The Oxford History of Poland-Lithuania

The Oxford History of Poland-Lithuania

Volume I: The Making of the Polish-Lithuanian Union, 1385-1569

Robert Frost
592 pages | 11 black and white illustrations, 6 maps | 234x156mm
978-0-19-820869-3 | Hardback | 04 June 2015


  • The only study of its kind in English, and the only study in any language since 1919
  • Demonstrates the importance of the Polish-Lithuanian union for an understanding of the politics not just of modern Poland, but also of Ukraine, Belarus, and Lithuania, and of the later formation of the Germanic states
  • Provides a case study of the formation of a political union that calls into question current scholarship on the nature of composite states in late-medieval and early modern Europe
  • Analyses the emergence of a multinational, religiously diverse union built as much from below, by its citizens, as from above by its kings
  • Aids understanding of the nature of religious toleration and conflict in late-medieval Europe

The history of eastern European is dominated by the story of the rise of the Russian empire, yet Russia only emerged as a major power after 1700. For 300 years the greatest power in Eastern Europe was the union between the kingdom of Poland and the grand duchy of Lithuania, one of the longest-lasting political unions in European history. Yet because it ended in the late-eighteenth century in what are misleadingly termed the Partitions of Poland, it barely features in standard accounts of European history.

The Making of the Polish-Lithuanian Union 1385-1569 tells the story of the formation of a consensual, decentralised, multinational, and religiously plural state built from below as much as above, that was founded by peaceful negotiation, not war and conquest. From its inception in 1385-6, a vision of political union was developed that proved attractive to Poles, Lithuanians, Ruthenians, and Germans, a union which was extended to include Prussia in the 1450s and Livonia in the 1560s. Despite the often bitter disagreements over the nature of the union, these were nevertheless overcome by a republican vision of a union of peoples in one political community of citizens under an elected monarch. Robert Frost challenges interpretations of the union informed by the idea that the emergence of the sovereign nation state represents the essence of political modernity, and presents the Polish-Lithuanian union as a case study of a composite state.

The modern history of Poland, Lithuania, Ukraine, and Belarus cannot be understood without an understanding of the legacy of the Polish-Lithuanian union. This volume is the first detailed study of the making of that union ever published in English.Readership: Historians and students of medieval and early modern Europe, particularly in the field of Polish history; political scientists interested in the typology of political union

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