Russia, Austria-Hungary and Prussia retained the ability to control the situation in the “free city” and through participation in its governing bodies. Legislative power in Krakow belonged to the Assembly of Representatives, and the executive was exercised by the Senate of 12 people. The Senate included not only delegates from the Assembly of Representatives and the Jagiellonian University, the most authoritative educational institution in Eastern Europe, but also representatives from three states-trustees - the Russian Empire, Austria-Hungary and Prussia. The Chairman of the Senate, although according to the Constitution of Krakow, did not possess sole power, but in reality he concentrated in his hands rather large powers and had real levers of influence on the city administration. This post was approved by Stanislav Vodzitsky, who previously held the post of prefect of the Krakow department. His candidacy was lobbied by Adam Jerzy Czartoryski, who had a certain influence on Polish politics, a former foreign minister of the Russian Empire.
History Kraków’s relatively short-term political autonomy was accompanied by confrontation between rival "parties" representing the interests of the aristocracy and the "third estate". Stanislav Vodzitsky (in the portrait), who headed the Senate, expressed the interests of the aristocratic circles. Monarchist-minded Krakow aristocrats hoped that the city would sooner or later become part of the Kingdom of Poland. This position was not shared by representatives of the "third estate" - Krakow entrepreneurs and intellectuals, including the leaders of the Jagiellonian University, who enjoyed great prestige in the city. Recall that the Jagiellonian University, the oldest in Poland, was founded back in 1364 year and has always been considered as one of the symbols of Polish national identity.
For liberals representing the interests of the “third estate,” the city’s preferred future seemed to be maintaining the status of a democratic republic with a further strengthening of autonomy. However, despite the declared democratic positions, the liberals closely cooperated with Prussia, which was interested in trade with Krakow and hoped to support the policy of the city government through the support of the liberal “party”.
In an effort to limit his rivals from the Assembly of Representatives in real influence on urban politics, the Chairman of the Senate Vodzitsky took the practice to turn to the Russian emperor for support. This position Vodzitsky led to increased public discontent with his work as head of the Senate. In 1820, a mass demonstration of students from the Jagiellonian University took place, which worsened the relationship between university management and the chairman of the Senate. In 1821, the authorities uncovered the activities of the illegal student organization, the White Eagle, after which Vodzitsky personally addressed the trustee states and secured restrictions on university autonomy. By this, he hoped to get rid of a dangerous competitor - the rector of the university, Valens Litvinsky. But such a demarche against the university — Krakow’s pride contributed only to the final discrediting of Vodzitsky and his political course in the eyes of the overwhelming majority of city residents. In 1826, curatorial control was established over the university, and General Jozef Zalussky was appointed to lead the curators, who proceeded to “purge” the university from a liberal-minded professorship. At the same time, the activities of Zalussky in this post should not be assessed unequivocally - he not only dismissed unreliable professors, but also invited teachers from other cities to work, and also opened the Technical Institute in Krakow.
In 1827, the city of Stanislav Vodzitsky lost the next election to the position of the chairman of the Senate. Jozef Nikorovich was elected to this post, who had previously held the position of the chairman of the court of appeal and was considered the spokesman for the interests of the "third estate" and a man of liberal views. Such a turn of events could not satisfy the conservative elite of Krakow, as a result of which the “aristocrats” left the Senate meeting. Representatives of the states-trustees intervened in the beginning political crisis, who ordered to keep Stanislav Vodzitsky as chairman of the Senate, and the Assembly of Representatives dismissed. Thus, the first blow was delivered to the real autonomy of the Krakow Republic.
In 1828, at the initiative of Russian diplomats, an Epoch committee was set up consisting of Stanislav Vodzitsky himself and three other pro-Russian senators. Vodzitsky, with the support of Russia, did everything possible to remove liberal-minded politicians, including professors from Yagellon University, from participating in the management of the “free city”. Such a policy of Vodzitsky fully satisfied the interests of the Russian Empire, which sought to establish tighter control over Krakow. In St. Petersburg it was well understood that if Krakow does not fall into the Russian sphere of influence, sooner or later it will be either under the control of Prussia or as part of Austria-Hungary.
When a popular uprising broke out in the Kingdom of Poland in November 1830, the rise of the national movement began in Krakow. First, the “free city” became the main center of external support for the rebels in the Kingdom of Poland, and then the uprising spread to Krakow. Young radicals led by Yatsek Goodraychik arrested Stanislav Vodzitsky and forced him to leave Krakow. Many liberals who had left him returned to the city. However, in September 1831, Krakow entered Russian troops under the command of General Fyodor Vasilyevich Ridiger. Ridiger corps remained in Krakow for two months, defeating the remnants of the Polish rebels.
The November uprising and the ensuing long war against the rebels contributed to the further tightening of the policy of both the Russian Empire and Austria-Hungary against the Krakow Republic. The Russian authorities became disillusioned with the Krakow elite, which during the uprising supported the rebels. Considering that by this time allied relations already existed between Russia, Prussia and Austria-Hungary, adjustments were also made in the distribution of the spheres of influence of the three states. The Russian Empire gave way to priority in the control of the Krakow Republic of Austria-Hungary. October 14 1835 in Berlin, representatives of Russia, Prussia and Austria-Hungary signed a secret document, according to which the Kraków Republic was subject to occupation if Polish national liberation movements were activated in it. It was supposed to transfer almost the entire territory of the Krakow Republic to Austria-Hungary, which now, in the event of an aggravation of the situation, had to play a key role in establishing “order” in the territory of Krakow and its environs.
In 1836, the troops of the state - trustees were again introduced into Krakow. The reason for this was the murder of the Russian agent Begrens-Pavlovsky by the Polish nationalists. Although under pressure from Britain and France, Russia and Prussia eventually withdrew their troop formations from Krakow, the Austro-Hungarian army remained in the Krakow republic until 1841. The Austro-Hungarian command, with the participation of Russian and Prussian officers, began the reorganization of the Krakow police and militia (militia). People loyal to the states - trustees were appointed to command and senior positions in the power structures of the "free city". The militia was led by the Austrian officer Hochfeld, and the police by the Austrian officer Frantisek Gut.
With the hands of the updated police, Austria-Hungary established a tough police regime in the Krakow Republic. However, Britain and France continued to demand the withdrawal of troops from the territory of the Krakow Republic and compliance with the decisions of the Congress of Vienna from Austria-Hungary. In the end, 21 February 1841. Vienna still gave the order to their troops to leave Krakow. But even after the withdrawal of the Austro-Hungarian troops, the real power in the city remained in the hands of pro-Austrian politicians who relied on the Austrian city police.
- Jan Tyssovsky, Kraków’s “dictator” from Polish patriots
The situation in Krakow did not at all satisfy the Polish nationalists, who were seeking to restore the independent Polish state. As in other Polish regions, underground national liberation groups continued to operate in Krakow. In January 1846, the National Council of the Republic of Poland was created, which included Karol Libelt, Jan Tyssovsky and Ludwik Gozhkovsky. Under his leadership, the Polish patriots were supposed to raise another uprising, but the Russian and Prussian authorities managed to preempt the rebels and were able to arrest a significant part of the conspirators even before the alleged start of the speech. Thus, the uprising was limited only to the territory of the Krakow Republic. It began on the night of 21 on February 22 of the year 1846. Street fighting began in Krakow, as a result of which a small Austrian detachment entered the city was forced to leave its territory. Clashes with Austrian troops began in the vicinity of Krakow, detachments of Polish insurgents from other settlements were sent to the city.
22 February 1846 Krakow was completely freed from the presence of Austrian troops. The city was founded by the Polish government headed by Jan Тыyssowski, a Polish nationalist politician, a veteran of the 1830-1831 uprising. February 24 Tyssovsky declared himself a national dictator, and at the head of the government he set his associate Lyudvik Gozhkovsky.
The secretary of Tyssovsky was 24-year-old Edward Dembovsky (in the portrait) - a philosopher and literary critic, who was considered one of the ideologues of the Polish uprising. Under his leadership, the publication of revolutionary-democratic literature began in Krakow, youth revolutionary circles appeared. The policies of Wyssowski and Dembowski were very unhappy with the conservative circles of the Cracow aristocrats, who feared radical changes in the life of the republic. On February 25, they even tried to overthrow Tyssovsky, but the Conservative rebellion was quickly neutralized by the revolutionary rebels led by Dembovsky.
Despite ambitious plans, due to lack weapons, the rebellion was initially doomed to defeat. 26 February 1846 was the only major battle of the Austrian forces under the command of Colonel Lajos von Benedek (in the portrait) with Krakow rebels. It is noteworthy that on the side of the Austrians were the peasants of the surrounding villages. In an effort to persuade the peasants, Edward Dembovsky came out to meet the Austrian troops with a religious procession. Austrian soldiers opened fire on a religious procession, as a result of which Dembovsky was killed. The Krakow Uprising was defeated. The rebel detachments under the command of Jan Tyssovsky left the city and retreated to the territory of the Kingdom of Poland. A little later, the Russian authorities who arrested Tyssovsky issued it to Prussia. The Krakow conservatives, who formed the Security Committee, hoped to transfer power to the representatives of the Russian Empire in the city, as they were negatively inclined towards Austria-Hungary after the Austrians provoked the Galician peasants to oppose the Polish gentry and arrange the "Galician massacre."
3 March 1846, Krakow was joined by Russian expeditionary forces, headed again by the cavalry general and adjutant general Fyodor Ridiger, who commanded the 3 infantry corps. However, the Russian Empire has long ago decided to transfer the full power over Krakow to Austria-Hungary. Therefore, 7 March 1846, the city entered the unit of Austro-Hungarian troops. Austrian General Count Castiglione took power over the city from the Russian command. The Krakow Senate ceased to exist, and in its place the administration of the city was transferred into the hands of the newly formed Governing Body.
15 April 1846 The representatives of the States - the Trustees met in Vienna, where an agreement was signed on the transfer of Krakow and the surrounding territories under the control of Austria-Hungary. "Free City" was transformed into the Grand Duchy of Krakow as part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Despite protests from Britain and France, the cessation of the existence of the “free city of Krakow” became a reality. 16 November 1846 was finally incorporated into the Austro-Hungarian Empire and remained under the control of Austria-Hungary until it was defeated in World War I and ceased to exist. Nevertheless, the thirty-year existence of the “free city of Krakow” became a special page in the history of Poland during its division.