Emilia Plater
Overview
 
Countess Emilia Plater (Broel-Plater) (13 November 1806 – 23 December 1831) was a Polish-Lithuanian
Polish-Lithuanian (adjective)
Polish-Lithuanian individuals and groups are those with histories in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. This federation, formally established by the 1569 Union of Lublin between the Kingdom of Poland and Grand Duchy of Lithuania, created a multi-ethnic and multi-confessional state founded on the...

 noblewoman
Szlachta
The szlachta was a legally privileged noble class with origins in the Kingdom of Poland. It gained considerable institutional privileges during the 1333-1370 reign of Casimir the Great. In 1413, following a series of tentative personal unions between the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and the Kingdom of...

 and revolutionary from the lands of the partitioned
Partitions of Poland
The Partitions of Poland or Partitions of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth took place in the second half of the 18th century and ended the existence of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, resulting in the elimination of sovereign Poland for 123 years...

 Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth
Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth
The Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth was a dualistic state of Poland and Lithuania ruled by a common monarch. It was the largest and one of the most populous countries of 16th- and 17th‑century Europe with some and a multi-ethnic population of 11 million at its peak in the early 17th century...

. She fought in the November Uprising
November Uprising
The November Uprising , Polish–Russian War 1830–31 also known as the Cadet Revolution, was an armed rebellion in the heartland of partitioned Poland against the Russian Empire. The uprising began on 29 November 1830 in Warsaw when the young Polish officers from the local Army of the Congress...

 and is considered a national hero in Poland
Poland
Poland , officially the Republic of Poland , is a country in Central Europe bordered by Germany to the west; the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south; Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania to the east; and the Baltic Sea and Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian exclave, to the north...

, Lithuania
Lithuania
Lithuania , officially the Republic of Lithuania is a country in Northern Europe, the biggest of the three Baltic states. It is situated along the southeastern shore of the Baltic Sea, whereby to the west lie Sweden and Denmark...

 and Belarus
Belarus
Belarus , officially the Republic of Belarus, is a landlocked country in Eastern Europe, bordered clockwise by Russia to the northeast, Ukraine to the south, Poland to the west, and Lithuania and Latvia to the northwest. Its capital is Minsk; other major cities include Brest, Grodno , Gomel ,...

, which were former parts of the Commonwealth.
Emilia Plater was born in Vilnius
Vilnius
Vilnius is the capital of Lithuania, and its largest city, with a population of 560,190 as of 2010. It is the seat of the Vilnius city municipality and of the Vilnius district municipality. It is also the capital of Vilnius County...

 into a noble
Szlachta
The szlachta was a legally privileged noble class with origins in the Kingdom of Poland. It gained considerable institutional privileges during the 1333-1370 reign of Casimir the Great. In 1413, following a series of tentative personal unions between the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and the Kingdom of...

 Polish-Lithuanian
Polish-Lithuanian (adjective)
Polish-Lithuanian individuals and groups are those with histories in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. This federation, formally established by the 1569 Union of Lublin between the Kingdom of Poland and Grand Duchy of Lithuania, created a multi-ethnic and multi-confessional state founded on the...

 family. Originating in Westphalia
Westphalia
Westphalia is a region in Germany, centred on the cities of Arnsberg, Bielefeld, Dortmund, Minden and Münster.Westphalia is roughly the region between the rivers Rhine and Weser, located north and south of the Ruhr River. No exact definition of borders can be given, because the name "Westphalia"...

, much of the family relocated to Livonia
Livonia
Livonia is a historic region along the eastern shores of the Baltic Sea. It was once the land of the Finnic Livonians inhabiting the principal ancient Livonian County Metsepole with its center at Turaida...

 during the 15th century and later to Lithuania
Lithuania
Lithuania , officially the Republic of Lithuania is a country in Northern Europe, the biggest of the three Baltic states. It is situated along the southeastern shore of the Baltic Sea, whereby to the west lie Sweden and Denmark...

.
Encyclopedia
Countess Emilia Plater (Broel-Plater) (13 November 1806 – 23 December 1831) was a Polish-Lithuanian
Polish-Lithuanian (adjective)
Polish-Lithuanian individuals and groups are those with histories in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. This federation, formally established by the 1569 Union of Lublin between the Kingdom of Poland and Grand Duchy of Lithuania, created a multi-ethnic and multi-confessional state founded on the...

 noblewoman
Szlachta
The szlachta was a legally privileged noble class with origins in the Kingdom of Poland. It gained considerable institutional privileges during the 1333-1370 reign of Casimir the Great. In 1413, following a series of tentative personal unions between the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and the Kingdom of...

 and revolutionary from the lands of the partitioned
Partitions of Poland
The Partitions of Poland or Partitions of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth took place in the second half of the 18th century and ended the existence of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, resulting in the elimination of sovereign Poland for 123 years...

 Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth
Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth
The Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth was a dualistic state of Poland and Lithuania ruled by a common monarch. It was the largest and one of the most populous countries of 16th- and 17th‑century Europe with some and a multi-ethnic population of 11 million at its peak in the early 17th century...

. She fought in the November Uprising
November Uprising
The November Uprising , Polish–Russian War 1830–31 also known as the Cadet Revolution, was an armed rebellion in the heartland of partitioned Poland against the Russian Empire. The uprising began on 29 November 1830 in Warsaw when the young Polish officers from the local Army of the Congress...

 and is considered a national hero in Poland
Poland
Poland , officially the Republic of Poland , is a country in Central Europe bordered by Germany to the west; the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south; Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania to the east; and the Baltic Sea and Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian exclave, to the north...

, Lithuania
Lithuania
Lithuania , officially the Republic of Lithuania is a country in Northern Europe, the biggest of the three Baltic states. It is situated along the southeastern shore of the Baltic Sea, whereby to the west lie Sweden and Denmark...

 and Belarus
Belarus
Belarus , officially the Republic of Belarus, is a landlocked country in Eastern Europe, bordered clockwise by Russia to the northeast, Ukraine to the south, Poland to the west, and Lithuania and Latvia to the northwest. Its capital is Minsk; other major cities include Brest, Grodno , Gomel ,...

, which were former parts of the Commonwealth.

Biography

Emilia Plater was born in Vilnius
Vilnius
Vilnius is the capital of Lithuania, and its largest city, with a population of 560,190 as of 2010. It is the seat of the Vilnius city municipality and of the Vilnius district municipality. It is also the capital of Vilnius County...

 into a noble
Szlachta
The szlachta was a legally privileged noble class with origins in the Kingdom of Poland. It gained considerable institutional privileges during the 1333-1370 reign of Casimir the Great. In 1413, following a series of tentative personal unions between the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and the Kingdom of...

 Polish-Lithuanian
Polish-Lithuanian (adjective)
Polish-Lithuanian individuals and groups are those with histories in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. This federation, formally established by the 1569 Union of Lublin between the Kingdom of Poland and Grand Duchy of Lithuania, created a multi-ethnic and multi-confessional state founded on the...

 family. Originating in Westphalia
Westphalia
Westphalia is a region in Germany, centred on the cities of Arnsberg, Bielefeld, Dortmund, Minden and Münster.Westphalia is roughly the region between the rivers Rhine and Weser, located north and south of the Ruhr River. No exact definition of borders can be given, because the name "Westphalia"...

, much of the family relocated to Livonia
Livonia
Livonia is a historic region along the eastern shores of the Baltic Sea. It was once the land of the Finnic Livonians inhabiting the principal ancient Livonian County Metsepole with its center at Turaida...

 during the 15th century and later to Lithuania
Lithuania
Lithuania , officially the Republic of Lithuania is a country in Northern Europe, the biggest of the three Baltic states. It is situated along the southeastern shore of the Baltic Sea, whereby to the west lie Sweden and Denmark...

. She is described as either Polish, Polish-Lithuanian, or Lithuanian. Her parents, Franciszek Ksawery Plater and Anna von der Mohl, divorced when she was nine years old. She was brought up by distant relatives, the Plater-Zyberk family, in their family's manor Līksna
Liksna
- External links :* in the Geographical Dictionary of the Kingdom of Poland...

 near Daugavpils
Daugavpils
Daugavpils is a city in southeastern Latvia, located on the banks of the Daugava River, from which the city gets its name. Daugavpils literally means "Daugava Castle". With a population of over 100,000, it is the second largest city in the country after the capital Riga, which is located some...

, contemporary Latvia
Latvia
Latvia , officially the Republic of Latvia , is a country in the Baltic region of Northern Europe. It is bordered to the north by Estonia , to the south by Lithuania , to the east by the Russian Federation , to the southeast by Belarus and shares maritime borders to the west with Sweden...

. Well-educated, Plater was brought up to appreciate the efforts of Tadeusz Kościuszko
Tadeusz Kosciuszko
Andrzej Tadeusz Bonawentura Kościuszko was a Polish–Lithuanian and American general and military leader during the Kościuszko Uprising. He is a national hero of Poland, Lithuania, the United States and Belarus...

, and the poet Adam Mickiewicz
Adam Mickiewicz
Adam Bernard Mickiewicz ) was a Polish poet, publisher and political writer of the Romantic period. One of the primary representatives of the Polish Romanticism era, a national poet of Poland, he is seen as one of Poland's Three Bards and the greatest poet in all of Polish literature...

. Emilia was well educated and fascinated by Goethe
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe was a German writer, pictorial artist, biologist, theoretical physicist, and polymath. He is considered the supreme genius of modern German literature. His works span the fields of poetry, drama, prose, philosophy, and science. His Faust has been called the greatest long...

 and Schiller
Friedrich Schiller
Johann Christoph Friedrich von Schiller was a German poet, philosopher, historian, and playwright. During the last seventeen years of his life , Schiller struck up a productive, if complicated, friendship with already famous and influential Johann Wolfgang von Goethe...

, who she could read in the original German language. She also admired Bouboulina
Laskarina Bouboulina
Laskarina Bouboulina , 11 May 1771 - 22 May 1825) was a Greek naval commander, heroine of the Greek War of Independence in 1821, and posthumously, an Admiral of the Imperial Russian Navy.-Early life:...

, a woman who became one of the icons of the Greek uprising against the Ottomans
Greek War of Independence
The Greek War of Independence, also known as the Greek Revolution was a successful war of independence waged by the Greek revolutionaries between...

, as well as Joan of Arc
Joan of Arc
Saint Joan of Arc, nicknamed "The Maid of Orléans" , is a national heroine of France and a Roman Catholic saint. A peasant girl born in eastern France who claimed divine guidance, she led the French army to several important victories during the Hundred Years' War, which paved the way for the...

. These pursuits were accompanied by an early interest in equestrianism
Equestrianism
Equestrianism more often known as riding, horseback riding or horse riding refers to the skill of riding, driving, or vaulting with horses...

 and marksman
Marksman
A marksman is a person who is skilled in precision, or a sharpshooter shooting, using projectile weapons, such as with a rifle but most commonly with a sniper rifle, to shoot at long range targets...

ship, quite uncommon for early 19th century girls from aristocratic families.
In 1829, Emilia Plater began a grand tour
Grand Tour
The Grand Tour was the traditional trip of Europe undertaken by mainly upper-class European young men of means. The custom flourished from about 1660 until the advent of large-scale rail transit in the 1840s, and was associated with a standard itinerary. It served as an educational rite of passage...

 throughout the historical Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, but returned home due to the death of her mother. After the outbreak of the November Uprising
November Uprising
The November Uprising , Polish–Russian War 1830–31 also known as the Cadet Revolution, was an armed rebellion in the heartland of partitioned Poland against the Russian Empire. The uprising began on 29 November 1830 in Warsaw when the young Polish officers from the local Army of the Congress...

 against Imperial Russia, the lands of the former Grand Duchy of Lithuania
Grand Duchy of Lithuania
The Grand Duchy of Lithuania was a European state from the 12th /13th century until 1569 and then as a constituent part of Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth until 1791 when Constitution of May 3, 1791 abolished it in favor of unitary state. It was founded by the Lithuanians, one of the polytheistic...

 were initially unaffected by the fighting and during the initial stages, no anti-Tsarist units were in existence.

Emilia Plater decided to form one of the first such partisan Lithuanians units herself. She cut her hair, prepared a uniform for herself and organized and equipped a group of volunteers. The unit was composed of roughly 280 infantry, 60 cavalry and several hundred peasants armed with war scythe
War scythe
A war scythe is a kind of improvised pole weapon, similar to a fauchard, usually created from standard scythes. The blade of the scythe is transformed so as to extend upright from the pole, thus forming an infantry weapon practical both in offensive actions against infantry and as a defensive...

s.

From the area of Daugavpils
Daugavpils
Daugavpils is a city in southeastern Latvia, located on the banks of the Daugava River, from which the city gets its name. Daugavpils literally means "Daugava Castle". With a population of over 100,000, it is the second largest city in the country after the capital Riga, which is located some...

 she entered Lithuania
Lithuania
Lithuania , officially the Republic of Lithuania is a country in Northern Europe, the biggest of the three Baltic states. It is situated along the southeastern shore of the Baltic Sea, whereby to the west lie Sweden and Denmark...

, where in April 1831 her unit seized the town of Zarasai
Zarasai
Zarasai is a city in northeastern Lithuania, surrounded by many lakes and rivers: to the southwest of the city is Zarasas, north – Zarasaitis, southeast – Baltas, and east – Griežtas. Zarasaitis and Griežtas are connected by Laukesa rivulet....

. Her unit then attempted to return to Daugavpils, but after a reconnaissance mission discovered that the city was defended by a strong garrison and was impregnable to attack by such a small force as her own unit, that plan was abandoned.

She then returned to Samogitia
Samogitia
Samogitia is one of the five ethnographic regions of Lithuania. It is located in northwestern Lithuania. Its largest city is Šiauliai/Šiaulē. The region has a long and distinct cultural history, reflected in the existence of the Samogitian dialect...

 and headed for Panevėžys
Panevežys
Panevėžys see also other names, is the fifth largest city in Lithuania. As of 2008, it occupied 50 square kilometers with 113,653 inhabitants. The largest multifunctional arena in Panevėžys is the Cido Arena...

, where she joined forces with the unit commanded by Karol Załuski. Shortly afterwards General Dezydery Chłapowski entered the area with a large force and took command over all units fighting in the former Grand Duchy.

According to a popular legend, he advised Emilia Plater to stand down and return home. She allegedly replied that she had no intention of taking off her uniform until her fatherland was fully liberated.

Her decision was accepted and she was made the commanding officer of 1st company of the Polish 1st Lithuanian Infantry Regiment. She fought with distinction and was promoted to the rank of captain, the highest rank awarded to a woman at that time.

After the Polish units were defeated by the Russians, Gen. Chłapowski decided to cross the border into Prussia
Prussia
Prussia was a German kingdom and historic state originating out of the Duchy of Prussia and the Margraviate of Brandenburg. For centuries, the House of Hohenzollern ruled Prussia, successfully expanding its size by way of an unusually well-organized and effective army. Prussia shaped the history...

 and become interned there. Emilia Plater refused to follow orders and instead decided to try to break through to Warsaw and continue the struggle.

However, Emilia Plater became seriously ill and died December 23, 1831 in a manor of the Abłamowicz family in Justinavas. She was buried in the small village of Kapčiamiestis
Kapciamiestis
Kapčiamiestis is a town in Lithuania located near the confluence of Baltoji Ančia and Nieda Rivers. Town traces its history dating back in early 16th century, then a manor was built...

 (Kopciowo) near Lazdijai
Lazdijai
Lazdijai is a city in Lithuania located about east of the border with Poland. In 1990 Lithuania declared independence from the Soviet Union, and new check points between the borders Poland and Lithuania were established and Lazdijai became the center that oversees and continues to regulate these...

.

Legacy

Her death was widely publicised shortly afterwards and Emilia Plater became one of the symbols of the uprising. The symbol of the fighting girl became quite widespread both in Poland, Lithuania and abroad.

Adam Mickiewicz
Adam Mickiewicz
Adam Bernard Mickiewicz ) was a Polish poet, publisher and political writer of the Romantic period. One of the primary representatives of the Polish Romanticism era, a national poet of Poland, he is seen as one of Poland's Three Bards and the greatest poet in all of Polish literature...

 immortalized her in one of his poems, Śmierć pułkownika (Death of a Colonel), although the description of her death is a pure poetical fiction and was only loosely based on her real life.

Other literary works based on her life were published, mostly abroad, both by Polish emigres and by foreigners. Among them were Georg Büchner
Georg Büchner
Karl Georg Büchner was a German dramatist and writer of poetry and prose. He was the brother of physician and philosopher Ludwig Büchner. Büchner's talent is generally held in great esteem in Germany...

, Konstanty Gaszyński, Antoni Edward Odyniec
Antoni Edward Odyniec
Antoni Edward Odyniec was a Polish Romantic-era poet who penned the celebrated "Song of the Filaretes".Himself a mediocre imitator of his friend Adam Mickiewicz, Odyniec made his mark as a translator of works by distinguished writers, including Walter Scott, Byron, Friedrich Schiller and Pushkin;...

 and Władysław Buchner and Józef Straszewicz, who published three successive versions of her biography in French.

She also became the theme of paintings by several artists of the epoch, among them Hyppolyte Bellange, Achille Deveria
Achille Devéria
Achille Jacques-Jean-Marie Devéria was a French painter and lithographer. His father was a civil employee of the navy and student of Anne-Louis Girodet-Trioson and Louis Lafitte ....

, Philipp Veit
Philipp Veit
Philipp Veit was a German Romantic painter. To Veit is due the credit of having been the first to revive the almost forgotten technique of fresco painting.- Biography :Veit was born in Berlin, Prussia...

, Francois de Villain and Wojciech Kossak
Wojciech Kossak
Wojciech Kossak was a Polish painter and member of the celebrated Kossak family of painters and writers...

. In 1842 J. K. Salomoński published a short biography of Emilia Plater in New York
New York
New York is a state in the Northeastern region of the United States. It is the nation's third most populous state. New York is bordered by New Jersey and Pennsylvania to the south, and by Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont to the east...

, under the title of Emily Plater, The Polish Heroine; Life of the Countess Emily Plater.

She was shown on the Second Polish Republic
Second Polish Republic
The Second Polish Republic, Second Commonwealth of Poland or interwar Poland refers to Poland between the two world wars; a period in Polish history in which Poland was restored as an independent state. Officially known as the Republic of Poland or the Commonwealth of Poland , the Polish state was...

's notes (20 zloty). During the World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, a Polish female support unit, (1 Samodzielny Battalion Kobiecy im. Emilii Plater) in Polish 1st Tadeusz Kościuszko Infantry Division
Polish 1st Tadeusz Kosciuszko Infantry Division
The Polish 1st Tadeusz Kościuszko Infantry Division was an infantry division in the Soviet-organized Polish armed forces formed in 1943 and named for the Polish and American revolutionary Tadeusz Kościuszko...

 was named in her honor; its former members founded a village (Platerówka
Platerówka
Platerówka is a village in Lubań County, Lower Silesian Voivodeship, in south-western Poland. It is the seat of the administrative district called Gmina Platerówka. Prior to 1945 it was in Germany....

) in Lower Silesia
Lower Silesia
Lower Silesia ; is the northwestern part of the historical and geographical region of Silesia; Upper Silesia is to the southeast.Throughout its history Lower Silesia has been under the control of the medieval Kingdom of Poland, the Kingdom of Bohemia and the Austrian Habsburg Monarchy from 1526...

.

In 1959 she was made the name-sake of MS Emilia Plater

External links

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