Second Partition of Poland

Poland after the Second Partition (1793).
After the battle of Zieleńce 1792 Polish withdrawal, painting by Wojciech Kossak
Treaty of Grodno 1793 between Prussia and Poland (a French edition), later referred to as the Second Partition Treaty.

The 1793 Second Partition of Poland was the second of three partitions (or partial annexations) that ended the existence of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth by 1795. The second partition occurred in the aftermath of the War in Defense of the Constitution and the Targowica Confederation of 1792, and was approved by its territorial beneficiaries, the Russian Empire and the Kingdom of Prussia. The division was ratified by the coerced Polish parliament (Sejm) in 1793 (see the Grodno Sejm) in a short-lived attempt to prevent the inevitable complete annexation of Poland, the Third Partition.


By 1790, on the political front, the Commonwealth had deteriorated into such a helpless condition that it was forced into an unnatural and ultimately deadly alliance with its enemy, Prussia. The Polish-Prussian Pact of 1790 was signed, giving false hope that the Commonwealth might have at last found an ally that would shield it while it reformed itself.[1] The May Constitution of 1791 enfranchised the bourgeoisie, established the separation of the three branches of government, and eliminated the abuses of Repnin Sejm. Those reforms prompted aggressive actions on the part of its neighbours, wary of the potential renaissance of the Commonwealth.[2][3] Again Poland dared to reform and improve itself without Russia's permission, send again the Empress Catherine II was angered; arguing that Poland had fallen prey to the radical Jacobinism then at high tide in France. Russian forces invaded the Commonwealth in 1792.[2][3]

In the War in Defense of the Constitution, the army of the Russian Empire, invited by the pro-Russian, conservative, Polish magnates' alliance, the Confederation of Targowica, fought against the Polish forces supporting the Constitution. The conservative nobility (szlachta) believed that the Russians would help them restore their Golden Liberty.[2][3] Abandoned by their Prussian allies, the badly outnumbered Polish pro-Constitution forces fought under Prince Józef Poniatowski a defensive war with some measure of success, but were ordered to abandon their efforts by their supreme commander, King Stanisław August Poniatowski. The King decided to join the Targowica Confederation, as demanded by the Russians.[2][3]

Russia invaded Poland to ensure the defeat of the Polish reforms, with no overt goal of another partition (it viewed Poland as its protectorate, and saw little need to give up chunks of Poland to other countries).[2][3][4][5] Frederick William II of Prussia, however, saw those events as an opportunity to strengthen his country. Frederick demanded from Catherine that for his country's abandoning Poland as a close ally, and for Prussian participation in the War of the First Coalition against revolutionary France. Because Russia had encouraged Prussian participation, and Prussia had recently suffered a major defeat at the Battle of Valmy), Prussia should be compensated – preferably with parts of the Polish territory. Russia soon decided to accept the Prussian offer.[2][3]


On 23 January 1793 Prussia signed a treaty with Russia, agreeing that Polish reforms would be revoked and both countries would receive chunks of Commonwealth territory.[3] Russian and Prussian military took control of the territories they claimed soon afterward, with Russian troops already present, and Prussian troops meeting only nominal resistance.[2][3] In 1793, deputies to the Grodno Sejm, the last Sejm of the Commonwealth, in the presence of Russian forces, agreed to the Russian and Prussian territorial demands. The Grodno Sejm became infamous not only as the last sejm of the Commonwealth, but because its deputies had been bribed and coerced by the Russians (Russia and Prussia wanted legal sanction from Poland for their demands).[2][6]

Russia took 250,000 square kilometres (97,000 sq mi), while Prussia took 58,000 square kilometres (22,000 sq mi).[7] The Commonwealth lost about 307 000 km², being reduced to 215 000 km².[8][9]

Russia received the Kiev Voivodeship, Bracław Voivodeship, Podole Voivodeship and Minsk Voivodeship, and parts of the Vilnius Voivodeship, Nowogródek Voivodeship, Brest Litovsk Voivodeship and the Volhynian Voivodeship.[10] This was accepted by the Grodno Sejm on 22 July.[11] Russia reorganized its newly acquired territories into Minsk Viceroyalty and Izyaslav Viceroyalty (which in 1795 was split into Podolian and Volhynian Viceroyalties).[12]

Prussia received the cities of Gdańsk (Danzig) and Toruń (Thorn), and Gniezno Voivodeship, Poznań Voivodeship, Sieradz Voivodeship, Kalisz Voivodeship, Płock Voivodeship, Brześć Kujawski Voivodeship, Inowrocław Voivodeship, Dobrzyń Land, and parts of the Kraków Voivodeship, Rawa Voivodeship and Masovian Voivodeship.[10] This was accepted by the Grodno Sejm on 23 September[11] or 25 September[10] (sources vary). Prussia organized its newly acquired territories into South Prussia.[13][14]

The Commonwealth lost about 5 million people; only about 4 million people remained in the Polish–Lithuanian lands.[3][15]

What was left of the Commonwealth was a small buffer state with a puppet king, and Russian garrisons keeping an eye on the reduced Polish army.[9][16][17]


Targowica confederates, who did not expect another partition, and the king, Stanisław August Poniatowski, who joined them near the end, both lost much prestige and support.[2][3] The reformers, on the other hand, were attracting increasing support.[11] In March 1794 the Kościuszko Uprising begun. The defeat of the Uprising in November that year resulted in the final Third Partition of Poland, ending the existence of the Commonwealth.[2]

See also


  1. Piotr Stefan Wandycz (2001). The Price of Freedom: A History of East Central Europe from the Middle Ages to the Present. Taylor & Francis Group. p. 128. ISBN 978-0-415-25490-8. Retrieved 8 January 2013.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Henry Smith Williams (1904). The Historians' History of the World: Poland, The Balkans, Turkey, Minor eastern states, China, Japan. Outlook Company. pp. 88–91. Retrieved 8 January 2013.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Jerzy Lukowski; W. H. Zawadzki (2001). A Concise History of Poland: Jerzy Lukowski and Hubert Zawadzki. Cambridge University Press. pp. 101–103. ISBN 978-0-521-55917-1. Retrieved 8 January 2013.
  4. Jerzy Lukowski; W. H. Zawadzki (2001). A Concise History of Poland: Jerzy Lukowski and Hubert Zawadzki. Cambridge University Press. p. 84. ISBN 978-0-521-55917-1. Retrieved 8 January 2013.
  5. H. M. Scott (15 November 2001). The Emergence of the Eastern Powers, 1756–1775. Cambridge University Press. pp. 181–182. ISBN 978-0-521-79269-1. Retrieved 8 January 2013.
  6. Norman Davies (20 January 1998). Europe: A History. HarperCollins. p. 719. ISBN 978-0-06-097468-8. Retrieved 8 January 2013.
  7. Jacek Jędruch (1998). Constitutions, elections, and legislatures of Poland, 1493–1977: a guide to their history. EJJ Books. pp. 186–187. ISBN 978-0-7818-0637-4. Retrieved 13 August 2011.
  8. Davies, Norman (2005). God's Playground. A History of Poland. The Origins to 1795. I (revised ed.). Oxford University Press. p. 394. ISBN 978-0-19-925339-5.
  9. 1 2 Richard C. Frucht (2005). Eastern Europe: an introduction to the people, lands, and culture. ABC-CLIO. p. 16. ISBN 978-1-57607-800-6. Retrieved January 10, 2012.
  10. 1 2 3 Adam Nowicki (1945). Dzieje Polski: od czasów najdawniejszych do chwili bieżącej. Księgarnia Polska. p. 152. Retrieved 23 July 2013.
  11. 1 2 3 Norman Davies (1991). Boże igrzysko. 1. Od początków do roku 1795. Społeczny Inst. Wydawniczy Znak. p. 703. ISBN 978-83-7006-400-6. Retrieved 23 July 2013.
  12. Сергей А. Тархов. "Изменение административно-территориального деления за последние 300 лет". (Sergey A. Tarkhov. Changes of the Administrative-Territorial Structure of Russia in the past 300 years).
  13. Vejas Gabriel Liulevicius (27 August 2009). The German Myth of the East:1800 to the Present. Oxford University Press. p. 41. ISBN 978-0-19-161046-2. Retrieved 23 July 2013.
  14. William Fiddian Reddaway (1971). The Cambridge History of Poland. CUP Archive. p. 152. GGKEY:2G7C1LPZ3RN. Retrieved 23 July 2013.
  15. Jerzy Lukowski; W. H. Zawadzki (2001). A Concise History of Poland: Jerzy Lukowski and Hubert Zawadzki. Cambridge University Press. pp. 96–98. ISBN 978-0-521-55917-1. Retrieved 8 January 2013.
  16. William Fiddian Reddaway (1971). The Cambridge History of Poland. Cambridge University Press. pp. 157–159. GGKEY:2G7C1LPZ3RN. Retrieved January 10, 2012.
  17. Lynne Olson; Stanley Cloud (September 16, 2003). A question of honor: the Kościuszko Squadron : the forgotten heroes of World War II. Knopf. p. 20. ISBN 978-0-375-41197-7. Retrieved January 10, 2012.

Further reading

External links

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