Polish Insurrection of 1830–1

Polish Insurrection of 1830–1. An armed Polish revolt against Russian rule which encompassed the Kingdom of Poland, Lithuania, Belarus, and Right-Bank Ukraine. The insurrection broke out in Warsaw on 29 November 1830 (hence it is often called the November Insurrection) and lasted until October 1831. Although the immediate cause of the outbreak was a reaction to reports that Emperor Nicholas I was planning to dispatch Polish troops to fight a rebellion in France, it quickly escalated into an effort to restore a Polish state within its pre-partition borders (inclusive of Right-Bank Ukraine and Galicia).

The insurrection spread to Right-Bank Ukraine in April and May 1831. Leaders of the revolt in Volhynia gubernia included Gen. J. Dwernicki, K. Różycki, and S. Worcell (deputy to the Sejm from Volhynia); B. Kołyszko led 5,000 insurgents in Podilia gubernia and Kyiv gubernia. The insurgents were composed almost exclusively of the Polish gentry. They hoped that the Ukrainian population would support them, but both the Orthodox clergy and the Ukrainian peasantry were indifferent or hostile to the revolt. The lack of popular support sealed the fate of the insurrection in the Right Bank, where it was defeated by tsarist forces in May. Although the insurrection did not spread to Galicia, Poles there helped equip the insurgents, and some Galician Poles fought as volunteers.

In the aftermath of the insurrection's suppression the tsarist authorities took measures to eliminate Polish influence in Right-Bank Ukraine. They confiscated the estates of nobles who had participated in the insurrection, liquidated the Polish educational system, founded ‘Russian’ institutions (such as Kyiv University), and abolished the Uniate church in Belarus and the Right-Bank (1839). The radical Polish gentry responded to the defeat of the insurrection and to the tsarist government's repressive policies by forming conspiratorial groups to prepare a new insurrection. Such groups existed in both the Right Bank and Galicia, where they sometimes developed a pro-Ukrainian character and, in Galicia, even won adherents among Greek Catholic seminarians.

Łepkowski, T. ‘Społeczne i narodowe aspekty powstania 1831 roku na Ukrainie,’ Kwartalnik Historyczny, 64, no. 6 (1957)

John-Paul Himka

[This article originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine, vol. 4 (1993).]

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