The reason for the constant intervention in the affairs of the Commonwealth were Polish dissidents. Catherine II and Frederick II took under the protection of Protestants and Orthodox in Poland. They were supported in this matter by England, Sweden and Denmark. It must be said that this was one of the first instances of the use of the “human rights” method in stories. In the XX and the beginning of the XXI centuries. this technique will actively use the West to interfere in the internal affairs of the USSR-Russia and other states.
Russian Ambassador Nikolai Repnin demanded equal rights for the Orthodox and was refused. At first, Repnin tried to influence the Polish authorities by a purely local method - to create a dissident confederation. However, it turned out that there was almost no Orthodox nobility in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. The Polish authorities took care of this - almost the entire Russian elite for the preceding centuries was converted to Catholicism and opolyachena. As a result, the Orthodox confederation established by 20 in March 1767 of the year in Slutsk was headed by Calvinist Major General J. Grabowski. At the same time, a Protestant coalition led by Marshal Heinrich von Goltz was created in Thorn.
Nikolai Vasilievich Repnin (1734 - 1801)
23 September 1767 in Warsaw began an extraordinary Sejm (it was called the Repninsky Sejm), which was supposed to at least partially equalize the rights of the rights of Catholics and dissidents. Repnin inclined to his side King Stanislav Ponyatovsky. In addition, Russian troops were drawn to Warsaw. However, the situation was difficult. Influential persons sharply opposed the rights equation, especially religious fanatics - Krakow Bishop of Soltyk, Swedish Bishop of Zalussky and Krakow voivode Rzhevussky stood out. They were supported by the representative of Pope Benedict XIII, who urged not to yield to the demands of Russia. Repnin made a decision to act harshly - all three fanatics were arrested and sent to Kaluga. Russian detachments entered the estates of other oppositionists. As a result of February 27, the Russian-Polish treatise and two separate acts on the rights of dissidents and the Russian guarantee of the Polish Constitution were approved by the Sejm. Orthodox and Protestants received freedom of conscience and worship, got rid of the jurisdiction of the Catholic courts, received a partial equation in civil rights. Catholicism remained the state religion. In particular, the transition from Catholicism to another religion was considered a criminal offense.
However, the persecution of the Orthodox continued. The local authorities could not immediately change the centenary attitudes aimed at combating Orthodoxy. Thus, the abbot and ruler of the whole church organization in Right-Bank Ukraine, Melchizedek (in the world of Znichko-Yavorsky) was repeatedly tortured and harassed. Melchizedek visited St. Petersburg and, enlisting the support of the Russian Empress, went to Ambassador Repnin, handing him documents that listed the savages that the Poles committed. Under pressure from Repnin and on the basis of documentary evidence of violence, the Polish king Stanislav Avgusta Poniatowski demanded that the order be given to the Metropolitan of Uniate to cease violence and punish the criminals. The same requirements were received by the Polish gentry who owned the Western Russian lands. In addition, King Stanislav Ponyatovsky confirmed all the documents that his predecessors gave in favor of the Orthodox Church.
However, these decrees gave the opposite effect, they only tore up the "wasp nest." The Polish "elite" did not intend to abandon their centuries-old principles against the Russians and Orthodoxy. A wave of violent persecution began. Polish statehood was in a state of complete disintegration (like the current Ukraine), and royal power was powerless to break the pan's will, which rested on the Catholic and Uniate clergy. Dissolving gentry openly mocked the royal instructions. It got to the point that some of the gentry promised the king himself to cut off his head, for the fact that he “granted schismatics to privileges”.
The nobility, the Catholic and Uniate clergy, responded to the gradual equalization of non-Catholics in their rights with brutal terror. The priests who had fallen away from the union were deprived of places, they imposed corporal punishments, the recalcitrant villages were subject to huge fines, forced to build missionary houses and contain Uniate missionaries. Melchizedek himself was captured, beaten, taken to Volyn and walled up in a stone prison where he almost died. The Polish army entered the West Russian lands and terrified all life. The plundering of villages began (requisitions for the maintenance of troops) that were “revolting,” that is, those who refused to unia, punished them revealingly. The “instigators” were felled and burned. The Orthodox churches took by storm, monks and priests were killed or shackled with iron, sent to Radomysl, where they were again beaten with mortal strikes (600-800 strikes), thrown into stinking holes, tortured for hard work. They also scoffed at ordinary people: slaughtered to death, tearing their mouths, twisting their arms and legs, etc. Shlyakhta and the Uniate clergy literally competed in the invention of torture and humiliation. Shlyakhta drove entire villages to death horror - the Poles declared the death sentence to entire villages (communities), were appointed the day and time of execution or the execution was announced without a deadline. People fled en masse to forests, mountains, wastelands, or actually prepared for death, said goodbye, confessed, put on clean shirts, etc.
Polish tycoons did not limit themselves to the cruel suppression of the Orthodox population, they decided to organize a civil war, to annul the decisions of the Repninsky Diet. At the beginning of 1768, disgruntled pans gathered a confederation in Podolia in the city of Bar. They opposed the decisions of the Sejm and the king himself, declaring himself the defenders of all the ancient rights and privileges enjoyed by the Roman Catholic gentry. The Bar Confederation began hostilities against the Russian troops and the private armies of the magnates, who remained loyal to the king. At first, the king tried to reach an agreement with the Confederates, but after they declared a “kingdom of misery”, he asked for help from Empress Catherine Alekseevna.
To suppress the uprising Petersburg moved significant forces. Russian forces and forces loyal to the king in the summer of 1768 took Berdichev, Bar, Lviv and Krakow. At the same time, an uprising of peasants began in the Western Russian lands (Koliivshchyna). They were supported by Zaporizhzhya Cossacks. The reason for the uprising was the forged decree of the Russian Empress Catherine II (the so-called “golden diploma”), which ordered the extermination of confederates, which was often read out to illiterate peasants as “lyakhs, uniates and Jews”.
As a result, Polish terror caused a response wave of violence - the rebels slaughtered Poles and Jews. Poles, Jews and dogs were hung in the trees with the inscription: “Lyakh, Jew, dog - faith is the same.” The rebels were led by the Cossacks Ivan Gonta and Maxim Zaliznyak (Zheleznyak). Especially the bloody massacre occurred in Uman, where, as the place of the most fortified, flooded with the appearance of the first rumors about the uprising, the priests and Jews. The pans agreed to surrender Uman without a fight on the condition of preserving the lives of the nobility, Catholics and Poles in general, the inviolability of their property. As for the Jews and their property, there was no such condition; they were surrendered. Jews in the West Russian lands were hated no less than the Poles, since Jewish moneylenders were enslaving entire villages, sucking all of them out of them. In addition, the Jews were often Polish managers, and all the anger of the people was addressed to them, for all the injustices. The rebels broke into the city and began to slaughter the Jews, but then they went into a rage and killed the gentry. According to Polish data, up to 20 thousand people died. Apparently, these data are greatly exaggerated.
The uprising helped the Russian troops, diverting the forces of the Bar Confederation. Many confederates and rich people fled to the territory of the Ottoman Empire. However, the uprising was not in the interests of St. Petersburg, where they could not support the peasant and Cossack freemen. Therefore, the Russian troops had to solve the problem of eliminating the uprising. Uprising suppressed cunning. General Mikhail Krechetnikov invited Cossacks to storm Mogilev. Zheleznyak, Gontu and other otamans were called to a meeting and arrested.
After the leaders were arrested, the uprising was quickly put down. Zheleznyaka as a subject of Russia and his comrades was imprisoned in the Kiev-Pechersk fortress, and then exiled to Eastern Siberia. There was no death penalty in the Russian empire, it was relied upon only in exceptional cases, according to the verdict of the military field court. According to one version, Zheleznyak was able to escape and took part in the peasant war under the command of Pugachev. The Russian authorities were merciful to the rank and file participants in the uprising, they dismissed all the ordinary Haidak people to their homes.
Gonta was extradited to the Poles and was sentenced to a special, terrible execution, which was to last for two weeks and was accompanied by terrible torture (the first 10 days were to gradually remove skin from him, etc.). However, on the third day of torture, Crown Hetman Xavier Branitsky could not stand the bloody spectacle and ordered to cut off the Cossack head.
One of the curious consequences of the uprising in the Western Russian lands and the civil war in Poland was the Russian-Turkish war of 1768 — 1774. There were many contradictions between Russia and Turkey, but a completely unexpected event was the reason for the war. One of the Cossack detachments (Haidamaks) under the command of the centurion Shilo captured the village of Balta on the Turkish-Polish border. Shilo massacred all the local Poles and Jews and set off home. However, Muslims and Jews from the neighboring Turkish village of Galta broke into Balta and began to slaughter the Orthodox in retaliation. Learning of this, Shilo returned and attacked Galt. After two days of clashes, the Cossacks and the Turks came to an understanding and even made up, agreed to return the loot. This could have become a common border incident, but in Istanbul they have inflated the problem. The Turkish government declared the Haidamaks regular Russian troops and demanded that St. Petersburg withdraw its troops from Podolia, where there were battles with the Confederates. The Russian ambassador Obreskova was insulted and arrested. As a result, the Port used this case as a reason for war with Russia. The next Russian-Turkish confrontation began.
“Reitan - The Fall of Poland”, painting by Jan Matejko
The first section of Poland
Suffering defeat, the Bar Confederation appealed for support to France and Turkey. But Turkey was defeated in the war, and France was unable to provide significant support due to its remoteness from the theater of operations. In this confrontation, the decomposition of the Polish national character was well manifested. The Poles no longer hoped for their own strength, but wanted to defeat Russia with external support. In this war, they hoped for help from France, Turkey and Austria. After the destruction of the Polish statehood, the Poles will hope for the help of France, supporting Napoleon; during the Crimean War and the 1863 uprising of the year - to the aid of England and France; during the Civil War in Russia and the Soviet-Polish war against the Entente, they are currently counting on NATO and the US ...
The situation in Poland itself was difficult. On the one hand, the king and his supporters fought against the Confederates; on the other hand, they put sticks in the wheels of the Russian troops, fearing that those Russians would enter Poland and remain, occupying the most important cities and fortresses. In addition, Russia had to fight the Ottoman Empire, which weakened its forces in the Commonwealth. The best troops and commanders fought with the Ottomans. Therefore, the suppression of the uprising of the Bar Confederation was delayed. Many Polish magnates and pans, who formally did not support the Bar Confederation and loyal to the king, took a wait-and-see attitude, awaiting the outcome of the Russian-Turkish war. Yes, and many royal advisers demanded to disband the crown army fighting against the Confederates, and not to support Russia.
The civil war in Poland intensified. Russian troops had the ability to control only major cities and fortresses. Polish pans, who in peacetime were a dashing people, openly engaged in robbery. There was no single command over the confederate troops. Polish leaders quarreled among themselves. The organizer and marshals of the Bar Confederation, Jozef Pulavsky, fled to Moldova. He was slandered before the Turks by Joachim Potocki and Adam Krasinsky, who accused him of their failures. Pulavsky died in Khotyn prison (officially from an illness, but apparently he was killed). The sons of Pulawski - František and Casimir, in September 1769, were defeated by the Russian army under the command of Alexander Suvorov in the battle of Lomazy. František Pulawski died in battle, covering his elder brother Casimir with his body. Casimir fled to Austria and continued the fight. After the defeat of the Confederates, he fled to Turkey and then to France, from there he went to America and fought on the side of the Americans in the war for the independence of the United States. Became the "father of the American cavalry."
It is necessary to note the anti-Russian role of Austria in this war. Austria gave refuge to the Confederates on its territory. Their headquarters was first located in Teschen in Silesia, then in Presov in Hungary. The uprising was led by Michal Pats and Prince Karol Stanislav Radzivil. Although Austria made it possible to use its territory as a base, it still did not dare to openly speak out against Russia. In addition, the Austrians were the first to take advantage of Poland’s weakness and began to occupy Polish lands.
France, which was removed from Russia, acted more openly and brazenly. It must be said that some Frenchmen rated the degree of decomposition of the Polish "elite" quite well. So, in 1768, the first French Minister, Duke of Choiseul, sent Captain Toles with a large sum of money to the rebels. When the French officer got to know the Confederates more closely, he decided that nothing could be done for Poland and it was not worth spending money and energy on the Poles. In 1770, Choiseul sent General Dumouriez. However, he made a similar assessment: “Amazing luxury, insane costs, long dinners, playing and dancing — these are their occupations!” The Confederates immediately had up to a dozen independent leaders who intrigue against each other. Sometimes even fought among themselves. Dumouriez tried to improve the military organization of the Confederates, but did not achieve great success.
The Confederates could not resist the regular troops. They robbed the estates of supporters of the king, completely devastated the simple peasants. At the same time, corruption and theft flourished at the top. Instead of training soldiers, officers spent all their free time in feasts and gambling. For the time being, the Confederates were saved only by the fact that the Russian command was not strong enough to carry out large-scale operations to clean up large areas by surrounding them and carefully checking them.
Dumouriez proved to be a good strategist and made a plan for the "liberation" of Poland. By the beginning of 1771, he collected almost 60-th. the army. Marshals of Wielkopolska Zaremba and Marshals of Vyshegrad Zalinsky with 10-thousand. corps were to advance on the Warsaw direction. Kazimir Pulavsky was supposed to act in Podolia. The great Lithuanian hetman Oginsky was to advance towards Smolensk. The French general himself with 20 thousand infantry and 8 thousand cavalry planned to capture Krakow and from there go to Sandomierz. Then develop an offensive against Warsaw or Podolia, depending on the success of the other units.
This plan would have had a chance of success if under the leadership of Dumouriez were not the Poles, but the French, and the opponent of the gentry would not be Suvorov, but some Western European general. Dumouriez was able to seize Krakow with a sudden blow and clear the Krakow district. Thousands of soldiers sent Suvorov against 1,6 against him, along the way about 2 thousand more joined the detachment. 10 May 1771, the year Suvorov attacked the Confederates at Landskrona. As Suvorov himself noted, “Polish troops did not understand their leader,” the excessive cunning of the French general only confused the Poles, and they lost the battle. Dumouriez, outraged by the stupidity of the Poles, went to France.
Pulavsky tried to seize the important fortress Zamost, but failed. 22 May Suvorov defeated Pulavsky. At this time, the Lithuanian hetman Oginsky decided to take the side of the confederation and moved to Pinsk. Suvorov immediately moved to meet him. The Russian commander in the early morning of September 12 delivered a sudden blow to the Poles. The hetman had not yet had time to wake up properly, as his detachment was completely crushed. Smash a few hundred, about 300-400 captured. The Polish campaign was “star” for Suvorov.
France sent a new "coordinator" - Baron de Viomenil. With him came a few dozen French officers and non-commissioned officers. Viomenilis decided to change tactics and instead of large-scale offensive actions, he moved on to individual actions that were supposed to inspire the Polish nation to scale resistance. At first they tried to steal the king Poniatowski, but the action failed. Then in January, 1772, a confederate detachment was able to capture Kraków’s castle with a sudden raid. However, in April, the garrison capitulated.
Confederate clash with Russian troops
The civil war and the collapse of the Polish statehood became the reason for the division of the Commonwealth. While the Russian and royal troops were chasing the Confederates, the Austrians, without any statements, captured two elders with rich salt mines. The lands were declared "returned" on the grounds that they were ceded Poland from Hungary in the 1402 year.
Prussia, back in 1769, offered Russia a plan for dividing Poland. However, Catherine II Alekseevna then did not want to hear about it. Between 1768 and 1770 Petersburg did not plan to seize the lands of the Commonwealth, although Russian troops controlled the vast Polish territories. Then the Prussians began to act independently and under the pretext of protecting their possessions from the plague, which raged in southern Poland, occupied the border areas.
Understanding that Poland would simply be seized without Russian participation, Petersburg decided that the division of the Commonwealth was inevitable. In addition, Russia was connected by war with Turkey and could not conflict with Austria and Prussia over Poland. At the end of 1770, Ekaterina Alekseevna made Prussia understand that the question was to be discussed. By this time, Prussia and Austria had already de facto seized part of the Polish lands.
After long approvals, the issue was resolved positively. 6 (17) February 1772 of the year in St. Petersburg was a secret agreement between Prussia and Russia. July 25 (August 5) such an agreement was signed with Austria. Prussia received all of Pomerania, except for Danzig and the county. Prussia also ceded Warmia, Royal Prussia, the districts and voivodeships of Pomorskie, Malborsk (Marienburg) and Helminskoe (Kulm) without Torun, as well as some districts in Greater Poland. Total Prussia received 36 thousand square meters. km, where lived 580 thousand inhabitants. Prussia captured the most developed northwestern lands of Poland. As a result, Prusaks had up to 80% of Poland’s foreign trade turnover. Prussia introduced huge customs duties, which accelerated the final collapse of the Commonwealth.
Austria received: Zator and Auschwitz, part of Lesser Poland, which included the southern part of the Krakow and Sandomierz voivodeships, as well as parts of the Belsky voivodeship and the whole of Galicia (Chervonnaya Rus). Krakow itself remained behind Poland. In total, 83 thousand square meters was attached to Austria. km and 2 million 600 thousand people.
Russia moved away: a part of Lithuania (the Lithuanian principality), including Livonia and Zadvinsky duchy, and a part of the modern territory of Belarus to Dvina, Druti and Dnieper, including the districts of Vitebsk, Polotsk and Mstislavl. In total, 92 thousand sq. M. km with a population of 1 million 300 thousand people. Actually, Russia did not seize land inhabited by ethnic Poles. Russian lands were returned.
The agreement was kept secret until September 1772. In August-September, Russian, Prussian and Austrian troops simultaneously entered the territory of the Commonwealth and occupied areas that were distributed in advance. The suddenness of the action, as well as the inequality of forces and the complete demoralization of the Polish "elite", led to the fact that the section was completed without war. Commonwealth was saved as a state. In April, 1773 was able to convene an extraordinary Sejm, which met until September 1773. The allied states forced the Polish Sejm to approve three separate agreements that secured the division of part of the territories of the Commonwealth.
To be continued ...