Does war deepen distrust toward the state? Reorientation of the Polish political thought under the influence of Napoleonic Wars

Michał Gałędek


Aversion towards a strong government was somehow natural, well-established by strong ideology deeply rooted in Polish tradition of a feudal state of nobility. The dislike for bureaucracy also grew on that ground and undoubtedly increased from the moment when the body of professional official servants was created for the first time in the Duchy of Warsaw, as a distinctive society group, which constituted a real threat for the noblemen’s interests. The war disorganisation of the Napoleonic era, coupled with the increasing oppression of the people reached its apogee at the downfall of France and occupation of Poland by the Russian army in the year 1813. The incessant war unrest, war damage and progressive pauperisation constituted solid grounds for deepening the distrust towards the executive authorities, which began to turn into hatred, aimed particularly at local officials, who were directly responsible for strict enforcement of public obligations. All that resulted, on the one hand, in the attempt to return to anachronistic pre-partition institutions, made by the elites responsible for transforming the Napoleonic state into the Kingdom of Poland, as the new state organism under the rule of the tsar. Some members of the traditionally-minded elites began to support openly the dismantling of the entire modern system for governing the country, as something completely discredited in the public eye. Resentments returned with double force, which was partly reflected in the constitution of the Kingdom of Poland enactedin the year 1815, which yet tried to reconcile the attempts to restore the former institutions with the Napoleonic heritage. On the other hand, however, in those war conditions, the original enthusiasm for executive authorities, characteristic for some members of the post-Enlightenment elites had been exhausted, as well as the belief that such authorities could constitute an almost-perfect instrument for modernisation and transformation of the backward state. In contrast, the critical attitude towards the government was strengthened; as a result, the strongest ideological trend in the Kingdom of Poland, i.e. the new liberal one, assumed the character of the trend which, ex definitione, regarded the executive authorities with distrust and, because of that, aimed, to a much greater extent than before, at limiting their power and subjecting them to more and more restrictive control mechanisms. That relationship formed the basis of the antagonism between the government and the political opposition in the Kingdomof Poland, which was quickly worsening, and finally led, in the years 1830-1831, to the revolt against the Polish executive powers, and thereby against the Russian emperor, which ultimately finished the Russian experiment of maintaining a separate liberalPolish state establishment.
Author Michał Gałędek (FLA/DHL)
Michał Gałędek,,
- Department of History of Law
Publication size in sheets0.50
Book Seco Mónica Moreno, Sirvent Rafael Fernández, Gutiérrez Lloret Rosa Ana (eds.): Del siglo XIX al XXI. Tendencias y debates: XIV Congreso de la Asociación de Historia Contemporánea, Universidad de Alicante 20-22 de septiembre de 2018, 2019, Biblioteca Virtual Miguel de Cervantes, ISBN 978-84-17422-62-2, 2019 p.
Languageen angielski
LicensePublisher website (books and chapters only); published final; Uznanie Autorstwa - Użycie Niekomercyjne (CC-BY-NC); with publication
Score (nominal)5
Score sourcepublisherList
ScoreMinisterial score = 5.0, 28-01-2020, ChapterFromConference
Citation count*
Share Share

Get link to the record

* presented citation count is obtained through Internet information analysis and it is close to the number calculated by the Publish or Perish system.
Are you sure?