According to sportsqna.com, several factors led Poland to this situation which presented no more ways out. First of all, its own territorial configuration. It was not only the consequence of natural conditions, but also of two factors that appear dominant in Polish history: the almost complete absence of aggression and the excessive spreading of borders by peaceful means. The lack of will to conquer, accompanied since the century. XV by a strong will and ability to recover, typical characteristics of a farming population, have in fact prevented a more rational settlement of the Polish borders. Thus, since the time of its greatest splendor, Poland has found itself burdened with problems of foreign policy (settlement of relations with Russia, Prussia, Moldavia, Turkey, etc.; choice of an effective system of alliances) and internal politics (colonization and political consolidation of ethnographically non-Polish territories; cohesion of the two states making up the republic, etc.) which it was unable to resolve, also due to the fact that, dominated by landed nobility, it continually moved them into the restricted sphere of the agrarian economy. To this must be added the social configuration of Poland with the double imbalance it generated: internal imbalance between the omnipotent nobility and the bourgeoisie, deprived of almost all rights; external imbalance between the Polish polyarchic regime and the centralizing governments of the East and West. This double imbalance was all the more fatal, since, from the century. XVI onwards, instead of diminishing, it continually intensified.
Then, when individual selfishness prevailed over class egoism – and this was facilitated by the enormous wealth accumulated by a few and by the possibility of abusing the legal systems of the state – then there was a moral relaxation in Poland which, wisely exploited by foreign powers, the ruin of the state precipitated.
Erased from the charter of Europe, Poland, drawing comfort from the struggles of the previous decades, immediately begins a new and active existence as a nation. The ideal aimed at is not only the regaining of homeland independence, but the reconstitution of a state in which freedom is the common patrimony of all. Further on, almost invested with a universal mission, the Poles also want to fight for the independence of the other oppressed peoples.
Less than two years after the defeat of Macieiowice, on 9 January 1797, General Djbrowski, creating the Polish legions in Milan, offered his services for the recovery of the freedom of Lombardy. After a few months this auxiliary body of the Cisalpine Republic, recruited partly from Polish emigrants and partly from Galician soldiers who fell in French captivity, already totals 6,500 men. Dąbrowski envisions the march of his legionaries towards Poland, through Croatia and Hungary, but the stormy events of the times push them elsewhere: with Berthier they march towards Romagna, in 1798 they are in Rome to garrison it together with the French, during the period of the Roman Republic; then they fight against the Austro-Russian armies in Mantua; in Trebbia, in Novi and against the Austrians in Hohenlinden. But in the Treaty of Lunéville, as already in that of Campoformio, the Polish question was not even mentioned. Equally unsuccessful were Adam Czartoryski’s attempts to induce Alexander I to declare war on Prussia in order to take away the Polish territories and to be crowned king of reconstituted Poland. Instead the Napoleonic campaign of 1806-07, in which the Poles again took part with Dobrowski, ended with the creation (peace of Tilsit) of a small independent Polish state: the duchy of Warsaw, formed by a part of the Polish provinces which in the second and third divisions they had passed to Prussia. This duchy, a true buffer state between Prussia and Russia, obtained from Napoleon its own constitution which for the first time on Polish territory established the
The armies of the duchy, led by Prince Poniatowski, not only strongly resisted the Austrian offensive of 1809, but also drove the Austrians back south and occupied Krakow. On the other hand, Napoleon doubled the territory of the duchy in the same year (Peace of Vienna), incorporating the regions occupied by Austria in the third division plus the ancient capital Krakow. The hopes of the Poles were therefore very great, when Napoleon in 1812 embarked on the campaign against Russia which he, although reserved as always in the face of the Polish question (he had, among other things, to have regard for his allies: Prussia and the ‘Austria), he called the “Second Polish War”. The Warsaw Extraordinary Diet formed “a general confederation” which, in spite of the Tilsit and Vienna treaties, he declared Poland reconstituted in its ancient borders. More than 10,000 Poles took part in the war of 1812-13, participating in all the main military events and then fighting also in Leipzig, where Giuseppe Poniatowski, wounded four times, died in the waters of Elster. The fate of Poland was decided by the Congress of Vienna: the greater part of the Duchy of Warsaw was incorporated, with the title of Polish kingdom, to Russia, which retained, as its integral part, the Lithuanian-Ruthenian territories, formerly belonging to Poland; Krakow became a free city under the protectorate of Russia, Prussia and Austria; the Grand Duchy of Poznań was created with the departments of Bydgoszcz and Poznań of the Duchy of Warsaw and united with Prussia; L’ Austria took back almost all of the territory it had obtained in the first partition. The borders thus established remained intact until the World War, with the exception of the Republic of Krakow which in 1846 was annexed by Austria.