History of Poland

From Roses, Tulips, & Liberty

Premodern history

Poland was settled and ruled by various Celtic, Germanic, Iranic, and Slavic peoples throughout history, the latter of which eventually came to dominate Poland in the Early Middle Ages. In 960, the Piast dynasty was founded by Duke Miesko I, who became the first Christian monarch of Poland. After the Testament of 1138, Poland fractured into five principalities. The Mongols invaded Poland in the mid-13th century, leading to reunification under Ladislaus the Short. The country began expanding east and became involved in the Crusades.

In 1385, Poland united with Lithuania under the Jagiellonian dynasty, often fighting against the Teutons, the Turks, and the Moscovians. The Act of 1505 transferred powers from the monarch to the parliament. In 1565, the Union of Lublin ensured the unity of Poland and Lithuania beyond the Jagiellonians. The Executionist movement and religious chaos precipitated the first elective council in 1572, when Henry of Valois was made monarch.

Vasa dynasty (1587-1671)

The Swedish dynasty of Vasa came to power in the 1580s, with three of their members being elected as kings. Catholicism was enforced with the 1596 Union of Brest, when the Rome-aligned Ruthenian Uniate Church was established. Poland separately went to war with Russia, Sweden, and the Ottoman Empire. The devastation inflicted by the Cossack Insurrection and the Swedish invasion triggered the Nobles' Rebellion of 1670 against King John II. With the death of his wife Queen Marie-Louise, he abdicated in 1671, with the next royal election being held in 1672.

Legnican period (1672-1759)

The Restored Piasts (1759-1832)

Epoka Schyłku (1832-1935)

First Partition of Poland

In 1829, the Great Sejm of Poland introduced a new constitution for Poland, designed to limit foreign influence in Polish politics and institute reforms. Russia and Austria, who were happily content with the deteriorating status of the commonwealth, feared their loss of influence. This led to a coalition including Russia, Austria, Saxony, and Pomerania invading Poland in 1832. The war ended with the Partition Sejm of 1834, paralyzing Polish political evolution and their influence in the rest of Europe.

Calamities of Cholm

Economic stagnation and turmoil triggered ethnic and religious in Poland. Calvinist Germans, Orthodox and Greek Ruthenians, and Jews demanded equality and more civil rights.

National republican period (1935-)

Poland in the Great War

When the Great War erupted in 1935, Poland officially declared neutrality. Austria and the Ottomans tried to coerce the Polish state into siding with the Tripartite Coalition, desiring military access through Poland in order to attack Russia. When Poland refused, Austria resorted to supporting German insurrectionists in Elbing, while Ottoman troops routinely made illegal crossings into Polish territories.

On 18 and 20 September 1936, two unforeseen explosions damaged parts of the Krakau railroad, killing two Austrian servicemen. Three people were arrested and were declared to have been acting on the behest of Poland. Although Poland denied any involvement in the attacks, the Austrians maintained that these were acts of subversion carried out by the Polish state.

On 26 September 1936, the Austrian Empire declared war on Poland. This was followed with the Ottomans also declaring war on Poland on the same day, laying siege to Kiev not long after. The Siege of Kiev lasted for four months and resulted in the city's capitulation to the Ottoman army. By June 1937, Poland had been fully occupied by Austrian and Ottoman forces.

Second Partition of Poland

After the war, Poland was divided by Russia as a punitive measure, with the Ruthenian parts of Poland east of Brzesc and Sudovia being incorporated into the Russian state. Part of the Lower Vistula area was given to Pomerania. Meanwhile, the Austrian regions of Silesia and Polonia Minor were ceded to Poland.