Targowica Confederation

Eumenis Megalopoulos | Mar 25, 2024

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Targowicka Confederation - a magnate conspiracy formed on the night of May 18-19, 1792 in Targowica (actually April 27, 1792 in St. Petersburg), at the request and under the patronage of Empress Catherine II of Russia, directed against the reforms of the Four-Year Sejm and the May 3 Constitution, considered a symbol of national treason.

After the Four-Year Sejm passed the first constitution of the system on May 3, 1791, some influential magnates did not intend to submit to the laws established by the constitution and on May 14, 1792 formed a confederation in the small town of Targowica in the borderlands, with the aim of overthrowing it. In fact, the conspiracy was formed on April 27, 1792 in St. Petersburg under the patronage of Empress Catherine II, who had acted as guarantor of the Republic's system since 1768. The text of the act of confederation itself was drafted by Russian General Vasily Popov, head of Prince Grigory Potemkin's chancellery. It was attended by magnates: crown artillery general Stanislaw Szczęsny Potocki as marshal of the crown confederation, crown grand hetman Franciszek Ksawery Branicki, crown field hetman Seweryn Rzewuski, general Szymon Marcin Kossakowski and others. The publicist Dyzma Boncza-Tomaszewski became the secretary of the confederation. They sought to divide the country into independent provinces. To this end, they turned to the Empress of Russia for military assistance, obtained it, and on May 18, 1792 a Russian army of one hundred thousand men struck the Republic, starting the Polish-Russian war.

According to some assessments (e.g., by Wojciech Stanek), it was a reaction of the opposition to the constitutional coup d'état and the reforms of the Warsaw Revolutionary Sejm. The signatories of the act of the Targowitz Confederation were to accuse the authors of the May 3 Constitution: never before has the art of deception been seen in such a degree in our country, to which it has turned out in recent times. that the noble Polish nation experienced, with art and deception, freedom was snatched from it. Only partially, where it could be done, the edifice of the Republic was undermined, things were cooked to suddenly overturn it.

The war, also known as the war in defense of the May 3 Constitution, occurred after Russian troops entered Poland, after the Targowice confederates turned to Russia for help. Despite the victories won at Zieleńce and Dubienka by the Polish side, the Russians reached the Vistula River, which prompted King Stanislaw August Poniatowski to join the Targowicki confederation and issue an order to cease further fighting.

On the king's order issued on July 25, the armies of the Republic ceased hostilities, and commanders, including Duke Jozef Poniatowski and General Tadeusz Kosciuszko, resigned in protest. Many officers and civilian oppositionists went into exile, mainly to Saxony. Among those who acted in this way were the declared opponents of the Targowicka confederation, Sejm Speaker Stanislaw Malachowski and Ignacy Potocki.

The formally undeclared Russo-Polish war lasted from May 16 to July 26, 1792. After the premature capitulation of the Polish army as a consequence of the king's accession to the Targowitz Confederation, the Targowitzers occupied all the provinces of the Republic with the help of Russian troops, liquidating the organs of government established by the Four-Year Sejm.

After the Russian army occupied the lands of Lithuania, a general confederation of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, largely complementary to the Crown Confederation, was proclaimed in Vilnius on June 25, 1792. The Grand Chancellor of Lithuania, Alexander Michal Sapieha, was appointed Marshal of the Lithuanian confederation, and the Grand Hunter of Lithuania, Jozef Zabello, was appointed his deputy. In fact, the actual power over the Grand Duchy of Lithuania was exercised by the self-appointed Lithuanian field hetman Szymon Marcin Kossakowski and his brother, the bishop of Livonia Jozef Casimir, who directed the actions of his nephew Jozef Dominik, who replaced Sapieha, who was absent from the country. At the time, the Targowitz authorities, taking advantage of the protection of the Russian army, carried out many acts of personal revenge against the nobility and bourgeoisie, most of whom supported the work of the May 3 Constitution. Villages and towns belonging to patriots were burned, sequestration was imposed on their property, and they themselves were often publicly insulted. These actions were usually an opportunity for private enrichment at the expense of the victims and the Republic, for example, Bishop Kossakowski illegally seized treasury goods to the tune of 900,000 Polish zlotys. The Lithuanian Confederation established a different rate of exchange of the Russian ruble against the Polish zloty than in the Crown, 1 ruble = 6 Polish zlotys, in Lithuania 1 ruble = 6 zlotys and 20 cents. This resulted in a cheapening of goods exported to Russia or purchased by Russian troops on the territory of the Republic.

Deprived of armed assistance from his Prussian ally, and blackmailed by the specter of bankruptcy if the Russians demanded repayment of sums lent to him, Stanislaw Augustus Poniatowski turned to Catherine II by letter, proposing to her a perpetual alliance and his eventual abdication in favor of the empress's grandson, Konstantin. In response, Catherine II reiterated her support for the Targowitz confederates and demanded that the king join the Targowitz confederation. Pressure was also exerted on the king by the nunciature, persuading him to join the haggard confederates in accordance with the Pope's position.

In view of this position of the Empress and the Nunciature, the King decided to stop fighting and joined the Targowitz Confederation. He declared his accession to it on July 24, 1792. He saw his decision as "the most effective means to secure the entirety of the country and the fate of the Republic." Stanislaw August Poniatowski had already secretly negotiated the terms of the cessation of hostilities with the Russian deputy Yakov Bulgakov, who remained in Warsaw, through the mediation of the Lithuanian sub-chancellor Joachim Litavor Chreptowicz. Following the new instructions of the Vice Chancellor of the Russian Empire Ivan Ostermann, the Russian deputy edited the final version of the act presented to him of the King's accession to the Targowitz Confederation.

The king, complying with the demand of the St. Petersburg court, did not convene the Guard of Rights, the constitutional body of the state, but presented his decision at a meeting of the ministers of the Republic on July 23, 1792. The meeting was attended by: Primate Michał Jerzy Poniatowski, Grand Marshal of the Crown Michał Jerzy Mniszech, Grand Marshal of Lithuania Ignacy Potocki, Grand Marshal of Lithuania Stanisław Sołtan, Grand Treasurer of Lithuania Ludwik Tyszkiewicz, Grand Treasurer of Lithuania Antoni Dziekoński, court treasurer of the crown Tomasz Adam Ostrowski, great chancellor of the crown Jacek Małachowski, subchancellor of the crown Hugo Kołłątaj, subchancellor of Lithuania Joachim Litawor Chreptowicz, marshals of the Sejm Stanisław Małachowski and Kazimierz Nestor Sapieha, and prince Kazimierz Poniatowski.

The king's intention was approved by a small majority (7:5). The king was supported by Hugo Kollataj, supporters of further struggle included Kazimierz Nestor Sapieha, who initially belonged to the Hetman's camp. On July 24 Stanislaw Augustus submitted to the Russian deputy Yakov Bulgakov the accession to the Targowitz confederation demanded by Catherine II.

At the request of Catherine II, on September 6, 1792, the generalities of the two confederations - the Crown and the Lithuanian - began deliberations in Brest-on-the-Bug. On September 11, the ceremonial merger of the two confederations under the name of the Most Glorious Confederation of Both Nations took place. This act was blessed by the former Auxiliary Bishop of Przemysl Michał Sierakowski, who was present at the ceremony. Pope Pius VI issued a special blessing for the work of the Targowitz Confederation. Ardent supporters of the confederation were Primate Michał Jerzy Poniatowski, Bishop of Chelm Wojciech Józef Skarszewski, Bishop of Samogitia Jan Stefan Giedroyć, Bishop of Poznań Antoni Onufry Okęcki, Bishop of Luck Adam Tadeusz Naruszewicz and Bishop of Vilnius Ignacy Jakub Massalski.

It began work on eliminating the effects of the political changes introduced by the May 3 Constitution. Derogated all decisions of the Four-Year Sejm relating to military reform. Diplomatic relations with France were severed, expelling its deputy Marie Louis Descorches, and all diplomatic representatives of the Republic to foreign courts were recalled. It was also decided to send a special tribute delegation to St. Petersburg to thank Catherine II for her armed intervention and to propose a perpetual alliance between Russia and Poland. The Targowickian authorities, backed by the presence of the Russian army, forced the army and Polish nobility to make coerced accessions to the General Confederation, and banned the public wearing of the Order of Virtuti Militari and the use of symbols associated with the May 3 Constitution.

The Brest congress closed on September 27, deciding to move the general assembly to Grodno.

The Targowitz Confederation instituted a reign of terror in the Republic, with the help of the Russian army carrying out numerous lootings and contributions to the property of patriots. The war-ravaged country additionally had to endure the financial consequences of the 100,000-strong Russian occupation army. A measure of the downfall of the haggard leaders was the solemn message of the confederate leaders on November 14, 1792 to Catherine II, who thanked her for her willingness to restore freedom and the republican system in Poland. Not hiding their loyal feelings for the Empress of Russia, Franciszek Ksawery Branicki, Seweryn Rzewuski, Szymon Kossakowski expressed their joy at that time that when despotism settled the Polish throne, God and Catherine looked upon the unfortunate nation.

On January 23, Russia signed a partition treaty with Prussia, in which it agreed to cede the western provinces of the Republic to Prussia. Soon a corps of Prussian troops entered the borders of the Polish state to enforce the treaty. This turn of events ultimately discredited the leaders of the Targowitz Confederation, who, while they reckoned with the possibility of Russia annexing the eastern lands of the Republic, were convinced that Catherine II would leave the remaining territory intact as a Russian protectorate.

Russia once again decided to capitalize on the false patriotic fervor of the haggard citizens when Russian deputy Jakob Sievers allowed the Confederate generality to issue a protest manifesto against Prussian aggression and occupation on February 3, 1793. On February 11, the generality issued a universal, convening a mass movement, but was forced to reverse its decision as a result of Catherine II's persuasion. Some of the leaders of the Targowitz confederation left the country at that time.

In order to approve the partition treaties, Catherine II convened the Grodno Sejm on June 17, 1793. Held on May 29, assisted by Russian troops, the land sejmiks elected deputies recommended by the authorities of the Targowitz Confederation almost everywhere.

On August 22, a deputation drawn from the Diet signed a treaty of cession with Russia, in which the Commonwealth ceded a quarter of a million square kilometers of its territory. While the treaty with Russia was approved after a month of deliberations, the deputies did not even want to hear about the treaty with Prussia. The Russians then aimed cannons at Grodno Castle and, after a night of silence, on the morning of September 2, the cession to Prussia was approved.

On September 15, 1793, the Russians dissolved the Bargain confederation, which they no longer needed for anything, and in addition, since the February events, they could not be sure of the full loyalty of its members.

In its place, the Grodno Confederation was formed to draft a new treaty of perpetual friendship between the Republic and Russia.

The Grodno Sejm, sitting under the dictates of a Russian deputy, approved the partition treaties on September 24 and set about restoring the system of the Republic prior to the reforms of the May 3 Constitution. Among other things, he invalidated a large number of sancits (resolutions) of the generalities of the Targowitz confederation.

Most of the top leaders of the Bargain confederation were sentenced to death and hanged during the Kosciuszko insurrection.

After the insurgents captured Vilnius, a criminal court sentenced Lithuanian Grand Hetman Simon Kossakowski to be hanged. The sentence was carried out publicly on April 25, 1794, in the square in front of the local town hall.

On May 9, 1794, the leaders of the confederation sentenced to death by the Criminal Court of the Duchy of Mazovia were publicly hanged on the Old Town Square in Warsaw in front of the Town Hall: Great Hetman of the Crown Piotr Ozarowski, Marshal of the Permanent Council Jozef Ankwicz and Field Hetman of Lithuania Jozef Zabiello. The fourth condemned, Inflants' Bishop Jozef Kazimierz Kossakowski, was hanged in front of St. Anne's Church after his ordination was removed.

On June 28, 1794, the agitated people of Warsaw carried out self-executions against members of the Targowicki Confederation suspected of treason. The following were hanged in front of St. Anne's Church in Krakowskie Przedmieście: the bishop of Vilnius Ignacy Massalski, the castellan of Przemysl Antoni Czetwertyński, the deputy to Turkey Karol Boscamp-Lasopolski, the chamberlain Stefan Grabowski, the royal instigator Mateusz Roguski, the Russian spy Marceli Piętka, the lawyer Michał Wulfers and the instigator of the criminal courts Józef Majewski.

The Supreme Criminal Court sentenced Stanislaw Szczęsny Potocki, Franciszek Ksawery Branicki, Seweryn Rzewuski, Jerzy Wielhorski, Antoni Polikarp Zlotnicki, Adam Moszczenski, Jan Zagorski and Jan Suchorzewski to death by hanging, perpetual infamy, confiscation of property and loss of all offices. In the absence of the condemned, the sentence was carried out in effigie on September 29, 1794.


  1. Targowica Confederation
  2. Konfederacja targowicka
  3. Sławomir Koper, Wielcy zdrajcy od Piastów do PRL, Warszawa 2012, s.151,
  4. Wojciech Stanek, Konfederacje generalne koronne w XVIII wieku, Toruń 1991, s. 225.
  5. Anna Grześkowiak-Krwawicz, Zdrada 3 maja? Malkontenci wobec Ustawy Rządowej, w: Bo insza jest rzecz zdradzić, insza dać się złudzić. Problem zdrady w Polsce przełomu XVIII i XIX w., Warszawa 1995, s. 60, 63.
  6. Sławomir Koper, Wielcy zdrajcy od Piastów do PRL, Warszawa 2012, s.165,
  7. Łukasz Kądziela, Prymas Michał Poniatowski wobec targowicy, w: Od Konstytucji do Insurekcji, studia nad dziejami Rzeczypospolitej w latach 1791-1794, Warszawa 2011, s. 160-161.
  8. De même qu'en France, au même moment, beaucoup de nobles émigraient en appelant à l'écrasement de la Révolution par les armées étrangères
  9. Les « confédérations » polonaises, rébellions contre le pouvoir royal ou répliques à une autre confédération, portaient le nom de l'endroit où avait été promulgué l'« acte de confédération » initial.
  10. Graphie polonaise, prononcée « Targovitsa ». Ce village, Торговиця (« Torgovitsia ») en ukrainien, se trouve aujourd'hui en Ukraine, oblast de Rivne, raïon de Mlyniv.
  11. ^ a b c d Daniel Stone (2001). The Polish-Lithuanian State: 1386–1795. University of Washington Press. pp. 282–285. ISBN 978-0-295-98093-5. Retrieved 8 January 2013.
  12. ^ Tanisha M. Fazal (27 October 2011). State Death: The Politics and Geography of Conquest, Occupation, and Annexation. Princeton University Press. pp. 107–108. ISBN 978-0-691-13460-4. Retrieved 8 January 2013.
  13. ^ Patrice M. Dabrowski (2004). Commemorations and the Shaping of Modern Poland. Indiana University Press. p. 101. ISBN 978-0-253-34429-8. Retrieved 8 January 2013.
  14. 1,0 1,1 1,2 Daniel Stone (2001). The Polish-Lithuanian State: 1386–1795. University of Washington Press. σελίδες 282–285. ISBN 978-0-295-98093-5. Ανακτήθηκε στις 8 Ιανουαρίου 2013.
  15. Tanisha M. Fazal (27 Οκτωβρίου 2011). State Death: The Politics and Geography of Conquest, Occupation, and Annexation. Princeton University Press. σελίδες 107–108. ISBN 978-0-691-13460-4. Ανακτήθηκε στις 8 Ιανουαρίου 2013.
  16. 3,0 3,1 3,2 Richard Butterwick (1998). Poland's Last King and English Culture: Stanisaw August Poniatowski, 1732–1798. Oxford University Press. σελ. 310. ISBN 978-0-19-820701-6. Ανακτήθηκε στις 8 Ιανουαρίου 2013.
  17. 4,0 4,1 4,2 Davies, ibid., Google Prin, p. 540
  18. Γέζι Γιαν Λέρσκι (1996). Historical Dictionary of Poland, 966-1945. Greenwood Publishing Group. σελ. 268. ISBN 978-0-313-26007-0. Ανακτήθηκε στις 8 Ιανουαρίου 2013.

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