THE HISTORY OF POLAND (in 1582 we founded Polkowo)

Most eastern Europeans are Slavs, an ethnic group thought to have originated in Asia and first settled along the northern slopes of the Carpathian Mountains.  From before the Christian era and through the Dark Ages, Slavic tribes migrated westward and settled in different parts of Europe.  The western Slavs--Czechs, Slovaks, and Poles--dispersed into the east central plain of Europe.
SERFS (we were peasant farmers)

Until the middle of the nineteenth century, most eastern Europeans were peasants, serfs.  Serfs were a landlord's property.  They worked their lord's fields for him.  Sometimes they had to pay the landlord a tax, either in money or in crops.  They were not free to leave their estates.  But their lords could sell them to other landowners.  They were locked into an appressive system.
After revolutions in 1830 and 1863, Russia confiscated the lands of the rebels, and only Russians were allowed to buy them.  Orphaned boys, and the young sons of rebels, were shipped to Russia to be raised in Russian military schools.

The Russian assault on Polish culture was thorough.  Georg Brandes, a Danish historian and literary critic, who visited Poland in 1885, detailed how Russia tried to stamp out the Polish language:

The Polish language is absolutely forbidden in the University.  All lectures, no matter whether delivered by men of Russian or Polish birth, must be in Russian.  Not even the history of Polish literature may be taught in the language of the country.  Nay, even in the corridors of the University the students are forbidden to speak Polish with each other....So strict is the prohibition...that a boy twelve years of age was recently shut up for twenty-four hours in the dark because comint out of school, he said to a comrade in polish: "Let us go home together."

Lithuania and Poland formed a close alliance in 1386, and in 1569 the two kingdoms were formally united.  Poland was the dominant power in the Polish-Lithuanian Empire, and at it's height, controlled ans area stretching from the Baltic down to the Black Sea.

Polish and Ukranian serfs were worked hard, and were subject utterly to the will and whim of their masters.  The condition of many was hardly distinguishable from slavery.  A small number of peasants managed to flee their masters to the unsettled areas of the Ukraine.  There they formed military communes.  These peasant-soldiers were called cossacks, an adaptation of the Turkish word
kazak, meaning "adventurer".

In 1648, the cossacks rebelled against Polish rule.  Their rising grew into a national revolt of the Ukranian people.  But in taking on Poland, they were challenging a mighty state, so the cossacks turned to Russia for military aid.  Poland lost the conflict with Russia that followed, but so did the Ukraine.  The cossacks had hoped to set up an independent state, but as a result of the Polish-cossack-Russian war, Russia annexed the eastern Ukraine.
In 1792, Empress Catherine of Russia's army invaded Poland, and Prussian forces followed suit.  Russia and Prussia were victorious, and in 1793 they divided Poland further between themselves.  Only a small section of Poland remained independent, and it lay under the Russian imperial shadow.

In 1794, independent Poland rose up against Russia.  Russia smashed the smaller Polish force, and in 1795, with Prussia and Austria, carved up what was left of Poland.  Pland disappeared from the map of Europe.

(information is taken from the book Immigrants from Coming to America: Immigrants from Eastern Europe written by Shirley Blumenthal)
Mimi Konoza
History of Eastern Europe--"From Warsaw to Sofia" by Henry Bogdan
The Baltics--Back then Polkowo was in Lithuania west of Grodno, which is in current day Belarus
The Baltic Lands--1563
The Baltic Lands--1617
The Baltic Lands--1701
The Baltic Lands--1772
Polish Provinces during Russian Empire--1902 (shows Suwalki province and Augustow--Polkowo is a few miles south of Augustow)
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