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Tadeusz Rejtan protesting against the partition treaty and immortalized in the painting by Jan Matejko.

The Partition Sejm (Polish: Sejm Rozbiorowy) was a Sejm lasting from 1773 to 1776 in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, convened by its three neighbours (Russian Empire, Prussia and Austria) in order to legalize their First Partition of Poland.

Russia was represented by Otto von Stackelberg, Prussia by Gedeon Benoit and Austria by Karl Reviczky (interesting enough, all three were Germans).

The Sejm begun on 17 April. The Sejm took place in Warsaw and the first 60 deputies and 9 senators declared it a confederated sejm (with decisions decided by the majority) to prevent liberum veto being used to stop it. The marshals of the Sejm were for the Crown of Poland, Adam Poniński, a Polish noble in Russian service, and for the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, Michał Hieronim Radziwiłł. Through some deputies tried to protest (notably, Tadeusz Rejtan (who stole the marshal's cane), Samuel Korsak and Stanisław Bohuszewicz), the Sejm elected a committee of thirty to deal with the various matters presented.

On September 18, 1773, the Committee formally signed the treaty of cession, renouncing all claims of the Commonwealth to the occupied territories. The Sejm on 30 September 1773 accepted the partition treaty (notable supporters of the partition, in addition to Poniński, included Michał Hieronim Radziwiłł and the Bishops Andrzej Młodziejowski, Ignacy Jakub Massalski, and primate of Poland Antoni Kazimierz Ostrowski, who occupied high positions in the Senate of Poland).

Those of the senators who protested were threatened by the Russians (represented by the ambassador, Otto von Stackelberg) who declared that in the face of refusal the whole capital of Warsaw will be destroyed by them, other threats included executions, confiscation of estates, and increase of partitioned territory[1] and some were even arrested by the Russians and exiled to Siberia.[2]

The Sejm authorized the Russians to confiscate lands of the recently abolished jesuits as well as take some of the royal lands (królewszczyzny).

The Sejm also introduced other reforms, some of which were seen later as progressive: Permanent Council, a proto-government, was created, as well as Commission of National Education (first ministry of education in the world). The fiscal policy was also reformed, with one tax being introduced and tariffs being reintroduced. Military was reformed, with hetmans being held more accountable to the Sejm. Szlachta was officially allowed to deal with trade and crafts (previously it conferred a risk of losing the noble status); and some reforms limited the severity of serfdom.

The Sejm ended on 11 April 1775.

References

  1. ^ Historia Encyklopedia Szkolna Wydawnictwa Szkolne i Pedagogiczne Warszawa 1993 page 525
    "Opponents were threatened with executions, increase of partitioned territories, and destruction of the capital"
  2. ^ Corwin

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