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Targowica Confederation

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Hanging in effigy of the Leaders of Targowica Confederation, Warsaw, 1794, in the aftermath of the Warsaw Uprising (1794). Painting by Jan Piotr Norblin.
Russian general Vasili Stepanovich Popov, author of the text of confederation

The Targowica Confederation (Polish: konfederacja targowicka, IPA: [kɔnfɛdɛˈrat͡sja tarɡɔˈvit͡ska], Lithuanian: Targovicos konfederacija) was a confederation established by Polish and Lithuanian magnates on 27 April 1792, in Saint Petersburg, with the backing of the Russian Empress Catherine II.[1] The confederation opposed the Constitution of 3 May 1791 and fought in the Polish–Russian War of 1792, which led to the Second and Third Partitions of Poland.


The Targowica confederation opposed the Constitution of 3 May 1791, which had been adopted by the Great Sejm, especially the provisions limiting the privileges of the nobility. The text of the founding act of the confederation was drafted by the Russian general Vasili Stepanovich Popov, Chief of Staff of Prince Grigori Alexandrovich Potemkin. Its purpose was proclaimed in the small town of Targowica and the Potocki's estate (now in Holovanivsk Raion in Kirovohrad Oblast, Ukraine) on May 14, 1792.[1] Four days later two Russian armies invaded the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth without a formal declaration of war.[1]

The forces of the Targowica Confederation defeated the troops loyal to the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, the Sejm and King Stanisław August Poniatowski in the Polish–Russian War of 1792. As a result, the King, Poniatowski, formally joined the Confederation. Their victory precipitated the Second Partition of Poland and set the stage for the Third Partition and the final dissolution of the Commonwealth in 1795.[2] This outcome came as a surprise to most of the Confederates, who had wished only to restore the status quo ante and had expected that the overthrow of the May 3rd Constitution would achieve that end.[1]


The term targowiczanin, which historically applies to each member and supporter of the Targowica Confederation, became a synonym for a traitor, just as Targowica is synonymous with treason. These meanings still function in the Polish language up to the present day.[3]

Leading members[edit]

Other magnate members:

See also[edit]


  • From the Establishing Act of the Targowica Confederation:[8]

"The desires of Her Highness Empress of Russia [Catherine the Great], ally of Rzeczpospolita [the Commonwealth], are and were no other than by using her armies to return to Rzeczpospolita and Poles the freedoms, and especially security and happiness to all citizens"

  • One of the founders of the Targowica Confederation, Stanisław Szczęsny Potocki:

"Each true Pole, not blinded by the Prussian and royalist cabal, is convinced, that our Fatherland can only be saved by Russia, otherwise our nation will be enslaved".

  • After Stanisław Poniatowski's abdication and the destruction of the Commonwealth, Szczęsny Potocki said:

"About past Poland and Poles [I don't want to talk anymore]. Gone is this country, and this name, as many others have perished in the world's history. I am now a Russian forever."


  1. ^ 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.
  2. ^ 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.
  3. ^ 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.
  4. ^ a b c Richard Butterwick (1998). Poland's Last King and English Culture: Stanisaw August Poniatowski, 1732–1798. Oxford University Press. p. 310. ISBN 978-0-19-820701-6. Retrieved 8 January 2013.
  5. ^ a b c Davies, ibid., Google Prin, p. 540
  6. ^ Jerzy Jerzy Jan Lerski (1996). Historical Dictionary of Poland, 966-1945. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 268. ISBN 978-0-313-26007-0. Retrieved 8 January 2013.
  7. ^ Jerzy Jerzy Jan Lerski (1996). Historical Dictionary of Poland, 966-1945. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 342. ISBN 978-0-313-26007-0. Retrieved 8 January 2013.
  8. ^ Balázs Trencsényi; Michal Kopeček (2006). Discourses of Collective Identity in Central and Southeast Europe (1770–1945): Texts and Commentaries. Central European University Press. pp. 282–284. ISBN 978-963-7326-52-3. Retrieved 8 January 2013.