The Polish-Lithuanian State, 1386-1795

Daniel Z. Stone

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  • Published: 2001
  • Subject Listing: History / European History; Geography
  • Bibliographic information: 392 pp., 5 maps, bibliog., index, LC 00-51179, 6 x 9 in.
  • Territorial rights: World Rights
  • Series: A History of East Central Europe (HECE)
  • Contents

For four centuries, the Polish-Lithuanian state encompassed a major geographic region comparable to present-day Poland, Lithuania, Belarus, Ukraine, Russia, Latvia, Estonia, and Romania. Governed by a constitutional monarchy that offered the numerous nobility extensive civil and political rights, it enjoyed unusual domestic tranquility, for its military strength kept most enemies at bay until the mid-seventeenth century and the country generally avoided civil wars. Selling grain and timber to western Europe helped make it exceptionally wealthy for much of the period.

The Polish-Lithuanian State, 1386-1795 is the first account in English devoted specifically to this important era. It takes a regional rather than a national approach, considering the internal development of the Ukrainian, Jewish, Lithuanian, and Prussian German nations that coexisted with the Poles in this multinational state. Presenting Jewish history also clarifies urban history, because Jews lived in the unincorporated "private cities" and suburbs, which historians have overlooked in favor of incorporated "royal cities." In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries the private cities and suburbs often thrived while the inner cities decayed. The book also traces the institutional development of the Roman Catholic Church in Poland-Lithuania, one of the few European states to escape bloody religious conflict during the Reformation and Counter Reformation.

Both seasoned historians and general readers will appreciate the many excellent brief biographies that advance the narrative and illuminate the subject matter of this comprehensive and absorbing volume.
Part One: The Jagiellonian Period, 1386-1572
1. Jogaila/Jagiello
2. Jagiello's Successors: Wladyslaw III, Kazimierz IV, Jan Olbracht, and Aleksander
3. Zygmunt I the Old
4. Zygmunt II August
5. Ecomonics and Society in the Jagiellonian Period
6. Artistic Culture and Education in the Jagiellonian Period
7. First Interlude: Henri Valois and Stefan Batory
Part Two: The Vasa Period
8. Zygmunt II Vasa (Waza)
9. Wladyslaw IV
10. Jan Kazimierz
11. Noble Democracy as a Political System
12. Economics and Society in the Vasa Period
13. Culture in the Vasa Period
14. Second Interlude: Michal Wisniowiecki and Jan III Sobieski
Part Three: The Eighteenth Century
15. August II
16. August III
17. Stanislaw August Poniatowski
18. Economics andSociety in the Eighteenth Century
19. Culture in the Eighteenth Century
Bibliographical Essay

"A masterful accomplishment. . . . This very important contribution to the English language literature on this region and these centuries is also, by its balance and perspective, a contribution unmatched in any language."

"Well-planned, well-written, and well-balanced, this work is a major contribution in English-language historiography relating the the history of Poland-Lithuania from the late Middle Ages to the third partition."
-Canadian Journal of History