The joy, however, was shortlived. Before the Constitution was a year old, the situation changed. The war between Turks and Russians was over and Empress Catherine was furious to see the effects of the Constitution. On April 27th 1792, she sought help from her old placemen in Poland, such as Feliks Potocki or Ksawery Branicki. They in turn approached Catherine and asked her intervention to restore their pirivilages taken away by the Constitution. Under her leadership they formed the Confederation of Targowica, and in their proclamation they denounced the Constitution because it had spread the "contagion of democratic ideas". On May 18th the confederates crossed the border along with 97,000 Russian troops.
The king could only provide 37,000 untried recruits against the well-trained Russian army. The Polish forces went into battle. One corps under the king's nephew, Jozef Poniatowski won a battle at Zielence. Another corps, lead under general Thaddeus Kosciuszko, won the battle at Dubienka. But there could be no hope for victory. The king tried to negotiate directly with Catherine and wrote a personal letter to her. She in turn demanded that he join the Confederation of Targowica. The king finally agreed and joined the confederation; Kollataj, Potocki and Malachowski quietly left the country and Generals Poniatowski and Kosciuszko resigned their commissions.
A second partition was agreed between Russia and Prussia and signed in St. Petersburg on January 23, 1793. Russia took 250,000 square kilometers and Prussia took 58,000 square kilometers. The Commonwealth now consisted of no more than 212,000 square kilometers. What was left was just a small buffer state with a puppet king and a Russian army.
Meanwhile, the Polish patriots abroad organized a revolt abroad, with Thaddeus Kosciuszko as their chief. On March 23rd 1794, Kosciuszko arrived in Krakow. On the following day he took command and proclaimed the Act of Insurrection. He issued a provisional constitution which granted freedom to all peasants and and ownership of land to all who fought in the revolution. From Krakow he marched north. At the battle of Raclawice on April 4th, he defeated the Russian army with a force of 4,000 regulars and 2,000 peasants armed with scythes. On April 18th the Russian troops abandoned Warsaw leaving 4,000 dead on the streets. On April 22 the city of Wilno rose under the leadership of Colonel Jakub Jasinski. Kosciuszko,now joined by Kollataj and Potocki, was faced with enormous problems: food shortages, weapon shortages and overall chaos. On May 6th he was defeated in Szczekociny. Then, the forces of Russia, Austria and Prussia joined together and the defeat was inevitable. Russsian troops once again entered Warsaw and the three powers agreed to partition Poland once again. They decided to take over what was left of Poland and in 1794 they signed a new partition treaty, wiping Poland off the map. Poland was erased from the map for the following 125 years, regaining its independence in 1918.
[May 3rd Constitution EN]
[May 3rd Constitution PL]
[Before the Constitution]