The Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth

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The Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth

Post  kosovohp on Mon Nov 01, 2010 11:40 pm

The Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth was created in 1569. As a member of the Commonwealth, Lithuania retained its institutions, including a separate army, currency, and statutory laws.[12] However, eventually Polonization affected all aspects of Lithuanian life: politics, language, culture, even national identity. From the mid-16th to the mid-17th centuries culture, arts, and education flourished, fueled by the Renaissance and the Protestant Reformation. From 1573, Kings of Poland and Grand Dukes of Lithuania were elected by the nobility, who were granted ever increasing Golden Liberties. These liberties, especially the liberum veto, led to anarchy and the eventual dissolution of the state.

During the Northern Wars (1655–1661), the Lithuanian territory and economy were devastated by the Swedish army. Before it could fully recover, Lithuania was again ravaged during the Great Northern War (1700–1721). The war, plague, and famine resulted in the loss of approximately 40% of the country's inhabitants.[13] Foreign powers, especially Russia, became dominant players in the domestic politics of the Commonwealth. Numerous factions among the nobility used the Golden Liberties to prevent any reforms. Eventually, the Commonwealth was partitioned in 1772, 1792, and 1795 by the Russian Empire, Prussia, and Habsburg Austria.

The largest area of Lithuanian territory became part of Russia. After unsuccessful uprisings in 1831 and 1863, the Tsarist authorities implemented a number of Russification policies, including a ban on the Lithuanian press and the closing of cultural and educational institutions, and Lithuania became part of a new administrative region called Northwestern Krai. After the Russian – Turkey war in 1877-1878, when intervention of the German diplomacy withdraw from Russia fair winnings for the benefit of Turkey, the relationship between Russia and German empire became complicated. Russian Empire resumed the construction of fortresses at its western borders for defence against a potential invasion from Germany in the West. On the 7th of July, 1879 the Russian Emperor Alexander II approved of a proposal from the Russian military leadership to build the largest 65 km2 (25 sq mi) "first-class" defensive structure in the entire state - Kaunas Fortress.[14] Between 1868 and 1914, approximately 635,000 people, almost 20% of the population, left Lithuania.[15] Large numbers of Lithuanians went to the United States first in 1867-1868 after a famine in Lithuania.[16] Nevertheless, a Lithuanian National Revival laid the foundations of the modern Lithuanian nation and independent Lithuania.

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