History of Poland

By | April 28, 2022

According to historyaah, the Polish state arose in the 2nd half. 10th c. The first ruler was Prince Mieszko I (r. 960-92). Under him, in 966, Poland adopted Christianity according to the Latin (Catholic) model. Under his son Boleslav I the Brave (992-1025), the unification of Polish lands was completed, and from 1025 Poland became a kingdom. In 1031 she was defeated in the war with the Holy Roman Empire, the Czech Republic and Russia. All R. 12th c. The country was divided into four principalities. In 1226, the prince of Mazovia invited the knights of the Teutonic Order to conquer the Slavic tribe of the Prussians, who occupied the northeastern lands. In the region of the lower Vistula, the crusaders formed their own state.

In the 14th century the Piast dynasty, founded by Mieszko, ceased. After the death of Casimir III the Great (1333-70), who put an end to civil strife and strengthened the country, a foreigner, the Hungarian King Louis (1370-82), was called to the rulers. The dissatisfaction of the gentry (nobility) with his rule led to the transfer of the throne to his daughter Jadwiga, who was married to the Grand Duke of Lithuania Jagiello. In 1385, the Krevo Union Agreement on a dynastic union between Poland and Lithuania was signed in Krevo Castle. See ehistorylib for more about Poland history.

After the adoption of Catholicism, Jagiello became the Polish king (1386-1434), marking the beginning of the Jagiellonian dynasty. In 1410, in the Battle of Grunwald, the combined Polish-Lithuanian forces, with the participation of the Smolensk regiments under the command of Jagiello, defeated the troops of the Teutonic Order. As a result, Poland has become one of the most powerful states in Europe. Casimir IV Jagiellonchik (1447-92) fought against the Prussians and returned the Danzig Pomerania to Poland. Representatives of this dynasty fought a lot, trying to provide Poland with a worthy place in Europe. With varying success, the war was waged with Moscow, with Prussia.

In 1569, an alliance between Poland and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania (the Union of Lublin) was concluded, and the largest state in Europe at that time, the Commonwealth, arose. With the death of King Sigismund II Augustus (1548–72), the Jagiellonian dynasty ceased to exist. In 1573, the Polish Sejm adopted the principle of free election of kings with the participation of the entire gentry, i.e. about 1/10 of the population. In the same year, the French prince Henry of Valois was elected to the Polish throne, and in 1577, the Transylvanian prince Stefan Batory. In 1577-82 he waged war with Moscow.

The new king, the Swedish prince Sigismund III Vasa (1587–1632), moved the capital from Krakow to Warsaw in 1596. In 1592, he was also elected to the Swedish throne, began to plant Catholicism in a Protestant country, which became one of the reasons for the Thirty Years’ War (1600–11, 1617–29) between Poland and Sweden, as a result of which Poland lost all ports in the Baltic. Sigismund turned out to be involved in the intrigue with False Dmitry; open Polish intervention in Russia (1609-12) ended with the defeat of the Polish troops. Poland lost its influence on European affairs, the decline of the Commonwealth began.

The struggle of the Ukrainian people under the leadership of Bohdan Khmelnytsky (1648–54) for liberation from Polish oppression ended with the reunification of Ukraine with Russia. In response, Poland began a war with Russia (1654–67), which ended with the Andrusovo truce. Left-bank Ukraine finally passed to Russia.

In con. 17th century Poland waged wars with the Swedes and the Turks. Governor Jan Sobieski, who was elected king in 1674 and ruled until 1696, became the hero of the war with the Turks. Sobieski sought to draw Russia into a Christian alliance against Turkey, concluding an “eternal peace” with Moscow in 1686. Russia received Smolensk and Chernigov for help in the fight against a common enemy.

Endless wars, hunger, disease, self-will of magnates and gentry weakened the state. During the Northern War (1700–21), the once mighty Commonwealth was occupied by the Swedes. In 1703, after the defeat of the Swedes near Poltava by Peter I, Poland became dependent on Russia. The last Polish king was Stanisław August Poniatowski (1764–95).

As a result of the three divisions of the Commonwealth (1772, 1793, and 1795) between Prussia, Austria, and Russia, as well as the redistribution of its territory at the Congress of Vienna in 1814–15, most of the Polish lands were ceded to the Russian Empire. The independent Polish state ceased to exist. The restoration of independence became the meaning of life for several generations of Poles. The Polish national liberation uprisings of 1794, 1830–31, 1846, 1848, and 1863–64 were suppressed. The remnants of Polish autonomy were liquidated, Russification of the country began, and censorship was tightened.

The change in the situation in Europe after World War I and the revolutions in Russia and Germany, as well as the national liberation struggle of the Polish people themselves, led to the restoration of an independent Polish state. In August 1918, the Soviet government annulled the treaties of the tsarist government on the divisions of Poland, and on November 11, its independence was proclaimed. Jozef Pilsudski, a well-known politician and military leader, became the head of state. The Soviet-Polish War of 1919–20 ended with the Battle of the Vistula (August 1920), in which the Red Army was defeated, and with the signing of the Treaty of Riga in March 1921. Western Ukraine and Western Belarus went to Poland.

In 1921, the Constitution of the Republic was adopted – Poland became a democratic state. However, as a result of the inter-party struggle in 1926, Pilsudski made a coup and established a sanation regime in the country in order to cleanse the government of party bias and corruption. The power of parliament was limited, opposition to the regime was persecuted. Under the new Constitution (1935), the power of the president was strengthened, but real power still remained in the hands of Piłsudski.

On September 1, 1939, Nazi Germany unleashed World War II by attacking Poland. On September 17, 1939, in accordance with the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact, the Red Army entered Poland. Mass deportations of the Polish population began. OK. 15 thousand prisoners of war Polish officers were sent to the NKVD camps in the Smolensk, Kalinin and Kharkov regions and were shot in the spring of 1940.

On September 30, 1939, the Polish government in exile was formed, headed by Vladislav Sikorsky. An armed resistance movement unfolded in the country. In the spring and summer of 1944, the Craiova Army numbered 250-350 thousand, the Ludov Army – 250 thousand people. The Polish Armed Forces, created by the end of the war in the West, numbered 300 thousand, and the Polish Army, created in the USSR, 400 thousand people. In May 1945, the territory of Poland was completely liberated by units of the Soviet Army and the Polish Army. As a result of World War II, the country lost almost 40% of its national wealth and St. 6 million people, i.e. 22% of the population. In accordance with the decisions of the Potsdam Conference of 1945, Poland received St. 100 thousand km2 of territory in the west, and the border with Germany passed along the Oder and the Neisse.

On July 22, 1944, in the city of Chelm, liberated by the Soviet Army, the Polish Committee of National Revival was established. Power in Poland passed into the hands of left-wing forces, supporters of a military-political alliance with the USSR. The Polish United Workers’ Party (PUWP), founded in December 1948, led the construction of a socialist society. However, the Soviet model of socialism did not correspond to the national traditions and democratic aspirations of the majority of Poles. Authoritarianism and serious mistakes in socio-economic policy made by the leadership of the PZPR led to serious political and socio-economic crises in the Polish People’s Republic (the official name of the country according to the Constitution of 1952) – in 1956, 1970 and in the 1980s. Attempts to carry out partial reforms made by the first secretaries of the PUWP Central Committee Vladislav Gomulka (1956-70),

In the 1950s-70s. Poland has turned into an industrial-agrarian state, the well-being of the population, its educational and cultural level have increased. Disillusionment with “real socialism” led in 1980-81 to the emergence of a mass opposition socio-political movement “Solidarity”. On December 13, 1981 martial law was introduced in Poland.

In 1981-88, attempts were made to introduce market elements into the socialist model, but they did not solve the problems facing the country. They tried to find a way out of the impasse in 1989 at the round table talks between the reformers from the PUWP and the moderate wing of Solidarity. At the same time, the principles of democratization of Poland’s political system were formulated.

Parliamentary elections (June 1989) brought victory to Solidarity. The old system was dismantled, and the transition to representative democracy and a market economy began. In 1993, the left-wing coalition won the parliamentary elections – the Union of Democratic Left Forces (SDLS), which, together with the Polish Peasants’ Party (PKP), was in power until the autumn of 1997, when the right forces again won – the Solidarity Electoral Bloc and the liberal ” Freedom Union. In 2001, the coalition of SDLS and the Union of Labor won the parliamentary elections, gaining St. 41% of the votes (216 mandates in the 460-seat Sejm). “Solidarity” as a political force ceased to exist.

History of Poland