Lublin, Union of (1569)

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LUBLIN, UNION OF (1569). Poland's union with the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, signed in Lublin on 1 July 1569, was the final stage of the process begun at Krewo on 14 August 1385, by which the grand duke of Lithuania, Jogaila (who became King Władysław II Jagiełło of Poland), pledged to associate (applicare in Latin) the territories of Lithuania and Ruthenia with the Polish Kingdom in a permanent union. Until the Union of Lublin, two conflicting conceptions of the union existed: the Polish side strove for a full incorporation of the Grand Duchy, while the Lithuanians wanted to retain their statehood in a looser union. The act of union was renewed and amended several times, the most important being the treaty signed at Horodło on 2 October 1413, which preserved the position of grand duke in Lithuania, envisaged joint Polish-Lithuanian congresses, and gave Lithuanian Catholics the same rights to land ownership as the Polish nobility. The forty-seven most important Lithuanian clans were also allowed to use the coats of arms of the Polish noble families.

Stormy debates over the union began in Lublin in January 1569; the Polish side tried to force through the incorporation of Lithuania into Poland, while the Lithuanians sought a federation in which Lithuania would retain separate central authorities and a separate parliament. As no agreement was reached, the Lithuanian negotiators left Lublin, and the Polish side, taking advantage of their absence, announced the incorporation of Lithuania's Ruthenian territories (Podlasia, Volhynia, the Kiev region, and the eastern part of Podolia) into Poland. Under pressure from the Lithuanian nobility, the Lithuanian magnates returned to Lublin, and a compromise act of union was signed on 1 July 1569.

Lithuania retained her political identity within the Commonwealth. The king and the grand duke would always be jointly elected, and parliament was to be held jointly. Lithuanian dignitaries holding posts that entitled their Polish counterparts to sit in the Senate became senators for life. The Chamber of Deputies was to include Lithuanians elected at twenty-four district diets (sejmiki). The Grand Duchy retained its own armed forces, currency, treasury, and laws. The Union guaranteed freedom of settlement and land ownership throughout the Commonwealth. It created a federation of the two states, called the Commonwealth of Both Nations. A far-reaching cultural Polonization of the nobility of the Grand Duchy followed, but the Lithuanian noblemen preserved a consciousness of distinct political identity and retained their laws and traditions, as expressed in the Third Lithuanian Statute (1588; in force until 1840). A supplement to the Constitution of 3 May, adopted on 20 October 1791, stressed the federal character of the Commonwealth and the Grand Duchy's equal status with the Polish kingdom.

See also Jadwiga (Poland) ; Jagiellon Dynasty (Poland-Lithuania) ; Lithuania, Grand Duchy of, to 1569 ; Poland to 1569 ; Poland-Lithuania, Commonwealth of, 15691795 ;Sigismund II Augustus (Poland, Lithuania) ; 3 May Constitution ; Władysław II Jagiełło .


Bardach, Juliusz. O Rzeczypospolitej Obojga Narodów: Dzieje związku Polski z Litwą do schyłku XVIII wieku. Warsaw, 1998.

Lulewicz, Henryk. Gniewów o unię ciąg dalszy: Stosunki polsko-litewskie w latach 15691588. Warsaw, 2002.

Marcin Kamler