During the "Deluge" of 1648-1667, Poland was invaded and largely overrun by Sweden and Russia, the latter supporting dissident Ukrainian rebels. (See Deluge on Wikipedia.)

Yet, despite the quasi partition, Poland was able to raise new armies from (occupied?) territories, and drive out both the Swedish and Russian armies.

From 1772-1795, Poland was partitioned between Prussia, Austria-Hungary, and Russia. But until the third partition, Poland retained a core. The American Revolution hero Kosciusko was able to raise a Polish army, but not drive out the invaders, in 1794.

Why was Poland successful in resisting partition the first time but not the second tine around? Could the Deluge have weakened Poland enough to "set up" a partition a century later? Was the rising use of the liberum veto a culprit? And my understanding was that in the 1790s that the Polish nobility was split into pro German and pro Russian factions; was that NOT the case a century earlier, between Russians and Swedes?

1 Answer 1


Sorry for just a quick note - I'm on the finish of a big project. I hope that other answers will put more light on the details. If not, I'll go back to this later.

I would connect it with the fact, that for Swedes, the control over Poland wasn't the key aim. They were more focused on the control of all the Baltic Sea shore, which would have enormous importance for the economy of northern part of Europe. And in that time, after Thirty-years War they've almost achieved it.

This way the longtime cooperation with Russia that would let both countries to permanently takeover Poland was out of question, as they were natural enemies in the endless wars for the lands that recently belong to Latvia and Estonia - it's hard to believe that Russia would ever agree to get cut off of Baltic Sea.

Even today we can still see how strongly the Deluge weakened Poland. One of the reasons for that is because Swedes invaded the country to simply loot it, as after the Thirty-years War the country had very big army but not enough gold to pay for it. So they simply took it from Poland.

But even if in the late XVII century Poland was weaker than at the beginning of it, it was still stronger than a century later, and especially the difference between Poland and its neighbors wasn't as big. The army potential was far greater, while it drastically changed in XVIII century - nobody wanted to pay for it, and the king couldn't raise any taxes because of the law issues, among others those connected with the mentioned Liberum Veto rule.

Of course in XVII century it was also problematic (see how much it took for Poland to gather the army before the Battle of Vienna), but not as much.

  • 1
    Your answer is "plenty long" and more than adequate. Much longer might be "too long," for the site. Thank you for this much.
    – Tom Au
    Commented May 30, 2013 at 22:16
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    No problem. I've rather meant the lack of sources, which would make the answer more complete. That's a thing I'll try to update after the weekend. Commented May 31, 2013 at 5:10
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    Russia didn't have any Baltic Sea coast until Peter the Great conquered some in 1701.
    – Spencer
    Commented Dec 26, 2020 at 22:22

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