Namiestnik of Poland

Namiestnik of Poland
Medium Coat of Arms of Congress Poland.svg
Pavel N. Yengalychev.jpeg
Last holder
Pavel Yengalychev
Residence Namiestnik's Palace
Appointer Emperor of Russia
Formation 1815
First holder Józef Zajączek
Final holder Pavel Yengalychev
Abolished 1915

The Namiestnik (or Viceroy) of the Kingdom of Poland (Polish: namiestnik Królestwa Polskiego, Russian: наместник Царства Польского) was the deputy of the Emperor of Russia who, under Congress Poland (1815–1874), styled himself "King of Poland". Between 1874 and 1914, when the former Congress Poland was known as the Vistula Country, the title Namiestnik was replaced by that of Governor-General of Warsaw (Polish: generał-gubernator warszawski).[a]


The office of Namiestnik was introduced in Poland by the Constitution of Congress Poland (1815), in its Article 3 (On the Namiestnik and Council of State). The namiestnik was chosen by the Tsar from among the noble citizens of the Russian Empire or the Kingdom of Poland, excluding naturalized citizens. The namiestnik supervised the entire public administration and, in the monarch's absence, chaired the Council of State of Congress Poland, as well as the Administrative Council of Congress Poland. He could veto the councils' decisions; other than that, his decisions had to be countersigned by the appropriate government minister. The namiestnik exercised broad powers and could nominate candidates for most senior government posts (ministers, senators, judges of the High Tribunal, councilors of state, referendaries, as well as bishops and archbishops).

The namiestnik had no competence in the realms of finances and foreign policy; his military competence varied.[b] In the event that the namiestnik were unable to exercise his office due to resignation or death, this function would be temporarily carried out by the president of the Council of State.

The office of namiestnik was never officially abolished; however, the last namiestnik was Friedrich Wilhelm Rembert von Berg, who served from 1863 to his death in 1874. No namiestnik was named to replace him;[1] however, the role of namiestnik—viceroy of the former Congress Kingdom, now called the Vistula Country—passed to the Governor-General of Warsaw[2]—or, to be more specific, of the Warsaw Military District (Polish: Warszawski Okręg Wojskowy, Russian: Варшавский Военный Округ). However, in the internal correspondence of Russian Imperial offices this functionary was still called namiestnik.

The governor-general answered directly to the Tsar and exercised much broader powers than had the namiestnik. In particular, he controlled all the military forces in the region and oversaw the judicial systems (he could impose death sentences without trial). He could also issue "declarations with the force of law," which could alter existing laws.

Viceroys of the Kingdom of Poland

Governors-General of Warsaw

See also