Learn more about Congress Poland
Congress Poland (Polish: Królestwo Kongresowe) is an unofficial term for the Kingdom of Poland (Polish: Królestwo Polskie, Russian: Царство Польское, Tsarstvo Polskoye), created out of the Duchy of Warsaw at the Congress of Vienna in 1815, when European states reorganised Europe following the Napoleonic wars. While this kingdom lost its status as a semi-independent state in 1831 and was from then on ever more closely integrated with Russia, its administrative organisation was sufficiently distinct for its name to remain in official Russian use, although in the later years of Russian rule it was often replaced, albeit inofficially <ref name=BEKP>Template:Cite web</ref>, with a more generic and derogatory term "Vistula Land" after all of its separate institutions and administrative arrangements were abolished. However, even after this formalised annexation, the territory retained some degree of distinctiveness within the Russian Empire and continued to be referred to informally as Congress Poland until the Russian rule there ended as a result of the advance by the armies of the Central Powers in 1915 during the First World War.
Originally, the kingdom had an area of roughly 128,500 km² (compared with over 1 million km² of Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth) and a population of approximately 3,3 million (in 1816) (compared with approximately 10 million Commonwealth citizens). Its population increased to 6,1 million in 1870 and 10 million in 1900. Most of the ethnic Poles in the Russian Empire lived in the Congress Kingdom, but it did contain some areas where Poles were not in the majority.
Congress Poland largely emerged as a result of the efforts of Russian foreign affairs minister Adam Jerzy Czartoryski, a Pole who aimed to resurrect the Polish state in alliance with Russia. Formally, the Kingdom of Poland was one of the few contemporary constitutional monarchies in Europe, with the Emperor of Russia as Polish King; his title in chief of Poland, in Russian, was Tsar, as in a few fully integrated parts opf the empire (Georgia, Kazan, Siberia). The main problem was that the tsars, who had absolute power -with the formal titel Autocrat- in Russia, similarly wanted no restrictions on their rule in Poland, while the country was given one of the most liberal constitutions in 19th century Europe. Congress Poland had a parliament (sejm) which could vote laws and was responsible to the tsar. It had also its own army, Polish currency (zloty), budget, penal code and a customs boundary separating it from the rest of Russian lands. In reality all opposition to the emperor was persecuted and the law was disregarded at will by Russian officials. Poland also had democratic traditions (Golden Liberty) and the Polish nobility (szlachta) deeply valued personal freedom, which made the autocratic and absolute rule demanded by Russia difficult to establish.
Congress Poland in its original form of a semi-independent state separate from Russia with its own distinct institutions, in personal union with Russia through the rule of the Russian tsar, lasted for a mere 15 years. Initially Alexander I was crowned as the King of Poland and observed the constitution. However, in time the situation changed and he granted the viceroy, Grand Duke Konstantin Pavlovich, almost dictatorial powers. His successor, Nicholas I declined to be crowned Polish monarch and instead continued to limit the liberties of Poland. In 1831, the Polish parliament deposed the Tsar as King of Poland in response to his repeated curtailment of its constitutional rights. The Tsar reacted by sending Russian troops into Poland and the so-called November Uprising broke out.
The end of Congress Poland as a semi-independent entity came with the crushing of the uprising following an 11-month military campaign, and from then on it gradually became an integral part of the Russian Empire. This was formalised through the issuing of the Organic Statute by the Emperor in 1832, which abolished the 1815 constitution used previously in the kingdom. As a result the kingdom's army and legislative assembly (Sejm) were abolished. In the next 30 years a series of measures bound Congress Poland ever more closely to Russia.
In 1863 the January Uprising broke out, but was crushed by 1865. As a direct result any remaining separate status of Congress Poland was removed and the political entity was directly incorporated into the Russian Empire — later even the country's official name was changed into "Vistulan Country" (Russian: Привислинский Край, Privislinskiy Kray), re-qualifying it as a province.
In the 1880s, the official language of Congress Poland was changed to Russian, the Polish language was banned both from the office and education, and the process of liquidating the autonomy was finished.
Throughout the 19th century the term Congress Poland continued to be used in relation to these territories, although the political entity they were connected with no longer existed. The term Kongresówka is currently used in the Polish language as a slightly derogatory term for all inhabitants of central Poland, who are considered by some inhabitants of former Austrian Galicia as rude, uneducated and barbarian.
 See also
 Further reading
- Arcadius Kahan, Russian Economic History: The Nineteenth Century, University of Chicago Press, 1989, ISBN 0-226-42243-7, Google Print
|Russian/Soviet territorial dominions|
|Metropolitan power: Image:Romanov Flag.svg Russian Empire - Soviet Union Image:Flag of the Soviet Union.svg|
| Monarchies in personal union with imperial Russia: Kingdom of Congress Poland (1815-1831) | Grand Duchy of Finland (1809-1917)
Russian imperial protectorate: Manchuria