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Confederation of Bar

The Confederation of Bar (1768 - 1776), a grouping of Polish nobles and gentry, formed at the little fortress of Bar in Podolia in 1768 to defend the internal and external independence of Poland against the aggressions of the Russian government as represented by her representative at Warsaw, Prince Nikolai Repnin. The originators of this confederation included Adam Krasinski, bishop of Kamenets, Osip Pulawski and Michael Krasinski.

King Stanislaus at first inclined to mediate between the confederates and Russia; but finding this impossible, sent a force against them under the grand hetman Ksawery Branicki and two generals, who captured Bar. Nevertheless, a simultaneous outbreak of a jacquerie in Little Ruthenia contributed to the extension of the confederation throughout the eastern province of Poland and even in Lithuania. The confederates, thereupon, appealed for help abroad and contributed to bring about a war between Russia and Turkey. So serious did the situation become that Frederick II advised Catherine to come to terms with the confederates.

Confederation bands, under Ignaty Malchewsky, Michael Pac and Prince Charles Radziwill ravaged the land in every direction, won several engagements over the Russians, and at last, utterly ignoring the king, sent envoys on their own account to the principal European powers. In 1770 the Council of the Confederation transferred from its original seat in Silesia to Hungary, whence it conducted diplomatic negotiations with France, Austria and Turkey with the view of forming a league against Russia. The court of Versailles sent Dumouriez to act as commander-in-chief of the confederates, but neither as a soldier nor as a politician did this adroit adventurer particularly distinguish himself, and his account of his experiences does great injustice to the confederates. Among other blunders, he pronounced King Stanislaus a tyrant and a traitor at the very moment when he was about to accede to the Confederation. The king thereupon reverted to the Russian faction, and the Confederation lost the confidence of Europe. Nevertheless, its army, thoroughly reorganized by Dumouriez, gallantly maintained the hopeless struggle for some years; the last traces of it did not disappear until 1776.


Original text from the 1911 Encyclopaedia Britannica