Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth

The Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth (green) with vassal states (light green) at their peak in 1619
The Kingdom of Poland and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania in 1526.
The Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth (green) with vassal states (light green) at their peak in 1619
The Union of Lublin joined the Kingdom of Poland and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania in 1569.
The Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth at its greatest extent in 1619.
Sigismund III Vasa was a religious zealot and an enlightened despot who presided over an era of prosperity and achievement. His reign also marked the Commonwealth's largest territorial expansion.
Sejm of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth (parliment) in the early 17th century
John III Sobieski, victor over the Ottoman Turks at the Battle of Vienna in 1683.
Augustus II the Strong, King of Poland and Elector of Saxony, wearing the Order of the White Eagle which he established in 1705.
Partitions of Poland in 1772, 1793 and 1795.
Royal Castle in Warsaw was the formal residence of Polish kings after the capital was moved from Kraków in 1596
Crown Tribunal in Lublin was the highest court of appeals in the Kingdom of Poland
Palace of the Lithuanian Tribunal in Vilnius, which exclusively was the highest appeal court for the Lithuanian nobility in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania
The Republic at the Zenith of Its Power, the Royal Election of 1573
The Constitution of 3 May adopted in 1791 was the first modern constitution in Europe.
Cereals exports in the years 1619–1799. Agriculture, once extremely profitable to the nobility, became much less so after the mid-17th century.
A historical re-enactor dressed in the Polish Winged Hussars armour
Multi-stage rocket from Artis Magnæ Artilleriæ pars prima by Kazimierz Siemienowicz
Krasiczyn Castle was built between 1580-1631 in the mannerist style.
Wilanów Palace, completed in 1696, exemplifies the opulence of royal and noble residences in the Commonwealth.
Nieborów Palace designed by Dutch architect Tylman van Gameren and built in 1697
Social strata in the Commonwealth's society in 1655. From left: Jew, barber surgeon, painter, butcher, musician, tailor, barmaid, pharmacist, shoemaker, goldsmith, merchant and Armenian
Population density of the Commonwealth per each voivodeship in 1650
Saints Peter and Paul Church in Kraków was built between 1597-1619 by the Jesuit order
Original act of the Warsaw Confederation in 1573, the first act of religious freedom in Europe
First anniversary anthem of the Constitution of 3 May 1791 (1792) in Hebrew, Polish, German and French
Topographical map of the Commonwealth in 1764
Statuta Regni Poloniae in ordinem alphabeti digesta (Statutes of the Polish Kingdom, Arranged in Alphabetical Order), 1563
Grand Marshal of the Crown Łukasz Opaliński portraited with the insignium of his power in the parliament - the Marshal's cane, 1640
Rococo iconostasis in the Orthodox Church of the Holy Spirit in Vilnius, designed by Johann Christoph Glaubitz, 1753–1756
18th century amber casket. Gdańsk patronized by the Polish court flourished as the center for amber working in the 17th century.<ref name="gordon_campbell">{{cite book |author=Gordon Campbell |title=The Grove encyclopedia of decorative arts |year=2006 |page=13 |publisher=Oxford University Press US |isbn=01-95189-48-5}}</ref>
Stanisław Poniatowski, Commander of the Royal Guards and Grand Treasurer. Painted by Angelika Kauffmann in 1786.
Equestrian portrait of King Sigismund III of Poland, by Peter Paul Rubens, 1624
Tapestry with the arms of Michał Kazimierz Pac, Jan Leyniers, Brussels, 1667–1669
Silver tankard by Józef Ceypler, Kraków, 1739–1745
Example of the merchant architecture: Konopnica's tenement house in Lublin, 1575
Hussars' armours, first half of the 17th century
De republica emendanda (1554) by Andrzej Frycz Modrzewski, proposed a deep programme of reforms of the state, society and church.
Merkuriusz Polski Ordynaryjny, the first Polish newspaper published on the orders of Queen Marie Louise Gonzaga in 1661
Title page of Treny (1580) by Jan Kochanowski, a series of elegies upon the death of his beloved daughter, is an acknowledged masterpiece.
A plate from Michał Boym's Flora Sinensis (1656), the first description of an ecosystem of the Far East published in Europe<ref>{{cite book |author1=Gwei-Djen Lu |author2=Joseph Needham |author3=Vivienne Lo |title=Celestial lancets: a history and rationale of acupuncture and moxa |year=2002 |page=284 |publisher=Routledge |isbn=07-00714-58-8}}</ref>
Taurus Poniatovii, constellation originated by Marcin Poczobutt in 1777 to honor the king Stanisław II Augustus<ref>{{cite web |author=Ian Ridpath |url=http://www.ianridpath.com/startales/poniatowski.htm |title=Taurus Poniatovii - Poniatowski's bull |work=www.ianridpath.com |access-date=2009-05-18}}</ref>
Branicki Palace in Białystok, designed by Tylman van Gameren, is sometimes referred to as the "Polish Versailles."
Pažaislis Monastery in Kaunas, Pietro Puttini, built 1674–1712
Zamość City Hall, designed by Bernardo Morando, is a unique example of Renaissance architecture in Europe, consistently built in accordance with the Italian theories of an "ideal town."<ref name="unesco.org">{{cite web |url=http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/564 |title=Old City of Zamość |publisher=UNESCO World Heritage Centre |date=2009-09-23 |access-date=2011-09-15}}</ref>
Plafond Allegory of Spring, Jerzy Siemiginowski, 1680s, Wilanów Palace
Łańcut Synagogue was established by Stanisław Lubomirski, 1733.<ref>After a fire had destroyed a wooden synagogue in 1733 Stanislaw Lubomirski decided to found a new bricked synagogue building. {{cite web |author=Polin Travel |url=http://www.jewish-guide.pl/sites/lancut |title=Lancut |work=www.jewish-guide.pl|access-date=2010-09-02}}</ref>
Saints Peter and Paul Church in Kraków was built between 1597-1619 by the Jesuit order

Country and federation of Poland and Lithuania ruled by a common monarch in real union, who was both King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania.

- Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth

500 related topics


Third Partition of Poland

Part of the permanent exhibition dedicated to the partitions of Poland at the Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw

The Third Partition of Poland (1795) was the last in a series of the Partitions of Poland–Lithuania and the land of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth among Prussia, the Habsburg monarchy, and the Russian Empire which effectively ended Polish–Lithuanian national sovereignty until 1918.

Second Partition of Poland

Scene after the battle of Zieleńce 1792, Polish withdrawal; painting by Wojciech Kossak
The Treaty of Grodno between Prussia and Poland (a French edition), later referred to as the Second Partition Treaty

The 1793 Second Partition of Poland was the second of three partitions (or partial annexations) that ended the existence of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth by 1795.

List of rulers of Lithuania

List of rulers over Lithuania—Grand Dukes, Kings, Presidents, and other heads of authority—over historical Lithuanian territory.


In 1569 the Union of Lublin was signed and a new entity—the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth—emerged.

Real union

Union of two or more states, which share some state institutions in contrast to personal unions; however, they are not as unified as states in a political union.

The frontispiece of Thomas Hobbes' Leviathan

Poland-Lithuania (1569–1795)

Sejm of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth

Sejm during the reign of Sigismund III Vasa (1587–1632)
Sejm during the reign of Augustus II the Strong (1694–1733)
A wiec in the reign of King Casimir the Great (14th-century Poland)
The first Polish royal election, of Henry III Valois, took place in 1573
Seating chart of the Senate
Election of Stanisław August Poniatowski in 1764 (detail)
The Constitution of May 3, 1791 is adopted by the Four-Year Sejm and Senate at the Royal Castle, Warsaw

The General Sejm (sejm walny, comitia generalia) was the bicameral parliament of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth.


Szlachta in costumes of the Voivodeships of the Crown of the Kingdom of Poland, Grand Duchy of Lithuania and the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth in the 17th and 18th century.
Journey of a Polish Lord During the Times of King Augustus III of Poland, by Jan Chełmiński, 1880.
Michał Kazimierz Ogiński, a nobleman from 18th century Poland and the Enlightenment
Szlachcic sejmik representative Tadeusz Rejtan (lower right), with szlachta republican right of ending any Senate (Sejm) session and nullifying any legislation passed (Liberum veto), defying Russian, Prussian, and Austrian autocratic might to cease legalization of the First Partition of Poland, by halting the Partition Sejm's exit from the Senate chamber on 30 September 1773, in effect proclaiming, "Murder me, not Poland." Painting by Jan Matejko, 1866
A Polish peasant in stocks in a 16th-century Polish woodcut
Lech I
Polish Armor
Bolesław I the Tall (1127-1201) with heraldic shield, by Jan Matejko
Jogaila (Władysław II)
Epitaph of szlachcic John of Ujazd sealed with the Srzeniawa coat of arms by unknown artist. It is located at the church of Czchów, Kraków Voivodeship, Lesser Poland province, Crown of the Kingdom of Poland; 1450.
Szlachta 1228-1333
Polish coats of arms in the Gelre Armorial (compiled before 1396), among them Leliwa coat of arms, Ogończyk coat of arms, Ostoja coat of arms (Ostoja knights' clan), Nałęcz coat of arms.
Ennoblement of the Odrowąż family in the 12th century by the Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire with Odrowąż coat of arms received by Prandota the Old, probable founder of Saint John the Baptist church in Prandocin village, Duchy of Kraków, Kingdom of Poland. From Liber Genesos illustris Familiae Shidlovicae (Book of the Genesis of the Illustrious Family Szydłowiecki). Painting by Stanisław Samostrzelnik
Election of Stanisław August Poniatowski in 1764
Franciszek Salezy Potocki, wearing the Order of the White Eagle.
The Commonwealth's Power at Its Zenith, Golden Liberty, the Election of 1573. Painting by Jan Matejko
Henry of Valois, first elected monarch of Poland-Lithuania
Magnates of Poland and Lithuania. Drawing by Jan Matejko, circa 1893
The Peasant Uprising of 1846, the largest peasant uprising against szlachta rulership on Polish lands in the 19th century.
Coat of arms of the Order of Malta
Barbara Sanguszko, philanthropist, writer and salon hostess at Poddębice. Oil by Marcello Bacciarelli
Dożynki by Alfred Wierusz-Kowalski, 1910
Ogar Polski
Elżbieta Potocka by Wojciech Kossak
"Brach", Polish Hunting Dog
Prince Konstanty Ostrogski on a Lithuanian commemorative stamp
Elżbieta Czartoryska as Bacciarelli's Blue Marquise
Polish Nobleman with a Parrot, by Józef Simmler, 1859.
Karol Stanisław Radziwiłł, the richest noble of his time.
Prot Potocki, banker and industrialist who turned Odessa from a sleepy fishing village into an international trade centre
Magnate palace: Branicki family palace
Middle nobility manor house (dwór): Żądło-Dąbrowski family manor
"In Front of the Manor House" by Wojciech Gerson; Year: 1856 - painting of a lesser szlachta/nobility homestead (dwór)

The szlachta ( Polish:, exonym) were the noble estate of the realm in the Kingdom of Poland, the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, and the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth who, as a class, had the dominating position in the state, exercising extensive political rights and power.

Constitution of 3 May 1791

Constitution of 3 May 1791, by Matejko. Foreground: King Stanisław August (left) enters St John's Cathedral, in Warsaw, where deputies will swear to uphold the Constitution. Background: the Royal Castle, where the Constitution has just been adopted.
King Stanisław August Poniatowski, principal author of the Constitution of 3 May 1791. A year later, he acquiesced in its demise; this was seen by Constitution defenders as high treason, per the Constitution's Article VII and section six (sexto) of Article VIII, and per the Declaration of the Assembled Estates, of 5 May 1791.
In September 1773, Tadeusz Rejtan (on floor, lower right) tries to prevent ratification of the First Partition of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth by barring other Sejm deputies from entering the Sejm chamber. Painting Rejtan, by Matejko.
From his election, King Stanisław August Poniatowski worked to develop an executive government council. In 1775 the Partition Sejm established a Permanent Council, after Russia's Catherine the Great concluded it would serve her purposes.
Senate Chamber of Warsaw's Royal Castle, where the Constitution of 3 May 1791 was adopted. Painting by Kazimierz Wojniakowski, 1806.
Royal Castle Senate Chamber, reconstructed after destruction in World War II
3 May Constitution, printed in Warsaw, 1791
Manuscript of the 3 May Constitution in Lithuanian
English edition, London, 1791
Ruined chapel containing cornerstone for Temple of Divine Providence, laid 3 May 1792 by King Stanisław August Poniatowski and his brother, the Catholic Primate of Poland Michał Jerzy Poniatowski, to commemorate the Constitution of 3 May 1791. Work on Temple had only begun when Poland was invaded by Russian Imperial Army. Chapel is now within Warsaw University Botanical Garden.
Medal commemorating the Constitution of 3 May 1791, issued that year

The Constitution of 3 May 1791, titled the Governance Act, was a constitution adopted by the Great Sejm ("Four-Year Sejm", meeting in 1788–92) for the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, a dual monarchy comprising the Crown of the Kingdom of Poland and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania.

Partitions of Poland

Allegory of the first partition of Poland, showing Catherine the Great of Russia (left), Joseph II of Austria and Frederick the Great of Prussia (right) quarrelling over their territorial seizures
Włodzimierz Tetmajer, Allegory of Dead Poland, St. Nicholas Cathedral, Kalisz
The Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth after the First Partition, as a protectorate of the Russian Empire (1773–89)
Rejtan at Sejm 1773, oil on canvas by Jan Matejko, 1866, 282 x, Royal Castle in Warsaw
The Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth after the Second Partition (1793)
1793 Russian campaign medal
"A map of the Kingdom of Poland and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania including Samogitia and Curland divided according to their dismemberments with the Kingdom of Prussia" from 1799
The partition of Poland according to the German–Soviet Pact; division of Polish territories in the years 1939–1941

The Partitions of Poland were three partitions of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth that took place toward the end of the 18th century and ended the existence of the state, resulting in the elimination of sovereign Poland and Lithuania for 123 years.

List of Polish monarchs

Ruled at various times either by dukes and princes or by kings (11th to 18th centuries).

Stanislaus II Augustus

After the death of the last Jagiellonian king, the united Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth became an elective monarchy with mostly foreigners elected as monarchs such as Henry III of France, who witnessed the introduction of the Golden Liberty system and Stephen Báthory, a capable military commander who strengthened the nation.

Russian Empire

Empire that extended across Eurasia from 1721, succeeding the Tsardom of Russia following the Treaty of Nystad that ended the Great Northern War.

A painting depicting the Battle of Narva (1700) in the Great Northern War
Peter the Great officially renamed the Tsardom of Russia as the Russian Empire in 1721 and became its first emperor. He instituted sweeping reforms and oversaw the transformation of Russia into a major European power. (Painting made after 1717.)
Empress Catherine the Great, who reigned from 1762 to 1796, continued the empire's expansion and modernization. Considering herself an enlightened absolutist, she played a key role in the Russian Enlightenment. (Painted in the 1780s.)
Catherine II Sestroretsk Rouble (1771) is made of solid copper measuring 77 mm (diameter), 26 mm (thickness), and weighs 1.022 kg.
An 1843 painting imagining Russian general Pyotr Bagration, giving orders during the Battle of Borodino (1812) while wounded
The Imperial Standard of the Tsar between from 1858 to 1917. Previous variations of the black eagle on gold background were used as far back as Peter the Great's time.
Franz Roubaud's 1893 painting of the Erivan Fortress siege in 1827 by the Russian forces under leadership of Ivan Paskevich during the Russo-Persian War (1826–28)
The eleven-month siege of a Russian naval base at Sevastopol during the Crimean War
Russian troops taking Samarkand (8 June 1868)
Russian troops entering Khiva in 1873
Capturing of the Ottoman Turkish redoubt during the Siege of Plevna (1877)
Russian troops fighting against Ottoman troops at the Battle of Shipka Pass (1877)
A scene from the First Russian Revolution, by Ilya Repin
Russian soldiers in combat against Japanese at Mukden (inside China), during the Russo-Japanese War (1904–1905)
Patriarch Tikhon of Moscow in 1917
Map of the Russian Empire in 1912
Ethnic map of European Russia before World War I
Map of governorates of the western Russian Empire in 1910
Map showing subdivisions of the Russian Empire in 1914
1814 artwork depicting the Russian warship Neva and the Russian settlement of St. Paul's Harbor (present-day Kodiak town), Kodiak Island
Nicholas II was the last Emperor of Russia, reigning from 1894 to 1917.
This painting from circa 1847 depicts the building on Palace Square opposite the Winter Palace, which was the headquarters of the Army General Staff. Today, it houses the headquarters of the Western Military District/Joint Strategic Command West.
The Catherine Palace, located at Tsarskoe Selo, was the summer residence of the imperial family. It is named after Empress Catherine I, who reigned from 1725 to 1727. (Watercolor painting from the 19th century.)
The Senate and Synod headquarters – today the Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation on Senate Square in Saint Petersburg
Residence of the Governor of Moscow (1778–82) as seen in 2015
The Moscow City Duma circa 1900 (colorized photograph)
100 ruble banknote (1910)
Russian and US equities, 1865 to 1917
Watercolor-tinted lithgraph, from the 1840s, depicting the arrival of the first Tsarskoye Selo Railway train at Tsarskoye Selo from St. Petersburg on 30 October 1837.
The Kazan Cathedral in Saint Petersburg was constructed between 1801 and 1811, and prior to the construction of Saint Isaac's Cathedral was the main Orthodox Church in Imperial Russia.
Map of subdivisions of the Russian Empire by largest ethnolinguistic group (1897)
Contemporary painting of the procession of Emperor Alexander II into Dormition Cathedral in Moscow during his coronation in 1856
This 1892 painting imagines a scene of Russian troops forming a bridge with their bodies, moving equipment to prepare for invading Persian forces during the Russo-Persian War (1804–13), which occurred contemporaneously with the French invasion of Russia.
1892 painting depicting Imperial Russian Navy Brig "Mercury" Attacked by Two Turkish Ships in a scene from the Russo-Turkish War (1828–29), by Ivan Aivazovsky
1856 painting imagining the announcement of the coronation of Alexander II that year.
The 1916 painting Maslenitsa by Boris Kustodiev, depicting a Russian city in winter
Young Russian peasant women in front of a traditional wooden house (c. 1909 to 1915), photograph taken by Prokudin-Gorskii
Peasants in Russia (photograph taken by Sergey Prokudin-Gorsky in 1909)

The rise of the Russian Empire coincided with the decline of neighboring rival powers: the Swedish Empire, Poland–Lithuania, Persia, the Ottoman Empire, and Qing China.