In Polish history, Prince Adam Czartoryski is almost universally regarded as one of the most important Polish statesmen and patriots of the first half of the nineteenth century. In Russian history, on the other hand, he is remembered chiefly as the Foreign Minister of the Russian Empire, and a close personal friend of Tsar Alexander I. How did Czartoryski reconcile his commitment to the Polish nation with his service to the Russian Empire (a state which occupied most of Poland)? This paper will attempt to place Prince Adam’s friendship with Alexander, and his service to Imperial Russia, in the broader context of national identity formation in early nineteenth-century eastern Europe. It will be argued that the idea of finding a workable relationship between Poland and Russia, even within the framework of a single state for a “Slavic nation,” was an important and forgotten feature of Polish political thought at the turn of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. By answering the question of precisely how Czartoryski was able to negotiate between the identities of a “Polish patriot” and “Russian statesman,” the paper will shed light on the broader development of national identity in early nineteenth-century Poland and Russia.
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