Poland

The French Revolution attracted the attention of all Europe and permitted the Russians, Prussians and Austrians to attempt the partition of Poland whilst the rest of the continent focused on events in Paris.

The Treaty of Pavia of July 1791, which contains the basic outline of the monarchical land-grabs, is recited in brief at the beginning of the Europe chapter. Poland was a major target of the Kings. An extract of the main treaty terms in respect of Poland is below.

Prussia and Austria were concerned to partition Poland solely for increased territory , production and revenue whilst Russia was pursuing Catherine’s strategic plan to gain control of a bridge of land providing direct access to the Mediterranean along the west of the Black Sea and through Greece which country was to be put beyond Turkish influence. Poland is more or less a footnote in English history.

These are the people who kept the Cossacks out of Europe for centuries. They appear to have been rewarded with shoddy treatment for most of their history. Napoleon seems to have done a little for them but Castlereagh, when settling the shape of Europe after 1815, was completely deaf to their entreaties.

Sat 4th Oct 1794

The Treaty of Pavia, July 1791, between Austria, Spain, Prussia and Russia (done while France was distracted by internal strife) provides that (extract):

  • Russia may invade Poland and retain Kaminieck and part of Padolia.
  • On the Russian invasion of Poland, the Prussian King may acquire Thorn and Danzig and unite the Palatinate on the east to Silesia. He shall have Lusace and, in exchange, the Elector of Saxony will get the rest of Poland and become its hereditary King.
  • The Elector of Saxony gives his daughter in marriage to the youngest son of the Tsar and their children will be the hereditary Kings of Poland
  • The present King of Poland will abdicate in return for an annuity.

Sgd Leopold (Austria), Prince Nassau (Russia), Count Florida Blanca (Spain), Bischoffswerder (Prussia).

Sat 20th April 1793

M Lebrun, French Foreign Minister, has reported to the Citizen President of the National Assembly on the advices received from French diplomats concerning the present state of Europe. Here is his assessment in respect of Russia (extract):

  • That woman of the North who for 20 years has threatened us, still does so. She still announces the arrival of her troops in France although she actually retains them at home, fearful of domestic disturbance. We are told 30,000 Russians are coming but all those men still remain within Poland.
  • Poland is consumed with internal matters and can do nothing abroad.

Sat 11th May 1793

Editorial – Europe is in an extraordinary state. Two great revolutions in Poland and France have occurred. Poland has fallen under the oppressive feudal system of Russia while France has defeated Prussia and Austria but has since slid further into anarchy.

Sat 10th August 1793

Prussian troops have entered Poland and displaced Polish forces, particularly around Karjowa and Sieraka. Karjowa surrendered while Sieraka lost many men and its military chest was captured. The Poles assume the soldiers’ acts are approved by the Prussian King.

The new Russian ambassador to Poland Count Sieres received complaints of the Prussian incursions on 6th Feb but said the information was vague. The Russian-appointed Polish Confederation at Warsaw has difficulty doing its daily business as the King has declined to countenance its proceedings.

Sat 17th Aug 1793

Berlin has made a claim to the further partition of Poland. Russia overran the entire country and King Stanislaus submitted to the Tsar rather than allow the dismemberment of his country. Now Austria and Prussia want a share too.

Sat 2nd Nov 1793

Russian news:

The Prussian share of Poland is now about 2.8 million hectares; Russia has about 10 million hectares. The estates of Count Potocki, Marshal of the Polish Federation, are now all in Russian ownership. The residue of the country is some 9 million hectares. 20,900 Polish troops have sworn allegiance to the Tsarina and will form a Ukraine Division in her army.

Sat 4th Jan 1794

The Russian Ambassador to Poland, M. Jacob de Sievers, has warned the Polish Confederation on 20th Apr 1793 that he knows warlike preparations are underway at the arsenal in Warsaw. He repudiates all protests:

‘If any of you gentlemen are involved I will sequestrate your estates. Your most hostile member is Walenski and you have placed him at your head. He is to relinquish his military aspirations without delay’.

de Sievers demands a general vote of the members and their subsequent submission to the majority decision.

Sat 15th March 1794

Count Sulkowski, a Polish nobleman now at Aleppo, has said that when he was in Paris in June 1793 asking ineffectively for the help of the Republican government to restore independence to his country, he learned that the French had no plan for relieving their Eastern possessions (Mauritius, etc.) being convinced that they had all fallen into British hands.

Sat 5th July 1794

House of Lords, 17th Feb – The Marquis of Lansdowne considered the state of Europe. Apropos Russia he said:

Russia is a colossus. She has partitioned Poland and extended herself into Turkey The cession of Oczaknow was inimical with the safety of Europe. We should guard against the awesome power of Russia. She now has control of all the rivers north of the Danube that flow into the Black Sea. Her increasing power is a danger to every country. She is not helping us, she is helping herself and she is doing so very quickly. Her purchases of British goods are declining.

He recalled when serving in the Treasury that a merchant had told him he might pay an employee a large salary for the performance of his job but he would never relate the salary to the profits because the latter could be immense. If one merchant’s trade is boundless, Lansdowne said, how much more so is the aggregate amount of all of them. This is what we risk by our policy towards Russia.

Sat 26th July 1794

Poland – Madalinski’s attempt to commence rebellion at Cracow seems doomed by the Prussian and Russian troops who are pursuing him. London says he is financed by France. When the Russian garrison of Cracow marched out to oppose Madalinski they could not get back in, the Polish General Kosciuszko remained in the city with his 6,000 – 7,000 men perfecting its fortifications. They all support rebellion against the Russian and Prussian occupation. Kosciuszko proclaimed the revolutionary capital of Poland in Cracow, whereas the Russians have held Warsaw as the capital.

Other Polish Generals have similarly rebelled as have the Lithuanians. Roszinsko has published a manifesto inviting the Poles to form a Federation. He has established a revolutionary tribunal at Cracow in the French style and is disposing of his opponents. All the people of Cracow have sworn to support him and the Constitution of 3rd May 1791. In the interim the revolution is controlled by martial law. Each five households has committed to providing one soldier equipped with arms and a horse. They are also agreed to contribute 10% of their property to the cause.

The Russians have sent three corps of good troops and are reducing the rebellion from the east. They have about 40,000 men in Poland. The Prussians are approaching from the west.

It is supposed the Tsarina will offer Austria part of Poland in exchange for a free hand against the Turks.

The Poles are carefully respecting the wishes of Austria and inform the Emperor of their every move. They are also keeping their pacific neighbours Dresden (Saxony) and Stockholm (owners of Pomerania) fully informed.

Sat 13th Sept 1794

The popular uprising in Poland (the Cracow Confederation) seems doomed. The insurgents have no arms or ammunition whilst the Russians have regular troops.

7,000 insurgents marched from Cracow to Warsaw but met a large Russian force and, after a bloody encounter, were forced back into Cracow. The Prussians have now joined up with the Russians and are unitedly besieging Cracow.

The Poles had anticipated help from Austria but the Emperor has actually joined the predators and sent more troops against them.

The insurgency is popular with the Poles and the landowners have been supportive. The provincial treasuries and churches have volunteered their valuables to fund the national effort. The King of Poland has sent his silver plate to the mint. These efforts have been insufficient.

The King has now called on his subjects to submit. He asked the Prussians to stay out but they said they require the King to punish his revolutionary subjects.

Sat 25th Oct 1794

Letter from Warsaw, 11th June – the combined Russian / Prussian army has fought the Polish nationalists near Malagosce on 7th June. General Kosciuszko withdrew into Malagosce carrying off his wounded but leaving two guns to the enemy. The Poles lost 600 men, the Russians and Prussians together lost 1,000 approx.

Sat 1st Nov 1794

The Poles are resisting the armies of Prussia and Russia. Several towns have followed Cracow in setting-up revolutionary committees. The people of Warsaw achieved a signal victory and have shown their power. The King of Poland still resides at Warsaw and, whilst apparently not involved in the insurrection, he enjoys a form of protection. This enables him to protect Buckholtz, the British minister at Warsaw. The Russian commander Igelstrom has retired to Zairockzim and requested a great reinforcement. Prussia and Silesia are to raise the extra troops. So far the Polish Revolution has not produced the cruelties of the French although the unconfirmed report of the execution of the Castellan Remiszewski is worrying.

The Polish Revolution is more an indignant response to occupation by the neighbours than an attempt to change the political order.

The citizens of Cracow have published a manifesto. They assert their aims are to deliver their country from foreign rule, unify the states of Poland, end all oppression of the country both internally and externally and re-establish both national liberty and the independence of the Polish Republic.

They propose to appoint a commander to those Polish people willing to fight for their liberty; to establish a Council to direct national affairs; to establish a Commission for Good Order, a criminal court of last resort and an intermediate court for lesser offences.

Thaddeus Kosciuszko is the new Commander of Polish forces, elected by the will of the people. He will appoint a lieutenant for himself and appoint men to seats on the Council. He has a seat himself. He is required to frequently, truthfully and precisely report his military progress.

The Council is advisory only and will execute Kosciusko’s commands. If Kosciuszko is killed or disabled, his lieutenant will assume his military functions but not his Council functions which will thereafter be managed by a Councillor elected by the Council. The Council will source and provide funds for the prosecution of the insurrection. It may sell national assets, raise loans and levy new taxes. It will regulate the courts. It will negotiate with foreign countries for help. It will regulate public opinion by promoting nationalism and patriotism to persuade the people to their best efforts.

The Commission for Good Order will have jurisdiction only in this Palatinate. It will give effect to the directions of the Commander and the Council. It will be organised and have its duties defined by the Council.

The Court of Last Resort to be organised by the Council will elect Judges with prior experience from the towns and Palatinates. The court will hear all cases that oppose our insurrection. All crimes against the state are capital crimes.

None of the Council’s acts shall be considered binding on the King of Poland or be viewed as the establishment of a National Constitution without his approval. All powers assumed by us under the present act will be temporary and end with the attainment of the objects of our insurrection. Once foreign troops have been removed beyond our frontiers we will call a National Assembly and resign our powers. Done at Cracow, 24th March 1794

(the manifesto is signed by several thousand citizens of the Palatinate of Cracow.)

Sat 13th Dec 1794

Poland – the patriots strike back:

Thaddeus Kosciuszko, CiC of the Polish and Lithuanian army, has promulgated on 10th June, with the express agreement of the King, that, as the Prussian and Russian armies have invaded Poland and are plundering everywhere, and as he cannot confront them with realistic chance of success but notes that their provinces adjoining Poland are denuded of troops, he proposes to send his forces into the Prussian and Russian borderlands to politicise the people, declare the insurrection of the Poles for liberty and encourage the neighbours to rebel and seek for their own freedom.

He requests all commanders to act with mildness and assure the Russian and German serfs that this is the surest way to achieve their happiness. Only the property of the Prussian or Russian governments may be seized. He requires all commanders to act promptly in transferring the war onto the neighbours’ territory to ensure success.

Sat 20th Dec 1794

Editorial – The Poles have been oppressed beyond endurance and have resolved to be free. All Poland and Lithuania are in revolt. Hitherto their chances appeared slim but Kosciuszko is now CiC of the army. He has lost Cracow but is taking the war into Prussia and Russia.

The insatiable greed of Russia has alarmed the Danes and the Swedes (owners of neighbouring Pomerania). The Porte is infuriated by constant Russian nibbling at his lands – he has put a force on his frontier with Poland where he expects the next Russian invasion of Turkey to come from.

The course of the convulsion in Poland is impossible to predict. If the Poles fail, it will be the triumph of might over right; if they succeed it will light the flame of Liberty throughout Northeast Europe.

Sat 3rd Jan 1795

House of Commons, 30th May – A debate to thank the King for his Address. In the course of this debate, Fox outlined his understanding of the cause of the war (extract):

The Austrian Emperor declared that he proposed to support the French Constitution granted by Louis XVI in 1789. Five days later he changed his mind. What had changed? Fox said there was only one explanation for the volte face – the invasion of Poland by Prussia (i.e. the Emperor was now at war for territory).

Sat 24th Jan 1795

The Empress of Russia has appropriated a large slice of Poland for herself. She has subverted the chosen form of government of the Poles. She has occasionally acted capriciously without knowledge of the facts. She seems to be entirely consumed by greed.

Actually about 15 years ago she conceived the noble vision of restoring the ancient Greek empire, re-establishing the throne of the Constantines, and settling its succession on her own line. She expected to restore the sciences and arts in those lands and again diffuse the blessings of liberty.

All her actions since then conform with this vision. Her 2nd grandson was named Constantine and Greek nurses were brought from the archipelago to raise him and teach him the language and culture of Greece.

This explains her two wars with the Porte and provides a reason why she needs a slice of Poland – to march her armies south when the circumstances are right. This is why she overturned the Polish Constitution which was as liberal as France’s – a popular assembly would never permit passage to her armies.

Sat 31st Jan 1795

London news – The King of Prussia says he is in perfect agreement with his cousin (George III – they are fellow Electors of the Austrian Empire) but the unexpected resistance of the democratic Poles in the East disables his continuing the war with France in the West.

He has received £600,000 from us to fight France. He cannot repay it but will prepare an account for us later.

Sat 7th Feb 1795

In spite of the appearance of an unequal contest, the Poles are doing quite well.

They are livid at the punishment of the men of Cracow and the judicial murders of seven Polish chiefs on 28th June. The Poles are well supplied and very motivated.

They have won every engagement since the beginning of July. Many Prussian troops are deserting. The demands General Schwerin made on Warsaw, supported by the King of Prussia, remain unfulfilled.

The Russians are likewise embarrassed by Polish military feats in Lithuania and part of Livonia. The Russians brought 10,000 men to besiege Wilma (Vilnius), the capital of Lithuania, which was defended by a Polish garrison of 300 men. The Russians shelled the place then charged twice but the towns people helped the garrison and their joint efforts kept the Russians out. The Russian army lost a thousand men and in its retreat acted barbarously in the nearby villages.

Sat 7th Feb 1795

The German states have responded to Saxe-Cobourg’s request for money, provisions and soldiers with a plea of poverty. They are reluctant to assist him against France.

The King of Prussia is accordingly in difficulty. He has the French approaching the Meuse in front of him and the Poles fighting for freedom behind him.

He sees his best interest is primarily in the East and declines to continue against the French. The Duke of Saxe-Cobourg is consequently withdrawing.

Sat 14th Feb 1795

London Editorial – The diversion created by the Poles and the alleged poverty of Prussia due to unwillingness of the smaller German states to subscribe to the war chest, probably means peace will be declared by Berlin soon.

We doubt England will willingly continue to pay a disproportionate share.

The present leaders of the French National Convention are moderate and consensual. It has been announced in Breda by a French officer that the National Convention has rescinded the Decree allowing no quarter be given to English or Hanoverian troops in battle. We can make a deal with them.

Indeed USA has recognised the French Republic and sent Monroe as their ambassador to Paris. The Poles have also sent a delegation with felicitations on French military success and with proposals for closer friendship.

Lord Spencer and Sir Thomas Grenville have gone to Vienna for discussions with the Emperor. The high importance of the delegates indicates the British view of the matter. They are instructed to offer to pay 2/3rds of the cost of maintaining 100,000 Austrian troops in the fight. The Dutch will pay the other 1/3rd. Its an offer the Emperor can hardly refuse but if he does, a general peace is likely.

Sat 14th Feb 1795

The King of Prussia has written to the King of Poland, 2nd August 1794:

“My brother, I will reduce Warsaw. Resistance is futile. You should surrender to preserve the people under your protection. If you do so, my soldiers will respect your lives and property. If you refuse I will take extreme measures. Please acquaint your people with the alternatives. I will not make this offer again.” Sgd Frederick William.

The Polish King’s reply, 3rd August:

“My army is between you and Warsaw. I invoke your sentiments of fraternity and ask you to divest yourself of ideas of cruelty and vengeance.” Sgd Stanilaus Augustus Poniatowsky.

Proclamation of the King of Prussia, 6th Sept:

“I have prevailed over the Polish army on 26th and 28th July and am on the point of possessing Warsaw. The people of Warsaw have adopted notions of liberty and attracted most of the landowners into a Confederation. The landowners have forced their tenants to take up arms and all production is ceased.

“These seditious people are armed and violent. They have pillaged the towns, hanged my servants, defeated military units, burnt a grain store in Silesia, stolen grain intended for my army, stolen eleven boats laden with my military stores and robbed the postmen on the highway. All communications are stopped. I have to preserve south Prussia and Silesia from the effects of this rebellion. The theft of my military stores has caused me to briefly suspend the siege of Warsaw but I will take my army to Raizen where I can check these rebels and punish them.” Sgd Frederick William.

Sat 21st Feb 1795

A biography of General Kosciuszko, the Polish freedom fighter, is provided in this edition (but not reproduced here).

Sat 28th Feb 1795

Berlin, 11th Oct: The Prussian court is in consternation. It had agreed with Russia to partition Poland whilst Austria was preoccupied with France. Now the Poles are fighting back and the bits of Poland that Prussia already has, plus the bits the House of Brandenburg acquired a few decades ago, are in real jeopardy of reverting to Polish sovereignty.

The Poles have taken Bromberg and are threatening Danzig, Thorn, Culm and Graudentz. It appears possible that they will enter Pomerania and reach Stettin.

The Prussian troops in Western Prussia are being reinforced.

Sat 21st March 1795

The Polish Revolution is gaining momentum. The Prussians have been pushed back in the north and their city of Danzig is threatened. The residents of that city never wanted to be Prussian and are likely to help the Poles. The insurrection has disturbed commerce and grain is getting expensive.

Sat 11th April 1795

The Poles, who have displayed such resolution against the Prussians, have a new enemy in the reappearance of the Russians.

The Swedish General Fersen commanding a huge Russian army has defeated the Poles near Warsaw and captured four Polish Generals including General Kosciuszko.

Sat 25th April 1795

Letter from Berlin, 18th Oct:

The Prussians are jealous of Russian success at Warsaw on 10th Oct and have ordered their garrisons from southern Prussia into Poland to assure their own territorial claims.

On 25th Oct General Fersen, in Russian service, told the Polish King to release all Russian prisoners-of-war including the Russian diplomats and submit to him. The King replied he had sworn to uphold the Constitution. He could exchange prisoners but declined to unilaterally return them.

Sat 11th July 1795

The Russians have taken Warsaw. Kosciuszko is their prisoner; King Stanilaus Augustus Poniatowsky is removed to Grodno and the country is in famine. The Poles made a fine defence of Warsaw using over 100 cannon but their losses were horrific – 20,000 were killed in the battle and, once the Russians got in, they massacred 12,000 citizens without distinction. The violence was so appalling that Count Ignace Potocki took it on himself to visit the Russian camp and treat with General Suwarow but he could not obtain a hearing.

The General said he had not come to treat but to punish. He might talk with a representative of the Polish King but not with any Republican. The Polish Deputies Buzakowski, Strazackowski and Makarowicz attended the General but could obtain his agreement to spare what remained of the population only by abandoning their civil powers. Suwarow later relented. He spared both lives and property and gave an amnesty for their past acts. On this occurrence a good many of the remaining people submitted and laid down their arms.

The Supreme Council under Wawrzewski maintained their opposition and King Stanislaus arbitrated. The militants then offered to leave Warsaw and Suwarow agreed. The Russians took formal possession of the city on 9th Nov. On 21st Nov King Stanislaus wrote to the Russian Empress:

“Sister, the fate of Poland is in your hands. My minister’s party is destroyed but the people remain. War has prevented the sowing of crops, the farmers have fled to neighbouring countries, their cattle has been requisitioned, the farmhouses are burnt or damaged. Poland has become a desert. On behalf of my three million people, I invoke the generosity of your Majesty.”

Tsarina’s reply, St Petersburg 2nd Dec:

“Brother, Republican principles destroy order. The chiefs of your insurrection have betrayed the Polish nation. The famine they now face is cruel and I shall try to alleviate it. Warsaw is a guilty town. I desire you to go to Grodno. I will not abuse the advantages that God has put in my hands.”

Tues 27th Oct 1798 – Extraordinary

Poland, 3rd Feb – The Russian Empress has approved a new plan for the partition of Poland. It is supposed the Polish King Stanislaus Augustus Poniatowsky will abdicate and receive a pension.

He has written to the Tsarina:

“Poland no longer exists; the army and government have been disbanded; Polish troops have entered the service of one or other of the three belligerent powers. 15,000 of them have been marched-off as prisoners into Russia. You already own Lithuania and will expand your territory from there; all abandoned Polish estates are confiscated by your forces; permit me to abdicate.”

Sat 17th Nov 1798

The Monthly Magazine – Obituary of Poniatowsky:

Stanilaus Augustus Poniatowsky was born 1732, the third and youngest son of Count Poniatowsky, a favourite of Charles XII of Sweden. His mother was the Princess Ezatoryika who traced her descent from the Jagallons, the ancient sovereigns of Lithuania. He was close to his mother and somewhat under her control as a young man. She imbued him with a preference for England over France and he spent a long time here. He related well with Charles Hanbury Williams, the then English envoy to Warsaw.

He was appointed to the Polish embassy to St Petersburg during the Tsarina Elizabeth’s reign. She had married off her nephew Peter to an obscure German princess named Catherine. But Peter loved the Countess Woronsoff whereas Catherine loved the chamberlain Soltikoff. When Catherine’s preference became known Peter had Soltikoff exiled.[1]

It was at that time that Stanilaus Augustus Poniatowsky arrived at St Petersburg. He was a good-looking chap with fine manners and Catherine was captivated by him. The Russian chancellor Bestuscheff was one of Catherine’s supporters and she asked him to patronise the young Pole. Poniatowsky returned to Warsaw and was appointed Polish ambassador to Russia where he maintained a close friendship with both Peter and Catherine. Peter later discovered that Poniatowsky was a lover of Catherine. When this became known in diplomatic circles, the French and Austrian ambassadors applied to remove Poniatowsky because of his likely influence over Catherine. He was recalled to Warsaw and dismissed from public office.

During Elizabeth’s reign the Russia army was continually camped on the Prussian frontier. When she died in 1762 Peter succeeded her and Bestuscheff was banished to Siberia. Catherine had well understood that, in an autocracy, whoever commands the loyalty of the army, commands the country. She wooed the military. Peter was never formally crowned and this diminished his legal power. Catherine had acted through the Orloff brothers, one of whom, a huge stupid man, became her new lover. They were Republicans. Poniatowsky went to Moscow to join the new initiative but Catherine was no longer interested in him. She sent him back to Warsaw with the expectation of his being elevated to the highest power by her influence.

In 1763 old King Augustus of Poland died and Catherine sent in an army. Bribes and injuries were lavishly distributed, Warsaw was occupied and a form of election was held (superficially illegal because there were foreign troops garrisoning Warsaw at the time and inevitably influencing opinion) and Poniatowsky was proclaimed King.

The Austrian ambassador at Warsaw, Kayserling, acted like Imperial master of the country. He promoted the Confederation of Bar (the 1768 act of Polish dissent against the Russian Viceroy Repnin) which assumed increased power. The Confederation also received French support. The Porte was totally opposed to an increase of Russian influence in lands that gave Russia a faster route to Turkish domains. Under French instigation, he declared war in 1768. Russia fought back and defeated the Turks. Their armies then overran Poland, massacred and mutilated opponents and occupied the country. Austria saw a chance for a slice of Polish territory

Prussia first broached the idea of partitioning Poland in talks with the Austrians in 1769. They were agreeable and Catherine was sounded out. A division of the spoils was agreed. In 1772 the attack commenced and the Polish diet was forced to cede a large tract of territory containing 5 million Poles and producing half the country’s revenue. This was just 8 years after both Russia and Prussia had formally notified Warsaw that they renounced all territorial claims on Poland. The Austrians had made the same commitment in 1771.

The bad faith of the Kings contributed to the growth of democratic ideals in Europe. In Poland this culminated in the revolution of 1791. Poniatowsky was made hereditary King. The independence of Poland was intolerable to the neighbours. They attempted by force to bring the country back into submission to them. Thus arose the brilliant career of Kosciuszko. The Russians responded savagely. At Praha (Prague) they put 20,000 men, women and children to death. Poniatowsky was sent to Grodno and required to abdicate in 1795. He has now died at St Petersburg of a stroke, 11th April 1798.

Sat 5th May 1810

Part of the French peace treaty with Austria involved a cession of land to the Duchy of Warsaw which somewhat recreates the former kingdom of Poland. The Poles are delighted and a Jubilee is planned to celebrate Napoleon’s birthday – he is ‘the restorer of their liberties and their Constitution,’ they say.

Sat 30th June 1810

Napoleon has re-established the Kingdom of Poland under the Archduke Ferdinand – its part of his grand scheme to create buffer states separating the great European powers. It will doubtless irritate the Russian Tsar who prefers a weak neighbour on his western frontier.

Sat 1st July 1815

The Poles have always directed their international trade through the Baltic but Prussian encroachments along that coast placed Polish trade under Prussian Customs control and they had to pay heavily to export their goods.

The southern part of the country is extremely fertile but has never developed due to its lack of access to markets. The area is well watered by three great rivers – Dnieper, Dniester and Bog – which flow to the Black Sea. This is the route that Napoleon wished to develop for the export of Polish agricultural surpluses to southern France via the Black Sea and Mediterranean. It seems to explain French support for the maintenance of Poland as an independent country.

Some of the products of this area are carried overland by Austrian merchants and, in spite of the immense costs of carriage, still find a good market in Trieste. The produce is clearly of satisfactory quality and reasonable price.

If France developed a commodity trade with Poland, the shipping service from Black Sea would likely call at Levant ports as well. The trade of the Levant is in the hands of Armenians and Jews and comes to Europe via Moldavia which is an expensive route due to the greed of the Moldavian provincial government. The hinterland of the Black Sea is potentially more productive than the hinterland of the Baltic. It looks like a goldmine for France, whose credentials with the Polish people are perfect. No wonder Talleyrand is opposed to the partition of Poland.

Footnotes    (↵ returns to text)
  1. All the old newspapers are replete with these salty details. Usually I have omitted them but occasionally they are interesting.

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