After a weak Polish Commonwealth was partitioned by Prussia, Russia and Austria in 1772, it lost 30 per cent of its territories. Austria gained Galicia; Russia gained the northeastern border territories of Polotsk and Mohilev. The smaller northwestern territories assigned to Prussia cut Poland off from the sea, resulting in a loss of 80 per cent of its foreign trade. Russia saw the remaining Commonwealth as its protectorate and, after the Sejm (the Polish Parliament), attempted to mitigate the power of the nobility in its 1791 Constitution, Polish nobles and the Russian Empire accused the Sejm of ‘Jacobinism’ (French revolutionary tendencies) and coerced the Sejm into reversing its reforms. A Second Partition in 1792 further accelerated Poland’s demise, with two-thirds of the Polish population now in annexed territories. After a bitter Polish insurgency, the Polish Commonwealth was erased in the Third Partition (1795) and its remaining territories carved up by Russia, Prussia and Austria.
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