In 1914, Poland was a dream, not a geopolitical reality. The disastrous War of the Polish Succession issued in the partition of the ancient, Catholic kingdom. Austria took Galicia in the southwest. Protestant Germany annexed Silesia and parts of the Polish Baltic. Reactionary, Orthodox Russia siezed the rest and ruled it harshly. From time to time, inspired by enthusiasm for Chopin or the polka, romantics, idealists, and eccentrics of various stripes championed Polish independence, particularly during the effusion of nationalist sentiment that swept Europe in the nineteenth century. For a time, under Napoleon, the nation even enjoyed a nominal independence and a considerable vogue in fashionable circles. But, in practical diplomatic or military matters, Polish patriots were invariably on their own and at the mercy of foreign guns. In simple terms, Poland had ceased to exist for the Great Powers. They had long since decided her fate and had no desire to reopen an issue that might lead to considerable bother and expense.