Union of Lublin

Union of Lublin

The Union of Lublin ( _lt. Liublino unija; Belarusian: "Лю́блінская ву́нія" Polish: "Unia lubelska") replaced the personal union of the Kingdom of Poland and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania with a real union and an elective monarchy, since Sigismund II Augustus, the last of the Jagiellons, remained childless after three marriages. In addition, the autonomy of Royal Prussia was largely abandoned.

It was signed July 1, 1569, in Lublin, Poland, and created a single State, the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. The Commonwealth was ruled by a single elected monarch who carried out the duties of Polish King and Grand Duke of Lithuania, and governed with a common Senate and parliament (the "Sejm"). The Union was an evolutionary stage in the Polish-Lithuanian alliance and personal union, necessitated also by Lithuania's dangerous position in wars with Russia.Dvornik, Francis, "The Slavs in European History and Civilization", Rutgers University Press, ISBN 0813507995, [http://books.google.com/books?id=LACpYP-g1y8C&pg=PA254&dq=Poland+Lithuania+union+Muscovy&ei=hKdLR9ulNofe7QLF3MmEBw&sig=MKVwCSTmV_GP4hTyVuLcUL-b7sU Google Print, p.254] ] Norman Davies, "God's Playground: A History of Poland in Two Volumes", Oxford University Press, ISBN 0199253390, [http://books.google.com/books?id=b912JnKpYTkC&pg=PA50&dq=Poland+Lithuania+union+Muscovy&ei=rKdLR4jZLoTg6wKK0OTzBg&sig=lJexA_ptb7OrQc5gz1NSBrQLS2U Google Print, p.50] ] W. H. Zawadzki, "A Man of Honour: Adam Czartoryski as a Statesman of Russia and Poland, 1795-1831", Oxford University Press, 1993, ISBN 0198203039, [http://books.google.com/books?id=hwZASJRHjLIC&pg=PA1&dq=Poland+Lithuania+union+Muscovy&ei=hKdLR9ulNofe7QLF3MmEBw&sig=Ue-ewhqx3w_nM2PS8UwToRwd168 Google Print, p.1] ]

Constituting a crucial event in the history of several nations, the Union of Lublin has been viewed quite differently by many historians. Polish historians concentrate on its positive aspects, emphasizing its peaceful, voluntary creation and its role in the spreading of Polish culture. Lithuanian historians are more critical of the Union, pointing out that it was dominated by Poland.



There were long discussions before signing the treaty, as Lithuanian magnates were afraid of losing much of their powers, since the union would make their legal status equal to that of the much more numerous Polish lower nobility. However Lithuania had been increasingly on the losing side of the Muscovite-Lithuanian Wars and by the second half of the 16th century it faced the threat of total defeat in the Livonian war and incorporation into Russia. The Polish nobility (the szlachta) on the other hand were reluctant to offer help to Lithuania without receiving anything in exchange. Sigismund II Augustus, King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania, seeing the threat to Lithuania and eventually to Poland, nonetheless pressed for the union, gradually gaining more supporters.

ejm of 1567

The Sejm met in January, 1567, near the Polish town of Lublin, but did not reach an agreement. In protest against heavy pressure by the Poles to sign the Act, the Lithuanians under the leadership of Vilnius voivod Mikołaj "Rudy" Radziwiłł left Lublin on March 1, fearing that Sigismund would make a decision on his own.

On March 26, the king was forced by the szlachta to incorporatehttp://books.google.com/books?ie=UTF-8&vid=ISBN0521559170&id=NpMxTvBuWHYC&vq=Lublin&dq=Union+of+Lublin&lpg=PA63&pg=PA64&sig=y527sUhbGjuW06QxDCIWbZtoZOg] http://books.google.com/books?ie=UTF-8&vid=ISBN0195121791&id=KRjcXHliMpcC&pg=PA137&lpg=PA137&dq=Union+of+Lublin&sig=uqrEC1Ob3PQ0rGtMpffsV7XA9lo] the southern Lithuanian-controlled lands of Podlachia, Volhynia, Podolia and the Kiev regions into the Crown of Poland. These historic lands of the Rus' make up more than half of modern day Ukraine, and were at that time a significant portion of Lithuanian territory. The higher class in these lands was largely Ruthenian and was loyal to Lithuania. All loyal nobles were forced to swear loyalty to the King of Poland. The lands of hose who refused was confiscated.

The Lithuanians were forced to return to the Sejm under the leadership of Jan Chodkiewicz, (father of Jan Karol Chodkiewicz) and to continue negotiations using slightly different tactics than Mikołaj "the Red" Radziwiłł. Although the Polish szlachta wanted full incorporation of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania under the Crown, the Lithuanians continued to oppose, and agreed only on the status of a federal state. On 28 June, 1569, the last objections were overcome, and the act was signed by the king in Lublin Castle on 4 July .

The end

The Union of Lublin was superseded by the Constitution of May 3, 1791 from 1791, when the federal Commonwealth was to be transformed into a unitary state by King Stanisław August Poniatowski. However, the constitution was not fully implemented and the Commonwealth was ended by the late 18th century partitions of Poland, with the last one in 1795.



After the Union, the Lithuanian nobles had the same formal rights as the Polish to rule the lands and subjects under their control. However, political advancement in the Catholic dominated Commonwealth was a different matter.

In culture and social life, both the Polish language and Catholicism became dominant for the Ruthenian nobility, most of whom were initially Ruthenian speaking and Eastern Orthodox by religion (see Polonization). However the commoners, especially the peasants, continued to speak their own languages and to practise the Orthodox religion. This eventually created a significant rift between the lower social classes and the nobility in the Lithuanian and Ruthenian areas of the Commonwealth. Some Ruthenian magnates resisted Polonization (see, "e.g.", Ostrogski) by adhering to Orthodox Christianity, giving generously to the Ruthenian Orthodox Churches and to the Ruthenian schools. However, the pressure of Polonization was harder to resist with each subsequent generation and eventually almost all of the Ruthenian nobility was Polonized.

The and foreign interventions led to the partitions of the Commonwealth by Russia, Prussia and Austria in 1772, 1793, and 1795. The Union of Lublin was also temporarily not active while the Union of Kėdainiai was in effect.

Many weasel-inline historians (as Krzysztof Rak) consider the Union of Lublin to have created a state similar to the present-day European Union, [ [http://www.ruf.rice.edu/~sarmatia/106/261rak.html Federalism or Force: A Sixteenth-Century Project for Eastern and Central Europe] ] thus considering the Union (along with the Kalmar Union, the several Acts of Union in the British Isles and other similar treaties) to be kind of a predecessor of the Maastricht treaty. The former, however, created a state of countries more deeply linked than the present-day EU.


The union brought about the Polish colonization of Ruthenian lands and enserfment of Ruthenian peasantry by the szlachta. [http://www.britannica.com/eb/article-30063 Ukraine] , Encyclopædia Britannica.]
Nataliia Polonska-Vasylenko, History of Ukraine, "Lybid", (1993), ISBN 5325004255, Section: Evolution of Ukrainian lands in the 15th-16th centuries] Natalia Iakovenko, Narys istorii Ukrainy s zaidavnishyh chasic do kincia XVIII stolittia, Kiev, 1997, Section: 'Ukraine-Rus, the "odd man out" in Rzeczpospolita Obojga Narodow] Orest Subtelny. Ukraine: A History, University of Toronto Press, ISBN 0802083900, pp. 79-81] Despite the situation of peasants in the Commonwealth being pretty dire compared to the West (see second serfdom), the peasants in the Commonwealth had more freedom than those in Russia; hence peasants (as well as to a lesser extent nobility and merchants) escaping from Russia to the Commonwealth became a major concern for Russian government, and was one of the factors leading to the partitions of Poland.Jerzy Czajewski, "Zbiegostwo ludności Rosji w granice Rzeczypospolitej" (Russian population exodus into the Rzeczpospolita), Promemoria journal, October 2004 nr. (5/15), ISSN 1509-9091 , [http://www.promemoria.pl/arch/2004_15/2004_15.html Table of Content online] , Polish language]

A common coin (złoty) was introduced.

Execution of crown lands was not extended to the Grand Duchy.


The Union created one of the largest and most populous states in 17th century Europe (excluding the states not completely in Europe, i.e. the Russian or Ottoman Empires). [http://www.pbs.org/wnet/heritage/episode5/atlas/map3.html# Heritage: Interactive Atlas: Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth] , accessed on 19 March 2006: "At it. apogee, the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth comprised some convert|400000|sqmi|km2 and a multi-ethnic population of 11 million." For population comparisons, see also those maps: [http://homepage.interaccess.com/%7Enetpol/POLISH/historia/MAPY/1618.jpg] , [http://homepage.interaccess.com/%7Enetpol/POLISH/historia/MAPY/1717.jpg] .]

Within the Union Lithuania had to accept the loss of Podlachia, Volhynia, Podolia and the Kiev regions, former territories of the Grand Duchy that were transferred to the Polish Crown.


Under the Union, the legal systems of the Kingdom of Poland and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania were to be unified, but this never happened.

The drafters of the Union of Lublin expected that Lithuania and Poland would be linked together more closelyFact|date=February 2007 than they actually were. The 1566 Second Statute of Lithuania had not lost its power, and some of its provisions substantially differed from the acts of the Union of Lublin.Fact|date=February 2007 Eventually the Third Statute of Lithuania was adopted in 1588, but this still contradicted the Union of Lublin on many points.Fact|date=February 2007

The Polish nobility viewed the Statutes of Lithuania as unconstitutional,Fact|date=February 2007 because at the signing of the Union of Lublin it was said that no law could conflict with the law of Union. The Statutes, however, declared the laws of the Union that conflicted with them to be unconstitutional. The First Statute of Lithuania was also used in the territories of Lithuania that were annexed by Poland shortly before the Union of Lublin. These conflicts between statutory schemes in Lithuania and Poland persisted for many years, and the Third Statute of Lithuania remained in force in territories of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania even after partitions, until 1840.

Attempts to limit the power of Lithuanian magnates (especially the Sapiehas' family) and unify the laws of the Commonwealth led to the koekwacja praw movement, culminating in the koekwacja reforms of the election sejm of 1697 (May-June), confirmed in the general sejm of 1698 (April) in the document "Porządek sądzenia spraw w Trybunale Wielkiego Księstwa Litewskego".Jerzy Malec, "Szkice z dziejów federalizmu i myśli federalistycznych w czasach nowożytnych", "Unia Troista", Wydawnictwo UJ, 1999, Kraków, ISBN 83-233-1278-8, Part II, Chapter I "Koewkwacja praw".]


Poland provided military aid in the war after the union of the two entities, which was crucial for the survival of the Grand Duchy.

Poland and the Grand Duchy were to have common military and defense policies.


The Union of Lublin provided for a merger of the two states, although they retained significant degrees of autonomy, each having its own army, treasury, laws and administrations. Although the countries were equal in theory, the larger and more culturally attractive Poland became the dominant partner. Due to population differences, Polish deputies outnumbered Lithuanians in the Sejm by 3:1.

There was to be a single ruler of both Poland and the Grand Duchy, freely elected by the nobility of both nations and crowned as King of Poland and Grand Duke of Luthuania in Wawel Cathedral, Kraków.

A common parliament - Sejm - held sessions in Warsaw; it had 114 deputies from Polish lands and 48 from Lithuania. Senate had 113 Polish and 27 Lithuanian senators.

Poland and the Grand Duchy were to have a common foreign policy.


The Union of Lublin was Sigismund's greatest achievement and greatest failure. Although it created one of the largest states in contemporary Europe, one that endured for over 200 years [http://books.google.com/books?ie=UTF-8&vid=ISBN0313318786&id=wRbdAwtxVIAC&pg=PA18&lpg=PA18&dq=Union+of+Lublin&vq=autonomy&sig=gX3YrDKVd16OrwDC8RHYcz8UyVE] , Sigismund failed to push through the reforms that would have established a workable political system. He hoped to strengthen the monarchy with the support of the lesser nobility, and balance the power of lesser nobility and magnates. However although all the nobility in the Commonwealth was in theory equal under the law, the magnates' political power was not weakened significantly and in the end they could too often bribe or coerce their lesser brethren. In addition, the royal power continued to wane, and while the neighbouring states continued to evolve into strong, centralized absolute monarchies, the Commonwealth slid with its Golden Liberty into a political anarchy that eventually cost it its very existence [http://books.google.com/books?ie=UTF-8&vid=ISBN0521431131&id=09FupLaC-YMC&pg=PA24&lpg=PA24&dq=Union+of+Lublin&sig=p-JQ56Ur45jitnbzpjvqUpm_q6A] .

Today's Republic of Poland considers itself a successor to the Commonwealth,As stated, for instance, in the preamble of the 1997 Constitution of the Republic of Poland.] whereas the pre-World War II Republic of Lithuania saw the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth mostly in a negative light. [Alfonsas Eidintas, Vytautas Zalys, "Lithuania in European Politics: The Years of the First Republic, 1918–1940", Palgrave, 1999, ISBN 0-312-22458-3. [http://books.google.com/books?id=0_i8yez8udgC&pg=PA78&vq=Polish-Lithuanian+Commonwealth+negative&dq=Polish+Lithuanian+Commonwealth+federation&sig=Oj-weSmBvRh3KbgJWgsNGfobd8AGoogle Print, p78] ]

ee also

* Union of Kėdainiai
* Union of Lublin Mound


External links

* [http://www.wilno.pl/UniaLubelska.htm Full text of the Union (Polish)]
* [http://www.commonwealth.pl Commonwealth of Diverse Cultures: Poland's Heritage]

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