The Rebellions
of 1830 and 1863
Polish National Movement

Russian or Congress Poland, 1863-1890

A.) Domestic Policy

Russia's treatment of the Poles, after the second major rebellion in 33 years, even became harsher than before. In the formerly Polish areas of Belarus and Western Ukraine, a massive RUSSIFICATION policy set in; the Polish-speaking ethnic group in these regions, which traditionally played a leading role in culture and administration, was isolated, subjected to deportation, recruition into the army, forced resettlement etc. In 1863, the rebellion still going on, the Russian administration provlaimed the liberation of the Polish serfs; in 1864 a LAND REFORM was conducted, the peasants declared owners of the lands they tilled.
In 1865 RUSSIAN was proclaimed sole language of administration; the use of Polish language in offices and public institutions was forbidden.In 1868 the last of the old institutions, STATE COUNCIL and ADMINISTRATIVE COUNCIL, were abolished; an ADMINISTRATIVE REFORM replaced the 5 gouvernements by 10; Russians were appointed governors. In 1869 a Russian University was established in Warsaw, which enjoyed little popularity.
Polish society altered; the SZLACHTA (nobility) lost in influence; the peasantry rose to a class of free men; the cities grew rapidly; here a proletariat emerged, and a new bourgeoisie which was integrative. Many of Poland's large Jewish majority assimilated, some even went so far to convert to Catholicism. A rising number of Poles emigrated, most of them to the United States.
The administration reacted on the activity of various illegal political organizations (patriotic Polish, socialist etc.) with waves of arrests (1878, 1879), the suppression of societies, even with executions (1886).

B.) The Economy

In 1863, the rebellion still going on, the Russian administration provlaimed the liberation of the Polish serfs; in 1864 a LAND REFORM was conducted, the peasants declared owners of the lands they tilled. Subsequently, Russian Poland was much stronger affected by the industrial revolution, cities such as Lodz (1820 a village of 767 inhabitants, 1878 a city of 315,000, 1897 even of almost 600,000), Warsaw turning into centers of industrial production. The railway network of Russian Poland grew, not as fast as it could have if the administration would not have delayed projects, but faster than in Russia proper. In 1870, Russian Poland and Russia were joined in a CUSTOMS UNION.

C.) Russian Foreign Policy, as far as Russian Poland was affected

In 1866, Russia terminated diplomatic relations with the Papal State (the event mainly concerned Poland, the population of which was mostly catholic). The Russian government sympathized with Bismarck's policy of unifying Germany; in 1881, Russia, Germany and Austria-Hungary signed the THREE EMPEROR'S LEAGUE, in 1887 Germany and Russia signed the REINSURANCE TREATY. These documents implicitly confirmed the status quo of partitioned Poland.

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A Brief History of Poland during the last 200 years, from genpoland , encyclopedic, many maps
The Awakening of the Polish Nation, 1870-1914, ch.11 from Henry Bogdan, From Warsaw to Sofia
Deutsche Zollgeschichte : Russland, from Deutsche Zollgeschichte, postcards featuring the border between Germany/ German Poland to Russian Poland/Lithuania, commented in German
Article Poland, from Catholic Encyclopedia, 1911 edition
DOCUMENTS Levate, Encyclica of Pope Pius IX., Oct. 21st 1867, describes and condemns the evils perpetrated against the Church in Italy, Poland, and Russia.
Russian-Polish banknote of 1866, from Ron Wise's World Paper Money
List of Polish statesmen, from World Statesmen by Ben Cahoon
Catalog of Polish Paper Money : Russian Poland
Polen, from Meyers Konversationslexikon 1888-1890 edition, in German
REFERENCE Enno Meyer, Grundzüge der Geschichte Polens (Main Features of Polish History), Darmstadt : Wissenschaftliche Buchgemeinschaft 1977
Manfred Hellmann, Daten der Polnischen Geschichte (Dates in Polish History), München : dtv 1985
Triloyalism and the National Revival : Russian Poland, pp.36-64 in : R.F. Leslie (ed.), The History of Poland since 1863, Cambridge : UP (1980) 1989 [G]

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted on March 14th 2002, last revised on May 8th 2006

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