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Confederation of Bar

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"Prayer of the Bar confederates" painted by .
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"Prayer of the Bar confederates" painted by Artur Grottger.

The Confederation of Bar (Polish Konfederacja barska) (17681776), a grouping of Polish szlachta, formed at the fortress of Bar in Podolia in 1768 to defend the internal and external independence of Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth against the aggressions of the Russian Empire and against Stanislaus II Augustus Poniatowski and Polish reformists who attempted to limit the powers of wealthy nobility (szlachta). The originators of the Bar confederation included magnates Adam Krasiński, bishop of Kamenets, Kazimierz Pułaski and Michał Krasiński. Despite several victories against the Russians, the confederation succeeded only in faciliting the First Partition of Poland.

History

King Stanislaw at first inclined to mediate between the confederates and Russia, represented by her representative at Warsaw, Prince Nikolai Repnin; but finding this impossible, sent a force against them under the grand hetman Franciszek Ksawery Branicki and two generals, who captured Bar. Nevertheless, a simultaneous outbreak of a jacquerie in Ukraine contributed to the extension of the confederation throughout the eastern province of Poland and even in Lithuania. The confederates, thereupon, appealed for help abroad and contributed to bring about a war between Russia and the Ottoman Empire. So serious did the situation become that Frederick II advised Catherine II of Russia to come to terms with the confederates.

Confederation bands, under Ignacy Malczewski, Michał Pac and Prince Karol Radziwiłł ravaged the land in every direction, won several engagements over the Russians, and at last, utterly ignoring the king, sent envoys on their own account to the principal European powers. In 1770 the Council of the Confederation transferred from its original seat in Silesia to Hungary, whence it conducted diplomatic negotiations with France, Austria and Turkey with the view of forming a league against Russia. The court of Versailles sent Charles Franšois Dumouriez to act as commander-in-chief of the confederates, but neither as a soldier nor as a politician did this adroit adventurer particularly distinguish himself, and his account of his experiences does great injustice to the confederates.

Among other blunders, he pronounced King Stanislaus a tyrant and a traitor at the very moment when he was about to accede to the Confederation. The king thereupon reverted to the Russian faction, and the Confederation lost the confidence of Europe. Nevertheless, its army, thoroughly reorganized by Dumouriez, gallantly maintained the hopeless struggle for some years; the last traces of it did not disappear until 1776.

References

  • Aleksander Kraushar, Książę Repnin i Polska w pierwszem czteroleciu panowania Stanisława Augusta (1764-1768), (Prince Repin and Poland in the first four years of rule of Stanislaw August (1764-1768))
    • 2nd edition, corrected and expanded. vols. 1-2, Krakˇw 1898, G. Gebethner i Sp.
    • Revised edition, Warszawa: Gebethner i Wolff; Krakˇw: G. Gebethner i Spˇłka, 1900.
  • F. A. Thesby de Belcour, The Confederates of Bar (in Polish) (Cracow, 1895)
  • Charles Francois Dumouriez, MÚmoires et correspondance (Paris, 1834).

Original text from the 1911 Encyclopaedia Britannicade:Konf÷deration von Bar pl:Konfederacja barska

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