Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth The Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth
, formally known as the Crown of the Kingdom of Poland and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania
and, after 1791, the Commonwealth of Poland
, was a country and bi-federation
ruled by a common monarch
in real union
, who was both King of Poland
and Grand Duke of Lithuania
. It was one of the largest
and most populous countries of 16th to 17th-century Europe. At its largest territorial extent, in the early 17th century, the Commonwealth covered almost 1,000,000 square kilometres (400,000 sq mi)
and as of 1618 sustained a multi-ethnic population of almost 12 million.Polish
were the two co-official languages.
The Union possessed many features unique among contemporary states. Its political system
was characterized by strict checks upon monarchical power. These checks were enacted by a legislature (sejm
) controlled by the nobility (szlachta
). This idiosyncratic system was a precursor to modern concepts of democracy,
as of 1791 constitutional monarchy
Although the two component states of the Commonwealth were formally equal, Poland was the dominant partner in the union.
The official name of the state was the Kingdom of Poland and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania (Polish
: Królestwo Polskie i Wielkie Księstwo Litewskie
: Lenkijos Karalystė ir Lietuvos Didžioji Kunigaikštystė
: Regnum Poloniae Magnusque Ducatus Lithuaniae
) and the Latin term was usually used in international treaties and diplomacy.
In the 17th century and later it was also known as the 'Most Serene Commonwealth of Poland' (Polish
: Najjaśniejsza Rzeczpospolita Polska
: Serenissima Res Publica Poloniae
the Commonwealth of the Polish Kingdom,
or the Commonwealth of Poland.
Western Europeans often simplified the name to 'Poland' and in most past and modern sources it is referred to as the Kingdom of Poland, or just Poland.
The terms 'Commonwealth of Poland' and 'Commonwealth of Two Nations' (Polish
: Rzeczpospolita Obojga Narodów
: Res Publica Utriusque Nationis
) were used in the Reciprocal Guarantee of Two Nations
The English term Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth and German Polen-Litauen are seen as renderings of the 'Commonwealth of Two Nations' variant.
Other informal names include the 'Republic of Nobles' (Polish
: Rzeczpospolita szlachecka
) and the 'First Commonwealth' (Polish
: I Rzeczpospolita
), the latter relatively common in historiography to distinguish it from the Second Polish Republic
The Kingdom of Poland
and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania
underwent an alternating series of wars and alliances across the 13th and 14th centuries.
The relations between the two states differed at times as each strived and competed for political, economic or military dominance of the region.
In turn, Poland had remained a staunch ally of its southern neighbour, Hungary
. The last Polish monarch from the native Piast
dynasty, Casimir the Great
, died on 5 November 1370 without fathering a legitimate male heir.
Consequently, the crown passed onto his Hungarian nephew, Louis of Anjou
, who ruled the Kingdom of Hungary
in a personal union with Poland
A fundamental step in developing extensive ties with Lithuania was a succession crisis arising in the 1380s.
Louis died on 10 September 1382, and alike his uncle did not produce a son to succeed him. His two daughters – Mary
– held claims to the vast dual realm.
The Polish lords renounced Mary, then betrothed to Sigismund of Luxembourg
, in favour of her younger sister Jadwiga.
The future queen regnant
was destined to wed young William Habsburg
, but certain factions of the nobility remained apprehensive believing that the Austrian would not secure domestic interests.
Instead, they turned to Jogaila
, the Grand Duke of Lithuania. Jogaila was a lifelong pagan
and vowed to convert and adopt Catholicism upon the marriage by signing the Union of Krewo
on 14 August 1385.
The Act imposed Christianity in Lithuania and transformed Poland into a diarchy
, a kingdom ruled over by two sovereigns; their descendants and successive monarchs held the titles of king and grand duke respectively.
The ultimate clause dictated that Lithuania was to be perpetually merged (perpetuo applicare
) with the Polish Kingdom, however, this did not take effect until 1569.
Jogaila was crowned as Władysław II Jagiełło at Wawel Cathedral
on 4 March 1386.
Several minor agreements were struck prior to unification, notably the Union of Kraków and Vilnius
, the Union of Vilnius and Radom
and the Union of Grodno
. Lithuania's vulnerable position and rising tensions on its eastern flank persuaded the nobles to seek a closer bond with Poland.
The idea of a federation presented better economic opportunities, whilst securing Lithuania's borders from hostile states to the north, south and east.
Lesser Lithuanian nobility was eager to share the personal privileges and political liberties enjoyed by the Polish szlachta
, but did not accept Polish demands for the incorporation of the Grand Duchy into Poland as a mere province, with no sense of autonomy. Mikołaj "the Red" Radziwiłł
(Radvila Rudasis) and his cousin Mikołaj "the Black" Radziwiłł
, two prominent nobles and military commanders in Lithuania, vocally opposed the union.
A fierce proponent of a single unified Commonwealth was Sigismund II Augustus
, who was childless and ailing. According to historians, it was his active involvement which hastened the process and made the union possible.
A parliament (sejm
) convened on 10 January 1569 in the city of Lublin
, attended by envoys from both nations. It was agreed that the merger will take place the same year and both parliaments will be fused into a joint assembly.
No independent parliamentary convocation or diet
was henceforth permitted.
Subjects of the Polish Crown were no longer restricted in purchasing land on Lithuanian territory and a single currency
Whilst the military remained separate, a unified foreign policy meant that Lithuanian troops were obliged to contribute during a conflict not to their advantage.
As a result, several Lithuanian magnates
deplored the accords and left the assembly in protest.
Sigismund II used his authority as grand duke and enforced the Act of Union in contumaciam
. In fear, the absent nobles promptly returned to the negotiations.
The Union of Lublin
was passed by the gathered deputies and signed by attendees on 1 July, thus creating the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth.
Sigismund's death in 1572 was followed by an interregnum
during which adjustments were made to the constitutional system; these adjustments significantly increased the power of the Polish nobility
and established a truly elective monarchy
Apex of the Golden Age (1573–1648)
The Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth in 1582
On 11 May 1573, Henry de Valois
, son of Henry II of France
and Catherine de' Medici
, was proclaimed King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania in the first royal election outside Warsaw
. Approximately 40,000 notables cast a vote in what was to become a centuries-long tradition of a nobles' democracy (Golden Liberty
). Henry already posed as a candidate before Sigismund's death and received widespread support from the pro-French factions. The choice was a political move aimed at curtailing Habsburg
hegemony, ending skirmishes with the French-allied Ottomans
, and profiting from the lucrative trade with France. Upon ascending the throne, Henry signed the contractual agreement known as the Pacta conventa
and approbated the Henrician Articles
The Act stated the fundamental principles of governance and constitutional law
in the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth.
In June 1574, Henry abandoned Poland and headed back to claim the French crown following the death of his brother and predecessor, Charles IX
The throne was subsequently declared vacant.
The interregnum concluded on 12 December 1575 when primate Jakub Uchański
declared Maximilian II, Holy Roman Emperor
, as the next king.
The decision was condemned by the anti-Habsburg coalition, which demanded a "native" candidate.
As a compromise, on 13 December 1575 Anna Jagiellon
– sister of Sigismund Augustus and a member of the Jagiellonian dynasty
– became the new monarch.
The nobles simultaneously elected Stephen Báthory
as co-regent, who ruled jure uxoris
Báthory's election proved controversial – Lithuania and Ducal Prussia
initially refused to recognize the Transylvanian as their ruler.
The wealthy port city of Gdańsk
(Danzig) staged a revolt
, and, with the help of Denmark
, blockaded maritime trade to neutral Elbląg
Báthory, unable to penetrate the city's extensive fortifications, succumbed to the demands for greater privileges and freedoms.
However, his successful Livonian campaign
ended in the annexation of Livonia
and the Duchy of Courland and Semigallia
and southern Estonia
), thus expanding the Commonwealth's influence into the Baltics
Most importantly, Poland gained the Hanseatic
city of Riga
on the Baltic Sea
, a Catholic despot who undermined the elective system in hope of restoring absolutism. His reign marked the Commonwealth's largest territorial expansion
Sigismund III then initiated a policy of expansionism
, and invaded Russia
in 1609 when that country was plagued by a civil war known as the Time of Troubles
. In July 1610, the outnumbered Polish force comprising winged hussars
defeated the Russians at the Battle of Klushino
, which enabled the Poles to take and occupy Moscow
for the next two years.
The disgraced Vasili IV of Russia
was transported in a cage to Warsaw where he paid a tribute to Sigismund; Vasili was later murdered in captivity.
The Commonwealth forces were eventually driven out in 1612. The war concluded with a truce
that granted Poland–Lithuania extensive territories in the east and marked its largest territorial expansion.
At least five million Russians died between 1598 and 1613, the result of continuous conflict, famine and Sigismund's invasion.
During this period, Poland was experiencing a cultural awakening and extensive developments in arts and architecture; the first Vasa
king openly sponsored foreign painters, craftsmen, musicians and engineers, who settled in the Commonwealth at his request.
Sigismund's eldest son, Ladislaus
succeeded him as Władysław IV in 1632 with no major opposition.
A skilled tactician, he invested in artillery
, modernised the army and fiercely defended the Commonwealth's eastern borders.
Under the Treaty of Stuhmsdorf
, he reclaimed regions of Livonia and the Baltics which were lost during the Polish-Swedish wars.
Unlike his father who worshipped the Habsburgs, Władysław sought closer ties with France and married Marie Louise Gonzaga
, daughter of Charles I Gonzaga, Duke of Mantua
, in 1646.
Deluge, rebellions and Vienna (1648–1696)
The Commonwealth's power and stability began waning after a series of blows during the following decades. Władysław's brother, John II Casimir
, proved to be weak and impotent. The multicultural and mega-diverse federation already suffered domestic problems. As persecution of religious and ethnic minorities strengthened, several groups started to rebel.
A major rebellion of self-governed Ukrainian Cossacks
inhabiting south-eastern borderlands of the Commonwealth rioted against Polish and Catholic oppression of Orthodox Ukraine
in 1648, in what came to be known as the Khmelnytsky Uprising
. It resulted in a Ukrainian request, under the terms of the Treaty of Pereyaslav
, for protection by the Russian Tsar. In 1651, in the face of a growing threat from Poland, and forsaken by his Tatar allies, Khmelnytsky
asked the Tsar to incorporate Ukraine as an autonomous duchy under Russian protection. Russian annexation of Zaporizhian Ukraine gradually supplanted Polish influence in that part of Europe. In the years following, Polish settlers, nobles, Catholics and Jews
became the victims of retaliation massacres instigated by the Cossacks in their dominions. The other blow to the Commonwealth was a Swedish invasion in 1655, known as the Deluge
, which was supported by troops of Transylvanian
Duke George II Rákóczi
and Frederick William, Elector of Brandenburg
. Under the Treaty of Bromberg
in 1657, Catholic Poland was forced to renounce suzerainty over Protestant Prussia
; in 1701 the once-insignificant duchy was transformed into the Kingdom of Prussia
, which became a major European power in the 18th century and proved to be Poland's most enduring foe.
In the late 17th century, the king of the weakened Commonwealth, John III Sobieski
, allied with Holy Roman Emperor Leopold I
to deal crushing defeats to the Ottoman Empire
. In 1683, the Battle of Vienna
marked the final turning point in the 250-year struggle between the forces of Christian Europe and the Islamic
Ottomans. For its centuries-long opposition to Muslim advances, the Commonwealth would gain the name of Antemurale Christianitatis
(bulwark of Christianity).
During the next 16 years, the Great Turkish War
would drive the Turks permanently south of the Danube River
, never again to threaten central Europe.
John Sobieski's death in 1696 arguably ended the period of national sovereignty, and Poland's relative authority over the region dwindled swiftly. By the 18th century, destabilization of its political system brought the Commonwealth to the brink of civil war
and the state became increasingly susceptible to foreign influence.
The remaining European powers perpetually meddled in the country's affairs.
Upon the death of a king, several royal houses actively intruded in the hope of securing votes for their desired candidates.
The practice was common and apparent, and the selection was often the result of hefty bribes directed at corrupt nobles.Louis XIV of France
heavily invested in François Louis, Prince of Conti
, in opposition to James Louis Sobieski
, Maximilian Emanuel of Bavaria
and Frederick Augustus of Saxony
The latter's conversion from Lutheranism
to Catholicism awed the conservative magnates and Pope Innocent XII
, who in turn voiced their endorsement.
Imperial Russia and Habsburg Austria
also contributed by financing Frederick, whose election took place in June 1697. Many questioned the legality of his elevation to the throne; it was speculated that the Prince of Conti had received more votes and was the rightful heir. Frederick hurried with his armies
to Poland to quell any opposition. He was crowned as Augustus II in September and Conti's brief military engagement near Gdańsk in November of the same year proved fruitless.
The House of Wettin
ruled Poland–Lithuania and Saxony simultaneously, dividing power between the two states. In spite of his controversial means of attaining power, Augustus II lavishly spent on the arts and left an extensive cultural and architectural (Baroque
) legacy in both countries. In Poland, he expanded Wilanów
and facilitated the refurbishment of the Warsaw Royal Castle
into a modern palatial residence.
Countless landmarks and monuments in the city bear a name referencing the Saxon kings, notably Saxon Garden
, Saxon Axis
and the former Saxon Palace
The period saw the development of urban planning, street allocation, hospitals, schools (Collegium Nobilium
), public parks and libraries (Załuski Library
). First manufactories producing on a mass scale were opened to satisfy the demands of the nobility as consumers.
At the height of the Great Northern War
a coalition (Warsaw Confederation
) against Augustus II was formed by Stanislaus Leszczyński
and other magnates sponsored by Sweden. The Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth was formally neutral at this point, as Augustus entered the war as Elector of Saxony. Disregarding Polish negotiation proposals supported by the Swedish parliament, Charles crossed into the Commonwealth and vanquished the Saxe-Polish forces at the Battle of Klissow
in 1702 and at the Battle of Pultusk
Charles then succeeded in dethroning Augustus and coercing the Sejm (parliament) to replace him with Stanislaus in 1704.
Augustus regained the throne in 1709,
but his own death in 1733 sparked the War of the Polish Succession
in which Stanislaus once more attempted to seize the crown, this time with the support of France.
The Pacification Sejm (1736)
culminated in Augustus III
succeeding his father.
The relative peace and inactivity that followed only weakened Poland's reputation on the world stage. Aleksander Brückner
noted that Polish customs and traditions were abandoned in favour of everything foreign, and neighbouring states continued to exploit Poland to their advantage.
Moreover, Western Europe's increasing exploitation of resources in the Americas rendered the Commonwealth's supplies less crucial which resulted in financial losses.
Augustus III spent little time in the Commonwealth, instead preferring the Saxon city of Dresden
. He appointed Heinrich von Brühl
as viceroy and minister of Polish affairs who in turn left the politics to Polish magnate families, such as the Czartoryskis
and the Radziwills
It was also during this period that the Polish Enlightenment
began to sprout.
The Enlightenment (1764–1795)
Poniatowski's attempted at reform was met with staunch resistance both internally and externally. Any goal of stabilizing the Commonwealth was dangerous for its ambitious and aggressive neighbours. Alike his predecessors, he sponsored artists and architects. In 1765 he founded the Warsaw Corps of Cadets
, the first state school in Poland for all classes of society.
In 1773 the king and parliament formed the Commission of National Education
, the first Ministry of Education in European history.
In 1792, the king ordered the creation of Virtuti Militari
, one of the oldest military decorations still in use.
Stanislaus Augustus also admired the culture of Ancient kingdoms, particularly Rome and Greece; Neoclassicism
was transformed into the dominant form of architectural and cultural expression.
State organization and politics
The political doctrine of the Commonwealth was our state is a republic under the presidency of the King
. Chancellor Jan Zamoyski
summed up this doctrine when he said that Rex regnat et non-gubernat
("The King reigns but [lit.
'and'] does not govern").
The Commonwealth had a parliament, the Sejm, as well as a Senat
and an elected king (Pic. 1
). The king was obliged to respect citizens' rights specified in King Henry's Articles
as well as in pacta conventa
, negotiated at the time of his election.
The monarch's power was limited in favour of a sizable noble class. Each new king had to pledge to uphold the Henrician Articles, which were the basis of Poland's political system (and included near-unprecedented guarantees of religious tolerance
). Over time, the Henrician Articles were merged with the pacta conventa, specific pledges agreed to by the king-elect. From that point onwards, the king was effectively a partner with the noble class and was constantly supervised by a group of senators
. The Sejm could veto the king on important matters, including legislation (the adoption of new laws), foreign affairs, declaration of war, and taxation (changes of existing taxes or the levying of new ones).
The foundation of the Commonwealth's political system, the "Golden Liberty
: Aurea Libertas
: Złota Wolność
, a term used from 1573 on), included:
- election of the king by all nobles wishing to participate, known as wolna elekcja (free election);
- Sejm, the Commonwealth parliament which the king was required to hold every two years;
- pacta conventa (Latin), "agreed-to agreements" negotiated with the king-elect, including a bill of rights, binding on the king, derived from the earlier Henrician Articles.
- religious freedom guaranteed by Warsaw Confederation Act 1573,[page needed]
- rokosz (insurrection), the right of szlachta to form a legal rebellion against a king who violated their guaranteed freedoms;
- liberum veto (Latin), the right of an individual Sejm deputy to oppose a decision by the majority in a Sejm session; the voicing of such a "free veto" nullified all the legislation that had been passed at that session; during the crisis of the second half of the 17th century, Polish nobles could also use the liberum veto in provincial sejmiks;
- konfederacja (from the Latin confederatio), the right to form an organization to force through a common political aim.
The three regions (see below) of the Commonwealth enjoyed a degree of autonomy
had its own parliament (sejmik), which exercised serious political power, including choice of poseł
) to the national Sejm and charging of the deputy with specific voting instructions. The Grand Duchy of Lithuania
had its own separate army, treasury and most other official institutions.
This political system unusual for its time stemmed from the ascendance of the szlachta noble class
over other social classes and over the political system
of monarchy. In time, the szlachta accumulated enough privileges (such as those established by the Nihil novi
Act of 1505) that no monarch could hope to break the szlachta's grip on power. The Commonwealth's political system is difficult to fit into a simple category, but it can be tentatively described as a mixture of:
- confederation and federation, with regard to the broad autonomy of its regions. It is, however, difficult to decisively call the Commonwealth either confederation or federation, as it had some qualities of both;
- oligarchy, as only the szlachta (nobility) – around 15% of the population – had political rights;
- democracy, since all the szlachta were equal in rights and privileges, and the Sejm could veto the king on important matters, including legislation (the adoption of new laws), foreign affairs, declaration of war, and taxation (changes of existing taxes or the levying of new ones). Also, the 15% of Commonwealth population who enjoyed those political rights (the szlachta) was a substantially larger percentage than in majority European countries even in the nineteenth century; note that in 1820 in France only about 1.5% of the male adult population had the right to vote, and in 1840 in Belgium, only about 5%.
- elective monarchy, since the monarch, elected by the szlachta, was Head of State;
- constitutional monarchy, since the monarch was bound by pacta conventa and other laws, and the szlachta could disobey any king's decrees they deemed illegal.
The end of the Jagiellonian dynasty
in 1572 – after nearly two centuries – disrupted the fragile equilibrium of the Commonwealth's government. Power increasingly slipped away from the central government to the nobility.
When presented with periodic opportunities to fill the throne, the szlachta
exhibited a preference for foreign candidates who would not establish a strong and long-lasting dynasty
. This policy often produced monarchs who were either totally ineffective or in constant debilitating conflict with the nobility.
Furthermore, aside from notable exceptions such as the able Stefan Batory
(1576–86), the kings of foreign origin were inclined to subordinate the interests of the Commonwealth to those of their own country and ruling house. This was especially visible in the policies and actions of the first two elected kings from the Swedish House of Vasa
, whose politics brought the Commonwealth into conflict with Sweden, culminating in the war known as the Deluge
(1655), one of the events that mark the end of the Commonwealth's Golden Age and the beginning of the Commonwealth's decline.
The Zebrzydowski Rebellion
(1606–1607) marked a substantial increase in the power of the Polish magnates
, and the transformation of szlachta democracy
into magnate oligarchy
. The Commonwealth's political system was vulnerable to outside interference, as Sejm deputies bribed
by foreign powers might use their liberum veto to block attempted reforms. This sapped the Commonwealth and plunged it into political paralysis and anarchy for over a century, from the mid-17th century to the end of the 18th, while its neighbours stabilized their internal affairs and increased their military might.
The Commonwealth did eventually make a serious effort to reform its political system, adopting in 1791 the Constitution of 3 May 1791
, which historian Norman Davies
calls the first of its kind in Europe.
The revolutionary Constitution recast the erstwhile Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth as a Polish–Lithuanian federal state with a hereditary monarchy
and abolished many of the deleterious features of the old system.
The new constitution:
These reforms came too late, however, as the Commonwealth was immediately invaded from all sides by its neighbors, which had been content to leave the Commonwealth alone as a weak buffer state, but reacted strongly to attempts by king Stanislaus Augustus
and other reformers to strengthen the country.[page needed]
Russia feared the revolutionary implications of the 3 May Constitution's political reforms and the prospect of the Commonwealth regaining its position as a European power. Catherine the Great
regarded the May constitution as fatal to her influence
and declared the Polish constitution Jacobinical
. Grigori Aleksandrovich Potemkin
drafted the act for the Targowica Confederation
, referring to the constitution as the "contagion of democratic ideas".
used it as a pretext for further territorial expansion.
Prussian minister Ewald Friedrich von Hertzberg
called the constitution "a blow to the Prussian monarchy",
fearing that a strengthened Poland would once again dominate Prussia.
In the end, the 3 May Constitution was never fully implemented, and the Commonwealth entirely ceased to exist only four years after its adoption.
(Danzig), the Commonwealth's chief seaport and trading centre from which goods would be transported along the Vistula River
and other towns in the country.
Cereals exports in the years 1619–1799. Agriculture, once extremely profitable to the nobility, became much less so after the mid-17th century.
The economy of the Commonwealth was predominantly based on agricultural output and trade, though there was an abundance of artisan
workshops and manufactories — notably paper mills
, leather tanneries
Some major cities were home to craftsmen, jewellers and clockmakers.
The majority of industries and trades were concentrated in the Kingdom of Poland; the Grand Duchy of Lithuania was more rural and its economy was driven by farming and clothmaking.
Mining developed in the south-west region of Poland which was rich in natural resources such as lead
, coal, copper
The currency used in Poland–Lithuania was the złoty
(meaning "the golden") and its subunit, the grosz
. Foreign coins in the form of ducats
were widely accepted and exchanged.
The city of Gdańsk
(Danzig) had the privilege of minting its own coinage.
In 1794, Tadeusz Kościuszko
began issuing the first Polish banknotes.
The country played a significant role in the supply of Western Europe
by the export of grain (rye), cattle (oxen), furs, timber, linen
, carminic acid
Cereals, cattle and fur amounted to nearly 90% of the country's exports to European markets by overland and maritime trade in the 16th century.
From Gdańsk, ships carried cargo to the major ports of the Low Countries
, such as Antwerp
The land routes, mostly to the German provinces of the Holy Roman Empire
such as the cities of Leipzig
, were used for the export of live cattle (herds of around 50,000 head) hides
, salt, tobacco, hemp
and cotton from the Greater Poland
In turn, the Commonwealth imported wine, beer, fruit, exotic spices, luxury goods
, Pic. 5
), furniture, fabrics as well as industrial products like steel and tools.
The agricultural sector was dominated by feudalism
based on the plantation system
was forbidden in Poland in the 15th century, and formally abolished in Lithuania in 1588,
replaced by the second enserfment. Typically a nobleman's landholding comprised a folwark
, a large farmstead worked by serfs
to produce surpluses for internal and external trade. This economic arrangement worked well for the ruling classes and nobles in the early years of the Commonwealth, which was one of the most prosperous eras of the grain trade
The economic strength of Commonwealth grain trade waned from the late 17th century on. Trade relationships were disrupted by the wars, and the Commonwealth proved unable to improve its transport infrastructure or its agricultural practices.
Serfs in the region were increasingly tempted to flee.
The Commonwealth's major attempts at countering this problem and improving productivity consisted of increasing serfs' workload and further restricting their freedoms in a process known as export-led serfdom.
The owner of a folwark
usually signed a contract with merchants of Gdańsk, who controlled 80% of this inland trade, to ship the grain north to that seaport on the Baltic Sea
Countless rivers and waterways in the Commonwealth were used for shipping purposes, including the Vistula
. The rivers had relatively developed infrastructure, with river ports
. Most of the river shipping moved north, southward transport being less profitable, and barges and rafts were often sold off in Gdańsk for lumber. Grodno
become an important site after formation of a customs post at Augustów
in 1569, which became a checkpoint for merchants travelling to the Crown lands from the Grand Duchy.
Urban population of the Commonwealth was low compared to Western Europe. Exact numbers depend on calculation methods. According to one source, the urban population of the Commonwealth was about 20% of the total in the 17th century, compared to approximately 50% in the Netherlands and Italy (Pic. 7
Another source suggests much lower figures: 4–8% urban population in Poland, 34–39% in the Netherlands and 22–23% in Italy.
The Commonwealth's preoccupation with agriculture, coupled with the nobles' privileged position when compared to the bourgeoisie
, resulted in a fairly slow process of urbanization and thus a rather slow development of industries
The nobility could also regulate the price of grain for their advantage, thus acquiring much wealth. Some of the largest trade fairs
in the Commonwealth were held at Lublin
Several ancient trading routes
such as the Amber Road
extended across Poland–Lithuania, which was situated in the heart of Europe and attracted foreign merchants or settlers.
Countless goods and cultural artefacts continued to pass from one region to another via the Commonwealth, particularly that the country was a link between the Middle East
, the Ottoman Empire
and Western Europe.
For instance, Isfahan rugs
imported from Persia
to the Commonwealth were incorrectly known as "Polish rugs" (French: Polonaise
) in Western Europe.
Krakow Militia, a local guard formation in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth during the 16th and 17th centuries
The military in the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth evolved from the merger of the armies from the Polish Kingdom and from the Grand Lithuanian Duchy, though each state maintained its own division.
The united armed forces comprised the Crown Army (armia koronna
), recruited in Poland, and the Lithuanian Army (armia litewska
) in the Grand Duchy.
The military was headed by the Hetman
, a rank equivalent to that of a general
or supreme commander in other countries. Monarchs
could not declare war or summon an army without the consent of the Sejm
parliament or the Senate
The Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth Navy
never played a major role in the military structure from the mid-17th century onwards.
The most prestigious formation of the Polish army was its 16th- and 17th-century heavy cavalry
in the form of Winged Hussars
), whereas the Royal Foot Guards
(Regiment Gwardii Pieszej Koronnej
) were the elite of the infantry
; the regiment supervised the king and his family.
In 1788, the Great Sejm
approved landslide reforms and defined future structures of the military; the Crown Army was to be split into four divisions
, with seventeen field infantry regiments
and eight cavalry brigades
excluding special units; the Lithuanian Army was to be subdivided into two divisions, eight field regiments and two cavalry brigades excluding special units.
If implemented, the reform predicted an army of almost 100,000 men.
The armies of those states differed from the organization common in other parts of Europe; according to Bardach, the mercenary
formations (wojsko najemne
), common in Western Europe
, never gained widespread popularity in Poland.
Brzezinski, however, notes that foreign mercenaries did form a significant portion of the more elite infantry units, at least until the early 17th century.
In 16th-century Poland, several other formations formed the core of the military.
There was a small standing army, obrona potoczna
("continuous defense") about 1,500–3,000 strong, paid for by the king, and primarily stationed at the troubled southern and eastern borders.
It was supplemented by two formations mobilized in case of war — the pospolite ruszenie
(Polish for levée en masse
– feudal levy
of mostly noble knights-landholders), and the wojsko zaciężne
, recruited by the Polish commanders for the conflict. It differed from other European mercenary formations in that it was commanded by Polish officers, and dissolved after the conflict has ended.
Several years before the Union of Lublin, the Polish obrona potoczna
was reformed, as the Sejm
(national parliament of Poland) legislated in 1562–1563 the creation of wojsko kwarciane
, named after kwarta
tax levied on the royal lands
for the purpose of maintaining this formation.
This formation was also paid for by the king, and in the peacetime, numbered about 3,500–4,000 men according to Bardach;
Brzezinski gives the range of 3,000–5,000.
It was composed mostly of the light cavalry units manned by nobility (szlachta
) and commanded by hetmans
Often, in wartime, the Sejm would legislate a temporary increase in the size of the wojsko kwarciane
Science and literature
The Commonwealth was an important European center for the development of modern social and political ideas. It was famous for its rare quasi-democratic political system, praised by philosophers
, and during the Counter-Reformation
was known for near-unparalleled religious tolerance
, with peacefully coexisting Roman Catholic
, Orthodox Christian
) communities. In the 18th century, the French Catholic Rulhiere wrote of 16th century Poland: "This country, which in our day we have seen divided on the pretext of religion, is the first state in Europe that exemplified tolerance. In this state, mosques arose between churches and synagogues."
The Commonwealth gave rise to the famous Christian sect
of the Polish Brethren
, antecedents of British and American Unitarianism
's Jagiellonian University
is one of the oldest universities in the world (established in 1364),
together with the Jesuit Academy of Wilno
(established in 1579) they were the major scholarly and scientific centers in the Commonwealth. The Komisja Edukacji Narodowej
, Polish for Commission for National Education
, formed in 1773, was the world's first national Ministry of Education.
Commonwealth scientists included: Martin Kromer
(1512–1589), historian and cartographer
; Michael Sendivogius
and chemist; Jan Brożek
) (1585–1652), polymath
: a mathematician, physician and astronomer
; Krzysztof Arciszewski
(Crestofle d'Artischau Arciszewski
) (1592–1656), engineer, ethnographer
, general and admiral of the Dutch West Indies Company
army in the war with the Spanish Empire
for control of Brazil
; Kazimierz Siemienowicz
(1600–1651), military engineer, artillery
specialist and a founder of rocketry
; Johannes Hevelius
, founder of lunartopography
; Michał Boym
, cartographer, naturalist
and diplomat in Ming Dynasty
's service (Pic. 11
); Adam Adamandy Kochański
(1631–1700), mathematician and engineer; Baal Shem Tov (הבעל שם טוב in
) (1698–1760), considered to be the founder of Hasidic Judaism
; Marcin Odlanicki Poczobutt
and mathematician (Pic. 12
); Jan Krzysztof Kluk
, John Jonston
(1603–1675) scholar and physician
, descended from Scottish nobility
. In 1628 the Czech
teacher, scientist, educator, and writer John Amos Comenius
took refuge in the Commonwealth, when the Protestants
were persecuted under the Counter Reformation.
Art and music
An example of a coffin portrait, mid-17th century
The art and music of the Commonwealth was largely shaped by prevailing European trends, though the country's minorities, foreigners as well as native folk cultures also contributed to its versatile nature. A common art form of the Sarmatian
period were coffin portraits
) used in funerals and other important ceremonies.
As a rule, such portraits were nailed to sheet metal, six- or eight- sided in shape, fixed to the front of a coffin placed on a high, ornate catafalque.
These were a unique and distinguishable feature of the Commonwealth's high culture, not found elsewhere in Europe.
A similar tradition was only practiced in Roman Egypt
Polish monarchs and nobles frequently invited and sponsored foreign painters and artisans, notably from the Low Countries
), Germany or Italy.
The interiors of upper-class residences, palaces and manors were adorned by wall tapestries
) imported from Western Europe; the most renowned collection are the Jagiellonian tapestries
exhibited at Wawel Royal Castle
The religious cultures of Poland–Lithuania coexisted and penetrated each other for the entirety of the Commonwealth's history – the Jews
adopted elements of the national dress,
loanwords and calques
became commonplace and Roman Catholic churches in regions with significant Protestant
populations were much simpler in décor than those in other parts of Poland–Lithuania.
Mutual influence was further reflected in the great popularity of Byzantine icons
) and the icons resembling effigies of Mary
in the predominantly Latin territories of today's Poland (Black Madonna
) and Lithuania (Our Lady of the Gate of Dawn
Conversely, Latin infiltration into Ruthenian Orthodox and Protestant art was also conventional (Pic. 3
Music was a common feature of religious and secular events. To that end many noblemen founded church and school choirs, and employed their own ensembles of musicians. Some, like Stanisław Lubomirski
built their own opera houses (in Nowy Wiśnicz
). Others, like Janusz Skumin Tyszkiewicz
and Krzysztof Radziwiłł
were known for their sponsorship of arts which manifested itself in their permanently retained orchestras, at their courts in Wilno
Musical life further flourished under the House of Vasa
. Both foreign and domestic composers were active in the Commonwealth. Sigismund III
brought in Italian composers and conductors, such as Luca Marenzio
, Annibale Stabile
, Asprilio Pacelli
, Marco Scacchi
and Diomedes Cato
for the royal orchestra. Notable home grown musicians, who also composed and played for the King's court, included Bartłomiej Pękiel
, Jacek Różycki
, Adam Jarzębski
, Marcin Mielczewski
, Stanisław Sylwester Szarzyński
, Damian Stachowicz, Mikołaj Zieleński
and Grzegorz Gorczycki
, completed in 1696, exemplifies the opulence of royal and noble
residences in the Commonwealth.
The architecture of the cities in the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth reflected a combination of Polish, German and Italian trends. Italian Mannerism
or the Late Renaissance
had a profound impact on traditional burgher architecture which can be observed to this day – castles and tenements
were fitted with central Italianate courtyards composed of arched loggias
, colonnades, bay windows
, balconies, portals and ornamental balustrades.
(patterned ceilings; Polish kaseton
; from Italian cassettone
) were widespread.
Rooftops were generally covered with terracotta
rooftiles. The most distinguishable feature of Polish Mannerism are decorative "attics
" above the cornice on the façade.
Cities in northern Poland–Lithuania and in Livonia adopted the Hanseatic
(or "Dutch") style as their primary form of architectural expression, comparable to that of the Netherlands, Belgium, northern Germany and Scandinavia
The introduction of Baroque architecture
was marked by construction of several Jesuit
and Roman Catholic churches across Poland and Lithuania, notably the Peter and Paul Church
, the Corpus Christi Church
, Lublin Cathedral
and UNESCO-enlisted sanctuary
at Kalwaria Zebrzydowska
. Fine examples of decorative Baroque and Rococo
include Saint Anne's
in Kraków and the Fara Church
. Another characteristic is the common usage of black marble.
Altars, fonts, portals, balustrades, columns, monuments, tombstones, headstones and whole rooms (e.g. Marble Room at the Royal Castle
in Warsaw, St. Casimir Chapel
of the Vilnius Cathedral
and Vasa Chapel at Wawel Cathedral
) were extensively decorated with black marble, which became popular after the mid-17th century.
Szlachta and Sarmatism
The prevalent ideology of the szlachta
", named after the Sarmatians
, alleged ancestors of the Poles.
This belief system was an important part of szlachta
culture, penetrating all aspects of its life. Sarmatism enshrined equality among szlachta
, horseback riding, tradition, provincial quaint life in manor houses
, peace and pacifism
; championed oriental
-inspired souvenirs or attire for men (żupan
, pas kontuszowy
); favoured European Baroque architecture; endorsed Latin
as a language of thought or expression; and served to integrate the multi-ethnic nobility by creating an almost nationalistic
sense of unity and of pride in Golden Liberty
In its early, idealistic form, Sarmatism represented a positive cultural movement: it supported religious belief, honesty, national pride, courage, equality and freedom. In time, however, it became distorted. Late extreme Sarmatism turned belief into bigotry, honesty into political naïveté, pride into arrogance, courage into stubbornness and freedom into anarchy.
The faults of Sarmatism were blamed for the demise of the country from the late 18th century onwards. Criticism, often one-sided and exaggerated, was used by the Polish reformists to push for radical changes. This self-deprecation was accompanied by works of German, Russian and Austrian historians, who tried to prove that it was Poland itself that was to blame for its fall.
Social strata in the Commonwealth's society in 1655. From left: Jew, barber surgeon
, painter, butcher, musician, tailor, barmaid, pharmacist, shoemaker, goldsmith
Density of urban network per each voivodeship (province) in 1650
The Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth was immensely multicultural
throughout its existence — it comprised countless religious identities and ethnic minorities inhabiting the country's vast territory.
The precise number of minority groups and their populations can only be hypothesized.
Statistically, the most prominent groups were the Poles, Lithuanians, Germans
There were also considerable numbers of Czechs
and the Dutch
), who were either categorized as merchants, settlers or refugees fleeing religious persecution.
Prior to the union with Lithuania, the Kingdom of Poland
was much more homogenous; approximately 70% of the population was Polish and Roman Catholic
With the creation of the Commonwealth, the number of Poles in comparison to the total population decreased to 50%.
In 1569, the population stood at 7 million, with roughly 4.5 million Poles, 750,000 Lithuanians, 700,000 Jews and 2 million Ruthenians.
Historians Michał Kopczyński and Wojciech Tygielski suggest that with the territorial expansion after the Truce of Deulino
in 1618, the Commonwealth's population reached 12 million people, of which Poles constituted only 40%.
At that time the nobility made up 10% of the entire population and the burghers
The average population density per square kilometer was: 24 in Mazovia
, 23 in Lesser Poland
, 19 in Greater Poland
, 12 in Lublin palatinate, 10 in the Lwów
area, 7 in Podolia
, and 3 in the Kiev Voivodeship
. There was a tendency for the people from the more densely inhabited western territories to migrate eastwards.
A sudden change in the country's demographics occurred in the mid-17th century.
The Second Northern War
and the Deluge
followed by famine in the period from 1648 to 1657 were accountable for at least 4 million deaths.
Coupled with further territorial losses, by 1717 the population had fallen to 9 million.
The population slowly recovered throughout the 18th century; just before the first partition of Poland in 1772, the Commonwealth's population was 14 million, including around 1 million nobles.
In 1792, the population of Poland was around 11 million and included 750,000 nobles.
The most multicultural and robust city in the country was Gdańsk
(Danzig), a major Hanseatic
seaport on the Baltic and Poland's wealthiest region. Gdańsk at the time was inhabited by a German-speaking majority
and further hosted large numbers of foreign merchants, particularly of Scottish, Dutch or Scandinavian
Historically, the Grand Duchy of Lithuania
was more diverse than the Kingdom of Poland, and was deemed a melting pot of many cultures and religions.
Hence, the inhabitants of the Grand Duchy were collectively known as Litvins
regardless of their nationality, with the exception of Jews residing in Lithuania who were called Litvaks
The Warsaw Confederation
signed on 28 January 1573 secured the rights of minorities and religions;
it allowed all persons to worship any faith freely, though religious tolerance varied at times. As outlined by Norman Davies
, "the wording and substance of the declaration of the Confederation of Warsaw of were extraordinary with regards to prevailing conditions elsewhere in Europe; and they governed the principles of religious life in the Republic for over two hundred years."
Poland retained religious freedom laws during an era when religious persecution was an everyday occurrence in the rest of Europe.
The Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth was a place where the most radical religious sects, trying to escape persecution in other countries of the Christian world, sought refuge.
In 1561 Giovanni Bernardino Bonifacio d’Oria, a religious exile living in Poland, wrote of his adopted country's virtues to a colleague back in Italy
: "You could live here in accordance with your ideas and preferences, in great, even the greatest freedoms, including writing and publishing. No one is a censor here."
Others, particularly the leaders of the Roman Catholic church, the Jesuits
and papal legates
, were less optimistic about Poland's religious frivolity.
To be Polish
, in remote and multi-ethnic parts of the Commonwealth, was then much less an index of ethnicity
than of religion and rank
; it was a designation largely reserved for the landed noble class
(szlachta), which included Poles, but also many members of non-Polish origin who converted to Catholicism
in increasing numbers with each following generation. For the non-Polish noble
such conversion meant a final step of Polonization
that followed the adoption of the Polish language and culture
Poland, as the culturally most advanced part of the Commonwealth, with the royal court, the capital, the largest cities, the second-oldest university in Central Europe (after Prague
), and the more liberal and democratic social institutions
had proven an irresistible magnet for the non-Polish nobility in the Commonwealth.
Many referred to themselves as "gente Ruthenus, natione Polonus" (Ruthenian by blood, Polish by nationality) since the 16th century onwards.
The church in Kamieniec Podolski was converted into a mosque during the Turkish occupation between 1672 and 1699, with the 33-meter minaret being added at that time.
As a result, in the eastern territories a Polish (or Polonized) aristocracy dominated a peasantry whose great majority was neither Polish nor Catholic. Moreover, the decades of peace brought huge colonization
efforts to the eastern territories (nowadays roughly western
and central Ukraine
heightening the tensions among nobles
(traditionally Orthodox), Polish and Ruthenian peasants. The latter, deprived of their native protectors among the Ruthenian nobility, turned for protection to cossacks
that facilitated violence that in the end broke the Commonwealth. The tensions were aggravated by conflicts between Eastern Orthodoxy
and the Greek Catholic Church
following the Union of Brest
, overall discrimination of Orthodox religions by dominant Catholicism,
and several Cossack
uprisings. In the west and north, many cities had sizable German minorities, often belonging to Lutheran
or Reformed churches
. The Commonwealth had also one of the largest Jewish diasporas
in the world – by the mid-16th century 80% of the world's Jews lived in Poland (Pic. 16
The Crown had about double the population of Lithuania and five times the income of the latter's treasury. As with other countries, the borders, area and population of the Commonwealth varied over time. After the Peace of Jam Zapolski
(1582), the Commonwealth had approximately 815,000 km2
area and a population of 7.5 million.
After the Truce of Deulino
(1618), the Commonwealth had an area of some 990,000 km2
and a population of 11–12 million (including some 4 million Poles and close to a million Lithuanians).
The Duchy of Warsaw
, established in 1807 by Napoleon Bonaparte
, traced its origins to the Commonwealth. Other revival movements appeared during the November Uprising
(1830–31), the January Uprising
(1863–64) and in the 1920s, with Józef Piłsudski
's failed attempt to create a Polish-led Intermarium
) federation that, at its largest extent, would span from Finland
in the north to the Balkans
in the south.
The contemporary Republic of Poland considers itself a successor to the Commonwealth,
whereas the Republic of Lithuania, re-established at the end of World War I
, saw the participation of the Lithuanian state in the old Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth mostly in a negative light at the early stages of regaining its independence,
although this attitude has been changing in recent years.
While the term "Poland" was also commonly used to denote this whole polity, Poland was in fact only part of a greater whole – the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, which comprised primarily two parts:
The Commonwealth was further divided into smaller administrative units known as voivodeships
). Each voivodeship was governed by a Voivode
, governor). Voivodeships were further divided into starostwa
, each starostwo
being governed by a starosta
. Cities were governed by castellans
. There were frequent exceptions to these rules, often involving the ziemia
subunit of administration.
Other notable parts of the Commonwealth, without respect to region or voivodeship divisions, include:
- Lesser Poland Province (Polish: Małopolska), southern Poland, with two largest cities, its capital at Kraków and Lublin in the north-east;
- Greater Poland Province (Polish: Wielkopolska), west–central Poland around Poznań and the Warta River system;
- Mazovia (Polish: Mazowsze), central Poland, with its capital at Warsaw;
- Lithuania Proper (Lithuanian: Didžioji Lietuva), northwest Grand Duchy, its most Catholic and ethnically Lithuanian part, capital Vilnius;
- Duchy of Samogitia (Lithuanian: Žemaitija; Polish: Żmudź), westernmost and most autonomous part of Grand Duchy of Lithuania, also the western part of Lithuania Proper, capital Raseiniai;
- Royal Prussia (Polish: Prusy Królewskie), at the southern shore of the Baltic Sea, was an autonomous area since the Second Peace of Thorn (1466), incorporated into the Crown in 1569 with the Commonwealth's formation;
- Ruthenia (Polish: Ruś), the eastern Commonwealth, adjoining Russia;
- Duchy of Livonia (Inflanty), a joint domain of the Crown and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. Parts lost to Sweden in the 1620s and in 1660;
- Duchy of Courland and Semigallia (Lithuanian: Kuršas ir Žiemgala; Polish: Kurlandii i Semigalii), a northern fief of the Commonwealth. It established a colony in Tobago in 1637 and on St. Andrews Island at the Gambia River in 1651 (see Couronian colonization);
- Silesia (Polish: Śląsk) was not within the Commonwealth, but small parts belonged to various Commonwealth kings; in particular, the Vasa kings were dukes of Opole (Oppeln) and Racibórz (Ratibor) from 1645 to 1666.
Commonwealth borders shifted with wars and treaties, sometimes several times in a decade, especially in the eastern and southern parts. After the Peace of Jam Zapolski (1582), the Commonwealth had approximately 815,000 km2
area and a population of 7.5 million.
After the Truce of Deulino (1618), the Commonwealth had an area of some 1 million km2
) and a population of about 11 million.
Topographical map of the Commonwealth in 1764
Kromer's works and other contemporary maps, such as those of Gerardus Mercator
, show the Commonwealth as mostly plains
. The Commonwealth's southeastern part, the Kresy
, was famous for its steppes
. The Carpathian Mountains
formed part of the southern border, with the Tatra Mountain
chain the highest, and the Baltic Sea
formed the Commonwealth's northern border. As with most European countries at the time, the Commonwealth had extensive forest cover, especially in the east. Today, what remains of the Białowieża Forest
constitutes the last largely intact primeval forest
Name in native and official languages:
- Latin: Regnum Poloniae Magnusque Ducatus Lithuaniae / Serenissima Res Publica Poloniae
- French: Royaume de Pologne et Grand-duché de Lituanie / Sérénissime République de Pologne et Grand-duché de Lituanie
- Polish: Królestwo Polskie i Wielkie Księstwo Litewskie
- Lithuanian: Lenkijos Karalystė ir Lietuvos Didžioji Kunigaikštystė
- Belarusian: Каралеўства Польскае і Вялікае Княства Літоўскае (Karaleŭstva Polskaje і Vialikaje Kniastva Litoŭskaje)
- Ukrainian: Королівство Польське і Велике князівство Литовське
- German: Königreich Polen und Großfürstentum Litauen
Some historians date the change of the Polish capital from Kraków to Warsaw between 1595 and 1611, although Warsaw was not officially designated capital until 1793.
The Commonwealth Sejm
began meeting in Warsaw soon after the Union of Lublin
and its rulers generally maintained their courts there, although coronations continued to take place in Kraków.
The modern concept of a single capital city was to some extent inapplicable in the feudal and decentralized Commonwealth.
Warsaw is described by some historians as the capital of the entire Commonwealth.
Wilno, the capital of the Grand Duchy,
is sometimes called the second capital of the entity.
This quality of the Commonwealth was recognized by its contemporaries. Robert Burton
, in his The Anatomy of Melancholy
, first published in 1621, writes of Poland: "Poland is a receptacle of all religions, where Samosetans, Socinians, Photinians ..., Arians, Anabaptists are to be found"; "In Europe, Poland and Amsterdam are the common sanctuaries [for Jews]".
- ^ a b Partitions of Poland at the Encyclopædia Britannica
- ^ a b c d Jagiellonian University Centre for European studies, "A Very Short History of Kraków", see: "1596 administrative capital, the tiny village of Warsaw". Archived from the original on 12 March 2009. Retrieved 29 November 2012.
- ^ a b Janusz Sykała: Od Polan mieszkających w lasach – historia Polski – aż do króla Stasia, Gdansk, 2010.
- ^ a b Georg Ziaja: Lexikon des polnischen Adels im Goldenen Zeitalter 1500–1600, p. 9.
- ^ https://www.britannica.com/place/Poland/The-First-Partition
- ^ a b Panstwowe Przedsiebiorstwo Wydawnictw Kartograficznych: Atlas Historyczny Polski, wydanie X, 1990, p. 14, ISBN 83-7000-016-9.
- ^ Bertram Benedict (1919): A history of the great war. Bureau of national literature, inc. p. 21.
- ^ According to Panstwowe Przedsiebiorstwo Wydawnictw Kartograficznych: Atlas Historyczny Polski, wydanie X, 1990, p. 16, ~ 990.000 km2
- ^ Zbigniew Pucek: Państwo i społeczeństwo 2012/1, Krakow, 2012, p. 17.
- ^ Norman Davies, Europe: A History, Pimlico 1997, p. 554: "Poland–Lithuania was another country which experienced its 'Golden Age' during the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. The realm of the last Jagiellons was absolutely the largest state in Europe"
- ^ Piotr Wandycz (2001). The price of freedom (p.66). p. 66. ISBN 978-0-415-25491-5. Retrieved 13 August 2011.
- ^ Bertram Benedict (1919). A history of the great war. Bureau of national literature, inc. p. 21. Retrieved 13 August 2011.
- ^ According to Panstwowe Przedsiebiorstwo Wydawnictw Kartograficznych: Atlas Historyczny Polski, wydanie X, 1990, p. 16, 990.000 km2
- ^ a b c d e f Based on 1618 population mapArchived 17 February 2013 at the Wayback Machine (p. 115), 1618 languages map (p119), 1657–67 losses map (p. 128) and 1717 mapArchived 17 February 2013 at the Wayback Machine (p. 141) from Iwo Cyprian Pogonowski, Poland a Historical Atlas, Hippocrene Books, 1987, ISBN 0-88029-394-2
- ^ According to Panstwowe Przedsiebiorstwo Wydawnictw Kartograficznych: Atlas Historyczny Polski, wydanie X, 1990, p. 16, just over 9 million in 1618.
- ^ Maciej Janowski, Polish Liberal Thought, Central European University Press, 2001, ISBN 963-9241-18-0, Google Print: p. 3, p. 12
- ^ Paul W. Schroeder, The Transformation of European Politics 1763–1848, Oxford University Press, 1996, ISBN 0-19-820654-2, Google print p. 84
- ^ Rett R. Ludwikowski, Constitution-Making in the Region of Former Soviet Dominance, Duke University Press, 1997, ISBN 0-8223-1802-4, Google Print, p. 34
- ^ a b c George Sanford, Democratic Government in Poland: Constitutional Politics Since 1989, Palgrave, 2002, ISBN 0-333-77475-2, Google print p. 11 – constitutional monarchy, p. 3 – anarchy
- ^ a b c d e Aleksander Gella, Development of Class Structure in Eastern Europe: Poland and Her Southern Neighbors, SUNY Press, 1998, ISBN 0-88706-833-2, Google Print, p. 13
- ^ "Formally, Poland and Lithuania were to be distinct, equal components of the federation ... But Poland, which retained possession of the Lithuanian lands it had seized, had greater representation in the diet and became the dominant partner.""Lublin, Union of". Encyclopædia Britannica. 2006.
- ^ a b # Norman Davies, God's Playground. A History of Poland, Vol. 1: The Origins to 1795, Vol. 2: 1795 to the Present. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-925339-0 / ISBN 0-19-925340-4
- ^ Halina Stephan, Living in Translation: Polish Writers in America, Rodopi, 2003, ISBN 90-420-1016-9, Google Print p. 373. Quoting from Sarmatian Review academic journal mission statement: "Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth was ... characterized by religious tolerance unusual in premodern Europe"
- ^ Feliks Gross, https://books.google.com/books?ie=UTF-8&vid=ISBN0313309329&id=I6wM4X9UQ8QC&pg=PA122&lpg=PA122&dq=Polish-Lithuanian+Commonwealth+religious+tolerance Citizenship and Ethnicity: The Growth and Development of a Democratic Multiethnic Institution, Greenwood Press, 1999, ISBN 0-313-30932-9, p. 122 (notes)
- ^ "In the mid-1500s, united Poland was the largest state in Europe and perhaps the continent's most powerful state politically and militarily". "Poland". Encyclopædia Britannica. 2009. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Retrieved 26 June 2009.
- ^ Francis Dvornik (1992). The Slavs in European History and Civilization. Rutgers University Press. p. 300. ISBN 0-8135-0799-5.
- ^ Salo Wittmayer Baron (1976). A social and religious history of the Jews. Columbia University Press. ISBN 0-231-08853-1.
- ^ Martin Van Gelderen, Quentin Skinner, Republicanism: A Shared European Heritage, Cambridge University Press, 2002, ISBN 0-521-80756-5 p. 54.
- ^ a b "The Causes of Slavery or Serfdom: A Hypothesis" Archived 15 December 2007 at the Wayback Machine (discussion and full online text) of Evsey Domar (1970). Economic History Review 30:1 (March), pp. 18–32.
- ^ a b c Poland's 1997 Constitution in Its Historical Context; Daniel H. Cole, Indiana University School of Law, 22 September 1998 http://indylaw.indiana.edu/instructors/cole/web%20page/polconst.pdf
- ^ Blaustein, Albert (1993). Constitutions of the World. Fred B. Rothman & Company. ISBN 9780837703626.
- ^ Isaac Kramnick, Introduction, Madison, James (1987). The Federalist Papers. Penguin Classics. p. 13. ISBN 0-14-044495-5. May second oldest constitution.
- ^ John Markoff describes the advent of modern codified national constitutions as one of the milestones of democracy, and states that "The first European country to follow the U.S. example was Poland in 1791." John Markoff, Waves of Democracy, 1996, ISBN 0-8039-9019-7, p. 121.
- ^ a b c Davies, Norman (1996). Europe: A History. Oxford University Press. p. 699. ISBN 0-19-820171-0.
- ^ a b c "Regnum Poloniae Magnusque Ducatus Lithuaniae – definicja, synonimy, przykłady użycia". sjp.pwn.pl. Retrieved 27 October 2016.
- ^ a b Ex quo serenissima respublica Poloniae in corpore ad exempluin omnium aliarnm potentiarum, lilulum regiuin Borussiae recognoscere decrevit (...)
Antoine-François-Claude Ferrand (1820). "Volume 1". Histoire des trois démembremens de la Pologne: pour faire suite à l'histoire de l'Anarchie de Pologne par Rulhière (in French). Deterville. p. 182.
- ^ the name given by Marcin Kromer in his work Polonia sive de situ, populis, moribus, magistratibus et re publica regni Polonici libri duo, 1577.
- ^ the therm used for instance in Zbior Deklaracyi, Not I Czynnosci Głownieyszych, Ktore Poprzedziły I Zaszły Pod Czas Seymu Pod Węzłem Konfederacyi Odprawuiącego Się Od Dnia 18. Wrzesnia 1772. Do 14 Maia 1773
- ^ Name used for the common state, Henryk Rutkowski, Terytorium, w: Encyklopedia historii gospodarczej Polski do 1945 roku, t. II, Warszawa 1981, s. 398.
- ^ Richard Buterwick. The Polish Revolution and the Catholic Church, 1788–1792: A Political History. Oxford University Press. 2012. pp. 5, xvii.
- ^ 1791 document signed by the King Stanislaw August "Zareczenie wzaiemne Oboyga Narodow" pp. 1, 5 
- ^ Jasienica, Paweł (1997). Polska Jagiellonów. Polska: Prószyński i Spółka. pp. 30–32. ISBN 9788381238816.
- ^ Jasienica 1997, pp. 30–32
- ^ Halecki 1991, p. 52
- ^ Halecki 1991, p. 52
- ^ Halecki 1991, p. 71
- ^ Halecki 1991, p. 52
- ^ Engel, Pál (2001). The Realm of St Stephen: A History of Medieval Hungary, 895–1526. I.B. Tauris Publishers. p. 170. ISBN 1-86064-061-3.
- ^ Halecki, Oscar (1991). Jadwiga of Anjou and the Rise of East Central Europe. Polish Institute of Arts and Sciences of America. pp. 116–117. ISBN 0-88033-206-9.
- ^ Jasienica 1997, p. 63
- ^ Halecki 1991, p. 155
- ^ Manikowska, Halina (2005). Historia dla Maturzysty. Warszawa: Wydawnictwo Szkolne PWN. p. 141. ISBN 83-7195-853-6.
- ^ Bojtár, Endre (1999), Foreword to the Past: A Cultural History of the Baltic People, translated by Walter J. Renfroe, Budapest: Central European University Press, p. 182, ISBN 978-963-9116-42-9
- ^ Butterwick 2021, pp. 12–14
- ^ Butterwick 2021
- ^ Butterwick, Richard (2021). The Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, 1733-1795. Yale University Press. p. 14. ISBN 9780300252200.
- ^ Borucki, Marek (2009). Historia Polski do 2009 roku. Polska: Mada. p. 57. ISBN 9788389624598.
- ^ Gierowski, Józef (1986a). Historia Polski 1505–1764. Warsaw: PWN. pp. 92–109. ISBN 83-01-03732-6.
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