The First Polish Republic was proclaimed in 1793 at the beginning of the Polish Revolution, replacing the weakened and decaying Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. After surviving the efforts of its neighbours to destroy it during the Polish Revolutionary Wars, it became one of Europe's great powers for a period during the 19th century.

The Polish Republic was a federal state of three parts, as opposed to the two parts of Poland-Lithuania. Ruthenia, comprising much of what is today western Ukraine, was elevated to become a realm on an equal standing with the two existing realms, though Poland remained the richest and most populous part and Polish was the common language of government. From the beginning the principles of egalitarianism and meritocracy were enshrined in its constitution, with sovereignty being vested in the elected National Assembly and wielded by the six members of the Consular College - two Consuls being elected from each realm, in an attempt to ward off autocracy and prevent any one realm from dominating the other two. Almost uniquely, the vote was given to all men over the age of majority, regardless of property requirements or social status, though the rights of women were not yet considered at this early stage.

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