Robert Howard Lord.

The second partition of Poland; a study in diplomatic history online

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to July, 1792.

In the Moscow Archives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
(MocKOBciriii ApxHBi, MnHHCTepcTBa HHocTpaHHHX'b Jfix-b) I made use of :

(1) the correspondence of the Russian government with its envoys at
Vienna and Berlin, 1791-93, and Warsaw, 1791-92 (as also the
rescripts to Sievers for 1793);

(2) the mass of correspondence relating to the Confederation of Targowica
(Ceoraema cb IIojrLDieK), 1791-93, IX, 1-4), which contains especially
the correspondence of Buhler with the Empress, Zubov, and Oster-
mann, and that of F. Potocki, Rzewuski, and Branicki with the
Empress, Potemkin, and Zubov;

(3) Bezborodko's reports from Jassy, 1791-92 (CHomema ci TypnieK), 1792,
IX, 60) ; and some less important collections of papers.

Finally, I had the opportunity of using the correspondence of
Piattoli with Mostowski at Dresden, 1791-92, preserved in the
Archives of Count Zamojski-Ordynat at Warsaw; and the corre-
spondence of Ankwicz, the Polish envoy at Copenhagen, with his
government and with other Polish envoys abroad, 1791-92, from
the Ossoliriski Museum at Lemberg (MSS. 516).

From these studies in the archives, I have reached a number
of conclusions with regard not only to questions of detail but to
more fundamental problems, which differ from the views hitherto
generally accepted. The effort is made in the following pages
to show that the Second Partition was not a measure forced upon
Catherine II against her will by the importunities of Prussia, but
rather the consummation of the Empress' secret plans and am-
bitions. I have endeavored to bring out more clearly than has
yet been done by any writer except Heidrich the aggressive and
acquisitive character of Prussian policy, especially with regard
to the intervention in France. I have tried to correct Sybel's
exaggerated account of Leopold II's efforts on behalf of Poland,
while showing, on the other hand, that the Emperor's advocacy
of the new constitution was far more earnest and active than
Herrmann, Heigel, or Beer admit. In reviewing the long litiga-
tion between Austria and Prussia over the indemnity question,
I have advanced the view that Austria was in the right far more


frequently than German historiography, dominated by the
writers of the ' Prussian school,' has generally been willing to
concede. Finally, the previous accounts of the origin and devel-
opment of the Polish-Bavarian indemnity plan and of the evo-
lution of Russian policy in the Polish Question are considerably
supplemented by new materials in the present volume.

This book was originally prepared in partial fulfilment of
the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in
Harvard University. I wish to acknowledge my indebtedness
to the officials of the several archives in which it has been my
privilege to work; and to the numerous friends at home and
abroad from whom I have received advice and assistance,
especially to M. Serge Goria'inov, Director of the Imperial
Archives in Petrograd, Herr Geheimer Archivrat Dr. Paul
Bailleu in Berlin, M. Tadeusz Korzon in Warsaw, and Professor
Dembinski of Lemberg. I am under many obligations to Mr.
G. W. Robinson of Harvard University for assistance in the
preparation of the manuscript. Above all, I am indebted to
Professor A. C. Coolidge, at whose suggestion this study was
first undertaken, and to whose continued encouragement, advice,
and criticism I owe more than I can say.

R. H. L.

Cambridge, Mass.
September, 1915.


B. A Kgl. Preussisches Geheimes Staatsarchiv, Berlin.

M. A Moscow Archives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

P. A Petrograd Archives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

V. A K. u. K. Haus-Hof-und Staatsarchiv, Vienna.

F. B. P. G Forschungen zur brandenburgischen und preussischen Ge-


F. R. A Fontes rerum austriacarum.

F. z. D. G Forschungen zur deutschen Geschichte.

H. Vjschr Historische Vierteljahrschrif t.

H. Z Historische Zeitschrif t.

R. H Revue Historique.

R. I. A Recueil des instructions donnees aux ambassadeurs et ministres

de France. (See Bibliography.)
Vivenot Vivenot, Alfred von, Quellen zur Geschichte der deutschen

Kaiser politik Oesterreicks wdhrend der franzosischen Revo-

lutionskriege. (See Bibliography.)

Apx. Bop ApxHBt KHfl3a BopoHnosa. (See Bibliography.)

Apx. Toe. Cob. . . ApxHBi Tocy^apcTBeHHaro CoBiTa. (See Bibliography.)

Pyc. Apx Pyccidii ApxHBt.

Pyc. dap PyccKaa Grappa.

C6opHHK/i. C6opHHKt HMnepaTopcKaro PyccKaro HcropmecKaro 06mecTBa.




I. The Polish Question. — General character and phases through
which it has passed. Its historical importance.

II. Causes of the Decline of Poland. — Decline primarily due to
political causes — to the unfortunate historic evolution of the Polish
constitution. The Stdndestaat. Analogies to, and differences from, the
constitutional development of other countries. The conquest of the
supreme power by the szlachta: their triumph over the Crown and over
the other classes of society. Their failure to organize their power properly.
Strength of the decentralizing tendencies. Impotence of the Diet as
against the Dietines. Imperative mandates. The Liberum Veto. Con-
federations. Unparalleled freedom and privileges of the szlachta. Ide-
ology of the szlachta-state. Arrested development and a century of

III. Poland in the Middle of the Eighteenth Century. — Area
and population. Lack of national and religious unity. Condition of the
peasantry, the towns, the magnates, and the poorer szlachta. Dis-
organization and paralysis of the government. Military impotence.
Summary of the results of ' golden liberty.'

IV. The Development of the Polish Question as an Interna-
tional Problem. — History of Poland's international relations from
the First Great Northern War to the accession of Catherine II. Policy
of France towards Poland; of Austria; of Prussia; of Russia.

V. The First Partition. — Catherine II, character and aims. Stanis-
las Poniatowski raised to the throne. His character. Troubles pre-
cipitated by Catherine's aggressive policy. An international crisis
terminated by a partition. This transaction not a triumph of Prussia
over Russia. Results of the First Partition.


The State of Poland after the First Partition. The

Beginning of National Revival 56

I. Political Conditions. — General character of the period. The
Russian rule. The Permanent Council. Financial reforms. The Edu-
cation Commission. Inadequacy of the political reforms of this period.

II. Signs of National Revival. — Marked economic progress. In-
tellectual awakening.

III. The Reform Movement. — Growth of reforming ideas. Moral
condition of Polish society. Confused and perplexing character of a
period of transition.



The Austro-Russian Alliance and the Outbreak of the

Russo-Turkish War 64

I. The Policy of the Neighboring Powers towards Poland after
the FrRST Partition. — Catherine provisionally committed to the
status quo. Unsatisfied ambitions of Prussia. Austria averse to further
partitions. Precarious situation of the Republic.

II. Relations of the Three Eastern Powers with One Another. —
War of the Bavarian Succession. Potemkin's hints to Prussia about a
new partition. Formation of the Austro-Russian alliance. Projects of
the Imperial Courts with respect to Turkey, Prussia, Poland. Idea of
an Austro-Prussian rapprochement.

III. Outbreak of the Oriental War. — Trip of the Empress to the
Crimea. The Turks declare war.

The Designs of Prussia 75

I. The Hertzberg Plan. — The problem before Prussia. Hertzberg's
' universal panacea.' His diplomatic campaign, and the formation of
the Triple Alliance.

II. Counter Measures of the Imperial Courts. — Alarm at
Vienna. The Russian declaration to Austria guaranteeing the integrity
of Poland. Further projects for thwarting the ambitions of Prussia.


The Plan for a Russo-Polish Alliance 82

I. Stanislas' Plan for an Alliance with Russia. — Aims and
policy of the King of Poland. His proposals to Catherine in 1787.
Offers of the magnates to her.

II. The Secret Designs of Potemkxn. — Position and aims of the
Tauric Prince. The ' Kingdom of Dacia.' Intrigues with the Polish
magnates. Scheme for a Cossack and peasant uprising in the Ukraine.
ni. Catherine's Plans for the Alliance. — The Empress' atti-
tude towards the King and Potemkin. Her draft for the treaty of
alliance. Disillusionment and humble submission of the King.

IV. The Collapse of the Plan before the Opposition of Prus-
sia. — Explosion of indignation at Berlin. Revolution in Prussian
policy. The Empress withdraws the project, but Prussia is not ap-


The Overthrow of Russian Rule in Poland 92

I. Public Opinion on the Eve of the Great Diet. — The impres-
sion produced by the Oriental war in Poland. The King's program,
and that of the ' Patriots.'

II. The Diet Effects a Revolution. — The meeting of the Four
Years' Diet. Parties. The Prussian declaration. Triumph of the
Patriotic and anti-Russian party. Overthrow of every external sign of
Russian control.

III. Attitude of Prussia towards the Revolution at Warsaw. —
Tortuous and uncertain character of Prussian policy. Original aim of
the Prussian intervention in Poland. Desire to provoke a Counter-
confederation. Attempts to get the Diet dissolved. Embarrassment
produced at Berlin by the victory of the ' Prussian party ' at Warsaw.

IV. Attitude of the Imperial Courts. — Austria counsels prudence
and moderation at St. Petersburg. Catherine's wrath against Prussia.
Decision to postpone her revenge. Potemkin's visit to the capital.
Talk of a new partition of Poland. The danger averted.


The Prusso-Polish Alliance 112

I. General Reflections on this Alliance.

II. Origin of the Project. — Desire of the Polish ' Patriots ' for an
alliance with England and Prussia. Proposals sent to Berlin in July,
1789. Crisis in the general policy of Prussia. Hertzberg counsels im-
mediate action. The King decides for a great offensive enterprise in
the following year. The Prusso-Turkish alliance.

III. Realization of the Project. — The alliance agreed upon.
Stanislas' efforts to prevent it. Hertzberg's demand for Dantzic and
Thorn. Consternation at Warsaw. The demand withdrawn. Conclu-
sion of the alliance. Its aim and significance.

Reichenbach 128

I. Leopold II. — His accession; character and aims. Overtures to
Prussia. Pitt's proposal of the status quo mite as the basis for a general
pacification. Frederick William persuaded to enter into negotiations.

II. The Austro-Prussian Negotiation. — Exchange of letters and
memorials. Dilatory tactics of both sides.


III. Austrian Appeals to Russia. — Kaunitz's demands at St.
Petersburg. The Empress and Potemkin absorbed in other affairs.
Potemkin's plan for the seizure of the Ukraine. Austria abandons
hope of aid from Russia. Decision to treat with Prussia.

TV. The Convention of Reichenbach. — The respective situations
of Austria and Prussia on the eve of the congress. The negotiation
between Hertzberg and Spielmann. Frederick William's abrupt change
of front. Leopold accepts the strict status quo principle. Signature of
the Convention.

V. Results. — Significance of the denouement at Reichenbach for
Austria; for Prussia; for Poland.


Catherina Constans Invicta 153

I. The Problem of Imposing the Status Quo upon Russia. —
Catherine's terms for her peace with the Turks. Her animosity against
" the new dictators of Europe." Rude repulse administered to the
dictators. Diplomacy exhausted.

II. Deliberations at Berlin and London. — Double and triple-
faced policy of Prussia. Frederick William's overtures to Austria for
a reconciliation and joint action against the French Revolution. His
overtures to Russia. Reluctance of the Prussians to go to war over
the question of Oczakow. Pitt's ' Federative System.' His plans with
regard to Poland. Under Ewart's influence, he decides to coerce Russia.
Preliminary reconnoissance.

III. Diplomatic Battles. — Efforts of both sides to win allies. Atti-
tude of the Bourbon Courts, Denmark, Sweden. Zeal of the Poles for
a war with Russia; dampened by the equivocal attitude of Prussia.
Pitt's intervention at Warsaw. The Dantzic question. Attitude of
Austria. Bischoffwerder's first mission to Vienna.

IV. The Crisis. — England and Prussia decide upon the most vigor-
ous measures. Catherine's firmness put to the supreme test. Potem-
kin at St. Petersburg: leads the Empress into one false step towards
Prussia; again advocates a partition of Poland. Catherine's prepara-
tions to resist all her enemies.

V. The Backdown of the Triple Alliance. — Attitude of the
British public towards Russia and the Eastern Question. Storm of
opposition to Pitt's policy in Parliament and in the country. Pitt's
decision to abandon the principle of the strict status quo. Prussia joins
in the retreat. Fawkener's mission to St. Petersburg. Complete
triumph of the Empress. This outcome unfortunate for Poland.



The Revolution of the Third of May and the Formation
of the Austro-Prussian Alliance 192

I. The Third of May. — Delays and difficulties in the way of consti-
tutional reform in Poland. Question of the hereditary succession.
The ' conspiracy ' of the King and the ' Patriot ' leaders. The events
of May 3, 1 791 at Warsaw. Analysis of the new constitution. Its

II. Attitude of the Neighboring Powers. — Frederick William,
against the advice of his ministers, expresses warm approval of the new
constitution. Leopold and Kaunitz not informed in advance of the
plans of the Polish reformers. They welcome the revolution at Warsaw;
and endeavor to persuade Russia to acquiesce in it.

III. The Vienna Convention of July 25, 1791. — Leopold II and
Lord Elgin. Bischoffwerder's second mission to the Emperor. The
crisis in French affairs induces Leopold to accept the Prussian alliance.
The conclusion of the preliminary Convention. Indignation of the
Prussian ministers. The end of the Oriental crisis. Its results.


The Development of the French and Polish Questions
to the Death of Leopold II 217

I. Austria's First Proposals for a General Concert on French
Affairs. — The Circular of Padua. Responses of the Powers. The
interview at Pillnitz. Temporary lull in French affairs.

II. Leopold's Effort in Behalf of Poland. — Critical state of the
Polish Question. The Austrian program of November. Proposals to
Prussia. Supreme effort to induce Russia to agree to the new Polish
constitution. Landriani's mission to Dresden.

III. Discussions between Austria and Prussia. — Renewal of the
French crisis. Austria driven to resume the plan for a concert and to
seek a thorough understanding with Prussia. Frederick William's ag-
gressive policy towards France. Territorial aggrandizement its essen-
tial aim. The question of ' indemnities.' His altered attitude towards
Poland; and rapprochement with Russia. Austria forced to concessions
in the Polish Question. Conclusion of the Austro-Prussian alliance

IV. Further Aggravation of the Crisis. — Goltz discovers a great
secret at St. Petersburg. First signs of Prussia's desire to take the in-
demnities for an intervention in France at the expense of Poland. Bis-
choffwerder's third mission to Vienna. Death of Leopold II. His politi-
cal system already crumbling. His popularity in Poland.



The Outbreak of War in East and West 243

I. Russian Designs against Poland. — Catherine's attitude towards
Poland since 1788. Potemkin's schemes. Two rescripts to him. His

II. Development of the Empress' Plans. — Catherine's anger
against Austria. The Polish malcontents at Jassy. Bezborodko recom-
mends an understanding with Prussia. First overtures of Russia to the
German Powers regarding the overthrow of the new Polish constitution.

III. " The Death-Sentence of Poland." — Francis II and his
advisers. Austria's last effort to save the Polish constitution. Fred-
erick William decides in favor of a new partition. He waits for Russia
to make the first proposal.

IV. The Origins of the Polish-Bavarian Project. — Spielmann
despairs of saving Poland; and is tempted to revive the project for the
Bavarian Exchange. Significant ' conversations ' between the diplo-
mats at Vienna. Spielmann's first overtures to Prussia regarding a new
partition. Kaunitz still clings to the policy of Leopold II.

V. The German Powers and the Intervention in France. —
Austria's rights to the support of Prussia. Frederick William's concep-
tion of the nature of his participation in the war. Lack of a definite and
binding agreement on this subject; or with respect to the indemnities.

VI. The Russian Intervention in Poland. — The Polish mal-
contents at St. Petersburg. Formation of the Confederation of Tar-
gowica. Catherine's final military and diplomatic preparations. Her
attitude towards the question of a new partition. The two ' counter-
revolutions ' in France and Poland. Their interaction upon one another.


The Russian Reconquest of Poland 283

I. Polish Preparations for Resistance. — State of Poland on the
eve of the Russian attack. Energetic but belated measures for national
defence. The end of the Four Years' Diet.

II. The Campaign of 1792. Prussia summoned to recognize the casus
foederis. Potocki's mission to Berlin. Frederick William refuses aid.
Military resources of Poland. The campaign in Lithuania and the
Ukraine. Situation at the moment of the cessation of hostilities.

III. The Collapse of the National Resistance. — Stanislas in
terror. He insists on negotiations. His overtures to the Empress, and
her reply. The extraordinary council of July 23. The King goes over
to the Confederation of Targowica. Flight of the Patriots. Submission
of the army. Poland prostrate.


IV. Attitude of the German Powers. — Irritation and embarrass-
ment at Berlin and Vienna. Kaunitz's plan to checkmate the Empress.
The Austro-Prussian declaration to Russia. Failure of the joint action.

V. The Empress Renews Her Alliances with Both the Ger-
man Powers.

Austria and Prussia Agree upon a Partition 310

I. Prussia Takes the Initiative in Proposing a Partition. —
The conference at Potsdam. Pointed hints to Russia. The secret corre-
spondence between Schulenburg and Spielmann. The Polish-Bavarian
plan agreed upon in principle.

II. Kaunitz's Fruitless Opposition and Retirement.

III. Austrian Overtures to Russia. — Razumovski's conversations
with Cobenzl and Spielmann. The Polish-Bavarian project formally
proposed by Austria at St. Petersburg.

IV. Reciprocal Advances between Russia and Prussia. — Cath-
erine's significant overtures on the indemnity question. Prussia replies
by revealing her ambitions in Poland.


Austria and Prussia Disagree about the Partition . . .326

I. The Demand for Ansbach and Baireuth. — The Austrian minis-
terial conference at Frankfort. The Austro-Prussian conferences at
Mainz. First rift in the alliance.

II. Austria Insists upon her Demand. — Reflections and illusions
of Austrian ministers. Encouraging news from St. Petersburg. A new
onset upon Prussia.

III. The Prussian Resistance Stiffens. — Exasperation, suspici-
ons, and anxieties of the Prussian ministers. Their decision to seek an
understanding first of all with Russia. The demand for the Margra-
viates definitively rejected. Danger of a Russo-Prussian agreement
without the participation of Austria.

TV. Perplexity and Vacillation at Vienna. — Dissensions in the
Austrian ministry. The Emperor decides to take his ' supplement ' in
Poland. He decides to take it in Alsace instead. Spielmann dispatched
to the King of Prussia to negotiate a final settlement of the indemnity



The Note of Merle 348

I. The Beginning of Speelmann's Negotiation. — Military dis-
asters. Spielmann's plan for meeting the new situation.

II. A Momentous Turn in Prussian Policy. — Austria's necessity,
Prussia's opportunity. The Note of Merle.

III. A Provisional Agreement. — Spielmann's fight against the new
Prussian principles. Reassuring declarations of the King and Haug-
witz. Plan for the forcible sequestration of Bavaria.


Haugwitz's Final Negotiation at Vienna 362

I. Dismal Situation of Austria at the Close of 1792.

II. New Policy of the Imperial Cabinet. — The resolutions of the
ministerial Conference of November 29-30. Unsatisfactory reply to
the Note of Merle. Haugwitz assumes his most " peremptory " manner.

III. A Chaos of Misunderstandings. — Conflicting testimony. The
dispatches to London. The ostensible and the secret instructions to
L. Cobenzl. Haugwitz ' vanquishes every obstacle.' The question as
to what concessions he really obtained. Results of the negotiation.


The Russo-Prtjssian Partition Treaty 377

I. Catherine Appears to Favor a Partition. — The evidence at
hand as to the Empress' attitude during the early stages of the project.
Prussia presses for an immediate agreement. Significant note of Bez-

II. Catherine Appears to be Opposed to a Partition. — The
Empress' anger at the fiasco of the allies in France. Her " rules " for
the negotiation with Prussia. Other motives for delay. The negotia-
tion at a standstill.

III. The Denouement. — The reasons for Catherine's decision to
settle the affair at once; and with Prussia alone. Her territorial claims.
A hurried negotiation. The treaty concluded.

rv. The Secret Convention of January 23, 1793. — The pretext
invoked for the Partition. The respective acquisitions. Illusory pro-
visions in favor of Austria. An unsurpassed triumph of Russian di-
plomacy. Mingled emotions at Berlin.

V. Preliminary Measures for Executing the Partition. — The
Prussian declaration at Warsaw. Entry of the Prussian troops into
Poland. Pitiful spectacle presented by the Confederates of Targowica.
Manifestoes of the partitioning Powers.



The Attitude of Austria towards the Partition . . . .398

I. The Communication of the Convention at Vienna. — Delibera-
tions of the Imperial ministry in January. Growing uneasiness in Feb-
ruary. Attacks on the leading ministers. " Indescribable sensation "
produced by the Partition Treaty. Fall of Spielmann and Philip

II. Thtjgut's Debut. — Character of Thugut. Manifold objections
of Austria to the Partition Treaty: their justification. Thugut's pro-
visional program. His overtures to the partitioning Powers, and to
England. Reflections on his policy.

III. Results of Thugut's First Action. — Temper and projects of
the Prussian ministry. Lucchesini's note verbale of May 15. Russian
reply to Austria. Prussia and the question of the Austrian indemnities.
England's reply to Austria.

IV. Further Development of Thugut's Campaign. — The search
for acquisitions. Thugut's suspicions and miscalculations with regard to
Prussia. He relies chiefly upon Russia. Attempts to secure a share in
Poland; and to postpone the execution of the Partition.

V. The Lehrbach Mission. — Thugut's plan to "amuse " the Prus-
sians with a dilatory negotiation. Prussian plans to give the negotiation
a striking finale. Lehrbach and Lucchesini. The crisis at Grodno.
The Prussian note of September 22. Virtual rupture of the Alliance.

VI. Final Negotiations of Austria with Russia regarding the

Second Partition.


The Attitude of England and France toward the Parti-
tion 440

I. England. — Change in Pitt's foreign policy since 1701. British
sympathy for Poland in 1792. England's entry into the war with
France, and rapprochement with the Eastern Powers. Pitt expresses
his moral reprobation of the Partition, but refuses to go further. De-
bates in Parliament.

II. France. — Traditional friendship of France for Poland. Con-
tradictory desire to conciliate Prussia. Foreign policy of the Girondists.
Lebrun's scheme for a coalition in Eastern Europe. The First and
Second Committees of Public Safety. Collapse of French effort in the



The Diet of Grodno and the Consummation of the Parti-
tion 454

I. Preparations for the Diet. — The state of Poland in 1793.
Sievers. The King induced to go to Grodno. The elections. Plans of

Online LibraryRobert Howard LordThe second partition of Poland; a study in diplomatic history → online text (page 2 of 59)