The Online Encyclopedia and Dictionary






Duchy of Warsaw

Księstwo Warszawskie
(Coat of Arms )
Official languages Polish
Established church Roman Catholic
Capital Warsaw
Largest City Warsaw
Head of state Duke of Warsaw
Area about 158,000 km˛
Population about 3 million
Existed 1807 - 1814

The Duchy of Warsaw (Polish: Księstwo Warszawskie, Latin: Ducatus Varsoviae, French: Duche de Varsovie) was a Polish state established by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1807 from the Polish lands he seized from the Kingdom of Prussia in Treaties of Tilsit. The duchy was in personal union with Saxony under Frederick Augustus I as Duke of Warsaw (1807-1813).


Name and political status: Duchy (not Grand)

In some contemporary (especially American) sources, this state is erroneously called the Grand Duchy of Warsaw. The title and status of a Grand Duke and Grand Duchy is slightly higher than that of a Duke and Duchy, so if Frederick Augustus had received these titles he would have been the first to tell everybody. Frederic Augustus always called himself the King of Saxony, Duke of Warsaw (Latin: Rex Saxoniae, Dux Varsoviae). During Napoleon's Russian campaign in 1812 the Polish Parliament passed an act restoring the Kingdom, renaming the Duchy of Warsaw the Kingdom of Poland in union with the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, but with the campaign's failure, the status of the Duchy of Warsaw was restored.

Area of the Duchy (1806-1809)

The area of the Duchy had already been liberated by a popular uprising in 1806, provoked by proclamation of conscription to the Polish army. The first tasks for the new government included providing food to the French army which was fighting the Russians in East Prussia. According to the Treaties of Tilsit, the area of the Duchy was formed from the Prussian provinces:

Area of the Duchy (1809-1815)

After the ensuing war with Austria in 1809 and the Battle of Raszyn, the Duchy was extended with land from the following provinces:

The area of the Duchy was 158,000 km˛ with a population of over 3 million.

Territorial administration


The Duchy was endowed with a formal constitution by Napoleon (see Constitution of Duchy of Warsaw ).


Unlike the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, the Duchy was highly militarized and overtaxed. In 1812, the state of 3 million people contributed almost 200,000 army recruits for service against Russia.

Poles expected in 1812 that the duchy would be upgraded to the status of a kingdom, and that during Napoleon's march on Russia, it would be joined with the liberated territories of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. However, Napoleon didn't want to make a permanent decision that would tie his hands before the anticipated peace settlement with Russia. The Grand Duchy was not an independent state. Its ruler was a member of the Confederation of the Rhine and it did not possess its own diplomatic representation. The Armed Forces were completely under French control via its war minister Józef Poniatowski, who was also a French marshal, and had to participate in Napoleon's campaigns.

The Duchy divided (4th partition of Poland)

After the fall of Napoleon, according to the Congress of Vienna (1815), the territory of the Duchy was divided into three parts:

See also

  • Poznań (city)
  • History of Poznań (city)

Last updated: 05-14-2005 21:49:35