First Division of Poland, 1772:
Galicia turns Austrian (or Habsburg)

The territorial gains of the three major powers Russia, Prussia and the Habsburg Empire through the Division of Poland at least temporarily satisfied their desire for expansion and quite likely prevented a major war between Russia and the Habsburg Empire. Prussia gained most of Western Prussia (except for Danzig and Thorn), the Ermland and the Netze District.

The Russian Empire gained Polish Livland and all Polish territories east of the rivers Dnjepr and Daugava. The Habsburg Empire gained Galicia, including Auschwitz, Zator and Zips. Galicia became a Kronland ("Land of the Crown", a federal, administrative entity directly under the Emperor′s rule) under the name "Königreich Galizien und Lodomerien". For the time being, Poland remained at least nominally independent. Nevertheless, the division reduced the Polish population by 50 percent and the territory by one third.

Galicia as a Kronland of the Austrian Empire: Late 18th century

Right after the acquisition of Galicia, Empress Maria Theresia ordered a detailed census in the new territories. This census, completed in 1773, draws the picture of a primarily agrarian and underdeveloped region. In the light of this census, it seems fair to refer to the Habsburg policy of consolidation, modernisation and integration that followed in the next 150 years as colonisation. Facts and figures from the 1773 census: A population of 2.6 million people was living in 280 towns and cities and 5,500 villages. More than 70 percent of the population (1.86 million people) were non-free farmers, most of them de-facto serfs.

Residential houses were divided into three categories: Town and farm houses (121,000), Chalupas or Rauchhäuser (huts with no chimney; 322,000); and houses of Jews (15,700). Ethnically, Galicia was the most diverse of the Habsburg Kronländer: Ruthenians, Poles and Jews were the biggest ones, with a Polish-Ruthenian gradient from West to East. Other significant populations were German, Russian, Armenians, Moldavians, Hungarians, Roma and Lipowanians.

In terms of religions, Galicia was similarly diverse: The Roman-Catholic church was chaired by the Archbishop of Lviv (Lemberg) and Polish dominated, the Ruthenian-Greek-Catholic or United Church by a Metropolite (also in Lviv) and comprised mostly of Ruthenians. Almost all Jews were Ashkenazi, most Protestants were Lutherans (Augsburger Konfession). The ethnic identity of individuals was often blurry.

Economically, Galicia was among the least developed Kronländer in the Habsburg Empire: Only about 11 percent of the land was used for agriculture; more than 50 percent of Galicia′s territory comprised of forests and meadows. Cattle was not kept in stables, which deprived farms of a valuable source of fertilisers; the three-field-system to optimise harvests was known, but used insufficiently; the use of nitrogen-rich plants such as shamrock on fallow fields was not commonly done. This resulted in inefficient farming: The seed-crop ratio was 1:2, meaning that one kilogram of seeds would lead to a harvest of only two kilograms (comparison data to modern agriculture not found). Rye was the main crop with approximately 190 litres per resident. As much of this was used for liquor production or exports, bread was usually made with oat and barley.

Despite of a wide abundance of natural resources, there was no real base for an industrialisation in Galicia of the late 18th century: Few salt mines with salt processing facilities (Sambor), glass and iron ore (Drohobych) manufactories, and manufactories for the processing of agricultural goods (such as tobacco) are the only examples for a pre-industrialisation. Schools existed only in cities; illiteracy was the rule rather than an exception.

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Further Reading

Studentenverbindung: Fraternities and Burschenschaft

Wikipedia on the Habsburg Empire (Habsburg Monarchy)

Wikipedia on Nationalism

Sources for 19th century History (key to nationalism)