Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth

.All of which is undisputed.
it all went belly up later.
True, but many remain ignorant of the facts.
But thankfully we are in a better place now (at least for the moment).
 
True, but many remain ignorant of the facts.
But thankfully we are in a better place now (at least for the moment).
I sincerely hope so. I look to a better future for Poland, and it’s rightful place in Europe.
My change of avatar is arbitrary.
Forebears of my regiment fought with the Free Polish in Italy.
 
I sincerely hope so. I look to a better future for Poland, and it’s rightful place in Europe.
My change of avatar is arbitrary.
Forebears of my regiment fought with the Free Polish in Italy.
One of my grandfathers wore that badge on his sleeve there. I still have his original one.
 
Something not mentioned in the BBC brief run through was the fact that the Polish-Lithuanian Jagiellon Dynasty was, for a while, also the ruling family in Hungary and Bohemia and their lands encompassed much of central and eastern Europe in the late 15th Century. (Jagiellonian dynasty - Wikipedia)
1159px-Europa_Jagellonica.svg.png

Yellow: Kingdom of Poland
Diagonals: Fiefdoms of the Kingdom of Poland (Prussia and Moldavia).
Green: Grand Duchy of Lithuania (incorporating much of current Belarus and Ukraine).
Orange: Kingdom of Bohemia or Czechia (incorporating former Polish and later German and Polish Silesia).
Red: Kindom of Hungary (incorporating current Slovakia and parts of Croatia, Serbia, Romania and Ukraine).

The Jagiellonian King Wladyslaw III (Władysław III of Poland - Wikipedia) was co-leader of the Christian Crusade Forces which battled the Ottoman Turks at Varna in 1444 in what is now Bulgaria.
(Battle of Varna - Wikipedia
Probably the Russkies are still butt hurt that your guys were the last to take Moscow in 1610 and your great General Jo Pilsudski gave them a good shooing at the battle of the Vistula river in 1920.

Polish-Lithuanian occupation of Moscow.
 
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Excellent. The QOH @ste14w also wore the badge with pride.
From the regiment‘s perspective, Italy was hard fought, and the Polish fought very hard, knowing already there was no way home.
IMG_20210909_101959 (2).jpg


This is a very young Ste14w wearing The Maid of Warsaw with pride.
 
Probably the Russkies are still butt hurt that your guys were the last to take Moscow in 1610 and your great General Jo Pilsudski gave them a good shooing at the battle of the Vistula river in 1920.

Polish-Lithuanian occupation of Moscow.
That was the P-L Commonwealth taking advantage of the Muscovite "Time of Troubles". To be honest, the Poles made some very bad decisions and squandered a great opportunity.

Religion rears its head here, as probably the worst decision was to try to impose Catholicism on Russia. Time of Troubles - Wikipedia
 
I have just finished listening on i-Player to the Radio 4 programme mentioned in the OP. I would say that it is a very good synopsis of a very complicated subject; this includes the bit at the end where there is a bonus discussion tacked on.

The programme hit the nail on the head in several key areas:

1. The part played by Poland and the Commonwealth of Poland-Lithuania in European history is generally ignored in western Europe and particularly in Britain. The greatest factor in this was the 19th Century input and influence of the Russian and particularly Prussian/German schools of history which sought to downplay and denigrate Poland and prevent any possible resurgence.

2. Prior to the Commonwealth, there was a Personal Union, where the King of Poland and the Grand-Duke of Lithuania were one and the same person and this was established to combat the threat of the Teutonic Order to both countries' political stability. (Union of Krewo - Wikipedia) . At the time Lithuania was far larger in area, as it had expanded to the south and east into the political vacuum left by the destruction of Ky'ivan (Kievan) Rus by the Mongols. In much of this territory the pagan Lithanian senior nobility exercised an umbrella overlordship, while the Ruthenian populace remained locally governed by their minor nobility and continued to worship under the Orthodox rite. In fact much of Lithuanian governance was conducted in Old Church Slavonic.

3. Poland-Lithuania was a religiously tolerant state. It was stated that about 85% of the world's Jews can trace their ancestry back to the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth (other sources say about 70%). Poland was a multi-ethnic state since before the Union and had welcomed significant Jewish settlement while they were persecuted across Western Europe. Excerpt from Wikipedia:


4. This religious tolerance (at least in the first few centuries of the Union) was broad, It originally encompassed Roman Catholics, Orthodox, as well as various other schismatics. It later encompassed various Protestant sects after the Reformation, which included the population of its fiefdom Prussia when in 1525 the last Grand Master of the Teutonic Order converted it to Lutheranism and became the secular Duke of Prussia, swearing fealty to the Polish King (and Grand Duke of Lithuania). (Prussian Homage - Wikipedia).

5. As the long years passed much of the nobility (of all ethnic backgrounds) across the Commonwealth became culturally "Polonised" and many became Catholic (some after a period of Protestantism).

6. It was the Counter-Reformation and the slow erosion of this religious tolerance that precipitated the decline of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. The main factor in the great Cossack revolt of 1648 (Khmelnytsky Uprising - Wikipedia) was a refusal to continue to accommodate Orthodox Christianity as equally valid to Roman Catholicism. This was successfully exploited by Moscow which offered the co-religionist Ruthenians (proto-Ukrainians) considerable autonomy (later revoked).

7. But the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth remained a considerable power and the Polish King Jan III Sobieski led the allied army to victory against the Ottoman Turks besieging Vienna in 1683. (Battle of Vienna - Wikipedia).

8. The Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth's political system and dependance on compromise leading to unanimous parliamentary agreement was exploited by external powers using venal local agents calling "veto" and refusing to be swayed to compromise. This caused an inability to enact laws and reforms and progressively weakened the Commonwealth.

9. After the First Partition in 1772 (between Russia, Prussia and Austria), the fact that the Polish Parliament passed the Constitution of 3rd May 1791 (Constitution of 3 May 1791 - Wikipedia) and thus reformed itself led to Prussia and Russia seeing a threat to themselves and enacting the Second Partition in 1793 and the final one in 1795 (again with the participation of Austria). (Partitions of Poland - Wikipedia).

Thanks for putting more meat on the bone. I knew about some parts of the history of the Commonwealth, but the podcast and your post put more meat on the bone.

For many in western Europe, apart from from those periods which affected them such as the Napoleonic Wars, the Russian Revolutions, WW1 & 2, the history of the eastern bits is vague and so are not aware of how significant some of the nations and kingdoms were. As a for instance, during the medieval period, Kyiv was reputedly the largest city in Europe and had connections with other royal houses including France and Denmark. When Anna of Kyiv married the French king in 1051, they were surprised she had an education and could read, write and was fluent in a number of languages. Ah well, just all drunk peasants now.
 
I looked at that map and just north of Poland saw this small'ish bit labelled RUS.

I had a wtf moment and saw Kaliningrad - was aware of the role it played in the last few weeks of WW2 - I did not realise that little bit was still Russian territory.

I mean , is it ?
100% it is. See also Suwalki Gap
 
If you want to learn more, I recommend Europe: A history, by Norman Davies.

I picked up a lot of history I'd never known from that.
Davies' work is fascinating. He has researched and written a great deal about Poland.
 
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