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View series: Europe and nations, 1815-1914

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The Polish Question

This map is part of a series of 24 animated maps showing the history of Europe and nations, 1815-1914.

The kingdom of Poland experienced its apogee in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, when, associated with Lithuania, it extended from the Baltic to the Black Sea.

It is later weakened considerably by a long series of conflicts with its principal neighbors, notably Russia and Sweden.

At the end of the eighteenth century, a succession of partitions ends with the dismantlement of Poland, to the benefit of Russia, Prussia and Austria.

In 1807 Napoleon creates a short lived Grand Duchy of Warsaw which does not survive the defeat of the Emperor.

The Congress of Vienna maintains the principle of Polish partition, all in creating a small kingdom called the “Congress Kingdom” under Russian trusteeship.

Following the revolutions in Paris and Brussels in 1830, the Poles rise up, drive out the Czar’s brother, Viceroy Constantine, and proclaim their independence.

In spite of the mobilization of public opinion, particularly in France and the United Kingdom, for the Polish cause, the European powers do not intervene when Russian troops crush the Polish national movement and retake Warsaw on September 17, 1831. The repression is pitiless, and is followed by an intense policy of Russification, which makes a mere Russian province out of the “Congress Kingdom”