First partition of Poland

Article

August 13, 2022

The First Partition of Poland - cession of the territory of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth in 1772 for the Kingdom of Prussia, the Habsburg Monarchy and the Russian Empire. The first of the three partitions of Poland, which took place at the end of the 18th century.

Historical background of the dissection

The idea of ​​partitioning one country to meet the claims and interests of others was not new. Similar plans were born towards Austria during the war of the Austrian Succession, Prussia during the Seven Years' War or Turkey during the 5th Russo-Turkish War. The difference was that the Commonwealth was the only state that was unable to resist any armed conflict with another state, because it was completely defenseless and could not defend its own interests, unlike the above-mentioned states. The concept of the partition of the Polish-Lithuanian state was also not new. It appeared in the 17th century (the treaty in Radnot) and was also considered in the second half of the 18th century. During the protracted Russo-Turkish war, it became clear that the dismantling of the High Port was impossible, and a further war threatened to turn into a pan-European conflict. It was then that the Paris and Berlin courts again put forward proposals to relieve political tension at the expense of the Polish lands. Already during the interregnum after the death of August III of the Saxon in 1763, the head of the Military College of the Russian Empire, General Zachar Chernyshev, presented Catherine II with a plan for the annexation of Polish territory, delineated exactly within the boundaries of the future partition in 1772. Europe was in danger of a new large-scale conflict, as Austria, concerned about Russia's successes in the war and its claims against Moldova and Wallachia, threatening the interests of the Habsburg domain in this part of the continent, was preparing to act in defense of Turkey. At the same time, Prussia was associated with the court of Catherine II by an alliance that would also involve them in the confrontation. From 1769, there were mutual polls of four sides and attempts to drag Prussia to the Franco-Austrian camp. The French idea assumed the transfer of the southern borders of the Republic of Turkey, which would secure the interests of Austria and strengthen the position of the High Port. Prussia, in exchange for neutrality and the transfer of part of Silesia to Austria, was to obtain Warmia and a part of Courland. However, Frederick II pursued his own policy in this matter. He had no intention of serving Franco-Austrian interests, severing the alliance with Russia for vague and uncertain promises, and giving back even a scrap of Silesia. At the same time, he wanted to avoid a military confrontation at all costs, as the country, ruined by the Seven Years' War, needed peace. He also wanted to realize the basic aspirations of the Hohenzollerns to connect Brandenburg with Prussia. To this end, he began attempts to involve Russia in the cession of Polish lands and to test how much concessions St. Petersburg could make. Russia did not have any profit from the division of the country, which it considered to be its protectorate, on the contrary, it could only lose. For Prussia, it was a priority issue. On the other hand, Austria, drawn into the partition to ease its relations with Russia, was to receive a part of Poland as an ordinary salary. The seizure of Polish lands was not in the vital interest of the Habsburg monarchy, as so far it has not been interested in expansion into these territories. Frederick II, who apparently represented the position of Count Lynar (so as not to expose himself to the opinion of European courts), was supported by the actions of the Bar Confederates and Austria's almost open pursuit of war. The Bar Confederation, which lasted for four years, which was suppressed by the intervention of Russian troops and the haidamak uprising in Ukraine, significantly weakened the position of the Polish king, Stanisław II August, who, in the eyes of the Russians, stopped