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In the two Russian zones, the 'Kingdom of the Congress' (Vienna 1815 or Kongresowka in Polish) and the 'western goubernias' of the empire, the situation was very different. The anti-Polish strategy of the 1830s and 1840s implied the marginalisation of these territories on all possible levels. The network of schools, Russian exclusively from the last decade of the century, further dwindled, and increasingly illiteracy prevailed. Outside some progressive industrial towns such as Lodz or Warsaw traditional poverty was dominant. Force reigned in the place of law, and widespread corruption often gave opportunity to buy a favourable decision from the authorities. Parishes were strictly controlled; a parish priest did not, for example, have the right to leave his place of residence without the permission of the Russian police. Resistance was obliged to take a more or less hidden, even clandestine, form, very different from official declarations.

The problems of elites

The existence of important social and intellectual elites was a great strength of the national Polish movement in the nineteenth century, compared with other movements in central-east Europe. The social elites, the aristocracy and numerous and diversified nobility, were in process of slowly losing their privileged position, but remained generally faithful to Polish allegiance; they kept their place throughout the national movement, sometimes even, among the rich, against the interests of their class. Marx and Engels wrote in high praise of the Polish nobles in struggling for the people's freedom against the forces of reaction. This large, impoverished nobility formed the basis of a new class, the intelligentsia, which from the second half of the century aspired to guide the Polish spirit. This democratic intelligentsia, open to individuals from the lower classes and to the general elevation of these classes, entered into both partnership and competition with the Polish clergy, who were much weakened but still accustomed to rule the Polish soul. From the end of the nineteenth century, this would become a grave problem in Polish religious life and culture.

The difficulties of forming Polish universities against the strategies of three dominant countries naturally caused repercussions in all. At the beginning of the nineteenth century, it was thanks to Russian politics that the university of Vilnius (now the capital of Lithuania) became for several years probably the most dynamic intellectual centre in central-eastern or eastern Europe. The intellectual aristocracy of Vilnius now played an extremely important and sustained role in Polish high culture, but also in the culture of the other

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