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Free City of Kraków: Wikis


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Wolne, Niepodległe i Ściśle Neutralne Miasto Kraków z Okręgiem
Free, Independent, and Strictly Neutral City of Kraków[1] (Cracow) with its Territory
Protectorate of Austria, Prussia and Russia
Coat of arms of the Duchy of Warsaw
Flag Coat of arms
Territory of the Free City of Kraków (orange) and its three neighbours (Kingdom of Prussia, Austrian Empire and Russian Empire)
Capital Kraków
Language(s) Polish
Religion Roman Catholic
Government Republic
Legislature Assembly of Representatives
 - Established May 3, 1815
 - November Uprising November 29, 1830
 - Kraków Uprising November 16, 1846
 - 1815 1,164 km2 (449 sq mi)
 - 1815 est. 95,000 
     Density 81.6 /km2  (211.4 /sq mi)
 - 1843 est. 146,000 
     Density 125.4 /km2  (324.9 /sq mi)
Currency Polish złoty (to 1835)
Kraków złoty (from 1835)
The currency of the Free City of Kraków: 5 groszy coin displaying coat of arms of the Free City and 1 złoty coin of 1835
Free City of Cracow/Kraków 1815-1846
Galician slaughter (Polish "Rzeź galicyjska") by Jan Lewicki (1795-1871)

The Free, Independent, and Strictly Neutral City of Kraków[1] (Cracow) with its Territory (Polish: Wolne, Niepodległe i Ściśle Neutralne Miasto Kraków z Okręgiem), more commonly known as either the Free City of Kraków or Republic of Kraków (Polish: Rzeczpospolita Krakowska, German: Republik Krakau), was a city-state created by the Congress of Vienna in 1815, and controlled by its three neighbours (Russia, Prussia, and Austria) until 1846, when in the aftermath of the unsuccessful Kraków Uprising it was annexed by the Austrian Empire. It was a remnant of the Duchy of Warsaw partitioned between the three states in 1815.



The Free City was formally established on May 3, 1815. The statelet received an initial constitution in 1815, revised and expanded in 1818, establishing significant autonomy for the city. The Jagiellonian University could accept students from the partitioned territory of Poland. The Free City thus became a center of Polish political activity on the territories of partitioned Poland.

During the November Uprising of 1830–31, Kraków was a base for the smuggling of arms into the Russian-controlled Kingdom of Poland. After the end of the uprising the autonomy of the Free City was restricted. The police was governed by Austria, the election of the president had to be approved by all three powers. Kraków was subsequently occupied by the Austrian army from 1836 to 1841. After the unsuccessful Kraków Uprising of 1846, the Free City was annexed by Austria on November 16, 1846 as the Grand Duchy of Cracow.

Geography and population

The Free City of Kraków was created from the south-west part of the Duchy of Warsaw (part of the former Kraków Department on left bank of the Vistula river). The territory of the city comprised 1164–1234 km² (sources vary). It bordered with Russian Empire, Prussia and Austro-Hungarian Empire. It comprised the city of Kraków and its environs, the other settlements in the area administered by the Free City included 224 villages and 3 towns (Chrzanów, Trzebinia and Nowa Góra).

In 1815 its population was 95,000; in 1843 - 146,000. 85% of them were Catholics, 14% - Jews, 1% - others. The most notable szlachta family was the Potocki family of magnates, with their mansion in Krzeszowice.


The statelet received an initial constitution in 1815 which had mainly been devised by Prince Adam Jerzy Czartoryski. The constitution was revised and expanded in 1818, establishing significant autonomy for the city. Legislative power was vested in the Assembly of Representatives (Izba Reprezentantów), and the executive power was given to a Governing Senate.

In 1833, in the aftermath of the November Uprising and the foiled plan by some Polish activists to start an uprising in Kraków, the partitioning powers issued a new, much more restrictive constitution: the number of senators and deputies was lowered and their competences limited, while the commissars of the partitioning powers had their competences expanded. Freedom of press was also curtailed. In 1835 a secret treaty between the partitioning powers presented a plan in which in case of additional Polish unrest, Austria was given the right to occupy and annex the city. That would take place after the Kraków Uprising of 1846.

The law was based on the Napoleonic civil code and French commercial and criminal law. The official language was Polish. In 1836 local police force was disbanded and replaced by Austrian police; in 1837 the partitioning powers curtailed the competences of the local courts which refused to bow down to their demands.


The Free City was a duty-free area, allowed to trade with Russia, Prussia and Austria. It had no duties, very low taxes, and various economic privileges granted by the neighbouring powers. As such, it became one of the European centres of economic liberalism and supporters of laissez-faire, attracting new enterprises and immigrants, which resulted in impressive growth of the city.

Weavers from Prussian Silesia had often used the free city as a contraband outlet to avoid tariff barriers along the borders of Austria and Congress Poland. Austria's annexation of the free city subsequently led to a significant drop in Prussian textile exports.[2]

See also

Further reading

  • Norman Davies, God's Playground. A History of Poland. Vol. 1: The Origins to 1795, Vol. 2: 1795 to the Present. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-925339-0 / ISBN 0-19-925340-4.
  • Janina Bieniarzówna, Jan M. Małecki i Józef Mitkowski (red.) Dzieje Krakowa, t.3 (Kraków w latach 1796-1918), Kraków 1979. (Polish)
  • Feuchtwanger, E. J. (1970). Prussia: Myth and Reality. Chicago: Henry Regnery Company. pp. 262. ISBN 0854961089.  


  1. ^ a b The Polish variant of Kraków is occasionally retroactively applied in English to the historical Free City.
  2. ^ Feuchtwanger, p. 157

External links

Coordinates: 50°3′42″N 19°56′14″E / 50.06167°N 19.93722°E / 50.06167; 19.93722



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