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.
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 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.
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.
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.