Towards a history of compromise: comparing political unions in the British Isles and Poland-Lithuania

Politics in modern democratic and consensual systems depends on compromise, and yet the ability to compromise is not always seen as a virtue.

The original act of the Union of Horodel with seals at the bottom, written in 1413.

In an age in which political compromise seems ever more difficult to achieve, the lecture “Towards a history of compromise: comparing political unions in the British Isles and Poland-Lithuania” considers the history of compromise through a comparison of three early modern unions: between the Kingdom of Poland and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania; between the Kingdom of England and the Kingdom of Scotland; and between the Kingdom of Great Britain and the Kingdom of Ireland.

According to the textbooks, the formation of these unions followed similar paths, from loose personal unions to the creation of parliamentary, or real unions, yet they were very different in their conceptualisation and realisation. This lecture will compare and contrast these unions as exercises in political compromise, and ask whether the differing nature of those compromises helps to explain their different fates.

Robert Frost holds the Burnett Fletcher Chair of History at the University of Aberdeen. He  is currently writing a three-volume history of the Polish-Lithuanian Union for Oxford University Press. His short book entitled Identity Unknown? The Polish Portrait of Bonnie Prince Charlie, will be published by Palgrave in its Pivots series in the summer of 2022.

Professor Richard English is Director of the Senator George J. Mitchell Institute for Global Peace, Security, and Justice at Queen’s University Belfast, where he is also Professor of Politics. His books include Armed Struggle: The History of the IRA (2003) and Does Terrorism Work? A History (2016).

At Queen’s University this event is supported by the Vice-Chancellor’s Office and the School of History, Anthropology, Philosophy and Politics.

The event will take place on 23 February 2022 at 17:00 CET.


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