In the firs half of the 19th century, the Kingdom of Poland was the third Polish kingdom which was created by the Congress of Vienna of 1815 after the defeat of Napoleon Bonaparte. It had a constitution presented by Alexander I of Russia. However, the Kingdom of Poland was as artificial a creation as the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Ruled by a Russian viceroy, it could hardly be termed a kingdom, and it comprised only a small part of the old Poland. The constitution was utterly ill-suited to a country which possessed no middle class to mediate between the crowd of nobles and serfs. Moreover, constitutional checks were inconsistent with the habits and traditions of Russian despotism.
The Russian viceroy, grand-duke Constantine had already broken through the letter of the constitution, and several conspiracies had been detected and punished, when the French Revolution gave a new impulse to the undying love of national independence. In the dusk of the evening of November 29, 1830, a revolution broke out as a number of young men attacked the residence of the viceroy. Several officers were killed, but Constantine himself escaped to join the Russian troops. The citizens of Warsaw ruse at the signal, and the Polish soldiers came over to their side. Constantine made no effort to put down the rebellion, and was allowed to depart from the province.
The first step in the revolution had been successful, and Poland was free. But from this moment the want of unanimity, which was ultimately fatal to the movement, began to show itself. Chlopicki, who had won renown in the Napoleonic wars, assumed the command of the army, but he was out of sympathy with the people, and eager to make terms with the Czar. At the head of the -provisional government was Adam Czartoriski, but wanting in decision and ability. In the diet which met on the December 18, 1830, parties were hopelessly divided. The extreme revolutionaries wished to push on as rapidly as possible, and to kindle the flames of insurrection in all the provinces that had once belonged to Poland. But the moderate party was afraid of alienating Austria and Prussia, and hoped, by laying stress on the breaches of the constitution, to secure the support of the western powers. The result was that the rebellion remained stationary, and envoys were sent to make terms with Czar Nicolas I.
The Czar refused all concessions and demanded immediate submission, ordering Diebitsch to advance with an army into Poland. After a six-month campaign that had begun in February, Warsaw capitulated to the Russians on September 8, 1831. The. remnants of the heroic defenders of Warsaw escaped to Prussian territory, where they were disarmed and dispersed as exiles to France and other parts of Europe. Poland was deprived of its constitution, and became a Russian province with Paskiewitsch as governor.