There has been a recent and rather heated discussion on whether the Poles were all enthusiasts of French rule as they felt they were better off than being under the Russians.
I felt that such a generalization needed some nuance. It is true that when you read accounts by generals and dashing cavalry officers, you tend to get the impression that all Poles loved Napoleon and hated the Russians with a vengeance. But the true picture is more complicated, especially in 1812.
First thing to note is that many Poles were unwillingly involved in that war, as conscripts or bystanders. No enthusiasm there for a war with Russia. Then, and importantly, the French armies did much to curb any Polish enthusiasm for French rule by behaving really badly. Not only in the Grand Duchy but in the regions they liberated as they advanced (some of which had belonged to Poland before the partitions). I copy below a passage on the conduct of the French troops as they advanced through those territories in the summer of 1812. These passages are by a Polish interpreter attached to IHQ, a Monsieur Krasicki.
"Monsieur Gzospky heard that the French would be coming by his estate in a few days’ time. He did everything he could to make sure they would be well-received, baking cakes, making pâtés, roasting meat and collecting ham and drinks in abundance. The long-expected day arrived and he was overcome with joy. He ran before the French offering them bread and salt (an old tradition in Poland and Russia, a greeting the serfs confer on a new master when he arrives in the village, the equivalent of the Greek’s earth and water). He invited them to come and dine and they accepted with pleasure. The officers found a banquet laid out in the house whilst the soldiers were well-received in the barns and the courtyard. He was an excellent host. They ate, they drank, they laughed. Then, suddenly, one of the officers remarked that he liked Monsieur Gzospky’s boots. He had him take them off. Another took his trousers and a third his coat and soon, despite begging them to stop, he was stripped so he was as naked as the back of his hand. The officers were in hysterics and retired whilst a great number of soldiers remained and began to pillage and sack the house. Fortunately, Madame Monsieur Gzospka escaped their clutches and made off into the neighbouring forest whilst her humiliated husband threw himself under the sofa and his whilst the pillaging continued. When the brigands left he set out to find his wife. Everything had been carried off. He was not left a shirt or a pair of breeches. He had a neighbour who was also an enthusiast of the French and had welcomed them the same way; he was treated in the same manner. He had also been stripped. How is it possible they asked themselves, anger in their hearts and tears in their eyes, that these are our friends?"
He cites other examples, including gang rape, some Bavarians throwing a baby into a fire, robberies and murders. He rails against the French and what they were doing to the people of Poland.
And he was a Pole in French service.
I only write this to show that not every Pole was an ardent enthusiast of French rule. This should be remembered when writing generalizations about Poles and their "traditional enmities".