The Polish Revolts 1831 and 1861


Map Code: Ax01059

The Polish/Lithuanian Commonwealth became a victim of ruthless realpolitik, progressively partitioned between Russia, Austria and Prussia (1772–95). The Congress of Vienna (1815), agreed that the Russian emperor would rule his Polish territories separately as their king, respecting their constitution and Sejm (parliament). He ignored these niceties, and adopted a steadily more repressive regime, maintained by his successor, Nicholas I. In 1830, a rebellion in the officer corps rapidly developed into a full-scale insurrection. Warsaw was occupied, and the rebels achieved a number of victories over Russian forces, until sheer weight of numbers told. In October 1831, the remaining rebels fled to Prussia, where they laid down their arms. The 1861 rebellion began in Vilna before spreading south to Poland, but its leadership (‘Whites’ representing landowners and ‘Reds’ representing peasantry) had conflicting objectives, and were hugely outnumbered and outgunned: the uprising was finally, ruthlessly, stamped out in 1864.

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