This month we celebrate the 150th anniversary of the January Uprising (1863-1864)
The January Uprising was the biggest armed bid for independence in XIX century and the longest Polish uprising against Tsarist Russia, it began January 22, 1863, and the last insurgents were not captured until 1865. It started as a spontaneous protest by young Poles against conscription into the Russian Army.
This rebellion was an inevitable result of the political situation: for nearly seven decades, since 1795 the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth had been entirely eliminated from the map of Europe, partitioned between Russia, Prussia and Austria. Poles in despair organized the Uprising as a protest against "branka": compulsory military long term service (sometimes as long as 25 years) in the Russian army. The insurrection was soon joined by young Lithuanian men.
Fun Fact! In the initial draft of Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne, Captain Nemo was a Polish nobleman whose family had been brutally murdered by the Russians during the January 1863 Uprising. Since France had only recently signed an alliance with Tsarist Russia, in the novel's final version Verne's editor, Pierre-Jules Hetzel, made him obscure Nemo's motives.
I think that the January Uprising of 1863 was a very important one in Polish history. It was the first one which was of all-nation concern rather than one of the gentry. For me and my family it has been an event which isn't known from books, but is living history. The first time I have heard about it was when I was so young that I could not even read; my GF was telling me that his GF took part in it. The story of those, often dramatic, events was told in the family, even if the first name of the ancestor taking part was not even known to my GF!
Whereas the preceding November Uprising of 1830 can only be pure history for me with which I am not able to form a personal link, the Powstanie Styczniowe, although quite remote in time, will always be within the scope of my own "experience".