Poland : Era of Liberty, 1652-1772 Russia : Foreign Policy, 1762-1796 Austria 1740-1790 Prussia 1701-1795 France : Foreign Policy, 1715-1774

Poland the Confederation of Bar, 1768-1772

A.) Prehistory

Ever since the War of Polish Succession (1733-1735) Russia regarded herself entitled to interfere in Polish affairs. As her old partner in this policy of interference, Austria, in 1764 was not prepared to join Russian policy, Catherine the Great ensured Prussian support for the candidacy of STANISLAS AUGUSTUS PONIATOWSKI, former Polish ambassador to St. Petersburg (and her lover); he was duly elected King of Poland-Lithuania Sept. 7th.
The Polish Sejm, wary of foreign interference, decided on drastic steps to end foreign interference and reform her constitution. The creation of Army Commissions for Poland and Lithuania circumvented the Liberum Veto which so far had paralyzed the Polish state. Catherine the Great, in response, supported the formation, by disgruntled magnates, of the CONFEDERATION OF RADOM (leader Karol Radziwill) which aimed at restoring the Liberum Veto. When the General Confederation (reform-oriented Sejm) met in 1767, Russian ambassador Prince Repnin had several delegates arrested and deported to Russia. The intimidated Sejm appointed a commission which drafted a Polish-Russian treaty, approved in "silent session" Feb. 27th 1768 (without debate), which guaranteed the traditional privileges of the nobility, free election of the king and the Liberum Veto. The Sejm thus had given up the attempt to reform the constitution. Russia, Prussia, England, Sweden and Denmark guaranteed the 'Treatise of Tolerance'.

B.) The Formation of the Confederation of Bar, and the Military Course of Events

On February 29th 1768, reform-minded Polish magnates met in Bar (Podolia) and established the Confederation of Bar, thus openly challenging the (intimidated, docile) Sejm. Leading figures were Jan and Casimir Pulaski. The Confederation established control over Podolia, Volhynia and Galicia, and enjoyed both French and Austrian support; France sent a small contingent of troops; Austria permitted the Confederates to run bases in (Austrian) Upper Hungary (i.e. Slovakia).
In 1770 Prussian troops occupied Posen and the surrounding region, and Royal Prussia. Austria annexed the Zips region, a pawn held by Poland since 1412. Russian forces under General SUVOROV defeated Confederate troops May 23rd 1771 near Lanckorona, Nov. 23rd 1771 near Stolowice; the French troop contingent left. A Confederate coup to abduct King Stanislas Poniatowski failed. Austrian troops marched on Cracow and Lvov; on April 23rd, Cracow surrendered to the Austrians. the surrender of Czestochowa to the Austrians ended military campaigns; Russia, Prussia and Austria now proceeded with formally partitioning Poland. Casimir Pulaski left for the American colonies and was to engage in the War of American Independence.

Article Confederation of Bar, from EB 1911
The Bar Confederation, from The Polish Lithuanian Commonwealth (1569-1795)
Casimir Pulaski documentary script, from Polish Culture
Biography of Casimir Pulaski, from Catholic Encyclopedia
Biography of Alexander Suvorov, by John Sloan
DOCUMENTS Summa Quae (On the Church in Poland), Encyclical by Pope Clement XIII., 1768 Jan. 6th, posted by EWTN

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted on May 29th 2003, last revied on November 19th 2004

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