POLAND, a former kingdom situated in the N. E. of Europe. It was bounded on the N. by the Baltic, S. by Wallachia, Moldavia and Hungary, W. by Germany, and E. by Russia, and was the most level country in Europe, the Carpathian Moun tains on the S. and W., as a boundary from Hungary, being the only mountain range of any height in the kingdom. The principal mineral products are iron, lead, gold, silver, and salt. Cattle and wheat are still the chief agricultural products. Poland was anciently divided into 12 provinces, each of which was governed by a chief, called a "Palatine." The Poles were originally a tribe of Vandals, whose history is quite un known before the 6th century. About the year 750, the people, oppressed by their petty chiefs, were resolved to shake off the tyranny of their rulers, and elected a chief magistrate to govern them, under the title of duke. This state of things endured till the year 999, when reigning duke, Boleslass, having made himself illustrious by his conquests and military genius, was dignified with the title of king by Otho III., Emperor of Germany, from which time the title be came established in Poland, and, though the crown was elective, it often continued in the same family for many years, pass ing from father to son. From the 13th century, the Poles became the.most war like nation in Europe, and from the time when the Turks first crossed the Hellespont and settled in Greece, Poland was denominated the shield of eastern Europe. In 1674, John Sobieski was ad vanced to the kingly dignity, and under him the Polish arms acquired a glory that eclipsed all other nations of that age. Sobieski formed a league with the Emperor Leopold, and when that mon arch had been defeated, and his capital on the point of falling into the hands of the Turks, Sobieski advanced to Vienna, raised the siege, and, defeating the invaders, drove them back in rout to Constantinople. The War of Succes sion that succeeded, between Charles XII. of Sweden and Frederick Augustus of Saxony, almost ruined the kingdom, and hastened its fatal end. Count Poni atowski who, in 1764, was elected to the throne with the name of Stanislaus Augustus, was the last king of Poland. Under this unfortunate sovereign, the country became the theater of a long and devastating war; the cities were pillaged, the country deluged by hosts of Cossacks and brutal Muscovite soldiery, and Poland in the end divided between Catharine of Russia, Joseph II., Emperor of Germany,
and Frederick of Prussia. This shameful partition of an ancient nation, which drove Stanislaus in exile to France, was perpetrated in 1772. In 1795, a further dismemberment was effected between the three great powers, and the whole of Poland absorbed, except the ancient city of Cracow, with a few miles of adjacent country, which, elected into a free and independent State, was left to point to future ages where the once warlike na tion of Poland stood on the physical map of Europe. Frequent insurrections have occurred. In 1830, a revolution took place, but ended in the surrender of War saw and the dispersion of the Poles. In 1832, what remained of Poland was de clared a part of the Russian empire. In 1846, an attempt was made at Cracow to recover independence, but it ended in the subjugation of the last remnant of the country, which was annexed to Austria. In 1863, the Polish people, under the leadership of Langiewicz, made another abortive attempt to free their country from the Russian yoke. In 1864, Poland was deprived of its administrative inde pendence, and in 1868 was incorporated absolutely with Russia; trial by jury was abolished and the use of the Polish lan guage officially (for signboards, rail ways, wills, etc.) was prohibited. At the outbreak of the World War (1914 1918) Austrian Poland enjoyed auton omy. Russian Poland was invaded and occupied by German and Austrian armies in 1915. In November, 1916, the Ger man and Austrian Emperors proclaimed the independence of Poland. Regency councils were appointed in 1917 and at tempts were made to frame a constitu tion, but nothing effective was accom plished. In October, 1918, the council and convocation proclaimed a Constitu tional Assembly to take direction of the country. In December, 1918, a republic was established and Joseph Pilsudski was made president. In 1919 Poland suffered from enemies without and within. She was attacked by Russian Soviet Govern ment forces, and in the spring and sum mer of 1920 waged a successful offensive war against the Russians, which con cluded with a treaty of peace between the countries in December, 1920.