At which point was dissolution of Polish state inevitable?

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: Before 1900' started by Jan Olbracht, Aug 9, 2019.

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When was dissolution of Polish state inevitable?

  1. The very begining of Polish statehood

    4 vote(s)
    4.0%
  2. The time of baptism of Poland-Mieszko I converted to wrong religion

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  3. The time of feudal fragmentation

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  4. End of Piast rule

    2 vote(s)
    2.0%
  5. Personal Union with Lithuania

    2 vote(s)
    2.0%
  6. Some point during Jagiellon reign

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  7. Creation of PLC

    2 vote(s)
    2.0%
  8. Elector of Brandenburg allowed to inherit Ducal Prussia

    5 vote(s)
    5.0%
  9. Deluge

    9 vote(s)
    8.9%
  10. Lubomirski's rebellion

    1 vote(s)
    1.0%
  11. Great Northern War

    9 vote(s)
    8.9%
  12. War of Polish Succession

    5 vote(s)
    5.0%
  13. Seven Years War

    9 vote(s)
    8.9%
  14. Bar Confederation

    3 vote(s)
    3.0%
  15. First Partition

    34 vote(s)
    33.7%
  16. Third May Constitution

    9 vote(s)
    8.9%
  17. Other

    7 vote(s)
    6.9%
  1. Jan Olbracht Well-Known Member

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    Possibly fate of False Dmitri played role there. Sigismund didn't want his son to be murdered. Tsar rulling from Warsaw would be outside reach of boyars.
    Second thing is he was not willing his son to go to Hell/abandon Catholic faith (although Władysław himself would not have problem with that).

    Propably least problematic solution would be just opportunistic landgrab.
     
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  2. alexmilman Well-Known Member

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    Tsar ruling from Warsaw was not an option but Sigismund was trying just that scenario. The same goes for his Catholicism: Wladislav, if converted, would be an acceptable choice for the Russians but Wladislav Catholic was not and Sigismund was even less so.

    Opportunistic land grab would be a routine thing but having Polish garrison in Moscow and Poles (and Cossacks) looting the land inevitably produced reaction going well beyond the usual level of annoyance. BTW, even opportunistic land grab on the East should be a lower priority comparing to the loss of the economically important Baltic provinces.

    You like to criticize JC for his low IQ but he had really bad genes. :)
     
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2019
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  3. steno19 Active Member

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    May 6, 2018
    Speaking on land grabs in the east, where do you think the best place for the PLC to try and maintain an eastern border is? Overextension into Russia seems like a bad idea since all it really ads is more poor lands and unhappy Orthodox Christians.

    Livonia seems to be more important but it was neglected in favor of adventures in Russia.
     
  4. marcinL Well-Known Member

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    Oct 31, 2008
    I am not so sure. You should rather check French neighborhood
     
  5. marcinL Well-Known Member

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    Oct 31, 2008
    Sure. They didn't even need to win the war, they needed to be strong enough to not to fold completely in face of a Russian police action and be cause enough trouble to buy peace without another partition. The Great Sejm unfortunately did things backwards, first they pissed off Russians, then enacted army enlargement, then passed constitution, and only then scratch their heads and say "hey, maybe we need money for all that stuff?" and by then Russia was finished with her wars and could take care of her protectorate having silly ideas.
    What natural defenses France, Prussia or Austria had? Natural defenses, unless we speak of oceans or truly impassable mountains are overrated. Like any other country PLC needed field armies and fortifications, but the nobility would pay for neither until it was too late (and they would not pay for them then too).
     
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  6. alexmilman Well-Known Member

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    Apr 24, 2018
    That’s the whole point. Fighting for saving economically important Livonia required serious military reforms (and probably some other reforms to support the military reforms) and considerable amounts of money. OTOH, during the ToT Tsardom was extremely vulnerable militarily even to the private “entrepreneurs” and Cossacks and, obviously, could be looted. Of course, it was practically impossible to retain a Catholic rule over any significant part of the Tsardom but some border areas, especially Smolensk (taken after 2 years of siege), had been annexed and even seriously polonized (even in the mid-XVIII nobility of Smolensk area tended to consider itself Polish and marriages with the Russians were relatively rare).

    The problem for the PLC was in a fact that there was no clear geographic or demographic borders and conquest was based strictly upon a military power (and opponent’s weakness). But the attempts to get these territories back started even before Tsardom fully recuperated from the ToT (before this, there was one more Wladislav’s attempt to make himself a Tsar by a virtue of conquest but attempt to take Moscow by storm failed). The 1st attempt (Smolensk War) was a failure: Russian army was only on the initial stages of modernization and Polish advantage in cavalry proved to be a decisive factor. But the lesson was learned and Tsardom kept hiring Western mercenaries and expanding their Western style troops while the PLC did little or nothing (to be fair, it seems that Wladislav managed to create somewhat modern infantry and Sobieski further improved it but in between it seems to be almost nonexistent). So it should not be a big surprise that when Tsardom in mid-XVII allied itself with the successful Cossacks the gains had been lost.

    What would be the best PLC border on the East? The answer probably depends upon the relations with the Tsardom. If they are good (Polish participation in the ToT is limited to a private enterprise), then probably the existing ones would do, especially if there is an anti-Crimean alliance (unlikely at that time): the borders had been stable between Sobieski and the 1st Partition. Of course, there is no guarantee that Moscow would not use Khmelnitsky Uprising even if the PLC is a friend.
     
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  7. Jan Olbracht Well-Known Member

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    Process of building proffessional administration was far from finished by the time of Third May Constitution. Tax collectors eventually appeared on Polish soil and Congress Kingdom of Poland was able to collect more money from taxes than whole PLC 40 years earlier, although that does not mean that Congress Kingdom had that much more cash to its disposition compared to PLC due to costs of keeping administration. Still, that process (switch from self-taxation to proffessional administration) already began under Poniatowski. By 1830 Congress Poland was no less effective in draining resources of its citizens than Russia.
     
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  8. Jan Olbracht Well-Known Member

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    Military system of PLC had to cope with problem of hetmans. Bathory (quite overrated ruler) made office of hetman given for life under influence of Zamoyski. Thus hetmans, highest military commanders, were not removable, even if they were too old or too sick for the job or captured by enemy and hetmans became more political than military figures (to the degree, that Augustus II once said, that he should try to get office of hetman instead of king, as the former had more power). That was one of many damages made to early PLC by Zamoyski.
     
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  9. alexmilman Well-Known Member

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    That’s all true but look at the other part of the equation: the only relatively stable source for financing an army was income from the royal estates. However, this income was not adequate for maintaining a regular army big enough for the needs of the contemporary wars. A king could do structural improvements, like introduction of the heavy hussars or creation of a regular infantry but these contingents were too small. As a result, the PLC had to rely either on feudal militia or on temporarily hired mercenary troops (providing Sejm gave money), private armies of the magnates or on the “entrepreneurs” like Lisowski, popular commanders capable of raising the troops out of volunteers expecting a good loot.


    A clear advantage that the PLC had (for a while) over the Tsardom was in the individual quality of the nobility which, rather paradoxically, was a product of the anarchy: a noble had to be ready to defend his individual honor with a sword while in the Tsardom was just a servant of the state for whom military service was a way to keep his estate and fencing was not a skill needed for survival because the quarrels had been resolved by litigation. For a while the individual quality advantage (and existence of the well-trained super heavy cavalry) was enough to provide the PLC with advantage on a battlefield but with the enemies acquiring a greater firepower, more advanced tactical skills and a greater discipline, the PLC inevitably found itself in a losing situation. Making hetman easily replaceable would not eliminate these fundamental problems.
     
  10. The Undead Martyr GOP Delenda Est

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    I'll admit that a "Habsburg style" dual monarchy vias a vis Prussia and Poland has been a minor fascination, and not hardly impossible. Prussia, at least pre Napopeon, was by no means guaranteed to drive west towards Germany, this being mainly an after effect of Russias preponderance in Poland, and to an extent the Hababurgs still being a thing.

    Whether such a thing could survive is another question- Prussia was Prussia in large part because it had to be, and because it had a lucky string of capable rulers- simply absorbing a big chunk of Poland would not have solved the latter's problems since I suspect such a kingdom would have many enemies both foreign and domestic and comparably few resources to spare, particularly if they dont get the Rhineland.
     
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  11. Jan Olbracht Well-Known Member

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    Yes, second partition being final one means, that Prussia is getting what it gets in 2th and 3rd partition and at least territory of OTL Austrian 3rd partition-vast majority of ethnically Polish lands would end under Prussian rule, while Prussia still has no part of Saxony and Rhineland, which they were given in 1815. Prussians naively believed that Poles could be assimilated within generation. Soon they'll be proven to be wrong. Taking into account, that during 19th century Poles had higher population growth than Germans ethnic composition of Prusso-Poland would gradually change to predominately Polish.
     
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  12. Jan Olbracht Well-Known Member

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    Nobles from Poland proper generally lacked military experience (no surprise, considering the fact, that from the time of Władysław Łokietek and his wars with Teutonic Order until Deluge Polish corelands have not experienced major war), something that was visible for example during 13 Years War, when mobilized nobles from Greater Poland were defeated by mercenaries hired by Teutonic Order at battle of Chojnice in 1454. Casimir IV was aware about low quality of mobilized nobles compared to mercenaries, but after his brother Władysław III ruined royal treasure for his Hungarian adventures and crusading lunacy. Władysław III was giving royal estates to nobles as lien for loans, as he needed cash in hurry, not thinking about long term consequences-most of these estates never returned to royal domain, reducing king's income and perhaps only positive result of Władysław's action was his death at Varna, that enabled his more capable brother to replace him on the throne. Casimir IV was left with empty pockets when war with Teutonic Order started, otherwise he'd hire mercenaries instead of calling mobilization of nobles, and 13 years war would last only few months and would end with crushing defeat of Teutonic Order (at the time of Battle of Chojnice TO lost all but 3 castles, and route through Neumarkt and Chojnice was the only way available for reinforcements from Germany to the Order. If Battle of Chojnice was won by Poles TO would be finished.
    Generally Jagiellons were not good at managing finances, with some exceptions-Sigismund the Old and Bona were slowly rebuilding Royal domain (not always legally) but under their son it starter to shrink again.
    Generally, making royal estates bigger and better managed (thus making King more independent financially) is doable with right people on right place.
     
  13. alexmilman Well-Known Member

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    Of course, what I said about nobility did not apply uniformly to everybody but there were plenty of reasonably good cadres in the border territories to address the needs of pre-modern warfare. However, the point remains that as good as they could be, these people were not substitutes for the regular troops, especially infantry.

    Now, while I have no idea how effective or ineffective the royal estates had been managed, even in the best case scenario they would be inadequate as a financing source for a modern army. While not every state has military expenses as high as in Petrian Russia (up to 80%), still maintenance of the regular army seems to be more expensive than what could be provided by the royal estates. There were cheaper (and less effective) models but they still required a reasonably strong government.
     
  14. Jan Olbracht Well-Known Member

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    Which is also not impossible-at the time of incorporation of Mazovia in 1526 Mazovian nobles had less priviledges and paid higher taxes than nobles in other parts of Poland, and their duchy was hereditary, not elective. Otherwise there was nothing special about Mazovia-the same language, culture, religion, climate and type of economy as in other parts of Poland.
     
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  15. Zaius Member

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    I propose that even as late as 1795 the Russian or Prussian monarch dying in some accident might have caused enough chaos for the third partition to be postponed indefinitely. As one poster here used to say, nothing is inevitable until it happens.
     
  16. Jan Olbracht Well-Known Member

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    At this point it would not delay it that much, although such late POD still gives chance for quick reborn of Polish state (if tsar Paul lives longer or Alexander happens to be Anglophobe).
     
  17. alexmilman Well-Known Member

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    I’m afraid that what I was talking about had little to do with what you are talking about. :)

    To start with 1526 is a little bit too early for the “modern” regular army and then, a single province, even if heavily taxed, hardly would provide a reliable financial base for a strong army of the late XVII - mid- XVIII.

    What I was talking about was a model by which the regular troops had been financed in the pre-Petrian Tsardom. The state was extremely short of coin so the regulars had been getting a salary augmented by the private income: at the time free of service the soldiers were allowed to act as traders (streltsy) or to work on the granted small plots of land. Of course, this was resulting in a potentially lower quality of the troops and the problems related to maintaining their households/businesses during the protracted war or even when they were sent to a garrison duty on a border (hence “famous” revolt of the streltsy). But it was still better than noting and had been making army affordable.

    Peter found a solution in his typical way: enforced recruitment in a complete disregard of the economy so that even with the military expenses amounting to 70 - 90% of the state income there was a need to close the “gap” by billeting troops in the private lodgings (AFAIK, not just for free but with the wide open field for the extortions by the military commanders).

    But the PLC “wojsko komputowe” (as I understand, wojsko kwarciane maintained from the royal estates was abolished in 1652) was financed by the Sejm and amounted approximately to 12,000 in the Kingdom and 6,000 in Great Duchy with Sejm’s approval needed for increasing its size at the time of war and in the case of a prolonged war financing could easily became a serious problem.

    You probably agree that army of 20 - 40k (or even slightly more) was inadequate of the needs of the state like the PLC, especially if a big part of these numbers is raised only on ad hoc basis. Having 2 practically independent armies (Polish and Lithuanian) was not helping either.
     
  18. Jan Olbracht Well-Known Member

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    I've used Mazovia as example, that OTL route was not the only one possible for Poland and certainly was not dictated by geography, climate etc. as in Mazovia it is not different than in other parts of Poland, so ATL Poland could look like one big Mazovia (that requires just Jogaila to be more lucky and avoid few mistakes). That is deep POD with big potential, but at later stages of development also lots of things could be improved, even the very cteation of PLC could be avoided (then much smaller Poland would be better managed that PLC was, great size and conflicts of interests between various parts of PLC, especially between Luthuania and Ruthenian lands of the Crown on one side and western Polish parts made it not easy to maintain internal stability. Eastern lands of PLC were source of biggest external and internal problems of PLC. It was area where most poweful magnate families originated (there were times, when single magnate family, like Pac or Sapieha, was practically controlling Grand Duchy of Lithuania) and most of envoys who were breaking Sejm through liberum veto also were from Lithuania and Ukraine (and usually were clients of these magnates). In other words-attempt to create one functioning state out of both Poland and Lithuania failed.
     
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  19. MuratIsMyWaifu New Member

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    The idea that the Polish state was doomed from the beginning is ridiculous. There were many points in history were Poland could become the leading power in Eastern Europe, i.e. first Piasts intermarried heavily with the Rurikids, so Polish-Kievan Rus' sort of union was possible, or without the Vasas and with Polish nobles caring more about Ukraine rather than Livonia, Poland and Sweden could get pretty solid anti-Russian (and later possibly anti-German) alliance. The point where Poland definitely can't dream about being a big player is failure to reform after the Deluge and Khmelnytsky Uprising. Even then, making Poland survive as a state in sphere of influence of Russia is very easy and what happened OTL was very unlucky for Poles (and lucky for Prussians). Taking Prussia out of the picture, which is fairly easy, given how lucky they were in 18th century, Poland would probably stay as a formally independent state, deeply tied politically and economically with Russia. And even with PoD as late as after the First Partition, Russia could just keep Poland around without the 3rd May constitution.
     
  20. JackLumber Mildly belligerent Canuck

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    I wouldn't say they were, despite being an electorate Brandenburg just kinda sucked.
    Prussia was a great power built from the ground up, Built by great kings and great luck