Russia had annexed the former Reval and Livonia from Sweden by the Treaty of Nystad (1721), and they were renamed Estland and Livland governates in 1795. As part of that treaty, the territories were accorded a considerable degree of autonomy; their own landtags, or representative assemblies, and their own legal system and religious freedom. These privileges were carried forward to the new governates. Vitebsk, Courland, Kovno and Vilna were annexed as a result of the progressive partitioning of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth between Russia, Prussia and Austria between 1772 and 1795. Suwalki had a more complicated passage to Russian rule. It was annexed by the Third Partition in 1795, then reverted to the revived kingdom of Poland created by the Congress of Vienna (1815). However the Congress also decreed that the king of this ‘kingdom’ would be the emperor of Russia, into whose realms it would be progressively absorbed.
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