The Kosciuszko uprising. How "Poland was bent"

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The Kosciuszko uprising. How "Poland was bent"
The Kosciuszko uprising. How "Poland was bent"

Video: The Kosciuszko uprising. How "Poland was bent"

Video: The Kosciuszko uprising. How "Poland was bent"
Video: How Khrushchev Housed Everyone - Cold War Soviet History DOCUMENTARY 2023, October

225 years ago, on March 24, 1794, the uprising of Tadeusz Kosciuszko, or the Second Polish War, began. The act of the uprising proclaimed the complete restoration of the sovereignty of Poland and the return of territories to it, which were separated following two partitions of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth: 1772 and 1793.

Background. The reasons for the degradation of the Polish state

For two centuries, the Commonwealth (the union of Poland and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania) was one of the largest states in Europe and a great military power. Warsaw pursued an active foreign policy, tried to expand its possessions and regularly fought with Turkey, Sweden and Russia, among other conflicts. Poland was a traditional enemy of the Russian state, since during the collapse of the Old Russian Empire, Lithuanians and Poles seized vast southern and western Russian lands, including one of the capitals of Russia - Kiev.

However, the Polish elite could not create a project for the sustainable development of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. This was due to the opposition of two civilizational matrices - Western and Russian. And it predetermined the future catastrophe of the Polish statehood. The Rzecz Pospolita included vast territories of Western and Southern Russia. The overwhelming majority of the West Russian population was oppressed in national, religious and socio-economic terms. The Russians were in the position of slaves, slaves, the southern and western Russian lands were a colony of Polish lords. The main part of the population of Poland itself - the peasantry - was in the position of draft animals (cattle). In a privileged position were only gentry, and partly, wealthy townspeople who had self-government. This caused a lot of uprisings and riots, especially in the eastern part of the Polish Empire. The Russians did not want to live in the position of draft animals.

Thus, the Polish elite copied the form of government traditional for the Western matrix - the slave-holding pyramid model. Power, wealth, all rights and privileges belonged to an insignificant minority of the population - the gentry, the Panamas, the rest of the people were in the position of "two-legged weapons", slaves. This was the root cause of the future collapse and death of Poland.

The Polish elite degraded over time: more and more time and money was spent on useless, meaningless, extremely costly wars, overconsumption (the gentry tried to look "rich and successful", lived beyond their means, squeezed the peasants dry, went broke), feasts, hunting, all kinds of entertainment … The country's funds were spent not on development, but on overconsumption and the pleasures of the gentry. Wars no longer led to the expansion of possessions and enrichment, but ruined Poland itself, hanging a terrible burden over the people. The economic decline began. Polish gentry became an arrogant, arrogant, arrogant and stupid caste that she herself killed the state with a predatory, parasitic foreign and domestic policy.

At the same time, a unique state structure played a large role in the catastrophe of Poland - the so-called. gentry democracy. The monarch did not pass on the throne by inheritance, each time he was elected by the gentry. The right to choose the monarch belonged to the Diet - the representative assembly of the gentry. The gentry used this to seek new rights and privileges. As a result, the Polish lords had a minimum of duties and a maximum of rights and privileges. The voices of the impoverished gentry were bribed by tycoons-oligarchs, large feudal lords, who were the real masters of the country. In the Seim there was the principle of "free veto" (lat. Liberum veto), which allowed any deputy of the Seim to stop discussing the issue in the Seim and the work of the Seim in general, opposing it. This principle was then extended to local, regional seimiks. The "free veto" was used by the tycoons in their own interests, then the interested states also used this principle. In addition, the election of a new king often led to a split in the Polish elite, the nobles and the gentry were divided into confederations that opposed each other, and civil wars began. The confederations had foreign patrons - Saxony, Austria, Sweden, France, Russia. As a result, the Polish elite buried their own state.

Noble democracy did not allow Poland to create a powerful regular army, so the gentlemen feared the strengthening of royal power, which would rely on a standing army. As a result, the Polish army was based on the gentry militias and mercenary units that were recruited during the war. This led to the degradation of the previously powerful military power. The regular armies of Sweden and Russia began to beat the Poles. Also, Poland did not have a unified monetary system, a tax system, a unified customs, a capable central government.

It is clear that this soon led to a series of terrible disasters that shook the Rzeczpospolita to its foundations. They ruined the country, led to huge human and economic losses, the loss of a number of territories. At the heart of everything was the Western civilizational matrix (a predatory, slave-owning society with a division of people, a small caste of the "chosen" and the popular masses, who were in the position of draft animals) and the administrative mistakes of the Polish elite.

In the 17th century, the Rzeczpospolita experienced three terrible military and political catastrophes: 1) the Russian national liberation war under the leadership of Bogdan Khmelnitsky devastated the eastern part of the Polish empire. The left-bank part of Little Russia-Russia was reunited with the Russian kingdom; 2) in 1654 Russia started the war with Poland. The war was protracted and bloody. According to the Andrusov armistice of 1667, the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth finally ceded to the Russian state the Left-Bank Little Russia, Smolensk, the Seversk land with Chernigov, and a number of other cities. Kiev Poland was inferior for a time, but according to the Eternal Peace of 1686 forever; 3) Sweden took advantage of the Khmelnytsky uprising and the Russian-Polish war, which wanted to make the Baltic Sea a "Swedish lake" and seize Polish lands in the Baltic. In 1655, Sweden attacked Poland - the so-called. Swedish flood 1655-1660 (or Bloody Flood). The Swedish invaders were helped by the fact that many Polish magnates and lords were dissatisfied with the policy of their king Jan Casimir, and they negotiated with the Swedes about "protection". When the war began, many Polish nobles went over to the side of the Swedish king Charles X Gustav. Therefore, the Swedish army relatively easily occupied almost the entire territory of Poland, capturing all the main political, military and economic centers of the Polish state, including Warsaw and Krakow. However, the Swedes could not control the vast Rzeczpospolita for a long time, a patriotic upsurge and partisan resistance began. Moscow, concerned about the successes of the Swedes and not wanting to have a huge Swedish empire at hand, concluded an armistice with the Poles and opposed Sweden. Also, Poland achieved the support of the Austrian Empire and Brandenburg, at the cost of renouncing the rights of suzerainty over East Prussia. Sweden was opposed by its longtime enemy Denmark, supported by Holland. As a result, the Swedes were driven out of Poland. According to the Peace of Olives in 1660, Poland formally ceded Riga and Livonia to Sweden.

These wars led to large territorial, demographic and economic losses in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. Poland was devastated and devastated by the war. At the same time, the Poles fought the powerful Ottoman Empire five times in the 17th century. Poles and Ottomans fought for the Danube principalities (Wallachia and Moldavia) and Podolia. During the war of 1672 - 1676. The Poles suffered a heavy defeat, and ceded Podolia to the Ottomans, the Right-Bank Little Russia passed under the rule of the Turkish vassal hetman Doroshenko, turning into a Turkish protectorate. Only under King Jan III Sobieski, when Poland was temporarily able to restore its military power, the Turkish threat could be neutralized. The Poles returned Podolia and the southern part of the Right-Bank Little Russia. However, Poland was never able to capture Moldova, the magnates continued to torment the country.

The Kosciuszko uprising. How
The Kosciuszko uprising. How

Jozef Brandt. "Hussar"

18th century

Northern War 1700-1721 became the next stage in the degradation of the Commonwealth. Poland and Russia opposed Sweden to limit its influence in the Baltic region. However, the outbreak of the war was disastrous for the Allies. The Swedish king Charles XII invaded Poland, defeated the Polish king and the Saxon prince Augustus II the Strong, seized Warsaw and placed his puppet Stanislav Leszczynski on the Polish throne. The territory of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth became a battlefield between the supporters of Augustus and Stanislav Leshchinsky, the Russian-Polish and Swedish troops. The country again experienced a period of total ruin and economic decline. The Russian Tsar Peter the First won the war, and Augustus was restored to the throne. Russia returned the outlet in the Baltic, annexed Izhora land, Karelia, Estonia and Livonia.

The Commonwealth has lost its status as a great power. Poland became an instrument in the hands of other powerful powers. After the death of King Augustus in 1733, the "War for the Polish Succession" (1733 - 1738) began, during which the Russians and Saxons opposed the French and their creature - Stanislav Leszczynski. Russia and Saxony took over and put on the Polish throne the Saxon Elector Frederick Augustus II, the son of the late king. He took the Polish throne as August III (1734-1763).

At the end of the reign of Augustus III came the Seven Years' War. Rzeczpospolita became a battlefield between Prussia and its opponents. Frederick II of Prussia proposed a project for the partition of Poland. However, the Russian Empire was against the division of the Commonwealth. It was advantageous for St. Petersburg to have a weakened, no longer a threat, and under strong Russian influence, Poland, as a buffer between Russia and other Western powers.

First Polish War. The first section of the Commonwealth

After the death of King Augustus III, the traditional turmoil at the choice of a new king began in Poland. Russia sent troops to Warsaw. In 1764, the Russian candidate Stanislav Ponyatovsky, the former favorite of the Grand Duchess Catherine Alekseevna (the future Empress Catherine the Great), was elected king in Poland. For this support, the Poniatowski government had to decide the so-called. The “dissident question” is to equate Orthodox and Protestants in rights with Catholics.

The Polish Sejm, weak, but anti-Russian, opposed it. Then the Russian ambassador in Warsaw, Prince Repnin, relying on the Russian garrison, arrested the leaders of the Polish opposition and deported them to Russia. This action shows the complete degradation of Polish statehood. After that, the Diet agreed to equalize the rights of dissidents. However, this irritated the anti-Russian party in Poland. In 1768, a confederation was created in Bar, which revolted and declared the Diet deposed.


The last king of Poland and the Grand Duke of Lithuania in 1764-1795 Stanislav August Poniatowski

The Russian army easily crushed the detachments of the Confederates. Realizing the impossibility of independently opposing Russia, the Poles asked for help from France. Versailles, which was then hostile to Russia, immediately came to the rescue. The rebels were provided with financial assistance, they sent military instructors, and most importantly, the French persuaded Porto to oppose the Russian Empire. In 1769 there were about 10 thousand Confederates. At the same time, the Polish rebels occupied the south of Podolia, which prevented the Russian army from operating against the Ottomans. In February 1769, the commander of the Russian auxiliary army, General Olits, defeated the rebels and their remnants fled across the Dniester. In the summer, the center of Polish resistance was destroyed in the Lublin region.

The year 1770 was spent in guerrilla warfare and negotiations. General Dumouriez arrived from France to the Confederates. In 1771, the Confederates went on the offensive and took Krakow. However, disputes began between the Polish commanders, which affected further hostilities. Suvorov defeated the rebels at Landskrona, Zamosc and Stolovichi. In 1772 Krakow capitulated. This was the end of the war. The uprising was organized by the Polish lords, the people as a whole were indifferent to it.

In 1772, on the initiative of the Prussian king Frederick, the First Partition of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth took place. Catherine II initially resisted the partition plan, but the foreign policy situation was unfavorable. Russia was at war with the Ottoman Empire, France was hostile, there was an uprising in Poland, and Austria's behavior inspired fears. In 1771, Vienna made an agreement with the Porte, promising the return of all the Russian-occupied regions, in return for Serbia. It was necessary to win over Prussia. As soon as Russia and Prussia decided to carry out the partition of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, Austria immediately joined. This is how the First Partition of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth was carried out. The Polish state, which had lost its vitality, was preserved. Prussia received the northwestern lands of Poland, Austria - the lands of Lesser Poland and Galician Rus. The Russian Empire received a part of Livonia, which belonged to Poland, and was reunited with the Western Russian lands - part of White Russia.


Kosciuszko, painting by Juliusz Kossak

Second Polish War

The Polish king Stanislav Poniatowski tried to bring the country out of a state of complete crisis, and the elite out of insanity and anarchy. Poniatovsky planned to strengthen the central government, eliminate the liberties of the magnates, soften the position of the peasants, and create a regular army. In 1791, he promulgated a constitution that declared the monarch's power hereditary, and abolished the principle of "free veto". The big bourgeoisie was equalized in rights with the nobility. However, these measures were greatly delayed. They met with opposition from a part of the gentry that made up the Targovitsa Confederation. The opposition was supported by Empress Catherine II, who did not want to lose influence in Poland. Petersburg was associated with the war with Turkey. In addition, Prussia (the Polish-Prussian treaty of 1790) intervened in the affairs of Poland, wishing to oust the Russians from the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and include it in its sphere of influence.

Two hostile camps were formed: supporters of the reform, "patriots" and opponents of reform, the pro-Russian "hetman" party, which was supported by the Russian army. The king actually lost power in the country. In 1792, the "patriots" were defeated and fled the country. The Polish king Stanislav Poniatowski was forced to join the Targowitz Confederation. Prussia did not help the "patriots" and used the situation for the Second partition of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, which was held in 1793. Prussia received ethnically Polish lands - Gdansk, Torun, Greater Poland, Kuyavia and Mazovia. Russia was reunited with the central part of Belarus, Podolia and Volynia.

In March 1794, military operations against Russia and Prussia began by General Madalinsky, who refused to disband his cavalry brigade. He successfully attacked the Russians and the Prussians and occupied Krakow. Tadeusz Kosciuszko, one of the Polish leaders of the First Polish War, was proclaimed the supreme commander in chief and dictator of the republic. On April 4, the Russian detachment of Tormasov was partially defeated at Raclavitsy; the news of this victory of the Polish rebels sparked a general uprising. The Russian garrisons in Warsaw and Vilna were destroyed.


Francis Smuglevich. Tadeusz Kosciuszko's oath at the Krakow market

The Prussian army defeated the Poles and laid siege to Warsaw, but soon retreated due to uprisings in the rear, a riot engulfed Greater Poland. At this time, Austrian troops captured Krakow and Sandomierz in order to secure a share in the future section. Kosciuszko was able to gather a large army - 70 thousand people. The fighting covered Lithuania. However, the Russian army has already gone on the offensive. Russian troops recaptured Vilno, in Lesser Poland Derfelden defeated the Polish corps of Zayonchek and took Lublin.

In the south, Suvorov began his march, he with 10 thousand. detachment went from the Dniester to the Bug, having made 560 versts in 20 days. On September 4, the miraculous heroes of Suvorov took Kobrin, on the 5th they defeated Serakovsky's corps near Krupchiny. On September 8, Suvorov's detachment destroyed Serakovsky's corps near Brest. Kosciuszko, in order to prevent Denisov and Fersen from joining with Suvorov, decided to attack Fersen's division. On September 29, in the battle of Matsejovice, Kosciuszki's troops were defeated, and he himself was taken prisoner - “Poland perished”.

Panic broke out in Warsaw. The most reasonable people, led by the king who had lost power, suggested starting negotiations. However, the radical party insisted on continuing the war. The new Polish commander-in-chief Wawrzecki ordered the Polish troops to go to defend the capital, which they did. Meanwhile, Suvorov, having annexed the parts of Fersen and Derfelden, on October 23 located near Prague (a suburb of Warsaw), and on the 24th took it by storm. After that, Warsaw surrendered to the mercy of the winner. The uprising was suppressed. The remnants of the rebels fled to Austria.

Stanislav Poniatowski abdicated the Polish throne and spent his last years in the Russian capital. Tadeusz Kosciuszko was kept in the Peter and Paul Fortress (in a very liberal regime), and was freed during the accession of Paul. The Polish state was liquidated during the Third Partition of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. Austria and Prussia divided the remaining indigenous Polish lands. Russia received the lands of the western part of White Russia, Vilno and Courland.

The Polish state ceased to exist as a result of the administrative mistakes of its own elite. In fact, Rzeczpospolita committed suicide


A. Orlovsky. Storming of Prague (suburb of Warsaw). Source: