History of Anthem
General Jan Henryk Da~browski (1755-1818) was a very important figure from
the period of the Partitions. He was in the Saxon army and then in the
Polish army during the Insurrection of 1794. Polish patriots hoped that by
lending assistance to the French in their hour of need during the 1789
Revolution, the French might in return help Poland regain her independence.
One of the Poles who travelled to Paris was Da~browski. In 1797 Napoleon
gave permission for the formation of a Polish "Legion" under Da~browski's
command in northern Italy. Later the same year a second Legion was raised (a
total of about 7000 Poles were in these) and in 1797 a Third although under
command of another general. They marched to a song composed for them by
Jo~zef Wybicki (that became the National Anthem). They played a decisive
role in Napoleon's battles in Italy in 1798, 1799 and 1800. After that
however things didn't go so well and in the 1801 peace treaty between
Austria and France no mention was made of the Polish independence question.
The Legions were changed to more direct French command, they began to be
treated as mercenaries rather than allies, many Poles resigned, others were
sent to the West Indies to put down a slave rebellion and died due to
terrible conditions and neglect. But the Legions under Da~browski had a
significant, good effect on the morale at home in divided Poland and helped
provide a pool of officers and men trained in modern warfare techniques.
This training was maintained in various ways among Poles living under the
partitions and contributed to the fact that in 1918, when Poland was given
independence, there were well-trained soldiers available able to create the
new Polish army.
Poland's current flag colors of white over red bans was officially recognized in 1919 after their revolution for independence. It's origins date back to the banners of medevil times when it was initially a white eagle on a red background. In the 17th century, banners with the red and white color began to be used as the background with various emblems. Examples of these are available at the resource links below.