the end of the troubled 13th Century in what
was a complex, but interesting, climax to their struggle for power in East Central Europe. The
Premyslids claimed descent from a legendary plowman, Premysl, and had their ancestral
home in the city of Prague. They succeeded in laying the foundations of a Czech state towards
the end of the ninth century by eliminating their opponents, the Vrsovic and Slavnik clans (the
only Vrsovic to escape the massacre of his family was St. Vojtech/Wojciech/Adalbert who, in
relief at his salvation, became a Christian missionary and was martyred by the Prussians).
During the reign of St. Vaclav (the Good King Wenceslas of the Christmas carol) the Czech
lands entered into an alliance with Saxony, thus laying the foundations for closer relations
with the restored Holy Roman Empire. After the murder of Vaclav (929) by his brother and
successor, Boleslav I, the Premyslids went through a period of infighting which left the realm
vulnerable to outside intervention: Bohemia was incorporated into the Holy Roman Empire
(962) at just about the same time that Mieszko was looking for ways of preserving the
independence of the Polane.

Bohemia ranked among the most advanced of the European feudal states, being at the
forefront of economic power and cultural achievement. In keeping with this growing
importance, the Premyslid dynasty was granted a royal crown; in 1086, Vratislaw was made
King of Bohemia by Henry IV and, after struggles over the succession the Czechs accepted
primogeniture (1158). Vaclav (Wenceslaus), son of Premysl Otakar I, married Kunigunde, a
Hohenstaufen princess (1224) thus linking Premyslid destiny even more closely with that of
the Empire. With the exception of a brief passage of the Tartars through Moravia, the
Bohemian Kingdom escaped the destruction visited on Poland and Hungary, as a result, when
the Babenburg line died out, the Austrians elected Vaclav's son, Premysl Otakar (b. ?1230; d.
1278), as Duke (1251).

Premysl Otakar II the Great (reigned 1253-1278) became the most powerful sovereign in
Central Europe. His acquisition of Austria met with opposition from Hungary and most of the
Polish dukes and in the following struggle the Babenberg heritage became split up, with only
Austria proper left to Bohemia. It was not before 1269 that Premysl extended his domination
over Styria, Carinthia, and Carniola. Premysl coveted Poland. Poland was vulnerable; it was
divided between several members of the Piast dynasty, and had been hard hit by the
aggressive Mongol invasion in 1241. It was also under constant attack from the Lithuanians
and Prussians. Premysl promised the dukes of Poland aid in holding off their enemies and
over the next twenty years launched two Crusades in the east; against the Prussians in 1255
(the Teutonic Order named their new settlement on the Pregel river after him; Konigsberg)
and the Lithuanians in 1267. At the height of his power, Premysl Otakar II lost support from
the Papacy who objected to his choice of Bishop for the newly-conquered/converted lands,
angered the Teutonic Order who objected to his growing influence in Lithuania, alienated the
Polish nobility who feared being absorbed in a Czech empire, and (upon the extinction of the
Hohenstaufen lineage,1273) failed in his bid for Imperial election to Rudolf of Habsburg,
Rudolf I demanded Otakar's Austrian acquisitions which he was forced to surrender (1276),
having been abandoned by his allies and his own nobility, receiving back Bohemia and
Moravia as fiefs. He was killed at the battle of Marchfeld (1278) in an attempt to reclaim his
lost provinces.

Bohemia came under German regency until 1283, when Otakar's son, Premyslid Vaclav (b.
1271; d. 1305) assumed the title of King of Bohemia (Vaclav II). This period witnessed yet
further growth of German and Imperial influence in Bohemia, now penetrating into Polish
Silesia. From 1283 the real power in Bohemia lay in the hands of Vaclav's stepfather, Zavis,
and Vaclav only assumed total authority in 1290. Vaclav reduced the power of the nobles by
introducing Roman law (which gave the king the sole right to legislate). During his reign the
mining of Czech silver at Kutna Hora flourished and after carrying out fiscal reforms he
introduced the Czech silver groschen (grossus Pragensis) - one of the strongest European
currencies of the time. Vaclav was encouraged, by Rudolph I, to become involved in Polish
politics where he had some claim, through his father, to parts of Silesia. After the death of
Henryk IV Probus, Vlaclav took Krakow with the assistance of the nobles of Malopolska who
were looking for security in these troubled times. Waclaw gained the support of the magnates
of Krakow and Sandomierz by guaranteeing them civil rights in the Act of Lutomysl (1291).

Prior to this moment only the native Piasts had been involved in the dynastic struggles and,
despite all the divisions of Polish territory, none had previously come under foreign rule.
Vaclav's intervention raised a very serious threat because through him Poland could become
incorporated into the Empire, something which had been carefully avoided for so many
centuries. Archbishop Swinka, the prime mover for reunification and a strong central
monarchy in Poland had been able to engineer an agreement between Przemyslaw and his
close rival, Wladyslaw Lokietek, to set up an anti-Bohemian coalition and technically brought
an end to the territorial division of Poland. Because of lack of unity among the Piasts,
Przemyslaw had to recognise Vaclav's control of Krakow and be satisfied with Wielkopolska
only. In order to counter the growing threat presented by Vaclaw, Archbishop Swinka
persuaded the Pope to consent to Przemyslaw's coronation (1295). In the vacuum created by
Przemyslaw's assassination (1296), during which Lokietek was involved in a power struggle
with Henry of Glogow, Vaclav occupied Wielkopolska, Pomorze and Kujawy (1300). He also
married Przemyslaw's daughter, Ryska Elzbieta. Vaclav was now seen (even by Swinka) as
the only alternative and was crowned King (Waclaw II) in 1300, uniting at the same time
Cracow and Gniezno. Vaclav/Waclaw ruled in absentia and set up the office of starosta to
administer his lands (an office that was later modified by the Poles to suit themselves). The
Czech groschen made its way into Poland and influenced Kazimierz III Wielki's own
introduction of the "grossi Cracovienses".

When the last of the Hungarian Arpad dynasty, Andrew III, died (1301), Vaclav/Waclaw's
son, Vaclav, was elected king of Hungary. The Pope objected strenuously to this coronation
as Hungary was in fief to the Papacy. Wladyslaw Lokietek, now in exile, joined forces with
the Magnates of Upper Hungary (opposed to Vaclav) and the Pope in plotting the demise of
Czech power in Hungary and Croatia. In 1301, Albrecht I (King of Germany; 1298 - 1308)
confiscated the Bohemian kingdom as a fief of the Empire, forcing Vaclav/Waclaw to go to
war with him. Vaclav/Waclaw attempted to gain the support of Brandenburg by offering to
hand over Eastern Pomerania and Gdansk but only managed to alienate his Polish allies who
revolted (1305). Lokietek, supported by Hungarian forces, managed to take much of
Malopolska. When Vaclav/Waclaw died in 1305 his son and successor Vaclav III (b.1289; d.
1306), King of Hungary (1301-5) and Bohemia (1305-6), found himself opposed in both
Hungary and Poland. Vaclav signed a treaty with the Holy Roman Emperor and continued his
father's aggressive policy in Poland. Unable to assert his authority in Hungary, he
relinquished his claim to Duke Otto of Bavaria (1305) but tried, however, to assert his
hereditary claim to the Polish crown. He was assassinated at Olomouc whilst on his way from
Prague to Poland (1306). Vaclav III was the last male member of the Premyslid line.

The Piast Restoration;

In Poland, the sudden disappearance of the last two Premyslids provided the best opportunity
to finally reunite the nation under Wladyslaw Lokietek. John of Luxemburg (who was to die
on the field at Crecy, 1346), son of Henry VII (elected King of Germany in 1308), inherited
Bohemia through his marriage to Vaclav's sister and was elected king of Bohemia (1310).
This German King of Bohemia would be one of Poland's most dangerous opponents as he was
strongly convinced that he had also inherited Premyslid claims to the crown of Poland, and
decided to continue their Silesian policy which had already brought some of the local dukes in
that border province under the suzerainty of the Bohemian crown. In intimate co-operation
with the Teutonic Order, he represented the trend of German expansion toward the East. In
Hungary one of the French Anjous of Naples, Charles Robert, emerged as the successful
candidate (1308). With the support of the Papacy he established a dynasty there which
continued Hungary's independent tradition and checked the possible progress of German
influence.

In 1320, Wladyslaw I Lokietek (the elbow-high)(b. ?1260; d. 1333) was crowned; the first
ruler of the reunited kingdom 1306 - 1333. All his successors were kings. His major concern
was the further encroachment of the Teutonic Knights into Polish territory. In 1308 Gdansk
was besieged by the Brandenburg Margraves, Otto and Waldemar. Wladyslaw secured the
help of the Teutonic Order in order to lift the siege but, having entered Gdansk, they then
treacherously slaughtered Wladyslaw's men and took over the city themselves (14 November
1308); by 1311 they occupied most of Polish Pomerania and, in alliance with John of
Luxemburg (elected king of Bohemia, 1310), invaded Wielkopolska itself (1331). Although
defeating the Order at Plowce (1331) Wladyslaw was unable to deliver a decisive defeat.
Wladyslaw, faced by intractable enemies and lacking the resources to overcome them,
strengthened his kingdom through alliances with Hungary and Lithuania created by the
marriages of his children.

There is a saying that Wladyslaw's son, Kazimierz III Wielki (Kazimierz the Great) (b. 1309;
d. 1370), King 1333-1370, "found Poland built of wood, and left her in stone," so great was
his activity as founder and planner of towns but it also signifies the great task that faced him
in creating a strong and stable state out of a very weak inheritance. He established a truce
(1333) and then peace (the Treaty of Kalisz, 1343) with The Teutonic Order and peace with
the Czechs (1334). He worked with Hungary to establish order and officially recognised John
of Luxemburg, King of Bohemia, as suzerain over the Piast domains in Silesia (1339). In the
vacuum that opened up with the collapse of Kievan Rus, he seized the principality of Halicz
(Galicia, 1340) and defeated the Lithuanians (1353). Kazimierz built Poland into a major
Central-European power, increasing her territory 2.5 times, bringing it's size up to 270,000
sq.kms. Under Kazimierz, in 1346, the first Polish Legal Code was made, and in 1364 the
foundations of Krakow University (the second oldest in Central Europe) were formed. Trade
also became important due to Poland's position on the commercial routes leading from East to
West and from South to North. The establishment of regular grain exports to Constantinople
led to the colonization of Ruthenia. Kazimierz befriended the peasants (hence becoming
known as "Krol Chlopi"; the "Peasant's King") and widened Jewish rights under the Kalisz
Statute to the whole country. He was the last of the Piast dynasty. He was succeeded by his
sister's son, King Louis of Anjou, "the Great" of Hungary, (from 1370 - 82) whose daughter,
Jadwiga, was crowned "King" of Poland in 1384. Branches of the Piast family continued to
rule in Mazovia (until 1526) and Silesia (up to 1675). The Silesian Piasts, as vassals of
Bohemia and mediate princes of the Holy Roman Empire, retained the ducal title and held the
Duchy of Oppeln (until 1532) and the Principalities of Brieg, Liegnitz, and Wohlau until the
line died out in 1675.

Anjou;
Descended from that branch of the family that were the Kings of Naples, Louis (b. 1326; d.
1382) the Great, King of Hungary (1342 - 82), was appointed heir to the Polish throne by the
nobility and leading clergy of Poland upon the death of Kazimierz II Wielky (1370).
Kazimierz had divided his kingdom in his will, bequeathing Leczyca, Sieradz and Kujawy to
his grandson, Kazko (heir to Slupsk), and Galicia, Wielkopolska, Krakow and Sandomierz to
Louis. Fearing such a division of a kingdom just recently united, the will was ruled invalid
and the crown offered to Louis (King, 1370 - 82). In order to protect the succession Louis
granted a number of privileges to the nobility through the Statute of Kosice (1374) which
would establish a tradition that would restrict the freedom of action of future monarchs and
would prevent modernisation in years to come. The union of the two countries did not prove
successful, in fact Louis rarely visited Poland after his coronation at Krakow preferring to rule
through regents. He was more concerned in strengthening his own dynasty centred on
Hungary and as a result had become involved in a long struggle with Venice for the control of
the Adriatic (in three wars; 1342 - 46, 1357 - 58, and 1378 - 81), succeeding in 1381. He also
went to war with Lithuania over Red Ruthenia which he acquired in 1377. After a number of
unpopular decisions including the transfer of some disputed territory to Brandenburg there
were riots in Krakow culminating in the deaths of a number of his officials (1376). Louis
relinquished his powers over to a council of Malopolska nobles (1380). Despite the failure of
the union a bond was created between Hungarians and Poles that would last even to this day.

After Louis' sudden death, his elder daughter, Maria, was elected queen of Hungary whilst his
younger daughter, the grandniece of Kazimierz Wielky, Jadwiga (original Hungarian, Hedvig,
b. Buda, 1370; d. 1399), was elected King of Poland (1384 - 99) on condition that the union
with Hungary was abandoned. Jadwiga had been betrothed in childhood to Wilhelm of
Habsburg who arrived in Krakow, in 1384, to claim his bride only to be forcefully ejected. At
the insistence of the nobles (who were looking for a protection of their newly acquired
privileges and an alliance against the threat of an expanding Teutonic Order in the North), she
married Jogaila (Jagiello), Grand-Duke of Lithuania, in 1386, thus paving the way for the
great Jagiellonian Dynasty and the eventual union between the two nations. A most unhappy
Jadwiga turned to a life of charity and care for the poor, dying young - of complications
during childbirth - and leaving no heirs. Her greatest achievement was the provision of funds
for the restoration of the University of Krakow. She was buried at the Great Altar in Wawel
Cathedral; her remains were transferred to the white marble sarcophagus designed by
Madeyski.

Jagiellon; The Rise to Greatness

The Jagiellonian Dynasty (1386 - 1572) which succeeded the Piast Dynasty is a period when
we see Poland at her greatest. In 1386 the marriage of Jadwiga, King of Poland, to Jogaila (b.
1350; d. Grodek, near Lwow, 1434), pagan Grand-Duke of Lithuania (1377 - 1401), son of
Algirdas (Olgierd), baptised as Wladyslaw II Jagiello, initiated the Lithuanian union, inspired
by the common purpose of resisting the Teutonic Order; Jagiello had already been engaged in
a war against the Teutonic Order in 1377 - 82. Then, on July 15 1410 at the Battle of
Grunwald (Tannenburg), Wladyslaw Jagiello crushed the Teutonic Order, one of the strongest
military organisations in Europe. The Catholic Polish knights were a minority in an army
made up of Lithuanian pagans, Orthodox Christians, Lithuanian Muslim Tartars and
"heretical" Bohemian Hussites. This victory helped strengthen the bond between the Poles
and the Lithuanians and, in 1413, led to the Treaty of Union at Horodlo. The Act of Union
also established the territorial office of wojewoda (voivode or provincial governor) and
initiated a new administrative and defensive structure. The defeat of the Order at Grunwald
also eased restraints on trade in the Baltic. The Teutonic Order received a further rebuff at the
Council of Constance (1414 - 18) when the Rector of Krakow University, Wlodkowic,
condemned crusading and listed detailed charges against the excesses of the Teutonic Order;
the Order's attempt to portray Jagiello as a pagan tyrant was condemned by the Council and
the status of Poland as a Christian state grew to such an extent that even Henry V of England
asked for Jagiello's intervention in his war with France. Their hatred of the Germans
encouraged the Hussites to offer Jagiello the Bohemian crown when they refused to recognize
the Holy Roman Emperor, Sigismund (who had backed the Teutonic Order), as their king
upon the death of Wenceslas IV (1420). Jagiello declined the offer because he needed the
support of the Church in his struggle against the Teutonic Order but also at the insistence of
the magnates who were concerned about the possible social consequences of the pro-Hussite
sympathies amongst the szlachta. After the death of Jadwiga Jagiello remarried three more
times; his fourth wife was the Muscovite princess, Sophia Holszanska, who bore him three
sons (two of whom survived; Wladyslaw and Kazimierz). In 1430, through the Act of
Krakow, Wladyslaw Jagiello introduced the law "Neminem Captivabimus" ("We shall detain
no-one unless he is convicted by law"; the Polish "Habeas Corpus"), the first such law in
Europe, and granted the szlachta the right to elect the king, thus laying the foundations for the
Republic of Nobles. During his reign Poland became a great power; Jagiello's attempts to
bring the Ruthenian Orthodox Church back into a union with Rome, his defeat of the Teutonic
Order and Christianisation of Samogitia, his subtle game of supporting the Hussites in order
to frustrate the anti-Polish strategies of the Holy Roman Emperor and his mastery over the
Tartars, led to the consecration of Poland's role in the East.

Jagiello's ascendancy to the title of Grand-Duke of Lithuania had been opposed by his
relatives and had only been secured by the ruthless putting down of all opposition (including
the imprisonment and murder of his uncle Kejstut, Prince of Troki, at Krewo, 1382). He
entered into a delicate alliance with his cousin, the son of Kiejstut, Vytautas (Witold, b. 1350;
d. 1430), who, with the backing of the Teutonic Order, was a rival candidate for the title of
Grand-Duke. Jagiello recognised Vytautas as Grand-Duke of Lithuania by the Treaty of
Vilnius/Wilno (1401) on the condition that Poland and Lithuania be permanently united by a
common foreign policy. Vytautas, with the backing of Jagiello, accepted the Bohemian crown
and appointed his nephew, Zygmunt Korybut (d. 1435), as governor (1422); this move
actually led to civil war between the Ultraquists (the Bohemian Hussite nobility allied to the
city of Prague) who supported Korybut, and the Taborites (zealous militant Hussites) under
Ziska. Jagiello's acquiescence (in allowing Vytautas to accept the crown) led the Pope, Martin
V, to proclaim a crusade against Poland, and a coalition was formed - as a result of which,
Vytautas was compelled to resign, Zygmunt was recalled by Jagiello and an edict issued
against the Hussites and their allies (Wielun, 1424). Zygmunt went on (in the following year)
to take on the role of "King elect" and even joined the Hussite uprising.

When Vytautas died (1430), Jagiello's brother Svidrigaila (Swidrygiello: d. 1452) was named
to replace him as Grand-Duke (1430) - without consultation with the Polish nobility (as laid
down by the Treaty of Horodlo). In a power struggle that reflected the problems of the new
union and could have divided the dynasty into separate houses, Svidrigaila refused to
recognise Poland's supremacy as laid down in 1401 and 1413, and the Poles now laid claims
to Wolin (Volhynia). Svidrigaila entered into an alliance with the Teutonic Order and a brief
campaign ensued in which the Poles proved successful (1432). When Svidrigaila refused to
negotiate a peace and renewed his alliance with the Order it was decided to replace him.
Vytautas' brother Zygmunt became Grand-Duke (1434 - 40). In the Act of Troki (1434)
Zygmunt drew the szlachta of Halicz and Podolia into the protective arms of Polish civil
rights. In 1435 an alliance of Svidrigaila, Zygmunt Korybut and the Livonian branch of the
Order was defeated at Wilkomierz (a victory that was to the Lithuanians what Grunwald had
been to the Poles). Svidrigaila escaped to Moldavia but returned to Volhynia to be a constant
problem until he died. Zygmunt, eventually, also begun to intrigue against the crown, and his
cruel administration led to his assassination. In a coup (managed by the Lithuanian nobles)
which almost severed Polish - Lithuanian links, he was replaced by Jagiello's youngest son,
Kazimierz Jagiellonczyk.

Wladyslaw III Warnenczyk (b. Krakow, 1424; d. Varna, 1444), son of Jagiello and Sophia,
was king of Poland 1434 - 44. Having inherited the crown at the age of 10, most decisions
were made by the Regent, the powerful Bishop of Krakow, Zbigniew Olesnicki who worked
hard to suppress the Hussites in Poland; it was largely because of him that the union with
Bohemia, eagerly sought by the Hussites, did not come to pass. In 1440, through the
manoeuvrings of Olesnicki, the Magyars offered Wladyslaw the crown of Hungary as
Ladislas I (1440 - 44); Poland's attention shifted to the plains of Hungary and the growing
Turkish threat. It is Hungary that had been the real bastion of Christendom, fighting a constant
war against the Ottoman Turks. In 1443 Wladyslaw and his chief Hungarian supporter, the
Vajda of Transylvania, Janos Hunyadi, led a combined Polish-Hungarian army of 40,000 into
the Balkans and forced the Sultan, Murad II, to evacuate Serbia and Albania by the Peace of
Szeged (August 1444). Very shortly after the peace was signed Wladyslaw broke it, under
pressure from the Papal Legate (Cardinal Julian de Cesarinis), and continued his crusade. In
November 1444, the combined Polish-Hungarian forces were defeated by the Turks at Varna
on the Black Sea and Wladyslaw was killed. Whilst the disaster proved fortuitous for the
Poles (since the resources laid aside for war against the Turks were to prove invaluable in the
war against the Teutonic Order), the consequences of the destruction at Varna were dramatic
for the Balkans which rapidly returned under Turkish control; Constantinople fell not long
after (1453) and her mantle (as leader of the Orthodox Church) fell to the Tzars and Moscow
(the 3rd Rome). The loss of access to India via the Black Sea and land routes led the
Europeans to search for an alternative route by sea and hence to the discovery of the New
World.

Wladyslaw III's brother, Kazimierz IV Jagiellonczyk (b. 1427; d. 1492), Grand-Duke of


Lithuania , became king (1447 - 92). He worked hard to maintain the political union between
Poland and Lithuania without prejudicing the independence of Lithuania which he saw as his
personal estate. He managed to preserve the hereditary rule of the Jagiellonians as Grand-
Dukes, keeping that separate from any role as monarch of the union. Kazimierz exploited the
schism in the Western Church (during which time there were two Popes) by curbing the
power of the clergy and subordinating the Church to the state. When the Prussians revolted
against their overlord, the Teutonic Order, Kazimierz saw this as an opportunity to end, once
and for all, their power. Requiring the support of the szlachta (nobility) to conduct a war
against the Teutonic Order Kazimierz conceded, through the Act of Nieszawa (1454), that no
new taxes or military levies could be raised without the consent of the szlachta and
established the Sejmik, a regional consultative legislature which began to swing power away
from the magnates to the szlachta and, in time, would evolve into the Sejm, the national
legislature (Parliament); yet another step towards the Republic of Nobles.

Kazimierz started a prolonged war against the Order, the Thirteen Years' War, in order to
recover Pomerania and Gdansk (1454 - 66). The Peace of Torun/Thorn (1466) humiliated the
Order and Prussia was partitioned: West Prussia (including the city of Gdansk/Danzig)
coming under direct Polish rule (thus recovering her access to the sea), whilst East Prussia
became a vassal to the Polish Crown. At the beginning of the war Kazimierz had found
himself opposed by both the Holy Roman Empire and the Pope but he neutralised their
hostility by allying himself with George of Podebrad (1462), who had been elected King of
Bohemia (1458) by the Hussite Utraquists (who had defeated the Taborites in the recent civil
war). Matias Hunyadi (also known as Korwin or Matthias Corvinus, 1458 - 90), the son of
Janos Hunyadi and King of Hungary, supported by the Catholic-German faction in Bohemia,
became Kazimierz's most dangerous rival. Korwin occupied Moravia, Silesia and Lusatia
(1468) resulting in an eight-year war. When Podebrad died Kazimierz's eldest son,
Wladyslaw, was elected king of Bohemia (1471) and came to a diplomatic agreement with
Corvinus in the Peace of Olomouc (Olmutz, 1478); Korwin would keep the territories he had
conquered whilst Wladyslaw would rule Bohemia proper. When, in turn, Corvinus died
(1490) Wladyslaw was elected king of Hungary (after a brief contest for the crown with his
brother Jan Olbracht which soured Polish-Hungarian relationships).

In 1475 the Ottoman Turks captured the stronghold of Kilia, commanding the mouth of the
Danube, and Bialgorod (Akkerman) on the Dneister (1484). This seriously threatened Polish
sovereignty in Moldavia and Polish trade routes, forcing Kazimierz to take action - the first
time Poland would be engaged in warfare with the Turks independently of any links with
Hungary. In 1485 he drove the Turks out of Moldavia but failed to regain the captured
fortresses. In turn, the Turks encouraged the Transvolga Tartars to cease raiding the Crimean
Tartars and raid Polish lands instead. Kazimierz managed to arrange a truce with the Turks
and for the remainder of his reign there was no further trouble, but the threat remained.

Kazimierz's real failure was to build up any sort of defence against the expansion of Muscovy
which had begun to threaten Lithuania's role as the leading power in the east. He signed a
treaty with Vasili II of Moscow which fixed the spheres of their respective influences (1449)
but Vasili was succeeded by Ivan the Terrible who was determined to create the "Third
Rome". Ivan ended the independence of Novgorod (1478) which had looked in vain for help
from Lithuania, and by 1486 his threat was such that a number of Russian princes, vassals of
Lithuania, went over to the Muscovite grand duke because of the lack of protection from
Kazimierz.

Kazimierz's reign became famed as a "Golden Age" which saw many foreign scholars,
writers, artists and architects attracted to Poland, especially from Renaissance Italy. One of
the most important late Gothic sculptors, Wit Stwosz (Viet Stoss, 1438 - 1533) of Nuremberg,
established a workshop in Krakow (1477 - 1496) where he produced the wonderful altar of
the Mariacki (St. Mary's) with its "The Dormition of the Virgin" (1477 - 89) and the tomb of
Kazimierz IV in the Wawel Cathedral (1492). It was also a time when home-grown talent
would reach new levels as epitomised in the neo-Latin works of Sarbiewski and the "History"
of Jan Dlugosz. Trade benefited from a number of initiatives including the declaration (1447)
that all rivers were the property of the Crown and free for general use. The acquisition of
Prussia and its seaports (1466), and the whole of the Wisla coming under Polish control, saw
a rise in river traffic, an enormous increase in exports (particularly through Gdansk) and a
marked improvement in the economic life of the nation.

In 1454 Kazimierz entered into a marriage that would further his dynastic aims and his wife,
Elizabeth of Habsburg, became known as the "Mother of Kings" as five of her sons wore
crowns. His son, Wladyslaw (b. 1456; d. 1516) became King of Bohemia (1471 - 1516) and
Hungary (1490 - 1516) but was a weak and vacillating ruler who became dominated by his
nobles and lost territory to the Habsburgs. Kazimierz and Elizabeth's second son, St.
Kazimierz (b. Krakow, 1458; d. Grodno, 1484) was educated by the historian, Dlugosz, and
Filippo Buonaccorsi (Callimachus). When the king's business involved a prolonged stay in
Lithuania (1479), Kazimierz, always intended to inherit the throne, was placed in charge and
administered the State commendably (1481 - 1483). Shortly afterwards he fell victim to a
severe lung infection, which, as a result of his fasting and mortifications, he succumbed to
whilst on a journey to Lithuania. Kazimierz was buried in the Cathedral at Wilno. After his
death he was venerated as a saint and, after an inquiry which was completed in 1520,
Kazimierz was canonised by Adrian VI (1522). The patron of Poland Lithuania, St.
Kazimierz's feastday is 4 March.

Kazimierz IV was succeeded by his sons Jan Olbracht, Aleksander and Zygmunt.

Jan Olbracht,1492 - 1501, became involved in fighting the Crimean Tartars on the Black Sea
coast. His reign is important for witnessing, at Piotrkow (1493 and 1496), the final evolution
from regional parliaments (Sejmiks) to a bicameral national parliament; the Sejm. The Sejm
of 1496 granted many privileges to the nobility but, in so doing, restricted the rights of the
peasants and created a system of legal serfdom in Poland. The manor would become an
important economic centre exporting its goods down river and, in the laws exempting nobles
from paying export duties when shipping their products abroad or importing foreign wares for
personal use, the landlord would have economic advantages over the merchants that would
work against the healthy growth of trade within the cities (which, in any case, had no say in
the running of the country). Jan Olbracht expelled the Jews from Krakow proper (1495),
moving them to Kazimierz (at that time across the Wisla but still under the royal protection
offered by the enclave on Wawel Hill), and gave their land to the University, which had
coveted the land and is still located there.

Aleksander, (b. 1461; d. 1506), reigned 1501 - 06. On accession to the throne Aleksander was
obliged to issue a new act of union, the Act of Melnik (1501), which stipulated that the king
of Poland would also be the Grand-Duke of Lithuania (thus the Jagiellonians lost their
hereditary rights in Lithuania). It also reduced the powers of the king to that of President of
the Senate which could refuse obedience to the king in instances of "tyrannical behaviour" on
his part. The Statute of "Nihil Novi" (1505) enacted that nothing new could be decided
without Parliament's consent. Aleksander worked hard to westernise Lithuania and it is in his
reign that Polish was spoken at the court in Wilno. The growing inability of Lithuania to
protect herself became very apparent as the Muscovites and Tartars ravaged the whole
country at will and were only prevented from conquering it altogether by their inability to
capture the chief fortresses.

Zygmunt I Stary (b.1467; d.1548),1506 - 48, struggled in vain with the nobles to raise money
in order to adequately defend the nation. He waged war against Muscovy (during which
Smolensk, in an important strategic position, was lost, 1514), Walachia and Moldavia (1508 -
28). The constant raids of the Moldavians and Tartars were to eventually result in the
ravishing of Ruthenia and the Ukraine, the annihilation of flourishing settlements and a virtual
end to the Polonisation of the area which was to become known as the "Wild Plains".
Zygmunt aided his nephew, Louis II (b. 1506; d. 1526), king of Bohemia and Hungary (1516
- 26), against the Turks at the battle of Mohacs (where Louis was killed, thus bringing the
Jagiellonian Dynasty in Hungary to an end, 1526) and the siege of Vienna (1529). Assisted by
his Italian wife, Bona Sforza of Milan, the niece of the Holy Roman emperor Maximilian, he
promoted the Renaissance in Poland and proved to be a wise administrator, encouraging
currency reforms. This was also the period of the Reformation; many of the sons of the
szlachta who attended foreign universities were inspired by Calvinism which encouraged
freedom of speech, and it was quite successful in Lithuania where as many as 2000 noble
families adopted it, but whilst it stimulated intellectual activity, the Reformation failed to gain
much ground in the long term because of differences between the various sects and also
because the vast majority of the population remained Catholic. Lutheranism was taken up by
the Prussian nobility; Albrecht Hohenzollern, the Grand Master of the Teutonic Order, split
with both the Holy Roman Empire and Rome and, by becoming a vassal of the Polish King
("the Prussian Homage" 1525) - at Martin Luther's suggestion, was able to turn East Prussia
into a Duchy. It was this Hohenzollern dynasty that was to play a key role in the destruction
of the Rzeczpospolita (Republic of Nobles) in 1795. After the death of the last of its Piast
rulers (1526) Zygmunt also absorbed the Duchy of Mazovia, which had previously been a
vassal principality with an autonomous government, into the Polish state (1529). His daughter
Katarzyna (b. 1525; d. 1583) married John III Vasa, their son being Zygmunt III Vasa.

Zygmunt I Stary's son, Zygmunt II August (b. 1520; d. 1572), reigned from 1548 - 72 and was
the last of the Jagiellonians. During his reign the influence of the Reformation was extended;
whilst remaining a steadfast adherent to Rome he nether-the-less read Protestant books and
took part in theological discussions. Calvin dedicated his "Commentary on the Mass" to him.
When pressed to take sides in the dispute between Catholics and Protestants, Zygmunt August
said: "I am the King of the people - not the judge of their consciences." This spirit of tolerance
attracted many refugees from religious persecution to Poland especially during the 1540s and
1550s. The Sejm, dominated by reformist nobles, passed legislation constraining ecclesiastical
jurisdiction (1552, 1556, 1562).

Zygmunt's tolerance did not extend to the szlachta who had begun demanding a greater say in
the running of the nation and a great distrust had grown between the two parties. The Polish
szlachta had been enthusiastic for a strengthening of the union between Poland and Lithuania
for some time but the immensely rich and powerful Lithuanian magnates, serving only their
own interests, were opposed to such a union. After the death of his first wife, Elizabeth,
(1545), Zygmunt August secretly married Barbara Radziwill (1547) from the powerful
Lithuanian magnate family. Once this marriage became known, the szlachta, fearing that the
Radziwills, with their new influence, could further delay a union with Lithuania, tried to get
the marriage annulled - without success, thus widening the gulf between themselves and the
king. When Livonia, threatened by Muscovite expansion towards the Baltic, sought protection
from Zygmunt August she was incorporated into Lithuania by the Act of Wilno (1561). Then,
when Ivan the Terrible invaded Livonia, Zygmunt August entered into a war against
Muscovy, the Livonian War (1558 - 83), in order to secure his control over Livonia and the
Baltic seacoast - creating Poland's first fleet in the process (1563). The Muscovite danger,
which had increased with the internal political consolidation under Ivan the Terrible, the
obvious inability of the Lithuanians to defend themselves and the financial burden of the war
on the Lithuanian magnates' coffers, made it very evident that some strengthening of relations
between the two states was now desirable. Furthermore, the incorporation of Podlasie,
Volhynia and the province of Kiev into the Polish Crown gave Poland a frontier with
Muscovy (March 1569). In July 1569 the inevitable happened: the Union of Lublin was a
formal union of Poland and Lithuania; the "Rzeczpospolita" (the Republic of Nobles) with
one elected head (the King) and a national parliament (the Sejm).

The Great Dynasties


Piast;

The first Polish Dynasty is named after its legendary founder of the 9th. century, a peasant
named Piast. It was Naruszewicz who, in his "History of the Polish Nation" (1780 - 86), first
gave the name "Piast" to the Polanian dynasty which claimed descent from Piast but had
never used the name themselves. According to legend the evil prince Popiel was eaten by
mice as punishment for the murder of his family. After his death it was decided to elect the
wheelwright, Piast, as ruler because of his virtuous nature. The names of the early dynasty
have been passed down as Ziemowit, Leszko and Ziemomysl, the father of Mieszko. Mieszko
I, or Mieczyslaw I (b. ?922; d. 992), chief of the Polanie (962 - 992), is the founder of Poland.
He imposed a fiscal system by introducing the denarii (silver pennies) in the 980s, and set up
a network of defences (the royal grod). Becoming concerned by the establishment of the
German Empire of Otto I (962), Mieszko entered into an alliance with the Czechs, marrying
Dobrava, the daughter of Boleslav I of Bohemia, and accepted Christianity for himself and his
people; the Polish Baptism of 966. He placed his lands in the hands of the Holy See thus
putting it under the protection of Rome; whilst submitting to the Empire he had, in this act,
assured security and independence for his emerging nation. Mieszko established a bishopric in
Poznan (968) and its first bishop, Jordan, probably come from Rome. Mieszko's move was an
astute political one since it opened access (particularly through the German clergy that now
came to Poland) to the military knowledge and political systems of the West (which he made
full use of by entering into marriage alliances with the great families of the Empire).
Contemporary accounts credited Mieszko with significant military forces with which he
invaded Pomerania and, after defeating Hodo, the Margrave of the Ostmark at Cedynia (972),
reached the Oder in 976. He defeated Otto II, who had come to assist Hodo, in 979, becoming
undisputed lord of Pomerania. He marked his success by founding the city of Gdansk
(Danzig, 980) through which he could control the mouth of the Wisla. In 983 Mieszko aided
Otto III, to whom he had paid allegiance, in the war against the Lutitians and then helped
recover Misnia (Meissen) from the Czechs (986). Mieszko entered into a number of dynastic
alliances including ones with Hungary, Kiev and Scandinavia, aiding his son-in-law, Sweyn
Forkbeard, King of Denmark, to reconquer his kingdom of England; his grandson was Canute
the Great.

Mieszko's son, Boleslaw I Chrobry (the Brave), (b. 967; d. 1025), the first King of Poland,
992 - 1025, established Poland's right as an independent kingdom. He seized Krakow from
Bohemia (996). In 997 he organised a mission, under the leadership of the Bohemian bishop
St. Adalbert of Prague (Sw. Wojciech; b. Libice, c.956; d. 997), to christianize the Prussians.
St. Adalbert was killed by the pagans. According to legend, Boleslaw ransomed back the body
of St. Adalbert and had him buried in Gniezno Cathedral where he had been ordained.
Boleslaw was able to get Gniezno elevated to the rank of metropolitan see (1000), thus
emancipating the Polish Church from German control. Relations with the Empire underwent a
rapid change with the death of Otto III (1002) and soon led to a series of wars. Boleslaw
seized the Lusatian Marches and held them against Otto's successor, Henry II. The wars
continued until peace was settled at Budziszyn (Bautzen, 1018), much to Poland's advantage
though Henry had managed to alienate the western Slavs against Christian Poland, thus
preparing the ground for conquest and germanisation of this region in the future. Boleslaw
also campaigned in the east when Kievian forces (in alliance with the Germans) launched an
invasion (1013). He undertook an expedition against Grand Prince Yaroslav I the Wise in
order to restore his own son-in-law, Swiatopelk, to the throne of Kiev (1018). Legend has it
that on entering Kiev, Boleslaw struck the gate with his sword and dented the blade; this
sword, Szczerbiec, was later used at the coronation of all Polish Kings. Boleslaw himself was
not crowned until 1024. Ranked among Poland's greatest rulers, Boleslaw reorganised the
administration and taxation of his state, and created a large standing army. He is said to have
driven iron stakes into both the Saal and the Dnieper to mark his conquests.

Boleslaw's son, Mieszko II ( b. 990; d. 1034), King 1025 - 1034, rashly attacked the Emperor
Conrad II and thereafter exposed his realm to the rivalry of his brothers and the aggression of
Kiev and the Empire. He was overthrown by his elder brother, Bezprym (who had been
repudiated by his father) and had to flee (1031) but regained his throne on the murder of
Bezprym (1032) only to lose his own life at the hands of a disgruntled court official. In only a
few years the Polish State and Christianity within the nation were both threatened severely as
many who had never renounced their paganism revolted, and the Czechs invaded (1038).
Christianity had been forced on the populace by the ruling elite for their own political ends
and it is important to note that the real Christianisation of Poland did not occur until the
establishment of the monasteries in the 12th Century. Mieszko II's son, Kazimierz I
Odnowiciel (the Restorer) (b. 1015; d. 1058), King 1038 - 1058, was hardly more successful
and also had to flee to Hungary when civil war broke out. After regaining the throne in 1040
he made Krakow the capital of Poland (reflecting not only the economic growth of that city
but also the level of destruction and disruption elsewhere). Kazimierz's son, Boleslaw II
Smialy (the Bold) (b. ?1039; d. ?1083), king 1058 - 1079, moved against the Emperor, Henry
IV, who was engaged, initially, in a struggle against the German princes, then a Saxon
uprising before entering into a battle for supremacy with Pope Gregory VII (the Investiture
Struggle, 1075 - 1122). The Pope allied himself with the vassal princes hostile to Henry - one
of whom was Boleslaw who declared Polish independence from the Empire and was sent a
crown (his coronation was at Christmas 1076). Boleslaw seized Kiev twice and entered into a
long power struggle against Bohemia. In 1079 Boleslaw had Bishop Stanislaw of Krakow
executed (the Polish Becket, canonised in 1257); it is possible that Stanislaw had been party
to a Bohemian-German attempt to remove Boleslaw and thus bring Poland into the sphere of
the Empire and the anti-Pope, Clement. Boleslaw was expelled in a later revolt and replaced
by his weak brother, Wladyslaw Herman (b. 1043; d. 1102), ruled 1079 - 1102. Wladyslaw
distanced himself from any involvement in the east and it is during this period that the
Ruthenians colonised the lands of the Dniester and the San and we see the growth of Halicz.
Wladyslaw's son, Boleslaw III Krzywousty (the Wry-Mouthed) (b. 1086; d. 1138), Prince
1102 - 1138, was an extremely capable ruler who earned the respect of his people. He exiled
his half-brother and co-ruler, Zbigniew (1107) who, in 1109, with the aid of the Emperor
Henry V, attempted to cross the Odra but was thwarted by the rugged resistance of Glogow,
when the Germans used hostages obtained during a truce as human shields for their siege
towers - to no avail. Boleslaw defeated the Emperor and the Duke of Bohemia at the battle of
Psie Pole, near Wroclaw, 1109, forcing them to renounce all claims to Polish territory. In a
series of stubbornly resisted campaigns he also recaptured Eastern Pomerania (1122) but had
to swear fealty to the Emperor Lothar II (1135) in order to regain Dymin and the Island of
Rugen. Unfortunately Boleslaw failed to stem the decentralising tendencies undermining the
state, nor did he regain the title of king.

One of the enduring weaknesses of the Piast dynasty lay in the fact that the Poles failed to
accept primogeniture. In 1138 the nobles forced Boleslaw to divide his realm among his sons
in order to prevent a power struggle; the Testament of Boleslaw III. Each of the territorial
subdivisions (Silesia, Great Poland, Mazovia, and Sandomir) was to be held as the hereditary
domain of one of Boleslaw's sons. The senior member of the family also held Krakow and
Pomerania, ruling as grand prince over the loosely federated state. Rather than strengthen the
state by providing a means of secure succession this act, which merely served to create a
number of independent principalities vying with each other for supremacy, was the start of
150 years of dynastic struggle which shattered the precarious unity of Poland and saw a
period of internal strife with a series of rulers: Wladyslaw II Wygnaniec (the Exile), of Silesia
(b. 1105; d.1159), ruled 1138 - 1146; Boleslaw IV Kedzierzawy (the Curly), of Mazovia
(b.1127; d. 1173), ruled 1146 - 1173; Mieszko III Stary (the Old), of Wielkopolska, ruled
1173 - 1177 and 1194 - 1202; Kazimierz II Sprawiedliwy (the Just) (b. 1138; d. 1194), of
Sandomierz, ruled 1177 - 1194, organising the Polish senate and introducing laws protecting
Polish peasants. He united Sandomierz and Mazovia and was made Duke of Krakow (1177).
Although he secured hereditary rights to the crown for his descendants (1180) the dynastic
struggles continued until Wladyslaw I Lokietek restored royal authority in 1320.

Mieszko III's son, Wladyslaw III Laskonogi (Longshanks) of Wielkopolska, ruled 1202;
Leszek Bialy (the White) of Sandomierz, ruled 1202 - 1227, whose intervention in the politics
of Ruthenia (in 1205), alongside his brother, Konrad of Mazovia (b. c.1191; d. 1247), led to
its division into the twin principalities of Halicz and Vladimir. In a move of disastrous
consequences to the future history of Poland, Duke Konrad (more concerned with the dynastic
struggles to the south) invited the Teutonic Order (who had recently been expelled from
Hungary by Andrew II) to combat pagan Prussian tribes in the north-east from a base set up at
Chelmno (1226), thereby introducing a much more formidable enemy on the crucial Baltic
coast. Henryk I Brodaty (the Bearded) of Silesia, ruled 1234 - 1238; Henryk II Pobozny (the
Pious) of Silesia, ruled 1238 - 1241, in 1241 devastating Tartar (or Mongol) invasions (in
which Kiev was conquered and Muscovy fell under the yoke of the Golden Horde for over
two centuries, and, in Hungary, created an opportunity for the Vlachs to settle on the plains of
the western banks of the Lower Danube) led to a military defeat of the armies of Silesia and
Wielkopolska at Legnica (Liegnitz) where Henryk, their commander, was killed. Whilst
Poland fell further into a state of fragmentation and unrule, Europe was saved when the
Tartars withdrew on receiving news of the death of their Great Khan, Ogedei. Settling in the
Crimea the Tartars became a long-standing threat to Poland. It is from this invasion that
Krakow commemorates the Hejnal, the truncated bugle call from the tower of the Kosciol
Mariacki. The brother of Leszek Bialy, Konrad of Mazovia (b. c.1191; d. 1247), who had
invited the Teutonic Order into Poland, ruled 1241 - 43. His physician, Nicolaus Polonus,
became noted for his medical works written at Montpellier towards the end of the thirteenth
century.

Boleslaw V Wstydliwy (the Modest), ruled 1243 - 1279, and married the Blessed Kinga
(Hungarian: Cunegunda; 1224 - 1292), daughter of Bela IV of Hungary, credited with
founding the salt mines of Wieliczka and named Patroness of Poland and Lithuania by Pope
Clement XI (1715). It is during this period that the first Jewish settlers came to Poland where
they were treated with more tolerance than in the rest of Europe, so-much-so that the Polish
Synod was berated by the Papal Legate, in 1266, for allowing Jews to dress like anyone else
and being able to live without restrictions in Poland, and for a royal charter, the Kalisz
Statute, having been granted them by Boleslaw in 1264. This statute placed the Jews, as servi
camerae ("bondsmen of the prince's treasury"), under Boleslaw's direct jurisdiction, granting
them economic and religious freedom, protection of life and property, and the right to follow
their customs within their communities.

There was a further Tartar invasion in 1259. The depopulation that the Tartar invasions
brought about led to the settlement of Polish territory by German colonists, some of whom
had been invited in by the local prince (as in Silesia). The reign of Leszek Czarny (the Black),
1279 - 1288, saw the last of the Tartar invasions (1287), followed by Henryk IV Probus,
prince of Silesia and Krakow, who ruled 1289 - 1290. By this time the Church's position in
Poland had been strengthened through the work of Archbishops Kietlicz (1199 - 1219) and
Pelka who had imposed strict discipline upon the clergy and obtained immunity from
taxation. Their successor, Jakub Swinka, Archbishop of Gniezno, worked avidly for a strong
central power in Poland in order to preserve the interests of the Church. Encouraged by
Swinka, Henryk sought papal consent to crown himself King of Poland but his sudden death
(he was treacherously poisoned) prevented the realisation of that plan. It is his personal
insignia, the crowned white eagle against a red field that his successor, Przemyslaw (King
1295 - 1296), adopted as a symbol for the Kingdom of Poland. Swinka had been able to
engineer an agreement between Przemyslaw and his close rival, Wladyslaw Lokietek, son of
Kazimierz I of Kujawy, to set up an anti-Bohemian coalition and technically brought an end
to the territorial division of Poland.

In the vacuum created by the assassination of Przemyslaw by the Margraves of Brandenburg


(who feared the rise of a Polish kingdom with access to the Baltic Sea), Wladyslaw Lokietek
and Henryk of Glogow contested the succession, but it was Waclaw (Wenceslas) II of
Bohemia (1271 - 1305), expanding his state via Silesia and already in possession of the
duchies of Krakow and Sandomierz, who occupied Wielkopolska (Greater Poland) and was
crowned (1300). During the struggle for the Polish throne, Waclaw gained the support of the
magnates of Krakow and Sandomierz by guaranteeing them civil rights in the Act of
Lutomysl (1291). Waclaw became entangled in a dispute over succession to the vacant
Hungarian crown (1301) during which he provoked the hostility of Pope Boniface VIII, the
Hungarian nobility and the rulers of Southern Germany. Lokietek, who had been forced into
exile, used this situation to obtain the support of both the Pope and the nobles of Upper
Hungary in his claim to the crown and a Hungarian-German coalition was formed (1304).
Waclaw attempted to gain the support of Brandenburg by offering to hand over Eastern
Pomerania and Gdansk but only managed to alienate his Polish allies who revolted (1305).
After the death of Waclaw (1305) Lokietek, supported by Hungarian forces, managed to take
Malopolska (Little Poland), Krakow (1306), and (by 1314) Wielkopolska.

Premyslid (Przemyslid);

The only native ruling house in Bohemia, the Premyslid dynasty (a contemporary of the Piast
dynasty), provided a King of Poland towards the end of the troubled 13th Century in what
was a complex, but interesting, climax to their struggle for power in East Central Europe. The
Premyslids claimed descent from a legendary plowman, Premysl, and had their ancestral
home in the city of Prague. They succeeded in laying the foundations of a Czech state towards
the end of the ninth century by eliminating their opponents, the Vrsovic and Slavnik clans (the
only Vrsovic to escape the massacre of his family was St. Vojtech/Wojciech/Adalbert who, in
relief at his salvation, became a Christian missionary and was martyred by the Prussians).
During the reign of St. Vaclav (the Good King Wenceslas of the Christmas carol) the Czech
lands entered into an alliance with Saxony, thus laying the foundations for closer relations
with the restored Holy Roman Empire. After the murder of Vaclav (929) by his brother and
successor, Boleslav I, the Premyslids went through a period of infighting which left the realm
vulnerable to outside intervention: Bohemia was incorporated into the Holy Roman Empire
(962) at just about the same time that Mieszko was looking for ways of preserving the
independence of the Polane.

Bohemia ranked among the most advanced of the European feudal states, being at the
forefront of economic power and cultural achievement. In keeping with this growing
importance, the Premyslid dynasty was granted a royal crown; in 1086, Vratislaw was made
King of Bohemia by Henry IV and, after struggles over the succession the Czechs accepted
primogeniture (1158). Vaclav (Wenceslaus), son of Premysl Otakar I, married Kunigunde, a
Hohenstaufen princess (1224) thus linking Premyslid destiny even more closely with that of
the Empire. With the exception of a brief passage of the Tartars through Moravia, the
Bohemian Kingdom escaped the destruction visited on Poland and Hungary, as a result, when
the Babenburg line died out, the Austrians elected Vaclav's son, Premysl Otakar (b. ?1230; d.
1278), as Duke (1251).

Premysl Otakar II the Great (reigned 1253-1278) became the most powerful sovereign in
Central Europe. His acquisition of Austria met with opposition from Hungary and most of the
Polish dukes and in the following struggle the Babenberg heritage became split up, with only
Austria proper left to Bohemia. It was not before 1269 that Premysl extended his domination
over Styria, Carinthia, and Carniola. Premysl coveted Poland. Poland was vulnerable; it was
divided between several members of the Piast dynasty, and had been hard hit by the
aggressive Mongol invasion in 1241. It was also under constant attack from the Lithuanians
and Prussians. Premysl promised the dukes of Poland aid in holding off their enemies and
over the next twenty years launched two Crusades in the east; against the Prussians in 1255
(the Teutonic Order named their new settlement on the Pregel river after him; Konigsberg)
and the Lithuanians in 1267. At the height of his power, Premysl Otakar II lost support from
the Papacy who objected to his choice of Bishop for the newly-conquered/converted lands,
angered the Teutonic Order who objected to his growing influence in Lithuania, alienated the
Polish nobility who feared being absorbed in a Czech empire, and (upon the extinction of the
Hohenstaufen lineage,1273) failed in his bid for Imperial election to Rudolf of Habsburg,
Rudolf I demanded Otakar's Austrian acquisitions which he was forced to surrender (1276),
having been abandoned by his allies and his own nobility, receiving back Bohemia and
Moravia as fiefs. He was killed at the battle of Marchfeld (1278) in an attempt to reclaim his
lost provinces.

Bohemia came under German regency until 1283, when Otakar's son, Premyslid Vaclav (b.
1271; d. 1305) assumed the title of King of Bohemia (Vaclav II). This period witnessed yet
further growth of German and Imperial influence in Bohemia, now penetrating into Polish
Silesia. From 1283 the real power in Bohemia lay in the hands of Vaclav's stepfather, Zavis,
and Vaclav only assumed total authority in 1290. Vaclav reduced the power of the nobles by
introducing Roman law (which gave the king the sole right to legislate). During his reign the
mining of Czech silver at Kutna Hora flourished and after carrying out fiscal reforms he
introduced the Czech silver groschen (grossus Pragensis) - one of the strongest European
currencies of the time. Vaclav was encouraged, by Rudolph I, to become involved in Polish
politics where he had some claim, through his father, to parts of Silesia. After the death of
Henryk IV Probus, Vlaclav took Krakow with the assistance of the nobles of Malopolska who
were looking for security in these troubled times. Waclaw gained the support of the magnates
of Krakow and Sandomierz by guaranteeing them civil rights in the Act of Lutomysl (1291).

Prior to this moment only the native Piasts had been involved in the dynastic struggles and,
despite all the divisions of Polish territory, none had previously come under foreign rule.
Vaclav's intervention raised a very serious threat because through him Poland could become
incorporated into the Empire, something which had been carefully avoided for so many
centuries. Archbishop Swinka, the prime mover for reunification and a strong central
monarchy in Poland had been able to engineer an agreement between Przemyslaw and his
close rival, Wladyslaw Lokietek, to set up an anti-Bohemian coalition and technically brought
an end to the territorial division of Poland. Because of lack of unity among the Piasts,
Przemyslaw had to recognise Vaclav's control of Krakow and be satisfied with Wielkopolska
only. In order to counter the growing threat presented by Vaclaw, Archbishop Swinka
persuaded the Pope to consent to Przemyslaw's coronation (1295). In the vacuum created by
Przemyslaw's assassination (1296), during which Lokietek was involved in a power struggle
with Henry of Glogow, Vaclav occupied Wielkopolska, Pomorze and Kujawy (1300). He also
married Przemyslaw's daughter, Ryska Elzbieta. Vaclav was now seen (even by Swinka) as
the only alternative and was crowned King (Waclaw II) in 1300, uniting at the same time
Cracow and Gniezno. Vaclav/Waclaw ruled in absentia and set up the office of starosta to
administer his lands (an office that was later modified by the Poles to suit themselves). The
Czech groschen made its way into Poland and influenced Kazimierz III Wielki's own
introduction of the "grossi Cracovienses".

When the last of the Hungarian Arpad dynasty, Andrew III, died (1301), Vaclav/Waclaw's
son, Vaclav, was elected king of Hungary. The Pope objected strenuously to this coronation
as Hungary was in fief to the Papacy. Wladyslaw Lokietek, now in exile, joined forces with
the Magnates of Upper Hungary (opposed to Vaclav) and the Pope in plotting the demise of
Czech power in Hungary and Croatia. In 1301, Albrecht I (King of Germany; 1298 - 1308)
confiscated the Bohemian kingdom as a fief of the Empire, forcing Vaclav/Waclaw to go to
war with him. Vaclav/Waclaw attempted to gain the support of Brandenburg by offering to
hand over Eastern Pomerania and Gdansk but only managed to alienate his Polish allies who
revolted (1305). Lokietek, supported by Hungarian forces, managed to take much of
Malopolska. When Vaclav/Waclaw died in 1305 his son and successor Vaclav III (b.1289; d.
1306), King of Hungary (1301-5) and Bohemia (1305-6), found himself opposed in both
Hungary and Poland. Vaclav signed a treaty with the Holy Roman Emperor and continued his
father's aggressive policy in Poland. Unable to assert his authority in Hungary, he
relinquished his claim to Duke Otto of Bavaria (1305) but tried, however, to assert his
hereditary claim to the Polish crown. He was assassinated at Olomouc whilst on his way from
Prague to Poland (1306). Vaclav III was the last male member of the Premyslid line.

The Piast Restoration;

In Poland, the sudden disappearance of the last two Premyslids provided the best opportunity
to finally reunite the nation under Wladyslaw Lokietek. John of Luxemburg (who was to die
on the field at Crecy, 1346), son of Henry VII (elected King of Germany in 1308), inherited
Bohemia through his marriage to Vaclav's sister and was elected king of Bohemia (1310).
This German King of Bohemia would be one of Poland's most dangerous opponents as he was
strongly convinced that he had also inherited Premyslid claims to the crown of Poland, and
decided to continue their Silesian policy which had already brought some of the local dukes in
that border province under the suzerainty of the Bohemian crown. In intimate co-operation
with the Teutonic Order, he represented the trend of German expansion toward the East. In
Hungary one of the French Anjous of Naples, Charles Robert, emerged as the successful
candidate (1308). With the support of the Papacy he established a dynasty there which
continued Hungary's independent tradition and checked the possible progress of German
influence.

In 1320, Wladyslaw I Lokietek (the elbow-high)(b. ?1260; d. 1333) was crowned; the first
ruler of the reunited kingdom 1306 - 1333. All his successors were kings. His major concern
was the further encroachment of the Teutonic Knights into Polish territory. In 1308 Gdansk
was besieged by the Brandenburg Margraves, Otto and Waldemar. Wladyslaw secured the
help of the Teutonic Order in order to lift the siege but, having entered Gdansk, they then
treacherously slaughtered Wladyslaw's men and took over the city themselves (14 November
1308); by 1311 they occupied most of Polish Pomerania and, in alliance with John of
Luxemburg (elected king of Bohemia, 1310), invaded Wielkopolska itself (1331). Although
defeating the Order at Plowce (1331) Wladyslaw was unable to deliver a decisive defeat.
Wladyslaw, faced by intractable enemies and lacking the resources to overcome them,
strengthened his kingdom through alliances with Hungary and Lithuania created by the
marriages of his children.

There is a saying that Wladyslaw's son, Kazimierz III Wielki (Kazimierz the Great) (b. 1309;
d. 1370), King 1333-1370, "found Poland built of wood, and left her in stone," so great was
his activity as founder and planner of towns but it also signifies the great task that faced him
in creating a strong and stable state out of a very weak inheritance. He established a truce
(1333) and then peace (the Treaty of Kalisz, 1343) with The Teutonic Order and peace with
the Czechs (1334). He worked with Hungary to establish order and officially recognised John
of Luxemburg, King of Bohemia, as suzerain over the Piast domains in Silesia (1339). In the
vacuum that opened up with the collapse of Kievan Rus, he seized the principality of Halicz
(Galicia, 1340) and defeated the Lithuanians (1353). Kazimierz built Poland into a major
Central-European power, increasing her territory 2.5 times, bringing it's size up to 270,000
sq.kms. Under Kazimierz, in 1346, the first Polish Legal Code was made, and in 1364 the
foundations of Krakow University (the second oldest in Central Europe) were formed. Trade
also became important due to Poland's position on the commercial routes leading from East to
West and from South to North. The establishment of regular grain exports to Constantinople
led to the colonization of Ruthenia. Kazimierz befriended the peasants (hence becoming
known as "Krol Chlopi"; the "Peasant's King") and widened Jewish rights under the Kalisz
Statute to the whole country. He was the last of the Piast dynasty. He was succeeded by his
sister's son, King Louis of Anjou, "the Great" of Hungary, (from 1370 - 82) whose daughter,
Jadwiga, was crowned "King" of Poland in 1384. Branches of the Piast family continued to
rule in Mazovia (until 1526) and Silesia (up to 1675). The Silesian Piasts, as vassals of
Bohemia and mediate princes of the Holy Roman Empire, retained the ducal title and held the
Duchy of Oppeln (until 1532) and the Principalities of Brieg, Liegnitz, and Wohlau until the
line died out in 1675.

Anjou;

Descended from that branch of the family that were the Kings of Naples, Louis (b. 1326; d.
1382) the Great, King of Hungary (1342 - 82), was appointed heir to the Polish throne by the
nobility and leading clergy of Poland upon the death of Kazimierz II Wielky (1370).
Kazimierz had divided his kingdom in his will, bequeathing Leczyca, Sieradz and Kujawy to
his grandson, Kazko (heir to Slupsk), and Galicia, Wielkopolska, Krakow and Sandomierz to
Louis. Fearing such a division of a kingdom just recently united, the will was ruled invalid
and the crown offered to Louis (King, 1370 - 82). In order to protect the succession Louis
granted a number of privileges to the nobility through the Statute of Kosice (1374) which
would establish a tradition that would restrict the freedom of action of future monarchs and
would prevent modernisation in years to come. The union of the two countries did not prove
successful, in fact Louis rarely visited Poland after his coronation at Krakow preferring to rule
through regents. He was more concerned in strengthening his own dynasty centred on
Hungary and as a result had become involved in a long struggle with Venice for the control of
the Adriatic (in three wars; 1342 - 46, 1357 - 58, and 1378 - 81), succeeding in 1381. He also
went to war with Lithuania over Red Ruthenia which he acquired in 1377. After a number of
unpopular decisions including the transfer of some disputed territory to Brandenburg there
were riots in Krakow culminating in the deaths of a number of his officials (1376). Louis
relinquished his powers over to a council of Malopolska nobles (1380). Despite the failure of
the union a bond was created between Hungarians and Poles that would last even to this day.

After Louis' sudden death, his elder daughter, Maria, was elected queen of Hungary whilst his
younger daughter, the grandniece of Kazimierz Wielky, Jadwiga (original Hungarian, Hedvig,
b. Buda, 1370; d. 1399), was elected King of Poland (1384 - 99) on condition that the union
with Hungary was abandoned. Jadwiga had been betrothed in childhood to Wilhelm of
Habsburg who arrived in Krakow, in 1384, to claim his bride only to be forcefully ejected. At
the insistence of the nobles (who were looking for a protection of their newly acquired
privileges and an alliance against the threat of an expanding Teutonic Order in the North), she
married Jogaila (Jagiello), Grand-Duke of Lithuania, in 1386, thus paving the way for the
great Jagiellonian Dynasty and the eventual union between the two nations. A most unhappy
Jadwiga turned to a life of charity and care for the poor, dying young - of complications
during childbirth - and leaving no heirs. Her greatest achievement was the provision of funds
for the restoration of the University of Krakow. She was buried at the Great Altar in Wawel
Cathedral; her remains were transferred to the white marble sarcophagus designed by
Madeyski.

Jagiellon; The Rise to Greatness

The Jagiellonian Dynasty (1386 - 1572) which succeeded the Piast Dynasty is a period when
we see Poland at her greatest. In 1386 the marriage of Jadwiga, King of Poland, to Jogaila (b.
1350; d. Grodek, near Lwow, 1434), pagan Grand-Duke of Lithuania (1377 - 1401), son of
Algirdas (Olgierd), baptised as Wladyslaw II Jagiello, initiated the Lithuanian union, inspired
by the common purpose of resisting the Teutonic Order; Jagiello had already been engaged in
a war against the Teutonic Order in 1377 - 82. Then, on July 15 1410 at the Battle of
Grunwald (Tannenburg), Wladyslaw Jagiello crushed the Teutonic Order, one of the strongest
military organisations in Europe. The Catholic Polish knights were a minority in an army
made up of Lithuanian pagans, Orthodox Christians, Lithuanian Muslim Tartars and
"heretical" Bohemian Hussites. This victory helped strengthen the bond between the Poles
and the Lithuanians and, in 1413, led to the Treaty of Union at Horodlo. The Act of Union
also established the territorial office of wojewoda (voivode or provincial governor) and
initiated a new administrative and defensive structure. The defeat of the Order at Grunwald
also eased restraints on trade in the Baltic. The Teutonic Order received a further rebuff at the
Council of Constance (1414 - 18) when the Rector of Krakow University, Wlodkowic,
condemned crusading and listed detailed charges against the excesses of the Teutonic Order;
the Order's attempt to portray Jagiello as a pagan tyrant was condemned by the Council and
the status of Poland as a Christian state grew to such an extent that even Henry V of England
asked for Jagiello's intervention in his war with France. Their hatred of the Germans
encouraged the Hussites to offer Jagiello the Bohemian crown when they refused to recognize
the Holy Roman Emperor, Sigismund (who had backed the Teutonic Order), as their king
upon the death of Wenceslas IV (1420). Jagiello declined the offer because he needed the
support of the Church in his struggle against the Teutonic Order but also at the insistence of
the magnates who were concerned about the possible social consequences of the pro-Hussite
sympathies amongst the szlachta. After the death of Jadwiga Jagiello remarried three more
times; his fourth wife was the Muscovite princess, Sophia Holszanska, who bore him three
sons (two of whom survived; Wladyslaw and Kazimierz). In 1430, through the Act of
Krakow, Wladyslaw Jagiello introduced the law "Neminem Captivabimus" ("We shall detain
no-one unless he is convicted by law"; the Polish "Habeas Corpus"), the first such law in
Europe, and granted the szlachta the right to elect the king, thus laying the foundations for the
Republic of Nobles. During his reign Poland became a great power; Jagiello's attempts to
bring the Ruthenian Orthodox Church back into a union with Rome, his defeat of the Teutonic
Order and Christianisation of Samogitia, his subtle game of supporting the Hussites in order
to frustrate the anti-Polish strategies of the Holy Roman Emperor and his mastery over the
Tartars, led to the consecration of Poland's role in the East.

Jagiello's ascendancy to the title of Grand-Duke of Lithuania had been opposed by his
relatives and had only been secured by the ruthless putting down of all opposition (including
the imprisonment and murder of his uncle Kejstut, Prince of Troki, at Krewo, 1382). He
entered into a delicate alliance with his cousin, the son of Kiejstut, Vytautas (Witold, b. 1350;
d. 1430), who, with the backing of the Teutonic Order, was a rival candidate for the title of
Grand-Duke. Jagiello recognised Vytautas as Grand-Duke of Lithuania by the Treaty of
Vilnius/Wilno (1401) on the condition that Poland and Lithuania be permanently united by a
common foreign policy. Vytautas, with the backing of Jagiello, accepted the Bohemian crown
and appointed his nephew, Zygmunt Korybut (d. 1435), as governor (1422); this move
actually led to civil war between the Ultraquists (the Bohemian Hussite nobility allied to the
city of Prague) who supported Korybut, and the Taborites (zealous militant Hussites) under
Ziska. Jagiello's acquiescence (in allowing Vytautas to accept the crown) led the Pope, Martin
V, to proclaim a crusade against Poland, and a coalition was formed - as a result of which,
Vytautas was compelled to resign, Zygmunt was recalled by Jagiello and an edict issued
against the Hussites and their allies (Wielun, 1424). Zygmunt went on (in the following year)
to take on the role of "King elect" and even joined the Hussite uprising.

When Vytautas died (1430), Jagiello's brother Svidrigaila (Swidrygiello: d. 1452) was named
to replace him as Grand-Duke (1430) - without consultation with the Polish nobility (as laid
down by the Treaty of Horodlo). In a power struggle that reflected the problems of the new
union and could have divided the dynasty into separate houses, Svidrigaila refused to
recognise Poland's supremacy as laid down in 1401 and 1413, and the Poles now laid claims
to Wolin (Volhynia). Svidrigaila entered into an alliance with the Teutonic Order and a brief
campaign ensued in which the Poles proved successful (1432). When Svidrigaila refused to
negotiate a peace and renewed his alliance with the Order it was decided to replace him.
Vytautas' brother Zygmunt became Grand-Duke (1434 - 40). In the Act of Troki (1434)
Zygmunt drew the szlachta of Halicz and Podolia into the protective arms of Polish civil
rights. In 1435 an alliance of Svidrigaila, Zygmunt Korybut and the Livonian branch of the
Order was defeated at Wilkomierz (a victory that was to the Lithuanians what Grunwald had
been to the Poles). Svidrigaila escaped to Moldavia but returned to Volhynia to be a constant
problem until he died. Zygmunt, eventually, also begun to intrigue against the crown, and his
cruel administration led to his assassination. In a coup (managed by the Lithuanian nobles)
which almost severed Polish - Lithuanian links, he was replaced by Jagiello's youngest son,
Kazimierz Jagiellonczyk.

Wladyslaw III Warnenczyk (b. Krakow, 1424; d. Varna, 1444), son of Jagiello and Sophia,
was king of Poland 1434 - 44. Having inherited the crown at the age of 10, most decisions
were made by the Regent, the powerful Bishop of Krakow, Zbigniew Olesnicki who worked
hard to suppress the Hussites in Poland; it was largely because of him that the union with
Bohemia, eagerly sought by the Hussites, did not come to pass. In 1440, through the
manoeuvrings of Olesnicki, the Magyars offered Wladyslaw the crown of Hungary as
Ladislas I (1440 - 44); Poland's attention shifted to the plains of Hungary and the growing
Turkish threat. It is Hungary that had been the real bastion of Christendom, fighting a constant
war against the Ottoman Turks. In 1443 Wladyslaw and his chief Hungarian supporter, the
Vajda of Transylvania, Janos Hunyadi, led a combined Polish-Hungarian army of 40,000 into
the Balkans and forced the Sultan, Murad II, to evacuate Serbia and Albania by the Peace of
Szeged (August 1444). Very shortly after the peace was signed Wladyslaw broke it, under
pressure from the Papal Legate (Cardinal Julian de Cesarinis), and continued his crusade. In
November 1444, the combined Polish-Hungarian forces were defeated by the Turks at Varna
on the Black Sea and Wladyslaw was killed. Whilst the disaster proved fortuitous for the
Poles (since the resources laid aside for war against the Turks were to prove invaluable in the
war against the Teutonic Order), the consequences of the destruction at Varna were dramatic
for the Balkans which rapidly returned under Turkish control; Constantinople fell not long
after (1453) and her mantle (as leader of the Orthodox Church) fell to the Tzars and Moscow
(the 3rd Rome). The loss of access to India via the Black Sea and land routes led the
Europeans to search for an alternative route by sea and hence to the discovery of the New
World.

Wladyslaw III's brother, Kazimierz IV Jagiellonczyk (b. 1427; d. 1492), Grand-Duke of


Lithuania , became king (1447 - 92). He worked hard to maintain the political union between
Poland and Lithuania without prejudicing the independence of Lithuania which he saw as his
personal estate. He managed to preserve the hereditary rule of the Jagiellonians as Grand-
Dukes, keeping that separate from any role as monarch of the union. Kazimierz exploited the
schism in the Western Church (during which time there were two Popes) by curbing the
power of the clergy and subordinating the Church to the state. When the Prussians revolted
against their overlord, the Teutonic Order, Kazimierz saw this as an opportunity to end, once
and for all, their power. Requiring the support of the szlachta (nobility) to conduct a war
against the Teutonic Order Kazimierz conceded, through the Act of Nieszawa (1454), that no
new taxes or military levies could be raised without the consent of the szlachta and
established the Sejmik, a regional consultative legislature which began to swing power away
from the magnates to the szlachta and, in time, would evolve into the Sejm, the national
legislature (Parliament); yet another step towards the Republic of Nobles.

Kazimierz started a prolonged war against the Order, the Thirteen Years' War, in order to
recover Pomerania and Gdansk (1454 - 66). The Peace of Torun/Thorn (1466) humiliated the
Order and Prussia was partitioned: West Prussia (including the city of Gdansk/Danzig)
coming under direct Polish rule (thus recovering her access to the sea), whilst East Prussia
became a vassal to the Polish Crown. At the beginning of the war Kazimierz had found
himself opposed by both the Holy Roman Empire and the Pope but he neutralised their
hostility by allying himself with George of Podebrad (1462), who had been elected King of
Bohemia (1458) by the Hussite Utraquists (who had defeated the Taborites in the recent civil
war). Matias Hunyadi (also known as Korwin or Matthias Corvinus, 1458 - 90), the son of
Janos Hunyadi and King of Hungary, supported by the Catholic-German faction in Bohemia,
became Kazimierz's most dangerous rival. Korwin occupied Moravia, Silesia and Lusatia
(1468) resulting in an eight-year war. When Podebrad died Kazimierz's eldest son,
Wladyslaw, was elected king of Bohemia (1471) and came to a diplomatic agreement with
Corvinus in the Peace of Olomouc (Olmutz, 1478); Korwin would keep the territories he had
conquered whilst Wladyslaw would rule Bohemia proper. When, in turn, Corvinus died
(1490) Wladyslaw was elected king of Hungary (after a brief contest for the crown with his
brother Jan Olbracht which soured Polish-Hungarian relationships).
In 1475 the Ottoman Turks captured the stronghold of Kilia, commanding the mouth of the
Danube, and Bialgorod (Akkerman) on the Dneister (1484). This seriously threatened Polish
sovereignty in Moldavia and Polish trade routes, forcing Kazimierz to take action - the first
time Poland would be engaged in warfare with the Turks independently of any links with
Hungary. In 1485 he drove the Turks out of Moldavia but failed to regain the captured
fortresses. In turn, the Turks encouraged the Transvolga Tartars to cease raiding the Crimean
Tartars and raid Polish lands instead. Kazimierz managed to arrange a truce with the Turks
and for the remainder of his reign there was no further trouble, but the threat remained.

Kazimierz's real failure was to build up any sort of defence against the expansion of Muscovy
which had begun to threaten Lithuania's role as the leading power in the east. He signed a
treaty with Vasili II of Moscow which fixed the spheres of their respective influences (1449)
but Vasili was succeeded by Ivan the Terrible who was determined to create the "Third
Rome". Ivan ended the independence of Novgorod (1478) which had looked in vain for help
from Lithuania, and by 1486 his threat was such that a number of Russian princes, vassals of
Lithuania, went over to the Muscovite grand duke because of the lack of protection from
Kazimierz.

Kazimierz's reign became famed as a "Golden Age" which saw many foreign scholars,
writers, artists and architects attracted to Poland, especially from Renaissance Italy. One of
the most important late Gothic sculptors, Wit Stwosz (Viet Stoss, 1438 - 1533) of Nuremberg,
established a workshop in Krakow (1477 - 1496) where he produced the wonderful altar of
the Mariacki (St. Mary's) with its "The Dormition of the Virgin" (1477 - 89) and the tomb of
Kazimierz IV in the Wawel Cathedral (1492). It was also a time when home-grown talent
would reach new levels as epitomised in the neo-Latin works of Sarbiewski and the "History"
of Jan Dlugosz. Trade benefited from a number of initiatives including the declaration (1447)
that all rivers were the property of the Crown and free for general use. The acquisition of
Prussia and its seaports (1466), and the whole of the Wisla coming under Polish control, saw
a rise in river traffic, an enormous increase in exports (particularly through Gdansk) and a
marked improvement in the economic life of the nation.

In 1454 Kazimierz entered into a marriage that would further his dynastic aims and his wife,
Elizabeth of Habsburg, became known as the "Mother of Kings" as five of her sons wore
crowns. His son, Wladyslaw (b. 1456; d. 1516) became King of Bohemia (1471 - 1516) and
Hungary (1490 - 1516) but was a weak and vacillating ruler who became dominated by his
nobles and lost territory to the Habsburgs. Kazimierz and Elizabeth's second son, St.
Kazimierz (b. Krakow, 1458; d. Grodno, 1484) was educated by the historian, Dlugosz, and
Filippo Buonaccorsi (Callimachus). When the king's business involved a prolonged stay in
Lithuania (1479), Kazimierz, always intended to inherit the throne, was placed in charge and
administered the State commendably (1481 - 1483). Shortly afterwards he fell victim to a
severe lung infection, which, as a result of his fasting and mortifications, he succumbed to
whilst on a journey to Lithuania. Kazimierz was buried in the Cathedral at Wilno. After his
death he was venerated as a saint and, after an inquiry which was completed in 1520,
Kazimierz was canonised by Adrian VI (1522). The patron of Poland Lithuania, St.
Kazimierz's feastday is 4 March.

Kazimierz IV was succeeded by his sons Jan Olbracht, Aleksander and Zygmunt.

Jan Olbracht,1492 - 1501, became involved in fighting the Crimean Tartars on the Black Sea
coast. His reign is important for witnessing, at Piotrkow (1493 and 1496), the final evolution
from regional parliaments (Sejmiks) to a bicameral national parliament; the Sejm. The Sejm
of 1496 granted many privileges to the nobility but, in so doing, restricted the rights of the
peasants and created a system of legal serfdom in Poland. The manor would become an
important economic centre exporting its goods down river and, in the laws exempting nobles
from paying export duties when shipping their products abroad or importing foreign wares for
personal use, the landlord would have economic advantages over the merchants that would
work against the healthy growth of trade within the cities (which, in any case, had no say in
the running of the country). Jan Olbracht expelled the Jews from Krakow proper (1495),
moving them to Kazimierz (at that time across the Wisla but still under the royal protection
offered by the enclave on Wawel Hill), and gave their land to the University, which had
coveted the land and is still located there.

Aleksander, (b. 1461; d. 1506), reigned 1501 - 06. On accession to the throne Aleksander was
obliged to issue a new act of union, the Act of Melnik (1501), which stipulated that the king
of Poland would also be the Grand-Duke of Lithuania (thus the Jagiellonians lost their
hereditary rights in Lithuania). It also reduced the powers of the king to that of President of
the Senate which could refuse obedience to the king in instances of "tyrannical behaviour" on
his part. The Statute of "Nihil Novi" (1505) enacted that nothing new could be decided
without Parliament's consent. Aleksander worked hard to westernise Lithuania and it is in his
reign that Polish was spoken at the court in Wilno. The growing inability of Lithuania to
protect herself became very apparent as the Muscovites and Tartars ravaged the whole
country at will and were only prevented from conquering it altogether by their inability to
capture the chief fortresses.

Zygmunt I Stary (b.1467; d.1548),1506 - 48, struggled in vain with the nobles to raise money
in order to adequately defend the nation. He waged war against Muscovy (during which
Smolensk, in an important strategic position, was lost, 1514), Walachia and Moldavia (1508 -
28). The constant raids of the Moldavians and Tartars were to eventually result in the
ravishing of Ruthenia and the Ukraine, the annihilation of flourishing settlements and a virtual
end to the Polonisation of the area which was to become known as the "Wild Plains".
Zygmunt aided his nephew, Louis II (b. 1506; d. 1526), king of Bohemia and Hungary (1516
- 26), against the Turks at the battle of Mohacs (where Louis was killed, thus bringing the
Jagiellonian Dynasty in Hungary to an end, 1526) and the siege of Vienna (1529). Assisted by
his Italian wife, Bona Sforza of Milan, the niece of the Holy Roman emperor Maximilian, he
promoted the Renaissance in Poland and proved to be a wise administrator, encouraging
currency reforms. This was also the period of the Reformation; many of the sons of the
szlachta who attended foreign universities were inspired by Calvinism which encouraged
freedom of speech, and it was quite successful in Lithuania where as many as 2000 noble
families adopted it, but whilst it stimulated intellectual activity, the Reformation failed to gain
much ground in the long term because of differences between the various sects and also
because the vast majority of the population remained Catholic. Lutheranism was taken up by
the Prussian nobility; Albrecht Hohenzollern, the Grand Master of the Teutonic Order, split
with both the Holy Roman Empire and Rome and, by becoming a vassal of the Polish King
("the Prussian Homage" 1525) - at Martin Luther's suggestion, was able to turn East Prussia
into a Duchy. It was this Hohenzollern dynasty that was to play a key role in the destruction
of the Rzeczpospolita (Republic of Nobles) in 1795. After the death of the last of its Piast
rulers (1526) Zygmunt also absorbed the Duchy of Mazovia, which had previously been a
vassal principality with an autonomous government, into the Polish state (1529). His daughter
Katarzyna (b. 1525; d. 1583) married John III Vasa, their son being Zygmunt III Vasa.
Zygmunt I Stary's son, Zygmunt II August (b. 1520; d. 1572), reigned from 1548 - 72 and was
the last of the Jagiellonians. During his reign the influence of the Reformation was extended;
whilst remaining a steadfast adherent to Rome he nether-the-less read Protestant books and
took part in theological discussions. Calvin dedicated his "Commentary on the Mass" to him.
When pressed to take sides in the dispute between Catholics and Protestants, Zygmunt August
said: "I am the King of the people - not the judge of their consciences." This spirit of tolerance
attracted many refugees from religious persecution to Poland especially during the 1540s and
1550s. The Sejm, dominated by reformist nobles, passed legislation constraining ecclesiastical
jurisdiction (1552, 1556, 1562).

Zygmunt's tolerance did not extend to the szlachta who had begun demanding a greater say in
the running of the nation and a great distrust had grown between the two parties. The Polish
szlachta had been enthusiastic for a strengthening of the union between Poland and Lithuania
for some time but the immensely rich and powerful Lithuanian magnates, serving only their
own interests, were opposed to such a union. After the death of his first wife, Elizabeth,
(1545), Zygmunt August secretly married Barbara Radziwill (1547) from the powerful
Lithuanian magnate family. Once this marriage became known, the szlachta, fearing that the
Radziwills, with their new influence, could further delay a union with Lithuania, tried to get
the marriage annulled - without success, thus widening the gulf between themselves and the
king. When Livonia, threatened by Muscovite expansion towards the Baltic, sought protection
from Zygmunt August she was incorporated into Lithuania by the Act of Wilno (1561). Then,
when Ivan the Terrible invaded Livonia, Zygmunt August entered into a war against
Muscovy, the Livonian War (1558 - 83), in order to secure his control over Livonia and the
Baltic seacoast - creating Poland's first fleet in the process (1563). The Muscovite danger,
which had increased with the internal political consolidation under Ivan the Terrible, the
obvious inability of the Lithuanians to defend themselves and the financial burden of the war
on the Lithuanian magnates' coffers, made it very evident that some strengthening of relations
between the two states was now desirable. Furthermore, the incorporation of Podlasie,
Volhynia and the province of Kiev into the Polish Crown gave Poland a frontier with
Muscovy (March 1569). In July 1569 the inevitable happened: the Union of Lublin was a
formal union of Poland and Lithuania; the "Rzeczpospolita" (the Republic of Nobles) with
one elected head (the King) and a national parliament (the Sejm).

• Main Index
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• Polish History

The Great Dynasties


Piast;

The first Polish Dynasty is named after its legendary founder of the 9th. century, a peasant
named Piast. It was Naruszewicz who, in his "History of the Polish Nation" (1780 - 86), first
gave the name "Piast" to the Polanian dynasty which claimed descent from Piast but had
never used the name themselves. According to legend the evil prince Popiel was eaten by
mice as punishment for the murder of his family. After his death it was decided to elect the
wheelwright, Piast, as ruler because of his virtuous nature. The names of the early dynasty
have been passed down as Ziemowit, Leszko and Ziemomysl, the father of Mieszko. Mieszko
I, or Mieczyslaw I (b. ?922; d. 992), chief of the Polanie (962 - 992), is the founder of Poland.
He imposed a fiscal system by introducing the denarii (silver pennies) in the 980s, and set up
a network of defences (the royal grod). Becoming concerned by the establishment of the
German Empire of Otto I (962), Mieszko entered into an alliance with the Czechs, marrying
Dobrava, the daughter of Boleslav I of Bohemia, and accepted Christianity for himself and his
people; the Polish Baptism of 966. He placed his lands in the hands of the Holy See thus
putting it under the protection of Rome; whilst submitting to the Empire he had, in this act,
assured security and independence for his emerging nation. Mieszko established a bishopric in
Poznan (968) and its first bishop, Jordan, probably come from Rome. Mieszko's move was an
astute political one since it opened access (particularly through the German clergy that now
came to Poland) to the military knowledge and political systems of the West (which he made
full use of by entering into marriage alliances with the great families of the Empire).
Contemporary accounts credited Mieszko with significant military forces with which he
invaded Pomerania and, after defeating Hodo, the Margrave of the Ostmark at Cedynia (972),
reached the Oder in 976. He defeated Otto II, who had come to assist Hodo, in 979, becoming
undisputed lord of Pomerania. He marked his success by founding the city of Gdansk
(Danzig, 980) through which he could control the mouth of the Wisla. In 983 Mieszko aided
Otto III, to whom he had paid allegiance, in the war against the Lutitians and then helped
recover Misnia (Meissen) from the Czechs (986). Mieszko entered into a number of dynastic
alliances including ones with Hungary, Kiev and Scandinavia, aiding his son-in-law, Sweyn
Forkbeard, King of Denmark, to reconquer his kingdom of England; his grandson was Canute
the Great.

Mieszko's son, Boleslaw I Chrobry (the Brave), (b. 967; d. 1025), the first King of Poland,
992 - 1025, established Poland's right as an independent kingdom. He seized Krakow from
Bohemia (996). In 997 he organised a mission, under the leadership of the Bohemian bishop
St. Adalbert of Prague (Sw. Wojciech; b. Libice, c.956; d. 997), to christianize the Prussians.
St. Adalbert was killed by the pagans. According to legend, Boleslaw ransomed back the body
of St. Adalbert and had him buried in Gniezno Cathedral where he had been ordained.
Boleslaw was able to get Gniezno elevated to the rank of metropolitan see (1000), thus
emancipating the Polish Church from German control. Relations with the Empire underwent a
rapid change with the death of Otto III (1002) and soon led to a series of wars. Boleslaw
seized the Lusatian Marches and held them against Otto's successor, Henry II. The wars
continued until peace was settled at Budziszyn (Bautzen, 1018), much to Poland's advantage
though Henry had managed to alienate the western Slavs against Christian Poland, thus
preparing the ground for conquest and germanisation of this region in the future. Boleslaw
also campaigned in the east when Kievian forces (in alliance with the Germans) launched an
invasion (1013). He undertook an expedition against Grand Prince Yaroslav I the Wise in
order to restore his own son-in-law, Swiatopelk, to the throne of Kiev (1018). Legend has it
that on entering Kiev, Boleslaw struck the gate with his sword and dented the blade; this
sword, Szczerbiec, was later used at the coronation of all Polish Kings. Boleslaw himself was
not crowned until 1024. Ranked among Poland's greatest rulers, Boleslaw reorganised the
administration and taxation of his state, and created a large standing army. He is said to have
driven iron stakes into both the Saal and the Dnieper to mark his conquests.

Boleslaw's son, Mieszko II ( b. 990; d. 1034), King 1025 - 1034, rashly attacked the Emperor
Conrad II and thereafter exposed his realm to the rivalry of his brothers and the aggression of
Kiev and the Empire. He was overthrown by his elder brother, Bezprym (who had been
repudiated by his father) and had to flee (1031) but regained his throne on the murder of
Bezprym (1032) only to lose his own life at the hands of a disgruntled court official. In only a
few years the Polish State and Christianity within the nation were both threatened severely as
many who had never renounced their paganism revolted, and the Czechs invaded (1038).
Christianity had been forced on the populace by the ruling elite for their own political ends
and it is important to note that the real Christianisation of Poland did not occur until the
establishment of the monasteries in the 12th Century. Mieszko II's son, Kazimierz I
Odnowiciel (the Restorer) (b. 1015; d. 1058), King 1038 - 1058, was hardly more successful
and also had to flee to Hungary when civil war broke out. After regaining the throne in 1040
he made Krakow the capital of Poland (reflecting not only the economic growth of that city
but also the level of destruction and disruption elsewhere). Kazimierz's son, Boleslaw II
Smialy (the Bold) (b. ?1039; d. ?1083), king 1058 - 1079, moved against the Emperor, Henry
IV, who was engaged, initially, in a struggle against the German princes, then a Saxon
uprising before entering into a battle for supremacy with Pope Gregory VII (the Investiture
Struggle, 1075 - 1122). The Pope allied himself with the vassal princes hostile to Henry - one
of whom was Boleslaw who declared Polish independence from the Empire and was sent a
crown (his coronation was at Christmas 1076). Boleslaw seized Kiev twice and entered into a
long power struggle against Bohemia. In 1079 Boleslaw had Bishop Stanislaw of Krakow
executed (the Polish Becket, canonised in 1257); it is possible that Stanislaw had been party
to a Bohemian-German attempt to remove Boleslaw and thus bring Poland into the sphere of
the Empire and the anti-Pope, Clement. Boleslaw was expelled in a later revolt and replaced
by his weak brother, Wladyslaw Herman (b. 1043; d. 1102), ruled 1079 - 1102. Wladyslaw
distanced himself from any involvement in the east and it is during this period that the
Ruthenians colonised the lands of the Dniester and the San and we see the growth of Halicz.
Wladyslaw's son, Boleslaw III Krzywousty (the Wry-Mouthed) (b. 1086; d. 1138), Prince
1102 - 1138, was an extremely capable ruler who earned the respect of his people. He exiled
his half-brother and co-ruler, Zbigniew (1107) who, in 1109, with the aid of the Emperor
Henry V, attempted to cross the Odra but was thwarted by the rugged resistance of Glogow,
when the Germans used hostages obtained during a truce as human shields for their siege
towers - to no avail. Boleslaw defeated the Emperor and the Duke of Bohemia at the battle of
Psie Pole, near Wroclaw, 1109, forcing them to renounce all claims to Polish territory. In a
series of stubbornly resisted campaigns he also recaptured Eastern Pomerania (1122) but had
to swear fealty to the Emperor Lothar II (1135) in order to regain Dymin and the Island of
Rugen. Unfortunately Boleslaw failed to stem the decentralising tendencies undermining the
state, nor did he regain the title of king.

One of the enduring weaknesses of the Piast dynasty lay in the fact that the Poles failed to
accept primogeniture. In 1138 the nobles forced Boleslaw to divide his realm among his sons
in order to prevent a power struggle; the Testament of Boleslaw III. Each of the territorial
subdivisions (Silesia, Great Poland, Mazovia, and Sandomir) was to be held as the hereditary
domain of one of Boleslaw's sons. The senior member of the family also held Krakow and
Pomerania, ruling as grand prince over the loosely federated state. Rather than strengthen the
state by providing a means of secure succession this act, which merely served to create a
number of independent principalities vying with each other for supremacy, was the start of
150 years of dynastic struggle which shattered the precarious unity of Poland and saw a
period of internal strife with a series of rulers: Wladyslaw II Wygnaniec (the Exile), of Silesia
(b. 1105; d.1159), ruled 1138 - 1146; Boleslaw IV Kedzierzawy (the Curly), of Mazovia
(b.1127; d. 1173), ruled 1146 - 1173; Mieszko III Stary (the Old), of Wielkopolska, ruled
1173 - 1177 and 1194 - 1202; Kazimierz II Sprawiedliwy (the Just) (b. 1138; d. 1194), of
Sandomierz, ruled 1177 - 1194, organising the Polish senate and introducing laws protecting
Polish peasants. He united Sandomierz and Mazovia and was made Duke of Krakow (1177).
Although he secured hereditary rights to the crown for his descendants (1180) the dynastic
struggles continued until Wladyslaw I Lokietek restored royal authority in 1320.
Mieszko III's son, Wladyslaw III Laskonogi (Longshanks) of Wielkopolska, ruled 1202;
Leszek Bialy (the White) of Sandomierz, ruled 1202 - 1227, whose intervention in the politics
of Ruthenia (in 1205), alongside his brother, Konrad of Mazovia (b. c.1191; d. 1247), led to
its division into the twin principalities of Halicz and Vladimir. In a move of disastrous
consequences to the future history of Poland, Duke Konrad (more concerned with the dynastic
struggles to the south) invited the Teutonic Order (who had recently been expelled from
Hungary by Andrew II) to combat pagan Prussian tribes in the north-east from a base set up at
Chelmno (1226), thereby introducing a much more formidable enemy on the crucial Baltic
coast. Henryk I Brodaty (the Bearded) of Silesia, ruled 1234 - 1238; Henryk II Pobozny (the
Pious) of Silesia, ruled 1238 - 1241, in 1241 devastating Tartar (or Mongol) invasions (in
which Kiev was conquered and Muscovy fell under the yoke of the Golden Horde for over
two centuries, and, in Hungary, created an opportunity for the Vlachs to settle on the plains of
the western banks of the Lower Danube) led to a military defeat of the armies of Silesia and
Wielkopolska at Legnica (Liegnitz) where Henryk, their commander, was killed. Whilst
Poland fell further into a state of fragmentation and unrule, Europe was saved when the
Tartars withdrew on receiving news of the death of their Great Khan, Ogedei. Settling in the
Crimea the Tartars became a long-standing threat to Poland. It is from this invasion that
Krakow commemorates the Hejnal, the truncated bugle call from the tower of the Kosciol
Mariacki. The brother of Leszek Bialy, Konrad of Mazovia (b. c.1191; d. 1247), who had
invited the Teutonic Order into Poland, ruled 1241 - 43. His physician, Nicolaus Polonus,
became noted for his medical works written at Montpellier towards the end of the thirteenth
century.

Boleslaw V Wstydliwy (the Modest), ruled 1243 - 1279, and married the Blessed Kinga
(Hungarian: Cunegunda; 1224 - 1292), daughter of Bela IV of Hungary, credited with
founding the salt mines of Wieliczka and named Patroness of Poland and Lithuania by Pope
Clement XI (1715). It is during this period that the first Jewish settlers came to Poland where
they were treated with more tolerance than in the rest of Europe, so-much-so that the Polish
Synod was berated by the Papal Legate, in 1266, for allowing Jews to dress like anyone else
and being able to live without restrictions in Poland, and for a royal charter, the Kalisz
Statute, having been granted them by Boleslaw in 1264. This statute placed the Jews, as servi
camerae ("bondsmen of the prince's treasury"), under Boleslaw's direct jurisdiction, granting
them economic and religious freedom, protection of life and property, and the right to follow
their customs within their communities.

There was a further Tartar invasion in 1259. The depopulation that the Tartar invasions
brought about led to the settlement of Polish territory by German colonists, some of whom
had been invited in by the local prince (as in Silesia). The reign of Leszek Czarny (the Black),
1279 - 1288, saw the last of the Tartar invasions (1287), followed by Henryk IV Probus,
prince of Silesia and Krakow, who ruled 1289 - 1290. By this time the Church's position in
Poland had been strengthened through the work of Archbishops Kietlicz (1199 - 1219) and
Pelka who had imposed strict discipline upon the clergy and obtained immunity from
taxation. Their successor, Jakub Swinka, Archbishop of Gniezno, worked avidly for a strong
central power in Poland in order to preserve the interests of the Church. Encouraged by
Swinka, Henryk sought papal consent to crown himself King of Poland but his sudden death
(he was treacherously poisoned) prevented the realisation of that plan. It is his personal
insignia, the crowned white eagle against a red field that his successor, Przemyslaw (King
1295 - 1296), adopted as a symbol for the Kingdom of Poland. Swinka had been able to
engineer an agreement between Przemyslaw and his close rival, Wladyslaw Lokietek, son of
Kazimierz I of Kujawy, to set up an anti-Bohemian coalition and technically brought an end
to the territorial division of Poland.

In the vacuum created by the assassination of Przemyslaw by the Margraves of Brandenburg


(who feared the rise of a Polish kingdom with access to the Baltic Sea), Wladyslaw Lokietek
and Henryk of Glogow contested the succession, but it was Waclaw (Wenceslas) II of
Bohemia (1271 - 1305), expanding his state via Silesia and already in possession of the
duchies of Krakow and Sandomierz, who occupied Wielkopolska (Greater Poland) and was
crowned (1300). During the struggle for the Polish throne, Waclaw gained the support of the
magnates of Krakow and Sandomierz by guaranteeing them civil rights in the Act of
Lutomysl (1291). Waclaw became entangled in a dispute over succession to the vacant
Hungarian crown (1301) during which he provoked the hostility of Pope Boniface VIII, the
Hungarian nobility and the rulers of Southern Germany. Lokietek, who had been forced into
exile, used this situation to obtain the support of both the Pope and the nobles of Upper
Hungary in his claim to the crown and a Hungarian-German coalition was formed (1304).
Waclaw attempted to gain the support of Brandenburg by offering to hand over Eastern
Pomerania and Gdansk but only managed to alienate his Polish allies who revolted (1305).
After the death of Waclaw (1305) Lokietek, supported by Hungarian forces, managed to take
Malopolska (Little Poland), Krakow (1306), and (by 1314) Wielkopolska.

Premyslid (Przemyslid);

The only native ruling house in Bohemia, the Premyslid dynasty (a contemporary of the Piast
dynasty), provided a King of Poland towards the end of the troubled 13th Century in what
was a complex, but interesting, climax to their struggle for power in East Central Europe. The
Premyslids claimed descent from a legendary plowman, Premysl, and had their ancestral
home in the city of Prague. They succeeded in laying the foundations of a Czech state towards
the end of the ninth century by eliminating their opponents, the Vrsovic and Slavnik clans (the
only Vrsovic to escape the massacre of his family was St. Vojtech/Wojciech/Adalbert who, in
relief at his salvation, became a Christian missionary and was martyred by the Prussians).
During the reign of St. Vaclav (the Good King Wenceslas of the Christmas carol) the Czech
lands entered into an alliance with Saxony, thus laying the foundations for closer relations
with the restored Holy Roman Empire. After the murder of Vaclav (929) by his brother and
successor, Boleslav I, the Premyslids went through a period of infighting which left the realm
vulnerable to outside intervention: Bohemia was incorporated into the Holy Roman Empire
(962) at just about the same time that Mieszko was looking for ways of preserving the
independence of the Polane.

Bohemia ranked among the most advanced of the European feudal states, being at the
forefront of economic power and cultural achievement. In keeping with this growing
importance, the Premyslid dynasty was granted a royal crown; in 1086, Vratislaw was made
King of Bohemia by Henry IV and, after struggles over the succession the Czechs accepted
primogeniture (1158). Vaclav (Wenceslaus), son of Premysl Otakar I, married Kunigunde, a
Hohenstaufen princess (1224) thus linking Premyslid destiny even more closely with that of
the Empire. With the exception of a brief passage of the Tartars through Moravia, the
Bohemian Kingdom escaped the destruction visited on Poland and Hungary, as a result, when
the Babenburg line died out, the Austrians elected Vaclav's son, Premysl Otakar (b. ?1230; d.
1278), as Duke (1251).
Premysl Otakar II the Great (reigned 1253-1278) became the most powerful sovereign in
Central Europe. His acquisition of Austria met with opposition from Hungary and most of the
Polish dukes and in the following struggle the Babenberg heritage became split up, with only
Austria proper left to Bohemia. It was not before 1269 that Premysl extended his domination
over Styria, Carinthia, and Carniola. Premysl coveted Poland. Poland was vulnerable; it was
divided between several members of the Piast dynasty, and had been hard hit by the
aggressive Mongol invasion in 1241. It was also under constant attack from the Lithuanians
and Prussians. Premysl promised the dukes of Poland aid in holding off their enemies and
over the next twenty years launched two Crusades in the east; against the Prussians in 1255
(the Teutonic Order named their new settlement on the Pregel river after him; Konigsberg)
and the Lithuanians in 1267. At the height of his power, Premysl Otakar II lost support from
the Papacy who objected to his choice of Bishop for the newly-conquered/converted lands,
angered the Teutonic Order who objected to his growing influence in Lithuania, alienated the
Polish nobility who feared being absorbed in a Czech empire, and (upon the extinction of the
Hohenstaufen lineage,1273) failed in his bid for Imperial election to Rudolf of Habsburg,
Rudolf I demanded Otakar's Austrian acquisitions which he was forced to surrender (1276),
having been abandoned by his allies and his own nobility, receiving back Bohemia and
Moravia as fiefs. He was killed at the battle of Marchfeld (1278) in an attempt to reclaim his
lost provinces.

Bohemia came under German regency until 1283, when Otakar's son, Premyslid Vaclav (b.
1271; d. 1305) assumed the title of King of Bohemia (Vaclav II). This period witnessed yet
further growth of German and Imperial influence in Bohemia, now penetrating into Polish
Silesia. From 1283 the real power in Bohemia lay in the hands of Vaclav's stepfather, Zavis,
and Vaclav only assumed total authority in 1290. Vaclav reduced the power of the nobles by
introducing Roman law (which gave the king the sole right to legislate). During his reign the
mining of Czech silver at Kutna Hora flourished and after carrying out fiscal reforms he
introduced the Czech silver groschen (grossus Pragensis) - one of the strongest European
currencies of the time. Vaclav was encouraged, by Rudolph I, to become involved in Polish
politics where he had some claim, through his father, to parts of Silesia. After the death of
Henryk IV Probus, Vlaclav took Krakow with the assistance of the nobles of Malopolska who
were looking for security in these troubled times. Waclaw gained the support of the magnates
of Krakow and Sandomierz by guaranteeing them civil rights in the Act of Lutomysl (1291).

Prior to this moment only the native Piasts had been involved in the dynastic struggles and,
despite all the divisions of Polish territory, none had previously come under foreign rule.
Vaclav's intervention raised a very serious threat because through him Poland could become
incorporated into the Empire, something which had been carefully avoided for so many
centuries. Archbishop Swinka, the prime mover for reunification and a strong central
monarchy in Poland had been able to engineer an agreement between Przemyslaw and his
close rival, Wladyslaw Lokietek, to set up an anti-Bohemian coalition and technically brought
an end to the territorial division of Poland. Because of lack of unity among the Piasts,
Przemyslaw had to recognise Vaclav's control of Krakow and be satisfied with Wielkopolska
only. In order to counter the growing threat presented by Vaclaw, Archbishop Swinka
persuaded the Pope to consent to Przemyslaw's coronation (1295). In the vacuum created by
Przemyslaw's assassination (1296), during which Lokietek was involved in a power struggle
with Henry of Glogow, Vaclav occupied Wielkopolska, Pomorze and Kujawy (1300). He also
married Przemyslaw's daughter, Ryska Elzbieta. Vaclav was now seen (even by Swinka) as
the only alternative and was crowned King (Waclaw II) in 1300, uniting at the same time
Cracow and Gniezno. Vaclav/Waclaw ruled in absentia and set up the office of starosta to
administer his lands (an office that was later modified by the Poles to suit themselves). The
Czech groschen made its way into Poland and influenced Kazimierz III Wielki's own
introduction of the "grossi Cracovienses".

When the last of the Hungarian Arpad dynasty, Andrew III, died (1301), Vaclav/Waclaw's
son, Vaclav, was elected king of Hungary. The Pope objected strenuously to this coronation
as Hungary was in fief to the Papacy. Wladyslaw Lokietek, now in exile, joined forces with
the Magnates of Upper Hungary (opposed to Vaclav) and the Pope in plotting the demise of
Czech power in Hungary and Croatia. In 1301, Albrecht I (King of Germany; 1298 - 1308)
confiscated the Bohemian kingdom as a fief of the Empire, forcing Vaclav/Waclaw to go to
war with him. Vaclav/Waclaw attempted to gain the support of Brandenburg by offering to
hand over Eastern Pomerania and Gdansk but only managed to alienate his Polish allies who
revolted (1305). Lokietek, supported by Hungarian forces, managed to take much of
Malopolska. When Vaclav/Waclaw died in 1305 his son and successor Vaclav III (b.1289; d.
1306), King of Hungary (1301-5) and Bohemia (1305-6), found himself opposed in both
Hungary and Poland. Vaclav signed a treaty with the Holy Roman Emperor and continued his
father's aggressive policy in Poland. Unable to assert his authority in Hungary, he
relinquished his claim to Duke Otto of Bavaria (1305) but tried, however, to assert his
hereditary claim to the Polish crown. He was assassinated at Olomouc whilst on his way from
Prague to Poland (1306). Vaclav III was the last male member of the Premyslid line.

The Piast Restoration;

In Poland, the sudden disappearance of the last two Premyslids provided the best opportunity
to finally reunite the nation under Wladyslaw Lokietek. John of Luxemburg (who was to die
on the field at Crecy, 1346), son of Henry VII (elected King of Germany in 1308), inherited
Bohemia through his marriage to Vaclav's sister and was elected king of Bohemia (1310).
This German King of Bohemia would be one of Poland's most dangerous opponents as he was
strongly convinced that he had also inherited Premyslid claims to the crown of Poland, and
decided to continue their Silesian policy which had already brought some of the local dukes in
that border province under the suzerainty of the Bohemian crown. In intimate co-operation
with the Teutonic Order, he represented the trend of German expansion toward the East. In
Hungary one of the French Anjous of Naples, Charles Robert, emerged as the successful
candidate (1308). With the support of the Papacy he established a dynasty there which
continued Hungary's independent tradition and checked the possible progress of German
influence.

In 1320, Wladyslaw I Lokietek (the elbow-high)(b. ?1260; d. 1333) was crowned; the first
ruler of the reunited kingdom 1306 - 1333. All his successors were kings. His major concern
was the further encroachment of the Teutonic Knights into Polish territory. In 1308 Gdansk
was besieged by the Brandenburg Margraves, Otto and Waldemar. Wladyslaw secured the
help of the Teutonic Order in order to lift the siege but, having entered Gdansk, they then
treacherously slaughtered Wladyslaw's men and took over the city themselves (14 November
1308); by 1311 they occupied most of Polish Pomerania and, in alliance with John of
Luxemburg (elected king of Bohemia, 1310), invaded Wielkopolska itself (1331). Although
defeating the Order at Plowce (1331) Wladyslaw was unable to deliver a decisive defeat.
Wladyslaw, faced by intractable enemies and lacking the resources to overcome them,
strengthened his kingdom through alliances with Hungary and Lithuania created by the
marriages of his children.
There is a saying that Wladyslaw's son, Kazimierz III Wielki (Kazimierz the Great) (b. 1309;
d. 1370), King 1333-1370, "found Poland built of wood, and left her in stone," so great was
his activity as founder and planner of towns but it also signifies the great task that faced him
in creating a strong and stable state out of a very weak inheritance. He established a truce
(1333) and then peace (the Treaty of Kalisz, 1343) with The Teutonic Order and peace with
the Czechs (1334). He worked with Hungary to establish order and officially recognised John
of Luxemburg, King of Bohemia, as suzerain over the Piast domains in Silesia (1339). In the
vacuum that opened up with the collapse of Kievan Rus, he seized the principality of Halicz
(Galicia, 1340) and defeated the Lithuanians (1353). Kazimierz built Poland into a major
Central-European power, increasing her territory 2.5 times, bringing it's size up to 270,000
sq.kms. Under Kazimierz, in 1346, the first Polish Legal Code was made, and in 1364 the
foundations of Krakow University (the second oldest in Central Europe) were formed. Trade
also became important due to Poland's position on the commercial routes leading from East to
West and from South to North. The establishment of regular grain exports to Constantinople
led to the colonization of Ruthenia. Kazimierz befriended the peasants (hence becoming
known as "Krol Chlopi"; the "Peasant's King") and widened Jewish rights under the Kalisz
Statute to the whole country. He was the last of the Piast dynasty. He was succeeded by his
sister's son, King Louis of Anjou, "the Great" of Hungary, (from 1370 - 82) whose daughter,
Jadwiga, was crowned "King" of Poland in 1384. Branches of the Piast family continued to
rule in Mazovia (until 1526) and Silesia (up to 1675). The Silesian Piasts, as vassals of
Bohemia and mediate princes of the Holy Roman Empire, retained the ducal title and held the
Duchy of Oppeln (until 1532) and the Principalities of Brieg, Liegnitz, and Wohlau until the
line died out in 1675.

Anjou;

Descended from that branch of the family that were the Kings of Naples, Louis (b. 1326; d.
1382) the Great, King of Hungary (1342 - 82), was appointed heir to the Polish throne by the
nobility and leading clergy of Poland upon the death of Kazimierz II Wielky (1370).
Kazimierz had divided his kingdom in his will, bequeathing Leczyca, Sieradz and Kujawy to
his grandson, Kazko (heir to Slupsk), and Galicia, Wielkopolska, Krakow and Sandomierz to
Louis. Fearing such a division of a kingdom just recently united, the will was ruled invalid
and the crown offered to Louis (King, 1370 - 82). In order to protect the succession Louis
granted a number of privileges to the nobility through the Statute of Kosice (1374) which
would establish a tradition that would restrict the freedom of action of future monarchs and
would prevent modernisation in years to come. The union of the two countries did not prove
successful, in fact Louis rarely visited Poland after his coronation at Krakow preferring to rule
through regents. He was more concerned in strengthening his own dynasty centred on
Hungary and as a result had become involved in a long struggle with Venice for the control of
the Adriatic (in three wars; 1342 - 46, 1357 - 58, and 1378 - 81), succeeding in 1381. He also
went to war with Lithuania over Red Ruthenia which he acquired in 1377. After a number of
unpopular decisions including the transfer of some disputed territory to Brandenburg there
were riots in Krakow culminating in the deaths of a number of his officials (1376). Louis
relinquished his powers over to a council of Malopolska nobles (1380). Despite the failure of
the union a bond was created between Hungarians and Poles that would last even to this day.

After Louis' sudden death, his elder daughter, Maria, was elected queen of Hungary whilst his
younger daughter, the grandniece of Kazimierz Wielky, Jadwiga (original Hungarian, Hedvig,
b. Buda, 1370; d. 1399), was elected King of Poland (1384 - 99) on condition that the union
with Hungary was abandoned. Jadwiga had been betrothed in childhood to Wilhelm of
Habsburg who arrived in Krakow, in 1384, to claim his bride only to be forcefully ejected. At
the insistence of the nobles (who were looking for a protection of their newly acquired
privileges and an alliance against the threat of an expanding Teutonic Order in the North), she
married Jogaila (Jagiello), Grand-Duke of Lithuania, in 1386, thus paving the way for the
great Jagiellonian Dynasty and the eventual union between the two nations. A most unhappy
Jadwiga turned to a life of charity and care for the poor, dying young - of complications
during childbirth - and leaving no heirs. Her greatest achievement was the provision of funds
for the restoration of the University of Krakow. She was buried at the Great Altar in Wawel
Cathedral; her remains were transferred to the white marble sarcophagus designed by
Madeyski.

Jagiellon; The Rise to Greatness

The Jagiellonian Dynasty (1386 - 1572) which succeeded the Piast Dynasty is a period when
we see Poland at her greatest. In 1386 the marriage of Jadwiga, King of Poland, to Jogaila (b.
1350; d. Grodek, near Lwow, 1434), pagan Grand-Duke of Lithuania (1377 - 1401), son of
Algirdas (Olgierd), baptised as Wladyslaw II Jagiello, initiated the Lithuanian union, inspired
by the common purpose of resisting the Teutonic Order; Jagiello had already been engaged in
a war against the Teutonic Order in 1377 - 82. Then, on July 15 1410 at the Battle of
Grunwald (Tannenburg), Wladyslaw Jagiello crushed the Teutonic Order, one of the strongest
military organisations in Europe. The Catholic Polish knights were a minority in an army
made up of Lithuanian pagans, Orthodox Christians, Lithuanian Muslim Tartars and
"heretical" Bohemian Hussites. This victory helped strengthen the bond between the Poles
and the Lithuanians and, in 1413, led to the Treaty of Union at Horodlo. The Act of Union
also established the territorial office of wojewoda (voivode or provincial governor) and
initiated a new administrative and defensive structure. The defeat of the Order at Grunwald
also eased restraints on trade in the Baltic. The Teutonic Order received a further rebuff at the
Council of Constance (1414 - 18) when the Rector of Krakow University, Wlodkowic,
condemned crusading and listed detailed charges against the excesses of the Teutonic Order;
the Order's attempt to portray Jagiello as a pagan tyrant was condemned by the Council and
the status of Poland as a Christian state grew to such an extent that even Henry V of England
asked for Jagiello's intervention in his war with France. Their hatred of the Germans
encouraged the Hussites to offer Jagiello the Bohemian crown when they refused to recognize
the Holy Roman Emperor, Sigismund (who had backed the Teutonic Order), as their king
upon the death of Wenceslas IV (1420). Jagiello declined the offer because he needed the
support of the Church in his struggle against the Teutonic Order but also at the insistence of
the magnates who were concerned about the possible social consequences of the pro-Hussite
sympathies amongst the szlachta. After the death of Jadwiga Jagiello remarried three more
times; his fourth wife was the Muscovite princess, Sophia Holszanska, who bore him three
sons (two of whom survived; Wladyslaw and Kazimierz). In 1430, through the Act of
Krakow, Wladyslaw Jagiello introduced the law "Neminem Captivabimus" ("We shall detain
no-one unless he is convicted by law"; the Polish "Habeas Corpus"), the first such law in
Europe, and granted the szlachta the right to elect the king, thus laying the foundations for the
Republic of Nobles. During his reign Poland became a great power; Jagiello's attempts to
bring the Ruthenian Orthodox Church back into a union with Rome, his defeat of the Teutonic
Order and Christianisation of Samogitia, his subtle game of supporting the Hussites in order
to frustrate the anti-Polish strategies of the Holy Roman Emperor and his mastery over the
Tartars, led to the consecration of Poland's role in the East.
Jagiello's ascendancy to the title of Grand-Duke of Lithuania had been opposed by his
relatives and had only been secured by the ruthless putting down of all opposition (including
the imprisonment and murder of his uncle Kejstut, Prince of Troki, at Krewo, 1382). He
entered into a delicate alliance with his cousin, the son of Kiejstut, Vytautas (Witold, b. 1350;
d. 1430), who, with the backing of the Teutonic Order, was a rival candidate for the title of
Grand-Duke. Jagiello recognised Vytautas as Grand-Duke of Lithuania by the Treaty of
Vilnius/Wilno (1401) on the condition that Poland and Lithuania be permanently united by a
common foreign policy. Vytautas, with the backing of Jagiello, accepted the Bohemian crown
and appointed his nephew, Zygmunt Korybut (d. 1435), as governor (1422); this move
actually led to civil war between the Ultraquists (the Bohemian Hussite nobility allied to the
city of Prague) who supported Korybut, and the Taborites (zealous militant Hussites) under
Ziska. Jagiello's acquiescence (in allowing Vytautas to accept the crown) led the Pope, Martin
V, to proclaim a crusade against Poland, and a coalition was formed - as a result of which,
Vytautas was compelled to resign, Zygmunt was recalled by Jagiello and an edict issued
against the Hussites and their allies (Wielun, 1424). Zygmunt went on (in the following year)
to take on the role of "King elect" and even joined the Hussite uprising.

When Vytautas died (1430), Jagiello's brother Svidrigaila (Swidrygiello: d. 1452) was named
to replace him as Grand-Duke (1430) - without consultation with the Polish nobility (as laid
down by the Treaty of Horodlo). In a power struggle that reflected the problems of the new
union and could have divided the dynasty into separate houses, Svidrigaila refused to
recognise Poland's supremacy as laid down in 1401 and 1413, and the Poles now laid claims
to Wolin (Volhynia). Svidrigaila entered into an alliance with the Teutonic Order and a brief
campaign ensued in which the Poles proved successful (1432). When Svidrigaila refused to
negotiate a peace and renewed his alliance with the Order it was decided to replace him.
Vytautas' brother Zygmunt became Grand-Duke (1434 - 40). In the Act of Troki (1434)
Zygmunt drew the szlachta of Halicz and Podolia into the protective arms of Polish civil
rights. In 1435 an alliance of Svidrigaila, Zygmunt Korybut and the Livonian branch of the
Order was defeated at Wilkomierz (a victory that was to the Lithuanians what Grunwald had
been to the Poles). Svidrigaila escaped to Moldavia but returned to Volhynia to be a constant
problem until he died. Zygmunt, eventually, also begun to intrigue against the crown, and his
cruel administration led to his assassination. In a coup (managed by the Lithuanian nobles)
which almost severed Polish - Lithuanian links, he was replaced by Jagiello's youngest son,
Kazimierz Jagiellonczyk.

Wladyslaw III Warnenczyk (b. Krakow, 1424; d. Varna, 1444), son of Jagiello and Sophia,
was king of Poland 1434 - 44. Having inherited the crown at the age of 10, most decisions
were made by the Regent, the powerful Bishop of Krakow, Zbigniew Olesnicki who worked
hard to suppress the Hussites in Poland; it was largely because of him that the union with
Bohemia, eagerly sought by the Hussites, did not come to pass. In 1440, through the
manoeuvrings of Olesnicki, the Magyars offered Wladyslaw the crown of Hungary as
Ladislas I (1440 - 44); Poland's attention shifted to the plains of Hungary and the growing
Turkish threat. It is Hungary that had been the real bastion of Christendom, fighting a constant
war against the Ottoman Turks. In 1443 Wladyslaw and his chief Hungarian supporter, the
Vajda of Transylvania, Janos Hunyadi, led a combined Polish-Hungarian army of 40,000 into
the Balkans and forced the Sultan, Murad II, to evacuate Serbia and Albania by the Peace of
Szeged (August 1444). Very shortly after the peace was signed Wladyslaw broke it, under
pressure from the Papal Legate (Cardinal Julian de Cesarinis), and continued his crusade. In
November 1444, the combined Polish-Hungarian forces were defeated by the Turks at Varna
on the Black Sea and Wladyslaw was killed. Whilst the disaster proved fortuitous for the
Poles (since the resources laid aside for war against the Turks were to prove invaluable in the
war against the Teutonic Order), the consequences of the destruction at Varna were dramatic
for the Balkans which rapidly returned under Turkish control; Constantinople fell not long
after (1453) and her mantle (as leader of the Orthodox Church) fell to the Tzars and Moscow
(the 3rd Rome). The loss of access to India via the Black Sea and land routes led the
Europeans to search for an alternative route by sea and hence to the discovery of the New
World.

Wladyslaw III's brother, Kazimierz IV Jagiellonczyk (b. 1427; d. 1492), Grand-Duke of


Lithuania , became king (1447 - 92). He worked hard to maintain the political union between
Poland and Lithuania without prejudicing the independence of Lithuania which he saw as his
personal estate. He managed to preserve the hereditary rule of the Jagiellonians as Grand-
Dukes, keeping that separate from any role as monarch of the union. Kazimierz exploited the
schism in the Western Church (during which time there were two Popes) by curbing the
power of the clergy and subordinating the Church to the state. When the Prussians revolted
against their overlord, the Teutonic Order, Kazimierz saw this as an opportunity to end, once
and for all, their power. Requiring the support of the szlachta (nobility) to conduct a war
against the Teutonic Order Kazimierz conceded, through the Act of Nieszawa (1454), that no
new taxes or military levies could be raised without the consent of the szlachta and
established the Sejmik, a regional consultative legislature which began to swing power away
from the magnates to the szlachta and, in time, would evolve into the Sejm, the national
legislature (Parliament); yet another step towards the Republic of Nobles.

Kazimierz started a prolonged war against the Order, the Thirteen Years' War, in order to
recover Pomerania and Gdansk (1454 - 66). The Peace of Torun/Thorn (1466) humiliated the
Order and Prussia was partitioned: West Prussia (including the city of Gdansk/Danzig)
coming under direct Polish rule (thus recovering her access to the sea), whilst East Prussia
became a vassal to the Polish Crown. At the beginning of the war Kazimierz had found
himself opposed by both the Holy Roman Empire and the Pope but he neutralised their
hostility by allying himself with George of Podebrad (1462), who had been elected King of
Bohemia (1458) by the Hussite Utraquists (who had defeated the Taborites in the recent civil
war). Matias Hunyadi (also known as Korwin or Matthias Corvinus, 1458 - 90), the son of
Janos Hunyadi and King of Hungary, supported by the Catholic-German faction in Bohemia,
became Kazimierz's most dangerous rival. Korwin occupied Moravia, Silesia and Lusatia
(1468) resulting in an eight-year war. When Podebrad died Kazimierz's eldest son,
Wladyslaw, was elected king of Bohemia (1471) and came to a diplomatic agreement with
Corvinus in the Peace of Olomouc (Olmutz, 1478); Korwin would keep the territories he had
conquered whilst Wladyslaw would rule Bohemia proper. When, in turn, Corvinus died
(1490) Wladyslaw was elected king of Hungary (after a brief contest for the crown with his
brother Jan Olbracht which soured Polish-Hungarian relationships).

In 1475 the Ottoman Turks captured the stronghold of Kilia, commanding the mouth of the
Danube, and Bialgorod (Akkerman) on the Dneister (1484). This seriously threatened Polish
sovereignty in Moldavia and Polish trade routes, forcing Kazimierz to take action - the first
time Poland would be engaged in warfare with the Turks independently of any links with
Hungary. In 1485 he drove the Turks out of Moldavia but failed to regain the captured
fortresses. In turn, the Turks encouraged the Transvolga Tartars to cease raiding the Crimean
Tartars and raid Polish lands instead. Kazimierz managed to arrange a truce with the Turks
and for the remainder of his reign there was no further trouble, but the threat remained.
Kazimierz's real failure was to build up any sort of defence against the expansion of Muscovy
which had begun to threaten Lithuania's role as the leading power in the east. He signed a
treaty with Vasili II of Moscow which fixed the spheres of their respective influences (1449)
but Vasili was succeeded by Ivan the Terrible who was determined to create the "Third
Rome". Ivan ended the independence of Novgorod (1478) which had looked in vain for help
from Lithuania, and by 1486 his threat was such that a number of Russian princes, vassals of
Lithuania, went over to the Muscovite grand duke because of the lack of protection from
Kazimierz.

Kazimierz's reign became famed as a "Golden Age" which saw many foreign scholars,
writers, artists and architects attracted to Poland, especially from Renaissance Italy. One of
the most important late Gothic sculptors, Wit Stwosz (Viet Stoss, 1438 - 1533) of Nuremberg,
established a workshop in Krakow (1477 - 1496) where he produced the wonderful altar of
the Mariacki (St. Mary's) with its "The Dormition of the Virgin" (1477 - 89) and the tomb of
Kazimierz IV in the Wawel Cathedral (1492). It was also a time when home-grown talent
would reach new levels as epitomised in the neo-Latin works of Sarbiewski and the "History"
of Jan Dlugosz. Trade benefited from a number of initiatives including the declaration (1447)
that all rivers were the property of the Crown and free for general use. The acquisition of
Prussia and its seaports (1466), and the whole of the Wisla coming under Polish control, saw
a rise in river traffic, an enormous increase in exports (particularly through Gdansk) and a
marked improvement in the economic life of the nation.

In 1454 Kazimierz entered into a marriage that would further his dynastic aims and his wife,
Elizabeth of Habsburg, became known as the "Mother of Kings" as five of her sons wore
crowns. His son, Wladyslaw (b. 1456; d. 1516) became King of Bohemia (1471 - 1516) and
Hungary (1490 - 1516) but was a weak and vacillating ruler who became dominated by his
nobles and lost territory to the Habsburgs. Kazimierz and Elizabeth's second son, St.
Kazimierz (b. Krakow, 1458; d. Grodno, 1484) was educated by the historian, Dlugosz, and
Filippo Buonaccorsi (Callimachus). When the king's business involved a prolonged stay in
Lithuania (1479), Kazimierz, always intended to inherit the throne, was placed in charge and
administered the State commendably (1481 - 1483). Shortly afterwards he fell victim to a
severe lung infection, which, as a result of his fasting and mortifications, he succumbed to
whilst on a journey to Lithuania. Kazimierz was buried in the Cathedral at Wilno. After his
death he was venerated as a saint and, after an inquiry which was completed in 1520,
Kazimierz was canonised by Adrian VI (1522). The patron of Poland Lithuania, St.
Kazimierz's feastday is 4 March.

Kazimierz IV was succeeded by his sons Jan Olbracht, Aleksander and Zygmunt.

Jan Olbracht,1492 - 1501, became involved in fighting the Crimean Tartars on the Black Sea
coast. His reign is important for witnessing, at Piotrkow (1493 and 1496), the final evolution
from regional parliaments (Sejmiks) to a bicameral national parliament; the Sejm. The Sejm
of 1496 granted many privileges to the nobility but, in so doing, restricted the rights of the
peasants and created a system of legal serfdom in Poland. The manor would become an
important economic centre exporting its goods down river and, in the laws exempting nobles
from paying export duties when shipping their products abroad or importing foreign wares for
personal use, the landlord would have economic advantages over the merchants that would
work against the healthy growth of trade within the cities (which, in any case, had no say in
the running of the country). Jan Olbracht expelled the Jews from Krakow proper (1495),
moving them to Kazimierz (at that time across the Wisla but still under the royal protection
offered by the enclave on Wawel Hill), and gave their land to the University, which had
coveted the land and is still located there.

Aleksander, (b. 1461; d. 1506), reigned 1501 - 06. On accession to the throne Aleksander was
obliged to issue a new act of union, the Act of Melnik (1501), which stipulated that the king
of Poland would also be the Grand-Duke of Lithuania (thus the Jagiellonians lost their
hereditary rights in Lithuania). It also reduced the powers of the king to that of President of
the Senate which could refuse obedience to the king in instances of "tyrannical behaviour" on
his part. The Statute of "Nihil Novi" (1505) enacted that nothing new could be decided
without Parliament's consent. Aleksander worked hard to westernise Lithuania and it is in his
reign that Polish was spoken at the court in Wilno. The growing inability of Lithuania to
protect herself became very apparent as the Muscovites and Tartars ravaged the whole
country at will and were only prevented from conquering it altogether by their inability to
capture the chief fortresses.

Zygmunt I Stary (b.1467; d.1548),1506 - 48, struggled in vain with the nobles to raise money
in order to adequately defend the nation. He waged war against Muscovy (during which
Smolensk, in an important strategic position, was lost, 1514), Walachia and Moldavia (1508 -
28). The constant raids of the Moldavians and Tartars were to eventually result in the
ravishing of Ruthenia and the Ukraine, the annihilation of flourishing settlements and a virtual
end to the Polonisation of the area which was to become known as the "Wild Plains".
Zygmunt aided his nephew, Louis II (b. 1506; d. 1526), king of Bohemia and Hungary (1516
- 26), against the Turks at the battle of Mohacs (where Louis was killed, thus bringing the
Jagiellonian Dynasty in Hungary to an end, 1526) and the siege of Vienna (1529). Assisted by
his Italian wife, Bona Sforza of Milan, the niece of the Holy Roman emperor Maximilian, he
promoted the Renaissance in Poland and proved to be a wise administrator, encouraging
currency reforms. This was also the period of the Reformation; many of the sons of the
szlachta who attended foreign universities were inspired by Calvinism which encouraged
freedom of speech, and it was quite successful in Lithuania where as many as 2000 noble
families adopted it, but whilst it stimulated intellectual activity, the Reformation failed to gain
much ground in the long term because of differences between the various sects and also
because the vast majority of the population remained Catholic. Lutheranism was taken up by
the Prussian nobility; Albrecht Hohenzollern, the Grand Master of the Teutonic Order, split
with both the Holy Roman Empire and Rome and, by becoming a vassal of the Polish King
("the Prussian Homage" 1525) - at Martin Luther's suggestion, was able to turn East Prussia
into a Duchy. It was this Hohenzollern dynasty that was to play a key role in the destruction
of the Rzeczpospolita (Republic of Nobles) in 1795. After the death of the last of its Piast
rulers (1526) Zygmunt also absorbed the Duchy of Mazovia, which had previously been a
vassal principality with an autonomous government, into the Polish state (1529). His daughter
Katarzyna (b. 1525; d. 1583) married John III Vasa, their son being Zygmunt III Vasa.

Zygmunt I Stary's son, Zygmunt II August (b. 1520; d. 1572), reigned from 1548 - 72 and was
the last of the Jagiellonians. During his reign the influence of the Reformation was extended;
whilst remaining a steadfast adherent to Rome he nether-the-less read Protestant books and
took part in theological discussions. Calvin dedicated his "Commentary on the Mass" to him.
When pressed to take sides in the dispute between Catholics and Protestants, Zygmunt August
said: "I am the King of the people - not the judge of their consciences." This spirit of tolerance
attracted many refugees from religious persecution to Poland especially during the 1540s and
1550s. The Sejm, dominated by reformist nobles, passed legislation constraining ecclesiastical
jurisdiction (1552, 1556, 1562).
Zygmunt's tolerance did not extend to the szlachta who had begun demanding a greater say in
the running of the nation and a great distrust had grown between the two parties. The Polish
szlachta had been enthusiastic for a strengthening of the union between Poland and Lithuania
for some time but the immensely rich and powerful Lithuanian magnates, serving only their
own interests, were opposed to such a union. After the death of his first wife, Elizabeth,
(1545), Zygmunt August secretly married Barbara Radziwill (1547) from the powerful
Lithuanian magnate family. Once this marriage became known, the szlachta, fearing that the
Radziwills, with their new influence, could further delay a union with Lithuania, tried to get
the marriage annulled - without success, thus widening the gulf between themselves and the
king. When Livonia, threatened by Muscovite expansion towards the Baltic, sought protection
from Zygmunt August she was incorporated into Lithuania by the Act of Wilno (1561). Then,
when Ivan the Terrible invaded Livonia, Zygmunt August entered into a war against
Muscovy, the Livonian War (1558 - 83), in order to secure his control over Livonia and the
Baltic seacoast - creating Poland's first fleet in the process (1563). The Muscovite danger,
which had increased with the internal political consolidation under Ivan the Terrible, the
obvious inability of the Lithuanians to defend themselves and the financial burden of the war
on the Lithuanian magnates' coffers, made it very evident that some strengthening of relations
between the two states was now desirable. Furthermore, the incorporation of Podlasie,
Volhynia and the province of Kiev into the Polish Crown gave Poland a frontier with
Muscovy (March 1569). In July 1569 the inevitable happened: the Union of Lublin was a
formal union of Poland and Lithuania; the "Rzeczpospolita" (the Republic of Nobles) with
one elected head (the King) and a national parliament (the Sejm).

The Elected Monarchy

With the death of Zygmunt, the last of the Jagiellonians in 1574, there was nobody who could
legally convene the Sejm. An "interrex" (Regent), the Archbishop of Gniezno, was appointed
by the Senate and a special "Convocational Sejm" was called which decided to let the
"szlachta" (nobility) the elect a king in a free election. Prior to his coronation the king-elect
had to swear to uphold the Constitution and all "szlachta" privileges. In 1573, Henri de
Valois, younger brother to Charles IX of France, was elected king by an overwhelming
majority. In May 1574 Charles died suddenly and Henri had become King of France. It was
generally agreed that he should hold both crowns and go back to France in the autumn but, in
his impatience Henri slipped away early. Affronted, the Poles presented him with the
ultimatum of returning by May 1575 or the throne would be declared vacant.

In December, under the influence of Jan Zamoyski, Stefan Batory (b. Szilagysomlyo,
Transylvania 1533; d. nr Grodno 1586), Prince of Transylvania (1571 - 76) was elected king
of Poland (1575 - 86) by the szlachta (the nobility). Batory was the son of Istvan Bathory,
governor of Transylvania for the Habsburg king of Hungary. He won renown as a soldier with
John Sigismund Zapolya, prince of the newly independent Transylvania and was elected as
Zapolya's successor (1571). As king of Poland, Batory carried out important reforms,
encouraged further overseas trade and creating the first regular Polish infantry by conscripting
peasants from the Royal estates. He was also the first to employ Cossacks on a regular basis.
He overcame the revolt of Danzig (1577), which was given autonomy in its internal affairs (at
a price) and in a war with Muscovy (1579 - 82), after a successful campaign and a brilliant
victory at Pskov, Batory defeated Ivan the Terrible in the Livonian War (1558 - 83). By the
Treaty of Vam Zapolsky, Ivan returned all Lithuanian territory it had captured and renounced
his claims on Livonia; Livonia joined the Commonwealth and Poland was now recognised as
the greatest power in Central Europe and only the Turkish Sultan ruled over more extensive
territories. In 1579 he created the University at Wilno. By the 1550s eighty per cent of the
world's Jews lived in Poland. Batory gave the Jews their own national assembly drawn from
the local self-governing communities (Kahal). In 1583 Batory granted the postal monopoly to
Sebastian Montelupi who organised a regular postal system both internally and abroad. After
his sudden death, Batory was succeeded, in the 1587 election, by Sigismund (Zygmunt) Vasa,
son of John III Vasa of Sweden.

Vasa;

The Vasa were a dynasty of Swedish Kings whose name is derived from the family estate
around Uppsala. The founder of the dynasty was Gustav Eriksson Vasa who became, firstly,
Regent of Sweden (1521) and then King Gustavus I Vasa (1523 - 60). After the unexpected
death of Batory in 1586, there was a major crisis when the pro-Hapsburg Zborowski faction
forced through the election of Archduke Maximilian and almost brought the nation to a state
of civil war. The great Renaissance politician (and staunch anti-Austrian), Jan Zamoyski
confronted Maximilian and held Krakow for the Swedish crown prince, grandson of Gustavus
I and son of John III of Sweden, Zygmunt III Vasa (b. Gripsholm, 1566; d. Warsaw,1632),
who came to the throne 1587 - 1632. There would eventually be three Vasa Kings and the
period would see long rivalry and wars between Poland and Sweden for the control of the
Baltic. Under Zygmunt's reign the Polish magnates (great lords) rose to a position of power
and would eventually destroy Poland through their greed; he was also in constant struggle
with Jan Zamoyski, the Chancellor (1587 - 1605) whose diplomatic and military successes he
regarded with suspicion. Zygmunt was forced to work with Zamoyski when he overreached
himself in arranging a secret marriage with the Austrian Archduchess Anna (1592) and was
subsequently humiliated by the Inquisition Diet of 1592. In the same year he received the
Sejm's permission to become King of Sweden but was only crowned (1594) after promising to
uphold Swedish Lutheranism.

Returning to Poland, Zygmunt left his uncle, Charles Suderman, as Regent of Sweden. He
then decided to move the capital from Krakow to Warsaw (1596), which was closer to
Sweden and the junction of all major routes criss-crossing the Commonwealth. When his
uncle rose in rebellion Zygmunt invaded Sweden (thus losing any support there was for him
amongst the Swedish nobility) only to be defeated at Stangebro (1598). In 1599 the Riksdag
(Swedish Parliament) dethroned Zygmunt offering the crown to his four-year-old son,
Wladyslaw, on condition that he would come to Sweden and accept Lutheranism. Zygmunt
refused to accept these conditions and lost the crown of Sweden to his uncle (who was
crowned Charles IX, 1604 - 11). Zygmunt never relinquished the throne and his foreign
policy was, from that point onwards, directed at regaining the Swedish crown.

From 1605, after the death of Zamoyski, Poland became involved in internal problems as a
result of Zygmunt's absolutionist tendencies (the Zebrzydowski rebellion, 1606 - 8) and wars
with Sweden (1617 - 29) and the Turks (1620 - 21). During the Swedish War, Gustavus II
Adolphus (the son of Charles IX) seized Riga (1621) and almost all of Livonia. The Poles
also, inevitably, became involved in the internal "troubles" of Muscovy ("Smuta", 1605
onwards), usually at the request of the boyars, but the events surrounding the short-lived
careers of the two "False Dimitris" did not benefit the Republic. In 1610, after a successful
military campaign, Zygmunt proposed his own son, Wladyslaw, as candidate to the Muscovite
throne but Wladyslaw's refusal to convert to the Orthodox faith led to the driving out of the
Poles and the enthroning of the first Romanov (1613). The devastation and loss of life were
tremendous and Poland was only saved by a number of outstanding military commanders;
Stanislaw Zolkiewski, Jan Karol Chodkiewicz, Stefan Czarniecki (b. 1599; d. 1665) and
Stanislaw Koniecpolski who achieved some great victories (Kluszyn, 1610; Kircholm, 1605;
Chocim, 1612).

This was also the period that saw the Republic at its greatest territorial extent and
economically the nation was prosperous (but there were also new extremes of wealth and
poverty). Religious tolerance was maintained despite Zygmunt's own Catholic fanaticism (his
greatest success was the establishment of the Uniates; the union of the greater part of the
Ruthenian Orthodox Church with Rome in 1596 ratified at the Synod of Brzesc). The
followers of Fausto Sozzini (Socinius, b. 1539; d. 1604), the Polish Brethren, founded a
centre of protestant culture at Rakow (which became known as the Sarmatian Athens),
between Kielce and Sandomierz, where they published the Rakowian Catechism (1604), the
most well-known statement of Unitarian theology at the time and an important expression of
radical thought. When the Hussites suffered the crushing defeat at the battle of White
Mountain (1620) many were forced into exile, some making their way to Poland and
influencing the Arian movement there. The Jewish community thrived and spread out from
the cities into the provinces; but by linking their fortunes with greedy lords through the
"arenda" system (whereby an estate would be leased out by an absentee lord to a manager
who could exploit it and those who worked it) they exposed themselves to the hatred of the
peasantry.

Zygmunt's son, Wladyslaw IV (b. 1595; d. 1648), King 1632 - 1648, served as a youth in the
Muscovite campaigns (1610 - 12 and 1617 - 18). On his accession to the throne he fought a
war with Muscovy and won a victorious peace (1634). He made a favourable settlement with
the Turks (1634) and with Sweden (1635). He was involved in serious disputes with the Sejm
and unsuccessfully attempted to establish order in the last years of his reign. For some time
the Arian movement had thrived in the climate of religious tolerance that Poland had offered
but their own success led to their downfall. In 1641 all Arians were forced to convert or leave
the country, resulting in mass exodus. A particular danger came from within when, in 1648,
the Cossacks, mainly of Ruthenian and Polish origin, for a variety of reasons but chiefly due
to the arrogance of the magnates who were treating the free Cossacks as serfs, broke their oath
of allegiance to the Polish King under the instigation of their Hetman, Chmielnicki.
Wladyslaw died whilst this revolt was still in force. Wladyslaw travelled widely visiting
Florence where he was honoured by the Italian composer, Francesco Caccini who wrote a
composition "La Liberazione di Ruggero dell Isola di Alcina" dedicated to him. He
corresponded with Galileo, ordering telescopes from him, and modelled for Peter Paul Rubens
in his studio in Antwerp.

Wladyslaw's son, Jan II Kazimierz (b. 1609; d. 1672), was a Jesuit and Cardinal (1640) and
had to be absolved of his religious vows by the Pope in order to be able to take on his duties
as King 1648 - 1668. In the continued revolt of the Cossacks, Chmielnicki used the Ukraine
as a pawn between the powers of Poland, Muscovy and Turkey which resulted in further wars,
with the Tartars (1649), and a disastrous 13 - year war with Muscovy (1654 - 67). Janusz
Radziwill, Grand Hetman of Lithuania, defeated by Tsar Alexei of Muscovy during
Chmielnicki's revolt (1654), appealed for help from Charles X Gustavus of Sweden, himself
fearful of Muscovite expansion. He invaded Poland in 1655. This period in which the
Republic was inundated by enemy forces, and the chaos that accompanied it, became known
as the "Deluge" ("Potop"). The collapse of Polish resistance led to the desertion of many
Polish officers and szlachta (the nobility) from Jan Kazimierz to Charles. In October
Radziwill signed an agreement at Kiejdany which detached Lithuania from Poland, placing it
under the protection of Sweden. In the following guerrilla war, where Polish forces were
supported by Tartars fearful of the further expansion of Muscovy into the vacuum caused by
the war with Sweden, and Danish and Dutch fleets came to the defence of Gdansk, it is the
defence of Czestochowa, at the monastery of Jasna Gora, (1655), Poland's most sacred shrine
containing the picture of the Virgin Mary (the "Black Madonna"), by a small force led by
Prior Kordecki and his monks against a besieging army of 9,000 Swedes, that actually
changed the course of the war and became a signal for a general uprising that resulted in the
eventual expulsion of the Swedes from the Republic. In 1658, at Hadziacz, an agreement
between the King and the new Cossack Hetman, Wyhowski, was to enable Ruthenia to join
the Commonwealth on equal terms with Poland and Lithuania but a further Cossack rebellion
(1659) instigated by Muscovy (herself attempting to annex the Ukraine) and Polish
involvement in war with Sweden (1655 - 60), meant that the agreement bore no fruit and in
1667, by the treaty of Andruszowo, the Ukraine was divided evenly along the Dnieper
between the Commonwealth and Muscovy. For the Polish Commonwealth this was a disaster
since it weakened an important frontier area and left a discontented people open to
manipulation by Poland's enemies.

The general decline was especially noticed in the Sejm; the parliamentary system grew
awkward and ineffective as deputies used the notorious "Liberum Veto", which allowed any
deputy to prevent legislation since all resolutions had to be carried unanimously. The idea of
consensus rule was, in principle, a good one but the "Liberum Veto" was first used in a
manner that destroyed the working of the Sejm, in 1652, by a Jan Sicinski on the orders of
Janusz Radziwill. It soon became obvious to Poland's neighbours that the veto could be used
to their own political ends and they soon clubbed together to "defend Polish freedoms". The
szlachta, themselves, becoming less influential as they lost their military valour and, in many
cases, impoverished, saw the veto as the last symbol of their ability to play a role in the
running of the Commonwealth.

This was also a period of great rivalry and suspicion between the pro-Bourbon factions (led
by the Queen, Louise-Marie) and the pro-Habsburg szlachta (many of whom were in the
pockets of Vienna. The need for reform had become obvious and the Jesuit preacher, Piotr
Skarga, had blamed social injustice as the main cause of evil. The final indignity came when,
as a direct result of attempting to introduce reforms that would modernise the state, Jerzy
Lubomirski, the Grand Marshal, rebelled against the King. The royal faction was defeated at
the battle of Matwy (1666) but not long afterwards Lubomirski came and begged for a pardon
which was granted; the whole farce had merely served to damage the prestige of the crown.
Shortly after his chief support, Queen Louise-Marie, died (1667) Jan Kazimierz took refuge in
Silesia, resigned as King (1668) and retired to France as Abbe de Saint-Germain. The farcical
elections that followed led to the appointment of a Polish nonentity despised by both Bourbon
and Habsburg factions, Michal Korybut Wisniowiecki.

Wisniowiecki;

The Wisnioweckis were a noble Ukrainian family. During the early 1500s the idea of hiring
the Cossacks to guard the Dnieper crossings by building fortresses on its islands was proposed
but never developed, it was Dmitri (d.1563), a magnate from Southern Volhynia who
independently founded the first Cossack fortress, Niz, at Chortyca, out of which grew the Sicz
of Zaporoze. After a failed attempt to involve Poland-Lithuania in a war against the Tartars,
he became heavily involved in Moldavian affairs only to be betrayed to the Turks and
executed for piracy. Dmitri is credited with being the first to create a stable organisation for
the Cossacks and for putting the Cossack-Ukrainian cause on the map. His son signed the
Union of Lublin and his grandson led a notorious expedition to Moldavia (1616). His great-
grandson was Prince Jarema (b. 1612; d. 1651), Voivode of Ruthenia and chief enemy of
Chmielnicki.

The farcical elections that followed the resignation of Jan II Kazimierz, the last of the Vasas
(1668), led to the appointment of a Polish nonentity, the favourite of the szlachta (the
nobility) suspicious of foreigners and seeking a "new Piast", despised by both Bourbon and
Habsburg factions, Jarema's son, Michal Korybut (b. 1640; d. 1673), king (1669 - 1673); he
proved to be a weak monarch unable to control the magnates who nicknamed him "le Singe".
In 1672 the Turkish invasion of Podolia led to the fall of the fortress of Kamieniec Podolsk
and, with the country in a state of chaos, the Poles sued for peace; at the Treaty of Buczacz
the Poles lost what was left of Podolia and the Ukraine and had to pay a humiliating annual
tribute. Michal Korybut died suddenly whilst a new invasion was in force, on the eve of
Chocim; he was succeeded by the victor of that battle, Jan Sobieski.

Sobieski, Jan III (b. Olesko, nr. Lwow, 1674; d. 1696) the son of Jakub Sobieski, the
Castellan of Krakow and Voivode of Ruthenia, Jan Sobieski was educated in Krakow. A great
military leader, Sobieski entered military service in 1648, seeing action against both the
Tartars and Cossacks (1651 - 52) and Swedes under Lubomirski and Czarniecki, although,
along with many other officers who had deserted the royal cause in the dark days of the
Deluge, he had briefly accepted a commission under Swedish King, Charles X (1655 - 56).
He was first entered the Sejm in 1659. Sobieski was appointed Commander - in - Chief of the
Polish Army (1665) and Grand Hetman in 1668. Besieged by an army of Cossacks and
Tartars at Podhajce he raised 8000 men at his own expense and forced the enemy to retire.
Later, when the Turks seized the fortress of Kamieniec (1672), Sobieski beat the Turkish
forces back and virtually annihilated them at Chocim (1673), earning from them the nickname
of the "Fearful Lion of the North". He was elected King a few months later (1674 - 96). The
climax of his career came in 1683 when, with 20,000 Polish troops he relieved the Turkish
siege of Vienna. Unable to break into Europe through Poland, the Turks had invaded Hungary
and Austria in 1683 and swept all before them. 130,000 Turks besieged Vienna and
threatened to overpower Europe. Sobieski, at the request of the Pope, marched on Vienna
through rugged mountain passes and sent the Husaria into their last great charge, taking the
Turks unawares. It was a turning point in history. Combined with the Imperial Army, he
drove the Turks back to the Raab. He was acclaimed as the hero of Christendom - Jan
Matejko's painting of "Sobieski at Vienna" hangs in the Vatican. His later years were a
failure, unable to overturn the political decline of Poland; he was unable to solve Poland's
problems on the Baltic or on the eastern frontier because the long years of campaigning and
wars had drained her resources and, in 1686, in an unbelievably naive move, the
Grzymultowski Peace literally gave away the entire Ukraine and transformed "Muscovy" into
"Russia" - enabling her to emerge as the major power in Eastern Europe. He was a patron of
science and literature and his marvellous palace at Wilanow, on the outskirts of Warsaw
reflect his domestic grandeur. The elections after the death of Sobieski were contentious; his
son, Jakub (b. 1667; d. 1737), was forced to withdraw for lack of funds, and the French
candidate was cheated of victory by bribery and corruption so that the Elector of Saxony,
Frederick Augustus was elected king, Augustus II. It would be the beginning of the end.
Sobieski's granddaughter, Clementina (b. 1702; d.1735), married James Edward Stuart, the
"Old Pretender"; their son was Charles Edward Louis Philip Kazimierz, the "young
Pretender" - "Bonny Prince Charlie".

Wettin;

The Wettins were a German dynasty that was active, in the Tenth century, in pushing
Germany's eastern frontier into Slav lands. By c.1100 they had acquired the Margrave of
Meissen and extended their rule over Thuringia and Saxony. In 1485 the dynasty divided into
the Ernestine and Albertine branches. The Albertines became the Electors of Saxony (1547)
and provided two kings of Poland, Augustus II and Augustus III. The sixty-six years of Saxon
rule, from 1697 - 1763, were a national disaster and drove the country to the brink of anarchy.
The causes are twofold: firstly, from the outset the Saxon kings fell into a partnership with
Russia in which they became more and more dependent on the support of the stronger partner;
secondly, The Republic, which had been severely weakened by the period of warfare and
internal strife of the seventeenth century, was reduced to the state of a helpless bystander in
the wars of the eighteenth. The nation was further undermined as the powerful land-owning
magnates began to look to the preservation their own self-interests in whatever manner they
could, whilst the less powerful szlachta attempted to hang on to the only power they held -
their traditional rights - even at the expense of important reforms. The Republic had no
standing army, it was a citizen army with only a small core of professionals. Whilst Sobieski
had carried out important reforms which had significantly improved the army's tactical and
technological stature there was a heavy reliance on foreign infantry and there was no
centralised funding. There was, also, internal resistance to the idea of a regular army which
could be used by an autocratic ruler to restrict personal liberties (as in Prussia, for example).
Poland also became sandwiched between two rising powers; Russia, ruled by Peter the Great,
and Prussia which the Elector of Brandenburg, Frederick III, was to declare a kingdom in
1701.

The Elector of Saxony, Frederick Augustus (b. Dresden, 1670; d. 1733), who had
unsuccessfully commanded the imperial Army against the Turks (1695 - 96), converted to
Catholicism (the Republic was "worth a mass") and was elected king Augustus II of Poland in
1697 after a contentious election which, in many ways, reflected the disintegration of the
nation. His reign started auspiciously with the treaty of Karlowicz by which the former
provinces of Podolia and the Ukraine, including the important fortress of Kamieniec, were
restored to Poland by the Turks (1699). In the mistaken belief that Sweden was in decline and
with the intention of acquiring Livonia for Saxony, Augustus entered into a disastrous three-
way alliance with Frederick IV of Denmark and Peter I the Great of Russia (1672 - 1725) that
would eventually embroil Poland in the Great Northern War (1700-21). Although the Sejm
refused to support him, Augustus invaded Livonia and laid siege to Riga. The Swedish king,
Charles XII (the "Lion of the North", 1682 - 1718) defeated the Danes who had invaded
Schleswig (1700), destroyed the Russian Army at Narva (November 1700) and raised the
siege of Riga (1701). Charles then invaded Poland with the intention of deposing Augustus
from the Polish throne as a punishment for his central role in the anti-Swedish alliance. He
seized Warsaw and defeated Augustus at Kliszow (where the Polish Army, having failed in
two charges against the Swedish infantry, refused to fight on, 1702) and Pultusk (1703).
Charles XII then imposed his candidate, Stanislaw Leszczynski (1704 - 09), on the Polish
throne.

The Leszczynskis were a noble Polish family which played a prominent part during the 16th.
to 18th. centuries. The general, Rafael Leszczynski, was the father of Stanislaw I Leszczynski
(b. Lwow, 1677; d. 1766), king of Poland (1704 - 09, and 1733 - 35). When Augustus II of
Saxony and Poland allied himself with Russia (1700 - 1721) against Sweden in the Great
Northern War, Leszczynski, the Voivode of Poznan, proved to be a staunch opponent and
gained the support of Charles XII of Sweden. In 1704 Sweden won, Augustus was removed
and Leszczynski was elected in his place. In 1709 the Russians defeated the Swedes at
Poltava and Augustus was returned to the throne. Leszczynski settled in Alsace (1709) and,
later, became governor of Zweibruken in the Palatinate (1718 - 25). In 1725, his daughter,
Maria (b. Wroclaw, 1703; d. 1768), married Louis XV of France who ensured that, on
Augustus' death, in 1733, Leszczynski was again elected King. The War of Polish Succession
(1733 - 35) followed, Stanislaw was supported by France and Spain, while Austria and Russia
supported Frederick Augustus II, elector of Saxony, Augustus II's son. Leszczynski was
besieged at Danzig, receiving only moral support from France, while his rival received full
military aid from Russia. Inevitably, he was obliged to flee from Danzig (1734) and accept the
terms of the Treaty of Vienna (1735) by which he kept the royal title but renounced his actual
rights in favour of Frederick Augustus. Leszczynski was awarded the Duchy of Lorraine and
Bar (1737) by Francis I, the Holy Roman Emperor, in exchange for Tuscany and also received
a pension from France. He maintained court at Luneville and Nancy which was a model of the
Enlightenment. Leszczynski corresponded with the finest thinkers of his time, most notably
with Rousseau who, on his request, drafted a new constitution for Poland. He wrote the
influential reforming tract, "A Free Voice Insuring Freedom" (1749), and "Oeuvres du
Philosophe Bienfaisant" (published 1767).

The unconstitutional manner of Leszczynski's election (where a hastily thrown together Sejm
had been surrounded by armed Swedish troops ready to enforce Charles' will) divided the
country into pro-Leszczynski and pro-Augustus camps; the Northern War had now, for the
Poles, become a civil war. An attempt by Augustus to regain Poland was stopped at Fraustadt
(February 1706). Charles XII invaded Saxony in August 1706 and seized Leipzig; Augustus
sued for peace and abdicated the throne of Poland (Treaty of Altranstadt, 1706). Augustus
was restored after the Swedish invasion of Russia failed at the battle of Poltava (1709) - in
which an important role was played by Polish peasants harassing the Swedish columns, and
the pro-Saxon Confederates of Sandomierz who prevented reinforcements from reaching the
Swedes. By the end of this war Russia was able to interfere freely in the internal affairs of the
nation. Augustus maintained a Saxon Army in Poland which reinforced the Polish view that
he was intending to turn the Polish throne into that of an absolute monarch. Conflict between
Augustus and the Sejm almost ended in civil war with the setting up of the Confederation of
Tarnogrod (1715), only prevented by a Russian offer of mediation; 18,000 Russian troops
surrounded the chamber where the deputies met, they were denied the right to speak whilst
the Russian "mediator" dictated the Russian " solution". This Sejm became known as the
"Dumb Sejm" and the Republic became little more than a Russian client state; a
"Protectorate".

The emasculation of both Augustus and the Sejm lead to the dissipation of power into the
hands of a small group of magnates who ruled their own lands as princes making independent
political alliances depending on the state of their finances or interests; "a state within the
state". The army had virtually disappeared as a fighting force; morale had collapsed, technical
proficiency declined, corruption was rife, nobles absented themselves from duty or preferred
to serve the magnates: all this at a time when the Republic's neighbours were undergoing
massive militarisation. In the Northern War Russia seized Livonia and began to dominate the
Baltic; Augustus, awake to the Russian threat, entered into an alliance with the Holy Roman
Emperor, Charles VI, and England (who both had their own reasons to be wary of the sudden
rise of Russia) to cast off Russian interference in Poland (Vienna, 1719) but the Sejm rejected
the treaty (1720), at which point Augustus condemned their shameful weakness. Now
Augustus attempted to establish another treaty with Prussia aimed directly at the partition of
Poland - but nothing came of this for Russia made a secret pact with Prussia at Potsdam
(1720) to maintain the paralysis of law and order within Poland by protecting Polish "rights"
such as the Liberum Veto.

It was in this period that intolerance towards religious dissidents was intensified and perhaps
the lowest point in the history of the Republic came in 1724 when the mayor of Torun and
nine other Protestants were executed because they had failed to prevent anti-Jesuit excesses.
The English protested at this outrage and, when Poland was partitioned (1772), the image of a
bigoted and intolerant nation put aside any feelings of sympathy that there might have been.
The Russo-Prussian alliance of 1730 went so far as to pledge to protect religious minorities
and to secure their former privileges (despite the fact that these two states refused to offer
similar rights to their own religious minorities). The Convocation Sejm of 1733 was to bring
Poland into line with the rest of Europe with its ending of religious freedoms and debarring of
non-Catholics from holding office or acting as representatives in the Sejm; a move that was to
have its repercussions in 1766 when Russia and Prussia would use their pledges to protect the
rights of dissidents as an excuse to prevent reform and a revival of the Polish state.

Augustus was a patron of the arts, greatly embellishing his capital, Dresden, and created the
Meissen china industry. He is also known as Augustus the Strong but this is more in reference
to his numerous affairs and his prodigious number of, largely illegitimate, offspring.

On Augustus' death, in 1733, the French candidate, Leszczynski, was again elected King; this
sparked off the War of Polish Succession (1733 - 35) during which Polish resistance, the
Confederation of Dzikow under the leadership of Adam Tarlo, was crushed by combined
Prussian and Russian armies. The Russians sent in an army and reran the election; their
candidate, Augustus' son, Frederik Augustus II (b. Dresden, 1696; d. 1763) was elected king,
Augustus III, in 1734. Augustus spent his reign almost exclusively in Dresden, only fleeing to
Poland when the Prussians occupied Saxony during the Seven Years War; Poland was ruled
by his adviser Bruhl and son-in-law, Mniszech. He supported Prussia in the first Silesian War
(1740 - 42) but sided with Austria in the second Silesian War (1744 - 45), was defeated and
forced to pay indemnity. The Electorate of Saxony was occupied by Prussia during the Seven
Years War - the third Silesian War (1756 - 63); during this war, by which Prussia gained
Silesia, Poland's neutrality was ignored and she became a staging area for the deployment of
the combatants. Frederick II (the Great) of Prussia recouped his war costs by flooding Poland
with counterfeit money and imposing illegal tolls on the Wisla. Prussia and Russia continued
to renew their alliances by which Poland would be kept weakened. At Augustus' death, the
Russians forced the election of Stanislaw Poniatowski, destined to become the last King of
Poland.

Poniatowski;

The Poniatowskis were a noble family of Italian origin including; Stanislaw (b. 1676; d.
1762), a general and diplomat who joined Charles XII of Sweden in support of Stanislaw
Leszczynski, and fought at Poltava (1709). He represented Charles at the Porte. Stanislaw was
the brother-in-law of Michal and August Czartoryski and formed part of that powerful group
aiming at reform, "the Family". His son, Stanislaw II Augustus (b. Wolczyn, 1732; d. St.
Petersburg, 1798), was a refined man who, after his education, spent a great deal of time in
the West, mainly Paris and London. He was sent to St. Petersburg (1757) to gain support for
the proposed overthrow of Augustus III but succeeded instead in becoming a lover of the
future Catherine the Great, Empress of Russia. On the death of Augustus III, Catherine used
her influence to ensure that Stanislaw Augustus became King (1764 - 1795); Poniatowski was
to become the last King of Poland.

On acceding to the throne Stanislaw Augustus attempted to show that he was no puppet by
setting up a range of commissions and ministries aimed at improving the process of
government, carrying out financial and educational reforms and establishing a military school
(the Szkola Rycerska); it was obvious that a Polish revival was under way. At this point
Prussia and Russia raised the whole issue of the rights of Lutheran and Orthodox dissidents
knowing that this would stir up trouble (1766). The issue was discussed in the Sejm in chaotic
conditions, the Papal Nuncio protested and the proposed changes were rejected. As a result
two Confederations were formed, that of the Protestants at Thorn and the Orthodox dissidents
at Slupsk strongly supported by Russian troops. More significantly the Confederation of
Radom (1767) was formed by a number of Catholic szlachta who had been skilfully
manipulated by Russian diplomats. Now a treaty was imposed on Poland and forced through
the Sejm (1768), which hypocritically protected the rights of the szlachta to elect the king and
maintain the "Liberum Veto" - thus using these ancient privileges as a means to make the
state impotent. A number of representatives of the Sejm who opposed Russian demands were
arrested and deported to Kaluga in Russia. A large number of the szlachta, disgusted at this
turn of events, revolted by setting up the Confederation of Bar (1768 - 72). Russian attempts
to put the rising down were hindered by having to repress a peasant uprising in the Polish
Ukraine, and by the Ottoman Turks who declared war on Russia (1768). After four years
struggle, during which Stanislaw Augustus was actually kidnapped by some of the Bar
Confederates (though he managed to escape in the bungled affair), the rising was eventually
crushed and over 5000 captured szlachta were sent to Siberia; among the few who escaped
was Kazimierz Pulaski who was to play an important role in the United States' struggle for
independence.

The campaigns of 1768 - 72 so devastated Poland and weakened the government that the
nation was unable to put up any meaningful resistance when Prussia, Russia and Austria
agreed to annex parts of Poland in 1772. The Commonwealth lost 224,173.5 sq.km (29.5%)
of her former territory and 4,020,000 of her population (a reduction by 35.2%): Prussia took
the smallest, but economically best, area (5%) - cutting Poland off from the Baltic - and
severed its feudal dependence on the Polish Crown; Austria took the most heavily populated
areas (11.8%), whilst Russia took the largest, but least important (12.7%). To give the crime
some legality the Sejm was forced to ratify the partition in 1773, despite the resistance of
some Deputies, led by Tadeusz Rejtan. Amazingly some of the szlachta saw partition as a plot
between Poniatowski and the Russians in order to introduce an absolute monarchy into
Poland.

Despite the disaster of this first partition, Poland underwent a national revival in 1773, thanks
to the efforts of Stanislaw Augustus. The first step was the creation of the "Komisija Edukacji
Narodowej" ("Committee of National Education"), the first Ministry of Education in Europe;
hundreds of schools were founded and the standard of education was raised. Writers, poets,
artists and scholars were encouraged by the King and the ideas of the Enlightenment were
taking hold. This was the period of Naruszewicz, Krasicki, Boguslawski, and Karpinski.
Taking advantage of Russia's involvement in a war against Turkey, the King launched a
reform programme (1788-1792) and the task was carried out by the "Four-Year" or "Great
Sejm" which established a new Constitution; the Constitution of the Third of May, 1791, in
which the "Liberum Veto" was abolished, majority rule introduced, and personal freedoms
guaranteed to all the people. The Constitution was hailed in the United States, England and
France, but was seen as a threat to the absolute rulers of Prussia, Austria and, especially,
Russia. In 1792, at Russia's instigation, a handful of magnates led by Ksawery Branicki,
Szczesny Potocki and Seweryn Rzewuski betrayed the Commonwealth and formed the
Confederation of Targowica against the new Constitution and then "asked" for help. Russian
troops crossed the borders and war broke out. The King's nephew, Joseph Poniatowski and
Tadeusz Kosciuszko, a veteran of the American War of Independence, put up heroic
resistance but all hope faded away when Stanislaw Augustus, under pressure from his
ministers who could see the writing on the wall, declared his adherence to the Confederation
of Targowica (August 1792). Meanwhile the Prussians attacked the Polish armies in the rear.
The dismayed Army dispersed; many patriots were forced to flee. In 1793 Russia and Prussia
signed the Second Partition Treaty, seizing more than half the country and about four million
more of the population. The last Sejm of the Commonwealth, which met at Grodno, was
forced to legalise the partition and abolish most of the reforms of the "Great Sejm". Popular
discontent led to Insurrection, proclaimed by Kosciuszko on 24 March 1794, followed by
victory at Raclawice and Warsaw.

Tadeusz Andrzej Bonawentura Kosciuszko (b. nr. Slonim, 12 February 1746. d. Soleure,
Switzerland,1817) is one of the giants of Polish history. At an early age Kosciuszko decided
to join the military and studied at the Warsaw Cadet School, and in France, engineering and
artillery. He volunteered to fight in the American War of Independence where he was
appointed colonel of engineers in the Continental army (Oct.18 1776). During the southern
advance of Burgoyne after the fall of Fort Ticonderoga (1777) he effectively delayed the
British thus granting the Americans valuable time to build up their forces and he made
important tactical decisions concerning the battle of Saratoga which followed. He was in
charge of construction of the fortifications at West Point (1778 - 80) which made full use of
the natural terrain and interlocking fields of fire. Kosciuszko proposed the establishment of a
technical military school where all officers would be trained in engineering and the sciences
which became the United States Military Academy at West Point. He was one of the founders
of the Society of Cincinnati. In 1783 the American Congress awarded him citizenship and
promoted him to the rank of Brigadier.

During the Russo-Polish War (1792- 93), or the War of the Second Partition, he defended the
Bug at Dubienka for five days with only 4000 men against 18,000. After the Second Partition
of 1792, following the growing humiliation of the nation by Catherine the Great, in an effort
to stop the destruction of Poland, Kosciuszko went to France to propose a league of republics
which would oppose the league of sovereigns. The French were vague in their response and
Kosciuszko had to return empty-handed. When, on 21 February 1794 the Russians ordered a
further reduction of the army and the arrest of suspected subversives, the seeds had been sown
for a national uprising. Finding that Polish officers were already in the act of revolting against
the limitation of the army to 15,000 men, his hand forced, Kosciuszko arrived in Krakow on
23rd March, proclaimed the Act of Insurrection on the 24th with his famous oath in the
Rynek;

"I, Tadeusz Kosciuszko, swear in the sight of God to the whole Polish nation that I will use
the power entrusted to me for the personal oppression of none, but will only use it for the
defence of the integrity of the boundaries, the regaining of the independence of the nation, and
the solid establishment of universal freedom. So help me God and the Innocent Passion of His
Son."

and was appointed dictator and commander-in-chief. His army of peasants defeated a greatly
superior force of Russians at Raclawice, as a result of which a national insurrection flared up
in Lithuania and Warsaw. The red four-cornered caps worn by the Krakow peasants were
adopted by the National Cavalry, and later worn by the Polish lancers in Napoleon's army,
after which they became traditional wear for lancer units in all European armies. At
Szczekociny, on 6 May, Kosciuszko was outnumbered by the Prussians under Frederick
William, and defeated, leaving the way open for the occupation of Krakow (which they
entered on 15 June). On 7 May his Polanice Manifesto gave freedom to the peasants. The new
government's army could not withstand the combined forces of Austria, Prussia and Russia
and was annihilated at the bloody battle of Maciejowice, 10 October, where Kosciuszko was
seriously wounded and captured. In November, Warsaw was taken by the Russians who
slaughtered the population of the suburb, Praga, including women and children. Then, in
1795, the Third Partition wiped what was left of Poland off the map. The King, Stanislaw
Augustus, was forced to abdicate and taken captive to St. Petersburg (where he died in 1798).

The Elected Monarchy

With the death of Zygmunt, the last of the Jagiellonians in 1574, there was nobody who could
legally convene the Sejm. An "interrex" (Regent), the Archbishop of Gniezno, was appointed
by the Senate and a special "Convocational Sejm" was called which decided to let the
"szlachta" (nobility) the elect a king in a free election. Prior to his coronation the king-elect
had to swear to uphold the Constitution and all "szlachta" privileges. In 1573, Henri de
Valois, younger brother to Charles IX of France, was elected king by an overwhelming
majority. In May 1574 Charles died suddenly and Henri had become King of France. It was
generally agreed that he should hold both crowns and go back to France in the autumn but, in
his impatience Henri slipped away early. Affronted, the Poles presented him with the
ultimatum of returning by May 1575 or the throne would be declared vacant.

In December, under the influence of Jan Zamoyski, Stefan Batory (b. Szilagysomlyo,
Transylvania 1533; d. nr Grodno 1586), Prince of Transylvania (1571 - 76) was elected king
of Poland (1575 - 86) by the szlachta (the nobility). Batory was the son of Istvan Bathory,
governor of Transylvania for the Habsburg king of Hungary. He won renown as a soldier with
John Sigismund Zapolya, prince of the newly independent Transylvania and was elected as
Zapolya's successor (1571). As king of Poland, Batory carried out important reforms,
encouraged further overseas trade and creating the first regular Polish infantry by conscripting
peasants from the Royal estates. He was also the first to employ Cossacks on a regular basis.
He overcame the revolt of Danzig (1577), which was given autonomy in its internal affairs (at
a price) and in a war with Muscovy (1579 - 82), after a successful campaign and a brilliant
victory at Pskov, Batory defeated Ivan the Terrible in the Livonian War (1558 - 83). By the
Treaty of Vam Zapolsky, Ivan returned all Lithuanian territory it had captured and renounced
his claims on Livonia; Livonia joined the Commonwealth and Poland was now recognised as
the greatest power in Central Europe and only the Turkish Sultan ruled over more extensive
territories. In 1579 he created the University at Wilno. By the 1550s eighty per cent of the
world's Jews lived in Poland. Batory gave the Jews their own national assembly drawn from
the local self-governing communities (Kahal). In 1583 Batory granted the postal monopoly to
Sebastian Montelupi who organised a regular postal system both internally and abroad. After
his sudden death, Batory was succeeded, in the 1587 election, by Sigismund (Zygmunt) Vasa,
son of John III Vasa of Sweden.

Vasa;

The Vasa were a dynasty of Swedish Kings whose name is derived from the family estate
around Uppsala. The founder of the dynasty was Gustav Eriksson Vasa who became, firstly,
Regent of Sweden (1521) and then King Gustavus I Vasa (1523 - 60). After the unexpected
death of Batory in 1586, there was a major crisis when the pro-Hapsburg Zborowski faction
forced through the election of Archduke Maximilian and almost brought the nation to a state
of civil war. The great Renaissance politician (and staunch anti-Austrian), Jan Zamoyski
confronted Maximilian and held Krakow for the Swedish crown prince, grandson of Gustavus
I and son of John III of Sweden, Zygmunt III Vasa (b. Gripsholm, 1566; d. Warsaw,1632),
who came to the throne 1587 - 1632. There would eventually be three Vasa Kings and the
period would see long rivalry and wars between Poland and Sweden for the control of the
Baltic. Under Zygmunt's reign the Polish magnates (great lords) rose to a position of power
and would eventually destroy Poland through their greed; he was also in constant struggle
with Jan Zamoyski, the Chancellor (1587 - 1605) whose diplomatic and military successes he
regarded with suspicion. Zygmunt was forced to work with Zamoyski when he overreached
himself in arranging a secret marriage with the Austrian Archduchess Anna (1592) and was
subsequently humiliated by the Inquisition Diet of 1592. In the same year he received the
Sejm's permission to become King of Sweden but was only crowned (1594) after promising to
uphold Swedish Lutheranism.

Returning to Poland, Zygmunt left his uncle, Charles Suderman, as Regent of Sweden. He
then decided to move the capital from Krakow to Warsaw (1596), which was closer to
Sweden and the junction of all major routes criss-crossing the Commonwealth. When his
uncle rose in rebellion Zygmunt invaded Sweden (thus losing any support there was for him
amongst the Swedish nobility) only to be defeated at Stangebro (1598). In 1599 the Riksdag
(Swedish Parliament) dethroned Zygmunt offering the crown to his four-year-old son,
Wladyslaw, on condition that he would come to Sweden and accept Lutheranism. Zygmunt
refused to accept these conditions and lost the crown of Sweden to his uncle (who was
crowned Charles IX, 1604 - 11). Zygmunt never relinquished the throne and his foreign
policy was, from that point onwards, directed at regaining the Swedish crown.

From 1605, after the death of Zamoyski, Poland became involved in internal problems as a
result of Zygmunt's absolutionist tendencies (the Zebrzydowski rebellion, 1606 - 8) and wars
with Sweden (1617 - 29) and the Turks (1620 - 21). During the Swedish War, Gustavus II
Adolphus (the son of Charles IX) seized Riga (1621) and almost all of Livonia. The Poles
also, inevitably, became involved in the internal "troubles" of Muscovy ("Smuta", 1605
onwards), usually at the request of the boyars, but the events surrounding the short-lived
careers of the two "False Dimitris" did not benefit the Republic. In 1610, after a successful
military campaign, Zygmunt proposed his own son, Wladyslaw, as candidate to the Muscovite
throne but Wladyslaw's refusal to convert to the Orthodox faith led to the driving out of the
Poles and the enthroning of the first Romanov (1613). The devastation and loss of life were
tremendous and Poland was only saved by a number of outstanding military commanders;
Stanislaw Zolkiewski, Jan Karol Chodkiewicz, Stefan Czarniecki (b. 1599; d. 1665) and
Stanislaw Koniecpolski who achieved some great victories (Kluszyn, 1610; Kircholm, 1605;
Chocim, 1612).
This was also the period that saw the Republic at its greatest territorial extent and
economically the nation was prosperous (but there were also new extremes of wealth and
poverty). Religious tolerance was maintained despite Zygmunt's own Catholic fanaticism (his
greatest success was the establishment of the Uniates; the union of the greater part of the
Ruthenian Orthodox Church with Rome in 1596 ratified at the Synod of Brzesc). The
followers of Fausto Sozzini (Socinius, b. 1539; d. 1604), the Polish Brethren, founded a
centre of protestant culture at Rakow (which became known as the Sarmatian Athens),
between Kielce and Sandomierz, where they published the Rakowian Catechism (1604), the
most well-known statement of Unitarian theology at the time and an important expression of
radical thought. When the Hussites suffered the crushing defeat at the battle of White
Mountain (1620) many were forced into exile, some making their way to Poland and
influencing the Arian movement there. The Jewish community thrived and spread out from
the cities into the provinces; but by linking their fortunes with greedy lords through the
"arenda" system (whereby an estate would be leased out by an absentee lord to a manager
who could exploit it and those who worked it) they exposed themselves to the hatred of the
peasantry.

Zygmunt's son, Wladyslaw IV (b. 1595; d. 1648), King 1632 - 1648, served as a youth in the
Muscovite campaigns (1610 - 12 and 1617 - 18). On his accession to the throne he fought a
war with Muscovy and won a victorious peace (1634). He made a favourable settlement with
the Turks (1634) and with Sweden (1635). He was involved in serious disputes with the Sejm
and unsuccessfully attempted to establish order in the last years of his reign. For some time
the Arian movement had thrived in the climate of religious tolerance that Poland had offered
but their own success led to their downfall. In 1641 all Arians were forced to convert or leave
the country, resulting in mass exodus. A particular danger came from within when, in 1648,
the Cossacks, mainly of Ruthenian and Polish origin, for a variety of reasons but chiefly due
to the arrogance of the magnates who were treating the free Cossacks as serfs, broke their oath
of allegiance to the Polish King under the instigation of their Hetman, Chmielnicki.
Wladyslaw died whilst this revolt was still in force. Wladyslaw travelled widely visiting
Florence where he was honoured by the Italian composer, Francesco Caccini who wrote a
composition "La Liberazione di Ruggero dell Isola di Alcina" dedicated to him. He
corresponded with Galileo, ordering telescopes from him, and modelled for Peter Paul Rubens
in his studio in Antwerp.

Wladyslaw's son, Jan II Kazimierz (b. 1609; d. 1672), was a Jesuit and Cardinal (1640) and
had to be absolved of his religious vows by the Pope in order to be able to take on his duties
as King 1648 - 1668. In the continued revolt of the Cossacks, Chmielnicki used the Ukraine
as a pawn between the powers of Poland, Muscovy and Turkey which resulted in further wars,
with the Tartars (1649), and a disastrous 13 - year war with Muscovy (1654 - 67). Janusz
Radziwill, Grand Hetman of Lithuania, defeated by Tsar Alexei of Muscovy during
Chmielnicki's revolt (1654), appealed for help from Charles X Gustavus of Sweden, himself
fearful of Muscovite expansion. He invaded Poland in 1655. This period in which the
Republic was inundated by enemy forces, and the chaos that accompanied it, became known
as the "Deluge" ("Potop"). The collapse of Polish resistance led to the desertion of many
Polish officers and szlachta (the nobility) from Jan Kazimierz to Charles. In October
Radziwill signed an agreement at Kiejdany which detached Lithuania from Poland, placing it
under the protection of Sweden. In the following guerrilla war, where Polish forces were
supported by Tartars fearful of the further expansion of Muscovy into the vacuum caused by
the war with Sweden, and Danish and Dutch fleets came to the defence of Gdansk, it is the
defence of Czestochowa, at the monastery of Jasna Gora, (1655), Poland's most sacred shrine
containing the picture of the Virgin Mary (the "Black Madonna"), by a small force led by
Prior Kordecki and his monks against a besieging army of 9,000 Swedes, that actually
changed the course of the war and became a signal for a general uprising that resulted in the
eventual expulsion of the Swedes from the Republic. In 1658, at Hadziacz, an agreement
between the King and the new Cossack Hetman, Wyhowski, was to enable Ruthenia to join
the Commonwealth on equal terms with Poland and Lithuania but a further Cossack rebellion
(1659) instigated by Muscovy (herself attempting to annex the Ukraine) and Polish
involvement in war with Sweden (1655 - 60), meant that the agreement bore no fruit and in
1667, by the treaty of Andruszowo, the Ukraine was divided evenly along the Dnieper
between the Commonwealth and Muscovy. For the Polish Commonwealth this was a disaster
since it weakened an important frontier area and left a discontented people open to
manipulation by Poland's enemies.

The general decline was especially noticed in the Sejm; the parliamentary system grew
awkward and ineffective as deputies used the notorious "Liberum Veto", which allowed any
deputy to prevent legislation since all resolutions had to be carried unanimously. The idea of
consensus rule was, in principle, a good one but the "Liberum Veto" was first used in a
manner that destroyed the working of the Sejm, in 1652, by a Jan Sicinski on the orders of
Janusz Radziwill. It soon became obvious to Poland's neighbours that the veto could be used
to their own political ends and they soon clubbed together to "defend Polish freedoms". The
szlachta, themselves, becoming less influential as they lost their military valour and, in many
cases, impoverished, saw the veto as the last symbol of their ability to play a role in the
running of the Commonwealth.

This was also a period of great rivalry and suspicion between the pro-Bourbon factions (led
by the Queen, Louise-Marie) and the pro-Habsburg szlachta (many of whom were in the
pockets of Vienna. The need for reform had become obvious and the Jesuit preacher, Piotr
Skarga, had blamed social injustice as the main cause of evil. The final indignity came when,
as a direct result of attempting to introduce reforms that would modernise the state, Jerzy
Lubomirski, the Grand Marshal, rebelled against the King. The royal faction was defeated at
the battle of Matwy (1666) but not long afterwards Lubomirski came and begged for a pardon
which was granted; the whole farce had merely served to damage the prestige of the crown.
Shortly after his chief support, Queen Louise-Marie, died (1667) Jan Kazimierz took refuge in
Silesia, resigned as King (1668) and retired to France as Abbe de Saint-Germain. The farcical
elections that followed led to the appointment of a Polish nonentity despised by both Bourbon
and Habsburg factions, Michal Korybut Wisniowiecki.

Wisniowiecki;

The Wisnioweckis were a noble Ukrainian family. During the early 1500s the idea of hiring
the Cossacks to guard the Dnieper crossings by building fortresses on its islands was proposed
but never developed, it was Dmitri (d.1563), a magnate from Southern Volhynia who
independently founded the first Cossack fortress, Niz, at Chortyca, out of which grew the Sicz
of Zaporoze. After a failed attempt to involve Poland-Lithuania in a war against the Tartars,
he became heavily involved in Moldavian affairs only to be betrayed to the Turks and
executed for piracy. Dmitri is credited with being the first to create a stable organisation for
the Cossacks and for putting the Cossack-Ukrainian cause on the map. His son signed the
Union of Lublin and his grandson led a notorious expedition to Moldavia (1616). His great-
grandson was Prince Jarema (b. 1612; d. 1651), Voivode of Ruthenia and chief enemy of
Chmielnicki.
The farcical elections that followed the resignation of Jan II Kazimierz, the last of the Vasas
(1668), led to the appointment of a Polish nonentity, the favourite of the szlachta (the
nobility) suspicious of foreigners and seeking a "new Piast", despised by both Bourbon and
Habsburg factions, Jarema's son, Michal Korybut (b. 1640; d. 1673), king (1669 - 1673); he
proved to be a weak monarch unable to control the magnates who nicknamed him "le Singe".
In 1672 the Turkish invasion of Podolia led to the fall of the fortress of Kamieniec Podolsk
and, with the country in a state of chaos, the Poles sued for peace; at the Treaty of Buczacz
the Poles lost what was left of Podolia and the Ukraine and had to pay a humiliating annual
tribute. Michal Korybut died suddenly whilst a new invasion was in force, on the eve of
Chocim; he was succeeded by the victor of that battle, Jan Sobieski.

Sobieski, Jan III (b. Olesko, nr. Lwow, 1674; d. 1696) the son of Jakub Sobieski, the
Castellan of Krakow and Voivode of Ruthenia, Jan Sobieski was educated in Krakow. A great
military leader, Sobieski entered military service in 1648, seeing action against both the
Tartars and Cossacks (1651 - 52) and Swedes under Lubomirski and Czarniecki, although,
along with many other officers who had deserted the royal cause in the dark days of the
Deluge, he had briefly accepted a commission under Swedish King, Charles X (1655 - 56).
He was first entered the Sejm in 1659. Sobieski was appointed Commander - in - Chief of the
Polish Army (1665) and Grand Hetman in 1668. Besieged by an army of Cossacks and
Tartars at Podhajce he raised 8000 men at his own expense and forced the enemy to retire.
Later, when the Turks seized the fortress of Kamieniec (1672), Sobieski beat the Turkish
forces back and virtually annihilated them at Chocim (1673), earning from them the nickname
of the "Fearful Lion of the North". He was elected King a few months later (1674 - 96). The
climax of his career came in 1683 when, with 20,000 Polish troops he relieved the Turkish
siege of Vienna. Unable to break into Europe through Poland, the Turks had invaded Hungary
and Austria in 1683 and swept all before them. 130,000 Turks besieged Vienna and
threatened to overpower Europe. Sobieski, at the request of the Pope, marched on Vienna
through rugged mountain passes and sent the Husaria into their last great charge, taking the
Turks unawares. It was a turning point in history. Combined with the Imperial Army, he
drove the Turks back to the Raab. He was acclaimed as the hero of Christendom - Jan
Matejko's painting of "Sobieski at Vienna" hangs in the Vatican. His later years were a
failure, unable to overturn the political decline of Poland; he was unable to solve Poland's
problems on the Baltic or on the eastern frontier because the long years of campaigning and
wars had drained her resources and, in 1686, in an unbelievably naive move, the
Grzymultowski Peace literally gave away the entire Ukraine and transformed "Muscovy" into
"Russia" - enabling her to emerge as the major power in Eastern Europe. He was a patron of
science and literature and his marvellous palace at Wilanow, on the outskirts of Warsaw
reflect his domestic grandeur. The elections after the death of Sobieski were contentious; his
son, Jakub (b. 1667; d. 1737), was forced to withdraw for lack of funds, and the French
candidate was cheated of victory by bribery and corruption so that the Elector of Saxony,
Frederick Augustus was elected king, Augustus II. It would be the beginning of the end.
Sobieski's granddaughter, Clementina (b. 1702; d.1735), married James Edward Stuart, the
"Old Pretender"; their son was Charles Edward Louis Philip Kazimierz, the "young
Pretender" - "Bonny Prince Charlie".

Wettin;

The Wettins were a German dynasty that was active, in the Tenth century, in pushing
Germany's eastern frontier into Slav lands. By c.1100 they had acquired the Margrave of
Meissen and extended their rule over Thuringia and Saxony. In 1485 the dynasty divided into
the Ernestine and Albertine branches. The Albertines became the Electors of Saxony (1547)
and provided two kings of Poland, Augustus II and Augustus III. The sixty-six years of Saxon
rule, from 1697 - 1763, were a national disaster and drove the country to the brink of anarchy.
The causes are twofold: firstly, from the outset the Saxon kings fell into a partnership with
Russia in which they became more and more dependent on the support of the stronger partner;
secondly, The Republic, which had been severely weakened by the period of warfare and
internal strife of the seventeenth century, was reduced to the state of a helpless bystander in
the wars of the eighteenth. The nation was further undermined as the powerful land-owning
magnates began to look to the preservation their own self-interests in whatever manner they
could, whilst the less powerful szlachta attempted to hang on to the only power they held -
their traditional rights - even at the expense of important reforms. The Republic had no
standing army, it was a citizen army with only a small core of professionals. Whilst Sobieski
had carried out important reforms which had significantly improved the army's tactical and
technological stature there was a heavy reliance on foreign infantry and there was no
centralised funding. There was, also, internal resistance to the idea of a regular army which
could be used by an autocratic ruler to restrict personal liberties (as in Prussia, for example).
Poland also became sandwiched between two rising powers; Russia, ruled by Peter the Great,
and Prussia which the Elector of Brandenburg, Frederick III, was to declare a kingdom in
1701.

The Elector of Saxony, Frederick Augustus (b. Dresden, 1670; d. 1733), who had
unsuccessfully commanded the imperial Army against the Turks (1695 - 96), converted to
Catholicism (the Republic was "worth a mass") and was elected king Augustus II of Poland in
1697 after a contentious election which, in many ways, reflected the disintegration of the
nation. His reign started auspiciously with the treaty of Karlowicz by which the former
provinces of Podolia and the Ukraine, including the important fortress of Kamieniec, were
restored to Poland by the Turks (1699). In the mistaken belief that Sweden was in decline and
with the intention of acquiring Livonia for Saxony, Augustus entered into a disastrous three-
way alliance with Frederick IV of Denmark and Peter I the Great of Russia (1672 - 1725) that
would eventually embroil Poland in the Great Northern War (1700-21). Although the Sejm
refused to support him, Augustus invaded Livonia and laid siege to Riga. The Swedish king,
Charles XII (the "Lion of the North", 1682 - 1718) defeated the Danes who had invaded
Schleswig (1700), destroyed the Russian Army at Narva (November 1700) and raised the
siege of Riga (1701). Charles then invaded Poland with the intention of deposing Augustus
from the Polish throne as a punishment for his central role in the anti-Swedish alliance. He
seized Warsaw and defeated Augustus at Kliszow (where the Polish Army, having failed in
two charges against the Swedish infantry, refused to fight on, 1702) and Pultusk (1703).
Charles XII then imposed his candidate, Stanislaw Leszczynski (1704 - 09), on the Polish
throne.

The Leszczynskis were a noble Polish family which played a prominent part during the 16th.
to 18th. centuries. The general, Rafael Leszczynski, was the father of Stanislaw I Leszczynski
(b. Lwow, 1677; d. 1766), king of Poland (1704 - 09, and 1733 - 35). When Augustus II of
Saxony and Poland allied himself with Russia (1700 - 1721) against Sweden in the Great
Northern War, Leszczynski, the Voivode of Poznan, proved to be a staunch opponent and
gained the support of Charles XII of Sweden. In 1704 Sweden won, Augustus was removed
and Leszczynski was elected in his place. In 1709 the Russians defeated the Swedes at
Poltava and Augustus was returned to the throne. Leszczynski settled in Alsace (1709) and,
later, became governor of Zweibruken in the Palatinate (1718 - 25). In 1725, his daughter,
Maria (b. Wroclaw, 1703; d. 1768), married Louis XV of France who ensured that, on
Augustus' death, in 1733, Leszczynski was again elected King. The War of Polish Succession
(1733 - 35) followed, Stanislaw was supported by France and Spain, while Austria and Russia
supported Frederick Augustus II, elector of Saxony, Augustus II's son. Leszczynski was
besieged at Danzig, receiving only moral support from France, while his rival received full
military aid from Russia. Inevitably, he was obliged to flee from Danzig (1734) and accept the
terms of the Treaty of Vienna (1735) by which he kept the royal title but renounced his actual
rights in favour of Frederick Augustus. Leszczynski was awarded the Duchy of Lorraine and
Bar (1737) by Francis I, the Holy Roman Emperor, in exchange for Tuscany and also received
a pension from France. He maintained court at Luneville and Nancy which was a model of the
Enlightenment. Leszczynski corresponded with the finest thinkers of his time, most notably
with Rousseau who, on his request, drafted a new constitution for Poland. He wrote the
influential reforming tract, "A Free Voice Insuring Freedom" (1749), and "Oeuvres du
Philosophe Bienfaisant" (published 1767).

The unconstitutional manner of Leszczynski's election (where a hastily thrown together Sejm
had been surrounded by armed Swedish troops ready to enforce Charles' will) divided the
country into pro-Leszczynski and pro-Augustus camps; the Northern War had now, for the
Poles, become a civil war. An attempt by Augustus to regain Poland was stopped at Fraustadt
(February 1706). Charles XII invaded Saxony in August 1706 and seized Leipzig; Augustus
sued for peace and abdicated the throne of Poland (Treaty of Altranstadt, 1706). Augustus
was restored after the Swedish invasion of Russia failed at the battle of Poltava (1709) - in
which an important role was played by Polish peasants harassing the Swedish columns, and
the pro-Saxon Confederates of Sandomierz who prevented reinforcements from reaching the
Swedes. By the end of this war Russia was able to interfere freely in the internal affairs of the
nation. Augustus maintained a Saxon Army in Poland which reinforced the Polish view that
he was intending to turn the Polish throne into that of an absolute monarch. Conflict between
Augustus and the Sejm almost ended in civil war with the setting up of the Confederation of
Tarnogrod (1715), only prevented by a Russian offer of mediation; 18,000 Russian troops
surrounded the chamber where the deputies met, they were denied the right to speak whilst
the Russian "mediator" dictated the Russian " solution". This Sejm became known as the
"Dumb Sejm" and the Republic became little more than a Russian client state; a
"Protectorate".

The emasculation of both Augustus and the Sejm lead to the dissipation of power into the
hands of a small group of magnates who ruled their own lands as princes making independent
political alliances depending on the state of their finances or interests; "a state within the
state". The army had virtually disappeared as a fighting force; morale had collapsed, technical
proficiency declined, corruption was rife, nobles absented themselves from duty or preferred
to serve the magnates: all this at a time when the Republic's neighbours were undergoing
massive militarisation. In the Northern War Russia seized Livonia and began to dominate the
Baltic; Augustus, awake to the Russian threat, entered into an alliance with the Holy Roman
Emperor, Charles VI, and England (who both had their own reasons to be wary of the sudden
rise of Russia) to cast off Russian interference in Poland (Vienna, 1719) but the Sejm rejected
the treaty (1720), at which point Augustus condemned their shameful weakness. Now
Augustus attempted to establish another treaty with Prussia aimed directly at the partition of
Poland - but nothing came of this for Russia made a secret pact with Prussia at Potsdam
(1720) to maintain the paralysis of law and order within Poland by protecting Polish "rights"
such as the Liberum Veto.
It was in this period that intolerance towards religious dissidents was intensified and perhaps
the lowest point in the history of the Republic came in 1724 when the mayor of Torun and
nine other Protestants were executed because they had failed to prevent anti-Jesuit excesses.
The English protested at this outrage and, when Poland was partitioned (1772), the image of a
bigoted and intolerant nation put aside any feelings of sympathy that there might have been.
The Russo-Prussian alliance of 1730 went so far as to pledge to protect religious minorities
and to secure their former privileges (despite the fact that these two states refused to offer
similar rights to their own religious minorities). The Convocation Sejm of 1733 was to bring
Poland into line with the rest of Europe with its ending of religious freedoms and debarring of
non-Catholics from holding office or acting as representatives in the Sejm; a move that was to
have its repercussions in 1766 when Russia and Prussia would use their pledges to protect the
rights of dissidents as an excuse to prevent reform and a revival of the Polish state.

Augustus was a patron of the arts, greatly embellishing his capital, Dresden, and created the
Meissen china industry. He is also known as Augustus the Strong but this is more in reference
to his numerous affairs and his prodigious number of, largely illegitimate, offspring.

On Augustus' death, in 1733, the French candidate, Leszczynski, was again elected King; this
sparked off the War of Polish Succession (1733 - 35) during which Polish resistance, the
Confederation of Dzikow under the leadership of Adam Tarlo, was crushed by combined
Prussian and Russian armies. The Russians sent in an army and reran the election; their
candidate, Augustus' son, Frederik Augustus II (b. Dresden, 1696; d. 1763) was elected king,
Augustus III, in 1734. Augustus spent his reign almost exclusively in Dresden, only fleeing to
Poland when the Prussians occupied Saxony during the Seven Years War; Poland was ruled
by his adviser Bruhl and son-in-law, Mniszech. He supported Prussia in the first Silesian War
(1740 - 42) but sided with Austria in the second Silesian War (1744 - 45), was defeated and
forced to pay indemnity. The Electorate of Saxony was occupied by Prussia during the Seven
Years War - the third Silesian War (1756 - 63); during this war, by which Prussia gained
Silesia, Poland's neutrality was ignored and she became a staging area for the deployment of
the combatants. Frederick II (the Great) of Prussia recouped his war costs by flooding Poland
with counterfeit money and imposing illegal tolls on the Wisla. Prussia and Russia continued
to renew their alliances by which Poland would be kept weakened. At Augustus' death, the
Russians forced the election of Stanislaw Poniatowski, destined to become the last King of
Poland.

Poniatowski;

The Poniatowskis were a noble family of Italian origin including; Stanislaw (b. 1676; d.
1762), a general and diplomat who joined Charles XII of Sweden in support of Stanislaw
Leszczynski, and fought at Poltava (1709). He represented Charles at the Porte. Stanislaw was
the brother-in-law of Michal and August Czartoryski and formed part of that powerful group
aiming at reform, "the Family". His son, Stanislaw II Augustus (b. Wolczyn, 1732; d. St.
Petersburg, 1798), was a refined man who, after his education, spent a great deal of time in
the West, mainly Paris and London. He was sent to St. Petersburg (1757) to gain support for
the proposed overthrow of Augustus III but succeeded instead in becoming a lover of the
future Catherine the Great, Empress of Russia. On the death of Augustus III, Catherine used
her influence to ensure that Stanislaw Augustus became King (1764 - 1795); Poniatowski was
to become the last King of Poland.
On acceding to the throne Stanislaw Augustus attempted to show that he was no puppet by
setting up a range of commissions and ministries aimed at improving the process of
government, carrying out financial and educational reforms and establishing a military school
(the Szkola Rycerska); it was obvious that a Polish revival was under way. At this point
Prussia and Russia raised the whole issue of the rights of Lutheran and Orthodox dissidents
knowing that this would stir up trouble (1766). The issue was discussed in the Sejm in chaotic
conditions, the Papal Nuncio protested and the proposed changes were rejected. As a result
two Confederations were formed, that of the Protestants at Thorn and the Orthodox dissidents
at Slupsk strongly supported by Russian troops. More significantly the Confederation of
Radom (1767) was formed by a number of Catholic szlachta who had been skilfully
manipulated by Russian diplomats. Now a treaty was imposed on Poland and forced through
the Sejm (1768), which hypocritically protected the rights of the szlachta to elect the king and
maintain the "Liberum Veto" - thus using these ancient privileges as a means to make the
state impotent. A number of representatives of the Sejm who opposed Russian demands were
arrested and deported to Kaluga in Russia. A large number of the szlachta, disgusted at this
turn of events, revolted by setting up the Confederation of Bar (1768 - 72). Russian attempts
to put the rising down were hindered by having to repress a peasant uprising in the Polish
Ukraine, and by the Ottoman Turks who declared war on Russia (1768). After four years
struggle, during which Stanislaw Augustus was actually kidnapped by some of the Bar
Confederates (though he managed to escape in the bungled affair), the rising was eventually
crushed and over 5000 captured szlachta were sent to Siberia; among the few who escaped
was Kazimierz Pulaski who was to play an important role in the United States' struggle for
independence.

The campaigns of 1768 - 72 so devastated Poland and weakened the government that the
nation was unable to put up any meaningful resistance when Prussia, Russia and Austria
agreed to annex parts of Poland in 1772. The Commonwealth lost 224,173.5 sq.km (29.5%)
of her former territory and 4,020,000 of her population (a reduction by 35.2%): Prussia took
the smallest, but economically best, area (5%) - cutting Poland off from the Baltic - and
severed its feudal dependence on the Polish Crown; Austria took the most heavily populated
areas (11.8%), whilst Russia took the largest, but least important (12.7%). To give the crime
some legality the Sejm was forced to ratify the partition in 1773, despite the resistance of
some Deputies, led by Tadeusz Rejtan. Amazingly some of the szlachta saw partition as a plot
between Poniatowski and the Russians in order to introduce an absolute monarchy into
Poland.

Despite the disaster of this first partition, Poland underwent a national revival in 1773, thanks
to the efforts of Stanislaw Augustus. The first step was the creation of the "Komisija Edukacji
Narodowej" ("Committee of National Education"), the first Ministry of Education in Europe;
hundreds of schools were founded and the standard of education was raised. Writers, poets,
artists and scholars were encouraged by the King and the ideas of the Enlightenment were
taking hold. This was the period of Naruszewicz, Krasicki, Boguslawski, and Karpinski.
Taking advantage of Russia's involvement in a war against Turkey, the King launched a
reform programme (1788-1792) and the task was carried out by the "Four-Year" or "Great
Sejm" which established a new Constitution; the Constitution of the Third of May, 1791, in
which the "Liberum Veto" was abolished, majority rule introduced, and personal freedoms
guaranteed to all the people. The Constitution was hailed in the United States, England and
France, but was seen as a threat to the absolute rulers of Prussia, Austria and, especially,
Russia. In 1792, at Russia's instigation, a handful of magnates led by Ksawery Branicki,
Szczesny Potocki and Seweryn Rzewuski betrayed the Commonwealth and formed the
Confederation of Targowica against the new Constitution and then "asked" for help. Russian
troops crossed the borders and war broke out. The King's nephew, Joseph Poniatowski and
Tadeusz Kosciuszko, a veteran of the American War of Independence, put up heroic
resistance but all hope faded away when Stanislaw Augustus, under pressure from his
ministers who could see the writing on the wall, declared his adherence to the Confederation
of Targowica (August 1792). Meanwhile the Prussians attacked the Polish armies in the rear.
The dismayed Army dispersed; many patriots were forced to flee. In 1793 Russia and Prussia
signed the Second Partition Treaty, seizing more than half the country and about four million
more of the population. The last Sejm of the Commonwealth, which met at Grodno, was
forced to legalise the partition and abolish most of the reforms of the "Great Sejm". Popular
discontent led to Insurrection, proclaimed by Kosciuszko on 24 March 1794, followed by
victory at Raclawice and Warsaw.

Tadeusz Andrzej Bonawentura Kosciuszko (b. nr. Slonim, 12 February 1746. d. Soleure,
Switzerland,1817) is one of the giants of Polish history. At an early age Kosciuszko decided
to join the military and studied at the Warsaw Cadet School, and in France, engineering and
artillery. He volunteered to fight in the American War of Independence where he was
appointed colonel of engineers in the Continental army (Oct.18 1776). During the southern
advance of Burgoyne after the fall of Fort Ticonderoga (1777) he effectively delayed the
British thus granting the Americans valuable time to build up their forces and he made
important tactical decisions concerning the battle of Saratoga which followed. He was in
charge of construction of the fortifications at West Point (1778 - 80) which made full use of
the natural terrain and interlocking fields of fire. Kosciuszko proposed the establishment of a
technical military school where all officers would be trained in engineering and the sciences
which became the United States Military Academy at West Point. He was one of the founders
of the Society of Cincinnati. In 1783 the American Congress awarded him citizenship and
promoted him to the rank of Brigadier.

During the Russo-Polish War (1792- 93), or the War of the Second Partition, he defended the
Bug at Dubienka for five days with only 4000 men against 18,000. After the Second Partition
of 1792, following the growing humiliation of the nation by Catherine the Great, in an effort
to stop the destruction of Poland, Kosciuszko went to France to propose a league of republics
which would oppose the league of sovereigns. The French were vague in their response and
Kosciuszko had to return empty-handed. When, on 21 February 1794 the Russians ordered a
further reduction of the army and the arrest of suspected subversives, the seeds had been sown
for a national uprising. Finding that Polish officers were already in the act of revolting against
the limitation of the army to 15,000 men, his hand forced, Kosciuszko arrived in Krakow on
23rd March, proclaimed the Act of Insurrection on the 24th with his famous oath in the
Rynek;

"I, Tadeusz Kosciuszko, swear in the sight of God to the whole Polish nation that I will use
the power entrusted to me for the personal oppression of none, but will only use it for the
defence of the integrity of the boundaries, the regaining of the independence of the nation, and
the solid establishment of universal freedom. So help me God and the Innocent Passion of His
Son."

and was appointed dictator and commander-in-chief. His army of peasants defeated a greatly
superior force of Russians at Raclawice, as a result of which a national insurrection flared up
in Lithuania and Warsaw. The red four-cornered caps worn by the Krakow peasants were
adopted by the National Cavalry, and later worn by the Polish lancers in Napoleon's army,
after which they became traditional wear for lancer units in all European armies. At
Szczekociny, on 6 May, Kosciuszko was outnumbered by the Prussians under Frederick
William, and defeated, leaving the way open for the occupation of Krakow (which they
entered on 15 June). On 7 May his Polanice Manifesto gave freedom to the peasants. The new
government's army could not withstand the combined forces of Austria, Prussia and Russia
and was annihilated at the bloody battle of Maciejowice, 10 October, where Kosciuszko was
seriously wounded and captured. In November, Warsaw was taken by the Russians who
slaughtered the population of the suburb, Praga, including women and children. Then, in
1795, the Third Partition wiped what was left of Poland off the map. The King, Stanislaw
Augustus, was forced to abdicate and taken captive to St. Petersburg (where he died in 1798).

The Elected Monarchy

With the death of Zygmunt, the last of the Jagiellonians in 1574, there was nobody who could
legally convene the Sejm. An "interrex" (Regent), the Archbishop of Gniezno, was appointed
by the Senate and a special "Convocational Sejm" was called which decided to let the
"szlachta" (nobility) the elect a king in a free election. Prior to his coronation the king-elect
had to swear to uphold the Constitution and all "szlachta" privileges. In 1573, Henri de
Valois, younger brother to Charles IX of France, was elected king by an overwhelming
majority. In May 1574 Charles died suddenly and Henri had become King of France. It was
generally agreed that he should hold both crowns and go back to France in the autumn but, in
his impatience Henri slipped away early. Affronted, the Poles presented him with the
ultimatum of returning by May 1575 or the throne would be declared vacant.

In December, under the influence of Jan Zamoyski, Stefan Batory (b. Szilagysomlyo,
Transylvania 1533; d. nr Grodno 1586), Prince of Transylvania (1571 - 76) was elected king
of Poland (1575 - 86) by the szlachta (the nobility). Batory was the son of Istvan Bathory,
governor of Transylvania for the Habsburg king of Hungary. He won renown as a soldier with
John Sigismund Zapolya, prince of the newly independent Transylvania and was elected as
Zapolya's successor (1571). As king of Poland, Batory carried out important reforms,
encouraged further overseas trade and creating the first regular Polish infantry by conscripting
peasants from the Royal estates. He was also the first to employ Cossacks on a regular basis.
He overcame the revolt of Danzig (1577), which was given autonomy in its internal affairs (at
a price) and in a war with Muscovy (1579 - 82), after a successful campaign and a brilliant
victory at Pskov, Batory defeated Ivan the Terrible in the Livonian War (1558 - 83). By the
Treaty of Vam Zapolsky, Ivan returned all Lithuanian territory it had captured and renounced
his claims on Livonia; Livonia joined the Commonwealth and Poland was now recognised as
the greatest power in Central Europe and only the Turkish Sultan ruled over more extensive
territories. In 1579 he created the University at Wilno. By the 1550s eighty per cent of the
world's Jews lived in Poland. Batory gave the Jews their own national assembly drawn from
the local self-governing communities (Kahal). In 1583 Batory granted the postal monopoly to
Sebastian Montelupi who organised a regular postal system both internally and abroad. After
his sudden death, Batory was succeeded, in the 1587 election, by Sigismund (Zygmunt) Vasa,
son of John III Vasa of Sweden.

Vasa;
The Vasa were a dynasty of Swedish Kings whose name is derived from the family estate
around Uppsala. The founder of the dynasty was Gustav Eriksson Vasa who became, firstly,
Regent of Sweden (1521) and then King Gustavus I Vasa (1523 - 60). After the unexpected
death of Batory in 1586, there was a major crisis when the pro-Hapsburg Zborowski faction
forced through the election of Archduke Maximilian and almost brought the nation to a state
of civil war. The great Renaissance politician (and staunch anti-Austrian), Jan Zamoyski
confronted Maximilian and held Krakow for the Swedish crown prince, grandson of Gustavus
I and son of John III of Sweden, Zygmunt III Vasa (b. Gripsholm, 1566; d. Warsaw,1632),
who came to the throne 1587 - 1632. There would eventually be three Vasa Kings and the
period would see long rivalry and wars between Poland and Sweden for the control of the
Baltic. Under Zygmunt's reign the Polish magnates (great lords) rose to a position of power
and would eventually destroy Poland through their greed; he was also in constant struggle
with Jan Zamoyski, the Chancellor (1587 - 1605) whose diplomatic and military successes he
regarded with suspicion. Zygmunt was forced to work with Zamoyski when he overreached
himself in arranging a secret marriage with the Austrian Archduchess Anna (1592) and was
subsequently humiliated by the Inquisition Diet of 1592. In the same year he received the
Sejm's permission to become King of Sweden but was only crowned (1594) after promising to
uphold Swedish Lutheranism.

Returning to Poland, Zygmunt left his uncle, Charles Suderman, as Regent of Sweden. He
then decided to move the capital from Krakow to Warsaw (1596), which was closer to
Sweden and the junction of all major routes criss-crossing the Commonwealth. When his
uncle rose in rebellion Zygmunt invaded Sweden (thus losing any support there was for him
amongst the Swedish nobility) only to be defeated at Stangebro (1598). In 1599 the Riksdag
(Swedish Parliament) dethroned Zygmunt offering the crown to his four-year-old son,
Wladyslaw, on condition that he would come to Sweden and accept Lutheranism. Zygmunt
refused to accept these conditions and lost the crown of Sweden to his uncle (who was
crowned Charles IX, 1604 - 11). Zygmunt never relinquished the throne and his foreign
policy was, from that point onwards, directed at regaining the Swedish crown.

From 1605, after the death of Zamoyski, Poland became involved in internal problems as a
result of Zygmunt's absolutionist tendencies (the Zebrzydowski rebellion, 1606 - 8) and wars
with Sweden (1617 - 29) and the Turks (1620 - 21). During the Swedish War, Gustavus II
Adolphus (the son of Charles IX) seized Riga (1621) and almost all of Livonia. The Poles
also, inevitably, became involved in the internal "troubles" of Muscovy ("Smuta", 1605
onwards), usually at the request of the boyars, but the events surrounding the short-lived
careers of the two "False Dimitris" did not benefit the Republic. In 1610, after a successful
military campaign, Zygmunt proposed his own son, Wladyslaw, as candidate to the Muscovite
throne but Wladyslaw's refusal to convert to the Orthodox faith led to the driving out of the
Poles and the enthroning of the first Romanov (1613). The devastation and loss of life were
tremendous and Poland was only saved by a number of outstanding military commanders;
Stanislaw Zolkiewski, Jan Karol Chodkiewicz, Stefan Czarniecki (b. 1599; d. 1665) and
Stanislaw Koniecpolski who achieved some great victories (Kluszyn, 1610; Kircholm, 1605;
Chocim, 1612).

This was also the period that saw the Republic at its greatest territorial extent and
economically the nation was prosperous (but there were also new extremes of wealth and
poverty). Religious tolerance was maintained despite Zygmunt's own Catholic fanaticism (his
greatest success was the establishment of the Uniates; the union of the greater part of the
Ruthenian Orthodox Church with Rome in 1596 ratified at the Synod of Brzesc). The
followers of Fausto Sozzini (Socinius, b. 1539; d. 1604), the Polish Brethren, founded a
centre of protestant culture at Rakow (which became known as the Sarmatian Athens),
between Kielce and Sandomierz, where they published the Rakowian Catechism (1604), the
most well-known statement of Unitarian theology at the time and an important expression of
radical thought. When the Hussites suffered the crushing defeat at the battle of White
Mountain (1620) many were forced into exile, some making their way to Poland and
influencing the Arian movement there. The Jewish community thrived and spread out from
the cities into the provinces; but by linking their fortunes with greedy lords through the
"arenda" system (whereby an estate would be leased out by an absentee lord to a manager
who could exploit it and those who worked it) they exposed themselves to the hatred of the
peasantry.

Zygmunt's son, Wladyslaw IV (b. 1595; d. 1648), King 1632 - 1648, served as a youth in the
Muscovite campaigns (1610 - 12 and 1617 - 18). On his accession to the throne he fought a
war with Muscovy and won a victorious peace (1634). He made a favourable settlement with
the Turks (1634) and with Sweden (1635). He was involved in serious disputes with the Sejm
and unsuccessfully attempted to establish order in the last years of his reign. For some time
the Arian movement had thrived in the climate of religious tolerance that Poland had offered
but their own success led to their downfall. In 1641 all Arians were forced to convert or leave
the country, resulting in mass exodus. A particular danger came from within when, in 1648,
the Cossacks, mainly of Ruthenian and Polish origin, for a variety of reasons but chiefly due
to the arrogance of the magnates who were treating the free Cossacks as serfs, broke their oath
of allegiance to the Polish King under the instigation of their Hetman, Chmielnicki.
Wladyslaw died whilst this revolt was still in force. Wladyslaw travelled widely visiting
Florence where he was honoured by the Italian composer, Francesco Caccini who wrote a
composition "La Liberazione di Ruggero dell Isola di Alcina" dedicated to him. He
corresponded with Galileo, ordering telescopes from him, and modelled for Peter Paul Rubens
in his studio in Antwerp.

Wladyslaw's son, Jan II Kazimierz (b. 1609; d. 1672), was a Jesuit and Cardinal (1640) and
had to be absolved of his religious vows by the Pope in order to be able to take on his duties
as King 1648 - 1668. In the continued revolt of the Cossacks, Chmielnicki used the Ukraine
as a pawn between the powers of Poland, Muscovy and Turkey which resulted in further wars,
with the Tartars (1649), and a disastrous 13 - year war with Muscovy (1654 - 67). Janusz
Radziwill, Grand Hetman of Lithuania, defeated by Tsar Alexei of Muscovy during
Chmielnicki's revolt (1654), appealed for help from Charles X Gustavus of Sweden, himself
fearful of Muscovite expansion. He invaded Poland in 1655. This period in which the
Republic was inundated by enemy forces, and the chaos that accompanied it, became known
as the "Deluge" ("Potop"). The collapse of Polish resistance led to the desertion of many
Polish officers and szlachta (the nobility) from Jan Kazimierz to Charles. In October
Radziwill signed an agreement at Kiejdany which detached Lithuania from Poland, placing it
under the protection of Sweden. In the following guerrilla war, where Polish forces were
supported by Tartars fearful of the further expansion of Muscovy into the vacuum caused by
the war with Sweden, and Danish and Dutch fleets came to the defence of Gdansk, it is the
defence of Czestochowa, at the monastery of Jasna Gora, (1655), Poland's most sacred shrine
containing the picture of the Virgin Mary (the "Black Madonna"), by a small force led by
Prior Kordecki and his monks against a besieging army of 9,000 Swedes, that actually
changed the course of the war and became a signal for a general uprising that resulted in the
eventual expulsion of the Swedes from the Republic. In 1658, at Hadziacz, an agreement
between the King and the new Cossack Hetman, Wyhowski, was to enable Ruthenia to join
the Commonwealth on equal terms with Poland and Lithuania but a further Cossack rebellion
(1659) instigated by Muscovy (herself attempting to annex the Ukraine) and Polish
involvement in war with Sweden (1655 - 60), meant that the agreement bore no fruit and in
1667, by the treaty of Andruszowo, the Ukraine was divided evenly along the Dnieper
between the Commonwealth and Muscovy. For the Polish Commonwealth this was a disaster
since it weakened an important frontier area and left a discontented people open to
manipulation by Poland's enemies.

The general decline was especially noticed in the Sejm; the parliamentary system grew
awkward and ineffective as deputies used the notorious "Liberum Veto", which allowed any
deputy to prevent legislation since all resolutions had to be carried unanimously. The idea of
consensus rule was, in principle, a good one but the "Liberum Veto" was first used in a
manner that destroyed the working of the Sejm, in 1652, by a Jan Sicinski on the orders of
Janusz Radziwill. It soon became obvious to Poland's neighbours that the veto could be used
to their own political ends and they soon clubbed together to "defend Polish freedoms". The
szlachta, themselves, becoming less influential as they lost their military valour and, in many
cases, impoverished, saw the veto as the last symbol of their ability to play a role in the
running of the Commonwealth.

This was also a period of great rivalry and suspicion between the pro-Bourbon factions (led
by the Queen, Louise-Marie) and the pro-Habsburg szlachta (many of whom were in the
pockets of Vienna. The need for reform had become obvious and the Jesuit preacher, Piotr
Skarga, had blamed social injustice as the main cause of evil. The final indignity came when,
as a direct result of attempting to introduce reforms that would modernise the state, Jerzy
Lubomirski, the Grand Marshal, rebelled against the King. The royal faction was defeated at
the battle of Matwy (1666) but not long afterwards Lubomirski came and begged for a pardon
which was granted; the whole farce had merely served to damage the prestige of the crown.
Shortly after his chief support, Queen Louise-Marie, died (1667) Jan Kazimierz took refuge in
Silesia, resigned as King (1668) and retired to France as Abbe de Saint-Germain. The farcical
elections that followed led to the appointment of a Polish nonentity despised by both Bourbon
and Habsburg factions, Michal Korybut Wisniowiecki.

Wisniowiecki;

The Wisnioweckis were a noble Ukrainian family. During the early 1500s the idea of hiring
the Cossacks to guard the Dnieper crossings by building fortresses on its islands was proposed
but never developed, it was Dmitri (d.1563), a magnate from Southern Volhynia who
independently founded the first Cossack fortress, Niz, at Chortyca, out of which grew the Sicz
of Zaporoze. After a failed attempt to involve Poland-Lithuania in a war against the Tartars,
he became heavily involved in Moldavian affairs only to be betrayed to the Turks and
executed for piracy. Dmitri is credited with being the first to create a stable organisation for
the Cossacks and for putting the Cossack-Ukrainian cause on the map. His son signed the
Union of Lublin and his grandson led a notorious expedition to Moldavia (1616). His great-
grandson was Prince Jarema (b. 1612; d. 1651), Voivode of Ruthenia and chief enemy of
Chmielnicki.

The farcical elections that followed the resignation of Jan II Kazimierz, the last of the Vasas
(1668), led to the appointment of a Polish nonentity, the favourite of the szlachta (the
nobility) suspicious of foreigners and seeking a "new Piast", despised by both Bourbon and
Habsburg factions, Jarema's son, Michal Korybut (b. 1640; d. 1673), king (1669 - 1673); he
proved to be a weak monarch unable to control the magnates who nicknamed him "le Singe".
In 1672 the Turkish invasion of Podolia led to the fall of the fortress of Kamieniec Podolsk
and, with the country in a state of chaos, the Poles sued for peace; at the Treaty of Buczacz
the Poles lost what was left of Podolia and the Ukraine and had to pay a humiliating annual
tribute. Michal Korybut died suddenly whilst a new invasion was in force, on the eve of
Chocim; he was succeeded by the victor of that battle, Jan Sobieski.

Sobieski, Jan III (b. Olesko, nr. Lwow, 1674; d. 1696) the son of Jakub Sobieski, the
Castellan of Krakow and Voivode of Ruthenia, Jan Sobieski was educated in Krakow. A great
military leader, Sobieski entered military service in 1648, seeing action against both the
Tartars and Cossacks (1651 - 52) and Swedes under Lubomirski and Czarniecki, although,
along with many other officers who had deserted the royal cause in the dark days of the
Deluge, he had briefly accepted a commission under Swedish King, Charles X (1655 - 56).
He was first entered the Sejm in 1659. Sobieski was appointed Commander - in - Chief of the
Polish Army (1665) and Grand Hetman in 1668. Besieged by an army of Cossacks and
Tartars at Podhajce he raised 8000 men at his own expense and forced the enemy to retire.
Later, when the Turks seized the fortress of Kamieniec (1672), Sobieski beat the Turkish
forces back and virtually annihilated them at Chocim (1673), earning from them the nickname
of the "Fearful Lion of the North". He was elected King a few months later (1674 - 96). The
climax of his career came in 1683 when, with 20,000 Polish troops he relieved the Turkish
siege of Vienna. Unable to break into Europe through Poland, the Turks had invaded Hungary
and Austria in 1683 and swept all before them. 130,000 Turks besieged Vienna and
threatened to overpower Europe. Sobieski, at the request of the Pope, marched on Vienna
through rugged mountain passes and sent the Husaria into their last great charge, taking the
Turks unawares. It was a turning point in history. Combined with the Imperial Army, he
drove the Turks back to the Raab. He was acclaimed as the hero of Christendom - Jan
Matejko's painting of "Sobieski at Vienna" hangs in the Vatican. His later years were a
failure, unable to overturn the political decline of Poland; he was unable to solve Poland's
problems on the Baltic or on the eastern frontier because the long years of campaigning and
wars had drained her resources and, in 1686, in an unbelievably naive move, the
Grzymultowski Peace literally gave away the entire Ukraine and transformed "Muscovy" into
"Russia" - enabling her to emerge as the major power in Eastern Europe. He was a patron of
science and literature and his marvellous palace at Wilanow, on the outskirts of Warsaw
reflect his domestic grandeur. The elections after the death of Sobieski were contentious; his
son, Jakub (b. 1667; d. 1737), was forced to withdraw for lack of funds, and the French
candidate was cheated of victory by bribery and corruption so that the Elector of Saxony,
Frederick Augustus was elected king, Augustus II. It would be the beginning of the end.
Sobieski's granddaughter, Clementina (b. 1702; d.1735), married James Edward Stuart, the
"Old Pretender"; their son was Charles Edward Louis Philip Kazimierz, the "young
Pretender" - "Bonny Prince Charlie".

Wettin;

The Wettins were a German dynasty that was active, in the Tenth century, in pushing
Germany's eastern frontier into Slav lands. By c.1100 they had acquired the Margrave of
Meissen and extended their rule over Thuringia and Saxony. In 1485 the dynasty divided into
the Ernestine and Albertine branches. The Albertines became the Electors of Saxony (1547)
and provided two kings of Poland, Augustus II and Augustus III. The sixty-six years of Saxon
rule, from 1697 - 1763, were a national disaster and drove the country to the brink of anarchy.
The causes are twofold: firstly, from the outset the Saxon kings fell into a partnership with
Russia in which they became more and more dependent on the support of the stronger partner;
secondly, The Republic, which had been severely weakened by the period of warfare and
internal strife of the seventeenth century, was reduced to the state of a helpless bystander in
the wars of the eighteenth. The nation was further undermined as the powerful land-owning
magnates began to look to the preservation their own self-interests in whatever manner they
could, whilst the less powerful szlachta attempted to hang on to the only power they held -
their traditional rights - even at the expense of important reforms. The Republic had no
standing army, it was a citizen army with only a small core of professionals. Whilst Sobieski
had carried out important reforms which had significantly improved the army's tactical and
technological stature there was a heavy reliance on foreign infantry and there was no
centralised funding. There was, also, internal resistance to the idea of a regular army which
could be used by an autocratic ruler to restrict personal liberties (as in Prussia, for example).
Poland also became sandwiched between two rising powers; Russia, ruled by Peter the Great,
and Prussia which the Elector of Brandenburg, Frederick III, was to declare a kingdom in
1701.

The Elector of Saxony, Frederick Augustus (b. Dresden, 1670; d. 1733), who had
unsuccessfully commanded the imperial Army against the Turks (1695 - 96), converted to
Catholicism (the Republic was "worth a mass") and was elected king Augustus II of Poland in
1697 after a contentious election which, in many ways, reflected the disintegration of the
nation. His reign started auspiciously with the treaty of Karlowicz by which the former
provinces of Podolia and the Ukraine, including the important fortress of Kamieniec, were
restored to Poland by the Turks (1699). In the mistaken belief that Sweden was in decline and
with the intention of acquiring Livonia for Saxony, Augustus entered into a disastrous three-
way alliance with Frederick IV of Denmark and Peter I the Great of Russia (1672 - 1725) that
would eventually embroil Poland in the Great Northern War (1700-21). Although the Sejm
refused to support him, Augustus invaded Livonia and laid siege to Riga. The Swedish king,
Charles XII (the "Lion of the North", 1682 - 1718) defeated the Danes who had invaded
Schleswig (1700), destroyed the Russian Army at Narva (November 1700) and raised the
siege of Riga (1701). Charles then invaded Poland with the intention of deposing Augustus
from the Polish throne as a punishment for his central role in the anti-Swedish alliance. He
seized Warsaw and defeated Augustus at Kliszow (where the Polish Army, having failed in
two charges against the Swedish infantry, refused to fight on, 1702) and Pultusk (1703).
Charles XII then imposed his candidate, Stanislaw Leszczynski (1704 - 09), on the Polish
throne.

The Leszczynskis were a noble Polish family which played a prominent part during the 16th.
to 18th. centuries. The general, Rafael Leszczynski, was the father of Stanislaw I Leszczynski
(b. Lwow, 1677; d. 1766), king of Poland (1704 - 09, and 1733 - 35). When Augustus II of
Saxony and Poland allied himself with Russia (1700 - 1721) against Sweden in the Great
Northern War, Leszczynski, the Voivode of Poznan, proved to be a staunch opponent and
gained the support of Charles XII of Sweden. In 1704 Sweden won, Augustus was removed
and Leszczynski was elected in his place. In 1709 the Russians defeated the Swedes at
Poltava and Augustus was returned to the throne. Leszczynski settled in Alsace (1709) and,
later, became governor of Zweibruken in the Palatinate (1718 - 25). In 1725, his daughter,
Maria (b. Wroclaw, 1703; d. 1768), married Louis XV of France who ensured that, on
Augustus' death, in 1733, Leszczynski was again elected King. The War of Polish Succession
(1733 - 35) followed, Stanislaw was supported by France and Spain, while Austria and Russia
supported Frederick Augustus II, elector of Saxony, Augustus II's son. Leszczynski was
besieged at Danzig, receiving only moral support from France, while his rival received full
military aid from Russia. Inevitably, he was obliged to flee from Danzig (1734) and accept the
terms of the Treaty of Vienna (1735) by which he kept the royal title but renounced his actual
rights in favour of Frederick Augustus. Leszczynski was awarded the Duchy of Lorraine and
Bar (1737) by Francis I, the Holy Roman Emperor, in exchange for Tuscany and also received
a pension from France. He maintained court at Luneville and Nancy which was a model of the
Enlightenment. Leszczynski corresponded with the finest thinkers of his time, most notably
with Rousseau who, on his request, drafted a new constitution for Poland. He wrote the
influential reforming tract, "A Free Voice Insuring Freedom" (1749), and "Oeuvres du
Philosophe Bienfaisant" (published 1767).

The unconstitutional manner of Leszczynski's election (where a hastily thrown together Sejm
had been surrounded by armed Swedish troops ready to enforce Charles' will) divided the
country into pro-Leszczynski and pro-Augustus camps; the Northern War had now, for the
Poles, become a civil war. An attempt by Augustus to regain Poland was stopped at Fraustadt
(February 1706). Charles XII invaded Saxony in August 1706 and seized Leipzig; Augustus
sued for peace and abdicated the throne of Poland (Treaty of Altranstadt, 1706). Augustus
was restored after the Swedish invasion of Russia failed at the battle of Poltava (1709) - in
which an important role was played by Polish peasants harassing the Swedish columns, and
the pro-Saxon Confederates of Sandomierz who prevented reinforcements from reaching the
Swedes. By the end of this war Russia was able to interfere freely in the internal affairs of the
nation. Augustus maintained a Saxon Army in Poland which reinforced the Polish view that
he was intending to turn the Polish throne into that of an absolute monarch. Conflict between
Augustus and the Sejm almost ended in civil war with the setting up of the Confederation of
Tarnogrod (1715), only prevented by a Russian offer of mediation; 18,000 Russian troops
surrounded the chamber where the deputies met, they were denied the right to speak whilst
the Russian "mediator" dictated the Russian " solution". This Sejm became known as the
"Dumb Sejm" and the Republic became little more than a Russian client state; a
"Protectorate".

The emasculation of both Augustus and the Sejm lead to the dissipation of power into the
hands of a small group of magnates who ruled their own lands as princes making independent
political alliances depending on the state of their finances or interests; "a state within the
state". The army had virtually disappeared as a fighting force; morale had collapsed, technical
proficiency declined, corruption was rife, nobles absented themselves from duty or preferred
to serve the magnates: all this at a time when the Republic's neighbours were undergoing
massive militarisation. In the Northern War Russia seized Livonia and began to dominate the
Baltic; Augustus, awake to the Russian threat, entered into an alliance with the Holy Roman
Emperor, Charles VI, and England (who both had their own reasons to be wary of the sudden
rise of Russia) to cast off Russian interference in Poland (Vienna, 1719) but the Sejm rejected
the treaty (1720), at which point Augustus condemned their shameful weakness. Now
Augustus attempted to establish another treaty with Prussia aimed directly at the partition of
Poland - but nothing came of this for Russia made a secret pact with Prussia at Potsdam
(1720) to maintain the paralysis of law and order within Poland by protecting Polish "rights"
such as the Liberum Veto.

It was in this period that intolerance towards religious dissidents was intensified and perhaps
the lowest point in the history of the Republic came in 1724 when the mayor of Torun and
nine other Protestants were executed because they had failed to prevent anti-Jesuit excesses.
The English protested at this outrage and, when Poland was partitioned (1772), the image of a
bigoted and intolerant nation put aside any feelings of sympathy that there might have been.
The Russo-Prussian alliance of 1730 went so far as to pledge to protect religious minorities
and to secure their former privileges (despite the fact that these two states refused to offer
similar rights to their own religious minorities). The Convocation Sejm of 1733 was to bring
Poland into line with the rest of Europe with its ending of religious freedoms and debarring of
non-Catholics from holding office or acting as representatives in the Sejm; a move that was to
have its repercussions in 1766 when Russia and Prussia would use their pledges to protect the
rights of dissidents as an excuse to prevent reform and a revival of the Polish state.

Augustus was a patron of the arts, greatly embellishing his capital, Dresden, and created the
Meissen china industry. He is also known as Augustus the Strong but this is more in reference
to his numerous affairs and his prodigious number of, largely illegitimate, offspring.

On Augustus' death, in 1733, the French candidate, Leszczynski, was again elected King; this
sparked off the War of Polish Succession (1733 - 35) during which Polish resistance, the
Confederation of Dzikow under the leadership of Adam Tarlo, was crushed by combined
Prussian and Russian armies. The Russians sent in an army and reran the election; their
candidate, Augustus' son, Frederik Augustus II (b. Dresden, 1696; d. 1763) was elected king,
Augustus III, in 1734. Augustus spent his reign almost exclusively in Dresden, only fleeing to
Poland when the Prussians occupied Saxony during the Seven Years War; Poland was ruled
by his adviser Bruhl and son-in-law, Mniszech. He supported Prussia in the first Silesian War
(1740 - 42) but sided with Austria in the second Silesian War (1744 - 45), was defeated and
forced to pay indemnity. The Electorate of Saxony was occupied by Prussia during the Seven
Years War - the third Silesian War (1756 - 63); during this war, by which Prussia gained
Silesia, Poland's neutrality was ignored and she became a staging area for the deployment of
the combatants. Frederick II (the Great) of Prussia recouped his war costs by flooding Poland
with counterfeit money and imposing illegal tolls on the Wisla. Prussia and Russia continued
to renew their alliances by which Poland would be kept weakened. At Augustus' death, the
Russians forced the election of Stanislaw Poniatowski, destined to become the last King of
Poland.

Poniatowski;

The Poniatowskis were a noble family of Italian origin including; Stanislaw (b. 1676; d.
1762), a general and diplomat who joined Charles XII of Sweden in support of Stanislaw
Leszczynski, and fought at Poltava (1709). He represented Charles at the Porte. Stanislaw was
the brother-in-law of Michal and August Czartoryski and formed part of that powerful group
aiming at reform, "the Family". His son, Stanislaw II Augustus (b. Wolczyn, 1732; d. St.
Petersburg, 1798), was a refined man who, after his education, spent a great deal of time in
the West, mainly Paris and London. He was sent to St. Petersburg (1757) to gain support for
the proposed overthrow of Augustus III but succeeded instead in becoming a lover of the
future Catherine the Great, Empress of Russia. On the death of Augustus III, Catherine used
her influence to ensure that Stanislaw Augustus became King (1764 - 1795); Poniatowski was
to become the last King of Poland.

On acceding to the throne Stanislaw Augustus attempted to show that he was no puppet by
setting up a range of commissions and ministries aimed at improving the process of
government, carrying out financial and educational reforms and establishing a military school
(the Szkola Rycerska); it was obvious that a Polish revival was under way. At this point
Prussia and Russia raised the whole issue of the rights of Lutheran and Orthodox dissidents
knowing that this would stir up trouble (1766). The issue was discussed in the Sejm in chaotic
conditions, the Papal Nuncio protested and the proposed changes were rejected. As a result
two Confederations were formed, that of the Protestants at Thorn and the Orthodox dissidents
at Slupsk strongly supported by Russian troops. More significantly the Confederation of
Radom (1767) was formed by a number of Catholic szlachta who had been skilfully
manipulated by Russian diplomats. Now a treaty was imposed on Poland and forced through
the Sejm (1768), which hypocritically protected the rights of the szlachta to elect the king and
maintain the "Liberum Veto" - thus using these ancient privileges as a means to make the
state impotent. A number of representatives of the Sejm who opposed Russian demands were
arrested and deported to Kaluga in Russia. A large number of the szlachta, disgusted at this
turn of events, revolted by setting up the Confederation of Bar (1768 - 72). Russian attempts
to put the rising down were hindered by having to repress a peasant uprising in the Polish
Ukraine, and by the Ottoman Turks who declared war on Russia (1768). After four years
struggle, during which Stanislaw Augustus was actually kidnapped by some of the Bar
Confederates (though he managed to escape in the bungled affair), the rising was eventually
crushed and over 5000 captured szlachta were sent to Siberia; among the few who escaped
was Kazimierz Pulaski who was to play an important role in the United States' struggle for
independence.

The campaigns of 1768 - 72 so devastated Poland and weakened the government that the
nation was unable to put up any meaningful resistance when Prussia, Russia and Austria
agreed to annex parts of Poland in 1772. The Commonwealth lost 224,173.5 sq.km (29.5%)
of her former territory and 4,020,000 of her population (a reduction by 35.2%): Prussia took
the smallest, but economically best, area (5%) - cutting Poland off from the Baltic - and
severed its feudal dependence on the Polish Crown; Austria took the most heavily populated
areas (11.8%), whilst Russia took the largest, but least important (12.7%). To give the crime
some legality the Sejm was forced to ratify the partition in 1773, despite the resistance of
some Deputies, led by Tadeusz Rejtan. Amazingly some of the szlachta saw partition as a plot
between Poniatowski and the Russians in order to introduce an absolute monarchy into
Poland.

Despite the disaster of this first partition, Poland underwent a national revival in 1773, thanks
to the efforts of Stanislaw Augustus. The first step was the creation of the "Komisija Edukacji
Narodowej" ("Committee of National Education"), the first Ministry of Education in Europe;
hundreds of schools were founded and the standard of education was raised. Writers, poets,
artists and scholars were encouraged by the King and the ideas of the Enlightenment were
taking hold. This was the period of Naruszewicz, Krasicki, Boguslawski, and Karpinski.
Taking advantage of Russia's involvement in a war against Turkey, the King launched a
reform programme (1788-1792) and the task was carried out by the "Four-Year" or "Great
Sejm" which established a new Constitution; the Constitution of the Third of May, 1791, in
which the "Liberum Veto" was abolished, majority rule introduced, and personal freedoms
guaranteed to all the people. The Constitution was hailed in the United States, England and
France, but was seen as a threat to the absolute rulers of Prussia, Austria and, especially,
Russia. In 1792, at Russia's instigation, a handful of magnates led by Ksawery Branicki,
Szczesny Potocki and Seweryn Rzewuski betrayed the Commonwealth and formed the
Confederation of Targowica against the new Constitution and then "asked" for help. Russian
troops crossed the borders and war broke out. The King's nephew, Joseph Poniatowski and
Tadeusz Kosciuszko, a veteran of the American War of Independence, put up heroic
resistance but all hope faded away when Stanislaw Augustus, under pressure from his
ministers who could see the writing on the wall, declared his adherence to the Confederation
of Targowica (August 1792). Meanwhile the Prussians attacked the Polish armies in the rear.
The dismayed Army dispersed; many patriots were forced to flee. In 1793 Russia and Prussia
signed the Second Partition Treaty, seizing more than half the country and about four million
more of the population. The last Sejm of the Commonwealth, which met at Grodno, was
forced to legalise the partition and abolish most of the reforms of the "Great Sejm". Popular
discontent led to Insurrection, proclaimed by Kosciuszko on 24 March 1794, followed by
victory at Raclawice and Warsaw.

Tadeusz Andrzej Bonawentura Kosciuszko (b. nr. Slonim, 12 February 1746. d. Soleure,
Switzerland,1817) is one of the giants of Polish history. At an early age Kosciuszko decided
to join the military and studied at the Warsaw Cadet School, and in France, engineering and
artillery. He volunteered to fight in the American War of Independence where he was
appointed colonel of engineers in the Continental army (Oct.18 1776). During the southern
advance of Burgoyne after the fall of Fort Ticonderoga (1777) he effectively delayed the
British thus granting the Americans valuable time to build up their forces and he made
important tactical decisions concerning the battle of Saratoga which followed. He was in
charge of construction of the fortifications at West Point (1778 - 80) which made full use of
the natural terrain and interlocking fields of fire. Kosciuszko proposed the establishment of a
technical military school where all officers would be trained in engineering and the sciences
which became the United States Military Academy at West Point. He was one of the founders
of the Society of Cincinnati. In 1783 the American Congress awarded him citizenship and
promoted him to the rank of Brigadier.

During the Russo-Polish War (1792- 93), or the War of the Second Partition, he defended the
Bug at Dubienka for five days with only 4000 men against 18,000. After the Second Partition
of 1792, following the growing humiliation of the nation by Catherine the Great, in an effort
to stop the destruction of Poland, Kosciuszko went to France to propose a league of republics
which would oppose the league of sovereigns. The French were vague in their response and
Kosciuszko had to return empty-handed. When, on 21 February 1794 the Russians ordered a
further reduction of the army and the arrest of suspected subversives, the seeds had been sown
for a national uprising. Finding that Polish officers were already in the act of revolting against
the limitation of the army to 15,000 men, his hand forced, Kosciuszko arrived in Krakow on
23rd March, proclaimed the Act of Insurrection on the 24th with his famous oath in the
Rynek;

"I, Tadeusz Kosciuszko, swear in the sight of God to the whole Polish nation that I will use
the power entrusted to me for the personal oppression of none, but will only use it for the
defence of the integrity of the boundaries, the regaining of the independence of the nation, and
the solid establishment of universal freedom. So help me God and the Innocent Passion of His
Son."

and was appointed dictator and commander-in-chief. His army of peasants defeated a greatly
superior force of Russians at Raclawice, as a result of which a national insurrection flared up
in Lithuania and Warsaw. The red four-cornered caps worn by the Krakow peasants were
adopted by the National Cavalry, and later worn by the Polish lancers in Napoleon's army,
after which they became traditional wear for lancer units in all European armies. At
Szczekociny, on 6 May, Kosciuszko was outnumbered by the Prussians under Frederick
William, and defeated, leaving the way open for the occupation of Krakow (which they
entered on 15 June). On 7 May his Polanice Manifesto gave freedom to the peasants. The new
government's army could not withstand the combined forces of Austria, Prussia and Russia
and was annihilated at the bloody battle of Maciejowice, 10 October, where Kosciuszko was
seriously wounded and captured. In November, Warsaw was taken by the Russians who
slaughtered the population of the suburb, Praga, including women and children. Then, in
1795, the Third Partition wiped what was left of Poland off the map. The King, Stanislaw
Augustus, was forced to abdicate and taken captive to St. Petersburg (where he died in 1798).

The Elected Monarchy

With the death of Zygmunt, the last of the Jagiellonians in 1574, there was nobody who could
legally convene the Sejm. An "interrex" (Regent), the Archbishop of Gniezno, was appointed
by the Senate and a special "Convocational Sejm" was called which decided to let the
"szlachta" (nobility) the elect a king in a free election. Prior to his coronation the king-elect
had to swear to uphold the Constitution and all "szlachta" privileges. In 1573, Henri de
Valois, younger brother to Charles IX of France, was elected king by an overwhelming
majority. In May 1574 Charles died suddenly and Henri had become King of France. It was
generally agreed that he should hold both crowns and go back to France in the autumn but, in
his impatience Henri slipped away early. Affronted, the Poles presented him with the
ultimatum of returning by May 1575 or the throne would be declared vacant.

In December, under the influence of Jan Zamoyski, Stefan Batory (b. Szilagysomlyo,
Transylvania 1533; d. nr Grodno 1586), Prince of Transylvania (1571 - 76) was elected king
of Poland (1575 - 86) by the szlachta (the nobility). Batory was the son of Istvan Bathory,
governor of Transylvania for the Habsburg king of Hungary. He won renown as a soldier with
John Sigismund Zapolya, prince of the newly independent Transylvania and was elected as
Zapolya's successor (1571). As king of Poland, Batory carried out important reforms,
encouraged further overseas trade and creating the first regular Polish infantry by conscripting
peasants from the Royal estates. He was also the first to employ Cossacks on a regular basis.
He overcame the revolt of Danzig (1577), which was given autonomy in its internal affairs (at
a price) and in a war with Muscovy (1579 - 82), after a successful campaign and a brilliant
victory at Pskov, Batory defeated Ivan the Terrible in the Livonian War (1558 - 83). By the
Treaty of Vam Zapolsky, Ivan returned all Lithuanian territory it had captured and renounced
his claims on Livonia; Livonia joined the Commonwealth and Poland was now recognised as
the greatest power in Central Europe and only the Turkish Sultan ruled over more extensive
territories. In 1579 he created the University at Wilno. By the 1550s eighty per cent of the
world's Jews lived in Poland. Batory gave the Jews their own national assembly drawn from
the local self-governing communities (Kahal). In 1583 Batory granted the postal monopoly to
Sebastian Montelupi who organised a regular postal system both internally and abroad. After
his sudden death, Batory was succeeded, in the 1587 election, by Sigismund (Zygmunt) Vasa,
son of John III Vasa of Sweden.

Vasa;

The Vasa were a dynasty of Swedish Kings whose name is derived from the family estate
around Uppsala. The founder of the dynasty was Gustav Eriksson Vasa who became, firstly,
Regent of Sweden (1521) and then King Gustavus I Vasa (1523 - 60). After the unexpected
death of Batory in 1586, there was a major crisis when the pro-Hapsburg Zborowski faction
forced through the election of Archduke Maximilian and almost brought the nation to a state
of civil war. The great Renaissance politician (and staunch anti-Austrian), Jan Zamoyski
confronted Maximilian and held Krakow for the Swedish crown prince, grandson of Gustavus
I and son of John III of Sweden, Zygmunt III Vasa (b. Gripsholm, 1566; d. Warsaw,1632),
who came to the throne 1587 - 1632. There would eventually be three Vasa Kings and the
period would see long rivalry and wars between Poland and Sweden for the control of the
Baltic. Under Zygmunt's reign the Polish magnates (great lords) rose to a position of power
and would eventually destroy Poland through their greed; he was also in constant struggle
with Jan Zamoyski, the Chancellor (1587 - 1605) whose diplomatic and military successes he
regarded with suspicion. Zygmunt was forced to work with Zamoyski when he overreached
himself in arranging a secret marriage with the Austrian Archduchess Anna (1592) and was
subsequently humiliated by the Inquisition Diet of 1592. In the same year he received the
Sejm's permission to become King of Sweden but was only crowned (1594) after promising to
uphold Swedish Lutheranism.

Returning to Poland, Zygmunt left his uncle, Charles Suderman, as Regent of Sweden. He
then decided to move the capital from Krakow to Warsaw (1596), which was closer to
Sweden and the junction of all major routes criss-crossing the Commonwealth. When his
uncle rose in rebellion Zygmunt invaded Sweden (thus losing any support there was for him
amongst the Swedish nobility) only to be defeated at Stangebro (1598). In 1599 the Riksdag
(Swedish Parliament) dethroned Zygmunt offering the crown to his four-year-old son,
Wladyslaw, on condition that he would come to Sweden and accept Lutheranism. Zygmunt
refused to accept these conditions and lost the crown of Sweden to his uncle (who was
crowned Charles IX, 1604 - 11). Zygmunt never relinquished the throne and his foreign
policy was, from that point onwards, directed at regaining the Swedish crown.

From 1605, after the death of Zamoyski, Poland became involved in internal problems as a
result of Zygmunt's absolutionist tendencies (the Zebrzydowski rebellion, 1606 - 8) and wars
with Sweden (1617 - 29) and the Turks (1620 - 21). During the Swedish War, Gustavus II
Adolphus (the son of Charles IX) seized Riga (1621) and almost all of Livonia. The Poles
also, inevitably, became involved in the internal "troubles" of Muscovy ("Smuta", 1605
onwards), usually at the request of the boyars, but the events surrounding the short-lived
careers of the two "False Dimitris" did not benefit the Republic. In 1610, after a successful
military campaign, Zygmunt proposed his own son, Wladyslaw, as candidate to the Muscovite
throne but Wladyslaw's refusal to convert to the Orthodox faith led to the driving out of the
Poles and the enthroning of the first Romanov (1613). The devastation and loss of life were
tremendous and Poland was only saved by a number of outstanding military commanders;
Stanislaw Zolkiewski, Jan Karol Chodkiewicz, Stefan Czarniecki (b. 1599; d. 1665) and
Stanislaw Koniecpolski who achieved some great victories (Kluszyn, 1610; Kircholm, 1605;
Chocim, 1612).

This was also the period that saw the Republic at its greatest territorial extent and
economically the nation was prosperous (but there were also new extremes of wealth and
poverty). Religious tolerance was maintained despite Zygmunt's own Catholic fanaticism (his
greatest success was the establishment of the Uniates; the union of the greater part of the
Ruthenian Orthodox Church with Rome in 1596 ratified at the Synod of Brzesc). The
followers of Fausto Sozzini (Socinius, b. 1539; d. 1604), the Polish Brethren, founded a
centre of protestant culture at Rakow (which became known as the Sarmatian Athens),
between Kielce and Sandomierz, where they published the Rakowian Catechism (1604), the
most well-known statement of Unitarian theology at the time and an important expression of
radical thought. When the Hussites suffered the crushing defeat at the battle of White
Mountain (1620) many were forced into exile, some making their way to Poland and
influencing the Arian movement there. The Jewish community thrived and spread out from
the cities into the provinces; but by linking their fortunes with greedy lords through the
"arenda" system (whereby an estate would be leased out by an absentee lord to a manager
who could exploit it and those who worked it) they exposed themselves to the hatred of the
peasantry.

Zygmunt's son, Wladyslaw IV (b. 1595; d. 1648), King 1632 - 1648, served as a youth in the
Muscovite campaigns (1610 - 12 and 1617 - 18). On his accession to the throne he fought a
war with Muscovy and won a victorious peace (1634). He made a favourable settlement with
the Turks (1634) and with Sweden (1635). He was involved in serious disputes with the Sejm
and unsuccessfully attempted to establish order in the last years of his reign. For some time
the Arian movement had thrived in the climate of religious tolerance that Poland had offered
but their own success led to their downfall. In 1641 all Arians were forced to convert or leave
the country, resulting in mass exodus. A particular danger came from within when, in 1648,
the Cossacks, mainly of Ruthenian and Polish origin, for a variety of reasons but chiefly due
to the arrogance of the magnates who were treating the free Cossacks as serfs, broke their oath
of allegiance to the Polish King under the instigation of their Hetman, Chmielnicki.
Wladyslaw died whilst this revolt was still in force. Wladyslaw travelled widely visiting
Florence where he was honoured by the Italian composer, Francesco Caccini who wrote a
composition "La Liberazione di Ruggero dell Isola di Alcina" dedicated to him. He
corresponded with Galileo, ordering telescopes from him, and modelled for Peter Paul Rubens
in his studio in Antwerp.

Wladyslaw's son, Jan II Kazimierz (b. 1609; d. 1672), was a Jesuit and Cardinal (1640) and
had to be absolved of his religious vows by the Pope in order to be able to take on his duties
as King 1648 - 1668. In the continued revolt of the Cossacks, Chmielnicki used the Ukraine
as a pawn between the powers of Poland, Muscovy and Turkey which resulted in further wars,
with the Tartars (1649), and a disastrous 13 - year war with Muscovy (1654 - 67). Janusz
Radziwill, Grand Hetman of Lithuania, defeated by Tsar Alexei of Muscovy during
Chmielnicki's revolt (1654), appealed for help from Charles X Gustavus of Sweden, himself
fearful of Muscovite expansion. He invaded Poland in 1655. This period in which the
Republic was inundated by enemy forces, and the chaos that accompanied it, became known
as the "Deluge" ("Potop"). The collapse of Polish resistance led to the desertion of many
Polish officers and szlachta (the nobility) from Jan Kazimierz to Charles. In October
Radziwill signed an agreement at Kiejdany which detached Lithuania from Poland, placing it
under the protection of Sweden. In the following guerrilla war, where Polish forces were
supported by Tartars fearful of the further expansion of Muscovy into the vacuum caused by
the war with Sweden, and Danish and Dutch fleets came to the defence of Gdansk, it is the
defence of Czestochowa, at the monastery of Jasna Gora, (1655), Poland's most sacred shrine
containing the picture of the Virgin Mary (the "Black Madonna"), by a small force led by
Prior Kordecki and his monks against a besieging army of 9,000 Swedes, that actually
changed the course of the war and became a signal for a general uprising that resulted in the
eventual expulsion of the Swedes from the Republic. In 1658, at Hadziacz, an agreement
between the King and the new Cossack Hetman, Wyhowski, was to enable Ruthenia to join
the Commonwealth on equal terms with Poland and Lithuania but a further Cossack rebellion
(1659) instigated by Muscovy (herself attempting to annex the Ukraine) and Polish
involvement in war with Sweden (1655 - 60), meant that the agreement bore no fruit and in
1667, by the treaty of Andruszowo, the Ukraine was divided evenly along the Dnieper
between the Commonwealth and Muscovy. For the Polish Commonwealth this was a disaster
since it weakened an important frontier area and left a discontented people open to
manipulation by Poland's enemies.
The general decline was especially noticed in the Sejm; the parliamentary system grew
awkward and ineffective as deputies used the notorious "Liberum Veto", which allowed any
deputy to prevent legislation since all resolutions had to be carried unanimously. The idea of
consensus rule was, in principle, a good one but the "Liberum Veto" was first used in a
manner that destroyed the working of the Sejm, in 1652, by a Jan Sicinski on the orders of
Janusz Radziwill. It soon became obvious to Poland's neighbours that the veto could be used
to their own political ends and they soon clubbed together to "defend Polish freedoms". The
szlachta, themselves, becoming less influential as they lost their military valour and, in many
cases, impoverished, saw the veto as the last symbol of their ability to play a role in the
running of the Commonwealth.

This was also a period of great rivalry and suspicion between the pro-Bourbon factions (led
by the Queen, Louise-Marie) and the pro-Habsburg szlachta (many of whom were in the
pockets of Vienna. The need for reform had become obvious and the Jesuit preacher, Piotr
Skarga, had blamed social injustice as the main cause of evil. The final indignity came when,
as a direct result of attempting to introduce reforms that would modernise the state, Jerzy
Lubomirski, the Grand Marshal, rebelled against the King. The royal faction was defeated at
the battle of Matwy (1666) but not long afterwards Lubomirski came and begged for a pardon
which was granted; the whole farce had merely served to damage the prestige of the crown.
Shortly after his chief support, Queen Louise-Marie, died (1667) Jan Kazimierz took refuge in
Silesia, resigned as King (1668) and retired to France as Abbe de Saint-Germain. The farcical
elections that followed led to the appointment of a Polish nonentity despised by both Bourbon
and Habsburg factions, Michal Korybut Wisniowiecki.

Wisniowiecki;

The Wisnioweckis were a noble Ukrainian family. During the early 1500s the idea of hiring
the Cossacks to guard the Dnieper crossings by building fortresses on its islands was proposed
but never developed, it was Dmitri (d.1563), a magnate from Southern Volhynia who
independently founded the first Cossack fortress, Niz, at Chortyca, out of which grew the Sicz
of Zaporoze. After a failed attempt to involve Poland-Lithuania in a war against the Tartars,
he became heavily involved in Moldavian affairs only to be betrayed to the Turks and
executed for piracy. Dmitri is credited with being the first to create a stable organisation for
the Cossacks and for putting the Cossack-Ukrainian cause on the map. His son signed the
Union of Lublin and his grandson led a notorious expedition to Moldavia (1616). His great-
grandson was Prince Jarema (b. 1612; d. 1651), Voivode of Ruthenia and chief enemy of
Chmielnicki.

The farcical elections that followed the resignation of Jan II Kazimierz, the last of the Vasas
(1668), led to the appointment of a Polish nonentity, the favourite of the szlachta (the
nobility) suspicious of foreigners and seeking a "new Piast", despised by both Bourbon and
Habsburg factions, Jarema's son, Michal Korybut (b. 1640; d. 1673), king (1669 - 1673); he
proved to be a weak monarch unable to control the magnates who nicknamed him "le Singe".
In 1672 the Turkish invasion of Podolia led to the fall of the fortress of Kamieniec Podolsk
and, with the country in a state of chaos, the Poles sued for peace; at the Treaty of Buczacz
the Poles lost what was left of Podolia and the Ukraine and had to pay a humiliating annual
tribute. Michal Korybut died suddenly whilst a new invasion was in force, on the eve of
Chocim; he was succeeded by the victor of that battle, Jan Sobieski.
Sobieski, Jan III (b. Olesko, nr. Lwow, 1674; d. 1696) the son of Jakub Sobieski, the
Castellan of Krakow and Voivode of Ruthenia, Jan Sobieski was educated in Krakow. A great
military leader, Sobieski entered military service in 1648, seeing action against both the
Tartars and Cossacks (1651 - 52) and Swedes under Lubomirski and Czarniecki, although,
along with many other officers who had deserted the royal cause in the dark days of the
Deluge, he had briefly accepted a commission under Swedish King, Charles X (1655 - 56).
He was first entered the Sejm in 1659. Sobieski was appointed Commander - in - Chief of the
Polish Army (1665) and Grand Hetman in 1668. Besieged by an army of Cossacks and
Tartars at Podhajce he raised 8000 men at his own expense and forced the enemy to retire.
Later, when the Turks seized the fortress of Kamieniec (1672), Sobieski beat the Turkish
forces back and virtually annihilated them at Chocim (1673), earning from them the nickname
of the "Fearful Lion of the North". He was elected King a few months later (1674 - 96). The
climax of his career came in 1683 when, with 20,000 Polish troops he relieved the Turkish
siege of Vienna. Unable to break into Europe through Poland, the Turks had invaded Hungary
and Austria in 1683 and swept all before them. 130,000 Turks besieged Vienna and
threatened to overpower Europe. Sobieski, at the request of the Pope, marched on Vienna
through rugged mountain passes and sent the Husaria into their last great charge, taking the
Turks unawares. It was a turning point in history. Combined with the Imperial Army, he
drove the Turks back to the Raab. He was acclaimed as the hero of Christendom - Jan
Matejko's painting of "Sobieski at Vienna" hangs in the Vatican. His later years were a
failure, unable to overturn the political decline of Poland; he was unable to solve Poland's
problems on the Baltic or on the eastern frontier because the long years of campaigning and
wars had drained her resources and, in 1686, in an unbelievably naive move, the
Grzymultowski Peace literally gave away the entire Ukraine and transformed "Muscovy" into
"Russia" - enabling her to emerge as the major power in Eastern Europe. He was a patron of
science and literature and his marvellous palace at Wilanow, on the outskirts of Warsaw
reflect his domestic grandeur. The elections after the death of Sobieski were contentious; his
son, Jakub (b. 1667; d. 1737), was forced to withdraw for lack of funds, and the French
candidate was cheated of victory by bribery and corruption so that the Elector of Saxony,
Frederick Augustus was elected king, Augustus II. It would be the beginning of the end.
Sobieski's granddaughter, Clementina (b. 1702; d.1735), married James Edward Stuart, the
"Old Pretender"; their son was Charles Edward Louis Philip Kazimierz, the "young
Pretender" - "Bonny Prince Charlie".

Wettin;

The Wettins were a German dynasty that was active, in the Tenth century, in pushing
Germany's eastern frontier into Slav lands. By c.1100 they had acquired the Margrave of
Meissen and extended their rule over Thuringia and Saxony. In 1485 the dynasty divided into
the Ernestine and Albertine branches. The Albertines became the Electors of Saxony (1547)
and provided two kings of Poland, Augustus II and Augustus III. The sixty-six years of Saxon
rule, from 1697 - 1763, were a national disaster and drove the country to the brink of anarchy.
The causes are twofold: firstly, from the outset the Saxon kings fell into a partnership with
Russia in which they became more and more dependent on the support of the stronger partner;
secondly, The Republic, which had been severely weakened by the period of warfare and
internal strife of the seventeenth century, was reduced to the state of a helpless bystander in
the wars of the eighteenth. The nation was further undermined as the powerful land-owning
magnates began to look to the preservation their own self-interests in whatever manner they
could, whilst the less powerful szlachta attempted to hang on to the only power they held -
their traditional rights - even at the expense of important reforms. The Republic had no
standing army, it was a citizen army with only a small core of professionals. Whilst Sobieski
had carried out important reforms which had significantly improved the army's tactical and
technological stature there was a heavy reliance on foreign infantry and there was no
centralised funding. There was, also, internal resistance to the idea of a regular army which
could be used by an autocratic ruler to restrict personal liberties (as in Prussia, for example).
Poland also became sandwiched between two rising powers; Russia, ruled by Peter the Great,
and Prussia which the Elector of Brandenburg, Frederick III, was to declare a kingdom in
1701.

The Elector of Saxony, Frederick Augustus (b. Dresden, 1670; d. 1733), who had
unsuccessfully commanded the imperial Army against the Turks (1695 - 96), converted to
Catholicism (the Republic was "worth a mass") and was elected king Augustus II of Poland in
1697 after a contentious election which, in many ways, reflected the disintegration of the
nation. His reign started auspiciously with the treaty of Karlowicz by which the former
provinces of Podolia and the Ukraine, including the important fortress of Kamieniec, were
restored to Poland by the Turks (1699). In the mistaken belief that Sweden was in decline and
with the intention of acquiring Livonia for Saxony, Augustus entered into a disastrous three-
way alliance with Frederick IV of Denmark and Peter I the Great of Russia (1672 - 1725) that
would eventually embroil Poland in the Great Northern War (1700-21). Although the Sejm
refused to support him, Augustus invaded Livonia and laid siege to Riga. The Swedish king,
Charles XII (the "Lion of the North", 1682 - 1718) defeated the Danes who had invaded
Schleswig (1700), destroyed the Russian Army at Narva (November 1700) and raised the
siege of Riga (1701). Charles then invaded Poland with the intention of deposing Augustus
from the Polish throne as a punishment for his central role in the anti-Swedish alliance. He
seized Warsaw and defeated Augustus at Kliszow (where the Polish Army, having failed in
two charges against the Swedish infantry, refused to fight on, 1702) and Pultusk (1703).
Charles XII then imposed his candidate, Stanislaw Leszczynski (1704 - 09), on the Polish
throne.

The Leszczynskis were a noble Polish family which played a prominent part during the 16th.
to 18th. centuries. The general, Rafael Leszczynski, was the father of Stanislaw I Leszczynski
(b. Lwow, 1677; d. 1766), king of Poland (1704 - 09, and 1733 - 35). When Augustus II of
Saxony and Poland allied himself with Russia (1700 - 1721) against Sweden in the Great
Northern War, Leszczynski, the Voivode of Poznan, proved to be a staunch opponent and
gained the support of Charles XII of Sweden. In 1704 Sweden won, Augustus was removed
and Leszczynski was elected in his place. In 1709 the Russians defeated the Swedes at
Poltava and Augustus was returned to the throne. Leszczynski settled in Alsace (1709) and,
later, became governor of Zweibruken in the Palatinate (1718 - 25). In 1725, his daughter,
Maria (b. Wroclaw, 1703; d. 1768), married Louis XV of France who ensured that, on
Augustus' death, in 1733, Leszczynski was again elected King. The War of Polish Succession
(1733 - 35) followed, Stanislaw was supported by France and Spain, while Austria and Russia
supported Frederick Augustus II, elector of Saxony, Augustus II's son. Leszczynski was
besieged at Danzig, receiving only moral support from France, while his rival received full
military aid from Russia. Inevitably, he was obliged to flee from Danzig (1734) and accept the
terms of the Treaty of Vienna (1735) by which he kept the royal title but renounced his actual
rights in favour of Frederick Augustus. Leszczynski was awarded the Duchy of Lorraine and
Bar (1737) by Francis I, the Holy Roman Emperor, in exchange for Tuscany and also received
a pension from France. He maintained court at Luneville and Nancy which was a model of the
Enlightenment. Leszczynski corresponded with the finest thinkers of his time, most notably
with Rousseau who, on his request, drafted a new constitution for Poland. He wrote the
influential reforming tract, "A Free Voice Insuring Freedom" (1749), and "Oeuvres du
Philosophe Bienfaisant" (published 1767).

The unconstitutional manner of Leszczynski's election (where a hastily thrown together Sejm
had been surrounded by armed Swedish troops ready to enforce Charles' will) divided the
country into pro-Leszczynski and pro-Augustus camps; the Northern War had now, for the
Poles, become a civil war. An attempt by Augustus to regain Poland was stopped at Fraustadt
(February 1706). Charles XII invaded Saxony in August 1706 and seized Leipzig; Augustus
sued for peace and abdicated the throne of Poland (Treaty of Altranstadt, 1706). Augustus
was restored after the Swedish invasion of Russia failed at the battle of Poltava (1709) - in
which an important role was played by Polish peasants harassing the Swedish columns, and
the pro-Saxon Confederates of Sandomierz who prevented reinforcements from reaching the
Swedes. By the end of this war Russia was able to interfere freely in the internal affairs of the
nation. Augustus maintained a Saxon Army in Poland which reinforced the Polish view that
he was intending to turn the Polish throne into that of an absolute monarch. Conflict between
Augustus and the Sejm almost ended in civil war with the setting up of the Confederation of
Tarnogrod (1715), only prevented by a Russian offer of mediation; 18,000 Russian troops
surrounded the chamber where the deputies met, they were denied the right to speak whilst
the Russian "mediator" dictated the Russian " solution". This Sejm became known as the
"Dumb Sejm" and the Republic became little more than a Russian client state; a
"Protectorate".

The emasculation of both Augustus and the Sejm lead to the dissipation of power into the
hands of a small group of magnates who ruled their own lands as princes making independent
political alliances depending on the state of their finances or interests; "a state within the
state". The army had virtually disappeared as a fighting force; morale had collapsed, technical
proficiency declined, corruption was rife, nobles absented themselves from duty or preferred
to serve the magnates: all this at a time when the Republic's neighbours were undergoing
massive militarisation. In the Northern War Russia seized Livonia and began to dominate the
Baltic; Augustus, awake to the Russian threat, entered into an alliance with the Holy Roman
Emperor, Charles VI, and England (who both had their own reasons to be wary of the sudden
rise of Russia) to cast off Russian interference in Poland (Vienna, 1719) but the Sejm rejected
the treaty (1720), at which point Augustus condemned their shameful weakness. Now
Augustus attempted to establish another treaty with Prussia aimed directly at the partition of
Poland - but nothing came of this for Russia made a secret pact with Prussia at Potsdam
(1720) to maintain the paralysis of law and order within Poland by protecting Polish "rights"
such as the Liberum Veto.

It was in this period that intolerance towards religious dissidents was intensified and perhaps
the lowest point in the history of the Republic came in 1724 when the mayor of Torun and
nine other Protestants were executed because they had failed to prevent anti-Jesuit excesses.
The English protested at this outrage and, when Poland was partitioned (1772), the image of a
bigoted and intolerant nation put aside any feelings of sympathy that there might have been.
The Russo-Prussian alliance of 1730 went so far as to pledge to protect religious minorities
and to secure their former privileges (despite the fact that these two states refused to offer
similar rights to their own religious minorities). The Convocation Sejm of 1733 was to bring
Poland into line with the rest of Europe with its ending of religious freedoms and debarring of
non-Catholics from holding office or acting as representatives in the Sejm; a move that was to
have its repercussions in 1766 when Russia and Prussia would use their pledges to protect the
rights of dissidents as an excuse to prevent reform and a revival of the Polish state.
Augustus was a patron of the arts, greatly embellishing his capital, Dresden, and created the
Meissen china industry. He is also known as Augustus the Strong but this is more in reference
to his numerous affairs and his prodigious number of, largely illegitimate, offspring.

On Augustus' death, in 1733, the French candidate, Leszczynski, was again elected King; this
sparked off the War of Polish Succession (1733 - 35) during which Polish resistance, the
Confederation of Dzikow under the leadership of Adam Tarlo, was crushed by combined
Prussian and Russian armies. The Russians sent in an army and reran the election; their
candidate, Augustus' son, Frederik Augustus II (b. Dresden, 1696; d. 1763) was elected king,
Augustus III, in 1734. Augustus spent his reign almost exclusively in Dresden, only fleeing to
Poland when the Prussians occupied Saxony during the Seven Years War; Poland was ruled
by his adviser Bruhl and son-in-law, Mniszech. He supported Prussia in the first Silesian War
(1740 - 42) but sided with Austria in the second Silesian War (1744 - 45), was defeated and
forced to pay indemnity. The Electorate of Saxony was occupied by Prussia during the Seven
Years War - the third Silesian War (1756 - 63); during this war, by which Prussia gained
Silesia, Poland's neutrality was ignored and she became a staging area for the deployment of
the combatants. Frederick II (the Great) of Prussia recouped his war costs by flooding Poland
with counterfeit money and imposing illegal tolls on the Wisla. Prussia and Russia continued
to renew their alliances by which Poland would be kept weakened. At Augustus' death, the
Russians forced the election of Stanislaw Poniatowski, destined to become the last King of
Poland.

Poniatowski;

The Poniatowskis were a noble family of Italian origin including; Stanislaw (b. 1676; d.
1762), a general and diplomat who joined Charles XII of Sweden in support of Stanislaw
Leszczynski, and fought at Poltava (1709). He represented Charles at the Porte. Stanislaw was
the brother-in-law of Michal and August Czartoryski and formed part of that powerful group
aiming at reform, "the Family". His son, Stanislaw II Augustus (b. Wolczyn, 1732; d. St.
Petersburg, 1798), was a refined man who, after his education, spent a great deal of time in
the West, mainly Paris and London. He was sent to St. Petersburg (1757) to gain support for
the proposed overthrow of Augustus III but succeeded instead in becoming a lover of the
future Catherine the Great, Empress of Russia. On the death of Augustus III, Catherine used
her influence to ensure that Stanislaw Augustus became King (1764 - 1795); Poniatowski was
to become the last King of Poland.

On acceding to the throne Stanislaw Augustus attempted to show that he was no puppet by
setting up a range of commissions and ministries aimed at improving the process of
government, carrying out financial and educational reforms and establishing a military school
(the Szkola Rycerska); it was obvious that a Polish revival was under way. At this point
Prussia and Russia raised the whole issue of the rights of Lutheran and Orthodox dissidents
knowing that this would stir up trouble (1766). The issue was discussed in the Sejm in chaotic
conditions, the Papal Nuncio protested and the proposed changes were rejected. As a result
two Confederations were formed, that of the Protestants at Thorn and the Orthodox dissidents
at Slupsk strongly supported by Russian troops. More significantly the Confederation of
Radom (1767) was formed by a number of Catholic szlachta who had been skilfully
manipulated by Russian diplomats. Now a treaty was imposed on Poland and forced through
the Sejm (1768), which hypocritically protected the rights of the szlachta to elect the king and
maintain the "Liberum Veto" - thus using these ancient privileges as a means to make the
state impotent. A number of representatives of the Sejm who opposed Russian demands were
arrested and deported to Kaluga in Russia. A large number of the szlachta, disgusted at this
turn of events, revolted by setting up the Confederation of Bar (1768 - 72). Russian attempts
to put the rising down were hindered by having to repress a peasant uprising in the Polish
Ukraine, and by the Ottoman Turks who declared war on Russia (1768). After four years
struggle, during which Stanislaw Augustus was actually kidnapped by some of the Bar
Confederates (though he managed to escape in the bungled affair), the rising was eventually
crushed and over 5000 captured szlachta were sent to Siberia; among the few who escaped
was Kazimierz Pulaski who was to play an important role in the United States' struggle for
independence.

The campaigns of 1768 - 72 so devastated Poland and weakened the government that the
nation was unable to put up any meaningful resistance when Prussia, Russia and Austria
agreed to annex parts of Poland in 1772. The Commonwealth lost 224,173.5 sq.km (29.5%)
of her former territory and 4,020,000 of her population (a reduction by 35.2%): Prussia took
the smallest, but economically best, area (5%) - cutting Poland off from the Baltic - and
severed its feudal dependence on the Polish Crown; Austria took the most heavily populated
areas (11.8%), whilst Russia took the largest, but least important (12.7%). To give the crime
some legality the Sejm was forced to ratify the partition in 1773, despite the resistance of
some Deputies, led by Tadeusz Rejtan. Amazingly some of the szlachta saw partition as a plot
between Poniatowski and the Russians in order to introduce an absolute monarchy into
Poland.

Despite the disaster of this first partition, Poland underwent a national revival in 1773, thanks
to the efforts of Stanislaw Augustus. The first step was the creation of the "Komisija Edukacji
Narodowej" ("Committee of National Education"), the first Ministry of Education in Europe;
hundreds of schools were founded and the standard of education was raised. Writers, poets,
artists and scholars were encouraged by the King and the ideas of the Enlightenment were
taking hold. This was the period of Naruszewicz, Krasicki, Boguslawski, and Karpinski.
Taking advantage of Russia's involvement in a war against Turkey, the King launched a
reform programme (1788-1792) and the task was carried out by the "Four-Year" or "Great
Sejm" which established a new Constitution; the Constitution of the Third of May, 1791, in
which the "Liberum Veto" was abolished, majority rule introduced, and personal freedoms
guaranteed to all the people. The Constitution was hailed in the United States, England and
France, but was seen as a threat to the absolute rulers of Prussia, Austria and, especially,
Russia. In 1792, at Russia's instigation, a handful of magnates led by Ksawery Branicki,
Szczesny Potocki and Seweryn Rzewuski betrayed the Commonwealth and formed the
Confederation of Targowica against the new Constitution and then "asked" for help. Russian
troops crossed the borders and war broke out. The King's nephew, Joseph Poniatowski and
Tadeusz Kosciuszko, a veteran of the American War of Independence, put up heroic
resistance but all hope faded away when Stanislaw Augustus, under pressure from his
ministers who could see the writing on the wall, declared his adherence to the Confederation
of Targowica (August 1792). Meanwhile the Prussians attacked the Polish armies in the rear.
The dismayed Army dispersed; many patriots were forced to flee. In 1793 Russia and Prussia
signed the Second Partition Treaty, seizing more than half the country and about four million
more of the population. The last Sejm of the Commonwealth, which met at Grodno, was
forced to legalise the partition and abolish most of the reforms of the "Great Sejm". Popular
discontent led to Insurrection, proclaimed by Kosciuszko on 24 March 1794, followed by
victory at Raclawice and Warsaw.
Tadeusz Andrzej Bonawentura Kosciuszko (b. nr. Slonim, 12 February 1746. d. Soleure,
Switzerland,1817) is one of the giants of Polish history. At an early age Kosciuszko decided
to join the military and studied at the Warsaw Cadet School, and in France, engineering and
artillery. He volunteered to fight in the American War of Independence where he was
appointed colonel of engineers in the Continental army (Oct.18 1776). During the southern
advance of Burgoyne after the fall of Fort Ticonderoga (1777) he effectively delayed the
British thus granting the Americans valuable time to build up their forces and he made
important tactical decisions concerning the battle of Saratoga which followed. He was in
charge of construction of the fortifications at West Point (1778 - 80) which made full use of
the natural terrain and interlocking fields of fire. Kosciuszko proposed the establishment of a
technical military school where all officers would be trained in engineering and the sciences
which became the United States Military Academy at West Point. He was one of the founders
of the Society of Cincinnati. In 1783 the American Congress awarded him citizenship and
promoted him to the rank of Brigadier.

During the Russo-Polish War (1792- 93), or the War of the Second Partition, he defended the
Bug at Dubienka for five days with only 4000 men against 18,000. After the Second Partition
of 1792, following the growing humiliation of the nation by Catherine the Great, in an effort
to stop the destruction of Poland, Kosciuszko went to France to propose a league of republics
which would oppose the league of sovereigns. The French were vague in their response and
Kosciuszko had to return empty-handed. When, on 21 February 1794 the Russians ordered a
further reduction of the army and the arrest of suspected subversives, the seeds had been sown
for a national uprising. Finding that Polish officers were already in the act of revolting against
the limitation of the army to 15,000 men, his hand forced, Kosciuszko arrived in Krakow on
23rd March, proclaimed the Act of Insurrection on the 24th with his famous oath in the
Rynek;

"I, Tadeusz Kosciuszko, swear in the sight of God to the whole Polish nation that I will use
the power entrusted to me for the personal oppression of none, but will only use it for the
defence of the integrity of the boundaries, the regaining of the independence of the nation, and
the solid establishment of universal freedom. So help me God and the Innocent Passion of His
Son."

and was appointed dictator and commander-in-chief. His army of peasants defeated a greatly
superior force of Russians at Raclawice, as a result of which a national insurrection flared up
in Lithuania and Warsaw. The red four-cornered caps worn by the Krakow peasants were
adopted by the National Cavalry, and later worn by the Polish lancers in Napoleon's army,
after which they became traditional wear for lancer units in all European armies. At
Szczekociny, on 6 May, Kosciuszko was outnumbered by the Prussians under Frederick
William, and defeated, leaving the way open for the occupation of Krakow (which they
entered on 15 June). On 7 May his Polanice Manifesto gave freedom to the peasants. The new
government's army could not withstand the combined forces of Austria, Prussia and Russia
and was annihilated at the bloody battle of Maciejowice, 10 October, where Kosciuszko was
seriously wounded and captured. In November, Warsaw was taken by the Russians who
slaughtered the population of the suburb, Praga, including women and children. Then, in
1795, the Third Partition wiped what was left of Poland off the map. The King, Stanislaw
Augustus, was forced to abdicate and taken captive to St. Petersburg (where he died in 1798).

In the Aftermath of the Partitions


Napoleonic Poland; The Duchy of Warsaw

The Poles felt that one way of restoring independence was to fight for Napoleon Bonaparte. In
1791 Dabrowski organised two legions to fight the Austrians in Lombardy and, later, for the
French in the Iberian Peninsula.

Dabrowski, Jan Henryk (b. Pierzchowiec, nr. Bochnia, 1755; d. 1818) is the hero
immortalised in the words of the Polish National Anthem;

"Jeszcze Polska nie zginiela poki my zyjemy,


Co nam obca przemoc wziela, szabla odbierzemy.
Marsz marsz, Dabrowski, z ziemi Wloskiej do Polski!
Za twoim przewodem zlaczym sie z narodem."

"Poland is not dead whilst we live,


What others took by force, with the sword will be taken back.
March march, Dabrowski, from Italy's soil to Poland!
Through your leadership we will reunite the nation."

Raised and educated in Saxony, Dabrowski served in the Saxon army where he reached the
rank of Rottmeister in a guard cavalry regiment. He served against the Russians during the
First Partition in 1792 and then again, in the defence of Warsaw in 1794. When Kosciuszko's
Insurrection broke out the Prussian army, which had been laying siege to Warsaw, found itself
in a potentially dangerous position; an armed rising in its rear and its ammunition supplies
captured at Wroclawek. In their attempt to extricate themselves from this position the
Prussians set off for Western Poland only to find themselves harassed in a series of minor
operations led by Dabrowski which kept them engaged for weeks. He captured Bydgoszcz (2
October) and ended up driving the Prussians out from the main theatre of war. After the
failure of Kosciuszko's Insurrection Dabrowski was invited to serve Russia by Suvorov and
Prussia by Frederick William II but he turned them both down, making his way to Paris where
he was feted for his military successes. After the collapse of the Insurrection many Polish
political activists had fled to Paris. The former members of the Polish Jacobin Club formed
the Polish Deputation whilst their opposition was the more liberal, pro-constitutional faction,
the Agency led by Kosciuszko's representative, Barss. The aim of the Deputation was to
organise an uprising in Poland, organising a Polish military force in Walachia. The Agency
put its emphasis on working in league with a foreign power (initially Prussia, then France);
Dabrowski allied himself with the Agency. In Paris, thousands of Poles offered to fight in the
service of revolutionary France and to reinforce Bonaparte's exhausted armies in Italy. When
it emerged that many of the prisoners captured during the Italian campaign were Poles from
Galicia, drafted into the Austrian army, it was decided that Dabrowski should organise a
Polish Legion (formed in Milan, 9 January 1797) and command it in Italy (1798 - 1801); this
met with a furious campaign of denunciations by the Deputation (citing certain unsavoury
events in his past including his Prussian connections and favours shown him by the Russian
general Suvorov) which were later redoubled when the Legions were used to repress any
opposition to Napoleon rather than to live up to the Polish motto of "For our freedom and
yours". Dabrowski was given command over the Polish Legions in Italy. With the
establishment of the Legion, Poles deserted from the Austrian army in droves and very soon a
second Polish Legion was formed (1798) under General Zajaczek (in order to appease the
Deputation) and later, in 1800, a third on the Danube under General Kniaziewicz. The Polish
Legions suffered terribly during the Italian campaigns; the Second Legion was virtually
annihilated in the first battles on the Adige (26 March, 4 April 1799) and after the capitulation
of Mantua when they were seized by the Austrians as deserters (as part of a secret agreement
between the French commander Foissac-Latour and the Austrians). Dabrowski's Legion also
suffered terrible casualties both in the battle on the Trebbia (17 - 19 June 1799) and during the
subsequent miserable conditions in the mountains of Liguria. Dabrowski continued to serve as
general of Polish troops under Napoleon: on 3 November 1806 he and Wybicki issued a
revolutionary appeal to their countrymen in which they quoted Napoleon; "I want to see
whether the Poles deserve to be a nation". Dabrowski played an important role during the
Polish Campaign when, after the liberation of Poznan, he established a military organisation
made up of levies. When Napoleon reorganised the Polish army under the leadership of
Poniatowski (taking the middle way between the extremes of Dabrowski and Zajaczek)
Dabrowski could not conceal his embitterment and animosity. Dabrowski's Legion was active
in West Prussia and at the siege of Gdansk (Danzig), and later in East Prussia where it saw
action at Friedland (1807). As part of the Army of the Duchy of Warsaw, Dabrowski fought
against the Austrians in 1809, the Russians in the campaign of 1812, and at the battle of
Leipzig (1813). Returning to Poland in 1813 he was designated by the Tsar to reorganise the
Polish army, appointed general of the cavalry in 1815, and senator palatine of the Kingdom of
Poland. From his estate at Winnogora, Dabrowski acted as patron of the secret "Society of
Scythemen" formed by former Napoleonic soldiers in Poznan; subsequently reformed as a
branch of Warsaw's "National Freemasonry" they were to play a useful part during the
November Insurrection of 1830.

Napoleon used the Polish Legions in all his campaigns; against Russia, Austria and Prussia, in
Egypt, in the West Indies (Santo Domingo), and in Spain (where they fought the British and
inspired the formation of the English lancers equipped with Polish-style uniforms and
weapons). Some of the Poles became very disillusioned with Bonaparte, realising that they
were being manipulated.

Later, in 1806, the French armies defeated the Prussians at Jena and entered Posen (Poznan)
led by the Poles under Dabrowski. A year later Napoleon and the Tzar, Alexander, met at
Tilsit and agreed to set up a Polish State made up of the lands the Prussians had taken in the
second partition. This was the Duchy of Warsaw. Napoleon used the Duchy as a pawn in his
political game and in 1812 called upon the Lithuanians to rebel as an excuse to attack Russia.
One of the great figures of this period was Jozef Poniatowski.

Amongst Stanislaw II's brothers, Michal Poniatowski (b.1736; d.1794) became Primate of
Poland (1784) and Andrzej Poniatowski (b. 1735; d. 1773) was a general in the Austrian
army. Andrzej's son Prince Jozef Antoni Poniatowski (b. Vienna, 7 May 1763; d. 19 October
1813) was a gifted cavalry officer who served in the Austrian Army (from 1780) and as a
representative to the Russian court (1787). He was wounded at the siege of Sabatch, fighting
the Turks (1788). In 1789 he became Major General of the Polish Army and fought in the
Ukraine (his first lieutenant was Kosciuszko) during the Polish-Russian War (1792).
Poniatowski was decorated for his role at Zielence (18 June 1792) where he led one of his
early bayonet attacks that were to become his trademark (the victory was commemorated by
the establishment of the decoration of the Militari Virtuti Cross). He resigned, in protest,
when Stanislaw II joined the Targowica Confederacy, joining the conspiracy to kidnap the
King (which came to nought). He fought against the Russians alongside Kosciuszko during
the Insurrection (1792 - 94) and joined the French army in 1800. After the collapse of the
Insurrection many Polish political activists had fled to Paris where the former members of the
Polish Jacobin Club formed the Polish Deputation. When Poniatowski became commander of
the Polish forces in Napoleon's army (1806) the Deputation turned against him because of his
uncle's Targowica connections. This soured his relationships with his fellow general,
Zajaczek who was connected with the Deputation. Unfortunately Poniatowski had also
alienated himself with Dabrowski (who was angry at having been overlooked as commander-
in-chief). Poniatowski became Minister for War in the Duchy of Warsaw (1807) and
introduced the concept of universal conscription which helped unite the nation by making its
citizens, in carrying out their duty, more aware of their nationality (1808). In 1809 he led the
first successful Polish army in the field since the Partitions, against the Austrians who had
invaded under the leadership of the Archduke Ferdinand d'Este. Poniatowski barred the way
to Warsaw and at the battle of Raszyn (19 April 1809), where 12,000 Poles faced 25,000
Austrians, the Polish Infantry stubbornly held their ground; it is said that Poniatowski himself
took a rifle and went into the front rank with the attacking soldiers. He organised a series of
cavalry raids into Galicia that outmanoeuvred superior numbers thus, at the Treaty of
Schonbrunn, succeeding in reuniting Krakow and West Galicia with the Duchy. Poles
swarmed to his colours from all parts. In the 1812 campaign against Russia, Polish Lancers
were the first to cross the Niemen into Russia, playing a crucial part in the battles of Borodino
and Smolensk (where Poniatowski was wounded), they were the first to enter Moscow and,
under Poniatowski, covering the debacle of the French retreat and saving Napoleon from
disaster at the Beresina, being the last out of Russia; 72,000 of the original 100,000 Poles
never returned. Poniatowski continued to resist the Russians in the Duchy but in the face of
overwhelming odds, and determined to preserve some element of an independent Polish army,
chose to stand by Napoleon and retreat into Germany. He showed great valour at the "Battle
of the Nations", Leipzig (19 October 1813), where Napoleon raised him to the rank of
Marshal of France - the only foreigner to ever be so honoured: in the French retreat at Leipzig
the Poles carried out a rearguard action during which the French prematurely blew up the
Lindenau Bridge over the River Elster, leaving the Poles stranded on the other side. Having to
cross under heavy fire, Poniatowski was mortally wounded and, driving his horse into the
river, drowned. His name is inscribed on the roll of honour on the Arc de Triomphe, Paris and
he, himself, is buried in the crypt of the Wawel, Krakow. His tomb bears the words "God
entrusted to me the Honour of the Poles - and I will render it only to Him."

Poniatowski's ancestors served as ministers in the court of Napoleon III and of President
Giscard d'Estang. Jozef's nephew, Prince Jozef Michal (b.1816; d. 1873) was a musical
composer who wrote many operas, including "Don Desiderio", and several masses. He was a
naturalised Tuscan citizen (1847) but later resided in Paris where he was made a senator by
Napoleon III.

Despite the cynical way that Napoleon treated the Poles they remained loyal to him and, when
he went into exile on Elba the only guards that Napoleon was allowed were Polish Lancers.

The Fate of Kosciuszko:

Following the death of the Tsarina Catherine II, Kosciuszko was released, going into exile to
England, America (where he found himself under surveillance because of his pro-French
sympathies and had to be smuggled out by his friend, Thomas Jefferson) and then to France
(1798). When, in 1799, the Directory offered him the leadership of the Polish Legions he
refused on the grounds that the French had shown no sign of recognising their distinct entity
as a Polish national army. Kosciuszko was also uneasy about Napoleon's ambitions and these
feelings were confirmed when he proclaimed himself First Consul and then betrayed the
hopes of the Legions at the Treaty of Luneville (1801). From then on he distrusted Napoleon
and, suspicious of his intentions, refused to support his plan for the restoration of Poland in
1806. With the fall of Napoleon Kosciuszko watched the proceedings at the Congress of
Vienna with despair and pleaded with Tsar Alexander for a restoration of Poland, to no avail.
He settled at Soleure, Switzerland (1817) where he died. He left all his wealth for the purpose
of freeing and educating the Negroes.

"When the Polish nation called me to defend the integrity, the independence, the dignity, the
glory and the liberty of the country, she knew full well that I was not the last Pole, and that
with my death on the battlefield or elsewhere Poland could not, must not end. All that the
Poles have done since then in the glorious Polish legions and all that they will still do in the
future to gain their country back, sufficiently proves that albeit we, the devoted soldiers of
that country, are mortal, Poland is immortal"

Kosciuszko to Segur, quoted in M.M. Gardner, "Kosciuszko", London 1920.

On hearing the news of his death the government of the Free City of Krakow applied to the
Tsar Alexander I (one of the "protectors", alongside the rulers of Austria and of Prussia, of the
City, according to the Congress of Vienna) for permission to inter Kosciuszko within the
royal tombs of the Wawel. The Tsar, eager to court the Poles, approved. On 11 April 1818
Kosciuszko's coffin was placed in a chapel in St. Florian's Church and on 22 June taken,
amidst great pomp, to the Wawel. He was placed next to the sarcophagi of Sobieski and Jozef
Poniatowski. Shortly afterwards it was decided to raise a mound (Kopiec Kosciuszko) to his
memory; a form of commemoration unique to the city of Krakow - only two others existed at
the time; those of Krakus and Wanda. The work was started in 1820 when soil from
Raclawice, and then Maciejowice was brought. In 1926, on the 150th anniversary of the US
Declaration of Independence, earth from the battlefields of America was brought over and
deposited on the mound.

The house at the corner of Third and Pine Streets, Philadelphia, US, where Kosciuszko stayed
during the winter of 1797-1798, was designated as the Thaddeus Kosciuszko National
Memorial in 1972.

The "Congress Kingdom"

In 1815 at the Congress of Vienna the Duchy was partitioned and a large part went to Russia.
In Austria and Prussia there was repression of all Polish attempts to maintain the national
culture, but in Russia, fortunately, the Tzar, Alexander I, was a liberal ruler who agreed to the
setting up of a semiautonomous "Congress Kingdom" with its own parliament and
constitution. This became a time of peace and economic recovery. In 1817 the University of
Warsaw was founded. But the accession of Tzar Nicholas I to the throne in 1825 saw the
establishment of a more repressive regime.

In 1830, after the revolution in France and unrest in Holland, Nicholas decided to intervene
and suppress the move towards democracy in the West. He intended to use the Polish Army as
an advanced force but instead propelled the Polish patriots into action. On the night of
November 29th the cadets of the Warsaw Military College launched an insurrection.

Wysocki, Piotr (b. 1794; d. 1857), a Second-Lieutenant of the Grenadier Guards and
instructor at the Warsaw Infantry School, conspired with Colonel Jozef Zaliwski (b. 1797; d.
1855) to bring about an armed rebellion in 1830. They met up with a band of civilian
conspirators who were planning to assassinate the Grand Duke Constantine. The situation in
Warsaw was tense; the authorities knew mutiny was afoot and the conspirators expected to be
seized at any moment - action was inevitable. On the night of 29 November 1830 an
assassination squad attacked the Belweder Palace with the intention of killing or capturing the
Grand Duke whilst Wysocki led a force of cadets to seize the Arsenal. Unfortunately
everything went wrong and a night of chaos ensued. The attack on the Belweder failed
because the Grand Duke was hidden by his servants and when Wysocki's attack failed he had
to retreat. Lacking a leader the insurgents marched into the city and asked Generals Trebicki
and Potocki (who they met on the way) to take command. When they refused they were shot.
Owing to the ineptitude of the original conspirators the political leadership of the Rising
passed into the hands of people who had never sought an armed rising in the first place and,
hence, vacillated; the Russian Tsar, on the other hand, didn't.

The Poles fought bravely against heavy odds in former Polish territories around Wilno,
Volhynia and the borders of Austria and Prussia. The insurrection spread to Lithuania where it
was led by a woman, Emilia Plater. For a while victory actually lay in their grasp but
indecision on the part of the Polish leaders led to defeat. Warsaw was taken in September
1831, followed by terrible persecution; over 25,000 prisoners were sent to Siberia with their
families and the Constitution of the "Congress Kingdom" was suspended.

The 1830 Revolution inspired the work of two great Poles living in exile; Chopin, the
composer, and Mickiewicz, the poet.

Chopin, Fryderyk Francois (b. Zelazowa Wola, nr. Warsaw, 22 February 1810; d. Paris,1849),
born of a French father and Polish mother, was a composer and pianist whose music has been
seen as the very spirit of Polishness, using Polish folk melodies as the basic inspiration of
many of his works, and it can be said that he played an important part in the promotion of
Polish culture and nationhood in the salons of the European bourgeoisie. He was trained at the
newly-opened Warsaw Conservatoire under Elsner (the director), and first played in public at
the age of nine, publishing his first work in 1825. He left Poland to study abroad in 1830 just
before the Revolution which was bloodily suppressed by the Russians and inspired his
emotional Etude op.10, no.12; "Revolutionary". He was never to return to Poland. Living in
France he became closely linked with the Polish poets of the Emigration and followed their
use of national folk traditions, building his own compositions (his Polonaises and Mazurkas)
on the national dances. Among his musical innovations were his harmonies, the range of his
arpeggios and chords, and his use of the pedal. He became famous and gave concerts in
London, Manchester, Edinburgh and other European cities, but refused to play in Russia. He
suffered from consumption which was aggravated by a trip to England (1837). He had an
intimate relationship with George Sand (pseudonym of the writer, Amandine Aurore Lucie)
from 1838 - 47, who took him to Majorca (1838) and nursed him back to health but the
relationship broke down after he took George's daughter's side in a family argument; she later
depicted him as Prince Karol in her novel "Lucrezia Floriani". He died in Paris; he is buried at
the Pere Lachaise Cemetery but his heart is in an urn in a pillar of the Kosciol sw. Krzyza
(Church of the Holy Cross) on Krakowskie Przedmiescie, Warsaw. His works for the piano
alone include 55 mazurkas, 13 polonaises, 24 preludes, 27 etudes, 19 nocturnes, 4 ballades, 4
scherzos and a number of songs. During the Second World War his music was banned by the
Nazis as subversive. A crater on Mercury is named after him (64.5°S, 124°W).

Mickiewicz, Adam (b. near Nowogrodek, 24 December 1798. d. Constantinople, 185), never
set foot in Warsaw or Krakow even though he is Poland's national poet and is revered as the
moral leader of the nation during the dark years after the Partitions. He became a student at
Wilno University (1815), publishing his first volumes of poetry in 1822 and 1823, introducing
Romanticism into Polish literature. At Wilno, which was a hotbed of patriotic sympathy and
discussion, he was a co-founder of the clandestine group known as the Philomaths ("Lovers of
Learning") in which the members discussed a wide range of topics including the liberation of
Poland. A small group of Philomaths, Mickiewicz amongst them, formed a more radical
organisation, the Philarets ("Lovers of Virtue") which included a number of Russians who
were later to be a part of the Decembrist conspiracy. An outbreak of patriotism in the
university led to the arrest of the leading Philomats and Philarets for anti-Tsarist activity and,
in 1824, Mickiewicz was sentenced to exile in Russia (1824 - 29); to St. Petersburg, Odessa
(1825) and to Moscow where he taught and made friends with a number of Russian writers,
including Pushkin, Ryleiev and Bestushev (and through these latter two, many of the future
Decembrist conspirators). In Odessa he wrote his "Crimean Sonnets" (1826) recording his
impressions of his travels to Crimea;

"I love to lean against Ayudah's face


And watch the frothing waves as on they pour,
Dark ranks close-pressed, then burst like snow and soar
A million silver rainbows arched in space.
They strike the sands, they break and interlace;
Like whales in battle that beset the shore,
They seize the land and then retreat once more,
Shells, pearls, and corals scattered in their race..."

Sonnet XVIII; "The Rock of Ayudah", trans. D.P.Radin, 1929.

In Moscow, he wrote his first overtly political poem, "Konrad Wallenrod" (1828); about a
Lithuanian child captured by the Teutonic Knights, who is brought up by them and raised to
the rank of Grand Master only to lead his Order to defeat at the hands of his own people. He
left Russia in 1829, barely managing to board his ship, "George V", in Konstadt before the
Tsar's orders revoking his departure could reach him. Mickiewicz travelled throughout the
West; in Berlin he attended the lectures given by Hegel and was the guest of Goethe at
Weimar. He finally made his way to Italy and whilst in Rome heard of the Warsaw Uprising
of December 1830. Hurrying to join the struggle Mickiewicz only managed to reach Dresden
before the uprising was put down. Here in Dresden in 1832 he created Part III of "Dziady"
("Forefather's Eve"), a mixture of Greek tragedy and mediaeval morality play that powerfully
speaks of the heroism and martyrdom of a people fighting for freedom, and was later banned
by the Communists, until 1970, for its anti-Russian attitude:

"Now my soul lives in my country


And in my body dwells her soul;
My fatherland and I are one great whole.
My name is million, for I love as millions:
Their pain and suffering I feel;
I gaze upon my country fallen on days
Of torment, as a son would gaze
Upon his father broken on the wheel.
I feel within myself my country's massacre
Just as a mother feels the torment
Of her children within her womb."
Moving on to Paris (1832) it was here, in 1834, that Adam Mickiewicz produced his
masterpiece: "Pan Tadeusz"; a novel in verse which evokes the almost fairy-tale life of the
nobility in Lithuania through to the heroic march of Napoleon's Polish Legions through
Lithuania to Russia in 1812. In a time before modern Nationalism imposed limitations on
what it means to be a "Pole", Mickiewicz, like many others, saw no contradiction in being a
Pole and a Lithuanian at the same time; the Noble Republic and Polishness (in non-
nationalistic terms) were the same. Hence, his greatest poem begins;

"O Lithuania, my country, thou


Art like good health; I never knew till now
How precious, till I lost thee. Now I see
Thy beauty whole, because I yearn for thee."

In 1834 Mickiewicz married Celina Szymanowska, daughter of the pianist and composer,
Maria with whom he was closely attached since his days in St. Petersburg. For the last twenty
years of his life Adam Mickiewicz virtually ceased writing. He was offered, and accepted, the
chair of Roman Literature at Lausanne, Switzerland, (1839) but left to became professor of
Slavic literature at the College de France, Paris (1840). Mickiewicz lost the post in 1845, for
political activities. Around this time he came under the strong influence of Andrzej Towianski
who had set up a sect. In 1848, in Lombardy, he formed a Polish Legion which fought with
Garibaldi in the defence of Rome. Mickiewicz returned to Paris where he founded and edited
the political daily, "La Tribune Des Peuples" (March - April 1849) sponsored by Ksawery
Branicki. The journal was dedicated to the ideals of brotherhood and the solidarity of nations
in the struggle against despotism and attracted a number of radical writers noted for their
revolutionary, democratic, and socialist views. It suffered continued harassment by the
authorities and did not outlast the year; Mickiewicz had to work secretly for the journal
because of threats to deport him from France. In 1852, Louis Napoleon appointed him as a
librarian in the Paris Arsenal. On the outbreak of the Crimean War (1855) he went to Turkey
to organise Polish forces to be used in the war against Russia. With his friend, Armand Levy,
he set about organising a Jewish Legion, the Hussars of Israel, composed of Russian and
Palestinian Jews. During a visit to a military camp near Constantinople he caught cholera and
died suddenly. His body was taken back to France (1856) and buried at Montmorency but, in
1890, his remains were transferred to Krakow and laid next to Kosciuszko's in the Wawel. A
crater on Mercury is named after him (23.5°N, 19°W).

The "Great Emigration"

The failure of the Insurrection forced thousands of Poles to flee to the West; Paris became the
spiritual capital. Many of these exiles contributed greatly to Polish and European culture.
Joachim Lelewel became Poland's greatest historian, Chopin her greatest composer, and
Mickiewicz, Slowacki, Krasinski and Norwid among her greatest poets. Adam Czartoryski set
up court at the Hotel Lambert, in Paris, which played an important part in keeping the Polish
question alive in European politics.

Czartoryski;

The Czartoryskis were a noble Polish-Lithuanian family, which included the brothers, Prince
Fryderyk Michal (b.1696; d. 1775) and August (b. 1697; d. 1782), both of whom were
statesman under Stanislaw Poniatowski and had a major influence on Polish policy during the
reign of Augustus III. August's marriage to Poland's richest heiress, Zofia Sieniawska (b.
1699; d. 1771), brought an enormous fortune to the family and, with it, great influence. They
supported the King and aspired to high office. Allied to their brother-in-law, Stanislaw
Poniatowski (this influential and powerful alliance of the Czartoryskis and the Poniatowskis
became known as "The Family"), they tried to push reforms through the court but were
constantly blocked by the "republicans" led by the Potockis. Faced with such strong
opposition the Czartoryskis deluded themselves into believing that they could manipulate the
Russians for their own ends (Poniatowski had had a love affair with the Grand duchess
Catherine in 1755 - 58) and conceived of a coup d'etat (1763). The Russians,now ruled by
Catherine II, the Great, and the Prussians, under Frederick II, were opposed to the idea of any
change in the Commonwealth's institutions which they found convenient to their own ends
but, in turn, manipulated the Czartoryskis and elected Stanislaw Poniatowski to the throne.
Poniatowski was to become the last King of Poland; the reign was totally controlled by
Russia.

Adam Kazimierz (b. Gdansk, 1734 ; d. 1823), was the unsuccessful candidate for the Polish
throne at the death of Augustus III. He married Izabella Elzbieta Flemming (b. 1746; d. 1835)
who became an important influence on the family and the cultural life of Poland during the
Enlightenment. She commissioned the leading Neoclassical architect of the day, Aigner, to
redesign the palace at Pulawy and summoned a team of international experts, including John
Savage (who had recently designed Warsaw's Saski Gardens) to landscape the park (1788 -
1810) wherein Aigner built two museum buildings (the first in Poland); the Temple of the
Sybil (1801) and the Gothic House (1809) within which were displayed the vast Czartoryski
collection of art and antiquities. Izabella was the first to attempt to build an English landscape
garden in Poland, at Powazki on the outskirts of Warsaw (now occupied by the Catholic
Cemetery). She established a school for the education of the daughters of impoverished
nobles and wrote the first Polish History textbook for elementary schools. Under the influence
of Izabella Pulawy became a rival to Warsaw as the chief centre of Polish cultural life,
especially after the Partitions. Their daughter Maria (b. 1768; d. 1854) became Duchess of
Wurtemburg and a novelist.

Probably the greatest Polish statesman of the C19th., Adam Jerzy (b. Warsaw,1770; d.nr.
Paris,1861), son of Adam Kazimierz and Izabella, was educated at Edinburgh and London,
and strongly influenced by the ideas of the Enlightenment. Czartoryski fought against the
Russians in the Insurrection of 1794 and, sent as a hostage to St. Petersburg, gained the
friendship of the Grand-Duke Alexander and the Emperor Paul who made him ambassador to
Sardinia. In 1801, on ascending the throne, Alexander,as part of his plan to transform Russia
into a modern constitutional monarchy, appointed Czartoryski as assistant to the Minister of
Foreign Affairs and placed in charge of education in the former Polish territories. As curator
of the University of Wilna (1803) he used his influence to keep a spirit of Polish-Lithuanian
nationalism alive and when some of the students (including Adam Mickiewicz) were arrested
and some sent in exile to Siberia (1823), he was removed from his office. Czartoryski was a
member of the Russian delegation to the Congress of Vienna set up after the defeat of
Napoleon (20 July 1815), and was responsible for drawing up the constitution of the Kingdom
of Poland established by the Congress; it was the most liberal constitution in Central Europe.
When the Polish Sejm began to act as a normal parliament Alexander, whose enthusiasm for
liberalism had waned, dissolved it in 1820. Alexander's successor, Nicholas, became even less
amenable to Polish wishes after the Decembrist Revolt; this Russian secret society had forged
close links with Polish conspirators who were arrested and placed on trial for high treason
only to be cleared by the Sejm Tribunal (having acted on the advice of Czartoryski himself)
and served with a more lenient sentence for participating in clandestine organisations (1828).
Czartoryski became actively involved in the Revolution of 1830 and was elected president of
the provisional government. He summoned the Sejm in January 1831, which declared the
Polish throne vacant and elected Czartoryski as head of the national government. He
immediately donated half of his large estates to public service. He resigned in August 1831
but continued as a common soldier. After the suppression of the Revolution Czartoryski was
excluded from the amnesty, condemned to death and his estates confiscated; he escaped to
Paris where he purchased the old palace, the Hotel Lambert. In Paris, Lelewel's Permanent
National Committee (set up December 1831) tried to fix the blame on the failure of the
Insurrection on the leaders of the conservative group leading to a virtual civil war between the
two factions as they tried to direct the Polish cause in their own way. The man who emerged
as leader of the conservative faction was Prince Adam Czartoryski, becoming the focus of
Polish hopes; Czartoryski himself was referred to as the "de facto king of Poland". He ran a
vast network ready to spring into action whenever the opportunity lent itself and in effect put
the "Polish Question" firmly on the European agenda. The activity of his agents in the
Balkans contributed enormously to the awakening of national consciousness in that region
and helped Serbia shake off Russian influence. He rented land from the Sultan in order to
provide homes for insurgents who had retreated into the Ottoman Empire after the failure of
the 1830 Uprising (1842); this was the colony of Polonezkoy or Adampol which was enlarged
after each unsuccessful attempt at liberation. In 1848 he appealed, unsuccessfully, to Pope
Pius IX to create a Polish Legion to fight on Italy's side against Austria. He freed his serfs in
Galicia (1848) and during the Crimean War worked hard to induce the allies to link the Polish
cause with that of Turkey. In 1857 Czartoryski set up a publishing house producing the
periodical "Wiadomosci Polskie" ("News From Poland") which became very popular amongst
the exiles. He also set up the Bureau des Affaires Polonaises (Bureau of Polish Affairs, 1858).
He refused the subsequent amnesty offered him by Alexander II. His son, Wladyslaw (b.1828;
d. 1894) opened the Czartoryski Museum in Krakow (1878) after the Czartoryski properties
were confiscated by the State. He was a collector of Egyptian art and there are some very
important pieces among the antiquities which form only a part of the rich collection in
Krakow.

Continued Resistance: "For Your Freedom and Ours"

The insurrection in the semi-independent City of Krakow in 1846 was doomed from the start.
The insurrectionists had hoped to gain the support of the local peasantry (recalling the victory
at Raclawice) but the peasants, having never benefited from the liberal ideals proposed by the
intelligentsia, used the insurrection as an excuse to rid themselves of their landlords; it was
the last "jacquerie" (or peasants' uprising) in European history. The insurrectionist forces were
defeated by a combination of Austrian and peasant forces at the battle of Gdow and the
insurrection was put down with great brutality by the Austrians, resulting in the abolition of
the Commonwealth of Krakow.

In 1848 "the Springtime of Nations" (a revolutionary movement towards greater democracy in


much of Europe) saw large-scale contributions by the Poles; in Italy, Mickiewicz organised a
small legion to fight for Italian independence from Austria, whilst in Hungary, Generals
Dembinski and Bem led 3,000 Poles in the Hungarian Revolution against Austria. There were
also unsuccessful uprisings in Poznan (Posen), against the Prussians, and in Eastern Galicia,
against the Austrians.
Starting in 1863, the "January Uprising" against the Russians lasted for more than a year and a
half. A Provisional government was established and more than 1,200 skirmishes were fought,
mostly in the deep forests under the command of Romuald Traugutt.

Traugutt, Romuald; b. 1825; d. 1864. During the January Insurrection of 1863 the
underground state was forced to organise one of the world's earliest campaigns of urban
guerrilla warfare, centred on Warsaw, and to use hit-and-run tactics in the countryside. Due to
initial setbacks and the isolation of different groups there was a great deal of political in-
fighting between the different factions - the Social Democrat "Reds", and the more moderate
"Whites" - which only ended when Traugutt, a Lithuanian landowner from Podlasie, became
its political and military commander (October 1863). Formerly a Lieutenant Colonel in the
Russian Army, he had served in both Hungary and the Crimea. In May 1863 he took
command of a force of guerrillas in the Dziadkowicki Forest, near Kobryn, and in July went
to Warsaw where he was given office under Karol Majewski (b. 1833; d. 1897), the over-all
commander at the time. A "White" with "Red" sympathies, he represented the National
Government abroad, meeting with Napoleon III, and was quickly convinced that there would
be little support from the West. On returning to Warsaw, based at the Saski Hotel, he seized
control of the underground state and became Dictator. With the help of General Jozef Hauke,
he completely reorganised the existing military structures, establishing a regular army and
abolishing all independent formations - as a result the Insurrection revived and expanded its
area of operations. With no support from abroad the Insurrection began to peter out and the
final stroke came with the emancipation of the peasants, which sanctioned the state of affairs
created by the Insurrection (2 March 1864), and Traugutt's arrest in the night of 10/11 August
1864. He was imprisoned in Pawiak, tried, condemned to death and hanged (5 August 1864).
The Insurrection had kept Europe's largest military machine tied down for eighteen months
and had involved not only the szlachta but, in its final stages, also the peasants (who had
fought its very last engagement). The subsequent suppression of the Rising permanently
scarred a generation of Poles; thousands were sent into exile to Siberia - the cream of the
nation. Most never returned. The name of the Kingdom of Poland was changed to the "Vistula
Province". The Insurrection of 1863 was a watershed in Polish history; the social structure
changed as the peasants finally gained their freedom in Russia in 1864 (serfdom had been
abolished in Prussia in 1823, and in Austria in 1848) and slowly made their way to economic,
then political, power. After 1864 the Polish struggle becomes a genuinely national struggle as
politicians vie for the attention of all the classes, especially the peasants. But the situation also
changed after 1864 as one sees an almost universal rejection of the idea of gaining
independence through revolution.

The Uprising was finally put down in 1865, and the Kingdom of Poland was abolished and a
severe policy of persecution and "Russification" established. The University of Warsaw and
all schools were closed down, use of the Polish language was forbidden in most public places
and the Catholic Church was persecuted. The Kingdom of Poland became known as the
"Vistula Province".

In the Prussian occupied zone the aim was to totally destroy the Polish language and culture;
from 1872 German became compulsory in all schools and it was a crime to be caught
speaking in Polish. There was a systematic attempt to uproot Polish Peasants from their land.

In Austrian Poland, Galicia, conditions were different. After 1868 the Poles had a degree of
self-government, the Polish language was kept as the official language and the Universities of
Krakow and Lwow were allowed to function. As a result this area witnessed a splendid
revival of Polish culture, including the works of the painter Jan Matejko, and the writers
Kraszewski, Prus and Sienkiewicz.

Matejko, Jan Alojzy; (b. Krakow, 1838. d. Krakow, 1893). It would be difficult to find
another artist, anywhere, like Matejko - Poland's greatest painter of historical scenes,who was
born, worked and died in Krakow. Matejko was trained at Krakow and Munich (1859) and,
briefly, in Vienna. He was adored by his public for his nationalistic themes painted in a highly
realistic manner. He created powerful, inspired works which have played an important role in
preserving national unity and pride in national achievements at times of crisis, notably during
the Partitions; Poles view their history through Matejko's images. His prodigious output
includes about ten monumental pieces. His method of working consisted of detailed research
and a study of written sources. His early paintings are in a dark Venetian manner but his later
pieces became lighter and resembled the Late-Baroque revival style favoured by some
Viennese painters. Amongst his greatest works are: "The Battle of Grunwald" (1872 - 75) -
for which he received a sceptre as the sign of his being "the king of art", and which achieved
notoriety when it was reproduced as a Polish stamp in 1960, being the largest Polish stamp
produced; "Batory at Pskov"(1872); "Hold Pruski" ("The Prussian Homage", 1882); "Sobieski
at the Gates of Vienna" (1883) which was presented by Matejko to the Vatican; and
"Kosciuszko at Raclawice"(1888); all of which act as historical "time-capsules" recording not
only the events but also the costumes and, particularly, the unique military costumes of the
Commonwealth. Matejko also painted some outstanding family portraits and self-portraits, as
well as a series "A Retinue of Polish Kings and Princes" with which most Polish children are
acquainted. In 1889 - 91 he worked on the polychromatic decoration in the Mariacki, Krakow,
with his pupils, Wyspianski and Mehoffer, as his assistants. He played an important role in
saving the 1650 Baroque altar from being removed from Wawel Cathedral and encouraged
the renovation of the Sukiennice (the Cloth Hall) in the Rynek. He became Director of the
Academy, Krakow and received many medals from abroad, including the French Legion of
Honour (1870).

His home at 41 ul. Florianska was turned into the Matejko Museum in 1898 and is now a
branch of the National Museum in Krakow.

Kraszewski, Jozef Ignacy; (b. Warsaw, 1812; d. Geneva, 1887). One of the most prolific of all
Polish authors, he wrote novels, plays, verse (including an epic on the history of Lithuania,
"Anafielas", 1843), criticism and historical works; a total of around seven hundred volumes
earning himself the title of "the father of the Polish novel". Educated at Wilno University, he
spent some time in prison as a student. He became fascinated by Lithuania and collected
information about her local customs and history. For a while he was inspector of schools and
directed the theatre in Zhitomir before going on to edit a newspaper in Warsaw. After being
dismissed and put on a black-list by the authorities he moved to Dresden where he soon drew
attention to himself, was arrested as a dangerous element and imprisoned at Magdeburg
(1883). His health ruined, he settled in San Remo, Italy, where he lost all his belongings in an
earthquake. Amongst his works (some of which have been seen as a literary equivalent of
Matejko's historical paintings) are "Stara Basn" ("An Ancient Tale", 1876) about a prehistoric
and pre-Christian community, "Jermola Ulana" (1843), "Kordecki" (1852), culture romances
"Morituri" (1875) and "Resurrecti" (1876), and several political novels under the pseudonym
of Boleslawita.

Prus, Boleslaw (pseudonym of: Aleksander Glowacki); (b. Hrubieszow, 1847; d. 1912). One
of the greatest of Polish novelists, a member of the minor szlachta, Prus is regarded by many
as second only to Sienkiewicz. He joined a guerrilla unit and was wounded during the January
Insurrection of 1863 and spent some time in prison after it. Fascinated by mathematics and the
natural sciences, Prus was obliged to write in order to make some money. He was a Positivist
in that he believed that progress can cure all ills, but he gradually became more sceptical as he
grew older. He claimed a great debt to Herbert Spencer. Initially he wrote articles for various
Warsaw periodicals, "Weekly Chronicles" which observed the everyday world around him.
He turned to writing fiction, starting with short stories where poverty played an important role
and his characters are treated with a gentle humour. His novel "The Outpost" (1885) tells of
the obstinate refusal of the illiterate peasant, Slimak ("snail"), to sell his patch of land to the
German colonists gradually taking over his Posnanian village; but Slimak is not portrayed as a
hero - it is his faults (rather than any virtues) that carry him through to victory. Amongst his
chief works are "Pharaoh" (1897) which is essentially the story of a struggle for power
between a young militaristic idealist and the cunning priests in decaying Ancient Egypt, and
"Lalka" ("The Doll") - considered by many to be the best Polish novel - set in Warsaw it was
the first Polish novel to deal with the lives, social problems and conflicts of the urban middle
class. The hero of "Lalka" is the capitalist Wokulski, a former Insurrectionist who had been
exiled to Siberia and, on returning to Warsaw, was employed in a shop. Through marriage he
comes into money and dreams of using his wealth in the services of science and progress but
finds himself lured frivolously away from his high ideals by falling in love with a worthless
aristocratic woman, Isabella. Wokulski is contrasted, in a subtle way, with the Romantic,
Rzecki - constantly excited, a believer in great causes and shy admirer of women. Prus is
buried in the Powazki Cemetery, Warsaw.

Sienkiewicz, Henryk; (b. Wola Okrzejska, Podlasie, 1846. d. Vevey, Switzerland, 1916).
Perhaps one of the most popular Polish authors, famous for his historical novels mainly
dealing with Poland's past. Sienkiewicz was educated in Warsaw and then became a journalist
whose gift for observation, taste for adventure and attention to detail served him well. He
went to the US in 1876 charged with finding somewhere suitable for a group of Varsovian
writers and artists (including the actress Helena Modrzejewski) who wished to migrate and
establish a colony there; he chose Anaheim, California. He was enthused by the redwood
forests and the Sierras (and some of this landscape would serve to inspire his descriptions of
the primeval forests of his novels). The group soon tired of the "good life" and went their
separate ways. Sienkiewicz went back to writing and sent a series of "Letters from America"
to the Polish newspapers which made his reputation; he wrote about New York, California,
and the campaign against Sitting Bull. His "Charcoal Sketches", a short novel about a Polish
village, was actually written in Los Angeles. Sienkiewicz went to Paris in 1878 and then on to
Poland. His tremendously popular patriotic "Trilogy"; "Ogniem i Mieczem" ("With Fire and
Sword"),"Potop" ("The Deluge"), and "Pan Wolodyjowski", 1884-1888, was serialised in the
newspapers and a "must" for every young Pole. The "Trilogy" deals with the adventurous
days of the Husaria (the winged cavalry) in the Polish-Cossack, Polish-Swedish and Polish-
Turkish wars. His masterful evocation of the historical atmosphere of the times is reminiscent
of Dumas and played an important role in forging the Polish image of itself and its destiny.
The novels are full of unforgetful characters such as Zagloba, the Falstaff-like nobleman who
- though a braggart - could use his cunning and courage to extricate himself from some
serious circumstances; the noble officers Skretuski and Wolodyjowski; and the central
character of "The Deluge", Kmicic who undergoes his own Calvary which parallels that of the
nation during the Swedish invasion and the siege of Czestochowa. His fame in the West was
secured by the novel on ancient Rome portraying the early days of Christianity struggling
against the decadence of Nero's court, "Quo Vadis?" (1896) which won him the Nobel Prize
for Literature in 1905. His novel, "Krzyzacy" ("The Teutonic Knights", 1900), written during
the worst days of Bismarck's "Kulturkampf" against the Poles in Posnania, deals with the days
when the existence of Poland and Lithuania were threatened by the Teutonic Order and
culminates in the battle of Grunwald. Sienkiewicz's writings are often used in Polish
dictionaries as examples of good prose. At the outbreak of WW1, Sienkiewicz worked for the
Red Cross Fund at Vevey in Switzerland.

All three powers kept Poland economically weak in this period of technological progress.
Despite this the Poles managed to make some progress; the textile industry began to flourish
in Lodz (the "Polish Manchester") and coal-mining developed rapidly. In Prussian Poland,
despite ruthless oppression, the Poles concentrated on light industry and agriculture (and
before long Poznan became the chief source of food for the whole of Germany). In Silesia,
under German rule since 1742, the development of mining and heavy industry made her a
chief industrial centre and thus the Prussian attempt to exterminate all traces of Polish
language and culture was at its most ruthless, yet they survived.

Despite its abolition by Kosciuszko in 1794 the partitioning powers restored serfdom. It was
not abolished in Prussia until 1823, in Austria until 1848 and in Russia until 1861 (but not in
her "Polish" territories).

In 1905 the Russo-Japanese War saw a series of humiliating defeats for the Russians and civil
unrest in Russia. In Poland there was a wave of strikes and demonstrations demanding civil
rights. Polish pupils went on strike, walking out of Russian schools and a private organisation,
the "Polska Macierz Szkolna" ("Polish Education Society"), was set up under the patronage of
the great novelist, Henryk Sienkiewicz.

Then, in 1906, Jozef Pilsudski, a founder-member of the Polish Socialist Party (PPS), began
to set up a number of paramilitary organisations which attacked Tzarist officials and carried
out raids on post offices, tax-offices and mail-trains. In Galicia the Austrian authorities turned
a blind eye to the setting up of a number of "sporting" clubs, followed by a Riflemen's Union.
In 1912, Pilsudski reorganised these on military lines and by 1914 had nearly 12,000 men
under arms.

In the Aftermath of the Partitions

Napoleonic Poland; The Duchy of Warsaw

The Poles felt that one way of restoring independence was to fight for Napoleon Bonaparte. In
1791 Dabrowski organised two legions to fight the Austrians in Lombardy and, later, for the
French in the Iberian Peninsula.

Dabrowski, Jan Henryk (b. Pierzchowiec, nr. Bochnia, 1755; d. 1818) is the hero
immortalised in the words of the Polish National Anthem;

"Jeszcze Polska nie zginiela poki my zyjemy,


Co nam obca przemoc wziela, szabla odbierzemy.
Marsz marsz, Dabrowski, z ziemi Wloskiej do Polski!
Za twoim przewodem zlaczym sie z narodem."

"Poland is not dead whilst we live,


What others took by force, with the sword will be taken back.
March march, Dabrowski, from Italy's soil to Poland!
Through your leadership we will reunite the nation."

Raised and educated in Saxony, Dabrowski served in the Saxon army where he reached the
rank of Rottmeister in a guard cavalry regiment. He served against the Russians during the
First Partition in 1792 and then again, in the defence of Warsaw in 1794. When Kosciuszko's
Insurrection broke out the Prussian army, which had been laying siege to Warsaw, found itself
in a potentially dangerous position; an armed rising in its rear and its ammunition supplies
captured at Wroclawek. In their attempt to extricate themselves from this position the
Prussians set off for Western Poland only to find themselves harassed in a series of minor
operations led by Dabrowski which kept them engaged for weeks. He captured Bydgoszcz (2
October) and ended up driving the Prussians out from the main theatre of war. After the
failure of Kosciuszko's Insurrection Dabrowski was invited to serve Russia by Suvorov and
Prussia by Frederick William II but he turned them both down, making his way to Paris where
he was feted for his military successes. After the collapse of the Insurrection many Polish
political activists had fled to Paris. The former members of the Polish Jacobin Club formed
the Polish Deputation whilst their opposition was the more liberal, pro-constitutional faction,
the Agency led by Kosciuszko's representative, Barss. The aim of the Deputation was to
organise an uprising in Poland, organising a Polish military force in Walachia. The Agency
put its emphasis on working in league with a foreign power (initially Prussia, then France);
Dabrowski allied himself with the Agency. In Paris, thousands of Poles offered to fight in the
service of revolutionary France and to reinforce Bonaparte's exhausted armies in Italy. When
it emerged that many of the prisoners captured during the Italian campaign were Poles from
Galicia, drafted into the Austrian army, it was decided that Dabrowski should organise a
Polish Legion (formed in Milan, 9 January 1797) and command it in Italy (1798 - 1801); this
met with a furious campaign of denunciations by the Deputation (citing certain unsavoury
events in his past including his Prussian connections and favours shown him by the Russian
general Suvorov) which were later redoubled when the Legions were used to repress any
opposition to Napoleon rather than to live up to the Polish motto of "For our freedom and
yours". Dabrowski was given command over the Polish Legions in Italy. With the
establishment of the Legion, Poles deserted from the Austrian army in droves and very soon a
second Polish Legion was formed (1798) under General Zajaczek (in order to appease the
Deputation) and later, in 1800, a third on the Danube under General Kniaziewicz. The Polish
Legions suffered terribly during the Italian campaigns; the Second Legion was virtually
annihilated in the first battles on the Adige (26 March, 4 April 1799) and after the capitulation
of Mantua when they were seized by the Austrians as deserters (as part of a secret agreement
between the French commander Foissac-Latour and the Austrians). Dabrowski's Legion also
suffered terrible casualties both in the battle on the Trebbia (17 - 19 June 1799) and during the
subsequent miserable conditions in the mountains of Liguria. Dabrowski continued to serve as
general of Polish troops under Napoleon: on 3 November 1806 he and Wybicki issued a
revolutionary appeal to their countrymen in which they quoted Napoleon; "I want to see
whether the Poles deserve to be a nation". Dabrowski played an important role during the
Polish Campaign when, after the liberation of Poznan, he established a military organisation
made up of levies. When Napoleon reorganised the Polish army under the leadership of
Poniatowski (taking the middle way between the extremes of Dabrowski and Zajaczek)
Dabrowski could not conceal his embitterment and animosity. Dabrowski's Legion was active
in West Prussia and at the siege of Gdansk (Danzig), and later in East Prussia where it saw
action at Friedland (1807). As part of the Army of the Duchy of Warsaw, Dabrowski fought
against the Austrians in 1809, the Russians in the campaign of 1812, and at the battle of
Leipzig (1813). Returning to Poland in 1813 he was designated by the Tsar to reorganise the
Polish army, appointed general of the cavalry in 1815, and senator palatine of the Kingdom of
Poland. From his estate at Winnogora, Dabrowski acted as patron of the secret "Society of
Scythemen" formed by former Napoleonic soldiers in Poznan; subsequently reformed as a
branch of Warsaw's "National Freemasonry" they were to play a useful part during the
November Insurrection of 1830.

Napoleon used the Polish Legions in all his campaigns; against Russia, Austria and Prussia, in
Egypt, in the West Indies (Santo Domingo), and in Spain (where they fought the British and
inspired the formation of the English lancers equipped with Polish-style uniforms and
weapons). Some of the Poles became very disillusioned with Bonaparte, realising that they
were being manipulated.

Later, in 1806, the French armies defeated the Prussians at Jena and entered Posen (Poznan)
led by the Poles under Dabrowski. A year later Napoleon and the Tzar, Alexander, met at
Tilsit and agreed to set up a Polish State made up of the lands the Prussians had taken in the
second partition. This was the Duchy of Warsaw. Napoleon used the Duchy as a pawn in his
political game and in 1812 called upon the Lithuanians to rebel as an excuse to attack Russia.
One of the great figures of this period was Jozef Poniatowski.

Amongst Stanislaw II's brothers, Michal Poniatowski (b.1736; d.1794) became Primate of
Poland (1784) and Andrzej Poniatowski (b. 1735; d. 1773) was a general in the Austrian
army. Andrzej's son Prince Jozef Antoni Poniatowski (b. Vienna, 7 May 1763; d. 19 October
1813) was a gifted cavalry officer who served in the Austrian Army (from 1780) and as a
representative to the Russian court (1787). He was wounded at the siege of Sabatch, fighting
the Turks (1788). In 1789 he became Major General of the Polish Army and fought in the
Ukraine (his first lieutenant was Kosciuszko) during the Polish-Russian War (1792).
Poniatowski was decorated for his role at Zielence (18 June 1792) where he led one of his
early bayonet attacks that were to become his trademark (the victory was commemorated by
the establishment of the decoration of the Militari Virtuti Cross). He resigned, in protest,
when Stanislaw II joined the Targowica Confederacy, joining the conspiracy to kidnap the
King (which came to nought). He fought against the Russians alongside Kosciuszko during
the Insurrection (1792 - 94) and joined the French army in 1800. After the collapse of the
Insurrection many Polish political activists had fled to Paris where the former members of the
Polish Jacobin Club formed the Polish Deputation. When Poniatowski became commander of
the Polish forces in Napoleon's army (1806) the Deputation turned against him because of his
uncle's Targowica connections. This soured his relationships with his fellow general,
Zajaczek who was connected with the Deputation. Unfortunately Poniatowski had also
alienated himself with Dabrowski (who was angry at having been overlooked as commander-
in-chief). Poniatowski became Minister for War in the Duchy of Warsaw (1807) and
introduced the concept of universal conscription which helped unite the nation by making its
citizens, in carrying out their duty, more aware of their nationality (1808). In 1809 he led the
first successful Polish army in the field since the Partitions, against the Austrians who had
invaded under the leadership of the Archduke Ferdinand d'Este. Poniatowski barred the way
to Warsaw and at the battle of Raszyn (19 April 1809), where 12,000 Poles faced 25,000
Austrians, the Polish Infantry stubbornly held their ground; it is said that Poniatowski himself
took a rifle and went into the front rank with the attacking soldiers. He organised a series of
cavalry raids into Galicia that outmanoeuvred superior numbers thus, at the Treaty of
Schonbrunn, succeeding in reuniting Krakow and West Galicia with the Duchy. Poles
swarmed to his colours from all parts. In the 1812 campaign against Russia, Polish Lancers
were the first to cross the Niemen into Russia, playing a crucial part in the battles of Borodino
and Smolensk (where Poniatowski was wounded), they were the first to enter Moscow and,
under Poniatowski, covering the debacle of the French retreat and saving Napoleon from
disaster at the Beresina, being the last out of Russia; 72,000 of the original 100,000 Poles
never returned. Poniatowski continued to resist the Russians in the Duchy but in the face of
overwhelming odds, and determined to preserve some element of an independent Polish army,
chose to stand by Napoleon and retreat into Germany. He showed great valour at the "Battle
of the Nations", Leipzig (19 October 1813), where Napoleon raised him to the rank of
Marshal of France - the only foreigner to ever be so honoured: in the French retreat at Leipzig
the Poles carried out a rearguard action during which the French prematurely blew up the
Lindenau Bridge over the River Elster, leaving the Poles stranded on the other side. Having to
cross under heavy fire, Poniatowski was mortally wounded and, driving his horse into the
river, drowned. His name is inscribed on the roll of honour on the Arc de Triomphe, Paris and
he, himself, is buried in the crypt of the Wawel, Krakow. His tomb bears the words "God
entrusted to me the Honour of the Poles - and I will render it only to Him."

Poniatowski's ancestors served as ministers in the court of Napoleon III and of President
Giscard d'Estang. Jozef's nephew, Prince Jozef Michal (b.1816; d. 1873) was a musical
composer who wrote many operas, including "Don Desiderio", and several masses. He was a
naturalised Tuscan citizen (1847) but later resided in Paris where he was made a senator by
Napoleon III.

Despite the cynical way that Napoleon treated the Poles they remained loyal to him and, when
he went into exile on Elba the only guards that Napoleon was allowed were Polish Lancers.

The Fate of Kosciuszko:

Following the death of the Tsarina Catherine II, Kosciuszko was released, going into exile to
England, America (where he found himself under surveillance because of his pro-French
sympathies and had to be smuggled out by his friend, Thomas Jefferson) and then to France
(1798). When, in 1799, the Directory offered him the leadership of the Polish Legions he
refused on the grounds that the French had shown no sign of recognising their distinct entity
as a Polish national army. Kosciuszko was also uneasy about Napoleon's ambitions and these
feelings were confirmed when he proclaimed himself First Consul and then betrayed the
hopes of the Legions at the Treaty of Luneville (1801). From then on he distrusted Napoleon
and, suspicious of his intentions, refused to support his plan for the restoration of Poland in
1806. With the fall of Napoleon Kosciuszko watched the proceedings at the Congress of
Vienna with despair and pleaded with Tsar Alexander for a restoration of Poland, to no avail.
He settled at Soleure, Switzerland (1817) where he died. He left all his wealth for the purpose
of freeing and educating the Negroes.

"When the Polish nation called me to defend the integrity, the independence, the dignity, the
glory and the liberty of the country, she knew full well that I was not the last Pole, and that
with my death on the battlefield or elsewhere Poland could not, must not end. All that the
Poles have done since then in the glorious Polish legions and all that they will still do in the
future to gain their country back, sufficiently proves that albeit we, the devoted soldiers of
that country, are mortal, Poland is immortal"

Kosciuszko to Segur, quoted in M.M. Gardner, "Kosciuszko", London 1920.


On hearing the news of his death the government of the Free City of Krakow applied to the
Tsar Alexander I (one of the "protectors", alongside the rulers of Austria and of Prussia, of the
City, according to the Congress of Vienna) for permission to inter Kosciuszko within the
royal tombs of the Wawel. The Tsar, eager to court the Poles, approved. On 11 April 1818
Kosciuszko's coffin was placed in a chapel in St. Florian's Church and on 22 June taken,
amidst great pomp, to the Wawel. He was placed next to the sarcophagi of Sobieski and Jozef
Poniatowski. Shortly afterwards it was decided to raise a mound (Kopiec Kosciuszko) to his
memory; a form of commemoration unique to the city of Krakow - only two others existed at
the time; those of Krakus and Wanda. The work was started in 1820 when soil from
Raclawice, and then Maciejowice was brought. In 1926, on the 150th anniversary of the US
Declaration of Independence, earth from the battlefields of America was brought over and
deposited on the mound.

The house at the corner of Third and Pine Streets, Philadelphia, US, where Kosciuszko stayed
during the winter of 1797-1798, was designated as the Thaddeus Kosciuszko National
Memorial in 1972.

The "Congress Kingdom"

In 1815 at the Congress of Vienna the Duchy was partitioned and a large part went to Russia.
In Austria and Prussia there was repression of all Polish attempts to maintain the national
culture, but in Russia, fortunately, the Tzar, Alexander I, was a liberal ruler who agreed to the
setting up of a semiautonomous "Congress Kingdom" with its own parliament and
constitution. This became a time of peace and economic recovery. In 1817 the University of
Warsaw was founded. But the accession of Tzar Nicholas I to the throne in 1825 saw the
establishment of a more repressive regime.

In 1830, after the revolution in France and unrest in Holland, Nicholas decided to intervene
and suppress the move towards democracy in the West. He intended to use the Polish Army as
an advanced force but instead propelled the Polish patriots into action. On the night of
November 29th the cadets of the Warsaw Military College launched an insurrection.

Wysocki, Piotr (b. 1794; d. 1857), a Second-Lieutenant of the Grenadier Guards and
instructor at the Warsaw Infantry School, conspired with Colonel Jozef Zaliwski (b. 1797; d.
1855) to bring about an armed rebellion in 1830. They met up with a band of civilian
conspirators who were planning to assassinate the Grand Duke Constantine. The situation in
Warsaw was tense; the authorities knew mutiny was afoot and the conspirators expected to be
seized at any moment - action was inevitable. On the night of 29 November 1830 an
assassination squad attacked the Belweder Palace with the intention of killing or capturing the
Grand Duke whilst Wysocki led a force of cadets to seize the Arsenal. Unfortunately
everything went wrong and a night of chaos ensued. The attack on the Belweder failed
because the Grand Duke was hidden by his servants and when Wysocki's attack failed he had
to retreat. Lacking a leader the insurgents marched into the city and asked Generals Trebicki
and Potocki (who they met on the way) to take command. When they refused they were shot.
Owing to the ineptitude of the original conspirators the political leadership of the Rising
passed into the hands of people who had never sought an armed rising in the first place and,
hence, vacillated; the Russian Tsar, on the other hand, didn't.

The Poles fought bravely against heavy odds in former Polish territories around Wilno,
Volhynia and the borders of Austria and Prussia. The insurrection spread to Lithuania where it
was led by a woman, Emilia Plater. For a while victory actually lay in their grasp but
indecision on the part of the Polish leaders led to defeat. Warsaw was taken in September
1831, followed by terrible persecution; over 25,000 prisoners were sent to Siberia with their
families and the Constitution of the "Congress Kingdom" was suspended.

The 1830 Revolution inspired the work of two great Poles living in exile; Chopin, the
composer, and Mickiewicz, the poet.

Chopin, Fryderyk Francois (b. Zelazowa Wola, nr. Warsaw, 22 February 1810; d. Paris,1849),
born of a French father and Polish mother, was a composer and pianist whose music has been
seen as the very spirit of Polishness, using Polish folk melodies as the basic inspiration of
many of his works, and it can be said that he played an important part in the promotion of
Polish culture and nationhood in the salons of the European bourgeoisie. He was trained at the
newly-opened Warsaw Conservatoire under Elsner (the director), and first played in public at
the age of nine, publishing his first work in 1825. He left Poland to study abroad in 1830 just
before the Revolution which was bloodily suppressed by the Russians and inspired his
emotional Etude op.10, no.12; "Revolutionary". He was never to return to Poland. Living in
France he became closely linked with the Polish poets of the Emigration and followed their
use of national folk traditions, building his own compositions (his Polonaises and Mazurkas)
on the national dances. Among his musical innovations were his harmonies, the range of his
arpeggios and chords, and his use of the pedal. He became famous and gave concerts in
London, Manchester, Edinburgh and other European cities, but refused to play in Russia. He
suffered from consumption which was aggravated by a trip to England (1837). He had an
intimate relationship with George Sand (pseudonym of the writer, Amandine Aurore Lucie)
from 1838 - 47, who took him to Majorca (1838) and nursed him back to health but the
relationship broke down after he took George's daughter's side in a family argument; she later
depicted him as Prince Karol in her novel "Lucrezia Floriani". He died in Paris; he is buried at
the Pere Lachaise Cemetery but his heart is in an urn in a pillar of the Kosciol sw. Krzyza
(Church of the Holy Cross) on Krakowskie Przedmiescie, Warsaw. His works for the piano
alone include 55 mazurkas, 13 polonaises, 24 preludes, 27 etudes, 19 nocturnes, 4 ballades, 4
scherzos and a number of songs. During the Second World War his music was banned by the
Nazis as subversive. A crater on Mercury is named after him (64.5°S, 124°W).

Mickiewicz, Adam (b. near Nowogrodek, 24 December 1798. d. Constantinople, 185), never
set foot in Warsaw or Krakow even though he is Poland's national poet and is revered as the
moral leader of the nation during the dark years after the Partitions. He became a student at
Wilno University (1815), publishing his first volumes of poetry in 1822 and 1823, introducing
Romanticism into Polish literature. At Wilno, which was a hotbed of patriotic sympathy and
discussion, he was a co-founder of the clandestine group known as the Philomaths ("Lovers of
Learning") in which the members discussed a wide range of topics including the liberation of
Poland. A small group of Philomaths, Mickiewicz amongst them, formed a more radical
organisation, the Philarets ("Lovers of Virtue") which included a number of Russians who
were later to be a part of the Decembrist conspiracy. An outbreak of patriotism in the
university led to the arrest of the leading Philomats and Philarets for anti-Tsarist activity and,
in 1824, Mickiewicz was sentenced to exile in Russia (1824 - 29); to St. Petersburg, Odessa
(1825) and to Moscow where he taught and made friends with a number of Russian writers,
including Pushkin, Ryleiev and Bestushev (and through these latter two, many of the future
Decembrist conspirators). In Odessa he wrote his "Crimean Sonnets" (1826) recording his
impressions of his travels to Crimea;
"I love to lean against Ayudah's face
And watch the frothing waves as on they pour,
Dark ranks close-pressed, then burst like snow and soar
A million silver rainbows arched in space.
They strike the sands, they break and interlace;
Like whales in battle that beset the shore,
They seize the land and then retreat once more,
Shells, pearls, and corals scattered in their race..."

Sonnet XVIII; "The Rock of Ayudah", trans. D.P.Radin, 1929.

In Moscow, he wrote his first overtly political poem, "Konrad Wallenrod" (1828); about a
Lithuanian child captured by the Teutonic Knights, who is brought up by them and raised to
the rank of Grand Master only to lead his Order to defeat at the hands of his own people. He
left Russia in 1829, barely managing to board his ship, "George V", in Konstadt before the
Tsar's orders revoking his departure could reach him. Mickiewicz travelled throughout the
West; in Berlin he attended the lectures given by Hegel and was the guest of Goethe at
Weimar. He finally made his way to Italy and whilst in Rome heard of the Warsaw Uprising
of December 1830. Hurrying to join the struggle Mickiewicz only managed to reach Dresden
before the uprising was put down. Here in Dresden in 1832 he created Part III of "Dziady"
("Forefather's Eve"), a mixture of Greek tragedy and mediaeval morality play that powerfully
speaks of the heroism and martyrdom of a people fighting for freedom, and was later banned
by the Communists, until 1970, for its anti-Russian attitude:

"Now my soul lives in my country


And in my body dwells her soul;
My fatherland and I are one great whole.
My name is million, for I love as millions:
Their pain and suffering I feel;
I gaze upon my country fallen on days
Of torment, as a son would gaze
Upon his father broken on the wheel.
I feel within myself my country's massacre
Just as a mother feels the torment
Of her children within her womb."

Moving on to Paris (1832) it was here, in 1834, that Adam Mickiewicz produced his
masterpiece: "Pan Tadeusz"; a novel in verse which evokes the almost fairy-tale life of the
nobility in Lithuania through to the heroic march of Napoleon's Polish Legions through
Lithuania to Russia in 1812. In a time before modern Nationalism imposed limitations on
what it means to be a "Pole", Mickiewicz, like many others, saw no contradiction in being a
Pole and a Lithuanian at the same time; the Noble Republic and Polishness (in non-
nationalistic terms) were the same. Hence, his greatest poem begins;

"O Lithuania, my country, thou


Art like good health; I never knew till now
How precious, till I lost thee. Now I see
Thy beauty whole, because I yearn for thee."
In 1834 Mickiewicz married Celina Szymanowska, daughter of the pianist and composer,
Maria with whom he was closely attached since his days in St. Petersburg. For the last twenty
years of his life Adam Mickiewicz virtually ceased writing. He was offered, and accepted, the
chair of Roman Literature at Lausanne, Switzerland, (1839) but left to became professor of
Slavic literature at the College de France, Paris (1840). Mickiewicz lost the post in 1845, for
political activities. Around this time he came under the strong influence of Andrzej Towianski
who had set up a sect. In 1848, in Lombardy, he formed a Polish Legion which fought with
Garibaldi in the defence of Rome. Mickiewicz returned to Paris where he founded and edited
the political daily, "La Tribune Des Peuples" (March - April 1849) sponsored by Ksawery
Branicki. The journal was dedicated to the ideals of brotherhood and the solidarity of nations
in the struggle against despotism and attracted a number of radical writers noted for their
revolutionary, democratic, and socialist views. It suffered continued harassment by the
authorities and did not outlast the year; Mickiewicz had to work secretly for the journal
because of threats to deport him from France. In 1852, Louis Napoleon appointed him as a
librarian in the Paris Arsenal. On the outbreak of the Crimean War (1855) he went to Turkey
to organise Polish forces to be used in the war against Russia. With his friend, Armand Levy,
he set about organising a Jewish Legion, the Hussars of Israel, composed of Russian and
Palestinian Jews. During a visit to a military camp near Constantinople he caught cholera and
died suddenly. His body was taken back to France (1856) and buried at Montmorency but, in
1890, his remains were transferred to Krakow and laid next to Kosciuszko's in the Wawel. A
crater on Mercury is named after him (23.5°N, 19°W).

The "Great Emigration"

The failure of the Insurrection forced thousands of Poles to flee to the West; Paris became the
spiritual capital. Many of these exiles contributed greatly to Polish and European culture.
Joachim Lelewel became Poland's greatest historian, Chopin her greatest composer, and
Mickiewicz, Slowacki, Krasinski and Norwid among her greatest poets. Adam Czartoryski set
up court at the Hotel Lambert, in Paris, which played an important part in keeping the Polish
question alive in European politics.

Czartoryski;

The Czartoryskis were a noble Polish-Lithuanian family, which included the brothers, Prince
Fryderyk Michal (b.1696; d. 1775) and August (b. 1697; d. 1782), both of whom were
statesman under Stanislaw Poniatowski and had a major influence on Polish policy during the
reign of Augustus III. August's marriage to Poland's richest heiress, Zofia Sieniawska (b.
1699; d. 1771), brought an enormous fortune to the family and, with it, great influence. They
supported the King and aspired to high office. Allied to their brother-in-law, Stanislaw
Poniatowski (this influential and powerful alliance of the Czartoryskis and the Poniatowskis
became known as "The Family"), they tried to push reforms through the court but were
constantly blocked by the "republicans" led by the Potockis. Faced with such strong
opposition the Czartoryskis deluded themselves into believing that they could manipulate the
Russians for their own ends (Poniatowski had had a love affair with the Grand duchess
Catherine in 1755 - 58) and conceived of a coup d'etat (1763). The Russians,now ruled by
Catherine II, the Great, and the Prussians, under Frederick II, were opposed to the idea of any
change in the Commonwealth's institutions which they found convenient to their own ends
but, in turn, manipulated the Czartoryskis and elected Stanislaw Poniatowski to the throne.
Poniatowski was to become the last King of Poland; the reign was totally controlled by
Russia.
Adam Kazimierz (b. Gdansk, 1734 ; d. 1823), was the unsuccessful candidate for the Polish
throne at the death of Augustus III. He married Izabella Elzbieta Flemming (b. 1746; d. 1835)
who became an important influence on the family and the cultural life of Poland during the
Enlightenment. She commissioned the leading Neoclassical architect of the day, Aigner, to
redesign the palace at Pulawy and summoned a team of international experts, including John
Savage (who had recently designed Warsaw's Saski Gardens) to landscape the park (1788 -
1810) wherein Aigner built two museum buildings (the first in Poland); the Temple of the
Sybil (1801) and the Gothic House (1809) within which were displayed the vast Czartoryski
collection of art and antiquities. Izabella was the first to attempt to build an English landscape
garden in Poland, at Powazki on the outskirts of Warsaw (now occupied by the Catholic
Cemetery). She established a school for the education of the daughters of impoverished
nobles and wrote the first Polish History textbook for elementary schools. Under the influence
of Izabella Pulawy became a rival to Warsaw as the chief centre of Polish cultural life,
especially after the Partitions. Their daughter Maria (b. 1768; d. 1854) became Duchess of
Wurtemburg and a novelist.

Probably the greatest Polish statesman of the C19th., Adam Jerzy (b. Warsaw,1770; d.nr.
Paris,1861), son of Adam Kazimierz and Izabella, was educated at Edinburgh and London,
and strongly influenced by the ideas of the Enlightenment. Czartoryski fought against the
Russians in the Insurrection of 1794 and, sent as a hostage to St. Petersburg, gained the
friendship of the Grand-Duke Alexander and the Emperor Paul who made him ambassador to
Sardinia. In 1801, on ascending the throne, Alexander,as part of his plan to transform Russia
into a modern constitutional monarchy, appointed Czartoryski as assistant to the Minister of
Foreign Affairs and placed in charge of education in the former Polish territories. As curator
of the University of Wilna (1803) he used his influence to keep a spirit of Polish-Lithuanian
nationalism alive and when some of the students (including Adam Mickiewicz) were arrested
and some sent in exile to Siberia (1823), he was removed from his office. Czartoryski was a
member of the Russian delegation to the Congress of Vienna set up after the defeat of
Napoleon (20 July 1815), and was responsible for drawing up the constitution of the Kingdom
of Poland established by the Congress; it was the most liberal constitution in Central Europe.
When the Polish Sejm began to act as a normal parliament Alexander, whose enthusiasm for
liberalism had waned, dissolved it in 1820. Alexander's successor, Nicholas, became even less
amenable to Polish wishes after the Decembrist Revolt; this Russian secret society had forged
close links with Polish conspirators who were arrested and placed on trial for high treason
only to be cleared by the Sejm Tribunal (having acted on the advice of Czartoryski himself)
and served with a more lenient sentence for participating in clandestine organisations (1828).
Czartoryski became actively involved in the Revolution of 1830 and was elected president of
the provisional government. He summoned the Sejm in January 1831, which declared the
Polish throne vacant and elected Czartoryski as head of the national government. He
immediately donated half of his large estates to public service. He resigned in August 1831
but continued as a common soldier. After the suppression of the Revolution Czartoryski was
excluded from the amnesty, condemned to death and his estates confiscated; he escaped to
Paris where he purchased the old palace, the Hotel Lambert. In Paris, Lelewel's Permanent
National Committee (set up December 1831) tried to fix the blame on the failure of the
Insurrection on the leaders of the conservative group leading to a virtual civil war between the
two factions as they tried to direct the Polish cause in their own way. The man who emerged
as leader of the conservative faction was Prince Adam Czartoryski, becoming the focus of
Polish hopes; Czartoryski himself was referred to as the "de facto king of Poland". He ran a
vast network ready to spring into action whenever the opportunity lent itself and in effect put
the "Polish Question" firmly on the European agenda. The activity of his agents in the
Balkans contributed enormously to the awakening of national consciousness in that region
and helped Serbia shake off Russian influence. He rented land from the Sultan in order to
provide homes for insurgents who had retreated into the Ottoman Empire after the failure of
the 1830 Uprising (1842); this was the colony of Polonezkoy or Adampol which was enlarged
after each unsuccessful attempt at liberation. In 1848 he appealed, unsuccessfully, to Pope
Pius IX to create a Polish Legion to fight on Italy's side against Austria. He freed his serfs in
Galicia (1848) and during the Crimean War worked hard to induce the allies to link the Polish
cause with that of Turkey. In 1857 Czartoryski set up a publishing house producing the
periodical "Wiadomosci Polskie" ("News From Poland") which became very popular amongst
the exiles. He also set up the Bureau des Affaires Polonaises (Bureau of Polish Affairs, 1858).
He refused the subsequent amnesty offered him by Alexander II. His son, Wladyslaw (b.1828;
d. 1894) opened the Czartoryski Museum in Krakow (1878) after the Czartoryski properties
were confiscated by the State. He was a collector of Egyptian art and there are some very
important pieces among the antiquities which form only a part of the rich collection in
Krakow.

Continued Resistance: "For Your Freedom and Ours"

The insurrection in the semi-independent City of Krakow in 1846 was doomed from the start.
The insurrectionists had hoped to gain the support of the local peasantry (recalling the victory
at Raclawice) but the peasants, having never benefited from the liberal ideals proposed by the
intelligentsia, used the insurrection as an excuse to rid themselves of their landlords; it was
the last "jacquerie" (or peasants' uprising) in European history. The insurrectionist forces were
defeated by a combination of Austrian and peasant forces at the battle of Gdow and the
insurrection was put down with great brutality by the Austrians, resulting in the abolition of
the Commonwealth of Krakow.

In 1848 "the Springtime of Nations" (a revolutionary movement towards greater democracy in


much of Europe) saw large-scale contributions by the Poles; in Italy, Mickiewicz organised a
small legion to fight for Italian independence from Austria, whilst in Hungary, Generals
Dembinski and Bem led 3,000 Poles in the Hungarian Revolution against Austria. There were
also unsuccessful uprisings in Poznan (Posen), against the Prussians, and in Eastern Galicia,
against the Austrians.

Starting in 1863, the "January Uprising" against the Russians lasted for more than a year and a
half. A Provisional government was established and more than 1,200 skirmishes were fought,
mostly in the deep forests under the command of Romuald Traugutt.

Traugutt, Romuald; b. 1825; d. 1864. During the January Insurrection of 1863 the
underground state was forced to organise one of the world's earliest campaigns of urban
guerrilla warfare, centred on Warsaw, and to use hit-and-run tactics in the countryside. Due to
initial setbacks and the isolation of different groups there was a great deal of political in-
fighting between the different factions - the Social Democrat "Reds", and the more moderate
"Whites" - which only ended when Traugutt, a Lithuanian landowner from Podlasie, became
its political and military commander (October 1863). Formerly a Lieutenant Colonel in the
Russian Army, he had served in both Hungary and the Crimea. In May 1863 he took
command of a force of guerrillas in the Dziadkowicki Forest, near Kobryn, and in July went
to Warsaw where he was given office under Karol Majewski (b. 1833; d. 1897), the over-all
commander at the time. A "White" with "Red" sympathies, he represented the National
Government abroad, meeting with Napoleon III, and was quickly convinced that there would
be little support from the West. On returning to Warsaw, based at the Saski Hotel, he seized
control of the underground state and became Dictator. With the help of General Jozef Hauke,
he completely reorganised the existing military structures, establishing a regular army and
abolishing all independent formations - as a result the Insurrection revived and expanded its
area of operations. With no support from abroad the Insurrection began to peter out and the
final stroke came with the emancipation of the peasants, which sanctioned the state of affairs
created by the Insurrection (2 March 1864), and Traugutt's arrest in the night of 10/11 August
1864. He was imprisoned in Pawiak, tried, condemned to death and hanged (5 August 1864).
The Insurrection had kept Europe's largest military machine tied down for eighteen months
and had involved not only the szlachta but, in its final stages, also the peasants (who had
fought its very last engagement). The subsequent suppression of the Rising permanently
scarred a generation of Poles; thousands were sent into exile to Siberia - the cream of the
nation. Most never returned. The name of the Kingdom of Poland was changed to the "Vistula
Province". The Insurrection of 1863 was a watershed in Polish history; the social structure
changed as the peasants finally gained their freedom in Russia in 1864 (serfdom had been
abolished in Prussia in 1823, and in Austria in 1848) and slowly made their way to economic,
then political, power. After 1864 the Polish struggle becomes a genuinely national struggle as
politicians vie for the attention of all the classes, especially the peasants. But the situation also
changed after 1864 as one sees an almost universal rejection of the idea of gaining
independence through revolution.

The Uprising was finally put down in 1865, and the Kingdom of Poland was abolished and a
severe policy of persecution and "Russification" established. The University of Warsaw and
all schools were closed down, use of the Polish language was forbidden in most public places
and the Catholic Church was persecuted. The Kingdom of Poland became known as the
"Vistula Province".

In the Prussian occupied zone the aim was to totally destroy the Polish language and culture;
from 1872 German became compulsory in all schools and it was a crime to be caught
speaking in Polish. There was a systematic attempt to uproot Polish Peasants from their land.

In Austrian Poland, Galicia, conditions were different. After 1868 the Poles had a degree of
self-government, the Polish language was kept as the official language and the Universities of
Krakow and Lwow were allowed to function. As a result this area witnessed a splendid
revival of Polish culture, including the works of the painter Jan Matejko, and the writers
Kraszewski, Prus and Sienkiewicz.

Matejko, Jan Alojzy; (b. Krakow, 1838. d. Krakow, 1893). It would be difficult to find
another artist, anywhere, like Matejko - Poland's greatest painter of historical scenes,who was
born, worked and died in Krakow. Matejko was trained at Krakow and Munich (1859) and,
briefly, in Vienna. He was adored by his public for his nationalistic themes painted in a highly
realistic manner. He created powerful, inspired works which have played an important role in
preserving national unity and pride in national achievements at times of crisis, notably during
the Partitions; Poles view their history through Matejko's images. His prodigious output
includes about ten monumental pieces. His method of working consisted of detailed research
and a study of written sources. His early paintings are in a dark Venetian manner but his later
pieces became lighter and resembled the Late-Baroque revival style favoured by some
Viennese painters. Amongst his greatest works are: "The Battle of Grunwald" (1872 - 75) -
for which he received a sceptre as the sign of his being "the king of art", and which achieved
notoriety when it was reproduced as a Polish stamp in 1960, being the largest Polish stamp
produced; "Batory at Pskov"(1872); "Hold Pruski" ("The Prussian Homage", 1882); "Sobieski
at the Gates of Vienna" (1883) which was presented by Matejko to the Vatican; and
"Kosciuszko at Raclawice"(1888); all of which act as historical "time-capsules" recording not
only the events but also the costumes and, particularly, the unique military costumes of the
Commonwealth. Matejko also painted some outstanding family portraits and self-portraits, as
well as a series "A Retinue of Polish Kings and Princes" with which most Polish children are
acquainted. In 1889 - 91 he worked on the polychromatic decoration in the Mariacki, Krakow,
with his pupils, Wyspianski and Mehoffer, as his assistants. He played an important role in
saving the 1650 Baroque altar from being removed from Wawel Cathedral and encouraged
the renovation of the Sukiennice (the Cloth Hall) in the Rynek. He became Director of the
Academy, Krakow and received many medals from abroad, including the French Legion of
Honour (1870).

His home at 41 ul. Florianska was turned into the Matejko Museum in 1898 and is now a
branch of the National Museum in Krakow.

Kraszewski, Jozef Ignacy; (b. Warsaw, 1812; d. Geneva, 1887). One of the most prolific of all
Polish authors, he wrote novels, plays, verse (including an epic on the history of Lithuania,
"Anafielas", 1843), criticism and historical works; a total of around seven hundred volumes
earning himself the title of "the father of the Polish novel". Educated at Wilno University, he
spent some time in prison as a student. He became fascinated by Lithuania and collected
information about her local customs and history. For a while he was inspector of schools and
directed the theatre in Zhitomir before going on to edit a newspaper in Warsaw. After being
dismissed and put on a black-list by the authorities he moved to Dresden where he soon drew
attention to himself, was arrested as a dangerous element and imprisoned at Magdeburg
(1883). His health ruined, he settled in San Remo, Italy, where he lost all his belongings in an
earthquake. Amongst his works (some of which have been seen as a literary equivalent of
Matejko's historical paintings) are "Stara Basn" ("An Ancient Tale", 1876) about a prehistoric
and pre-Christian community, "Jermola Ulana" (1843), "Kordecki" (1852), culture romances
"Morituri" (1875) and "Resurrecti" (1876), and several political novels under the pseudonym
of Boleslawita.

Prus, Boleslaw (pseudonym of: Aleksander Glowacki); (b. Hrubieszow, 1847; d. 1912). One
of the greatest of Polish novelists, a member of the minor szlachta, Prus is regarded by many
as second only to Sienkiewicz. He joined a guerrilla unit and was wounded during the January
Insurrection of 1863 and spent some time in prison after it. Fascinated by mathematics and the
natural sciences, Prus was obliged to write in order to make some money. He was a Positivist
in that he believed that progress can cure all ills, but he gradually became more sceptical as he
grew older. He claimed a great debt to Herbert Spencer. Initially he wrote articles for various
Warsaw periodicals, "Weekly Chronicles" which observed the everyday world around him.
He turned to writing fiction, starting with short stories where poverty played an important role
and his characters are treated with a gentle humour. His novel "The Outpost" (1885) tells of
the obstinate refusal of the illiterate peasant, Slimak ("snail"), to sell his patch of land to the
German colonists gradually taking over his Posnanian village; but Slimak is not portrayed as a
hero - it is his faults (rather than any virtues) that carry him through to victory. Amongst his
chief works are "Pharaoh" (1897) which is essentially the story of a struggle for power
between a young militaristic idealist and the cunning priests in decaying Ancient Egypt, and
"Lalka" ("The Doll") - considered by many to be the best Polish novel - set in Warsaw it was
the first Polish novel to deal with the lives, social problems and conflicts of the urban middle
class. The hero of "Lalka" is the capitalist Wokulski, a former Insurrectionist who had been
exiled to Siberia and, on returning to Warsaw, was employed in a shop. Through marriage he
comes into money and dreams of using his wealth in the services of science and progress but
finds himself lured frivolously away from his high ideals by falling in love with a worthless
aristocratic woman, Isabella. Wokulski is contrasted, in a subtle way, with the Romantic,
Rzecki - constantly excited, a believer in great causes and shy admirer of women. Prus is
buried in the Powazki Cemetery, Warsaw.

Sienkiewicz, Henryk; (b. Wola Okrzejska, Podlasie, 1846. d. Vevey, Switzerland, 1916).
Perhaps one of the most popular Polish authors, famous for his historical novels mainly
dealing with Poland's past. Sienkiewicz was educated in Warsaw and then became a journalist
whose gift for observation, taste for adventure and attention to detail served him well. He
went to the US in 1876 charged with finding somewhere suitable for a group of Varsovian
writers and artists (including the actress Helena Modrzejewski) who wished to migrate and
establish a colony there; he chose Anaheim, California. He was enthused by the redwood
forests and the Sierras (and some of this landscape would serve to inspire his descriptions of
the primeval forests of his novels). The group soon tired of the "good life" and went their
separate ways. Sienkiewicz went back to writing and sent a series of "Letters from America"
to the Polish newspapers which made his reputation; he wrote about New York, California,
and the campaign against Sitting Bull. His "Charcoal Sketches", a short novel about a Polish
village, was actually written in Los Angeles. Sienkiewicz went to Paris in 1878 and then on to
Poland. His tremendously popular patriotic "Trilogy"; "Ogniem i Mieczem" ("With Fire and
Sword"),"Potop" ("The Deluge"), and "Pan Wolodyjowski", 1884-1888, was serialised in the
newspapers and a "must" for every young Pole. The "Trilogy" deals with the adventurous
days of the Husaria (the winged cavalry) in the Polish-Cossack, Polish-Swedish and Polish-
Turkish wars. His masterful evocation of the historical atmosphere of the times is reminiscent
of Dumas and played an important role in forging the Polish image of itself and its destiny.
The novels are full of unforgetful characters such as Zagloba, the Falstaff-like nobleman who
- though a braggart - could use his cunning and courage to extricate himself from some
serious circumstances; the noble officers Skretuski and Wolodyjowski; and the central
character of "The Deluge", Kmicic who undergoes his own Calvary which parallels that of the
nation during the Swedish invasion and the siege of Czestochowa. His fame in the West was
secured by the novel on ancient Rome portraying the early days of Christianity struggling
against the decadence of Nero's court, "Quo Vadis?" (1896) which won him the Nobel Prize
for Literature in 1905. His novel, "Krzyzacy" ("The Teutonic Knights", 1900), written during
the worst days of Bismarck's "Kulturkampf" against the Poles in Posnania, deals with the days
when the existence of Poland and Lithuania were threatened by the Teutonic Order and
culminates in the battle of Grunwald. Sienkiewicz's writings are often used in Polish
dictionaries as examples of good prose. At the outbreak of WW1, Sienkiewicz worked for the
Red Cross Fund at Vevey in Switzerland.

All three powers kept Poland economically weak in this period of technological progress.
Despite this the Poles managed to make some progress; the textile industry began to flourish
in Lodz (the "Polish Manchester") and coal-mining developed rapidly. In Prussian Poland,
despite ruthless oppression, the Poles concentrated on light industry and agriculture (and
before long Poznan became the chief source of food for the whole of Germany). In Silesia,
under German rule since 1742, the development of mining and heavy industry made her a
chief industrial centre and thus the Prussian attempt to exterminate all traces of Polish
language and culture was at its most ruthless, yet they survived.
Despite its abolition by Kosciuszko in 1794 the partitioning powers restored serfdom. It was
not abolished in Prussia until 1823, in Austria until 1848 and in Russia until 1861 (but not in
her "Polish" territories).

In 1905 the Russo-Japanese War saw a series of humiliating defeats for the Russians and civil
unrest in Russia. In Poland there was a wave of strikes and demonstrations demanding civil
rights. Polish pupils went on strike, walking out of Russian schools and a private organisation,
the "Polska Macierz Szkolna" ("Polish Education Society"), was set up under the patronage of
the great novelist, Henryk Sienkiewicz.

Then, in 1906, Jozef Pilsudski, a founder-member of the Polish Socialist Party (PPS), began
to set up a number of paramilitary organisations which attacked Tzarist officials and carried
out raids on post offices, tax-offices and mail-trains. In Galicia the Austrian authorities turned
a blind eye to the setting up of a number of "sporting" clubs, followed by a Riflemen's Union.
In 1912, Pilsudski reorganised these on military lines and by 1914 had nearly 12,000 men
under arms.

In the Aftermath of the Partitions

Napoleonic Poland; The Duchy of Warsaw

The Poles felt that one way of restoring independence was to fight for Napoleon Bonaparte. In
1791 Dabrowski organised two legions to fight the Austrians in Lombardy and, later, for the
French in the Iberian Peninsula.

Dabrowski, Jan Henryk (b. Pierzchowiec, nr. Bochnia, 1755; d. 1818) is the hero
immortalised in the words of the Polish National Anthem;

"Jeszcze Polska nie zginiela poki my zyjemy,


Co nam obca przemoc wziela, szabla odbierzemy.
Marsz marsz, Dabrowski, z ziemi Wloskiej do Polski!
Za twoim przewodem zlaczym sie z narodem."

"Poland is not dead whilst we live,


What others took by force, with the sword will be taken back.
March march, Dabrowski, from Italy's soil to Poland!
Through your leadership we will reunite the nation."

Raised and educated in Saxony, Dabrowski served in the Saxon army where he reached the
rank of Rottmeister in a guard cavalry regiment. He served against the Russians during the
First Partition in 1792 and then again, in the defence of Warsaw in 1794. When Kosciuszko's
Insurrection broke out the Prussian army, which had been laying siege to Warsaw, found itself
in a potentially dangerous position; an armed rising in its rear and its ammunition supplies
captured at Wroclawek. In their attempt to extricate themselves from this position the
Prussians set off for Western Poland only to find themselves harassed in a series of minor
operations led by Dabrowski which kept them engaged for weeks. He captured Bydgoszcz (2
October) and ended up driving the Prussians out from the main theatre of war. After the
failure of Kosciuszko's Insurrection Dabrowski was invited to serve Russia by Suvorov and
Prussia by Frederick William II but he turned them both down, making his way to Paris where
he was feted for his military successes. After the collapse of the Insurrection many Polish
political activists had fled to Paris. The former members of the Polish Jacobin Club formed
the Polish Deputation whilst their opposition was the more liberal, pro-constitutional faction,
the Agency led by Kosciuszko's representative, Barss. The aim of the Deputation was to
organise an uprising in Poland, organising a Polish military force in Walachia. The Agency
put its emphasis on working in league with a foreign power (initially Prussia, then France);
Dabrowski allied himself with the Agency. In Paris, thousands of Poles offered to fight in the
service of revolutionary France and to reinforce Bonaparte's exhausted armies in Italy. When
it emerged that many of the prisoners captured during the Italian campaign were Poles from
Galicia, drafted into the Austrian army, it was decided that Dabrowski should organise a
Polish Legion (formed in Milan, 9 January 1797) and command it in Italy (1798 - 1801); this
met with a furious campaign of denunciations by the Deputation (citing certain unsavoury
events in his past including his Prussian connections and favours shown him by the Russian
general Suvorov) which were later redoubled when the Legions were used to repress any
opposition to Napoleon rather than to live up to the Polish motto of "For our freedom and
yours". Dabrowski was given command over the Polish Legions in Italy. With the
establishment of the Legion, Poles deserted from the Austrian army in droves and very soon a
second Polish Legion was formed (1798) under General Zajaczek (in order to appease the
Deputation) and later, in 1800, a third on the Danube under General Kniaziewicz. The Polish
Legions suffered terribly during the Italian campaigns; the Second Legion was virtually
annihilated in the first battles on the Adige (26 March, 4 April 1799) and after the capitulation
of Mantua when they were seized by the Austrians as deserters (as part of a secret agreement
between the French commander Foissac-Latour and the Austrians). Dabrowski's Legion also
suffered terrible casualties both in the battle on the Trebbia (17 - 19 June 1799) and during the
subsequent miserable conditions in the mountains of Liguria. Dabrowski continued to serve as
general of Polish troops under Napoleon: on 3 November 1806 he and Wybicki issued a
revolutionary appeal to their countrymen in which they quoted Napoleon; "I want to see
whether the Poles deserve to be a nation". Dabrowski played an important role during the
Polish Campaign when, after the liberation of Poznan, he established a military organisation
made up of levies. When Napoleon reorganised the Polish army under the leadership of
Poniatowski (taking the middle way between the extremes of Dabrowski and Zajaczek)
Dabrowski could not conceal his embitterment and animosity. Dabrowski's Legion was active
in West Prussia and at the siege of Gdansk (Danzig), and later in East Prussia where it saw
action at Friedland (1807). As part of the Army of the Duchy of Warsaw, Dabrowski fought
against the Austrians in 1809, the Russians in the campaign of 1812, and at the battle of
Leipzig (1813). Returning to Poland in 1813 he was designated by the Tsar to reorganise the
Polish army, appointed general of the cavalry in 1815, and senator palatine of the Kingdom of
Poland. From his estate at Winnogora, Dabrowski acted as patron of the secret "Society of
Scythemen" formed by former Napoleonic soldiers in Poznan; subsequently reformed as a
branch of Warsaw's "National Freemasonry" they were to play a useful part during the
November Insurrection of 1830.

Napoleon used the Polish Legions in all his campaigns; against Russia, Austria and Prussia, in
Egypt, in the West Indies (Santo Domingo), and in Spain (where they fought the British and
inspired the formation of the English lancers equipped with Polish-style uniforms and
weapons). Some of the Poles became very disillusioned with Bonaparte, realising that they
were being manipulated.
Later, in 1806, the French armies defeated the Prussians at Jena and entered Posen (Poznan)
led by the Poles under Dabrowski. A year later Napoleon and the Tzar, Alexander, met at
Tilsit and agreed to set up a Polish State made up of the lands the Prussians had taken in the
second partition. This was the Duchy of Warsaw. Napoleon used the Duchy as a pawn in his
political game and in 1812 called upon the Lithuanians to rebel as an excuse to attack Russia.
One of the great figures of this period was Jozef Poniatowski.

Amongst Stanislaw II's brothers, Michal Poniatowski (b.1736; d.1794) became Primate of
Poland (1784) and Andrzej Poniatowski (b. 1735; d. 1773) was a general in the Austrian
army. Andrzej's son Prince Jozef Antoni Poniatowski (b. Vienna, 7 May 1763; d. 19 October
1813) was a gifted cavalry officer who served in the Austrian Army (from 1780) and as a
representative to the Russian court (1787). He was wounded at the siege of Sabatch, fighting
the Turks (1788). In 1789 he became Major General of the Polish Army and fought in the
Ukraine (his first lieutenant was Kosciuszko) during the Polish-Russian War (1792).
Poniatowski was decorated for his role at Zielence (18 June 1792) where he led one of his
early bayonet attacks that were to become his trademark (the victory was commemorated by
the establishment of the decoration of the Militari Virtuti Cross). He resigned, in protest,
when Stanislaw II joined the Targowica Confederacy, joining the conspiracy to kidnap the
King (which came to nought). He fought against the Russians alongside Kosciuszko during
the Insurrection (1792 - 94) and joined the French army in 1800. After the collapse of the
Insurrection many Polish political activists had fled to Paris where the former members of the
Polish Jacobin Club formed the Polish Deputation. When Poniatowski became commander of
the Polish forces in Napoleon's army (1806) the Deputation turned against him because of his
uncle's Targowica connections. This soured his relationships with his fellow general,
Zajaczek who was connected with the Deputation. Unfortunately Poniatowski had also
alienated himself with Dabrowski (who was angry at having been overlooked as commander-
in-chief). Poniatowski became Minister for War in the Duchy of Warsaw (1807) and
introduced the concept of universal conscription which helped unite the nation by making its
citizens, in carrying out their duty, more aware of their nationality (1808). In 1809 he led the
first successful Polish army in the field since the Partitions, against the Austrians who had
invaded under the leadership of the Archduke Ferdinand d'Este. Poniatowski barred the way
to Warsaw and at the battle of Raszyn (19 April 1809), where 12,000 Poles faced 25,000
Austrians, the Polish Infantry stubbornly held their ground; it is said that Poniatowski himself
took a rifle and went into the front rank with the attacking soldiers. He organised a series of
cavalry raids into Galicia that outmanoeuvred superior numbers thus, at the Treaty of
Schonbrunn, succeeding in reuniting Krakow and West Galicia with the Duchy. Poles
swarmed to his colours from all parts. In the 1812 campaign against Russia, Polish Lancers
were the first to cross the Niemen into Russia, playing a crucial part in the battles of Borodino
and Smolensk (where Poniatowski was wounded), they were the first to enter Moscow and,
under Poniatowski, covering the debacle of the French retreat and saving Napoleon from
disaster at the Beresina, being the last out of Russia; 72,000 of the original 100,000 Poles
never returned. Poniatowski continued to resist the Russians in the Duchy but in the face of
overwhelming odds, and determined to preserve some element of an independent Polish army,
chose to stand by Napoleon and retreat into Germany. He showed great valour at the "Battle
of the Nations", Leipzig (19 October 1813), where Napoleon raised him to the rank of
Marshal of France - the only foreigner to ever be so honoured: in the French retreat at Leipzig
the Poles carried out a rearguard action during which the French prematurely blew up the
Lindenau Bridge over the River Elster, leaving the Poles stranded on the other side. Having to
cross under heavy fire, Poniatowski was mortally wounded and, driving his horse into the
river, drowned. His name is inscribed on the roll of honour on the Arc de Triomphe, Paris and
he, himself, is buried in the crypt of the Wawel, Krakow. His tomb bears the words "God
entrusted to me the Honour of the Poles - and I will render it only to Him."

Poniatowski's ancestors served as ministers in the court of Napoleon III and of President
Giscard d'Estang. Jozef's nephew, Prince Jozef Michal (b.1816; d. 1873) was a musical
composer who wrote many operas, including "Don Desiderio", and several masses. He was a
naturalised Tuscan citizen (1847) but later resided in Paris where he was made a senator by
Napoleon III.

Despite the cynical way that Napoleon treated the Poles they remained loyal to him and, when
he went into exile on Elba the only guards that Napoleon was allowed were Polish Lancers.

The Fate of Kosciuszko:

Following the death of the Tsarina Catherine II, Kosciuszko was released, going into exile to
England, America (where he found himself under surveillance because of his pro-French
sympathies and had to be smuggled out by his friend, Thomas Jefferson) and then to France
(1798). When, in 1799, the Directory offered him the leadership of the Polish Legions he
refused on the grounds that the French had shown no sign of recognising their distinct entity
as a Polish national army. Kosciuszko was also uneasy about Napoleon's ambitions and these
feelings were confirmed when he proclaimed himself First Consul and then betrayed the
hopes of the Legions at the Treaty of Luneville (1801). From then on he distrusted Napoleon
and, suspicious of his intentions, refused to support his plan for the restoration of Poland in
1806. With the fall of Napoleon Kosciuszko watched the proceedings at the Congress of
Vienna with despair and pleaded with Tsar Alexander for a restoration of Poland, to no avail.
He settled at Soleure, Switzerland (1817) where he died. He left all his wealth for the purpose
of freeing and educating the Negroes.

"When the Polish nation called me to defend the integrity, the independence, the dignity, the
glory and the liberty of the country, she knew full well that I was not the last Pole, and that
with my death on the battlefield or elsewhere Poland could not, must not end. All that the
Poles have done since then in the glorious Polish legions and all that they will still do in the
future to gain their country back, sufficiently proves that albeit we, the devoted soldiers of
that country, are mortal, Poland is immortal"

Kosciuszko to Segur, quoted in M.M. Gardner, "Kosciuszko", London 1920.

On hearing the news of his death the government of the Free City of Krakow applied to the
Tsar Alexander I (one of the "protectors", alongside the rulers of Austria and of Prussia, of the
City, according to the Congress of Vienna) for permission to inter Kosciuszko within the
royal tombs of the Wawel. The Tsar, eager to court the Poles, approved. On 11 April 1818
Kosciuszko's coffin was placed in a chapel in St. Florian's Church and on 22 June taken,
amidst great pomp, to the Wawel. He was placed next to the sarcophagi of Sobieski and Jozef
Poniatowski. Shortly afterwards it was decided to raise a mound (Kopiec Kosciuszko) to his
memory; a form of commemoration unique to the city of Krakow - only two others existed at
the time; those of Krakus and Wanda. The work was started in 1820 when soil from
Raclawice, and then Maciejowice was brought. In 1926, on the 150th anniversary of the US
Declaration of Independence, earth from the battlefields of America was brought over and
deposited on the mound.
The house at the corner of Third and Pine Streets, Philadelphia, US, where Kosciuszko stayed
during the winter of 1797-1798, was designated as the Thaddeus Kosciuszko National
Memorial in 1972.

The "Congress Kingdom"

In 1815 at the Congress of Vienna the Duchy was partitioned and a large part went to Russia.
In Austria and Prussia there was repression of all Polish attempts to maintain the national
culture, but in Russia, fortunately, the Tzar, Alexander I, was a liberal ruler who agreed to the
setting up of a semiautonomous "Congress Kingdom" with its own parliament and
constitution. This became a time of peace and economic recovery. In 1817 the University of
Warsaw was founded. But the accession of Tzar Nicholas I to the throne in 1825 saw the
establishment of a more repressive regime.

In 1830, after the revolution in France and unrest in Holland, Nicholas decided to intervene
and suppress the move towards democracy in the West. He intended to use the Polish Army as
an advanced force but instead propelled the Polish patriots into action. On the night of
November 29th the cadets of the Warsaw Military College launched an insurrection.

Wysocki, Piotr (b. 1794; d. 1857), a Second-Lieutenant of the Grenadier Guards and
instructor at the Warsaw Infantry School, conspired with Colonel Jozef Zaliwski (b. 1797; d.
1855) to bring about an armed rebellion in 1830. They met up with a band of civilian
conspirators who were planning to assassinate the Grand Duke Constantine. The situation in
Warsaw was tense; the authorities knew mutiny was afoot and the conspirators expected to be
seized at any moment - action was inevitable. On the night of 29 November 1830 an
assassination squad attacked the Belweder Palace with the intention of killing or capturing the
Grand Duke whilst Wysocki led a force of cadets to seize the Arsenal. Unfortunately
everything went wrong and a night of chaos ensued. The attack on the Belweder failed
because the Grand Duke was hidden by his servants and when Wysocki's attack failed he had
to retreat. Lacking a leader the insurgents marched into the city and asked Generals Trebicki
and Potocki (who they met on the way) to take command. When they refused they were shot.
Owing to the ineptitude of the original conspirators the political leadership of the Rising
passed into the hands of people who had never sought an armed rising in the first place and,
hence, vacillated; the Russian Tsar, on the other hand, didn't.

The Poles fought bravely against heavy odds in former Polish territories around Wilno,
Volhynia and the borders of Austria and Prussia. The insurrection spread to Lithuania where it
was led by a woman, Emilia Plater. For a while victory actually lay in their grasp but
indecision on the part of the Polish leaders led to defeat. Warsaw was taken in September
1831, followed by terrible persecution; over 25,000 prisoners were sent to Siberia with their
families and the Constitution of the "Congress Kingdom" was suspended.

The 1830 Revolution inspired the work of two great Poles living in exile; Chopin, the
composer, and Mickiewicz, the poet.

Chopin, Fryderyk Francois (b. Zelazowa Wola, nr. Warsaw, 22 February 1810; d. Paris,1849),
born of a French father and Polish mother, was a composer and pianist whose music has been
seen as the very spirit of Polishness, using Polish folk melodies as the basic inspiration of
many of his works, and it can be said that he played an important part in the promotion of
Polish culture and nationhood in the salons of the European bourgeoisie. He was trained at the
newly-opened Warsaw Conservatoire under Elsner (the director), and first played in public at
the age of nine, publishing his first work in 1825. He left Poland to study abroad in 1830 just
before the Revolution which was bloodily suppressed by the Russians and inspired his
emotional Etude op.10, no.12; "Revolutionary". He was never to return to Poland. Living in
France he became closely linked with the Polish poets of the Emigration and followed their
use of national folk traditions, building his own compositions (his Polonaises and Mazurkas)
on the national dances. Among his musical innovations were his harmonies, the range of his
arpeggios and chords, and his use of the pedal. He became famous and gave concerts in
London, Manchester, Edinburgh and other European cities, but refused to play in Russia. He
suffered from consumption which was aggravated by a trip to England (1837). He had an
intimate relationship with George Sand (pseudonym of the writer, Amandine Aurore Lucie)
from 1838 - 47, who took him to Majorca (1838) and nursed him back to health but the
relationship broke down after he took George's daughter's side in a family argument; she later
depicted him as Prince Karol in her novel "Lucrezia Floriani". He died in Paris; he is buried at
the Pere Lachaise Cemetery but his heart is in an urn in a pillar of the Kosciol sw. Krzyza
(Church of the Holy Cross) on Krakowskie Przedmiescie, Warsaw. His works for the piano
alone include 55 mazurkas, 13 polonaises, 24 preludes, 27 etudes, 19 nocturnes, 4 ballades, 4
scherzos and a number of songs. During the Second World War his music was banned by the
Nazis as subversive. A crater on Mercury is named after him (64.5°S, 124°W).

Mickiewicz, Adam (b. near Nowogrodek, 24 December 1798. d. Constantinople, 185), never
set foot in Warsaw or Krakow even though he is Poland's national poet and is revered as the
moral leader of the nation during the dark years after the Partitions. He became a student at
Wilno University (1815), publishing his first volumes of poetry in 1822 and 1823, introducing
Romanticism into Polish literature. At Wilno, which was a hotbed of patriotic sympathy and
discussion, he was a co-founder of the clandestine group known as the Philomaths ("Lovers of
Learning") in which the members discussed a wide range of topics including the liberation of
Poland. A small group of Philomaths, Mickiewicz amongst them, formed a more radical
organisation, the Philarets ("Lovers of Virtue") which included a number of Russians who
were later to be a part of the Decembrist conspiracy. An outbreak of patriotism in the
university led to the arrest of the leading Philomats and Philarets for anti-Tsarist activity and,
in 1824, Mickiewicz was sentenced to exile in Russia (1824 - 29); to St. Petersburg, Odessa
(1825) and to Moscow where he taught and made friends with a number of Russian writers,
including Pushkin, Ryleiev and Bestushev (and through these latter two, many of the future
Decembrist conspirators). In Odessa he wrote his "Crimean Sonnets" (1826) recording his
impressions of his travels to Crimea;

"I love to lean against Ayudah's face


And watch the frothing waves as on they pour,
Dark ranks close-pressed, then burst like snow and soar
A million silver rainbows arched in space.
They strike the sands, they break and interlace;
Like whales in battle that beset the shore,
They seize the land and then retreat once more,
Shells, pearls, and corals scattered in their race..."

Sonnet XVIII; "The Rock of Ayudah", trans. D.P.Radin, 1929.

In Moscow, he wrote his first overtly political poem, "Konrad Wallenrod" (1828); about a
Lithuanian child captured by the Teutonic Knights, who is brought up by them and raised to
the rank of Grand Master only to lead his Order to defeat at the hands of his own people. He
left Russia in 1829, barely managing to board his ship, "George V", in Konstadt before the
Tsar's orders revoking his departure could reach him. Mickiewicz travelled throughout the
West; in Berlin he attended the lectures given by Hegel and was the guest of Goethe at
Weimar. He finally made his way to Italy and whilst in Rome heard of the Warsaw Uprising
of December 1830. Hurrying to join the struggle Mickiewicz only managed to reach Dresden
before the uprising was put down. Here in Dresden in 1832 he created Part III of "Dziady"
("Forefather's Eve"), a mixture of Greek tragedy and mediaeval morality play that powerfully
speaks of the heroism and martyrdom of a people fighting for freedom, and was later banned
by the Communists, until 1970, for its anti-Russian attitude:

"Now my soul lives in my country


And in my body dwells her soul;
My fatherland and I are one great whole.
My name is million, for I love as millions:
Their pain and suffering I feel;
I gaze upon my country fallen on days
Of torment, as a son would gaze
Upon his father broken on the wheel.
I feel within myself my country's massacre
Just as a mother feels the torment
Of her children within her womb."

Moving on to Paris (1832) it was here, in 1834, that Adam Mickiewicz produced his
masterpiece: "Pan Tadeusz"; a novel in verse which evokes the almost fairy-tale life of the
nobility in Lithuania through to the heroic march of Napoleon's Polish Legions through
Lithuania to Russia in 1812. In a time before modern Nationalism imposed limitations on
what it means to be a "Pole", Mickiewicz, like many others, saw no contradiction in being a
Pole and a Lithuanian at the same time; the Noble Republic and Polishness (in non-
nationalistic terms) were the same. Hence, his greatest poem begins;

"O Lithuania, my country, thou


Art like good health; I never knew till now
How precious, till I lost thee. Now I see
Thy beauty whole, because I yearn for thee."

In 1834 Mickiewicz married Celina Szymanowska, daughter of the pianist and composer,
Maria with whom he was closely attached since his days in St. Petersburg. For the last twenty
years of his life Adam Mickiewicz virtually ceased writing. He was offered, and accepted, the
chair of Roman Literature at Lausanne, Switzerland, (1839) but left to became professor of
Slavic literature at the College de France, Paris (1840). Mickiewicz lost the post in 1845, for
political activities. Around this time he came under the strong influence of Andrzej Towianski
who had set up a sect. In 1848, in Lombardy, he formed a Polish Legion which fought with
Garibaldi in the defence of Rome. Mickiewicz returned to Paris where he founded and edited
the political daily, "La Tribune Des Peuples" (March - April 1849) sponsored by Ksawery
Branicki. The journal was dedicated to the ideals of brotherhood and the solidarity of nations
in the struggle against despotism and attracted a number of radical writers noted for their
revolutionary, democratic, and socialist views. It suffered continued harassment by the
authorities and did not outlast the year; Mickiewicz had to work secretly for the journal
because of threats to deport him from France. In 1852, Louis Napoleon appointed him as a
librarian in the Paris Arsenal. On the outbreak of the Crimean War (1855) he went to Turkey
to organise Polish forces to be used in the war against Russia. With his friend, Armand Levy,
he set about organising a Jewish Legion, the Hussars of Israel, composed of Russian and
Palestinian Jews. During a visit to a military camp near Constantinople he caught cholera and
died suddenly. His body was taken back to France (1856) and buried at Montmorency but, in
1890, his remains were transferred to Krakow and laid next to Kosciuszko's in the Wawel. A
crater on Mercury is named after him (23.5°N, 19°W).

The "Great Emigration"

The failure of the Insurrection forced thousands of Poles to flee to the West; Paris became the
spiritual capital. Many of these exiles contributed greatly to Polish and European culture.
Joachim Lelewel became Poland's greatest historian, Chopin her greatest composer, and
Mickiewicz, Slowacki, Krasinski and Norwid among her greatest poets. Adam Czartoryski set
up court at the Hotel Lambert, in Paris, which played an important part in keeping the Polish
question alive in European politics.

Czartoryski;

The Czartoryskis were a noble Polish-Lithuanian family, which included the brothers, Prince
Fryderyk Michal (b.1696; d. 1775) and August (b. 1697; d. 1782), both of whom were
statesman under Stanislaw Poniatowski and had a major influence on Polish policy during the
reign of Augustus III. August's marriage to Poland's richest heiress, Zofia Sieniawska (b.
1699; d. 1771), brought an enormous fortune to the family and, with it, great influence. They
supported the King and aspired to high office. Allied to their brother-in-law, Stanislaw
Poniatowski (this influential and powerful alliance of the Czartoryskis and the Poniatowskis
became known as "The Family"), they tried to push reforms through the court but were
constantly blocked by the "republicans" led by the Potockis. Faced with such strong
opposition the Czartoryskis deluded themselves into believing that they could manipulate the
Russians for their own ends (Poniatowski had had a love affair with the Grand duchess
Catherine in 1755 - 58) and conceived of a coup d'etat (1763). The Russians,now ruled by
Catherine II, the Great, and the Prussians, under Frederick II, were opposed to the idea of any
change in the Commonwealth's institutions which they found convenient to their own ends
but, in turn, manipulated the Czartoryskis and elected Stanislaw Poniatowski to the throne.
Poniatowski was to become the last King of Poland; the reign was totally controlled by
Russia.

Adam Kazimierz (b. Gdansk, 1734 ; d. 1823), was the unsuccessful candidate for the Polish
throne at the death of Augustus III. He married Izabella Elzbieta Flemming (b. 1746; d. 1835)
who became an important influence on the family and the cultural life of Poland during the
Enlightenment. She commissioned the leading Neoclassical architect of the day, Aigner, to
redesign the palace at Pulawy and summoned a team of international experts, including John
Savage (who had recently designed Warsaw's Saski Gardens) to landscape the park (1788 -
1810) wherein Aigner built two museum buildings (the first in Poland); the Temple of the
Sybil (1801) and the Gothic House (1809) within which were displayed the vast Czartoryski
collection of art and antiquities. Izabella was the first to attempt to build an English landscape
garden in Poland, at Powazki on the outskirts of Warsaw (now occupied by the Catholic
Cemetery). She established a school for the education of the daughters of impoverished
nobles and wrote the first Polish History textbook for elementary schools. Under the influence
of Izabella Pulawy became a rival to Warsaw as the chief centre of Polish cultural life,
especially after the Partitions. Their daughter Maria (b. 1768; d. 1854) became Duchess of
Wurtemburg and a novelist.

Probably the greatest Polish statesman of the C19th., Adam Jerzy (b. Warsaw,1770; d.nr.
Paris,1861), son of Adam Kazimierz and Izabella, was educated at Edinburgh and London,
and strongly influenced by the ideas of the Enlightenment. Czartoryski fought against the
Russians in the Insurrection of 1794 and, sent as a hostage to St. Petersburg, gained the
friendship of the Grand-Duke Alexander and the Emperor Paul who made him ambassador to
Sardinia. In 1801, on ascending the throne, Alexander,as part of his plan to transform Russia
into a modern constitutional monarchy, appointed Czartoryski as assistant to the Minister of
Foreign Affairs and placed in charge of education in the former Polish territories. As curator
of the University of Wilna (1803) he used his influence to keep a spirit of Polish-Lithuanian
nationalism alive and when some of the students (including Adam Mickiewicz) were arrested
and some sent in exile to Siberia (1823), he was removed from his office. Czartoryski was a
member of the Russian delegation to the Congress of Vienna set up after the defeat of
Napoleon (20 July 1815), and was responsible for drawing up the constitution of the Kingdom
of Poland established by the Congress; it was the most liberal constitution in Central Europe.
When the Polish Sejm began to act as a normal parliament Alexander, whose enthusiasm for
liberalism had waned, dissolved it in 1820. Alexander's successor, Nicholas, became even less
amenable to Polish wishes after the Decembrist Revolt; this Russian secret society had forged
close links with Polish conspirators who were arrested and placed on trial for high treason
only to be cleared by the Sejm Tribunal (having acted on the advice of Czartoryski himself)
and served with a more lenient sentence for participating in clandestine organisations (1828).
Czartoryski became actively involved in the Revolution of 1830 and was elected president of
the provisional government. He summoned the Sejm in January 1831, which declared the
Polish throne vacant and elected Czartoryski as head of the national government. He
immediately donated half of his large estates to public service. He resigned in August 1831
but continued as a common soldier. After the suppression of the Revolution Czartoryski was
excluded from the amnesty, condemned to death and his estates confiscated; he escaped to
Paris where he purchased the old palace, the Hotel Lambert. In Paris, Lelewel's Permanent
National Committee (set up December 1831) tried to fix the blame on the failure of the
Insurrection on the leaders of the conservative group leading to a virtual civil war between the
two factions as they tried to direct the Polish cause in their own way. The man who emerged
as leader of the conservative faction was Prince Adam Czartoryski, becoming the focus of
Polish hopes; Czartoryski himself was referred to as the "de facto king of Poland". He ran a
vast network ready to spring into action whenever the opportunity lent itself and in effect put
the "Polish Question" firmly on the European agenda. The activity of his agents in the
Balkans contributed enormously to the awakening of national consciousness in that region
and helped Serbia shake off Russian influence. He rented land from the Sultan in order to
provide homes for insurgents who had retreated into the Ottoman Empire after the failure of
the 1830 Uprising (1842); this was the colony of Polonezkoy or Adampol which was enlarged
after each unsuccessful attempt at liberation. In 1848 he appealed, unsuccessfully, to Pope
Pius IX to create a Polish Legion to fight on Italy's side against Austria. He freed his serfs in
Galicia (1848) and during the Crimean War worked hard to induce the allies to link the Polish
cause with that of Turkey. In 1857 Czartoryski set up a publishing house producing the
periodical "Wiadomosci Polskie" ("News From Poland") which became very popular amongst
the exiles. He also set up the Bureau des Affaires Polonaises (Bureau of Polish Affairs, 1858).
He refused the subsequent amnesty offered him by Alexander II. His son, Wladyslaw (b.1828;
d. 1894) opened the Czartoryski Museum in Krakow (1878) after the Czartoryski properties
were confiscated by the State. He was a collector of Egyptian art and there are some very
important pieces among the antiquities which form only a part of the rich collection in
Krakow.

Continued Resistance: "For Your Freedom and Ours"

The insurrection in the semi-independent City of Krakow in 1846 was doomed from the start.
The insurrectionists had hoped to gain the support of the local peasantry (recalling the victory
at Raclawice) but the peasants, having never benefited from the liberal ideals proposed by the
intelligentsia, used the insurrection as an excuse to rid themselves of their landlords; it was
the last "jacquerie" (or peasants' uprising) in European history. The insurrectionist forces were
defeated by a combination of Austrian and peasant forces at the battle of Gdow and the
insurrection was put down with great brutality by the Austrians, resulting in the abolition of
the Commonwealth of Krakow.

In 1848 "the Springtime of Nations" (a revolutionary movement towards greater democracy in


much of Europe) saw large-scale contributions by the Poles; in Italy, Mickiewicz organised a
small legion to fight for Italian independence from Austria, whilst in Hungary, Generals
Dembinski and Bem led 3,000 Poles in the Hungarian Revolution against Austria. There were
also unsuccessful uprisings in Poznan (Posen), against the Prussians, and in Eastern Galicia,
against the Austrians.

Starting in 1863, the "January Uprising" against the Russians lasted for more than a year and a
half. A Provisional government was established and more than 1,200 skirmishes were fought,
mostly in the deep forests under the command of Romuald Traugutt.

Traugutt, Romuald; b. 1825; d. 1864. During the January Insurrection of 1863 the
underground state was forced to organise one of the world's earliest campaigns of urban
guerrilla warfare, centred on Warsaw, and to use hit-and-run tactics in the countryside. Due to
initial setbacks and the isolation of different groups there was a great deal of political in-
fighting between the different factions - the Social Democrat "Reds", and the more moderate
"Whites" - which only ended when Traugutt, a Lithuanian landowner from Podlasie, became
its political and military commander (October 1863). Formerly a Lieutenant Colonel in the
Russian Army, he had served in both Hungary and the Crimea. In May 1863 he took
command of a force of guerrillas in the Dziadkowicki Forest, near Kobryn, and in July went
to Warsaw where he was given office under Karol Majewski (b. 1833; d. 1897), the over-all
commander at the time. A "White" with "Red" sympathies, he represented the National
Government abroad, meeting with Napoleon III, and was quickly convinced that there would
be little support from the West. On returning to Warsaw, based at the Saski Hotel, he seized
control of the underground state and became Dictator. With the help of General Jozef Hauke,
he completely reorganised the existing military structures, establishing a regular army and
abolishing all independent formations - as a result the Insurrection revived and expanded its
area of operations. With no support from abroad the Insurrection began to peter out and the
final stroke came with the emancipation of the peasants, which sanctioned the state of affairs
created by the Insurrection (2 March 1864), and Traugutt's arrest in the night of 10/11 August
1864. He was imprisoned in Pawiak, tried, condemned to death and hanged (5 August 1864).
The Insurrection had kept Europe's largest military machine tied down for eighteen months
and had involved not only the szlachta but, in its final stages, also the peasants (who had
fought its very last engagement). The subsequent suppression of the Rising permanently
scarred a generation of Poles; thousands were sent into exile to Siberia - the cream of the
nation. Most never returned. The name of the Kingdom of Poland was changed to the "Vistula
Province". The Insurrection of 1863 was a watershed in Polish history; the social structure
changed as the peasants finally gained their freedom in Russia in 1864 (serfdom had been
abolished in Prussia in 1823, and in Austria in 1848) and slowly made their way to economic,
then political, power. After 1864 the Polish struggle becomes a genuinely national struggle as
politicians vie for the attention of all the classes, especially the peasants. But the situation also
changed after 1864 as one sees an almost universal rejection of the idea of gaining
independence through revolution.

The Uprising was finally put down in 1865, and the Kingdom of Poland was abolished and a
severe policy of persecution and "Russification" established. The University of Warsaw and
all schools were closed down, use of the Polish language was forbidden in most public places
and the Catholic Church was persecuted. The Kingdom of Poland became known as the
"Vistula Province".

In the Prussian occupied zone the aim was to totally destroy the Polish language and culture;
from 1872 German became compulsory in all schools and it was a crime to be caught
speaking in Polish. There was a systematic attempt to uproot Polish Peasants from their land.

In Austrian Poland, Galicia, conditions were different. After 1868 the Poles had a degree of
self-government, the Polish language was kept as the official language and the Universities of
Krakow and Lwow were allowed to function. As a result this area witnessed a splendid
revival of Polish culture, including the works of the painter Jan Matejko, and the writers
Kraszewski, Prus and Sienkiewicz.

Matejko, Jan Alojzy; (b. Krakow, 1838. d. Krakow, 1893). It would be difficult to find
another artist, anywhere, like Matejko - Poland's greatest painter of historical scenes,who was
born, worked and died in Krakow. Matejko was trained at Krakow and Munich (1859) and,
briefly, in Vienna. He was adored by his public for his nationalistic themes painted in a highly
realistic manner. He created powerful, inspired works which have played an important role in
preserving national unity and pride in national achievements at times of crisis, notably during
the Partitions; Poles view their history through Matejko's images. His prodigious output
includes about ten monumental pieces. His method of working consisted of detailed research
and a study of written sources. His early paintings are in a dark Venetian manner but his later
pieces became lighter and resembled the Late-Baroque revival style favoured by some
Viennese painters. Amongst his greatest works are: "The Battle of Grunwald" (1872 - 75) -
for which he received a sceptre as the sign of his being "the king of art", and which achieved
notoriety when it was reproduced as a Polish stamp in 1960, being the largest Polish stamp
produced; "Batory at Pskov"(1872); "Hold Pruski" ("The Prussian Homage", 1882); "Sobieski
at the Gates of Vienna" (1883) which was presented by Matejko to the Vatican; and
"Kosciuszko at Raclawice"(1888); all of which act as historical "time-capsules" recording not
only the events but also the costumes and, particularly, the unique military costumes of the
Commonwealth. Matejko also painted some outstanding family portraits and self-portraits, as
well as a series "A Retinue of Polish Kings and Princes" with which most Polish children are
acquainted. In 1889 - 91 he worked on the polychromatic decoration in the Mariacki, Krakow,
with his pupils, Wyspianski and Mehoffer, as his assistants. He played an important role in
saving the 1650 Baroque altar from being removed from Wawel Cathedral and encouraged
the renovation of the Sukiennice (the Cloth Hall) in the Rynek. He became Director of the
Academy, Krakow and received many medals from abroad, including the French Legion of
Honour (1870).
His home at 41 ul. Florianska was turned into the Matejko Museum in 1898 and is now a
branch of the National Museum in Krakow.

Kraszewski, Jozef Ignacy; (b. Warsaw, 1812; d. Geneva, 1887). One of the most prolific of all
Polish authors, he wrote novels, plays, verse (including an epic on the history of Lithuania,
"Anafielas", 1843), criticism and historical works; a total of around seven hundred volumes
earning himself the title of "the father of the Polish novel". Educated at Wilno University, he
spent some time in prison as a student. He became fascinated by Lithuania and collected
information about her local customs and history. For a while he was inspector of schools and
directed the theatre in Zhitomir before going on to edit a newspaper in Warsaw. After being
dismissed and put on a black-list by the authorities he moved to Dresden where he soon drew
attention to himself, was arrested as a dangerous element and imprisoned at Magdeburg
(1883). His health ruined, he settled in San Remo, Italy, where he lost all his belongings in an
earthquake. Amongst his works (some of which have been seen as a literary equivalent of
Matejko's historical paintings) are "Stara Basn" ("An Ancient Tale", 1876) about a prehistoric
and pre-Christian community, "Jermola Ulana" (1843), "Kordecki" (1852), culture romances
"Morituri" (1875) and "Resurrecti" (1876), and several political novels under the pseudonym
of Boleslawita.

Prus, Boleslaw (pseudonym of: Aleksander Glowacki); (b. Hrubieszow, 1847; d. 1912). One
of the greatest of Polish novelists, a member of the minor szlachta, Prus is regarded by many
as second only to Sienkiewicz. He joined a guerrilla unit and was wounded during the January
Insurrection of 1863 and spent some time in prison after it. Fascinated by mathematics and the
natural sciences, Prus was obliged to write in order to make some money. He was a Positivist
in that he believed that progress can cure all ills, but he gradually became more sceptical as he
grew older. He claimed a great debt to Herbert Spencer. Initially he wrote articles for various
Warsaw periodicals, "Weekly Chronicles" which observed the everyday world around him.
He turned to writing fiction, starting with short stories where poverty played an important role
and his characters are treated with a gentle humour. His novel "The Outpost" (1885) tells of
the obstinate refusal of the illiterate peasant, Slimak ("snail"), to sell his patch of land to the
German colonists gradually taking over his Posnanian village; but Slimak is not portrayed as a
hero - it is his faults (rather than any virtues) that carry him through to victory. Amongst his
chief works are "Pharaoh" (1897) which is essentially the story of a struggle for power
between a young militaristic idealist and the cunning priests in decaying Ancient Egypt, and
"Lalka" ("The Doll") - considered by many to be the best Polish novel - set in Warsaw it was
the first Polish novel to deal with the lives, social problems and conflicts of the urban middle
class. The hero of "Lalka" is the capitalist Wokulski, a former Insurrectionist who had been
exiled to Siberia and, on returning to Warsaw, was employed in a shop. Through marriage he
comes into money and dreams of using his wealth in the services of science and progress but
finds himself lured frivolously away from his high ideals by falling in love with a worthless
aristocratic woman, Isabella. Wokulski is contrasted, in a subtle way, with the Romantic,
Rzecki - constantly excited, a believer in great causes and shy admirer of women. Prus is
buried in the Powazki Cemetery, Warsaw.

Sienkiewicz, Henryk; (b. Wola Okrzejska, Podlasie, 1846. d. Vevey, Switzerland, 1916).
Perhaps one of the most popular Polish authors, famous for his historical novels mainly
dealing with Poland's past. Sienkiewicz was educated in Warsaw and then became a journalist
whose gift for observation, taste for adventure and attention to detail served him well. He
went to the US in 1876 charged with finding somewhere suitable for a group of Varsovian
writers and artists (including the actress Helena Modrzejewski) who wished to migrate and
establish a colony there; he chose Anaheim, California. He was enthused by the redwood
forests and the Sierras (and some of this landscape would serve to inspire his descriptions of
the primeval forests of his novels). The group soon tired of the "good life" and went their
separate ways. Sienkiewicz went back to writing and sent a series of "Letters from America"
to the Polish newspapers which made his reputation; he wrote about New York, California,
and the campaign against Sitting Bull. His "Charcoal Sketches", a short novel about a Polish
village, was actually written in Los Angeles. Sienkiewicz went to Paris in 1878 and then on to
Poland. His tremendously popular patriotic "Trilogy"; "Ogniem i Mieczem" ("With Fire and
Sword"),"Potop" ("The Deluge"), and "Pan Wolodyjowski", 1884-1888, was serialised in the
newspapers and a "must" for every young Pole. The "Trilogy" deals with the adventurous
days of the Husaria (the winged cavalry) in the Polish-Cossack, Polish-Swedish and Polish-
Turkish wars. His masterful evocation of the historical atmosphere of the times is reminiscent
of Dumas and played an important role in forging the Polish image of itself and its destiny.
The novels are full of unforgetful characters such as Zagloba, the Falstaff-like nobleman who
- though a braggart - could use his cunning and courage to extricate himself from some
serious circumstances; the noble officers Skretuski and Wolodyjowski; and the central
character of "The Deluge", Kmicic who undergoes his own Calvary which parallels that of the
nation during the Swedish invasion and the siege of Czestochowa. His fame in the West was
secured by the novel on ancient Rome portraying the early days of Christianity struggling
against the decadence of Nero's court, "Quo Vadis?" (1896) which won him the Nobel Prize
for Literature in 1905. His novel, "Krzyzacy" ("The Teutonic Knights", 1900), written during
the worst days of Bismarck's "Kulturkampf" against the Poles in Posnania, deals with the days
when the existence of Poland and Lithuania were threatened by the Teutonic Order and
culminates in the battle of Grunwald. Sienkiewicz's writings are often used in Polish
dictionaries as examples of good prose. At the outbreak of WW1, Sienkiewicz worked for the
Red Cross Fund at Vevey in Switzerland.

All three powers kept Poland economically weak in this period of technological progress.
Despite this the Poles managed to make some progress; the textile industry began to flourish
in Lodz (the "Polish Manchester") and coal-mining developed rapidly. In Prussian Poland,
despite ruthless oppression, the Poles concentrated on light industry and agriculture (and
before long Poznan became the chief source of food for the whole of Germany). In Silesia,
under German rule since 1742, the development of mining and heavy industry made her a
chief industrial centre and thus the Prussian attempt to exterminate all traces of Polish
language and culture was at its most ruthless, yet they survived.

Despite its abolition by Kosciuszko in 1794 the partitioning powers restored serfdom. It was
not abolished in Prussia until 1823, in Austria until 1848 and in Russia until 1861 (but not in
her "Polish" territories).

In 1905 the Russo-Japanese War saw a series of humiliating defeats for the Russians and civil
unrest in Russia. In Poland there was a wave of strikes and demonstrations demanding civil
rights. Polish pupils went on strike, walking out of Russian schools and a private organisation,
the "Polska Macierz Szkolna" ("Polish Education Society"), was set up under the patronage of
the great novelist, Henryk Sienkiewicz.

Then, in 1906, Jozef Pilsudski, a founder-member of the Polish Socialist Party (PPS), began
to set up a number of paramilitary organisations which attacked Tzarist officials and carried
out raids on post offices, tax-offices and mail-trains. In Galicia the Austrian authorities turned
a blind eye to the setting up of a number of "sporting" clubs, followed by a Riflemen's Union.
In 1912, Pilsudski reorganised these on military lines and by 1914 had nearly 12,000 men
under arms.

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In the Aftermath of the Partitions

Napoleonic Poland; The Duchy of Warsaw

The Poles felt that one way of restoring independence was to fight for Napoleon Bonaparte. In
1791 Dabrowski organised two legions to fight the Austrians in Lombardy and, later, for the
French in the Iberian Peninsula.

Dabrowski, Jan Henryk (b. Pierzchowiec, nr. Bochnia, 1755; d. 1818) is the hero
immortalised in the words of the Polish National Anthem;

"Jeszcze Polska nie zginiela poki my zyjemy,


Co nam obca przemoc wziela, szabla odbierzemy.
Marsz marsz, Dabrowski, z ziemi Wloskiej do Polski!
Za twoim przewodem zlaczym sie z narodem."

"Poland is not dead whilst we live,


What others took by force, with the sword will be taken back.
March march, Dabrowski, from Italy's soil to Poland!
Through your leadership we will reunite the nation."

Raised and educated in Saxony, Dabrowski served in the Saxon army where he reached the
rank of Rottmeister in a guard cavalry regiment. He served against the Russians during the
First Partition in 1792 and then again, in the defence of Warsaw in 1794. When Kosciuszko's
Insurrection broke out the Prussian army, which had been laying siege to Warsaw, found itself
in a potentially dangerous position; an armed rising in its rear and its ammunition supplies
captured at Wroclawek. In their attempt to extricate themselves from this position the
Prussians set off for Western Poland only to find themselves harassed in a series of minor
operations led by Dabrowski which kept them engaged for weeks. He captured Bydgoszcz (2
October) and ended up driving the Prussians out from the main theatre of war. After the
failure of Kosciuszko's Insurrection Dabrowski was invited to serve Russia by Suvorov and
Prussia by Frederick William II but he turned them both down, making his way to Paris where
he was feted for his military successes. After the collapse of the Insurrection many Polish
political activists had fled to Paris. The former members of the Polish Jacobin Club formed
the Polish Deputation whilst their opposition was the more liberal, pro-constitutional faction,
the Agency led by Kosciuszko's representative, Barss. The aim of the Deputation was to
organise an uprising in Poland, organising a Polish military force in Walachia. The Agency
put its emphasis on working in league with a foreign power (initially Prussia, then France);
Dabrowski allied himself with the Agency. In Paris, thousands of Poles offered to fight in the
service of revolutionary France and to reinforce Bonaparte's exhausted armies in Italy. When
it emerged that many of the prisoners captured during the Italian campaign were Poles from
Galicia, drafted into the Austrian army, it was decided that Dabrowski should organise a
Polish Legion (formed in Milan, 9 January 1797) and command it in Italy (1798 - 1801); this
met with a furious campaign of denunciations by the Deputation (citing certain unsavoury
events in his past including his Prussian connections and favours shown him by the Russian
general Suvorov) which were later redoubled when the Legions were used to repress any
opposition to Napoleon rather than to live up to the Polish motto of "For our freedom and
yours". Dabrowski was given command over the Polish Legions in Italy. With the
establishment of the Legion, Poles deserted from the Austrian army in droves and very soon a
second Polish Legion was formed (1798) under General Zajaczek (in order to appease the
Deputation) and later, in 1800, a third on the Danube under General Kniaziewicz. The Polish
Legions suffered terribly during the Italian campaigns; the Second Legion was virtually
annihilated in the first battles on the Adige (26 March, 4 April 1799) and after the capitulation
of Mantua when they were seized by the Austrians as deserters (as part of a secret agreement
between the French commander Foissac-Latour and the Austrians). Dabrowski's Legion also
suffered terrible casualties both in the battle on the Trebbia (17 - 19 June 1799) and during the
subsequent miserable conditions in the mountains of Liguria. Dabrowski continued to serve as
general of Polish troops under Napoleon: on 3 November 1806 he and Wybicki issued a
revolutionary appeal to their countrymen in which they quoted Napoleon; "I want to see
whether the Poles deserve to be a nation". Dabrowski played an important role during the
Polish Campaign when, after the liberation of Poznan, he established a military organisation
made up of levies. When Napoleon reorganised the Polish army under the leadership of
Poniatowski (taking the middle way between the extremes of Dabrowski and Zajaczek)
Dabrowski could not conceal his embitterment and animosity. Dabrowski's Legion was active
in West Prussia and at the siege of Gdansk (Danzig), and later in East Prussia where it saw
action at Friedland (1807). As part of the Army of the Duchy of Warsaw, Dabrowski fought
against the Austrians in 1809, the Russians in the campaign of 1812, and at the battle of
Leipzig (1813). Returning to Poland in 1813 he was designated by the Tsar to reorganise the
Polish army, appointed general of the cavalry in 1815, and senator palatine of the Kingdom of
Poland. From his estate at Winnogora, Dabrowski acted as patron of the secret "Society of
Scythemen" formed by former Napoleonic soldiers in Poznan; subsequently reformed as a
branch of Warsaw's "National Freemasonry" they were to play a useful part during the
November Insurrection of 1830.

Napoleon used the Polish Legions in all his campaigns; against Russia, Austria and Prussia, in
Egypt, in the West Indies (Santo Domingo), and in Spain (where they fought the British and
inspired the formation of the English lancers equipped with Polish-style uniforms and
weapons). Some of the Poles became very disillusioned with Bonaparte, realising that they
were being manipulated.

Later, in 1806, the French armies defeated the Prussians at Jena and entered Posen (Poznan)
led by the Poles under Dabrowski. A year later Napoleon and the Tzar, Alexander, met at
Tilsit and agreed to set up a Polish State made up of the lands the Prussians had taken in the
second partition. This was the Duchy of Warsaw. Napoleon used the Duchy as a pawn in his
political game and in 1812 called upon the Lithuanians to rebel as an excuse to attack Russia.
One of the great figures of this period was Jozef Poniatowski.

Amongst Stanislaw II's brothers, Michal Poniatowski (b.1736; d.1794) became Primate of
Poland (1784) and Andrzej Poniatowski (b. 1735; d. 1773) was a general in the Austrian
army. Andrzej's son Prince Jozef Antoni Poniatowski (b. Vienna, 7 May 1763; d. 19 October
1813) was a gifted cavalry officer who served in the Austrian Army (from 1780) and as a
representative to the Russian court (1787). He was wounded at the siege of Sabatch, fighting
the Turks (1788). In 1789 he became Major General of the Polish Army and fought in the
Ukraine (his first lieutenant was Kosciuszko) during the Polish-Russian War (1792).
Poniatowski was decorated for his role at Zielence (18 June 1792) where he led one of his
early bayonet attacks that were to become his trademark (the victory was commemorated by
the establishment of the decoration of the Militari Virtuti Cross). He resigned, in protest,
when Stanislaw II joined the Targowica Confederacy, joining the conspiracy to kidnap the
King (which came to nought). He fought against the Russians alongside Kosciuszko during
the Insurrection (1792 - 94) and joined the French army in 1800. After the collapse of the
Insurrection many Polish political activists had fled to Paris where the former members of the
Polish Jacobin Club formed the Polish Deputation. When Poniatowski became commander of
the Polish forces in Napoleon's army (1806) the Deputation turned against him because of his
uncle's Targowica connections. This soured his relationships with his fellow general,
Zajaczek who was connected with the Deputation. Unfortunately Poniatowski had also
alienated himself with Dabrowski (who was angry at having been overlooked as commander-
in-chief). Poniatowski became Minister for War in the Duchy of Warsaw (1807) and
introduced the concept of universal conscription which helped unite the nation by making its
citizens, in carrying out their duty, more aware of their nationality (1808). In 1809 he led the
first successful Polish army in the field since the Partitions, against the Austrians who had
invaded under the leadership of the Archduke Ferdinand d'Este. Poniatowski barred the way
to Warsaw and at the battle of Raszyn (19 April 1809), where 12,000 Poles faced 25,000
Austrians, the Polish Infantry stubbornly held their ground; it is said that Poniatowski himself
took a rifle and went into the front rank with the attacking soldiers. He organised a series of
cavalry raids into Galicia that outmanoeuvred superior numbers thus, at the Treaty of
Schonbrunn, succeeding in reuniting Krakow and West Galicia with the Duchy. Poles
swarmed to his colours from all parts. In the 1812 campaign against Russia, Polish Lancers
were the first to cross the Niemen into Russia, playing a crucial part in the battles of Borodino
and Smolensk (where Poniatowski was wounded), they were the first to enter Moscow and,
under Poniatowski, covering the debacle of the French retreat and saving Napoleon from
disaster at the Beresina, being the last out of Russia; 72,000 of the original 100,000 Poles
never returned. Poniatowski continued to resist the Russians in the Duchy but in the face of
overwhelming odds, and determined to preserve some element of an independent Polish army,
chose to stand by Napoleon and retreat into Germany. He showed great valour at the "Battle
of the Nations", Leipzig (19 October 1813), where Napoleon raised him to the rank of
Marshal of France - the only foreigner to ever be so honoured: in the French retreat at Leipzig
the Poles carried out a rearguard action during which the French prematurely blew up the
Lindenau Bridge over the River Elster, leaving the Poles stranded on the other side. Having to
cross under heavy fire, Poniatowski was mortally wounded and, driving his horse into the
river, drowned. His name is inscribed on the roll of honour on the Arc de Triomphe, Paris and
he, himself, is buried in the crypt of the Wawel, Krakow. His tomb bears the words "God
entrusted to me the Honour of the Poles - and I will render it only to Him."

Poniatowski's ancestors served as ministers in the court of Napoleon III and of President
Giscard d'Estang. Jozef's nephew, Prince Jozef Michal (b.1816; d. 1873) was a musical
composer who wrote many operas, including "Don Desiderio", and several masses. He was a
naturalised Tuscan citizen (1847) but later resided in Paris where he was made a senator by
Napoleon III.

Despite the cynical way that Napoleon treated the Poles they remained loyal to him and, when
he went into exile on Elba the only guards that Napoleon was allowed were Polish Lancers.

The Fate of Kosciuszko:


Following the death of the Tsarina Catherine II, Kosciuszko was released, going into exile to
England, America (where he found himself under surveillance because of his pro-French
sympathies and had to be smuggled out by his friend, Thomas Jefferson) and then to France
(1798). When, in 1799, the Directory offered him the leadership of the Polish Legions he
refused on the grounds that the French had shown no sign of recognising their distinct entity
as a Polish national army. Kosciuszko was also uneasy about Napoleon's ambitions and these
feelings were confirmed when he proclaimed himself First Consul and then betrayed the
hopes of the Legions at the Treaty of Luneville (1801). From then on he distrusted Napoleon
and, suspicious of his intentions, refused to support his plan for the restoration of Poland in
1806. With the fall of Napoleon Kosciuszko watched the proceedings at the Congress of
Vienna with despair and pleaded with Tsar Alexander for a restoration of Poland, to no avail.
He settled at Soleure, Switzerland (1817) where he died. He left all his wealth for the purpose
of freeing and educating the Negroes.

"When the Polish nation called me to defend the integrity, the independence, the dignity, the
glory and the liberty of the country, she knew full well that I was not the last Pole, and that
with my death on the battlefield or elsewhere Poland could not, must not end. All that the
Poles have done since then in the glorious Polish legions and all that they will still do in the
future to gain their country back, sufficiently proves that albeit we, the devoted soldiers of
that country, are mortal, Poland is immortal"

Kosciuszko to Segur, quoted in M.M. Gardner, "Kosciuszko", London 1920.

On hearing the news of his death the government of the Free City of Krakow applied to the
Tsar Alexander I (one of the "protectors", alongside the rulers of Austria and of Prussia, of the
City, according to the Congress of Vienna) for permission to inter Kosciuszko within the
royal tombs of the Wawel. The Tsar, eager to court the Poles, approved. On 11 April 1818
Kosciuszko's coffin was placed in a chapel in St. Florian's Church and on 22 June taken,
amidst great pomp, to the Wawel. He was placed next to the sarcophagi of Sobieski and Jozef
Poniatowski. Shortly afterwards it was decided to raise a mound (Kopiec Kosciuszko) to his
memory; a form of commemoration unique to the city of Krakow - only two others existed at
the time; those of Krakus and Wanda. The work was started in 1820 when soil from
Raclawice, and then Maciejowice was brought. In 1926, on the 150th anniversary of the US
Declaration of Independence, earth from the battlefields of America was brought over and
deposited on the mound.

The house at the corner of Third and Pine Streets, Philadelphia, US, where Kosciuszko stayed
during the winter of 1797-1798, was designated as the Thaddeus Kosciuszko National
Memorial in 1972.

The "Congress Kingdom"

In 1815 at the Congress of Vienna the Duchy was partitioned and a large part went to Russia.
In Austria and Prussia there was repression of all Polish attempts to maintain the national
culture, but in Russia, fortunately, the Tzar, Alexander I, was a liberal ruler who agreed to the
setting up of a semiautonomous "Congress Kingdom" with its own parliament and
constitution. This became a time of peace and economic recovery. In 1817 the University of
Warsaw was founded. But the accession of Tzar Nicholas I to the throne in 1825 saw the
establishment of a more repressive regime.
In 1830, after the revolution in France and unrest in Holland, Nicholas decided to intervene
and suppress the move towards democracy in the West. He intended to use the Polish Army as
an advanced force but instead propelled the Polish patriots into action. On the night of
November 29th the cadets of the Warsaw Military College launched an insurrection.

Wysocki, Piotr (b. 1794; d. 1857), a Second-Lieutenant of the Grenadier Guards and
instructor at the Warsaw Infantry School, conspired with Colonel Jozef Zaliwski (b. 1797; d.
1855) to bring about an armed rebellion in 1830. They met up with a band of civilian
conspirators who were planning to assassinate the Grand Duke Constantine. The situation in
Warsaw was tense; the authorities knew mutiny was afoot and the conspirators expected to be
seized at any moment - action was inevitable. On the night of 29 November 1830 an
assassination squad attacked the Belweder Palace with the intention of killing or capturing the
Grand Duke whilst Wysocki led a force of cadets to seize the Arsenal. Unfortunately
everything went wrong and a night of chaos ensued. The attack on the Belweder failed
because the Grand Duke was hidden by his servants and when Wysocki's attack failed he had
to retreat. Lacking a leader the insurgents marched into the city and asked Generals Trebicki
and Potocki (who they met on the way) to take command. When they refused they were shot.
Owing to the ineptitude of the original conspirators the political leadership of the Rising
passed into the hands of people who had never sought an armed rising in the first place and,
hence, vacillated; the Russian Tsar, on the other hand, didn't.

The Poles fought bravely against heavy odds in former Polish territories around Wilno,
Volhynia and the borders of Austria and Prussia. The insurrection spread to Lithuania where it
was led by a woman, Emilia Plater. For a while victory actually lay in their grasp but
indecision on the part of the Polish leaders led to defeat. Warsaw was taken in September
1831, followed by terrible persecution; over 25,000 prisoners were sent to Siberia with their
families and the Constitution of the "Congress Kingdom" was suspended.

The 1830 Revolution inspired the work of two great Poles living in exile; Chopin, the
composer, and Mickiewicz, the poet.

Chopin, Fryderyk Francois (b. Zelazowa Wola, nr. Warsaw, 22 February 1810; d. Paris,1849),
born of a French father and Polish mother, was a composer and pianist whose music has been
seen as the very spirit of Polishness, using Polish folk melodies as the basic inspiration of
many of his works, and it can be said that he played an important part in the promotion of
Polish culture and nationhood in the salons of the European bourgeoisie. He was trained at the
newly-opened Warsaw Conservatoire under Elsner (the director), and first played in public at
the age of nine, publishing his first work in 1825. He left Poland to study abroad in 1830 just
before the Revolution which was bloodily suppressed by the Russians and inspired his
emotional Etude op.10, no.12; "Revolutionary". He was never to return to Poland. Living in
France he became closely linked with the Polish poets of the Emigration and followed their
use of national folk traditions, building his own compositions (his Polonaises and Mazurkas)
on the national dances. Among his musical innovations were his harmonies, the range of his
arpeggios and chords, and his use of the pedal. He became famous and gave concerts in
London, Manchester, Edinburgh and other European cities, but refused to play in Russia. He
suffered from consumption which was aggravated by a trip to England (1837). He had an
intimate relationship with George Sand (pseudonym of the writer, Amandine Aurore Lucie)
from 1838 - 47, who took him to Majorca (1838) and nursed him back to health but the
relationship broke down after he took George's daughter's side in a family argument; she later
depicted him as Prince Karol in her novel "Lucrezia Floriani". He died in Paris; he is buried at
the Pere Lachaise Cemetery but his heart is in an urn in a pillar of the Kosciol sw. Krzyza
(Church of the Holy Cross) on Krakowskie Przedmiescie, Warsaw. His works for the piano
alone include 55 mazurkas, 13 polonaises, 24 preludes, 27 etudes, 19 nocturnes, 4 ballades, 4
scherzos and a number of songs. During the Second World War his music was banned by the
Nazis as subversive. A crater on Mercury is named after him (64.5°S, 124°W).

Mickiewicz, Adam (b. near Nowogrodek, 24 December 1798. d. Constantinople, 185), never
set foot in Warsaw or Krakow even though he is Poland's national poet and is revered as the
moral leader of the nation during the dark years after the Partitions. He became a student at
Wilno University (1815), publishing his first volumes of poetry in 1822 and 1823, introducing
Romanticism into Polish literature. At Wilno, which was a hotbed of patriotic sympathy and
discussion, he was a co-founder of the clandestine group known as the Philomaths ("Lovers of
Learning") in which the members discussed a wide range of topics including the liberation of
Poland. A small group of Philomaths, Mickiewicz amongst them, formed a more radical
organisation, the Philarets ("Lovers of Virtue") which included a number of Russians who
were later to be a part of the Decembrist conspiracy. An outbreak of patriotism in the
university led to the arrest of the leading Philomats and Philarets for anti-Tsarist activity and,
in 1824, Mickiewicz was sentenced to exile in Russia (1824 - 29); to St. Petersburg, Odessa
(1825) and to Moscow where he taught and made friends with a number of Russian writers,
including Pushkin, Ryleiev and Bestushev (and through these latter two, many of the future
Decembrist conspirators). In Odessa he wrote his "Crimean Sonnets" (1826) recording his
impressions of his travels to Crimea;

"I love to lean against Ayudah's face


And watch the frothing waves as on they pour,
Dark ranks close-pressed, then burst like snow and soar
A million silver rainbows arched in space.
They strike the sands, they break and interlace;
Like whales in battle that beset the shore,
They seize the land and then retreat once more,
Shells, pearls, and corals scattered in their race..."

Sonnet XVIII; "The Rock of Ayudah", trans. D.P.Radin, 1929.

In Moscow, he wrote his first overtly political poem, "Konrad Wallenrod" (1828); about a
Lithuanian child captured by the Teutonic Knights, who is brought up by them and raised to
the rank of Grand Master only to lead his Order to defeat at the hands of his own people. He
left Russia in 1829, barely managing to board his ship, "George V", in Konstadt before the
Tsar's orders revoking his departure could reach him. Mickiewicz travelled throughout the
West; in Berlin he attended the lectures given by Hegel and was the guest of Goethe at
Weimar. He finally made his way to Italy and whilst in Rome heard of the Warsaw Uprising
of December 1830. Hurrying to join the struggle Mickiewicz only managed to reach Dresden
before the uprising was put down. Here in Dresden in 1832 he created Part III of "Dziady"
("Forefather's Eve"), a mixture of Greek tragedy and mediaeval morality play that powerfully
speaks of the heroism and martyrdom of a people fighting for freedom, and was later banned
by the Communists, until 1970, for its anti-Russian attitude:

"Now my soul lives in my country


And in my body dwells her soul;
My fatherland and I are one great whole.
My name is million, for I love as millions:
Their pain and suffering I feel;
I gaze upon my country fallen on days
Of torment, as a son would gaze
Upon his father broken on the wheel.
I feel within myself my country's massacre
Just as a mother feels the torment
Of her children within her womb."

Moving on to Paris (1832) it was here, in 1834, that Adam Mickiewicz produced his
masterpiece: "Pan Tadeusz"; a novel in verse which evokes the almost fairy-tale life of the
nobility in Lithuania through to the heroic march of Napoleon's Polish Legions through
Lithuania to Russia in 1812. In a time before modern Nationalism imposed limitations on
what it means to be a "Pole", Mickiewicz, like many others, saw no contradiction in being a
Pole and a Lithuanian at the same time; the Noble Republic and Polishness (in non-
nationalistic terms) were the same. Hence, his greatest poem begins;

"O Lithuania, my country, thou


Art like good health; I never knew till now
How precious, till I lost thee. Now I see
Thy beauty whole, because I yearn for thee."

In 1834 Mickiewicz married Celina Szymanowska, daughter of the pianist and composer,
Maria with whom he was closely attached since his days in St. Petersburg. For the last twenty
years of his life Adam Mickiewicz virtually ceased writing. He was offered, and accepted, the
chair of Roman Literature at Lausanne, Switzerland, (1839) but left to became professor of
Slavic literature at the College de France, Paris (1840). Mickiewicz lost the post in 1845, for
political activities. Around this time he came under the strong influence of Andrzej Towianski
who had set up a sect. In 1848, in Lombardy, he formed a Polish Legion which fought with
Garibaldi in the defence of Rome. Mickiewicz returned to Paris where he founded and edited
the political daily, "La Tribune Des Peuples" (March - April 1849) sponsored by Ksawery
Branicki. The journal was dedicated to the ideals of brotherhood and the solidarity of nations
in the struggle against despotism and attracted a number of radical writers noted for their
revolutionary, democratic, and socialist views. It suffered continued harassment by the
authorities and did not outlast the year; Mickiewicz had to work secretly for the journal
because of threats to deport him from France. In 1852, Louis Napoleon appointed him as a
librarian in the Paris Arsenal. On the outbreak of the Crimean War (1855) he went to Turkey
to organise Polish forces to be used in the war against Russia. With his friend, Armand Levy,
he set about organising a Jewish Legion, the Hussars of Israel, composed of Russian and
Palestinian Jews. During a visit to a military camp near Constantinople he caught cholera and
died suddenly. His body was taken back to France (1856) and buried at Montmorency but, in
1890, his remains were transferred to Krakow and laid next to Kosciuszko's in the Wawel. A
crater on Mercury is named after him (23.5°N, 19°W).

The "Great Emigration"

The failure of the Insurrection forced thousands of Poles to flee to the West; Paris became the
spiritual capital. Many of these exiles contributed greatly to Polish and European culture.
Joachim Lelewel became Poland's greatest historian, Chopin her greatest composer, and
Mickiewicz, Slowacki, Krasinski and Norwid among her greatest poets. Adam Czartoryski set
up court at the Hotel Lambert, in Paris, which played an important part in keeping the Polish
question alive in European politics.

Czartoryski;

The Czartoryskis were a noble Polish-Lithuanian family, which included the brothers, Prince
Fryderyk Michal (b.1696; d. 1775) and August (b. 1697; d. 1782), both of whom were
statesman under Stanislaw Poniatowski and had a major influence on Polish policy during the
reign of Augustus III. August's marriage to Poland's richest heiress, Zofia Sieniawska (b.
1699; d. 1771), brought an enormous fortune to the family and, with it, great influence. They
supported the King and aspired to high office. Allied to their brother-in-law, Stanislaw
Poniatowski (this influential and powerful alliance of the Czartoryskis and the Poniatowskis
became known as "The Family"), they tried to push reforms through the court but were
constantly blocked by the "republicans" led by the Potockis. Faced with such strong
opposition the Czartoryskis deluded themselves into believing that they could manipulate the
Russians for their own ends (Poniatowski had had a love affair with the Grand duchess
Catherine in 1755 - 58) and conceived of a coup d'etat (1763). The Russians,now ruled by
Catherine II, the Great, and the Prussians, under Frederick II, were opposed to the idea of any
change in the Commonwealth's institutions which they found convenient to their own ends
but, in turn, manipulated the Czartoryskis and elected Stanislaw Poniatowski to the throne.
Poniatowski was to become the last King of Poland; the reign was totally controlled by
Russia.

Adam Kazimierz (b. Gdansk, 1734 ; d. 1823), was the unsuccessful candidate for the Polish
throne at the death of Augustus III. He married Izabella Elzbieta Flemming (b. 1746; d. 1835)
who became an important influence on the family and the cultural life of Poland during the
Enlightenment. She commissioned the leading Neoclassical architect of the day, Aigner, to
redesign the palace at Pulawy and summoned a team of international experts, including John
Savage (who had recently designed Warsaw's Saski Gardens) to landscape the park (1788 -
1810) wherein Aigner built two museum buildings (the first in Poland); the Temple of the
Sybil (1801) and the Gothic House (1809) within which were displayed the vast Czartoryski
collection of art and antiquities. Izabella was the first to attempt to build an English landscape
garden in Poland, at Powazki on the outskirts of Warsaw (now occupied by the Catholic
Cemetery). She established a school for the education of the daughters of impoverished
nobles and wrote the first Polish History textbook for elementary schools. Under the influence
of Izabella Pulawy became a rival to Warsaw as the chief centre of Polish cultural life,
especially after the Partitions. Their daughter Maria (b. 1768; d. 1854) became Duchess of
Wurtemburg and a novelist.

Probably the greatest Polish statesman of the C19th., Adam Jerzy (b. Warsaw,1770; d.nr.
Paris,1861), son of Adam Kazimierz and Izabella, was educated at Edinburgh and London,
and strongly influenced by the ideas of the Enlightenment. Czartoryski fought against the
Russians in the Insurrection of 1794 and, sent as a hostage to St. Petersburg, gained the
friendship of the Grand-Duke Alexander and the Emperor Paul who made him ambassador to
Sardinia. In 1801, on ascending the throne, Alexander,as part of his plan to transform Russia
into a modern constitutional monarchy, appointed Czartoryski as assistant to the Minister of
Foreign Affairs and placed in charge of education in the former Polish territories. As curator
of the University of Wilna (1803) he used his influence to keep a spirit of Polish-Lithuanian
nationalism alive and when some of the students (including Adam Mickiewicz) were arrested
and some sent in exile to Siberia (1823), he was removed from his office. Czartoryski was a
member of the Russian delegation to the Congress of Vienna set up after the defeat of
Napoleon (20 July 1815), and was responsible for drawing up the constitution of the Kingdom
of Poland established by the Congress; it was the most liberal constitution in Central Europe.
When the Polish Sejm began to act as a normal parliament Alexander, whose enthusiasm for
liberalism had waned, dissolved it in 1820. Alexander's successor, Nicholas, became even less
amenable to Polish wishes after the Decembrist Revolt; this Russian secret society had forged
close links with Polish conspirators who were arrested and placed on trial for high treason
only to be cleared by the Sejm Tribunal (having acted on the advice of Czartoryski himself)
and served with a more lenient sentence for participating in clandestine organisations (1828).
Czartoryski became actively involved in the Revolution of 1830 and was elected president of
the provisional government. He summoned the Sejm in January 1831, which declared the
Polish throne vacant and elected Czartoryski as head of the national government. He
immediately donated half of his large estates to public service. He resigned in August 1831
but continued as a common soldier. After the suppression of the Revolution Czartoryski was
excluded from the amnesty, condemned to death and his estates confiscated; he escaped to
Paris where he purchased the old palace, the Hotel Lambert. In Paris, Lelewel's Permanent
National Committee (set up December 1831) tried to fix the blame on the failure of the
Insurrection on the leaders of the conservative group leading to a virtual civil war between the
two factions as they tried to direct the Polish cause in their own way. The man who emerged
as leader of the conservative faction was Prince Adam Czartoryski, becoming the focus of
Polish hopes; Czartoryski himself was referred to as the "de facto king of Poland". He ran a
vast network ready to spring into action whenever the opportunity lent itself and in effect put
the "Polish Question" firmly on the European agenda. The activity of his agents in the
Balkans contributed enormously to the awakening of national consciousness in that region
and helped Serbia shake off Russian influence. He rented land from the Sultan in order to
provide homes for insurgents who had retreated into the Ottoman Empire after the failure of
the 1830 Uprising (1842); this was the colony of Polonezkoy or Adampol which was enlarged
after each unsuccessful attempt at liberation. In 1848 he appealed, unsuccessfully, to Pope
Pius IX to create a Polish Legion to fight on Italy's side against Austria. He freed his serfs in
Galicia (1848) and during the Crimean War worked hard to induce the allies to link the Polish
cause with that of Turkey. In 1857 Czartoryski set up a publishing house producing the
periodical "Wiadomosci Polskie" ("News From Poland") which became very popular amongst
the exiles. He also set up the Bureau des Affaires Polonaises (Bureau of Polish Affairs, 1858).
He refused the subsequent amnesty offered him by Alexander II. His son, Wladyslaw (b.1828;
d. 1894) opened the Czartoryski Museum in Krakow (1878) after the Czartoryski properties
were confiscated by the State. He was a collector of Egyptian art and there are some very
important pieces among the antiquities which form only a part of the rich collection in
Krakow.

Continued Resistance: "For Your Freedom and Ours"

The insurrection in the semi-independent City of Krakow in 1846 was doomed from the start.
The insurrectionists had hoped to gain the support of the local peasantry (recalling the victory
at Raclawice) but the peasants, having never benefited from the liberal ideals proposed by the
intelligentsia, used the insurrection as an excuse to rid themselves of their landlords; it was
the last "jacquerie" (or peasants' uprising) in European history. The insurrectionist forces were
defeated by a combination of Austrian and peasant forces at the battle of Gdow and the
insurrection was put down with great brutality by the Austrians, resulting in the abolition of
the Commonwealth of Krakow.
In 1848 "the Springtime of Nations" (a revolutionary movement towards greater democracy in
much of Europe) saw large-scale contributions by the Poles; in Italy, Mickiewicz organised a
small legion to fight for Italian independence from Austria, whilst in Hungary, Generals
Dembinski and Bem led 3,000 Poles in the Hungarian Revolution against Austria. There were
also unsuccessful uprisings in Poznan (Posen), against the Prussians, and in Eastern Galicia,
against the Austrians.

Starting in 1863, the "January Uprising" against the Russians lasted for more than a year and a
half. A Provisional government was established and more than 1,200 skirmishes were fought,
mostly in the deep forests under the command of Romuald Traugutt.

Traugutt, Romuald; b. 1825; d. 1864. During the January Insurrection of 1863 the
underground state was forced to organise one of the world's earliest campaigns of urban
guerrilla warfare, centred on Warsaw, and to use hit-and-run tactics in the countryside. Due to
initial setbacks and the isolation of different groups there was a great deal of political in-
fighting between the different factions - the Social Democrat "Reds", and the more moderate
"Whites" - which only ended when Traugutt, a Lithuanian landowner from Podlasie, became
its political and military commander (October 1863). Formerly a Lieutenant Colonel in the
Russian Army, he had served in both Hungary and the Crimea. In May 1863 he took
command of a force of guerrillas in the Dziadkowicki Forest, near Kobryn, and in July went
to Warsaw where he was given office under Karol Majewski (b. 1833; d. 1897), the over-all
commander at the time. A "White" with "Red" sympathies, he represented the National
Government abroad, meeting with Napoleon III, and was quickly convinced that there would
be little support from the West. On returning to Warsaw, based at the Saski Hotel, he seized
control of the underground state and became Dictator. With the help of General Jozef Hauke,
he completely reorganised the existing military structures, establishing a regular army and
abolishing all independent formations - as a result the Insurrection revived and expanded its
area of operations. With no support from abroad the Insurrection began to peter out and the
final stroke came with the emancipation of the peasants, which sanctioned the state of affairs
created by the Insurrection (2 March 1864), and Traugutt's arrest in the night of 10/11 August
1864. He was imprisoned in Pawiak, tried, condemned to death and hanged (5 August 1864).
The Insurrection had kept Europe's largest military machine tied down for eighteen months
and had involved not only the szlachta but, in its final stages, also the peasants (who had
fought its very last engagement). The subsequent suppression of the Rising permanently
scarred a generation of Poles; thousands were sent into exile to Siberia - the cream of the
nation. Most never returned. The name of the Kingdom of Poland was changed to the "Vistula
Province". The Insurrection of 1863 was a watershed in Polish history; the social structure
changed as the peasants finally gained their freedom in Russia in 1864 (serfdom had been
abolished in Prussia in 1823, and in Austria in 1848) and slowly made their way to economic,
then political, power. After 1864 the Polish struggle becomes a genuinely national struggle as
politicians vie for the attention of all the classes, especially the peasants. But the situation also
changed after 1864 as one sees an almost universal rejection of the idea of gaining
independence through revolution.

The Uprising was finally put down in 1865, and the Kingdom of Poland was abolished and a
severe policy of persecution and "Russification" established. The University of Warsaw and
all schools were closed down, use of the Polish language was forbidden in most public places
and the Catholic Church was persecuted. The Kingdom of Poland became known as the
"Vistula Province".
In the Prussian occupied zone the aim was to totally destroy the Polish language and culture;
from 1872 German became compulsory in all schools and it was a crime to be caught
speaking in Polish. There was a systematic attempt to uproot Polish Peasants from their land.

In Austrian Poland, Galicia, conditions were different. After 1868 the Poles had a degree of
self-government, the Polish language was kept as the official language and the Universities of
Krakow and Lwow were allowed to function. As a result this area witnessed a splendid
revival of Polish culture, including the works of the painter Jan Matejko, and the writers
Kraszewski, Prus and Sienkiewicz.

Matejko, Jan Alojzy; (b. Krakow, 1838. d. Krakow, 1893). It would be difficult to find
another artist, anywhere, like Matejko - Poland's greatest painter of historical scenes,who was
born, worked and died in Krakow. Matejko was trained at Krakow and Munich (1859) and,
briefly, in Vienna. He was adored by his public for his nationalistic themes painted in a highly
realistic manner. He created powerful, inspired works which have played an important role in
preserving national unity and pride in national achievements at times of crisis, notably during
the Partitions; Poles view their history through Matejko's images. His prodigious output
includes about ten monumental pieces. His method of working consisted of detailed research
and a study of written sources. His early paintings are in a dark Venetian manner but his later
pieces became lighter and resembled the Late-Baroque revival style favoured by some
Viennese painters. Amongst his greatest works are: "The Battle of Grunwald" (1872 - 75) -
for which he received a sceptre as the sign of his being "the king of art", and which achieved
notoriety when it was reproduced as a Polish stamp in 1960, being the largest Polish stamp
produced; "Batory at Pskov"(1872); "Hold Pruski" ("The Prussian Homage", 1882); "Sobieski
at the Gates of Vienna" (1883) which was presented by Matejko to the Vatican; and
"Kosciuszko at Raclawice"(1888); all of which act as historical "time-capsules" recording not
only the events but also the costumes and, particularly, the unique military costumes of the
Commonwealth. Matejko also painted some outstanding family portraits and self-portraits, as
well as a series "A Retinue of Polish Kings and Princes" with which most Polish children are
acquainted. In 1889 - 91 he worked on the polychromatic decoration in the Mariacki, Krakow,
with his pupils, Wyspianski and Mehoffer, as his assistants. He played an important role in
saving the 1650 Baroque altar from being removed from Wawel Cathedral and encouraged
the renovation of the Sukiennice (the Cloth Hall) in the Rynek. He became Director of the
Academy, Krakow and received many medals from abroad, including the French Legion of
Honour (1870).

His home at 41 ul. Florianska was turned into the Matejko Museum in 1898 and is now a
branch of the National Museum in Krakow.

Kraszewski, Jozef Ignacy; (b. Warsaw, 1812; d. Geneva, 1887). One of the most prolific of all
Polish authors, he wrote novels, plays, verse (including an epic on the history of Lithuania,
"Anafielas", 1843), criticism and historical works; a total of around seven hundred volumes
earning himself the title of "the father of the Polish novel". Educated at Wilno University, he
spent some time in prison as a student. He became fascinated by Lithuania and collected
information about her local customs and history. For a while he was inspector of schools and
directed the theatre in Zhitomir before going on to edit a newspaper in Warsaw. After being
dismissed and put on a black-list by the authorities he moved to Dresden where he soon drew
attention to himself, was arrested as a dangerous element and imprisoned at Magdeburg
(1883). His health ruined, he settled in San Remo, Italy, where he lost all his belongings in an
earthquake. Amongst his works (some of which have been seen as a literary equivalent of
Matejko's historical paintings) are "Stara Basn" ("An Ancient Tale", 1876) about a prehistoric
and pre-Christian community, "Jermola Ulana" (1843), "Kordecki" (1852), culture romances
"Morituri" (1875) and "Resurrecti" (1876), and several political novels under the pseudonym
of Boleslawita.

Prus, Boleslaw (pseudonym of: Aleksander Glowacki); (b. Hrubieszow, 1847; d. 1912). One
of the greatest of Polish novelists, a member of the minor szlachta, Prus is regarded by many
as second only to Sienkiewicz. He joined a guerrilla unit and was wounded during the January
Insurrection of 1863 and spent some time in prison after it. Fascinated by mathematics and the
natural sciences, Prus was obliged to write in order to make some money. He was a Positivist
in that he believed that progress can cure all ills, but he gradually became more sceptical as he
grew older. He claimed a great debt to Herbert Spencer. Initially he wrote articles for various
Warsaw periodicals, "Weekly Chronicles" which observed the everyday world around him.
He turned to writing fiction, starting with short stories where poverty played an important role
and his characters are treated with a gentle humour. His novel "The Outpost" (1885) tells of
the obstinate refusal of the illiterate peasant, Slimak ("snail"), to sell his patch of land to the
German colonists gradually taking over his Posnanian village; but Slimak is not portrayed as a
hero - it is his faults (rather than any virtues) that carry him through to victory. Amongst his
chief works are "Pharaoh" (1897) which is essentially the story of a struggle for power
between a young militaristic idealist and the cunning priests in decaying Ancient Egypt, and
"Lalka" ("The Doll") - considered by many to be the best Polish novel - set in Warsaw it was
the first Polish novel to deal with the lives, social problems and conflicts of the urban middle
class. The hero of "Lalka" is the capitalist Wokulski, a former Insurrectionist who had been
exiled to Siberia and, on returning to Warsaw, was employed in a shop. Through marriage he
comes into money and dreams of using his wealth in the services of science and progress but
finds himself lured frivolously away from his high ideals by falling in love with a worthless
aristocratic woman, Isabella. Wokulski is contrasted, in a subtle way, with the Romantic,
Rzecki - constantly excited, a believer in great causes and shy admirer of women. Prus is
buried in the Powazki Cemetery, Warsaw.

Sienkiewicz, Henryk; (b. Wola Okrzejska, Podlasie, 1846. d. Vevey, Switzerland, 1916).
Perhaps one of the most popular Polish authors, famous for his historical novels mainly
dealing with Poland's past. Sienkiewicz was educated in Warsaw and then became a journalist
whose gift for observation, taste for adventure and attention to detail served him well. He
went to the US in 1876 charged with finding somewhere suitable for a group of Varsovian
writers and artists (including the actress Helena Modrzejewski) who wished to migrate and
establish a colony there; he chose Anaheim, California. He was enthused by the redwood
forests and the Sierras (and some of this landscape would serve to inspire his descriptions of
the primeval forests of his novels). The group soon tired of the "good life" and went their
separate ways. Sienkiewicz went back to writing and sent a series of "Letters from America"
to the Polish newspapers which made his reputation; he wrote about New York, California,
and the campaign against Sitting Bull. His "Charcoal Sketches", a short novel about a Polish
village, was actually written in Los Angeles. Sienkiewicz went to Paris in 1878 and then on to
Poland. His tremendously popular patriotic "Trilogy"; "Ogniem i Mieczem" ("With Fire and
Sword"),"Potop" ("The Deluge"), and "Pan Wolodyjowski", 1884-1888, was serialised in the
newspapers and a "must" for every young Pole. The "Trilogy" deals with the adventurous
days of the Husaria (the winged cavalry) in the Polish-Cossack, Polish-Swedish and Polish-
Turkish wars. His masterful evocation of the historical atmosphere of the times is reminiscent
of Dumas and played an important role in forging the Polish image of itself and its destiny.
The novels are full of unforgetful characters such as Zagloba, the Falstaff-like nobleman who
- though a braggart - could use his cunning and courage to extricate himself from some
serious circumstances; the noble officers Skretuski and Wolodyjowski; and the central
character of "The Deluge", Kmicic who undergoes his own Calvary which parallels that of the
nation during the Swedish invasion and the siege of Czestochowa. His fame in the West was
secured by the novel on ancient Rome portraying the early days of Christianity struggling
against the decadence of Nero's court, "Quo Vadis?" (1896) which won him the Nobel Prize
for Literature in 1905. His novel, "Krzyzacy" ("The Teutonic Knights", 1900), written during
the worst days of Bismarck's "Kulturkampf" against the Poles in Posnania, deals with the days
when the existence of Poland and Lithuania were threatened by the Teutonic Order and
culminates in the battle of Grunwald. Sienkiewicz's writings are often used in Polish
dictionaries as examples of good prose. At the outbreak of WW1, Sienkiewicz worked for the
Red Cross Fund at Vevey in Switzerland.

All three powers kept Poland economically weak in this period of technological progress.
Despite this the Poles managed to make some progress; the textile industry began to flourish
in Lodz (the "Polish Manchester") and coal-mining developed rapidly. In Prussian Poland,
despite ruthless oppression, the Poles concentrated on light industry and agriculture (and
before long Poznan became the chief source of food for the whole of Germany). In Silesia,
under German rule since 1742, the development of mining and heavy industry made her a
chief industrial centre and thus the Prussian attempt to exterminate all traces of Polish
language and culture was at its most ruthless, yet they survived.

Despite its abolition by Kosciuszko in 1794 the partitioning powers restored serfdom. It was
not abolished in Prussia until 1823, in Austria until 1848 and in Russia until 1861 (but not in
her "Polish" territories).

In 1905 the Russo-Japanese War saw a series of humiliating defeats for the Russians and civil
unrest in Russia. In Poland there was a wave of strikes and demonstrations demanding civil
rights. Polish pupils went on strike, walking out of Russian schools and a private organisation,
the "Polska Macierz Szkolna" ("Polish Education Society"), was set up under the patronage of
the great novelist, Henryk Sienkiewicz.

Then, in 1906, Jozef Pilsudski, a founder-member of the Polish Socialist Party (PPS), began
to set up a number of paramilitary organisations which attacked Tzarist officials and carried
out raids on post offices, tax-offices and mail-trains. In Galicia the Austrian authorities turned
a blind eye to the setting up of a number of "sporting" clubs, followed by a Riflemen's Union.
In 1912, Pilsudski reorganised these on military lines and by 1914 had nearly 12,000 men
under arms.

In the Aftermath of the Partitions

Napoleonic Poland; The Duchy of Warsaw

The Poles felt that one way of restoring independence was to fight for Napoleon Bonaparte. In
1791 Dabrowski organised two legions to fight the Austrians in Lombardy and, later, for the
French in the Iberian Peninsula.
Dabrowski, Jan Henryk (b. Pierzchowiec, nr. Bochnia, 1755; d. 1818) is the hero
immortalised in the words of the Polish National Anthem;

"Jeszcze Polska nie zginiela poki my zyjemy,


Co nam obca przemoc wziela, szabla odbierzemy.
Marsz marsz, Dabrowski, z ziemi Wloskiej do Polski!
Za twoim przewodem zlaczym sie z narodem."

"Poland is not dead whilst we live,


What others took by force, with the sword will be taken back.
March march, Dabrowski, from Italy's soil to Poland!
Through your leadership we will reunite the nation."

Raised and educated in Saxony, Dabrowski served in the Saxon army where he reached the
rank of Rottmeister in a guard cavalry regiment. He served against the Russians during the
First Partition in 1792 and then again, in the defence of Warsaw in 1794. When Kosciuszko's
Insurrection broke out the Prussian army, which had been laying siege to Warsaw, found itself
in a potentially dangerous position; an armed rising in its rear and its ammunition supplies
captured at Wroclawek. In their attempt to extricate themselves from this position the
Prussians set off for Western Poland only to find themselves harassed in a series of minor
operations led by Dabrowski which kept them engaged for weeks. He captured Bydgoszcz (2
October) and ended up driving the Prussians out from the main theatre of war. After the
failure of Kosciuszko's Insurrection Dabrowski was invited to serve Russia by Suvorov and
Prussia by Frederick William II but he turned them both down, making his way to Paris where
he was feted for his military successes. After the collapse of the Insurrection many Polish
political activists had fled to Paris. The former members of the Polish Jacobin Club formed
the Polish Deputation whilst their opposition was the more liberal, pro-constitutional faction,
the Agency led by Kosciuszko's representative, Barss. The aim of the Deputation was to
organise an uprising in Poland, organising a Polish military force in Walachia. The Agency
put its emphasis on working in league with a foreign power (initially Prussia, then France);
Dabrowski allied himself with the Agency. In Paris, thousands of Poles offered to fight in the
service of revolutionary France and to reinforce Bonaparte's exhausted armies in Italy. When
it emerged that many of the prisoners captured during the Italian campaign were Poles from
Galicia, drafted into the Austrian army, it was decided that Dabrowski should organise a
Polish Legion (formed in Milan, 9 January 1797) and command it in Italy (1798 - 1801); this
met with a furious campaign of denunciations by the Deputation (citing certain unsavoury
events in his past including his Prussian connections and favours shown him by the Russian
general Suvorov) which were later redoubled when the Legions were used to repress any
opposition to Napoleon rather than to live up to the Polish motto of "For our freedom and
yours". Dabrowski was given command over the Polish Legions in Italy. With the
establishment of the Legion, Poles deserted from the Austrian army in droves and very soon a
second Polish Legion was formed (1798) under General Zajaczek (in order to appease the
Deputation) and later, in 1800, a third on the Danube under General Kniaziewicz. The Polish
Legions suffered terribly during the Italian campaigns; the Second Legion was virtually
annihilated in the first battles on the Adige (26 March, 4 April 1799) and after the capitulation
of Mantua when they were seized by the Austrians as deserters (as part of a secret agreement
between the French commander Foissac-Latour and the Austrians). Dabrowski's Legion also
suffered terrible casualties both in the battle on the Trebbia (17 - 19 June 1799) and during the
subsequent miserable conditions in the mountains of Liguria. Dabrowski continued to serve as
general of Polish troops under Napoleon: on 3 November 1806 he and Wybicki issued a
revolutionary appeal to their countrymen in which they quoted Napoleon; "I want to see
whether the Poles deserve to be a nation". Dabrowski played an important role during the
Polish Campaign when, after the liberation of Poznan, he established a military organisation
made up of levies. When Napoleon reorganised the Polish army under the leadership of
Poniatowski (taking the middle way between the extremes of Dabrowski and Zajaczek)
Dabrowski could not conceal his embitterment and animosity. Dabrowski's Legion was active
in West Prussia and at the siege of Gdansk (Danzig), and later in East Prussia where it saw
action at Friedland (1807). As part of the Army of the Duchy of Warsaw, Dabrowski fought
against the Austrians in 1809, the Russians in the campaign of 1812, and at the battle of
Leipzig (1813). Returning to Poland in 1813 he was designated by the Tsar to reorganise the
Polish army, appointed general of the cavalry in 1815, and senator palatine of the Kingdom of
Poland. From his estate at Winnogora, Dabrowski acted as patron of the secret "Society of
Scythemen" formed by former Napoleonic soldiers in Poznan; subsequently reformed as a
branch of Warsaw's "National Freemasonry" they were to play a useful part during the
November Insurrection of 1830.

Napoleon used the Polish Legions in all his campaigns; against Russia, Austria and Prussia, in
Egypt, in the West Indies (Santo Domingo), and in Spain (where they fought the British and
inspired the formation of the English lancers equipped with Polish-style uniforms and
weapons). Some of the Poles became very disillusioned with Bonaparte, realising that they
were being manipulated.

Later, in 1806, the French armies defeated the Prussians at Jena and entered Posen (Poznan)
led by the Poles under Dabrowski. A year later Napoleon and the Tzar, Alexander, met at
Tilsit and agreed to set up a Polish State made up of the lands the Prussians had taken in the
second partition. This was the Duchy of Warsaw. Napoleon used the Duchy as a pawn in his
political game and in 1812 called upon the Lithuanians to rebel as an excuse to attack Russia.
One of the great figures of this period was Jozef Poniatowski.

Amongst Stanislaw II's brothers, Michal Poniatowski (b.1736; d.1794) became Primate of
Poland (1784) and Andrzej Poniatowski (b. 1735; d. 1773) was a general in the Austrian
army. Andrzej's son Prince Jozef Antoni Poniatowski (b. Vienna, 7 May 1763; d. 19 October
1813) was a gifted cavalry officer who served in the Austrian Army (from 1780) and as a
representative to the Russian court (1787). He was wounded at the siege of Sabatch, fighting
the Turks (1788). In 1789 he became Major General of the Polish Army and fought in the
Ukraine (his first lieutenant was Kosciuszko) during the Polish-Russian War (1792).
Poniatowski was decorated for his role at Zielence (18 June 1792) where he led one of his
early bayonet attacks that were to become his trademark (the victory was commemorated by
the establishment of the decoration of the Militari Virtuti Cross). He resigned, in protest,
when Stanislaw II joined the Targowica Confederacy, joining the conspiracy to kidnap the
King (which came to nought). He fought against the Russians alongside Kosciuszko during
the Insurrection (1792 - 94) and joined the French army in 1800. After the collapse of the
Insurrection many Polish political activists had fled to Paris where the former members of the
Polish Jacobin Club formed the Polish Deputation. When Poniatowski became commander of
the Polish forces in Napoleon's army (1806) the Deputation turned against him because of his
uncle's Targowica connections. This soured his relationships with his fellow general,
Zajaczek who was connected with the Deputation. Unfortunately Poniatowski had also
alienated himself with Dabrowski (who was angry at having been overlooked as commander-
in-chief). Poniatowski became Minister for War in the Duchy of Warsaw (1807) and
introduced the concept of universal conscription which helped unite the nation by making its
citizens, in carrying out their duty, more aware of their nationality (1808). In 1809 he led the
first successful Polish army in the field since the Partitions, against the Austrians who had
invaded under the leadership of the Archduke Ferdinand d'Este. Poniatowski barred the way
to Warsaw and at the battle of Raszyn (19 April 1809), where 12,000 Poles faced 25,000
Austrians, the Polish Infantry stubbornly held their ground; it is said that Poniatowski himself
took a rifle and went into the front rank with the attacking soldiers. He organised a series of
cavalry raids into Galicia that outmanoeuvred superior numbers thus, at the Treaty of
Schonbrunn, succeeding in reuniting Krakow and West Galicia with the Duchy. Poles
swarmed to his colours from all parts. In the 1812 campaign against Russia, Polish Lancers
were the first to cross the Niemen into Russia, playing a crucial part in the battles of Borodino
and Smolensk (where Poniatowski was wounded), they were the first to enter Moscow and,
under Poniatowski, covering the debacle of the French retreat and saving Napoleon from
disaster at the Beresina, being the last out of Russia; 72,000 of the original 100,000 Poles
never returned. Poniatowski continued to resist the Russians in the Duchy but in the face of
overwhelming odds, and determined to preserve some element of an independent Polish army,
chose to stand by Napoleon and retreat into Germany. He showed great valour at the "Battle
of the Nations", Leipzig (19 October 1813), where Napoleon raised him to the rank of
Marshal of France - the only foreigner to ever be so honoured: in the French retreat at Leipzig
the Poles carried out a rearguard action during which the French prematurely blew up the
Lindenau Bridge over the River Elster, leaving the Poles stranded on the other side. Having to
cross under heavy fire, Poniatowski was mortally wounded and, driving his horse into the
river, drowned. His name is inscribed on the roll of honour on the Arc de Triomphe, Paris and
he, himself, is buried in the crypt of the Wawel, Krakow. His tomb bears the words "God
entrusted to me the Honour of the Poles - and I will render it only to Him."

Poniatowski's ancestors served as ministers in the court of Napoleon III and of President
Giscard d'Estang. Jozef's nephew, Prince Jozef Michal (b.1816; d. 1873) was a musical
composer who wrote many operas, including "Don Desiderio", and several masses. He was a
naturalised Tuscan citizen (1847) but later resided in Paris where he was made a senator by
Napoleon III.

Despite the cynical way that Napoleon treated the Poles they remained loyal to him and, when
he went into exile on Elba the only guards that Napoleon was allowed were Polish Lancers.

The Fate of Kosciuszko:

Following the death of the Tsarina Catherine II, Kosciuszko was released, going into exile to
England, America (where he found himself under surveillance because of his pro-French
sympathies and had to be smuggled out by his friend, Thomas Jefferson) and then to France
(1798). When, in 1799, the Directory offered him the leadership of the Polish Legions he
refused on the grounds that the French had shown no sign of recognising their distinct entity
as a Polish national army. Kosciuszko was also uneasy about Napoleon's ambitions and these
feelings were confirmed when he proclaimed himself First Consul and then betrayed the
hopes of the Legions at the Treaty of Luneville (1801). From then on he distrusted Napoleon
and, suspicious of his intentions, refused to support his plan for the restoration of Poland in
1806. With the fall of Napoleon Kosciuszko watched the proceedings at the Congress of
Vienna with despair and pleaded with Tsar Alexander for a restoration of Poland, to no avail.
He settled at Soleure, Switzerland (1817) where he died. He left all his wealth for the purpose
of freeing and educating the Negroes.
"When the Polish nation called me to defend the integrity, the independence, the dignity, the
glory and the liberty of the country, she knew full well that I was not the last Pole, and that
with my death on the battlefield or elsewhere Poland could not, must not end. All that the
Poles have done since then in the glorious Polish legions and all that they will still do in the
future to gain their country back, sufficiently proves that albeit we, the devoted soldiers of
that country, are mortal, Poland is immortal"

Kosciuszko to Segur, quoted in M.M. Gardner, "Kosciuszko", London 1920.

On hearing the news of his death the government of the Free City of Krakow applied to the
Tsar Alexander I (one of the "protectors", alongside the rulers of Austria and of Prussia, of the
City, according to the Congress of Vienna) for permission to inter Kosciuszko within the
royal tombs of the Wawel. The Tsar, eager to court the Poles, approved. On 11 April 1818
Kosciuszko's coffin was placed in a chapel in St. Florian's Church and on 22 June taken,
amidst great pomp, to the Wawel. He was placed next to the sarcophagi of Sobieski and Jozef
Poniatowski. Shortly afterwards it was decided to raise a mound (Kopiec Kosciuszko) to his
memory; a form of commemoration unique to the city of Krakow - only two others existed at
the time; those of Krakus and Wanda. The work was started in 1820 when soil from
Raclawice, and then Maciejowice was brought. In 1926, on the 150th anniversary of the US
Declaration of Independence, earth from the battlefields of America was brought over and
deposited on the mound.

The house at the corner of Third and Pine Streets, Philadelphia, US, where Kosciuszko stayed
during the winter of 1797-1798, was designated as the Thaddeus Kosciuszko National
Memorial in 1972.

The "Congress Kingdom"

In 1815 at the Congress of Vienna the Duchy was partitioned and a large part went to Russia.
In Austria and Prussia there was repression of all Polish attempts to maintain the national
culture, but in Russia, fortunately, the Tzar, Alexander I, was a liberal ruler who agreed to the
setting up of a semiautonomous "Congress Kingdom" with its own parliament and
constitution. This became a time of peace and economic recovery. In 1817 the University of
Warsaw was founded. But the accession of Tzar Nicholas I to the throne in 1825 saw the
establishment of a more repressive regime.

In 1830, after the revolution in France and unrest in Holland, Nicholas decided to intervene
and suppress the move towards democracy in the West. He intended to use the Polish Army as
an advanced force but instead propelled the Polish patriots into action. On the night of
November 29th the cadets of the Warsaw Military College launched an insurrection.

Wysocki, Piotr (b. 1794; d. 1857), a Second-Lieutenant of the Grenadier Guards and
instructor at the Warsaw Infantry School, conspired with Colonel Jozef Zaliwski (b. 1797; d.
1855) to bring about an armed rebellion in 1830. They met up with a band of civilian
conspirators who were planning to assassinate the Grand Duke Constantine. The situation in
Warsaw was tense; the authorities knew mutiny was afoot and the conspirators expected to be
seized at any moment - action was inevitable. On the night of 29 November 1830 an
assassination squad attacked the Belweder Palace with the intention of killing or capturing the
Grand Duke whilst Wysocki led a force of cadets to seize the Arsenal. Unfortunately
everything went wrong and a night of chaos ensued. The attack on the Belweder failed
because the Grand Duke was hidden by his servants and when Wysocki's attack failed he had
to retreat. Lacking a leader the insurgents marched into the city and asked Generals Trebicki
and Potocki (who they met on the way) to take command. When they refused they were shot.
Owing to the ineptitude of the original conspirators the political leadership of the Rising
passed into the hands of people who had never sought an armed rising in the first place and,
hence, vacillated; the Russian Tsar, on the other hand, didn't.

The Poles fought bravely against heavy odds in former Polish territories around Wilno,
Volhynia and the borders of Austria and Prussia. The insurrection spread to Lithuania where it
was led by a woman, Emilia Plater. For a while victory actually lay in their grasp but
indecision on the part of the Polish leaders led to defeat. Warsaw was taken in September
1831, followed by terrible persecution; over 25,000 prisoners were sent to Siberia with their
families and the Constitution of the "Congress Kingdom" was suspended.

The 1830 Revolution inspired the work of two great Poles living in exile; Chopin, the
composer, and Mickiewicz, the poet.

Chopin, Fryderyk Francois (b. Zelazowa Wola, nr. Warsaw, 22 February 1810; d. Paris,1849),
born of a French father and Polish mother, was a composer and pianist whose music has been
seen as the very spirit of Polishness, using Polish folk melodies as the basic inspiration of
many of his works, and it can be said that he played an important part in the promotion of
Polish culture and nationhood in the salons of the European bourgeoisie. He was trained at the
newly-opened Warsaw Conservatoire under Elsner (the director), and first played in public at
the age of nine, publishing his first work in 1825. He left Poland to study abroad in 1830 just
before the Revolution which was bloodily suppressed by the Russians and inspired his
emotional Etude op.10, no.12; "Revolutionary". He was never to return to Poland. Living in
France he became closely linked with the Polish poets of the Emigration and followed their
use of national folk traditions, building his own compositions (his Polonaises and Mazurkas)
on the national dances. Among his musical innovations were his harmonies, the range of his
arpeggios and chords, and his use of the pedal. He became famous and gave concerts in
London, Manchester, Edinburgh and other European cities, but refused to play in Russia. He
suffered from consumption which was aggravated by a trip to England (1837). He had an
intimate relationship with George Sand (pseudonym of the writer, Amandine Aurore Lucie)
from 1838 - 47, who took him to Majorca (1838) and nursed him back to health but the
relationship broke down after he took George's daughter's side in a family argument; she later
depicted him as Prince Karol in her novel "Lucrezia Floriani". He died in Paris; he is buried at
the Pere Lachaise Cemetery but his heart is in an urn in a pillar of the Kosciol sw. Krzyza
(Church of the Holy Cross) on Krakowskie Przedmiescie, Warsaw. His works for the piano
alone include 55 mazurkas, 13 polonaises, 24 preludes, 27 etudes, 19 nocturnes, 4 ballades, 4
scherzos and a number of songs. During the Second World War his music was banned by the
Nazis as subversive. A crater on Mercury is named after him (64.5°S, 124°W).

Mickiewicz, Adam (b. near Nowogrodek, 24 December 1798. d. Constantinople, 185), never
set foot in Warsaw or Krakow even though he is Poland's national poet and is revered as the
moral leader of the nation during the dark years after the Partitions. He became a student at
Wilno University (1815), publishing his first volumes of poetry in 1822 and 1823, introducing
Romanticism into Polish literature. At Wilno, which was a hotbed of patriotic sympathy and
discussion, he was a co-founder of the clandestine group known as the Philomaths ("Lovers of
Learning") in which the members discussed a wide range of topics including the liberation of
Poland. A small group of Philomaths, Mickiewicz amongst them, formed a more radical
organisation, the Philarets ("Lovers of Virtue") which included a number of Russians who
were later to be a part of the Decembrist conspiracy. An outbreak of patriotism in the
university led to the arrest of the leading Philomats and Philarets for anti-Tsarist activity and,
in 1824, Mickiewicz was sentenced to exile in Russia (1824 - 29); to St. Petersburg, Odessa
(1825) and to Moscow where he taught and made friends with a number of Russian writers,
including Pushkin, Ryleiev and Bestushev (and through these latter two, many of the future
Decembrist conspirators). In Odessa he wrote his "Crimean Sonnets" (1826) recording his
impressions of his travels to Crimea;

"I love to lean against Ayudah's face


And watch the frothing waves as on they pour,
Dark ranks close-pressed, then burst like snow and soar
A million silver rainbows arched in space.
They strike the sands, they break and interlace;
Like whales in battle that beset the shore,
They seize the land and then retreat once more,
Shells, pearls, and corals scattered in their race..."

Sonnet XVIII; "The Rock of Ayudah", trans. D.P.Radin, 1929.

In Moscow, he wrote his first overtly political poem, "Konrad Wallenrod" (1828); about a
Lithuanian child captured by the Teutonic Knights, who is brought up by them and raised to
the rank of Grand Master only to lead his Order to defeat at the hands of his own people. He
left Russia in 1829, barely managing to board his ship, "George V", in Konstadt before the
Tsar's orders revoking his departure could reach him. Mickiewicz travelled throughout the
West; in Berlin he attended the lectures given by Hegel and was the guest of Goethe at
Weimar. He finally made his way to Italy and whilst in Rome heard of the Warsaw Uprising
of December 1830. Hurrying to join the struggle Mickiewicz only managed to reach Dresden
before the uprising was put down. Here in Dresden in 1832 he created Part III of "Dziady"
("Forefather's Eve"), a mixture of Greek tragedy and mediaeval morality play that powerfully
speaks of the heroism and martyrdom of a people fighting for freedom, and was later banned
by the Communists, until 1970, for its anti-Russian attitude:

"Now my soul lives in my country


And in my body dwells her soul;
My fatherland and I are one great whole.
My name is million, for I love as millions:
Their pain and suffering I feel;
I gaze upon my country fallen on days
Of torment, as a son would gaze
Upon his father broken on the wheel.
I feel within myself my country's massacre
Just as a mother feels the torment
Of her children within her womb."

Moving on to Paris (1832) it was here, in 1834, that Adam Mickiewicz produced his
masterpiece: "Pan Tadeusz"; a novel in verse which evokes the almost fairy-tale life of the
nobility in Lithuania through to the heroic march of Napoleon's Polish Legions through
Lithuania to Russia in 1812. In a time before modern Nationalism imposed limitations on
what it means to be a "Pole", Mickiewicz, like many others, saw no contradiction in being a
Pole and a Lithuanian at the same time; the Noble Republic and Polishness (in non-
nationalistic terms) were the same. Hence, his greatest poem begins;

"O Lithuania, my country, thou


Art like good health; I never knew till now
How precious, till I lost thee. Now I see
Thy beauty whole, because I yearn for thee."

In 1834 Mickiewicz married Celina Szymanowska, daughter of the pianist and composer,
Maria with whom he was closely attached since his days in St. Petersburg. For the last twenty
years of his life Adam Mickiewicz virtually ceased writing. He was offered, and accepted, the
chair of Roman Literature at Lausanne, Switzerland, (1839) but left to became professor of
Slavic literature at the College de France, Paris (1840). Mickiewicz lost the post in 1845, for
political activities. Around this time he came under the strong influence of Andrzej Towianski
who had set up a sect. In 1848, in Lombardy, he formed a Polish Legion which fought with
Garibaldi in the defence of Rome. Mickiewicz returned to Paris where he founded and edited
the political daily, "La Tribune Des Peuples" (March - April 1849) sponsored by Ksawery
Branicki. The journal was dedicated to the ideals of brotherhood and the solidarity of nations
in the struggle against despotism and attracted a number of radical writers noted for their
revolutionary, democratic, and socialist views. It suffered continued harassment by the
authorities and did not outlast the year; Mickiewicz had to work secretly for the journal
because of threats to deport him from France. In 1852, Louis Napoleon appointed him as a
librarian in the Paris Arsenal. On the outbreak of the Crimean War (1855) he went to Turkey
to organise Polish forces to be used in the war against Russia. With his friend, Armand Levy,
he set about organising a Jewish Legion, the Hussars of Israel, composed of Russian and
Palestinian Jews. During a visit to a military camp near Constantinople he caught cholera and
died suddenly. His body was taken back to France (1856) and buried at Montmorency but, in
1890, his remains were transferred to Krakow and laid next to Kosciuszko's in the Wawel. A
crater on Mercury is named after him (23.5°N, 19°W).

The "Great Emigration"

The failure of the Insurrection forced thousands of Poles to flee to the West; Paris became the
spiritual capital. Many of these exiles contributed greatly to Polish and European culture.
Joachim Lelewel became Poland's greatest historian, Chopin her greatest composer, and
Mickiewicz, Slowacki, Krasinski and Norwid among her greatest poets. Adam Czartoryski set
up court at the Hotel Lambert, in Paris, which played an important part in keeping the Polish
question alive in European politics.

Czartoryski;

The Czartoryskis were a noble Polish-Lithuanian family, which included the brothers, Prince
Fryderyk Michal (b.1696; d. 1775) and August (b. 1697; d. 1782), both of whom were
statesman under Stanislaw Poniatowski and had a major influence on Polish policy during the
reign of Augustus III. August's marriage to Poland's richest heiress, Zofia Sieniawska (b.
1699; d. 1771), brought an enormous fortune to the family and, with it, great influence. They
supported the King and aspired to high office. Allied to their brother-in-law, Stanislaw
Poniatowski (this influential and powerful alliance of the Czartoryskis and the Poniatowskis
became known as "The Family"), they tried to push reforms through the court but were
constantly blocked by the "republicans" led by the Potockis. Faced with such strong
opposition the Czartoryskis deluded themselves into believing that they could manipulate the
Russians for their own ends (Poniatowski had had a love affair with the Grand duchess
Catherine in 1755 - 58) and conceived of a coup d'etat (1763). The Russians,now ruled by
Catherine II, the Great, and the Prussians, under Frederick II, were opposed to the idea of any
change in the Commonwealth's institutions which they found convenient to their own ends
but, in turn, manipulated the Czartoryskis and elected Stanislaw Poniatowski to the throne.
Poniatowski was to become the last King of Poland; the reign was totally controlled by
Russia.

Adam Kazimierz (b. Gdansk, 1734 ; d. 1823), was the unsuccessful candidate for the Polish
throne at the death of Augustus III. He married Izabella Elzbieta Flemming (b. 1746; d. 1835)
who became an important influence on the family and the cultural life of Poland during the
Enlightenment. She commissioned the leading Neoclassical architect of the day, Aigner, to
redesign the palace at Pulawy and summoned a team of international experts, including John
Savage (who had recently designed Warsaw's Saski Gardens) to landscape the park (1788 -
1810) wherein Aigner built two museum buildings (the first in Poland); the Temple of the
Sybil (1801) and the Gothic House (1809) within which were displayed the vast Czartoryski
collection of art and antiquities. Izabella was the first to attempt to build an English landscape
garden in Poland, at Powazki on the outskirts of Warsaw (now occupied by the Catholic
Cemetery). She established a school for the education of the daughters of impoverished
nobles and wrote the first Polish History textbook for elementary schools. Under the influence
of Izabella Pulawy became a rival to Warsaw as the chief centre of Polish cultural life,
especially after the Partitions. Their daughter Maria (b. 1768; d. 1854) became Duchess of
Wurtemburg and a novelist.

Probably the greatest Polish statesman of the C19th., Adam Jerzy (b. Warsaw,1770; d.nr.
Paris,1861), son of Adam Kazimierz and Izabella, was educated at Edinburgh and London,
and strongly influenced by the ideas of the Enlightenment. Czartoryski fought against the
Russians in the Insurrection of 1794 and, sent as a hostage to St. Petersburg, gained the
friendship of the Grand-Duke Alexander and the Emperor Paul who made him ambassador to
Sardinia. In 1801, on ascending the throne, Alexander,as part of his plan to transform Russia
into a modern constitutional monarchy, appointed Czartoryski as assistant to the Minister of
Foreign Affairs and placed in charge of education in the former Polish territories. As curator
of the University of Wilna (1803) he used his influence to keep a spirit of Polish-Lithuanian
nationalism alive and when some of the students (including Adam Mickiewicz) were arrested
and some sent in exile to Siberia (1823), he was removed from his office. Czartoryski was a
member of the Russian delegation to the Congress of Vienna set up after the defeat of
Napoleon (20 July 1815), and was responsible for drawing up the constitution of the Kingdom
of Poland established by the Congress; it was the most liberal constitution in Central Europe.
When the Polish Sejm began to act as a normal parliament Alexander, whose enthusiasm for
liberalism had waned, dissolved it in 1820. Alexander's successor, Nicholas, became even less
amenable to Polish wishes after the Decembrist Revolt; this Russian secret society had forged
close links with Polish conspirators who were arrested and placed on trial for high treason
only to be cleared by the Sejm Tribunal (having acted on the advice of Czartoryski himself)
and served with a more lenient sentence for participating in clandestine organisations (1828).
Czartoryski became actively involved in the Revolution of 1830 and was elected president of
the provisional government. He summoned the Sejm in January 1831, which declared the
Polish throne vacant and elected Czartoryski as head of the national government. He
immediately donated half of his large estates to public service. He resigned in August 1831
but continued as a common soldier. After the suppression of the Revolution Czartoryski was
excluded from the amnesty, condemned to death and his estates confiscated; he escaped to
Paris where he purchased the old palace, the Hotel Lambert. In Paris, Lelewel's Permanent
National Committee (set up December 1831) tried to fix the blame on the failure of the
Insurrection on the leaders of the conservative group leading to a virtual civil war between the
two factions as they tried to direct the Polish cause in their own way. The man who emerged
as leader of the conservative faction was Prince Adam Czartoryski, becoming the focus of
Polish hopes; Czartoryski himself was referred to as the "de facto king of Poland". He ran a
vast network ready to spring into action whenever the opportunity lent itself and in effect put
the "Polish Question" firmly on the European agenda. The activity of his agents in the
Balkans contributed enormously to the awakening of national consciousness in that region
and helped Serbia shake off Russian influence. He rented land from the Sultan in order to
provide homes for insurgents who had retreated into the Ottoman Empire after the failure of
the 1830 Uprising (1842); this was the colony of Polonezkoy or Adampol which was enlarged
after each unsuccessful attempt at liberation. In 1848 he appealed, unsuccessfully, to Pope
Pius IX to create a Polish Legion to fight on Italy's side against Austria. He freed his serfs in
Galicia (1848) and during the Crimean War worked hard to induce the allies to link the Polish
cause with that of Turkey. In 1857 Czartoryski set up a publishing house producing the
periodical "Wiadomosci Polskie" ("News From Poland") which became very popular amongst
the exiles. He also set up the Bureau des Affaires Polonaises (Bureau of Polish Affairs, 1858).
He refused the subsequent amnesty offered him by Alexander II. His son, Wladyslaw (b.1828;
d. 1894) opened the Czartoryski Museum in Krakow (1878) after the Czartoryski properties
were confiscated by the State. He was a collector of Egyptian art and there are some very
important pieces among the antiquities which form only a part of the rich collection in
Krakow.

Continued Resistance: "For Your Freedom and Ours"

The insurrection in the semi-independent City of Krakow in 1846 was doomed from the start.
The insurrectionists had hoped to gain the support of the local peasantry (recalling the victory
at Raclawice) but the peasants, having never benefited from the liberal ideals proposed by the
intelligentsia, used the insurrection as an excuse to rid themselves of their landlords; it was
the last "jacquerie" (or peasants' uprising) in European history. The insurrectionist forces were
defeated by a combination of Austrian and peasant forces at the battle of Gdow and the
insurrection was put down with great brutality by the Austrians, resulting in the abolition of
the Commonwealth of Krakow.

In 1848 "the Springtime of Nations" (a revolutionary movement towards greater democracy in


much of Europe) saw large-scale contributions by the Poles; in Italy, Mickiewicz organised a
small legion to fight for Italian independence from Austria, whilst in Hungary, Generals
Dembinski and Bem led 3,000 Poles in the Hungarian Revolution against Austria. There were
also unsuccessful uprisings in Poznan (Posen), against the Prussians, and in Eastern Galicia,
against the Austrians.

Starting in 1863, the "January Uprising" against the Russians lasted for more than a year and a
half. A Provisional government was established and more than 1,200 skirmishes were fought,
mostly in the deep forests under the command of Romuald Traugutt.

Traugutt, Romuald; b. 1825; d. 1864. During the January Insurrection of 1863 the
underground state was forced to organise one of the world's earliest campaigns of urban
guerrilla warfare, centred on Warsaw, and to use hit-and-run tactics in the countryside. Due to
initial setbacks and the isolation of different groups there was a great deal of political in-
fighting between the different factions - the Social Democrat "Reds", and the more moderate
"Whites" - which only ended when Traugutt, a Lithuanian landowner from Podlasie, became
its political and military commander (October 1863). Formerly a Lieutenant Colonel in the
Russian Army, he had served in both Hungary and the Crimea. In May 1863 he took
command of a force of guerrillas in the Dziadkowicki Forest, near Kobryn, and in July went
to Warsaw where he was given office under Karol Majewski (b. 1833; d. 1897), the over-all
commander at the time. A "White" with "Red" sympathies, he represented the National
Government abroad, meeting with Napoleon III, and was quickly convinced that there would
be little support from the West. On returning to Warsaw, based at the Saski Hotel, he seized
control of the underground state and became Dictator. With the help of General Jozef Hauke,
he completely reorganised the existing military structures, establishing a regular army and
abolishing all independent formations - as a result the Insurrection revived and expanded its
area of operations. With no support from abroad the Insurrection began to peter out and the
final stroke came with the emancipation of the peasants, which sanctioned the state of affairs
created by the Insurrection (2 March 1864), and Traugutt's arrest in the night of 10/11 August
1864. He was imprisoned in Pawiak, tried, condemned to death and hanged (5 August 1864).
The Insurrection had kept Europe's largest military machine tied down for eighteen months
and had involved not only the szlachta but, in its final stages, also the peasants (who had
fought its very last engagement). The subsequent suppression of the Rising permanently
scarred a generation of Poles; thousands were sent into exile to Siberia - the cream of the
nation. Most never returned. The name of the Kingdom of Poland was changed to the "Vistula
Province". The Insurrection of 1863 was a watershed in Polish history; the social structure
changed as the peasants finally gained their freedom in Russia in 1864 (serfdom had been
abolished in Prussia in 1823, and in Austria in 1848) and slowly made their way to economic,
then political, power. After 1864 the Polish struggle becomes a genuinely national struggle as
politicians vie for the attention of all the classes, especially the peasants. But the situation also
changed after 1864 as one sees an almost universal rejection of the idea of gaining
independence through revolution.

The Uprising was finally put down in 1865, and the Kingdom of Poland was abolished and a
severe policy of persecution and "Russification" established. The University of Warsaw and
all schools were closed down, use of the Polish language was forbidden in most public places
and the Catholic Church was persecuted. The Kingdom of Poland became known as the
"Vistula Province".

In the Prussian occupied zone the aim was to totally destroy the Polish language and culture;
from 1872 German became compulsory in all schools and it was a crime to be caught
speaking in Polish. There was a systematic attempt to uproot Polish Peasants from their land.

In Austrian Poland, Galicia, conditions were different. After 1868 the Poles had a degree of
self-government, the Polish language was kept as the official language and the Universities of
Krakow and Lwow were allowed to function. As a result this area witnessed a splendid
revival of Polish culture, including the works of the painter Jan Matejko, and the writers
Kraszewski, Prus and Sienkiewicz.

Matejko, Jan Alojzy; (b. Krakow, 1838. d. Krakow, 1893). It would be difficult to find
another artist, anywhere, like Matejko - Poland's greatest painter of historical scenes,who was
born, worked and died in Krakow. Matejko was trained at Krakow and Munich (1859) and,
briefly, in Vienna. He was adored by his public for his nationalistic themes painted in a highly
realistic manner. He created powerful, inspired works which have played an important role in
preserving national unity and pride in national achievements at times of crisis, notably during
the Partitions; Poles view their history through Matejko's images. His prodigious output
includes about ten monumental pieces. His method of working consisted of detailed research
and a study of written sources. His early paintings are in a dark Venetian manner but his later
pieces became lighter and resembled the Late-Baroque revival style favoured by some
Viennese painters. Amongst his greatest works are: "The Battle of Grunwald" (1872 - 75) -
for which he received a sceptre as the sign of his being "the king of art", and which achieved
notoriety when it was reproduced as a Polish stamp in 1960, being the largest Polish stamp
produced; "Batory at Pskov"(1872); "Hold Pruski" ("The Prussian Homage", 1882); "Sobieski
at the Gates of Vienna" (1883) which was presented by Matejko to the Vatican; and
"Kosciuszko at Raclawice"(1888); all of which act as historical "time-capsules" recording not
only the events but also the costumes and, particularly, the unique military costumes of the
Commonwealth. Matejko also painted some outstanding family portraits and self-portraits, as
well as a series "A Retinue of Polish Kings and Princes" with which most Polish children are
acquainted. In 1889 - 91 he worked on the polychromatic decoration in the Mariacki, Krakow,
with his pupils, Wyspianski and Mehoffer, as his assistants. He played an important role in
saving the 1650 Baroque altar from being removed from Wawel Cathedral and encouraged
the renovation of the Sukiennice (the Cloth Hall) in the Rynek. He became Director of the
Academy, Krakow and received many medals from abroad, including the French Legion of
Honour (1870).

His home at 41 ul. Florianska was turned into the Matejko Museum in 1898 and is now a
branch of the National Museum in Krakow.

Kraszewski, Jozef Ignacy; (b. Warsaw, 1812; d. Geneva, 1887). One of the most prolific of all
Polish authors, he wrote novels, plays, verse (including an epic on the history of Lithuania,
"Anafielas", 1843), criticism and historical works; a total of around seven hundred volumes
earning himself the title of "the father of the Polish novel". Educated at Wilno University, he
spent some time in prison as a student. He became fascinated by Lithuania and collected
information about her local customs and history. For a while he was inspector of schools and
directed the theatre in Zhitomir before going on to edit a newspaper in Warsaw. After being
dismissed and put on a black-list by the authorities he moved to Dresden where he soon drew
attention to himself, was arrested as a dangerous element and imprisoned at Magdeburg
(1883). His health ruined, he settled in San Remo, Italy, where he lost all his belongings in an
earthquake. Amongst his works (some of which have been seen as a literary equivalent of
Matejko's historical paintings) are "Stara Basn" ("An Ancient Tale", 1876) about a prehistoric
and pre-Christian community, "Jermola Ulana" (1843), "Kordecki" (1852), culture romances
"Morituri" (1875) and "Resurrecti" (1876), and several political novels under the pseudonym
of Boleslawita.

Prus, Boleslaw (pseudonym of: Aleksander Glowacki); (b. Hrubieszow, 1847; d. 1912). One
of the greatest of Polish novelists, a member of the minor szlachta, Prus is regarded by many
as second only to Sienkiewicz. He joined a guerrilla unit and was wounded during the January
Insurrection of 1863 and spent some time in prison after it. Fascinated by mathematics and the
natural sciences, Prus was obliged to write in order to make some money. He was a Positivist
in that he believed that progress can cure all ills, but he gradually became more sceptical as he
grew older. He claimed a great debt to Herbert Spencer. Initially he wrote articles for various
Warsaw periodicals, "Weekly Chronicles" which observed the everyday world around him.
He turned to writing fiction, starting with short stories where poverty played an important role
and his characters are treated with a gentle humour. His novel "The Outpost" (1885) tells of
the obstinate refusal of the illiterate peasant, Slimak ("snail"), to sell his patch of land to the
German colonists gradually taking over his Posnanian village; but Slimak is not portrayed as a
hero - it is his faults (rather than any virtues) that carry him through to victory. Amongst his
chief works are "Pharaoh" (1897) which is essentially the story of a struggle for power
between a young militaristic idealist and the cunning priests in decaying Ancient Egypt, and
"Lalka" ("The Doll") - considered by many to be the best Polish novel - set in Warsaw it was
the first Polish novel to deal with the lives, social problems and conflicts of the urban middle
class. The hero of "Lalka" is the capitalist Wokulski, a former Insurrectionist who had been
exiled to Siberia and, on returning to Warsaw, was employed in a shop. Through marriage he
comes into money and dreams of using his wealth in the services of science and progress but
finds himself lured frivolously away from his high ideals by falling in love with a worthless
aristocratic woman, Isabella. Wokulski is contrasted, in a subtle way, with the Romantic,
Rzecki - constantly excited, a believer in great causes and shy admirer of women. Prus is
buried in the Powazki Cemetery, Warsaw.

Sienkiewicz, Henryk; (b. Wola Okrzejska, Podlasie, 1846. d. Vevey, Switzerland, 1916).
Perhaps one of the most popular Polish authors, famous for his historical novels mainly
dealing with Poland's past. Sienkiewicz was educated in Warsaw and then became a journalist
whose gift for observation, taste for adventure and attention to detail served him well. He
went to the US in 1876 charged with finding somewhere suitable for a group of Varsovian
writers and artists (including the actress Helena Modrzejewski) who wished to migrate and
establish a colony there; he chose Anaheim, California. He was enthused by the redwood
forests and the Sierras (and some of this landscape would serve to inspire his descriptions of
the primeval forests of his novels). The group soon tired of the "good life" and went their
separate ways. Sienkiewicz went back to writing and sent a series of "Letters from America"
to the Polish newspapers which made his reputation; he wrote about New York, California,
and the campaign against Sitting Bull. His "Charcoal Sketches", a short novel about a Polish
village, was actually written in Los Angeles. Sienkiewicz went to Paris in 1878 and then on to
Poland. His tremendously popular patriotic "Trilogy"; "Ogniem i Mieczem" ("With Fire and
Sword"),"Potop" ("The Deluge"), and "Pan Wolodyjowski", 1884-1888, was serialised in the
newspapers and a "must" for every young Pole. The "Trilogy" deals with the adventurous
days of the Husaria (the winged cavalry) in the Polish-Cossack, Polish-Swedish and Polish-
Turkish wars. His masterful evocation of the historical atmosphere of the times is reminiscent
of Dumas and played an important role in forging the Polish image of itself and its destiny.
The novels are full of unforgetful characters such as Zagloba, the Falstaff-like nobleman who
- though a braggart - could use his cunning and courage to extricate himself from some
serious circumstances; the noble officers Skretuski and Wolodyjowski; and the central
character of "The Deluge", Kmicic who undergoes his own Calvary which parallels that of the
nation during the Swedish invasion and the siege of Czestochowa. His fame in the West was
secured by the novel on ancient Rome portraying the early days of Christianity struggling
against the decadence of Nero's court, "Quo Vadis?" (1896) which won him the Nobel Prize
for Literature in 1905. His novel, "Krzyzacy" ("The Teutonic Knights", 1900), written during
the worst days of Bismarck's "Kulturkampf" against the Poles in Posnania, deals with the days
when the existence of Poland and Lithuania were threatened by the Teutonic Order and
culminates in the battle of Grunwald. Sienkiewicz's writings are often used in Polish
dictionaries as examples of good prose. At the outbreak of WW1, Sienkiewicz worked for the
Red Cross Fund at Vevey in Switzerland.
All three powers kept Poland economically weak in this period of technological progress.
Despite this the Poles managed to make some progress; the textile industry began to flourish
in Lodz (the "Polish Manchester") and coal-mining developed rapidly. In Prussian Poland,
despite ruthless oppression, the Poles concentrated on light industry and agriculture (and
before long Poznan became the chief source of food for the whole of Germany). In Silesia,
under German rule since 1742, the development of mining and heavy industry made her a
chief industrial centre and thus the Prussian attempt to exterminate all traces of Polish
language and culture was at its most ruthless, yet they survived.

Despite its abolition by Kosciuszko in 1794 the partitioning powers restored serfdom. It was
not abolished in Prussia until 1823, in Austria until 1848 and in Russia until 1861 (but not in
her "Polish" territories).

In 1905 the Russo-Japanese War saw a series of humiliating defeats for the Russians and civil
unrest in Russia. In Poland there was a wave of strikes and demonstrations demanding civil
rights. Polish pupils went on strike, walking out of Russian schools and a private organisation,
the "Polska Macierz Szkolna" ("Polish Education Society"), was set up under the patronage of
the great novelist, Henryk Sienkiewicz.

Then, in 1906, Jozef Pilsudski, a founder-member of the Polish Socialist Party (PPS), began
to set up a number of paramilitary organisations which attacked Tzarist officials and carried
out raids on post offices, tax-offices and mail-trains. In Galicia the Austrian authorities turned
a blind eye to the setting up of a number of "sporting" clubs, followed by a Riflemen's Union.
In 1912, Pilsudski reorganised these on military lines and by 1914 had nearly 12,000 men
under arms.

Architects of the Restored Republic

On the outbreak of war the Poles found themselves conscripted into the armies of Germany,
Austria and Russia, and forced to fight each other in a war that was not theirs. Although many
Poles sympathised with France and Britain they found it hard to fight with them on the
Russian side. They also had little sympathy with the Germans. Pilsudski considered Russia as
the greater enemy and formed Polish Legions to fight for Austria but independently. Other
Galician Poles went to fight against the Italians when they entered the war in 1915, thus
preventing any clash of conscience.

Almost all the fighting on the Eastern Front took place on Polish soil.

Pilsudski, Josef (b. Zulow, Lithuania, 1867. d. Warsaw, 1935), was raised on his Lithuanian
family estate and educated at Wilno University where he was exposed to Polish nationalist
ideas. He was determined to bring about Polish independence by direct action (specifically
against Russia) rather than rely on support from others. He joined the organisation of Young
Poles and, after the assassination attempt on Alexander III, was arrested and exiled to Siberia
(1887-1892). On returning to Poland he joined the Wilno branch of the Polish Socialist Party
(PPS) founded in 1892, and became the first editor of the underground newspaper "Robotnik"
("The Worker"). He also continued to work in the underground, was arrested by the Russians
(1900), escaped from prison and fled to London. In Japan, during the Russo-Japanese War
(1905), Pilsudski advocated the establishment of anti-Russian Polish Legions made up of
prisoners-of-war held by the Japanese but faced opposition from his arch-rival, Dmowski. The
Japanese did not pursue the idea beyond discussions due to their decisive victories in
Manchuria. Moving to Austrian Poland (1905) he founded a paramilitary organisation,
"Zwiazek Walki Czynnej" ("Union for Armed Struggle") with the aim of creating the nucleus
of a future Polish army and carrying out guerrilla action and raising funds through a series of
robberies (the most successful being the mail-train raid at Bezdany, 1908). With the threat of
war, Pilsudski's underground "Riflemen's Clubs" were formed into Polish Legions training in
the Carpathians (with Austrian support) and soon spawned a whole series of similar groups
such as the student organisations "Zarzewie" ("Embers") and the Nationalist "Sokol"
("Falcon"). At the outbreak of WW1 these Polish Legions fought independently under
Austrian command, siding with the Central Powers in bitter opposition to Russia. On 6
August 1914 he attempted an independent invasion of Russian Poland with ill-equipped
troops and occupied Kielce "in the name of free and independent Poland". During the fighting
that followed, in which the Austrian armies were being defeated, the Legions fought in some
heavy rearguard actions and with distinction at Limanowa and Lowczowek (22 - 25
December 1914). The Legions played an important role in the offensives of 1915, most
notably at Rokitno (13 June 1915). The Central Powers were slow to show any positive
moves towards Polish independence after the fall of Warsaw and so Pilsudski resigned his
command of the Legions at the height of the action in September 1916. Largely as a result of
his actions, the Central Powers recognised an independent Russian Poland (November 1916)
and appointed Pilsudski head of the military commission there. When Tsarist Russia collapsed
during the Russian Revolution in 1917 the main reason for fighting for Austria and Germany
ceased to exist and the Legions refused to swear allegiance to Germany and Pilsudski was
imprisoned at Magdeberg Castle; in his own words, addressed to the German Governor of
Warsaw, "If I were to go along with you, Germany would gain one man, whilst I would lose a
nation." When all three partitioning powers collapsed at the end of WW1, Pilsudski
established Poland as an independent state. His principal aim, in the immediate post-war
period when Eastern Europe was in a political vacuum and Poland was involved in an
unofficial war with the Soviets (1919 - 20), was to create a "Federation" of friendly states in
the former Polish Commonwealth where the Poles were an ethnic minority and which would
act as a check to Russian ambitions; key to his plan was an independent Ukraine. The
Ukrainians had recently been occupied by the Soviets and their leader, Semen Petlura (1877 -
1926) had sought refuge in Poland. Pilsudski entered into a pact with Petlura whereby Eastern
Galicia was ceded to Poland and Polish troops marched on Kiev to restore Ukrainian
independence (April 1920). As Chief of State, Pilsudski defeated five Soviet armies when
they rolled back the Polish advance and, in turn, invaded (May 1920); the battle of Warsaw
(13 - 25 August 1920) in which, as a result of a strategic blunder on the part of the Soviets
and a successful outflanking manoeuvre on the part of Pilsudski (the "eighteenth decisive
battle of the world"), crushed the Soviet forces and saved Europe from a Red Army conquest.
With his "Federation" policy in ruins, Pilsudski organised a surprise attack against Lithuania
(October 1920) and acquired certain disputed areas including his own city of Wilno (and by
so doing earned the enmity of the new Lithuanian Republic). Pilsudski had now left the PPS;
"I rode in the tramcar called Socialism but I got off at the stop called Independence." Marshal
Pilsudski retired from politics in 1922 but kept an eye on events; he once said, "To be
defeated and not to yield is victory. To win and to rest on laurels is defeat." The assassination
of the first elected President of the newly reconstituted Poland, Narutowicz, by a nationalist
fanatic a few days after taking office (16 December 1922) had a profound effect on Pilsudski
and changed his character; he became more withdrawn and disillusioned by politics. Never a
politician himself, having learnt his trade in the underground, it is hardly surprising that, in
May 1926, when he felt that the rise of fascism and the Right was making the political
situation very unstable, he staged a coup d'etat; he marched on Warsaw and demanded the
resignation of the government - President Wojciechowski refused to be pressurised by the
military and called out the army. There followed three days fighting after which the
government was forced to resign. Whilst there were some cases of opposition politicians and
journalists being attacked by unidentified assailants the only savage reprisal was the
disappearance of General Wlodzimierz Zagorski (b. 1882; d. 1926?), one of Pilsudski's
personal opponents from the days of the Legions and later Chief of the Air Force. Although
offered the Presidency, Pilsudski declined to serve suggesting Moscicki instead. Pilsudski
preferred to stay in the background - the real power in Poland, taking supreme command of
the Armed Forces and amending the Constitution. This became known as the "Sanacja"
(Purification or Regeneration) regime and became less democratic over the years. In 1927
Walery Slawek organised the "Non-Partisan Block for Co-operation with the Government"
(BBWR) in order to manage the 1928 elections but, failing to get an overall majority (getting
only 122 of the 444 seats in the Sejm), Pilsudski lost confidence in proper methods. The Sejm
was dissolved and Pilsudski's political opponents were imprisoned in the citadel at Brzesc
under brutal conditions; Poland had became a dictatorship. Pilsudski died of cancer (12 May
1935).

"He gave Poland freedom, boundaries, power and respect..."

President Moscicki, funeral oration, 18 May 1935.

Despite his apparent attacks on democracy (in reality he was opposed to the growth of
factions in the Seym - a legislative body - that would make the government of the country
impossible), Pilsudski is venerated by the Poles for his contributions to the establishment of
the state and his victory over the Soviet Union. His tomb is in the crypt of Wawel Cathedral,
his heart is buried (in Wilno's Rossa Cemetery) amongst the soldiers killed fighting for Wilno
in April 1919, and a mound has been constructed in his honour in Krakow.

Roman Dmowski, founder of the right-wing Nationalist League, had foreseen that Germany
was the real enemy and gone to France where the "Bayonne Legion" was already fighting
alongside the French Army. He and Paderewski formed a Polish Army which consisted of
volunteers from the United States, Canada and Brazil together with Poles who had been
conscripted into the German and Austrian armies and had become POWs. This Army became
known as "Haller's Army" after its commander who had escaped from Russia to France.

Dmowski, Roman (b. 1864; d. 1939), founded the Polish National Democratic Party
(Endecja) in 1893 and, in 1903, headed Polish representatives in the Duma (the Russian
Parliament). His militant nationalism preached that the only true Pole was an ethnic Pole and
encouraged anti-Ukrainian and anti-Jewish feelings; it can be said that Dmowski's views
sounded the death-knell of the old Rzeczpospolita, its multi-ethnic "nationalism" and its
tolerance. His right-wing National League ran clandestine educational programmes for the
peasants aimed at bringing Polish culture to the masses; these efforts were boosted by the
school strikes of 1904 - 7. During the Russo-Japanese War (1905), whilst Pilsudski was
advocating the establishment of anti-Russian Polish Legions made up of prisoners-of-war
held by the Japanese, Dmowski, fearing that a Japanese foray into Polish affairs would force
the abandonment of constitutional reform, suggested that his party would do everything in its
power to prevent anti-Russian activity in Poland. The Japanese did not pursue the idea further
due to their decisive victories in Manchuria. At the outbreak of WW1, Dmowski who
believed that Germany, and not Russia, was the real enemy, went to France where the
"Bayonne Legion" was already fighting alongside the French Army. He and Paderewski
formed a Polish Army which consisted of volunteers from the United States, Canada and
Brazil together with Poles who had been conscripted into the German and Austrian armies
and had become PoWs. This Army became known as "Haller's Army" after its commander
who had escaped from Russia to France. In 1916 he headed the Polish National Committee
and, after WW1, was leader of the Paris committee recognised as the temporary government
of Poland, and signed the Treaty of Versailles, (1919). Naturally, Dmowski was greatly
disappointed when it was Pilsudski who managed to take control in Poland. He became
minister of foreign affairs in 1923, opposed Pilsudski and retired from politics shortly
afterwards.

Paderewski, Ignacy Jan (b. Kurylowka, Podolia, 1860. d. New York,1941), the Polish pianist
and statesman, began to play the piano at the age of three. He studied at Warsaw (later
becoming professor in the Conservatoire there in 1878), Berlin (1883) and Vienna (under
Leschetizky, 1885) where he made his professional debut in 1887. He became a virtuoso and
appeared successfully in Europe and (after 1891) America, establishing himself as an
interpreter of Chopin, Liszt, Rubinstein and Schumann. Paderewski gave over 1500 concerts
in the US alone and was the first to perform in the newly built Carnegie Hall, New York. He
married Baroness de Rosen (1889). Paderewski became director of the Warsaw Conservatoire
in 1909 and composed an opera, "Manru", a symphony in B minor, and several other
orchestral and piano pieces. A patriot, Paderewski was so impressed by the "Panorama
Raclawicka" (1894) that he commissioned Jan Styka to produce a large-scale work (93 feet by
178 feet wide) based on a crucifixion theme, "Golgotha" , which was obtained by Dr. Hubert
Eaton for Forest Lawn Park, Glendale, California, in 1944. In 1910, on the 500th anniversary
of the Polish victory over the Teutonic Knights at Grunwald, Paderewski presented a
memorial, the "Pomnik Grunwaldski" by Marian Konieczny, which was unveiled in Plac
Matejko, Krakow. During WW1 he promoted the Polish cause with vigour and raised funds
for Polish relief through his concerts in the US. Particularly significant was his winning the
sympathy of Colonel House, the intimate adviser to President Wilson, with the result that, on
22 January 1917, President Wilson historically declared in the Senate:

"No peace can last...which does not recognise and accept that governments derive all their just
powers from the consent of the governed, and that no right anywhere exists to hand peoples
about from sovereignty to sovereignty as if they were property. I take it for granted... that
statesmen everywhere are agreed that there should be a united, independent and autonomous
Poland."

In summer 1917 a Polish National Committee, consisting of representatives from all three
parts of the country, was set up (initially at Lausanne but then, for the rest of the war, in Paris)
and eventually recognised as the official Polish organisation by the Western Powers;
Paderewski was recognised as its agent in the US. Paderewski represented Poland at
Versailles at the end of WW1 and became the first Premier and minister of foreign affairs of a
reconstituted Poland (17 January 1919 - 27 November 1919). At the Peace Conference he was
involved in a long and bitter struggle with, in particular, Lloyd George (who showed great
distrust in Poland's strength, capacity and goodwill) and the other major powers over the
issues of Galicia, Danzig, Silesia and the status of minorities. When Paderewski addressed the
League of Nations in Geneva (1920) he spoke for more than an hour without notes in French
and then repeated it in English; he was the only speaker who did not use an interpreter.
Paderewski abandoned his political career in 1921, retiring to Morges in Switzerland. In 1936,
along with Wincenty Witos, Jozef Haller and Wladyslaw Sikorski he became a founding
member of the Morges Front, named after his home where they met, determined to rebuild a
respectable centre-right opposition. He died in New York whilst on one of his visits
campaigning for the Polish cause during WW2. His funeral mass in St. Patrick's Cathedral
was attended by around 40,000 people (of whom 35,000 listened outside). He was buried at
Arlington Cemetery, Washington DC, until his body could be transported for reburial in a free
Poland. In July 1992 Paderewski's remains were interned in the crypt in St. John's Cathedral,
Warsaw; his heart is encased in a bronze sculpture at the church of the Black Madonna in
Doylestown, Pennsylvania.

On March 17th, 1921, a modern, democratic constitution was voted in. The task that lay ahead
was difficult; the country was ruined economically and, after a hundred and twenty years of
foreign rule, there was no tradition of civil service. Despite all her problems Poland was able
to rebuild her economy; by 1939 she was the 8th largest steel producer in the world and had
developed her mining, textiles and chemical industries. Poland had been awarded limited
access to the sea by the Peace of Versailles (the "Polish Corridor") but her chief port, Gdansk
(Danzig) was made a free city (put under Polish protection) and so, in 1924, a new port,
Gdynia, was built which, by 1938, became the busiest port in the Baltic. There were continual
disputes with the Germans because access to the sea had split Germany into two and because
they wanted Danzig under their control. There problems increased when Adolf Hitler took
power in Germany.

Smigly-Rydz, Edward (b. 1886; d. 1941),a general and Marshal of Poland (the first son of a
peasant to rise to such a high rank), served in Pilsudski's Polish Legions (1914 - 17) and later
succeeded Pilsudski (1935) in becoming Inspector General of the Polish Army. During WW1,
Smigly-Rydz commanded the underground Polska Organizacja Wojskowa (POW; the Polish
Military Organisation). During the Polish-Soviet War (1919 - 20) he played a significant role,
particularly after the capture of Wilno. The Northern front was complex, being an area of
operations for Lithuanian, Latvian and Estonian armies as well as 3 Russian White armies, 3
Soviet armies and the German Baltikum Army. The Poles, in conflict with Lithuania over
Wilno, suspicious of German intentions and having common cause with the Latvians,
launched an offensive against Dunaburg (Dvinsk) led by Smigly-Rydz. His forces dashed
across the frozen Dvina (3 January 1920) in temperatures of minus 25°C, stormed the citadel
and cut off the Soviet lines of retreat in an operation which effectively ended the campaign of
1919. During the invasion of the Ukraine (April 1920) Smigly-Rydz commanded the 3rd
Army in the centre of the line. His attack group included a large armoured force which gained
maximum surprise on its drive into Zhitomir and played an important role in the capture of
Kiev. During the chaos of the Soviet counteroffensive led by Budyonny (June 1920) he
organised a successful rearguard action which saved the 3rd Army and, again, during the
Soviet advance in Galicia (July 1920), Smigly-Rydz controlled the situation by setting up an
effective system of defence using garrisons in strategic towns supported by large mobile
forces in the rear. Smigly-Rydz's forces, centred on the Wieprz, formed the main attack force
under Pilsudski's command during the Battle of Warsaw (13 - 25 August 1920). The Polish
counterattack from the Wieprz (16 August) was the most significant event in the battle. He
became Marshal of Poland and the most powerful man in the country during the "Government
of the Colonels" (1936 - 39). On the ninth anniversary of the May Coup (1926), Colonel
Adam Koc (b. 1891; d. 1969) formed the Oboz Zjednoczenia Narodowego (the Camp of
National Unification, OZoN) in an attempt by the "Sanacja" regime to regain some influence
on Polish society which had begun to turn to the political groups around it; the National
Democrats, Peasant's Party, and the Socialists. A quasi-military organisation, by which the
Polish Army could extend its influence beyond the military sphere, it attracted right-wing
elements and it's highly nationalistic attitude led to the brutal putting down of peasant strikes
and protests, the pursuit of Ukrainian separatists and (though mild in comparison with other
parts of Central and Eastern Europe) anti-Semitic tendencies which, in April 1936, led to the
passing of an inconvenient law limiting shehitah (ritual slaughter) to Jewish localities. With
its fear of the non-Catholic minorities shared by the Catholic Church there was a genuine
move towards some sort of alignment of interests but this was brought to a halt by the
outbreak of WW2. In time it became a mere propaganda auxiliary to the army; Smigly-Rydz
was one of its leading personalities. After the German invasion and occupation, in 1939, he
took refuge in Rumania where he was interned. On 15 December 1941 a "teacher", Adam
Zawisza, was buried in Powazki Cemetery, Warsaw. In reality this was Smigly-Rydz who had
escaped (from internment in Rumania) to Hungary (December 1940) and thence to Warsaw
where he had tried to establish an underground organisation but his overtures had been
rejected by the commander of the underground army (Armia Krajowa). He died of a heart
attack in Warsaw. Once, fearing a choice between submission to Russia or to Germany he
said:

"Germany will destroy our body, Russia will destroy our Soul."

quoted in A. Bromke, Poland's Politics: Idealism versus Realism, Cambridge, Mass., 1967

In 1939, under constant threat from Germany, Poland entered into a full military alliance with
Britain and France. In August, Germany and Russia signed a secret agreement concerning the
future of Poland.

The Second World War

On September 1st., 1939, 1.8 million German troops invaded Poland on three fronts; East
Prussia in the north, Germany in the west and Slovakia in the south. They had 2600 tanks
against the Polish 180, and over 2000 aircraft against the Polish 420. Their "Blitzkrieg"
tactics, coupled with their bombing of defenceless towns and refugees, had never been seen
before and, at first, caught the Poles off-guard.

Henryk Sucharski (d. Naples, 1946) an experienced Army officer, became garrison
commander at Westerplatte in 1938. In 1921 the Council of the League of Nations gave the
Poles, who did not as yet have a sea port, the right to transship and store military goods in the
harbour of the Free City of Danzig. The Harbour authorities, unhappy about the transshipment
of arms and ammunition, and the presence of Polish troops, in the Free City, felt that a more
suitable site lay to the north of the city on the peninsula at the mouth of the Wisla;
Westerplatte. In 1924 the League decreed Poland's right to establish a Military Transit Depot
on Westerplatte, making this technically Polish terrain. In 1925 the Poles were allowed to
station a detachment of 88 soldiers (3 officers, 21 NCOs and 64 privates) to safeguard the
depot and handling operations. Poland was not given any rights to possess military
fortifications at Westerplatte but, nevertheless, secretly built a number of concrete-brick
guardhouses and fortified the cellars of the barracks buildings and, when the threat of armed
conflict became very likely, strengthened the garrison to 182 (with a possibility of mobilising
a further 20 civilians). Standing instructions for the Polish detachment were to defend the base
for a period of six hours when it was expected that relief would arrive but the withdrawal of
Polish army detachments from the region of the Bory Tucholskie to the Bydgoszcz region (in
August) meant that this had to be extended to twelve hours. In reality Sucharski knew that
relief would be highly unlikely and that their resistance would be merely symbolic; armament
was limited to one 75 mm gun, 18 heavy machine-guns, 33 hand or light machine-guns, 160
"Mauser"-type rifles, 2 anti-tank guns, 4 mortars and about 1000 grenades. Only 38 soldiers
had helmets. Despite this, the garrison was fully prepared for hostilities; one-third being on
stand-by duties in shifts, manning the well-concealed outposts, whilst another third performed
their duties openly to create a sense of normality, and the remainder rested (fully armed and
dressed).

Serving under the command of Major Henryk Sucharski, at the end of August 1939, Staff
Sergeant Wojciech Najsarek was the station master responsible for supervising the loading
and unloading of equipment from railway wagons. Najsarek has the unenviable distincton of
being possibly the first military victim of the Second World War, having been killed when
Westerplatte railway station was attacked in the very first moments of the war. At 4.45 am., 1
September 1939, the German battleship Schleswig-Holstein opened fire (the opening shots of
the War) whilst, simultaneously, the Germans - as a prelude to a land assault - blew up the
entrance to the depot killing Najsarek.

The Germans had expected resistance to be light and were surprised at the opposition they
met; their losses were considerable and the myth grew of powerful bunkers and fortifications
on Westerplatte. Under constant heavy shelling, dive bombing by Stukas and continuous land
assault, outnumbered by about 100 to one, the garrison heroically held out for seven days. On
7 September, completely exhausted, food and drinking water running out, unable to care for
the wounded and having lost a key outpost to the shelling, Major Sucharski ordered his men
to surrender (10.15 am). Of the approximately 200 personnel, 15 soldiers were killed and 13
seriously wounded in battle and over a dozen died or disappeared during the occupation. The
German forces numbered around 3000, but their exact losses have never been revealed. The
stand at Westerplatte was frustrating for Hitler who had wanted the removal of all traces of
the Polish presence on the first day and was forced to divert men and materials away from
other fronts; he insisted on making a personal tour of this "Little Polish Verdun" (21
September 1939). The Polish Supreme Commander, Marshal Smigly-Rydz, honoured the
Westerplatte defenders by awarding them the Virtuti Militari. Major Sucharski died in
hospital in Naples (30 August 1946); on 1 September 1971, his ashes were exhumed from the
Casamassima cometary and laid to rest amongst the men who fell - the "Lions of
Westerplatte".

By September 14th. Warsaw was surrounded. At this stage the Poles reacted, holding off the
Germans at Kutno and regrouping behind the Wisla (Vistula) and Bzura rivers. Although
Britain and France declared war on September 3rd. the Poles received no help - yet it had
been agreed that the Poles should fight a defensive campaign for only 2 weeks during which
time the Allies could get their forces together and attack from the west.

On September 17th. Soviet forces invaded from the east. Warsaw surrendered 2 weeks later,
the garrison on the Hel peninsula surrendered on October 2nd., and the Polesie Defence
group, after fighting on two fronts against both German and Soviet forces, surrendered on
October 5th. The Poles had held on for twice as long as had been expected and had done more
damage to the Germans than the combined British and French forces were to do in 1940. The
Germans lost 50,000 men, 697 planes and 993 tanks and armoured cars.

Thousands of soldiers and civilians managed to escape to France and Britain whilst many
more went "underground". A government-in-exile was formed with Wladyslaw Raczkiewicz
as President and General Wladyslaw Sikorski as Prime Minister.
Raczkiewicz, Wladyslaw (b. 1885; d. 1947), the lawyer and politician, Raczkiewicz fought in
the Russian army in WW1, and later presided over the Supreme Polish Military Committee
set up in Petrograd (June 1917). This body organised Polish forces on the Eastern front
intended to oppose the Germans and thus maintain an independent Polish presence in the east
mirroring the Blue Army on the Western Front. He became Minister of the Interior, President
of the Senate (1930 - 35), and appointed by Moscicki, President of the Polish Government in
Exile (1939 - 45). He formed the Government in Paris under the premiership of Sikorski who
also became commander-in-chief of the Polish armed forces. A National Council consisting of
senior representatives from all the major parties was convened under the premiership of
Paderewski and chairmanship of Mikolajczyk. The Government was recognised by the Allies
and began to reform the Polish armed forces with escapees as they made their way across
Europe, and Polish volunteers from France and the US. By June 1940 there were 84,000 men
in four infantry divisions, two brigades and an armoured brigade, and air force of 9,000 and a
navy of 1,400.

Sikorski, Wladyslaw (b. Lwow, 1881. d.Gibraltar, 1943). The career of General Sikorski, civil
engineer, soldier and politician runs parallel to that of Pilsudski. Austrian Poland,
economically strong with democratic tendencies more advanced than in the other occupied
parts of Poland, had become the political base for the Polish Socialist Party (PPS) since 1908.
Foreseeing war between the Partitioning Powers, the right wing of the party made
preparations for insurrectionary action by setting up the "Zwiazek Walki Czynnej" ("Union
for Armed Struggle"); the founders were Marian Kukiel, Kazimierz Sosnkowski and Sikorski.
The aim of the Union was to create a form of secret military school and embraced the more
active members of the PPS Fighting Organisation (which had been closed down by Pilsudski
after the success at Bezdany, 1908). The Union was responsible for the establishment of the
Riflemen's Unions throughout Galicia, exploiting an Austrian law which permitted the
formation of paramilitary societies but also receiving assistance from the Austrian authorities
who were keen to see Pilsudski involved in anti-Russian activities if war broke out. The
Zwiazek Walki Czynnej" was the origins of the Polish Army. During the Balkan crisis of
1912 it was decided to build a political machine to represent the secret societies; the
Provisional Commission of Confederated Independence Parties. The Provisional Commission
consisted of representatives from the PPS, Polish Social-Democratic Party, the National
Workers Union, the National Peasant Union, and several other, smaller, organisations from
Galicia and the Kingdom. Sikorski had decided to embark on a political career accompanying
a military one and joined the Commission as the representative of one of these smaller groups;
the Polish Progressive Party. When the Supreme National Committee was set up in Krakow
(August 1914) aiming to unite all Polish independence movements under the Austrian aegis,
he became Chief of the War Department and came into conflict with Pilsudski who wanted to
be independent of the Supreme National Committee and its pro-Austrian policy; it is from this
period that the struggle, both personal and political, between Sikorski and Pilsudski, dates.
Sikorski commanded the Fifth Army in the Polish-Soviet War, performing outstandingly in
the action on the Wkra where he experimented with the use of tanks and motorised cars (his
attack on Kowel has been described as the first ever blitzkrieg), and emerged as Prime
Minister in the political crisis that followed the assassination of the first Polish President,
Narutowicz (1922). Sikorski's government saw a disastrous rise in inflation and fall in the
value of Polish currency resulting in bitter industrial action culminating in a general strike
(1923) and bloody confrontation between workers and the army. Created Minister of War
(1924), he confronted Pilsudski and was forced into retirement after the May Coup of 1926.
During his enforced retirement Sikorski published "Przyszla Wojna" ("Modern Warfare",
1934) in which he advocated the use of "mechanised fighting units operating in close co-
operation with a powerful air force" and correctly foresaw that the Wehrmacht would be the
first to use such tactics. In 1936, along with Wincenty Witos, Jozef Haller and Ignacy
Paderewski he became a founding member of the Morges Front, determined to rebuild a
respectable centre-right opposition. His opposition to Pilsudski's dictatorial methods sent him
into political "exile" until the Nazi invasion swept away the "Sanacja" regime in 1939. He
volunteered his services to Smigly-Rydz at the outbreak of WW2 but was turned down. After
1939 he was commander in chief of the Polish army in France and Prime Minister of the
Polish Government in Exile and played a very delicate balancing act in trying to improve
Polish-Soviet relations, despite the Soviet invasion of 1939 and severe opposition from within
his own government. In 1941 he was a co-signatory of the Sikorsky-Maisky pact with the
USSR which allowed for the release of Polish citizens who had been deported to the Soviet
Union after 1939. On 11 April 1943, the Germans discovered the mass graves of 4,231 Polish
officers executed by the Soviet NKVD (Secret Police) at Katyn and the Polish Government
demanded an investigation by the Red Cross, whereupon the Soviets broke off diplomatic
relations with the Poles. This proved to be very embarrassing for the Allies. On 5 July the
plane in which General Sikorski was travelling back to London crashed on take-off from
Gibraltar, it has always been suspected as a result of sabotage by the Russians with British
connivance.

Under the German-Soviet pact Poland was divided; the Soviets took, and absorbed into the
Soviet Union, the eastern half (Byelorussia and the West Ukraine), the Germans incorporated
Pomerania, Posnania and Silesia into the Reich whilst the rest was designated as the General-
Gouvernement (a colony ruled from Krakow by Hitler's friend, Hans Frank).

In the Soviet zone 1.5 million Poles (including women and children) were transported to
labour camps in Siberia and other areas. Many thousands of captured Polish officers were shot
at several secret forest sites; the first to be discovered being Katyn, near Smolensk.

The Germans declared their intention of eliminating the Polish race (a task to be completed by
1975) alongside the Jews. This process of elimination, the "Holocaust", was carried out
systematically. All members of the "intelligentsia" were hunted down in order to destroy
Polish culture and leadership (many were originally exterminated at Oswiencim - better
known by its German name, Auschwitz). Secret universities and schools, a "Cultural
Underground", were formed (the penalty for belonging to one was death). In the General-
Gouvernement there were about 100,000 secondary school pupils and over 10,000 university
students involved in secret education.

The Polish Jews were herded into Ghettos where they were slowly starved and cruelly offered
hopes of survival but, in fact, ended up being shot or gassed. In the end they were transported,
alongside non-Jewish Poles, Gypsies and Soviet POWs, to extermination camps such as
Auschwitz and Treblinka; at Auschwitz over 1.5 million were exterminated. 2000
concentration camps were built in Poland, which became the major site of the extermination
programme, since this was where most of the intended victims lived.

Stanislaw Ryniak (b. Sanok,1916; d. 2004), a non-Jewish Pole, has the dubious distinction of
being the first person to be imprisoned in Auschwitz. In May 1940 the Nazis arrested Ryniak
in his hometown of Sanok. Accused of being a member of the resistance he was transported,
along with hundreds of other Polish political prisoners, to Auschwitz (which was a
concentration camp especially set up in 1940, on the site of the pre-war Polish Army barracks
at Oswiecim, to accommodate the huge increase in the number of Poles arrested - far
surpassing the capacity of local prisons). He arrived at Auschwitz on June 14. Numbers were
tattooed on the prisoners' arms in the order of their arrival; the first 30 numbers were given to
German criminal prisoners who would serve as camp guards. Ryniak's number was 31, thus
making him, essentially, the first genuine inmate. Auschwitz rapidly expanded; in 1941 the
Germans began to build Auschwitz II - Birkenau, at the site of the village of Brzezinka,
which, in 1942, became the place where the mass extermination of the Jews was begun. Over
1.5 million people were exterminated at Auschwitz in a "death factory" established in order to
make murder less emotionally stressful to the perpretators; the mass-gassing of thousands at a
time being more detached than putting a bullet through an individual's head on a regular basis.
Between 1942 and 1944 over 40 other sub-camps were set up as extensions of German
industrial plants and employing slave labour; the largest of these being Auschwitz III -
Monowitz built by IG Farbenindustrie. In 1944, Ryniak was transported to the Leitmeritz
work camp, in what is now the Czech Republic. Upon his release, he weighed only 88
pounds. He is buried in the Osobowicki Cemetery, Wroclaw.

Many non-Jewish Poles were either transported to Germany and used as slave labour or
simply executed. In the cities the Germans would round-up and kill indiscriminately as a
punishment for any underground or anti-German or pro-Jewish activity. In the countryside
they kept prominent citizens as hostages who would be executed if necessary. Sometimes they
liquidated whole villages; at least 300 villages were destroyed. Hans Frank said, "If I wanted
to put up a poster for every seven Poles shot, the forests of Poland would not suffice to
produce the paper for such posters."

Despite such horror the Poles refused to give in or cooperate (there were no Polish
collaborators as in other occupied countries). The Polish Underground or AK (Armia Krajowa
or Home Army) was the largest in Europe with 400,000 men. The Jewish resistance
movement was set up separately because of the problem of being imprisoned within the
ghettos. Both these organisations caused great damage to the Nazi military machine. Many
non-Jewish Poles saved the lives of thousands of Jews despite the fact that the penalty, if
caught, was death (in fact, Poland was the only occupied nation where aiding Jews was
punishable by death).

When the Soviet Union was attacked by Germany, in June 1941, Polish POWs were released
from prison camps and set up an army headed by General Anders. Many civilians were taken
under the protection of this army which was allowed to make its way to Persia (modern-day
Iran) and then on to Egypt.

Anders, Wladyslaw (b.1892; d.1970), the Polish nationalist and army commander, led Polish
troops in the Russian army in WW1 and, in 1939, fought against both German and Soviet
troops. Wounded and captured by the Russians after the Fourth Partition in 1939, Anders was
arrested whilst hospitalised in Lwow and kept imprisoned in the famous N.K.V.D. prison, the
Lubianka. When the Germans invaded the Soviet Union, in 1941, Anders was released under
the Sikorski-Maisky pact and asked to form a Polish army in Russia - it was whilst doing so
that he discovered the atrocities that had been carried out by the Soviets against Polish
soldiers and civilians; forced labour and mass-murder (especially of 4,500 Polish Officers in
the forest of Katyn). After a series of harassments and the withholding of food rations, being
unable to trust his Soviet "allies", Anders marched his army, along with a large number of
civilians, out of the Soviet Union in an extraordinary odyssey; from prison camps in Siberia
and the Gulag Archipelago (around Archangel), through Central Asia, Iran, Palestine and then
to Egypt where the Polish Second Corps merged with the Carpathian Brigade and was
incorporated into the British Eighth Army. This journey had been made possible due to an
agreement between Britain and the Soviet Union that the Poles could act as occupational
forces in the place of Commonwealth troops who could now be transferred to the Far East in
order to fight the Japanese. In Egypt Anders' soldiers contributed greatly, especially at
Tobruck and then as part of the allied campaign in Italy, where the Polish forces distinguished
themselves, successfully taking Monte Cassino. His sense of betrayal when the Allies allotted
Poland to the Soviet sphere of influence after the war (and hence making Poland a satellite
state of the Soviet Union) and of the subsequent decision of the Allies not to allow the Polish
forces to take part in victory celebrations so as not to upset relations with the Soviets (a
decision that still stood at the 50th anniversary of the D-Day Landings!) reflected that of most
Poles forced to live in the West. His campaign to publicise the Katyn atrocity resulted in his
being stripped of Polish citizenship in 1946 along with 65 other senior officers. Exiled, he
became a leader of the Polish forces-in-exile in Britain.

All the Polish forces took part in the Allied invasion of Europe and liberation of France,
playing a particularly crucial role in the significant Battle of the Falaise Gap. The Polish
Parachute Brigade took part in the disastrous Battle of Arnhem in Holland. In 1945, the Poles
captured the German port of Wilhelmshaven.

In 1943 a division of Polish soldiers was formed in Russia under Soviet control and fought on
the Eastern Front. They fought loyally alongside the Soviet troops, despite the suffering they
had experienced in Soviet hands, and they distinguished themselves in breaking through the
last German lines of defence, the "Pomeranian Rampart", in the fighting in Saxony and in the
capture of Berlin.

The "Home Army", under the command of General Stefan Roweki (code-named "Grot"), and
after his capture in 1943 (he was later murdered), by General Tadeusz Komorowski (code-
named "Bor"), fought a very varied war; at times in open combat in brigade or division
strength, at times involved in sabotage, often acting as execution squads eliminating German
officials, and often fighting a psychological campaign against German military and civilians.
It was a costly war since the Germans always took reprisals.

The crime of Katyn was discovered in 1943 and created a rift in Polish-Soviet relations. From
now on the Home Army was attacked by Soviet propaganda as collaborating with the
Germans and being called on to rise against the Germans once the Red Army reached the
outskirts of Warsaw.

Secretly, at Teheran, the British and Americans agreed to letting the Russians profit from their
invasion of Poland in 1939 and allowing them to keep the lands that had been absorbed. The
"accidental" death of General Sikorski at this time helped keep protests at a minimum.

When the Russians crossed into Poland the Home Army cooperated in the fight against the
Germans and contributed greatly to the victories at Lwow, Wilno and Lublin only to find
themselves surrounded and disarmed by their "comrades-in-arms" and deported to labour
camps in Siberia.

On August 1, 1944, with the Russian forces on the right bank of the Vistula, the Home Army
rose in Warsaw; the Warsaw Rising.
Bor-Komorowski (real name; Tadeusz Komorowski) b. Lwow, 1895; d.1966, led the AK
(Armia Krajowa; Polish Home Army) forces during the 62-day Warsaw Uprising of 1944.
Though initially rejecting the idea of an uprising in Warsaw, Bor-Komorowski became
convinced that an armed rising was inevitable in order to maintain an independent Polish
presence on Polish soil at a time when the Soviets had created the PKWN (Polish Committee
of National Liberation) in Lublin and begun to intern AK units, and since, with the attempted
assassination of Hitler at Rastenburg, there were signs of an imminent German collapse. The
decision to launch the Uprising was a tragic mistake; since, as no uprising had been
previously envisaged, the AK forces in Warsaw were ill equipped (as ammunition and arms
had actually been sent out of the city to support action in the countryside) and other crucial
preparation (such as medical provision) was very poor. The decision to initiate the Uprising
was made in haste and ill-prepared; some leading members of both civil and military
authorities were only informed by chance or at the last minute. The timing of the Uprising (at
5 pm; rush hour) was intended to cause inconvenience to the German forces but in fact caused
a great amount of disruption to the civilian population, taking them by surprise, separating
them from their families for the duration and ultimately resulting in heavy casualties. When
the Soviet forces stopped outside the city, the Germans were able to concentrate on the
destruction of the insurgents but, despite the heavy shelling, bombing and assaults using
armour, came across unexpectedly strong opposition. They gradually eliminated isolated
pockets of resistance and gradually closed in on the centre (Srodmiescie). In these areas, after
surrendering, many civilians and soldiers were executed or sent to concentration camps to be
exterminated and the buildings were razed to the ground. Polish tactics included the use of the
sewer system as a means of maintaining communications between areas that were surrounded
by the Germans (the evacuation of the suburb, Mokotow, was immortalised in Wajda's 1956
film, "Kanal"), and, when the Germans began to systematically demolish the city, to make full
use of the ruins as part of the defensive system. Not only had the Russians ceased to advance
but they also refused to allow Allied planes to land on Russian airfields after dropping
supplies. It is doubtful that the Uprising would have lasted as long as it did without the
general support of the civilian population which suffered terribly. There were horrific
atrocities committed by the German forces (who consisted largely of criminals and Ukrainian
and Cossack anti-Soviet forces fighting for the Germans). The Germans were so impressed by
the underground forces that they accorded them full military honours when they eventually
were forced to surrender (2 October). The AK lost around 20,000 soldiers whilst around
225,000 civilians were also killed. In accordance with Hitler's instructions the city was razed
to the ground so that when Soviet forces entered, in January 1945, the city (that had housed
1,289,000 inhabitants) did not contain a living soul and 93% of the buildings were destroyed
or damaged beyond repair. The subsequent reconstruction and regeneration of the city is one
of the great events of post-war Polish history. The Warsaw Uprising has much significance in
post-War Polish history: the failure of the western Allies to aid Warsaw destroyed the faith of
the greater part of the civilians in them, whilst the inability of the government-in-exile to
secure any aid discredited it. Ultimately the Uprising brought about a realisation that the only
hope for Poland lay in some form of understanding between the Poles and the Soviets but the
failure of the Soviets to come to the aid of Warsaw was also the source of much bitterness.
Much of what happened later had its roots here.

The defeat in Warsaw destroyed the political and military institutions of the Polish
underground and left the way open for a Soviet take-over.

With the liberation of Lublin in July 1944 a Russian-sponsored Polish Committee for
National Liberation (a Communist Government in all but name) had been set up and the
British had put great pressure, mostly unsuccessful, on the Government-in-exile to accept this
status quo. At Yalta, in February 1945, the Allies put Poland within the Russian zone of
influence in a post-war Europe. To most Poles the meaning of these two events was perfectly
clear; Poland had been betrayed.

The war ended on May 8th, 1945.

Post-War Poland

Mikolajczyk, Stanislaw (b. 1903; d. 1966), leader of the Peasant Movement, founder of the
Stronnictwo Ludowe (the Polish Peasant Party) and representative of the Polish Government-
in-Exile during WW2, offered the only real opposition to the Sanacja regime established after
Pilsudski's coup. He organised a political strike (15 August 1937) which called for a political
amnesty and a liquidation of the Sanacja. The strike turned violent, 42 people were killed and
about 1000 arrested; the events shook the régime badly. When Sikorski was killed at Gibraltar
(1943), Mikolajczyk succeeded him as prime minister. Opposed to the Soviet annexation of
East Galicia and the imposition of the "Curzon Line" frontier on a post-war Poland,
Mikolajczyk was placed under great diplomatic pressure and warned by Churchill, "You are
on the verge of annihilation. Unless you accept the frontier...the Russians will sweep through
your country and your people will be liquidated." Mikolajczyk went to Moscow to discuss the
situation with Stalin directly and watched helplessly as the Soviets set up the "Polish
Liberation Committee", under Osobka-Morawski of the PPS (Polish Socialist Party), in
Lublin on 22 July 1944 and the subsequent disaster of the Warsaw Uprising in August. The
Uprising placed Mikolajczyk in a position where he had to plead for help instead of
strengthening his bargaining position. He was pressurised, by the Allies, into accepting a
compromise whereby Poland would gain land in the West as compensation for the territories
lost in the East and, despite his misgivings, he agreed that he would come to Poland to head a
provisional government made up mostly of the Lublin committee. Mikolajczyk was
concerned that the establishment of the Polish border on the Oder-Neisse would cause
problems with any post-war German government (as had the Polish Corridor after WW1) and
tie Poland to the Soviet Union indefinitely. Any opposition became academic when the
Western Powers confirmed Poland's eastern frontier at Yalta in February 1945 and at Potsdam
in July. At Yalta and Potsdam Stalin had agreed to set up an interim government consisting of
twenty-one members, sixteen of them sponsored by Stalin himself; Mikolajczyk would be
deputy premier - the Allies agreed to this and withdrew their recognition of the Polish
Government-in-exile. In the January Election of 1947, in a blatant disregard for the provisions
agreed at Yalta and Potsdam and in elections declared to be irregular by foreign observers, the
communist-led Democratic Bloc gained power; Bierut was elected President and
Cyrankiewicz, Premier. In the Sejm, Mikolajczyk was condemned as a foreign agent. As the
last remnants of the anti-communist underground were destroyed in the countryside, he was
forced to flee for his life from Poland (October 1947).

The Party;

Bierut, Boleslaw (b. Rurach Jezuickich, nr. Lublin, 1892; d. Moscow, 1956), was actively
involved in the affairs of the Polish working-class from an early age; by 1918, aged 26, he
was already organising workers in Warsaw and Lublin and was an NKVD agent, studying at
the Advanced Comintern Party School. He became a Comintern agent in Bulgaria,
Czechoslovakia and Austria and was arrested in Poland (1935). He was a leader in the
resistance during the Nazi occupation, becoming president of the Home National Council
(KRN) formed by Wladyslaw Gomulka without consulting Moscow. The Soviets formed the
Polski Komitet Wyzwolenia Narodowego (PKWN; Polish Committee of National Liberation),
allegedly in July 1944 in Lublin but in reality created in Moscow to undermine Gomulka's
KRN. The role of the Lublin Committee was to assist the Soviets in running the Polish
territories liberated from the Germans. At the Potsdam Conference (17 July 1945) Bierut,
leading the Polish delegation, agreed to the establishment of the Oder-Neisse line as Poland's
post-War Western border. The Lublin Committee became the core around which was formed
the Provisional Government of National Unity (1945 - 47), ostensibly a union of Polish
democratic parties with representatives from the Polska Partia Robotnicza (PPR; Polish
Workers' Party), Polska Partia Socjilistyczna (PPS; the Polish Socialist Party), the PSL; Polish
Peasants' Party, and other minor parties intended to rule the country until free democratic
elections could take place. Stanislaw Mikolajczyk was the only member of the London
government to return to Poland. In reality the Provisional Government had been set up in
order to create a breathing space during which the democratic opposition could be eliminated
and a Communist State established. In the Summer of 1947 the PSL and Mikolajczyk became
increasingly isolated and attacked as agents of reactionary forces; during the arrests that
followed Mikolajczyk managed to escape. Bierut became Stalin's hand-picked man to become
President of the Republic (1947 - 52) and was leader of the radical pro-Moscow group
(consisting of Jakub Berman, and Hilary Minc) opposed to Gomulka. In June 1948 Gomulka
was replaced as General-Secretary of the Polish Workers' Party (PPR) and on 26 July 1948
the first purges began as the PPR and PPS were cleansed of pro-Western elements. An era of
full Stalinist dictatorship and headlong industrialisation began and in December the Polish
Worker's Party and the Polish Socialist Party fused forming the Polish United Workers' Party
(PZPR) and a single party state. In November 1949 Bierut and the Polish government were
given the services of Marshall Rokossovsky by the USSR; he was appointed Minister of
Defence and given a permanent place in the Politburo. A purge of the army was then carried
out and compulsory National Service was introduced (February 1950). The March Labour
Laws (1950) made absenteeism a crime and tied workers to their jobs, making them
responsible to their managers, and the management directly responsible for fulfilling any
quotas set by the government. On the 22 July 1952 a new constitution was introduced and
Poland became officially known as Polska Rzeczpospolita Ludowa (the Polish People's
Republic). In 1949 the Vatican had issued a decree against Communism which had put all
Communist publications on the Index and forbade Catholics to cooperate with Communists,
now, in 1952, the first arrests of bishops and priests began, culminating in the arrest of
Cardinal Wyszynski (1954). In 1954, Colonel Jozef Swiatlo (b. 1905), deputy chief of the
Tenth Department (set up to monitor the activities of Party members and the government on
behalf of Moscow), defected and began to broadcast on Radio Free Europe, revealing the
activities of the Urzad Bezpieczenstwa (UB; Polish security services). The scandal that
followed these revelations, of the extent to which Moscow had control over everyday life, led
to the dismissal of the head of the UB and the release of Gomulka from prison. In February
1956, with the situation changing in a post-Stalinist world, Bierut left Poland to attend the
Twentieth Congress of the Soviet Communist Party in Moscow during which Khrushchev
denounced Stalin. He died there, apparently by suicide. His replacement was Edward Ochab

Gomulka, Wladyslaw (b. Krosno, 1905; d. Warsaw, 1982). Trained in the USSR in the 1930s,
where he saw collectivisation at first hand (and decided that it would not work in Poland),
Gomulka was fortunate enough to be arrested by the Polish police (1938 - 39) and thus
avoided the purge of his comrades (some 5,000 were killed) by the Soviets. He found himself
in Soviet-occupied Lwow in 1940 and decided to take his chances at home, Krosno, in the
General-Gouvernement. In Warsaw, Gomulka emerged as the First Secretary of the Polish
Workers' Party (PPR) (1943). He formed the People's Army as an equivalent to the Armia
Krajowa, and the Krajowa Rada Narodowa (KRN; National People's Council) - without
Moscow's prior permission - in 1944. As a result, the Soviets formed the Polski Komitet
Wyzwolenia Narodowego (PKWN; Polish Committee of National Liberation), allegedly in
July 1944 in Lublin but in reality created in Moscow to undermine Gomulka's KRN. Gomulka
was "invited" to Moscow to endorse the formation of the Polish Committee of National
Liberation, which he did in August (although all documentation was back-dated to July). The
role of the Lublin Committee was to assist the Soviets in running the Polish territories
liberated from the Germans. The Lublin Committee then became the core around which was
formed the Provisional Government of National Unity (1945 - 47), ostensibly a union of
Polish democratic parties intended to rule the country until free democratic elections could
take place but in reality set up in order to create a breathing space during which the
democratic opposition could be eliminated and a Communist State established. Civil War
broke out as non-Communist elements (the right-wing, anti-communist partisans of the Holy
Cross Mountains, NZA; the National Armed Forces: former members of the AK opposed to a
Communist take-over, WiN; the Association of Freedom and Independence, working mainly
around Lublin and Bialystok: and UPA; the Ukrainian Insurrectionary Army) opposed the
hard-handed tactics of the Soviet security forces, but all armed opposition was put down by
1947. The Polish Communists had to work in close partnership with the Soviets; neither could
succeed in Poland without the support of the other and Gomulka played a very clever game in
the middle ground between blind allegiance to Moscow and open rebellion. He found himself
surrounded by NKVD appointments (Bierut, Berman and Minc) and slowly being eased out
of office as Stalinism was imposed on Poland (1948 - 56). He was placed under house arrest
for "nationalist deviation" and was replaced as Party General-Secretary by Bierut. He
managed to stay on as Vice-President until 1949, and as a member of the Central Committee
until 1951 when he was imprisoned (but there were never any show trials and executions as
there had been in Hungary and Czechoslovakia). When Stalinism collapsed many prominent
Stalinists were dismissed and there was a call for greater civil and political freedom; the
Thaw. In June 1956 workers from the largest factory in Poland, the Cegielski locomotive
factory (or ZISPO) in Poznan, angry at unfavourable changes in taxation, made demands for
talks with the Prime Minister, Cyrankiewicz. When this was denied there was a series of
escalating strikes and a protest march (28 June 1956) which was fired on when the authorities
panicked. During the two days of violent protest that ensued, the Poznan riots (28 - 29 June),
53 were killed and 300 injured. Whilst the Soviets saw the riots as part of an imperialist plot
to destroy Communism at a time of internal reconstruction (Khrushchev's de-Stalinization
program in the USSR), the Polish government took a more realistic stance and declared that
the rioting workers had been at least partly justified in their actions. The Soviets became
further alarmed when, in September, the Politburo had begun to request the pull-out of all
Soviet state security (KGB) advisers from Poland and because Gomulka, who had been
released along with his colleagues, was on the verge of reclaiming his position as the PZPR
(Polish United Workers' Party) leader. The Soviets feared that if Gomulka took control he
would remove the most orthodox (and pro-Soviet) members of the Polish leadership and steer
Poland along an independent course in foreign policy. On 19 October, as the 8th Plenum of
the PZPR Central Committee was about to convene to elect Gomulka as party leader, Soviet
forces stationed in Western Russia began to move towards Poland and others stationed near
the German border began to move towards Warsaw. Marshal Rokossowski, the Deputy Prime
Minister and the embodiment of the Soviet presence in Poland, ordered the Polish army to co-
ordinate movements with these Soviet forces. Khrushchev now attempted to force the Polish
government to reimpose strict ideological controls but was finally forced to agree to a
compromise when loyal Polish troops took up strategic positions around Warsaw and it was
suspected that weapons were being distributed to workers militia units. Khrushchev was
reluctant to instigate a military solution that would be difficult to end. Gomulka was permitted
to return to power and take Poland along its own road to Socialism whilst, in return, Gomulka
called for stronger political and military ties with the Soviet Union and condemned those who
were trying to steer Poland away from the Warsaw Pact. Rokossowski's behaviour during the
crisis was now brought into question and when a new Politburo was set up he was not re-
elected onto it. Shortly afterwards he was expelled by Gomulka (28 October 1956) on charges
of attempting to stage a pro-Soviet coup. The deteriorating situation in Hungary was a strong
incentive for Khrushchev to avoid further conflict with Poland. Unlike the unhappy outcome
of the Hungarian Revolution a few weeks later, this Polish "revolution" was a relative
success: Cardinal Wyszynski, imprisoned by Bierut, was released; Russian officers in the
Polish army were dismissed and sent home; a quarter of a million Poles stranded in the Soviet
Union were allowed to emigrate to Poland; commercial treaties were renegotiated on more
favourable terms; and the Soviet Union had to pay for the upkeep of its own troops in Poland.
Whilst Soviet puppets had been withdrawn from Poland there was still a powerful Stalinist
group, known as the "Natolinists" (named after the Branicki palace where they met), within
Poland who now attempted to divert any attention away from them by encouraging anti-
Semitism; to blame the number of Jews who had prospered under Stalinism. There was also a
concerted attempt to purge Piasecki and his ex-Fascist group. Gomulka's drive for self-
sufficiency throughout the 60s, especially in agriculture, failed to produce a promised rise in
living standards. Party bureaucracy increased and, after the fall of Khrushchev in 1964,
censorship was strengthened. The Israeli victory over the Soviet-backed Arabs in 1967 was
greeted with glee; "Our Jews have given the Soviet Arabs a drumming!" Anti-Russian
feelings grew, especially in the universities, until, when the authorities banned a production of
Mickiewicz's anti-Russian "Forefathers' Eve" in January, student riots broke out in Warsaw
and Krakow. These were forcibly put down and a period of repression against Intellectuals
and Jews ensued. Gomulka found his own position as leader was under threat from the
repressive Nationalist "Partisan" faction, led by Mieczyslaw Moczar, but he was able to get
Soviet backing by letting Polish armed forces take part in the Warsaw Pact repression of
Dubcek's attempt to create a more liberal situation in Czechoslovakia. Terrified of incurring
debts, Gomulka resisted imports, especially of grain and animal feed, thus two bad harvests
(1969 and 1970) inevitably led to severe meat shortages. A sudden increase in the price of
food in December 1970 led to riots in the Baltic cities; Gdansk, Gdynia and Szczecin, which
were repressed with great bloodshed. The fighting spread to other cities on the coast and the
whole area had to be sealed off by the army. On 19 December an emergency meeting of the
Politburo replaced Gomulka (who had suffered a stroke) with Edward Gierek, who managed
to calm down the situation by preventing the price rises and promising reforms. Gomulka died
of cancer (1982).

Gierek, Edward (b. 1913; d. Cieszyn, 2001), First Secretary of the Polish Communist Party
during the rise of Solidarity, went to France with his family in his youth and lived there for
eleven years. At the age of 13 he began work as a miner and spent a great deal of his time in
the ultra-Stalinist communist parties of France and Belgium. He was expelled from France for
his political activities and went to Poland (1934), returning to Belgium in 1937. He was in the
resistance during the war. Gierek returned to Poland in 1948 where he quickly role to
positions of power. He became the first Party leader in the Soviet bloc who had never been
trained in the Soviet Union. Gierek built up his reputation as a very able administrator and
Party boss in Silesia, whilst maintaining some distance from other factions and intrigues in
the Party. He was able to maintain in touch with the common people and understood that a
gulf existed between the standard of living of working people in Poland and their counterparts
in the West. He was appointed Director of the Heavy Industry Department (1954) and
elevated to the Politburo (1956). After the crisis of December 1970, when food prices rose
steeply during Christmas week and there were strikes and demonstrations against the
Government - most notably in the shipyards of Gdansk, Gdynia and Szczecin, Gomulka was
forced to resign and Gierek was elevated in his place. His policy was one of freezing prices,
rapid industrialisation, and of creating an artificial rise in living standards thus attempting to
create a sense of material prosperity based on Western imports and credits (a policy which
was to bankrupt Poland). For a brief period, 1971 - 73, there was a sense of confidence and
optimism; free discussion was encouraged, wages increased, the prices paid by the
Government to peasants for food was raised, intellectuals were wooed and censorship eased.
The Royal Castle in Warsaw was rebuilt. Gierek staked all on economic success and failed
after a series of world and domestic crises (the oil crisis of 1974, deepening world recession).
To ease the foreign debt Gierek was forced to increase the price of "luxury" consumer goods,
and, in June 1976, food prices by an average of 60%. There were major demonstrations and
violent strikes; the workers of the Ursus plant tore up railway tracks and seized the Paris -
Moscow express, whilst the army had to man the deserted steelworks of Nowa Huta. Within
days the action forced the cancellation of the price rises, but also - since coercion was the only
way left - led to repression by the Citizens' Militia (ZOMO) and severe sentences. Opposition
groups developed and grew in strength; KOR (the Worker's Defence Committee), led by
Jacek Kuron and Adam Michnik. The economy "overheated" and led to a period of acute
consumer shortages, especially meat, and a soaring foreign debt. In October 1978, Karol
Wojtyla, Cardinal of Krakow, was elected Pope. The Polish sense of "destiny" began to
surface. In June, 1979, Pope John Paul II visited Poland at a time when the economic crisis
was deepening. Fresh price rises in July 1980 touched off nation-wide strikes. In August they
reached the Lenin Shipyard, Gdansk, where Lech Walesa became leader. At the end of
August the Gdansk Agreement created Solidarity as an independent, self-managing trade
union. Gierek was replaced by Stanislaw Kania in September and expelled from the party for
having failed to improve the living standards of the workers. In the period that followed the
Party began to fall apart and on 13 December 1981 General Jaruzelski, prime minister,
minister of defence and first secretary of PZPR, declared a state of martial law and suspended
Solidarity - but nothing would ever be the same again.

Jaruzelski, Wojciech; (b. Kurow, 1923). Born into a wealthy land-owning family, Jaruzelski
was deported to the Soviet Union in 1939 and worked as a forced labourer. In 1943 he joined
Berling's Kosciuszko Infantry Division and was involved in the Eastern Campaign. He
became the youngest general in the Polish Army when he was 33. In 1962 he was appointed
Deputy Defence Minister and promoted to Defence Minister in 1968. In the circumstances
that led to the the Gdansk Agreement and the creation of Solidarity in what was the first,
authentic workers' revolution in Europe, ironically directed against the party of the proletariat,
not many had foreseen the economic and political collapse that followed. The Party began to
fall apart as its leadership became embroiled in in-fighting and there were struggles within
Solidarity itself between those who wished to consolidate their position and those who wanted
to go further. When at Solidarity's First National Congress (September 1981) more radical
elements were able to get a motion passed offering sympathy and support to the downtrodden
peoples of the Soviet Bloc, it was inevitable that something would be done. The Soviet Union
was isolated because of its involvement in the war in Afghanistan, and economically
dependent on the West, but it could not stand by and watch the very core of the Warsaw Pact
tear itself away. On 9th February 1981, General Jaruzelski (commander-in-chief of the army)
had been appointed prime minister and minister of defence in what may have been a first step
towards a military coup or a pre-emptive strike to forestall Soviet invasion - or simply a
response to Soviet demands - and on 18 October he replaced Stanislaw Kania as first secretary
of PZPR, acquiring powers that were unprecedented in the Soviet Bloc. On 13 December
1981, Jaruzelski declared a "State of War", and martial law was imposed. In a complex and
efficient operation, communications were cut and thousands were imprisoned as tanks
patrolled the streets. Whilst there were some minor protests there was no general movement
of revolt; by January 1982 the whole situation was under control. Some members of
Solidarity were in hiding and carried on in opposition underground. Solidarity was dissolved
by the courts (October 1982) and a year after its imposition, the "State of War" was suspended
(December 1982). Gradually, as the country's political and economic life returned to normal,
martial law was lifted (July 1983). On 19 October 1984 Jerzy Popieluszko, a Warsaw priest,
was murdered by officers from the security services; Jaruzelski sanctioned their arrest and
trial. By the summer of 1985, Jaruzelski began to appear in civilian clothes and shortly
afterwards was elected president. From 1986 onwards, there was great discussion as to the
way the country could develop (in the climate of Gorbachev's "glasnost" and "perestroika")
which led, in 1988, to a referendum. As a result, Poland became the first Eastern-Bloc country
to hold free elections which opened the way to the massive changes of 1989 and the return of
democracy. Whilst Jaruzelski was narrowly appointed President by the Sejm in June 1989,
Tadeusz Mazowiecki, Walesa's Solidarity colleague, became the first non-Communist Prime
Minister since WW2. Jaruzelski relinquished his post in July 1990 and, in December 1990,
Lech Walesa was sworn in as the first non-Communist Polish President since WW2. The role
of General Jaruzelski in bringing about a free Poland will be debated for a long time until we
know the historical facts; was he simply obeying his Moscow taskmasters or was he playing a
subtle political game in order to preserve Poland's independence?

"...for the Soviets, to rule Poland was the key to the control of Eastern Europe. Poland's
geostrategical importance... exceeds the fact that it lies on the way to Germany. Moscow
needed to exert her rule over Poland because that also made it easier to control
Czechoslovakia and Hungary and isolated non-Russian minorities in the Soviet Union from
western influence... I was fully aware of the situation. I was subject to a continuous wave of...
threats in which not only the Soviet voice was audible... Warsaw Pact army concentrations
and movements around our borders had been going on for a considerable time... A no less
threatening situation was caused by what was, in effect, an ultimatum announcing a drastic
cut in the supplies of gas, crude oil and many other vitally important materials as of the 1st
January 1982... No grand issues and dilemmas may be studied without their historical
backgrounds in separation from the realities of a given moment. A historian seated in the
tranquillity of archives and libraries can allow his thoughts to wander in various directions...
he knows today what took place in the past. But a politician active at that time knew only
what was happening at a given moment. And he also had to take into account that which
could take place... A politician has to bear the weight of decisions whose effects are often
enormous. And those decisions have to be taken. A controversial decision is better than no
decision or waiving it, since it permits a situation to be brought under control while allowing
it to be reined in with the possibility of correction."

Gen. Wojciech Jaruzelski, 105th Landon Lecture, Kansas State University, 11 March 1996

A New Hope;
Wojtyla, Karol (Pope John Paul II) (b. Wadowice,1920), the 264th Pontiff, is the first non-
Italian Pontiff for 455 years, the first from a Communist country and the first Polish Pope. His
mother died when he was small and he was brought up by his rather stern father. In 1938
Wojtyla entered the Jagiellonian University, Krakow, studying languages and modern Polish
literature. He began to write poetry and joined a theatre group intending to follow a career in
acting. With the Nazi occupation Wojtyla became an underground cultural resistance worker
combating the German attempts to destroy Polish culture. He also began to attend
underground classes in theology and began studying for the priesthood, under Cardinal
Sapieha, in 1944 whilst in hiding in the Archbishop's residence in Krakow. Wojtyla was
ordained on 1 November 1946, and carried on his studies in Rome and France. On returning
in 1948 he was appointed parish priest in Niegowic, near Gdow. Wojtyla was transferred to
the Kosciol Floriana (the Collegiate Church of St.Florian) in the Kleparz district of Krakow,
which has been the University Collegiate since the 16th.century. He was vicar here between
1949-51. In 1954 he became a professor of social ethics at the Catholic University of Lublin
and in 1958 was made a Bishop by Cardinal Wyszynski. In 1964 Wojtyla became Archbishop
of Krakow and in 1967, a Cardinal. During the 60s he had to continually fight the Communist
authorities for the right to build new churches and to maintain religious education. Cardinal
Wojtyla played a prominent role in the work of the Second Vatican Council and made many
strong contacts abroad. He was elected Pope on 16 October 1978 and the political revolution
that shook Poland, and then the rest of Eastern Europe, dates from that time. The election of a
Polish Pope was a source of great pride not only for the Poles but for all Slavs; when the
Soviet leader and architect of Perestroika, Mikhail Gorbachev, and his wife Raisa visited the
Pope in December 1989 he introduced John Paul II to her with the words "I should like to
introduce His Holiness, who is the highest moral authority on earth, but he's also a Slav." He
is the most widely-travelled Pope in history and he has taken his duties as Bishop of Rome
much more conscientiously than many of his predecessors, visiting most of his parishes and
playing an active role in his diocese. John Paul II's health suffered badly after an assassination
attempt (13 May 1981) and in his later years he had Parkinson's disease. There have been
many criticisms of his Papacy; that he was hypocritical in his condemnation of the Latin
American Churches in their struggle against Capitalism (given his story of struggle in Poland)
and of being a conservative hampering the Church in a time of great liberalisation and change
- especially in the US. History will judge him but there can be no denial of the fact that he
played an important role in creating moral stability, especially in his constant fight for the
right of life, in times of flux and spiritual uncertainty.

Walesa, Lech (b. Popowo, 29 September 1943). When Lech Walesa climbed over the Lenin
Shipyard fence in 1980 little did he know that he would set into motion a wave of political
action that would finally free Eastern Europe from the grip of the Soviets. Walesa trained as
an electrician and worked at the Lenin Shipyards,Gdansk. During the crisis of December
1970, when food prices rose steeply during Christmas week leading to strikes and
demonstrations against the Government - most notably in the shipyards of Gdansk, Gdynia
and Szczecin, and Gomulka was forced to resign to be replaced by Gierek; Walesa was a
member of the 27-strong action committee at the shipyards. His activities as shop steward led
to his dismissal in 1976. After Gierek's attempts to ease the foreign debt in 1976 failed, a 60%
increase in food prices had to be cancelled because of a series of violent strikes. This, in turn,
led to a backlash; there was greater repression by the Citizens' Militia (ZOMO) and severe
sentences were imposed on "troublemakers". As a result, opposition groups, like KOR
(Committee for the Defence of the Workers), were set up. The economy continued to
"overheat" and there was a period of acute consumer shortages, especially meat, and a soaring
foreign debt. Once again, price rises in July 1980 touched off nation-wide strikes. On 14
August 1980 Walesa climbed into the Lenin Shipyard, Gdansk, to became leader of a sit-in
strike over the illegal dismissal of a fellow worker, Anna Walentynowicz. His experiences in
the 1970 strikes and years of discussion with KOR and underground workers' cells, had led
him to develop a strategy with defined goals. He demanded that representatives of the
government come to the shipyards to listen to the demands of the workers and negotiate
whilst skilful management of the International Press ensured that the whole process would be
reported and recorded. The idea spread and an Inter-factory Strike Committee, advised by
KOR, was set up in order to co-ordinate the activity. At the end of August the Gdansk
Agreement (31 August 1980) created Solidarity as an independent, self-managing trade union
with access to the media and civil rights. It was the first authentic workers' revolution in
Europe, ironically directed against the party of the proletariat. The economic situation
worsened and there were acute shortages, especially in medical supplies. Poland was saved
from mass-starvation by the action of Poles all over the world, sending food and other
supplies. The Party began to fall apart as its leadership became embroiled in in-fighting and
its members left to join Solidarity. There were struggles within Solidarity itself between those
who wished to consolidate their position and those who wanted to go further; it began to
resemble the situation in 1863. Things came to a head at Solidarity's First National Congress
(September 1981) - the first democratically elected Polish national assembly since WW2 -
when Walesa and his moderates tried to limit discussions to matters concerning Solidarity and
the Gdansk Agreement whilst more radical elements wanted to widen the debate to issues of
principle. There was even a motion passed offering sympathy and support to the downtrodden
peoples of the Soviet Bloc. Although the Soviet Union was isolated because of its
involvement in the war in Afghanistan, and economically dependent on the West, it was
inevitable that something