Polish National Government (January Uprising)

The Polish National Government of 1863–64 was an underground Polish supreme authority during the January Uprising, a large scale insurrection during the Russian partition of the former territories of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth. It had a collegial form, resided in Warsaw and was headed by Karol Majewski [pl]. This was a normal administrative institution with many ministries and departments.[1]

Polish National Government
Rząd Narodowy
Motto: Latin: Si Deus Nobiscum quis contra nos
(If God is with us, then who is against us)
Latin: Pro Fide, Lege et Rege
(For Faith, Law and King)[discuss]
Claimed borders of the Polish–Lithuanian–Ruthenian Commonwealth during the January Uprising
Claimed borders of the Polish–Lithuanian–Ruthenian Commonwealth during the January Uprising
Common languagesPolish
Roman Catholic Church
Belarusian Greek Catholic Church
Ukrainian Catholic Church
GovernmentShadow government
Dictator of the Uprising 
• January Uprising
January 22 1863
• Disestablished
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Russian Empire
Russian Empire
Today part of

During 1863–1864 it was a real shadow government supported by the majority of Poles who even paid taxes for it, and a significant problem for the Russian secret police (Third Section). "It organized one of the world's earliest campaigns of urban guerrilla warfare", according to Norman Davies. It became the prototype for the Polish Secret State during World War II.[2]

It was designed to be able to unite Poland in a national struggle, and claimed all of the pre-partition Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth lands.

The last "dictator" of the National Government was Romuald Traugutt, who was arrested from the night of the 10th to the 11th of April 1864 by Russian authorities. With his execution, the Uprising had its symbolic end.


The National Government was an inspiration for many Poles throughout the rest of the 19th and early 20th century, including Józef Piłsudski, who was inspired by it to create his Polish Legions. In official documents of the time, Piłsudski uses the name of the Rząd Narodowy with the coat of arms of the 1863 January Uprising.

All the fallen veterans and participants of the government were awarded posthumously with the Cross of Independence by Polish President Ignacy Mościcki on the 21st of January 1931, in the already-independent Poland.[3]


  1. ^ Davies 2005, p. 261.
  2. ^ Davies 2005, pp. 260–261.
  3. ^ Mościcki, Ignacy (1933-01-21). "Zarządzenie o nadaniu Krzyża Niepodległości z mieczami poległym i zmarłym Powstańcom 1863 r." Internetowy System Aktów Prawnych. Retrieved 2023-03-08.