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1. Poles – an enslaved nation. Manifesto of National Government of the Polish Republic of 22 February 1846

“Poles! The hour of uprising has come – the whole torn Poland is raising and blending. [...]After all, you know what happened and what is still happening. The flower of our youth is rotting in prisons. Old men who supported us with advice are subjected to desecration. Our priests are stripped of their authority. In short, anyone who in action or just in thoughts wanted to live, to die for Poland, is, destroyed, or left to rot in prison, or is exposed to that again and again. [...] They wrench out our fame. They are forbidding our language. They prohibit us from professing the faith of our fathers. [...] They make brothers fight brothers. They spread slanders against the worthiest sons of the fatherland. Brothers! Only one step more and there will no longer be Poland nor a single Pole. Our grandchildren will curse our memory. Because from the most beautiful land, we left them only ruins and deserts. Because we allow the poorest people to be shackled, so they profess alien faith, speak foreign language, and are slaves of violators of their rights.

The free nations of the world are calling us in order to prevent us from letting the most sacred principle of nationality fall. God Himself, who one day will demand an account, is calling us. We are twenty million. Let us rise together as one man and no force could overcome our power. There will be freedom that has never been on earth before. We will gain the structure of the society in which no one could use powers from and according to territorial possessions. The society where no privilege of any kind shall exist; where every Pole, his wife and children will feel secure; where those impaired since birth in body or mind will find inevitable help of the entire society without humiliation; where land, which today is only conditionally owned by the peasants, will become unconditionally in their possession. Rentals, serfdom, and any similar claims without any remuneration will cease. And dedication to the national cause in arms will be rewarded with the land belonging to national treasure. Poles! Since now, we do not know any difference between us. Since now, we are brothers, sons of one mother – homeland and one father – God in heaven! Let us call Him for help and He will bless our arms and give us freedom. But to have our voices heard, we shall not stain ourselves with drunkenness or theft. We shall not soil the blessed weapon with wilfulness or murders of heretics and foreigners, because it is not with nations but with oppressors that we fight.

And now the sign of unity: we wear national bows and take the oath: I swear to serve my homeland, Poland, with advice, word and action! I swear to devote all of my personal perspectives, property and life! [...]

Krakow, 22nd February 1846”

Source: Manifest Rządu Narodowego Rzeczypospolitej Polskiej wydany w Krakowie 22 II 1846 r. (Manifesto of National Government of the Polish Republic from 22 February 1846), from: Sobańska-Bondaruk M., Lenard, S.B. (1998). Wiek XIX w źródłach (The nineteenth century in sources). Wydawnictwo PWN, pp. 218-219.


Since 1795, Poles were deprived of an independent state and their territory was divided into three countries: Austria, Russia, and Prussia. These monarchies pursued a policy of complete elimination of Polish aspirations for independence. They were brutally suppressing all signs of Polish character – the language, religion and culture. Poles tried several times to fight for a free state in the nineteenth century. But their attempts always ended with failure. In 1846, the second national upraising was started under the banner of national sovereignty and the struggle for social equality. This time, the Austrian authorities (who controlled the Malopolska region with Krakow) made use of a growing conflict between the local nobility and the peasants, who were deprived of their rights to land and forced to work for Polish landholders. In Galicia, instead of a national uprising, there was the massacre of the Polish nobility carried by rebellious peasants. Despite that, Krakow Uprising was the first of the national uprisings which under the same banners were to roll through Europe over the next few years.

Difficult words from the text:

Slander – calumny, wrongful accusation.

Peasant – also: planter, farmer.


  1. What accusations do the authors of the Manifesto bring against the occupants?
  2. How does the Manifesto encourage peasants to take part in the uprising?
  3. How, according to the Manifesto, should the society be organized in regain, free Poland?

Display teacher's view to find the answers.

Description and Analysis

The answers to the “Open Questions”:

  1. What accusations do the authors of the Manifesto bring against the occupants?
    The authors of the Manifesto accuse the occupation authorities of cruel treatment of the Poles. The treatment was reflected by: not allowing Poles to follow their own religion or to use the Polish language; by setting one Pole against the other; slandering the greatest patriots; and punishing in a cruel way anyone who opposed the unfair treatment.
  2. How does the Manifesto encourage peasants to take part in the uprising?
    The peasants are encouraged to participate in the uprising with a promise of receiving the land owned by the state in exchange for service in the insurgent army. They should be also motivated to fight for the free homeland by a vision of regaining the country where they would get the right to land and be released from the duty to serve their master.
  3. How, according to the Manifesto, should the society be organized in regain, free Poland?
    According to the authors of the Manifesto, a free society in Poland should be composed of citizens who are equal to each other. All the privileges arising from birth should be abolished. All users of lands should become owners of it and should be released from duties to the previous owners. The authors of the Manifesto also mention providing help to the sick and handicapped citizens by the state and society.

Geographical/Historical Context

Although the Krakow Uprising broke out in February 1846 (two years before the beginning of revolutionary movements in Europe known as the Spring of Nations) historians agree that these events can be considered a prelude to major social uprisings which shook the continent in 1848 and 1849.

The Krakow Uprising is, however, worth attention not only because of that fact. As you know, the Spring of Nations originated out of two basic problems: aspirations of nations (that had awareness of historical and cultural distinction) to become free from the rule of conservative great powers; and the struggle of societies for political and economic equality. In case of events in Galicia (very roughly speaking – the region of today’s Malopolska and western Ukraine), both of these phenomena occurred at the same time. They took the form of bloody fratricidal fight which was skilfully fostered and stimulated by the Austrian authorities.

Poles lost sovereignty in 1795 as a result of partition of their lands by three neighbouring powers – Austria, Russia and Prussia. Since that time, they did not abandon the thought of taking the armed struggle to regain their homeland even for a moment. After the fall of the November Uprising of 1830 and 1831, another national uprising was planned in 1846. The conspirators’ actions were foiled by the arrests that had taken place earlier that year in Congress Poland (the Polish Kingdom). It did not discourage the undergroud activists from Galicia, who proclaimed formation of the Government of the Polish Republic on 22 February 1846 and the beginning of armed fight against the occupants. Jan Tyssowski, Ludwik Gorzkowski and Aleksander Grzegorzewski were authors of the Manifesto and members of the insurgent committee. Tyssowski soon declared himself a dictator of the uprising. Yet it was Edward Dembowski, the “Red Castellan”, known for his radical views, who played the major role during the events in Krakow. The insurgents’ program got radical mainly because of his inspiration. They called for all classes of Polish society, especially those most impaired (politically and economically) in the old Republic – the peasants – to join in the fight. However, convincing them to take part in the uprising proved impossible, despite promises to give land, abolish serfdom and rents as well as to give protection by the state.

The Austrian authorities used the antagonism between the Polish nobility and the peasantry to fuel conflicts between the Poles for a long time. In questionable cases, authorities always stood on the side of the peasants in order to convince them that the Emperor is the only protector of their interests. This policy bore fruit in 1846. Peasants convinced by rumours spread by the Austrians, believed that the uprising is really directed against them. Encouraged by the authorities they attacked the mansions. They burnt, robbed and brutally killed their former masters. The peasant movement was headed by Jakub Szela who became a symbol of the Galician massacre. When he was no longer needed by the Austrians, he received a small estate in Bukovina for his work.

Under these conditions, the Krakow Uprising was easily crushed by Austrian forces, especially after Dembowski’s death during one of the clashes. The Austrians incorporated Krakow directly to the Empire after the pacification of the peasants.


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