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POLAND – MANUSCRIPT MAP: [Untitled Manuscript Map of Central Poland].


An intriguing British manuscript map of Central Poland, made during the height of the Napoleonic Wars, between the Battle of Pułtusk (1806) and the foundation of the Duchy of Warsaw (1807), emphasizing road communications between key sites. 


This interesting English-language manuscript map depicts a portion of Central and Eastern Poland, with Warsaw, in the lower centre, with the area depicted extending from ‘Culm’ (Chełmno) and ‘Thorn’ (Toruń), in the west; to Białystok and Grodno (Belarus), in the east.  Made during the Napoleonic Wars, the map’s purpose seems to be to highlight the road network between major towns.


The map features politician divisions according to the period immediately following the Third Partition of Poland (1795).  At this time, there was no Polish state, as the areas in yellow (including Warsaw) were actually under Prussian occupation, although the traditional parts of Prussia are still distinguished here by being coloured in light green and labeled “K. of Prussia”.  The areas to the southeast of Warsaw, coloured in pink and labeled “Galicia”, were then under Austrian occupation, while the areas in the east, colured in dark green are part of “Russian Poland”.


With the symbol of crossed swords, the map labels the location of the Battle of Pułtusk (December 26, 1806), just north of Warsaw, a large altercation between Russian and French armies during the Napoleonic Wars, that while a tactical Russian victory, was a strategic draw.  This detail also gives a hint towards the dating of map, which seems to show the state of play as it appeared in the first half of 1807.  The Treaties of Tilsit (July 7-9, 1807) re-divided Poland between Prussia, Russian and France.  The French share became the Duchy of Warsaw, a Napoleonic puppet state.  Thus, the present map seems to have been made after Pułtusk, but before Tilsit.


The circumstances of the creation of the map are not known, although it was probably made by an individual in Britain who was closely following the progress of the Napoleonic Wars, within which Poland was a key theatre.  While it does not precisely mimic any printed map of which we are aware, it bears some resemblance to the manner of William Faden’s A map of the Kingdom of Poland and Grand Dutchy of Lithuania including Samogitia and Curland, divided according to their dismemberments, with the Kingdom of Prussia (London, 1799).

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