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New Castle in Hrodna, where the Grodno Sejm took place.
The Second Partition (1793).

Grodno Sejm (Polish: Sejm grodzieński; Belarusian: Гарадзенскі сойм; Lithuanian: Gardino seimas) was the last Sejm (session of parliament) of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. The Grodno Sejm, held in fall of 1793 in Grodno, Grand Duchy of Lithuania (now Hrodna, Belarus) is infamous because its deputies, bribed or coerced by the Russian Empire, passed the act of Second Partition of Poland. It started on 17 June and ended on 23 November 1793.

Developments

The Sejm was called to Grodno by the Russian Empire after the Polish-Russian War of 1792 ended with the victory of Russia and its allies, Targowica Confederation to confirm the Russian demands.[1] Grodno was chosen for the Commonwealth's capital, as Warsaw was deemed too unsafe for Russians (and indeed it would prove so during the Warsaw Uprising next year). Many of the deputies were Russian supporters (like marshal of the Sejm, Stanisław Kostka Bieliński), with Russian representatives bribing some deputies and Russian armies forcing the election of their favoured candidate at local sejmiks.[2] The Sejm was held in New Castle in Grodno in presence of Russian garrison stationed in and around the New Castle and commanded by Russian ambassador to Poland, Jacob Sievers, to ensure the obedience of all deputies; dissidents were threaten with beatings, arrests, sequestration or exile.[3] Many deputies were not allowed to speak, and the main issue on the agenda was the project of 'Eternal Alliance of Poland and Russia', sent to the Sejm by Russian Tsarina Catherine the Great, and presented to the Sejm as the 'request of Polish people' by the Polish supporters of Russia.[4] Nonetheless out of 140 deputies present about 25 vocally protested against the proposal, especially against the Prussian territorial demands. However with further threats and actions by Russians, on 14 October 1793 the alliance was passed by "acclamation". In fact, after a long debate, around 4 a.m., with Russian forces present and preventing anybody from leaving the room, the marshal of the Sejm asked three times if there is agreement to pass the act. When not a single deputy spoke, Józef Ankwicz, another known supporter of foreign powers, declared that it was as unanonimous vote of support[5] ("He who is silent means agreement"[6]). It was not the first time Russian Empire used such strategy: the fate of the Grodno Sejm resembled that of the Sejm Niemy of 1717 - where the only person allowed to speak was the marshal of the Sejm or the Repnin Sejm of 1767-1768, where opponents of Russian intervention were arrested and exiled to Russia.[7]

The Sejm has passed the following acts:

  • the Eternal Alliance of Poland and Russia: Poland became a subservient Russian ally,[8] in effect a Russian protectorate. Russian Empire was granted the right to have bases in Poland and the right to move forces through Polish territory at will. Poland was not to sign any alliances without Russian approval and to have sent diplomatic missions to foreign countries only together with Russians ones[9]
  • territorial changes granting parts of former Commonwealth territory to Russian Empire and Prussia[3]
  • Constitution of May 3 was abolished, although some it its provisions granting rights to burghers were retained
  • certain cardinal laws (free election, liberum veto) were reestabilished, together with the Permanent Council, now presided by the Russian ambassador.[1][3][10]
  • Polish army was reduced to 15,000
  • Polish highest military award, Virtuti Militari, recently created and awarded during the preceding 1792 war against Russia, was abolished

One of the consequences of the Second Partition was the Kościuszko Uprising, and the Third Partition of Poland.

See also

References

  1. ^ a b Levent Gönenç, Prospects for Constitutionalism in Post-communist Countries, Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, 2002, ISBN 9041118365, Google Print, p.55
  2. ^ Henry Smith Williams, The Historians' History of the World, The Outlook Company, 1904, Google Print, p.89
  3. ^ a b c Norman Davies, Europe: A History, HarperCollins, 1998, ISBN 0060974680, Google Print, p.719
  4. ^ Robert Bideleux, Ian Jeffries, A History of Eastern Europe: Crisis and Change, Routledge, 1998, ISBN 0415161126, Google Print, p.161
  5. ^ (Polish) Nr 37 (518) IV kadencja Aneks - Z dziejów parlamentaryzmu polskiego: Zakaz zbytkownych strojów - szczególna uchwała ostatniego Sejmu Rzeczypospolitej
  6. ^ (Polish) Edward Krysciak, II rozbiór Polski
  7. ^ Jan IJ. van der Meer, Literary Activities and Attitudes in the Stanislavian Age in Poland (1764-1795): A Social System?, Rodopi, 2002, ISBN 9042009330, Google Print, p.142
  8. ^ Jerzy Lukowski, Hubert Zawadzki, A Concise History of Poland, Cambridge University Press, 2001, ISBN 0521559170, Google Print, p.103
  9. ^ Vasiliĭ Osipovich Kli͡uchevskiĭ, Marshall Shatz, A Course in Russian History: The Time of Catherine the Great, M.E. Sharpe, 1997, ISBN 1563245272, [1]
  10. ^ Norman Davies, God's Playground: A History of Poland, Columbia University Press, 2005, qISBN 0231128177, Google Print, p.266
This article incorporates information from the revision as of 06 July 2006 of the equivalent article on the Polish Wikipedia.

Further reading

  • Jones, Robert E., Provincial Development in Russia. Catherine II and Jacob Sievers, Rutgers University Press 1984
  • Robert Howard Lord, The Second Partition of Poland: A Study in Diplomatic History, Harvard University Press, 1915
  • (Polish) Henryk Kocój, Targowica i sejm grodzieński 1793 w relacjach posła pruskiego Ludwiga Buchholtza, Wydawnictwo UJ, 2004, ISBN 83-233-1840-9
  • (Polish) Volumina Legum, T.X. Konstytucje Sejmu Grodzieńskiego z 1793 r. Wydał Z. Kaczmarczyk przy współudziale J. Matuszewskiego, M. Sczanieckiego i J. Wąsickiego, Poznań 1952.
  • (Polish) J. E. Sievers, Jak doprowadziłem do drugiego rozbioru Polski, Warszawa 1992;
  • (Polish) W. Smoleński, Ze studiów nad historią Sejmu Grodzieńskiego z 1793 r., "Przegląd Historyczny" t. VIII, Warszawa 1919;
  • (Polish) J. Wąsicki, Diariusze Sejmu Grodzieńskiego 1793 roku, "Czasopismo prawno- historyczne" III, Poznań 1951, s. 356-364;
  • (Polish) J. Wąsicki, Konfederacja Targowicka i ostatni Sejm Rzeczypospolitej z 1793 r. Studium historyczno-prawne, Poznań 1952;
  • (Polish) L. Wegner, Sejm Grodzieński ostatni, Poznań 1866.

External links

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