The Duchy of Warsaw (Polish: Księstwo Warszawskie, French: Duché de Varsovie, German: Herzogtum Warschau) was a Polish state established by Napoleon I in 1807 from the Polish lands ceded by the Kingdom of Prussia under the terms of the Treaties of Tilsit. The duchy was held in personal union by one of Napoleon's allies, King Frederick Augustus I of Saxony. Following Napoleon's failed invasion of Russia, the duchy was occupied by Prussian and Russian troops until 1815, when it was formally partitioned between the two countries at the Congress of Vienna. It covered the central and eastern part of present Poland and minor parts of present Lithuania and Belarus.
Duchy of Warsaw
Duché de Varsovie
The Duchy of Warsaw in 1812.
|Status||Client state of the French Empire,|
Personal union with the Kingdom of Saxony
|Common languages||Polish, German, French|
|Frederick Augustus I|
|Ludwik Szymon Gutakowski|
|Stanisław Kostka Potocki|
|Chamber of Deputies|
|Historical era||Napoleonic Wars|
|9 June 1807|
|22 July 1807|
|19 April 1809|
|14 October 1809|
|24 June 1812|
|9 June 1815|
|1807||103,000 km2 (40,000 sq mi)|
|1809||155,000 km2 (60,000 sq mi)|
|ISO 3166 code||PL|
|Today part of|| Belarus|
The area of the duchy had already been liberated by a popular uprising that had escalated from anti-conscription rioting in 1806. One of the first tasks for the new government included providing food to the French army fighting the Russians in East Prussia.
The Duchy of Warsaw was officially created by French Emperor Napoleon I, as part of the Treaty of Tilsit with Prussia. Its creation met the support of both local republicans in partitioned Poland, and the large Polish diaspora in France, who openly supported Napoleon as the only man capable of restoring Polish sovereignty after the Partitions of Poland of late 18th century. However it was created as a satellite state (and was only a duchy, rather than a kingdom).
The newly recreated state was formally an independent duchy, allied to France, and in a personal union with the Kingdom of Saxony. King Frederick Augustus I of Saxony was compelled by Napoleon to make his new realm a constitutional monarchy, with a parliament (the Sejm of the Duchy of Warsaw). However, the duchy was never allowed to develop as a truly independent state; Frederick Augustus' rule was subordinated to the requirements of the French raison d'état, who largely treated the state as a source of resources. The most important person in the duchy was in fact the French ambassador, based in the duchy's capital, Warsaw. Significantly, the duchy lacked its own diplomatic representation abroad.
In 1809, a short war with Austria started. Although the Duchy of Warsaw won the Battle of Raszyn, Austrian troops entered Warsaw, but Duchy and French forces then outflanked their enemy and captured Kraków, Lwów and some of the areas annexed by Austria in the Partitions of Poland. During the war the German colonists settled by Prussia during Partitions openly rose up against Polish government. After the Battle of Wagram, the ensuing Treaty of Schönbrunn allowed for a significant expansion of the Duchy's territory southwards with the regaining of once-Polish and Lithuanian lands.
As a result of Napoleon's campaign in 1812 against Russia, the Poles expected that the Duchy would be upgraded to the status of a Kingdom and that during Napoleon's invasion of Russia, they would be joined by the liberated territories of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, Poland's historic partner in the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth. However, Napoleon did not want to make a permanent decision that would tie his hands before his anticipated peace settlement with Russia. Nevertheless, he proclaimed the attack on Russia as a second Polish war.
That peace settlement was not to be, however. Napoleon's Grande Armée, including a substantial contingent of Polish troops, set out with the purpose of bringing the Russian Empire to its knees, but his military ambitions were frustrated by his failure to supply the army in Russia and Russia's refusal to surrender after the capture of Moscow; few returned from the march back. The failed campaign against Russia proved to be a major turning point in Napoleon's fortunes.
After Napoleon's defeat in the east, most of the territory of the Duchy of Warsaw was retaken by Russia in January 1813 during their advance on France and its allies. The rest of the Duchy was restored to Prussia. Although several isolated fortresses held out for more than a year, the existence of the state in anything but name came to an end. Alexander I of Russia created a Provisional Highest Council of the Duchy of Warsaw to govern the area through his generals.
Although many European states and ex-rulers were represented at the Congress of Vienna in 1815, the decision-making was largely in the hands of the major powers. It was perhaps inevitable, therefore, that both Prussia and Russia would effectively partition Poland between them; Austria was to more-or-less retain its gains of the First Partition of 1772.
Russia demanded to gain all territories of Duchy of Warsaw. It kept all its gains from the three previous partitions, together with Białystok and the surrounding territory that it had obtained in 1807. Its demands for the whole Duchy of Warsaw were denied by other European powers.
Prussia regained territory it had first gained in the First Partition, but had had to give up to the Duchy of Warsaw in 1807. It also regained as the "Grand Duchy of Posen" (i.e., Poznań) some of the territory it had conquered in the Second Partition, and had again had to give up in 1807. This territory formed an area approximately 29,000 km² in size.
The city of Kraków and some surrounding territory, previously part of the Duchy of Warsaw, were established as a semi-independent Free City of Kraków, under the "protection" of its three powerful neighbors. The city's territory measured some 1164 km², and had a population of about 88,000 people. The city was eventually annexed by Austria in 1846.
Finally, the bulk of the former Duchy of Warsaw, measuring some 128,000 km in area, was re-established as what is commonly referred to as the "Congress Kingdom" of Poland, in personal union with the Russian Empire. De facto a Russian puppet state it maintained its separate status only until 1831, when it was effectively annexed to the Russian Empire.
Superficially, the Duchy of Warsaw was just one of various states set up during Napoleon's dominance over the European continent, lasting only a few years and passing with his fall. However, its establishment a little over a decade after the Second and Third Partitions had appeared to wipe Poland off the map meant that Poles had their hopes rekindled of a resurrected Polish state. Even with Napoleon's defeat a Polish state continued in some form until the increasingly autocratic Russian state eliminated Poland once again as a separate entity. Altogether, this meant that an identifiable Polish state was in existence for at least a quarter of a century.
At the 200th anniversary of the creation of this iteration of the Polish state, numerous commemorative events dedicated to that event were held in the Polish capital of Warsaw. In addition the Polish Ministry of Defense asked the honor of holding a joint parade of Polish and French soldiers to which President Nicolas Sarkozy agreed.
The Constitution of the Duchy of Warsaw could be considered liberal for its time. It provided for a bicameral Sejm consisting of a Senate and a Chamber of Deputies. A Council of Ministers functioned as the executive body of the Duchy. Serfdom was abolished and all classes were to be equal before the law. While Roman Catholicism was the state religion, religious tolerance was also guaranteed by the constitution.
The administrative divisions of Duchy of Warsaw were based on departments, each headed by a prefect. This organization was based on the French model, as the entire Duchy was in fact created by Napoleon and based on French ideas, although departments were divided into Polish powiats (counties).
There were 6 initial departments, after 1809 (after Napoleon's defeat of the Austrians and the Treaty of Schönbrunn) increased to 10 (as the Duchy territory increased). Each department was named after its capital city.
In January 1807:
The above 6 departments were divided into 60 powiats.
Added in 1809:
The duchy's armed forces were completely under French control via its war minister, Prince Józef Poniatowski, who was also a Marshal of France. In fact, the duchy was heavily militarized, bordered as it was by Prussia, the Austrian Empire, and Russia, and it was to be a significant source for troops in various campaigns of Napoleon.
The duchy's army was of a considerable size when compared to the duchy's number of inhabitants. Initially consisting of 30,000 of regular soldiers (made up of both cavalry and infantry), its numbers were to rise to over 60,000 in 1810, and by the time of Napoleon's campaign in Russia in 1812, its army totaled almost 120,000 troops (out of a total population of some 4.3 million people).
The heavy drain on its resources by forced military recruitment, combined with a drop in exports of grain, caused significant problems for the duchy's economy. To make matters worse, in 1808 the French Empire imposed on the duchy an agreement at Bayonne to buy from France the debts owed to it by Prussia. The debt, amounting to more than 43 million francs in gold, was bought at a discounted rate of 21 million francs. However, although the duchy made its payments in installments to France over a four-year period, Prussia was unable to pay it (due to a very large indemnity it owed to France), causing the Polish economy to suffer heavily. Indeed, to this day the phrase "sum of Bayonne" is a synonym in Polish for a huge amount of money. All these problems resulted in both inflation and over-taxation.
According to the Treaties of Tilsit, the area of the duchy covered roughly the areas of the 2nd and 3rd Prussian partitions, with the exception of Danzig (Gdańsk), which became the Free City of Danzig under joint French and Saxon "protection", and of the district around Białystok, which became part of Russia. The Prussian territory was made up of territory from the former Prussian provinces of New East Prussia, Southern Prussia, New Silesia, and West Prussia. In addition, the new state was given the area along the Noteć river and the Land of Chełmno.
Altogether, the duchy had an initial area of around 104,000 km², with a population of approximately 2,600,000. The bulk of its inhabitants were Poles.
Following the annexation in 1809 of parts of Austrian Galicia and the areas of Zamość and Kraków, the duchy's area increased significantly, to around 155,000 km², and the population also substantially increased, to roughly 4,300,000.
According to the 1810 census, the duchy had a population of 4,334,000, of whom a clear majority were ethnic Poles, Jews constituted 7% of the inhabitants (perhaps an underestimation), Germans - 6%, Lithuanians and Ruthenians - 4%.
The lyrics of modern Poland's national anthem refers to Napoleon's client state:
Administrative division of the Duchy of Warsaw was based on departments, which were headed by prefects. It was a solution adopted after the French model, as the entire Duchy was in fact created by Napoleon, and based on French ideas, although the departaments were divided into traditional Polish powiats (counties). There were six initial departments, which had previously made Kingdom of Prussia’s province of South Prussia (1793/95 - 1807), but after the 1809 Polish–Austrian War, and the Treaty of Schönbrunn, their number increased to ten (as the Duchy territory was expanded following the annexation of West Galicia). Each department was named after its capital city.
The departments were divided into powiats, and the powiats were divided into urban and rural gminas. Each department was governed by a prefect, while counties were administered by a prefect deputy (Polish: podprefekt). Main cities of the Duchy (Warsaw, Poznan, Kalisz, Torun, Lublin, Kraków and Sandomierz) were administered by mayors (Polish: prezydent), who were nominated by King Frederick Augustus I. The initial six departaments were created by a Napoleon’s decree of January 14, 1807.
In January 1807 the Duchy of Warsaw was divided into the following departaments:
Departament warszawski (Warsaw Department)
Departament poznański (Poznań Department)
Departament kaliski (Kalisz Department)
Departament bydgoski (Bydgoszcz Department)
Departament płocki (Płock Department)
Departament łomżyński (Łomża Department) - for the first few months known as Białystok Department (Departament białostocki)
Added in 1809, after the Polish - Austrian War (the four departaments of former West Galicia were created by a royal decree on February 24, 1810. On April 17, 1810, they were divided into forty counties):
Departament krakowski (Kraków Department)
Departament lubelski (Lublin Department)
Departament radomski (Radom Department)
Departament siedlecki (Siedlce Department)In 1815 the Duchy of Warsaw was divided into Prussian-administered Grand Duchy of Poznań and Russian-controlled Congress Poland. In 1816, the departments of Congress Poland were turned into voivodeships (see Administrative division of Congress Poland).Army of the Duchy of Warsaw
Army of the Duchy of Warsaw refers to the military forces of the Duchy of Warsaw. The Army was significantly based on the Polish Legions; it numbered about 30,000 and was expanded during wartime to almost 100,000. It was composed of infantry with a strong cavalry force supported by artillery. The Napoleonic customs and traditions resulted in some social tensions, but are generally credited with helpful modernization and useful reforms.Battle of Raszyn (1809)
The first Battle of Raszyn was fought on 19 April 1809 between armies of the Austrian Empire under Archduke Ferdinand Karl Joseph of Austria-Este and the Duchy of Warsaw under Józef Antoni Poniatowski, as part of the War of the Fifth Coalition in the Napoleonic Wars. The battle was not decisive, but it did result in the Austrians obtaining their goal by capturing the Polish capital Warsaw.Bydgoszcz Department
Bydgoszcz Department (Polish: Departament bydgoski) was a unit of administrative division and local government in Polish Duchy of Warsaw in years 1806-1815.
Its capital city was Bydgoszcz.
Following the Decree of 19 December 1807, the area was further divided onto 10 counties (powiats).Constitution of the Duchy of Warsaw
Constitution of the Duchy of Warsaw was promulgated by Napoleon on 22 July 1807 in Dresden. Together with the Napoleonic Code it was a significant reform of the Polish law and government in the new Duchy of Warsaw. The constitution provided for a bicameral Sejm and for a Council of Ministers. The new laws abolished serfdom and legal distinction by social classes (nobility, peasantry, townsfolk) by introducing a principle that all people are equal before the law. Serfdom was abolished, and personal liberty guaranteed. Duchy of Warsaw was a satellite state of France, with no diplomacy of its own. King Frederick Augustus I of Saxony became duke of Poland, and had control over foreign policy; a French representative was to reside in Warsaw and had significant influence over Duchy government. The duchy's army was subordinate to the French Army. It was, nonetheless, considered a liberal constitution for its time.Greater Poland uprising (1806)
Greater Poland uprising of 1806 was a military insurrection by Poles in Wielkopolska (Greater Poland) against the occupying Prussian forces after the Partitions of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth (1772–1795).
The uprising was organized by General Jan Henryk Dąbrowski to help advancing French forces under Napoleon in liberating Poland from Prussian occupation. The Wielkopolska Uprising was a decisive factor that allowed the formation of the Duchy of Warsaw (1806) and the inclusion of Wielkopolska in the Duchy of Warsaw.
It was one of the three most successful uprisings in the history of Poland, in addition to the Greater Poland uprising of 1918–1919 and Sejny Uprising in 1919.Józef Poniatowski
Prince Józef Antoni Poniatowski (Polish pronunciation: [ˈjuzɛf anˈtɔɲi pɔɲaˈtɔfskʲi]; 7 May 1763 – 19 October 1813) was a Polish leader, general, minister of war and army chief, who became a Marshal of the French Empire.
A nephew of King Stanisław II Augustus, his military career began in 1780 in the Austrian army, where he attained the rank of a colonel. In 1789, after leaving the Austrian service, he joined the Polish army. Poniatowski, now in the rank of major general and commander of the Royal Guards, took part in the Polish–Russian War of 1792, leading the crown forces in Ukraine, where he fought a victorious battle of Zieleńce.
After the king's support for the Targowica Confederation Poniatowski was forced to resign. In 1794 he participated in the Kościuszko Uprising and was in charge of defending Warsaw for which he was subsequently exiled. In 1798 Poniatowski was permitted to return, however, he refused the offer to serve in the Imperial Russian army submitted to him by Tsar Alexander I.
In 1806, after the creation of the Duchy of Warsaw, Józef Poniatowski was appointed the minister of war. In 1809 he commanded a 16,000-strong army during the Austro-Polish War and achieved tactical success over a larger and more experienced Austrian force in the battle of Raszyn. This was followed by the advance into the territory of Galicia. The conflict ended with a Polish victory which allowed the Duchy to partially recover lands once lost in the Partitions of Poland.
A staunch ally and supporter of Napoleon I, Poniatowski voluntarily took part in the French invasion of Russia. He was injured during the fighting for Moscow which eventually forced his return to Warsaw, where he worked on the reconstruction of the Polish Armed Forces intended to fight in Germany. Covering the retreat of the French army after losing the "Battle of the Nations" at Leipzig (1813), Poniatowski was repeatedly wounded and drowned in the Elster river.Józef Wybicki
Józef Rufin Wybicki (Polish pronunciation: [juˈzɛf vɨˈbʲit͡skʲi]; 29 September 1747 – 19 March 1822) was a Polish jurist, poet, political and military activist. He is best remembered as the author of "Mazurek Dąbrowskiego" (English: "Dąbrowski's Mazurka"), which in 1927 was adopted as the Polish national anthem.Kalisz Department
Kalisz Department (Polish: departament kaliski) was a unit of administrative division and local government in Polish Duchy of Warsaw in years 1807–1815.
Its capital city was Kalisz, and the area was further subdivided onto 13 powiats.
In 1815 it was transformed into the Kalisz Voivodeship.Polish Legions (Napoleonic period)
The Polish Legions (Polish: Legiony Polskie we Włoszech; also known as the Dąbrowski Legions) in the Napoleonic period, were several Polish military units that served with the French Army, mainly from 1797 to 1803, although some units continued to serve until 1815.
After the Third Partition of Poland in 1795, many Poles believed that Revolutionary France and her allies would come to Poland's aid. France's enemies included Poland's partitioners, Prussia, Austria and Imperial Russia. Many Polish soldiers, officers, and volunteers therefore emigrated, especially to the parts of Italy under French rule or serving as client states or sister republics to France (leading to the expression, "the Polish Legions in Italy") and to France itself, where they joined forces with the local military. The number of Polish recruits soon reached many thousands. With support from Napoleon Bonaparte, Polish military units were formed, bearing Polish military ranks and commanded by Polish officers. They became known as the "Polish Legions", a Polish army in exile, under French command. Their best known Polish commanders included Jan Henryk Dąbrowski, Karol Kniaziewicz and Józef Wybicki.
The Polish Legions serving alongside the French Army during the Napoleonic Wars saw combat in most of Napoleon's campaigns, from the West Indies, through Italy and Egypt. When the Duchy of Warsaw was created in 1807, many of the veterans of the Legions formed a core around which the Duchy's army was raised under Józef Poniatowski. This force fought a victorious war against Austria in 1809 and would go on to fight alongside the French army in numerous campaigns, culminating in the disastrous invasion of Russia in 1812, which marked the end of the Napoleonic empire, including the Legions, and allied states like the Duchy of Warsaw.Prienai
Prienai (Lithuanian pronunciation: [prʲɪɛaːɪ] (listen)) is a city in Lithuania situated on the Nemunas River, 29 km (18 mi) south of Kaunas. In 2011 the city had 9,867 inhabitants. The name of the city is a derivative from a surname Prienas. Pociūnai Airport is associated with the city.Sejm of the Duchy of Warsaw
Sejm of the Duchy of Warsaw (Polish: Sejm Księstwa Warszawskiego) was the parliament of the Duchy of Warsaw. It was created in 1807 by Napoleon, who granted a new constitution to the recently created Duchy. It had limited competences, including having no legislative initiative. It met three times: for regular sessions in 1809 and 1811, and for an extraordinary session in 1812. In the history of Polish parliament, it succeeded the Sejm of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and was followed by the Sejm of the Congress Poland.Senate of Poland
The Senate (Polish: Senat) is the upper house of the Polish parliament, the lower house being the 'Sejm'. The history of the Polish Senate is rich in tradition and stretches back over 500 years. It was one of the first constituent bodies of a bicameral parliament in Europe and existed without hiatus until the dismemberment of the Polish state in 1795. After a brief period of existence in the inter-war period the Senate was again abolished (by many accounts illegally) by the authorities of the Polish People's Republic. It was not re-established until the collapse of the communist government and reinstatement of democracy in Poland in 1989. The Senate is based in Warsaw and is located in a building which forms part of the Sejm Complex on Ul. Wiejska, close to Three Crosses Square and Ujazdów Castle. It consists of 100 senators elected by universal ballot and is headed by the Marshal of the Senate (Marszałek Senatu). The incumbent Marshal of the Senate is Senior Marshal Stanisław Karczewski.Stanisław Kostka Potocki
Count Stanisław Kostka Potocki (Polish pronunciation: [staˈɲiswaf ˈkɔstka pɔˈtɔt͡skʲi]; November 1755 – 14 September 1821) was a Polish noble, politician, writer, publicist, collector and patron of art.Stanisław Małachowski
Count Stanisław Małachowski, of the Nałęcz coat-of-arms (Polish pronunciation: [staˈɲiswaf mawaˈxɔfskʲi]; 1736–1809) was the first Prime Minister of Poland, a member of the Polish government's Permanent Council (Rada Nieustająca) (1776–1780), Marshal of the Crown Courts of Justice from 1774, Crown Grand Referendary (1780–1792) and Marshal of the Four-Year Sejm (1788–1792).The son of Jan Małachowski, the royal grand chancellor, Małachowski was named marshal (speaker) of the Sejm (Diet) in 1788. He was the prime force behind a constitution, adopted in 1791, that embodied such modern western European reforms as majority rule in parliament, separation of powers, and enfranchisement of the middle classes; this constitution was abrogated at the Second Partition of Poland in 1792. In 1807–09 Małachowski served as president of the senate (government) of the Duchy of Warsaw, promoted by Napoleon Bonaparte.Tomasz Adam Ostrowski
Count Tomasz Adam Ostrowski (December 21, 1735 – February 5, 1817) was a Polish nobleman (szlachcic), politician, spokesman, statesman and Count since 1798.
Tomasz became Colonel of the Crown Army in 1765, Chamberlain of King Stanisław II Augustus in 1767, castellan of Czersk since 1777, Court Treasurer since 1791, Marshal of the Sejm of the Duchy of Warsaw in 1809 and later President of the Senate of the Duchy of Warsaw and the Kingdom of Poland.
He was a member of the Permanent Council (Rada Nieustająca), and an opponent of the Targowica Confederation. He was a member of the "Zgromadzenie Przyjaciół Konstytucji Rządowej" (Friends of the May 3 Constitution). He was politically tied to King Stanisław II Augustus, and he also participated in the "Thursday dinners" held annually by the king in his palace in Warsaw.
He was the founder of Tomaszów MazowieckiTreaties of Tilsit
The Treaties of Tilsit were two agreements signed by Napoleon I of France in the town of Tilsit in July 1807 in the aftermath of his victory at Friedland. The first was signed on 7 July, between Emperor Alexander I of Russia and Napoleon I of France, when they met on a raft in the middle of the Neman River. The second was signed with Prussia on 9 July. The treaties were made at the expense of the Prussian king, who had already agreed to a truce on 25 June after the Grande Armée had pursued him to the easternmost frontier of his realm. In Tilsit, he ceded about half of his pre-war territories.
From those territories, Napoleon had created French sister republics, which were formalized and recognized at Tilsit: the Kingdom of Westphalia, the Duchy of Warsaw and the Free City of Danzig; the other ceded territories were awarded to existing French client states and to Russia.
Napoleon not only cemented his control of Central Europe but also had Russia and the truncated Prussia ally with him against his two remaining enemies, Great Britain and Sweden, triggering the Anglo-Russian and Finnish War. Tilsit also freed French forces for the Peninsular War. Central Europe became a battlefield again in 1809, when Austria and Great Britain engaged France in the War of the Fifth Coalition. Following the end of the Napoleonic Wars in 1815, the Congress of Vienna would restore many Prussian territories.Treaty of Schönbrunn
The Treaty of Schönbrunn (French: Traité de Schönbrunn; German: Friede von Schönbrunn), sometimes known as the Peace of Schönbrunn or Treaty of Vienna, was signed between France and Austria at Schönbrunn Palace near Vienna on 14 October 1809. The treaty ended the Fifth Coalition during the Napoleonic Wars, after Austria had been defeated at the decisive Battle of Wagram on 5-6 July.V Corps (Grande Armée)
The V Corps of the Grande Armée was a military unit during the Napoleonic Wars. The corps was originally formed in 1805 and was reorganized several times until it was discontinued in 1815.