First Partition of Poland

Picture of Europe for July 1772, satirical British plate
Caricature of Catherine II of Russia, a drawing from Silva Rerum diary for 1768-1772 concerning the Bar Confederation
The Troelfth Cake, a 1773 French allegory by Jean-Michel Moreau le Jeune for the First Partition of Poland
Rejtan – The Fall of Poland, oil on canvas by Jan Matejko, 1866, 282 x, Royal Castle in Warsaw

The First Partition of Poland took place in 1772 as the first of three partitions that eventually ended the existence of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth by 1795.

- First Partition of Poland

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Russo-Turkish War (1768–1774)

Major armed conflict that saw Russian arms largely victorious against the Ottoman Empire.

Allegory of Catherine's Victory over the Turks (1772),
by Stefano Torelli.
Mustafa III in his royal robes
Europe before the war
Equestrian portrait of Catherine in the uniform of the Preobrazhensky Regiment
Battle of Kagul, southern Bessarabia, 1770
The destruction of the Turkish fleet in the Battle of Chesme, 1770
War in the Mideast: Russian fleet movements denoted by red arrows

The war left the Russian Empire in a strengthened position to expand its territory and maintain hegemony over the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, eventually leading to the First Partition of Poland.

Royal Prussia

Province of the Crown of the Kingdom of Poland, which was established after the Second Peace of Thorn (1466) from the originally Polish territory of Pomerelia seized by the State of the Teutonic Order in 1308 and reclaimed from it, as well as the western part of the original Prussia.

Map of Royal Prussia (light pink)
A faction of Prussian leaders won independence from the Teutonic Order as a dependency of the King of Poland, 1454, Polish Central Archives of Historical Records
Map of Royal Prussia (light pink)
1576 map of Prussia by Caspar Henneberg, Royal Prussia (without southern Pomerelia) appears in white
The Ordensburg at Marienburg in Malbork, Poland. Founded in 1274 by the Teutonic Order on the river Nogat, it is the world's largest brick castle.
1751 map showing Royal Prussia - dependency of the king of Poland, and Ducal Prussia - enfeoffed to the king of Poland.
After 1569 Royal Prussia was fully integrated into the Kingdom of Poland and the Commonwealth.

This occurred at the time of the First Partition of Poland, with other parts of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth being annexed by the Russian Empire and Habsburg Austria.

Partitions of Poland

The Partitions of Poland were three partitions of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth that took place toward the end of the 18th century and ended the existence of the state, resulting in the elimination of sovereign Poland and Lithuania for 123 years.

Allegory of the first partition of Poland, showing Catherine the Great of Russia (left), Joseph II of Austria and Frederick the Great of Prussia (right) quarrelling over their territorial seizures
Włodzimierz Tetmajer, Allegory of Dead Poland, St. Nicholas Cathedral, Kalisz
The Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth after the First Partition, as a protectorate of the Russian Empire (1773–89)
Rejtan at Sejm 1773, oil on canvas by Jan Matejko, 1866, 282 x, Royal Castle in Warsaw
The Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth after the Second Partition (1793)
1793 Russian campaign medal
"A map of the Kingdom of Poland and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania including Samogitia and Curland divided according to their dismemberments with the Kingdom of Prussia" from 1799
The partition of Poland according to the German–Soviet Pact; division of Polish territories in the years 1939–1941

The First Partition was decided on August 5, 1772 after the Bar Confederation lost the war with Russia.

Frederick the Great

King in Prussia from 1740 until 1772, and King of Prussia from 1772 until his death.

Portrait by Johann Georg Ziesenis, c. 1763
24-year-old Frederick, Crown Prince of Prussia, painting by Antoine Pesne, 1736
Frederick's marriage to Elisabeth Christine on 12 June 1733 at Schloss Salzdahlum
Rheinsberg Palace, Frederick's residence from 1736 to 1740
Europe at the time when Frederick came to the throne in 1740, with Brandenburg–Prussia in violet.
Europe at the time of Frederick's death in 1786, with Brandenburg–Prussia in violet, shows that Prussia's territory has been greatly extended by his Silesian Wars, his inheritance of East Frisia and the First Partition of Poland.
Battle of Hohenfriedberg, Attack of the Prussian Infantry, by Carl Röchling
Battle of Rossbach, a tactical victory for Frederick
Frederick leading his troops at the Battle of Zorndorf, by Carl Röchling
Frederick and his soldiers after the Battle of Hochkirch in 1758, by Carl Röchling
The Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth after the First Partition (1772)
King Frederick II, by Anna Dorothea Therbusch, 1772
Portrait by Wilhelm Camphausen, 1870
St. Hedwig's Cathedral, the first Roman Catholic church built in Berlin since the Reformation, was erected by the sanction of Frederick, who also sketched its design.
Frederick the Great inspects the potato harvest outside Neustettin (now Szczecinek, Poland), Eastern Pomerania
The Flute Concert of Sanssouci by Adolph Menzel, 1852, depicts Frederick playing the flute in his music room at Sanssouci as C. P. E. Bach accompanies him on a fortepiano by Gottfried Silbermann
Frederick the Great by Anton Graff, 1781
South, or garden façade and corps de logis of Sanssouci
The Round Table of King Frederick II in Sanssouci by Adolph Menzel with Voltaire, Algoretti, La Mettrie, the Keith brothers and Marquis d'Argens. Frederick is seated at the center, facing Voltaire (in the purple coat, leaning forward).
Frederick the Great and his staff at the Battle of Leuthen, by Hugo Ungewitter
Frederick in a Waffenrock (army tunic)
Frederick before the Battle of Torgau, 1760
Grave of Frederick at Sanssouci with potatoes, where he was buried only after the German reunification. (He wished to rest next to his dogs, but this was originally ignored.)
Frederick quoted by the Nazi propaganda poster Wochenspruch der NSDAP on 24 August 1941. Translation: "Now we have to think of leading the war in a way that we spoil the desire of the enemies to break the peace once again."

His most significant accomplishments include his military successes in the Silesian wars, his re-organisation of the Prussian Army, the First Partition of Poland, and his patronage of the arts and the Enlightenment.

Stanisław August Poniatowski

King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania from 1764 to 1795, and the last monarch of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth.

Portrait by Marcello Bacciarelli, 1786
Personal coat of arms
Aged 14
Sir Charles Hanbury Williams, Poniatowski's mentor, by John Giles Eccardt
Grand Duchess Catherine Alexeyevna, 1745, by Louis Caravaque
Banner of Poland during the reign of Stanisław II
Stanisław August's 1764 election as king, depicted by Bernardo Bellotto.
Stanisław August in coronation robes
Tadeusz Rejtan's famous gesture of protest at the Partition Sejm, as depicted by Matejko
Constitution of 3 May 1791, by Matejko, 1891
The three Partitions of Poland-Lithuania: Russian (purple and red), Austrian (green), Prussian (blue)
Portrait by Élisabeth-Louise Vigée-Le Brun, 1797
Poniatowski on his deathbed, 1798, by Bacciarelli
Artwork with the Coat of arms of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, 1780
Łazienki Park: monument to John III Sobieski, meant to recall anti-Ottoman sentiment during the Russo-Turkish War (1877–1878)
Polish coin bearing the coat of arms of King Stanisław II August, c. 1766
Manuscript of the Constitution of 3 May 1791
Poniatowski: pencil drawing by Jan Matejko
Elżbieta Szydłowska Grabowska, by Johann Baptist von Lampi the Elder
Coat of Arms of Stanisław August Poniatowski with colland of Order of White Eagle

The defining crisis of his early reign was the War of the Bar Confederation (1768–1772) that led to the First Partition of Poland (1772).

Bar Confederation

Association of Polish nobles (szlachta) formed at the fortress of Bar in Podolia (now part of Ukraine) in 1768 to defend the internal and external independence of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth against Russian influence and against King Stanislaus II Augustus with Polish reformers, who were attempting to limit the power of the Commonwealth's wealthy magnates.

The Bar Confederates pray before the Battle of Lanckorona. Painting by Artur Grottger.
Casimir Pulaski at Częstochowa. Painting by Józef Chełmoński, 1875. Oil on canvas.  National Museum, Warsaw, Poland.
Karol Stanisław Radziwiłł
Marshal of the Bar Confederation Michał Krasiński receives an Ottoman dignitary.
The standard of the Bar confederates
Bar Confederation 1768-72

Its creation led to a civil war and contributed to the First Partition of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth.

Kingdom of Prussia

German kingdom that constituted the state of Prussia between 1701 and 1918.

The Prussian Crown Jewels, Charlottenburg Palace, Berlin
The Kingdom of Prussia within the German Empire between 1871 and 1918
Prussian territorial acquisitions in the 18th century
The Kingdom of Prussia within the German Empire between 1871 and 1918
Attack of the Prussian infantry at the Battle of Hohenfriedberg in 1745
The three partitions of Poland (the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth). The Russian Partition (red), the Austrian Partition (green), and the Prussian Partition (blue)
Prussia (orange) and its territories lost after the War of the Fourth Coalition (other colours)
Frederick William III of Prussia, Alexander I of Russia and Francis I of Austria after the Battle of Leipzig, 1813
Expansion of Prussia, 1807–1871
King Wilhelm I on a black horse with his suite, Bismarck, Moltke, and others, watching the Battle of Königgrätz
The Prussian King's Crown (Hohenzollern Castle Collection)
The ten provinces of the Kingdom of Prussia, after the Congress of Vienna. The other member states of the German Confederation are shown in beige. The Canton of Neuchâtel in the south-west was under Prussian administration until 1848.
Current states of Germany (shown in dark green) that are completely or mostly situated inside the old borders of Imperial Germany's Kingdom of Prussia

It was not until 1772 that the title "King of Prussia" was ceded along with Royal Prussia to the King in Prussia by the Polish monarch, following the First Partition of Poland.

West Prussia

Province of Prussia from 1773 to 1829 and 1878 to 1920.

West Prussia (red), within the Kingdom of Prussia, within the German Empire, as of 1878.
Royal and Ducal Prussia in 1525
West Prussia (red), within the Kingdom of Prussia, within the German Empire, as of 1878.
The fortress Ordensburg Marienburg in Malbork, Poland. Founded in 1274 by the Teutonic Order on the river Nogat, it is the world’s largest brick castle. After 1466 it served as one of several, fulfilling this function until 1772.
Map of West Prussia and the Bay of Danzig in 1896
Districts of West Prussia (1910)
Linguistic map of the eastern part of the German Empire (1910 census).

West Prussia was established as a province of the Kingdom of Prussia in 1773, formed from Royal Prussia of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth annexed in the First Partition of Poland.

Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth

Country and federation of Poland and Lithuania ruled by a common monarch in real union, who was both King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania.

The Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth (green) with vassal states (light green) at their peak in 1619
The Kingdom of Poland and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania in 1526.
The Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth (green) with vassal states (light green) at their peak in 1619
The Union of Lublin joined the Kingdom of Poland and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania in 1569.
The Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth at its greatest extent in 1619.
Sigismund III Vasa was a religious zealot and an enlightened despot who presided over an era of prosperity and achievement. His reign also marked the Commonwealth's largest territorial expansion.
Sejm of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth (parliment) in the early 17th century
John III Sobieski, victor over the Ottoman Turks at the Battle of Vienna in 1683.
Augustus II the Strong, King of Poland and Elector of Saxony, wearing the Order of the White Eagle which he established in 1705.
Partitions of Poland in 1772, 1793 and 1795.
Royal Castle in Warsaw was the formal residence of Polish kings after the capital was moved from Kraków in 1596
Crown Tribunal in Lublin was the highest court of appeals in the Kingdom of Poland
Palace of the Lithuanian Tribunal in Vilnius, which exclusively was the highest appeal court for the Lithuanian nobility in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania
The Republic at the Zenith of Its Power, the Royal Election of 1573
The Constitution of 3 May adopted in 1791 was the first modern constitution in Europe.
Cereals exports in the years 1619–1799. Agriculture, once extremely profitable to the nobility, became much less so after the mid-17th century.
A historical re-enactor dressed in the Polish Winged Hussars armour
Multi-stage rocket from Artis Magnæ Artilleriæ pars prima by Kazimierz Siemienowicz
Krasiczyn Castle was built between 1580-1631 in the mannerist style.
Wilanów Palace, completed in 1696, exemplifies the opulence of royal and noble residences in the Commonwealth.
Nieborów Palace designed by Dutch architect Tylman van Gameren and built in 1697
Social strata in the Commonwealth's society in 1655. From left: Jew, barber surgeon, painter, butcher, musician, tailor, barmaid, pharmacist, shoemaker, goldsmith, merchant and Armenian
Population density of the Commonwealth per each voivodeship in 1650
Saints Peter and Paul Church in Kraków was built between 1597-1619 by the Jesuit order
Original act of the Warsaw Confederation in 1573, the first act of religious freedom in Europe
First anniversary anthem of the Constitution of 3 May 1791 (1792) in Hebrew, Polish, German and French
Topographical map of the Commonwealth in 1764
Statuta Regni Poloniae in ordinem alphabeti digesta (Statutes of the Polish Kingdom, Arranged in Alphabetical Order), 1563
Grand Marshal of the Crown Łukasz Opaliński portraited with the insignium of his power in the parliament - the Marshal's cane, 1640
Rococo iconostasis in the Orthodox Church of the Holy Spirit in Vilnius, designed by Johann Christoph Glaubitz, 1753–1756
18th century amber casket. Gdańsk patronized by the Polish court flourished as the center for amber working in the 17th century.<ref name="gordon_campbell">{{cite book |author=Gordon Campbell |title=The Grove encyclopedia of decorative arts |year=2006 |page=13 |publisher=Oxford University Press US |isbn=01-95189-48-5}}</ref>
Stanisław Poniatowski, Commander of the Royal Guards and Grand Treasurer. Painted by Angelika Kauffmann in 1786.
Equestrian portrait of King Sigismund III of Poland, by Peter Paul Rubens, 1624
Tapestry with the arms of Michał Kazimierz Pac, Jan Leyniers, Brussels, 1667–1669
Silver tankard by Józef Ceypler, Kraków, 1739–1745
Example of the merchant architecture: Konopnica's tenement house in Lublin, 1575
Hussars' armours, first half of the 17th century
De republica emendanda (1554) by Andrzej Frycz Modrzewski, proposed a deep programme of reforms of the state, society and church.
Merkuriusz Polski Ordynaryjny, the first Polish newspaper published on the orders of Queen Marie Louise Gonzaga in 1661
Title page of Treny (1580) by Jan Kochanowski, a series of elegies upon the death of his beloved daughter, is an acknowledged masterpiece.
A plate from Michał Boym's Flora Sinensis (1656), the first description of an ecosystem of the Far East published in Europe<ref>{{cite book |author1=Gwei-Djen Lu |author2=Joseph Needham |author3=Vivienne Lo |title=Celestial lancets: a history and rationale of acupuncture and moxa |year=2002 |page=284 |publisher=Routledge |isbn=07-00714-58-8}}</ref>
Taurus Poniatovii, constellation originated by Marcin Poczobutt in 1777 to honor the king Stanisław II Augustus<ref>{{cite web |author=Ian Ridpath |url=http://www.ianridpath.com/startales/poniatowski.htm |title=Taurus Poniatovii - Poniatowski's bull |work=www.ianridpath.com |access-date=2009-05-18}}</ref>
Branicki Palace in Białystok, designed by Tylman van Gameren, is sometimes referred to as the "Polish Versailles."
Pažaislis Monastery in Kaunas, Pietro Puttini, built 1674–1712
Zamość City Hall, designed by Bernardo Morando, is a unique example of Renaissance architecture in Europe, consistently built in accordance with the Italian theories of an "ideal town."<ref name="unesco.org">{{cite web |url=http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/564 |title=Old City of Zamość |publisher=UNESCO World Heritage Centre |date=2009-09-23 |access-date=2011-09-15}}</ref>
Plafond Allegory of Spring, Jerzy Siemiginowski, 1680s, Wilanów Palace
Łańcut Synagogue was established by Stanisław Lubomirski, 1733.<ref>After a fire had destroyed a wooden synagogue in 1733 Stanislaw Lubomirski decided to found a new bricked synagogue building. {{cite web |author=Polin Travel |url=http://www.jewish-guide.pl/sites/lancut |title=Lancut |work=www.jewish-guide.pl|access-date=2010-09-02}}</ref>
Saints Peter and Paul Church in Kraków was built between 1597-1619 by the Jesuit order

The First Partition in 1772 and the Second Partition in 1793 greatly reduced the state's size and the Commonwealth was partitioned out of existence with the Third Partition in 1795.

Russian Partition

The Russian Partition (sometimes called Russian Poland) constituted the former territories of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth that were annexed by the Russian Empire in the course of late-18th-century Partitions of Poland.

The Massacre of Praga (now a district of Warsaw), April 1794
1865 Death march of Polish captives to Siberia by Grottger

The first partitioning led by imperial Russia took place in 1772; the next one in 1793, and the final one in 1795, resulting in Poland's loss of sovereignty and the reconstitution of the Kingdom of Poland within the Russian Empire in 1815.