Poland was an independent State until the end of the eighteenth century. The Poles are Slavonic in race and Roman Catholic in religion, and, in the fifteenth century, formed one of the most highly civilised nations in Europe. During the seventeenth century the position of Poland rapidly declined, and eventually, by the three partitions of 1772, 1793, and 1795, the Polish Commonwealth, as it was then called, was divided between Prussia, Russia and Austria.
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