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Constitution of the Kingdom of Poland


Constitution of the Kingdom of Poland

The Constitution of the Kingdom of Poland (Polish: Konstytucja Królestwa Polskiego) was granted to the 'Congress' Kingdom of Poland by the King of Poland, Alexander I of Russia, who was obliged to issue a constitution to the newly recreated Polish state under his domain as specified by the Congress of Vienna. It was considered among the most liberal constitutions of its time; however, it was never fully respected by the government. It was modified during the November Uprising by the revolutionary government and discarded afterwards by the victorious Russian authorities.


  • History 1
  • Summary 2
    • General 2.1
    • King 2.2
    • Namestnik 2.3
    • Administration Council 2.4
    • Council of State 2.5
    • Parliament 2.6
  • References 3
  • External links 4


The Congress of Vienna obliged Emperor Alexander I of Russia, in his role as King of Poland, to issue a constitution to the newly recreated Polish state under Russian domination.[1] The new state would be one of the smallest Polish states ever, smaller than the preceding Duchy of Warsaw and much smaller than the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth.[2] Because it was the Congress of Vienna which de facto created the Kingdom of Poland, it became unofficially known as the Congress Poland (Kongresówka).[2]

It was signed on November 27, 1815 by the tsar. It was a constitution octroyée: given by the ruler and not voted upon by a parliament.[2]

A significant contributor to the constitution was Prince Nicholas I of Russia and never actually implemented.[3][4]


The Constitution had 165 articles in 7 titles.[2]


The Kingdom of Poland was a constitutional monarchy in a real union with the Russian Empire. Each Emperor of Russia was also King of Poland (as in a personal union); however, the foreign policy was common (in reality, decided in Saint Petersburg). The parliament, military, administration and judiciary were separate (unlike in a political union).


The King was the head of all three branches (executive, legislative and judicial). He:

  • called, postponed and dissolved parliament (Sejm) sessions
  • confirmed namestniks, ministers, senators, high officials (nominated by the namestnik) and nominated and confirmed marshals of local sejmiks
  • his signature was needed to pass Sejm legislation into law
  • he was the only person with legislative initiative
  • he had the right to temporarily annul legislation
  • he had the right to declare wars and sign foreign treaties



  • headed the Council of State
  • headed the Administration Council
  • his decision need a countersignature of a minister
  • he nominated candidates for ministers, senators and high officials for the king
  • he nominated and confirmed lower officials.

Administration Council

Composed of 5 ministers and other people nominated by the king, headed by namestnik, it:

  • carried out the executive and administration duties
  • prepared projects for Council of State
  • took decisions that were outside the scope of individual ministers

Council of State

Composed of the ministers, councilors, secretary of the state, referendars and other people nominated by the king, it had the followed prerogatives:

  • preparing legislation to be accepted by the king
  • confirming the final version of legislation that was voted upon by the Sejm
  • juridical powers: the right to file charges against administrative officials as well as competence and administrative court powers
  • received reports from various commissions, and prepared reports for the king


Parliament was composed of the king, the upper house (Senate) and the lower house (Chamber of Deputies or Sejm). Deputies numbering 128 were chosen for 6 years, with ⅓ of them chosen every 2 years. They had legal immunity. Voting was open to all persons of 21 years or older. Candidates for deputy had to be able to read, write and have a certain amount of wealth. Military personnel had no right to vote. Parliaments were called every 2 years for a period of 30 days. Sejm had the right to vote on civil, administrative and legal issues. With permission from the king, it could vote on matters related to the fiscal system and the military. It had the right to control government officials and file petitions. A Senate numbering 64 was composed of 9 bishops, voivodes and castellans and Russian 'princes of the blood'. It acted as the Parliament Court, had the right to control citizens' books, and similar legislative rights as the Chamber of Deputies.


  1. ^ Danuta Przekop, Maciej Janowski, Polish Liberal Thought Up to 1918, Central European University Press, 2004, ISBN 963-9241-18-0, Google Print, p.37
  2. ^ a b c d e Harold Nicolson, The Congress of Vienna: A Study in Allied Unity: 1812-1822, Grove Press, 2001, ISBN 0-8021-3744-X, Google Print, p.179 and p.180
  3. ^ a b c d Rett R. Ludwikowski, Constitution-making in the Region of Former Soviet Dominanc, Duke University Press, 1996, ISBN 0-8223-1802-4, Google Print, p.12, 13
  4. ^ a b (Polish) konstytucja Królestwa Polskiego PWN Encyklopedia. Last accessed on 19 January 2006
  5. ^ "Historical Dictionary of Poland: 966 - 1945 - Jerzy Jerzy Jan Lerski - Google Books". 1996. p. 83. Retrieved 2013-07-22. 
  6. ^ Danuta Przekop, Maciej Janowski, Polish Liberal Thought Up to 1918, Central European University Press, 2004, ISBN 963-9241-18-0, Google Print, p.74
This article incorporates information from the revision as of 19 January 2007 of the equivalent article on the Polski WorldHeritage.

External links

  • (Polish) Konstytucja Królestwa Polskiego on the official page of Polish Sejm
  • (Polish) Konstytucja Królestwa Polskiego 1815, WIEM Encyklopedia
  • (Polish) Text of the constitution
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