Was the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth a failed state?

“Was the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth a failed state?” – a provocative question indeed!

Flag of Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth

The three partitions of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth – in 1772, 1793 and 1795 – seem to support the narrative that this ‘failed state’ was put out of its misery by its better governed neighbors – the Russian Empire, the Kingdom of Prussia and the Habsburg Monarchy. Not only was this story spread by the official historians of the three absolute monarchies, but many Polish politicians and historians have long accused the szlachta (nobility) of culpable anarchy, oppression and irresponsibility. More recently the original and underlying values of the Commonwealth – including liberty, citizenship, consensus, pluralism and toleration – have been far more favorably assessed by historians from various countries, including Germany. Undoubtedly, however, the Commonwealth did experience a severe crisis between the mid-seventeenth century and the mid-eighteenth century.

This lecture entitled “Was the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth a failed state?” will focus on the broadly based economic, cultural and intellectual revival of the Commonwealth in the later eighteenth century, in exceptionally difficult international circumstances. It will focus in particular on the reforms of the Great Sejm (Parliament) of 1788-1792, especially the Constitution of 3 May 1791 and its implementation.

We would like to cordially invite you to join us next Tuesday to watch Prof. Richard Butterwick-Pawlikowski presenting his cutting-edge research and revealing thought-provoking insights into the legacy and present relevance of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth.

                    Prof. Richard Butterwick-Pawlikowski

Richard Butterwick-Pawlikowski is Professor of Polish-Lithuanian History at the School of Slavonic and East European Studies, University College London. Among his publications are among others the books Poland’s Last King and English Culture: Stanisław August Poniatowski 1732-1798 (Oxford UP, 1998), The Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth 1733-1795: Light and Flame (Yale UP, 2020) and The Constitution of 3 May 1791: Testament of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth (Polish History Museum, 2021, which has also been published in Polish, Lithuanian, Ukrainian and now, this evening, in German).

The event will held on 9th November 2021 at 17.00 in a hybrid form:

If you would like to attend the event live please register here: events@pileckiinstitut.de.

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