The Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth (or the Republic of the Two Nations; in Polish Rzeczpospolita Obojga Narodów; in Lithuanian Žečpospolita or Abiejų tautų respublika; in Latin Regnum Serenissima Poloniae; in Belarusian Рэч Паспалі́тая) was a federal monarchy-republic formed by the Kingdom of Poland and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania in 1569, lasting until 1795.
The Commonwealth was an extension of the Polish-Lithuanian Union, a personal union between those two states that had existed from 1386. The Commonwealth was one of the largest and most populous states in Europe and for over two centuries successfully withstood aggressions from the Teutonic Order, the Mongols, the Russians, the Ottomans, and Sweden.
The Commonwealth was notable for its political system, which was a precursor to modern democracy and federation; for its remarkable religious tolerance; and for the second-oldest written national constitution in the world. Its economy was dominated by agriculture. While the Commonwealth's first century was a golden age for both Poland and Lithuania, the second century was marked by military defeats, a return to serfdom for the peasants, and growing anarchy in political life.
The Duchy of Warsaw, established in 1807, traced its origins to the Commonwealth. Other revival movements appeared during the January Uprising (1863-1864) and in the 1920s, when Józef Piłsudski advanced the concept of a federation of Międzymorze (translatable as "Tween-Seas"). Today's Republic of Poland considers itself a successor to the Commonwealth.
Main article: Nobles' Democracy
The creation of the Commonwealth by the Union of Lublin in 1569 was one of the signal achievements of Sigismund II Augustus, last king of the Jagiellon dynasty. His death in 1572 was followed by a three-year interregnum during which adjustments were made to the constitutional system that effectively increased the power of the nobility (the szlachta) and established a truly elective monarchy.
The Commonwealth reached its Golden Age in the first half of the 17th century. Its powerful parliament (the Sejm) was dominated by nobles who were reluctant to wage offensive wars, thus sparing the country the ravages of the Thirty Years' War. The Commonwealth was mostly victorious against numerous incursions by Sweden, Russia, and vassals of the Ottoman Empire, and even managed for a time to take Moscow during the Russian Time of Troubles.
Commonwealth power waned after the double blow of 1648: history's greatest Cossack rebellion (the Chmielnicki Uprising, supported by Crimean Khanate Tatars, in the eastern territories of Kresy), which resulted in Cossacks falling under the Muscovy sphere of influence in 1652, and the Swedish invasion in 1655 (supported by troops of Transylvanian duke Rakoczy and Elector of Brandenburg), known as the Deluge, provoked by the policies of Commonwealth kings from the Swedish royal House of Vasa.
In the late 17th century, the weakened Commonwealth under King Jan III Sobieski was still strong enough to deal crushing defeats to the Ottoman Empire: in 1683, the Battle of Vienna marked the final turning point in a 250-year struggle between the forces of Christian Europe and the Islamic Ottoman Empire. Over the next 16 years (in the "Great Turkish War" ) the Turks would be permanently driven south of the Danube River, never to threaten central Europe again.
By the 18th century, the Commonwealth was facing many internal problems and was vulnerable to foreign influences. This destabilized its political system almost to the brink of anarchy. Attempts at reform, such as those made by the Four-Year Sejm of 1788–1792, which culminated in the May 3rd Constitution of 1791, came too late, and the country was partitioned in three stages by the neighboring Russian Empire, Kingdom of Prussia, and Austrian Empire. By 1795 the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth had been completely erased from the map of Europe. Poland and Lithuania re-established their independence, as separate countries, only in 1918.
How the Commonwealth disappeared from the map of Europe:
The Commonwealth at its greatest extent (1648)
The First Partition (1772)
The Second Partition (1793)
The Third Partition (1795). Poland disappears for 123 years.
State organization and politics
- See also: Offices in Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth
Commonwealth armies were commanded by four hetmans. The armies comprised:
- Wojsko kwarciane: Regular units with wages paid from taxes (these units were later merged with the wojsko komputowe)
- Wojsko komputowe: Semi-regular units created for times of war (in 1652 these units were merged with the wojsko kwarciane into a new permanent army)
- Pospolite ruszenie: Szlachta levée en masse
- piechota łanowa and piechota wybraniecka : Units based on peasant recruits
- Registered Cossacks: Troops made up of Cossacks, used mainly as infantry, less often as cavalry (with tabors) were recruited until 1699
- Royal guard : A small unit whose primary purpose was to escort the monarch and members of his family
- Mercenaries: As with most other armies, hired to supplement regular units
- Private armies : In time of peace usually small regiments (few hundred men) were paid for and equipped by magnates or cities. However, in times of war, they were greatly augmented (to even a few thousand men) and paid by state
Some units of the Commonwealth used fairly unique tactics. These units included:
- Hussars: heavy cavalry armed with lances; their charges were extremely effective until advances in firearms in the late 17th century substantially increased infantry firepower. Members were known as Towarzysz husarski.
- Cossacks: general name for all Commonwealth units of light cavalry, even if they did not contain a single ethnic Cossack; fast and manueverable like oriental cavalry units of Ottoman Empire vassals, but lacking the firepower of European cavalry such as the Swedish pistol-armed reiters .
- Tabor: military horse-drawn wagons, usually carrying army supplies. Their use for defensive formations was perfected by the Cossacks, and to a smaller extent by other Commonwealth units.
The Commonwealth Navy was small and played a relatively minor role in the history of the Commonwealth.
The Golden Freedoms
The political doctrine of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth was: our state is a Republic under the presidency of the King. Chancellor Jan Zamoyski summed up this doctrine when he said that Rex regnat et non gubernat (The King reigns but does not govern). The Commonwealth had a parliament, the Sejm, as well as a Senat and an elected king. The king was obliged to respect citizens' rights specified in King Henry's Articles as well as in pacta conventa negotiated at the time of his election.
The monarch's power was limited, in favor of a sizable noble class. Each new king had to subscribe to King Henry's Articles, which were the basis of Poland's political system (and included near-unprecedented guarantees of religious tolerance). Over time, King Henry's Articles were merged with the pacta conventa, specific pledges agreed to by the king-elect. From that point, the king was effectively a partner with the noble class and was constantly supervised by a group of senators.
The foundations of the Commonwealth, the unique Golden Freedoms (Polish Zlota Wolność, a term used from 1573), included:
- free election of the king by all nobles wishing to participate;
- Sejm, the Commonwealth parliament which the king had to hold every two years;
- pacta conventa (Latin), "agreed-to agreements" negotiated with the king-elect, including a bill of rights, binding on the king, derived from the earlier King Henry's Articles;
- rokosz (insurrection) — the right of szlachta to form a legal rebellion against a king who violated their guaranteed freedoms;
- liberum veto (Latin) — the right of an individual Sejm deputy to oppose a decision by the majority in a Sejm session; the voicing of such a "free veto" nullified all the legislation that had been passed at that session; during the crisis of the second half of the 17th century, Polish nobles could also use the liberum veto in provincial sejmiks;
- konfederacja (from the Latin confederatio) — the right to form an organization to force through a common political aim.
The provinces of the Commonwealth enjoyed wide autonomy. Each voivodship had its own parliament (sejmik), which exercised serious political power, including choice of poseł (deputy) to the national Sejm and charging of the deputy with specific voting instructions. The Grand Duchy of Lithuania had its own army, treasury and other institutions.
The Golden Freedoms created a state that was unusual for its time. Perhaps the most similar political system existed in the city-state Republic of Venice, and it is interesting to note that both states were known as the Most Serene Republic. At a time when most European countries were headed toward centralization, absolute monarchy and religious and dynastic warfare, the Commonwealth experimented with decentralization, federation, democracy, religious tolerance and even pacifism. Since the Sejm usually vetoed a monarch's plans for war, this constitutes an interesting argument for the democratic peace theory.
This unique system stemmed from the victories of the szlachta (noble) class over other social classes and over the political system of monarchy. In time, the szlachta accumulated enough privileges (such as those established by the Nihil novi Act of 1505) that no monarch could hope to break the szlachta's grip on power. The Commonwealth's political system is difficult to fit into a simple category, but it can be tentatively described as a mixture of:
- federation, with regard to the broad autonomy of its regions;
- oligarchy — as only the szlachta — around 10% of the population — had political rights;
- democracy, since all the szlachta were equal in rights and privileges, and the Sejm could veto the king on important matters, including legislation (the adoption of new laws), foreign affairs, declaration of war, and taxation (changes of existing taxes or the levying of new ones). Also, the 10% of Commonwealth population who enjoyed the political rights (the szlachta) was a substantially larger percentage than in any other European country; note that in 1831 in France only about 1% of the population had the right to vote, and in 1867 in the United Kingdom - only about 3%;
- elective monarchy, since the monarch, elected by the szlachta, was Head of State;
- constitutional monarchy, since the monarch was bound by pacta conventa and other laws.
The political players
See also list of szlachta.
The major players in the politics of the Commonwealth were:
- monarchs, who struggled to expand their power and create an absolute monarchy.
- magnates, the wealthiest of the szlachta, who wanted to rule the country as a privileged oligarchy, and to dominate both the monarch and the poorer nobles.
- szlachta, who desired a strengthening of the Sejm and rule of the country as a democracy of the szlachta.
The magnates and the szlachta were far from united, with many factions supporting either the monarch or various of the magnates.
Shortcomings of the Commonwealth
Once the Jagiellons had disappeared from the scene in 1572, the fragile equilibrium of the Commonwealth's government began to shake. Power increasingly slipped away from the central government to the nobility.
In their periodic opportunities to fill the throne, the szlachta exhibited a preference for foreign candidates who would not found another strong dynasty. This policy often produced monarchs who were either totally ineffective or in constant debilitating conflict with the nobility. Furthermore, aside from notable exceptions such as the able Transylvanian Stefan Batory (1576–1586), the kings of foreign origin were inclined to subordinate the interests of the Commonwealth to those of their own country and ruling house. This was especially visible in the policies and actions of the first two elected kings from the Swedish House of Vasa, whose politics brought the Commonwealth into conflict with Sweden, culminating in the war known as The Deluge (1648), one of the events that mark the end of the Commonwealth's Golden Age and the beginning of the Commonwealth's decline.
The aftermath of the rokosz of Zebrzydowski (1606-1607) marks the time when magnates significantly increased their power, and this the szlachta democracy has transformed into magnate oligarchy. The Commonwealth's political system was vulnerable to outside interference, as Sejm deputies bribed by foreign powers might use their liberum veto to block attempts at reform. Such actions sapped the power of the Commonwealth and threw it into political paralysis and anarchy for over a century (from the mid-17th century to the end of the 18th century), while its neighbors stabilized their internal affairs and increased their military might.
Eventually the Commonwealth did make a serious effort to reform its political system, adopting in 1791 the May 3rd Constitution, Europe's first codified national constitution and the world's second, after the United States Constitution that began functioning in 1789. The revolutionary Polish Constitution recast the erstwhile Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth as a unitary state with a hereditary monarchy and abolished many of the deleterious features of the old system. The new constitution:
These reforms came too late, however, as the Commonwealth was immediately invaded from all sides by its neighbors. The latter feared the revolutionary implications of the May 3rd Constitution's political reforms and the prospect of the Commonwealth regaining its position as a European empire. In the end the May 3rd Constitution was never fully implemented, and the Commonwealth entirely ceased to exist only four years after the Constitution's adoption.
The economy of the Commonwealth was dominated by feudal agriculture. Typically a nobleman's landholding comprised a folwark, a large farm worked by serfs to produce surpluses for internal and external trade. The peasantry's situation worsened from the late 17th century on, when the landed szlachta sought to compensate for falling grain prices by increasing the peasants' workload.
Although the Commonwealth was Europe's largest grain producer, the bulk of her grain was consumed domestically. Estimated grain consumption in the "Crown" (Poland proper) and Prussia in 1560-1570 was some 113,000 tons of wheat (or 226,000 łaszt — a łaszt, or "last," being a large bulk measure--in the case of grain, about half a ton). Average yearly production of grain in the Commonwealth in the 16th century was 120,000 tons, 6% of which was exported while cities consumed some 19% and the villages the rest. The exports probably satisfied about 2% of the demand for grain in Western Europe, feeding three-quarters of a million people there. Commonwealth grain achieved far more importance in poor crop years, as in the early 1590s and the 1620s, when governments throughout southern Europe arranged for large grain imports to cover shortfalls in their jurisdictions.
Still, grain was the largest export commodity of the Commonwealth. The owner of a folwark usually signed a contract with merchants of Gdansk (German Danzig), who controlled 80% of this inland trade, to ship the grain north to that seaport on the Baltic Sea. Many rivers in the Commonwealth were used for shipping purposes: the Vistula, Pilica, Western Bug, San, Nida, Wieprz, Niemen. The rivers had relatively developed infrastructure, with river ports and granaries . Most of the river shipping moved north, southward transport being less profitable, and barges and rafts were often sold off in Gdansk for lumber.
From Gdansk, ships, mostly from the Netherlands and Flanders, carried the grain to ports such as Antwerp and Amsterdam. Gdansk ships accounted for only 2-10% of this maritime trade. Besides grain, other seaborne exports included lumber and wood-related products such as tar and ash.
By land routes, the Commonwealth exported hides, furs, hemp, cotton (mostly from Wielkopolska) and linen to the German lands of the Holy Roman Empire, including cities like Leipzig and Nuremberg. Large herds (of around 50,000 head) of cattle were driven south through Silesia.
The Commonwealth imported spices, luxury goods, clothing, fish, beer and industrial products like steel and tools. A few riverboats carried south imports from Gdańsk like wine, fruit, spices and herring. Somewhere between the 16th and 17th centuries, the Commonwealth's trade balance shifted from positive to negative.
With the advent of the Age of Exploration, many old trading routes such as the Amber Road lost importance as new ones were created. Poland's importance as a caravan route between Asia and Europe diminished, while new local trading routes were created between the Commonwealth and Russia. But even with improvements in shipping technology the Commonwealth remained an important link between Occident and Orient, as many goods and cultural artifacts passed from one region to another via the Commonwealth. For example, Persian carpets imported across the Commonwealth were actually known in the West as "Polish carpets."
Commonwealth currency included the złoty and the grosz. The City of Gdansk had the privilege of minting its own coinage.
The Commonwealth's preoccupation with agriculture, coupled with the szlachta's dominance over the bourgeoisie, resulted in a fairly slow process of urbanization and thus a fairly slow development of industries. While similar conflicts among social classes may be found all over Europe, nowhere were the nobility as dominant as in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. There is, however, much debate among historians as to which processes most affected those developments, since until the wars and crises of the mid-17th century the cities of the Commonwealth had not markedly lagged in size and wealth behind their western counterparts.
Still, the Commonwealth did have numerous towns and cities, commonly founded on Magdeburg rights. Some of the largest trade fairs in the Commonwealth were held at Lublin. See the geography section, below, for a list of major cities in the Commonwealth (commonly capitals of voivodships).
If such a commonwealth of countries existed in 2005, it might have been the 10th largest economy in the world.
The Commonwealth was one of the important European sites for the development of modern social and political ideas. It was famous for its unique quasi-democratic political system praised by philosophers such as Erasmus, was known for a near-unparalleled religious tolerance during the Counter-Reformation, and was one of the safest places for Jews. It gave rise to the famous Christian sect of Polish Brethren, antecedents of the British and American Unitarians.
With its unique political system, the Commonwealth gave birth to political philosophers such as Andrzej Frycz Modrzewski (1503-1572), Wawrzyniec Grzymała Goślicki (1530-1607) and Piotr Skarga (1536-1612). Later, works by Stanisław Staszic (1755-1826) and Hugo Kołłątaj (1750-1812) helped pave the way for the Commonwealth's Constitution of May 3rd, 1791, the first written national constitution in Europe, which enacted revolutionary principles of political science for the first time in Europe.
The Jagiellonian University in Kraków is one of the oldest universities in the world. The Commonwealth's Commission for National Education (Polish Komisja Edukacji Narodowej), formed in 1773, was the world's first national ministry of education. Commonwealth scientists included:
The many classics of Commonwealth literature include:
- Jan Kochanowski, (1530-1584), writer, dramatist and poet,
- Wacław Potocki, (1621-1696), writer, poet
- Ignacy Krasicki, (1735-1801), writer, poet, author of the first Polish novel,
- Julian Ursyn Niemcewicz, (1758‑1841), writer, dramatist and poet.
Many szlachta wrote memoirs and diaries; perhaps the most famous of those are the Memoirs of Polish History by Albrycht Stanisław Radziwiłł (1595-1656) and the Memoirs of Jan Chryzostom Pasek (c.1636-c.1701).
Magnates often undertook construction projects as monuments to themselves: churches, cathedrals, and palaces like the present-day Presidential Palace in Warsaw built by Hetman Stanisław Koniecpolski. The largest projects involved entire towns, although in time many of them would lapse into obscurity or be totally abandoned. Usually they were named after the sponsoring magnate. Among the most famous is the town of Zamość, founded by Jan Zamoyski and designed by the Italian architect Bernardo Morando .
Szlachta and Sarmatism
The prevalent ideology of the szlachta became "Sarmatism," named after the Sarmatians, alleged ancestors of the szlachta. This belief system was an important part of the szlachta's culture, penetrating all aspects of its life. Sarmatism enshrined tradition, provincial rural life, peace and pacifism; championed oriental-inspired attire (żupan, kontusz, sukmana , pas kontuszowy, delia, szabla); and served to integrate the multi-ethnic nobility by creating an almost nationalistic sense of unity and of pride in the szlachta's Golden Freedoms.
In its early, idealistic form, Sarmatism represented a positive cultural movement: it supported religious belief, honesty, national pride, courage, equality and freedom. In time, however, it became perverted. Late Sarmatism turned belief into bigotry, honesty into political naïveté, pride into arrogance, courage into stubborness, freedom into anarchy.
Demographics and religion
The population of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth was never overwhelmingly either Roman Catholic or Polish. This circumstance resulted from Poland's possession of Ukraine and federation with Lithuania, in both of which countries ethnic Poles were a distinct minority. To be Polish, in the non-Polish lands of the Commonwealth, was then much less an index of ethnicity than of rank; it was a designation largely reserved for the landed noble class, which included members of Polish and non-Polish origin alike. Generally speaking, the ethnically non-Polish noble families of Ukraine and Lithuania adopted the Polish language and culture, by an ineluctable process of Polonization. As a result, in the eastern territories a Polish or Polonized aristocracy dominated a peasantry whose great majority was neither Polish nor Roman Catholic. Moreover, the decades of peace brought huge colonization efforts to Ukraine, heightening the tensions among peasants, Jews and nobles. The tensions were aggravated by conflicts between Eastern Orthodoxy and the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church following the Union of Brest, and by several Cossack uprisings. In the west and north, many cities had sizable German minorities, often belonging to Reformed churches.
Until the Reformation, the Polish szlachta were mostly Catholic or Eastern Orthodox. However, many families quickly adopted the Reformed religion. After the Counter-Reformation, when the Roman Catholic Church regained power in Poland, the szlachta became almost exclusively Roman Catholic, despite the fact that Roman Catholicism was not a majority religion (the Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches counted approximately 40% of the population each, while the remaining 20% were Jews and members of various Protestant churches). It should be noted that the Counter-Reformation in Poland, influenced by the Commonwealth tradition of religious tolerance, was based mostly on Jesuit propaganda, and was very peaceful when compared to excesses such as the Thirty Years' War elsewhere in Europe.
Provinces and geography
The lands that once belonged to the Commonwealth are now largely distributed among several Central European and Eastern European countries: Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Ukraine, Belarus and Russia, with smaller pieces in Estonia, Slovakia, Romania and Moldova.
Outline of the Commonwealth with its major subdivisions as of 1619
superimposed on present-day national borders
While the term "Poland" was also commonly used to denote this whole polity, Poland was in fact only part of a greater whole — the Commonwealth, which comprised primarily two parts:
The Commonwealth was divided administratively into provinces known as voivodships. Each voivodship was governed by a voivod (governor). Voivodships were further divided into starostwa , each starostwo being governed by a starosta. Cities were governed by castellans. There were frequent exceptions to these rules: for details on the administrative structure of the Commonwealth, see the article on offices in Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth.
Other notable regions of the Commonwealth often referred to, without respect for voivodship divisions, include:
- Lesser Poland (Polish: Małopolska), southern Poland, with its capital in Krakow;
- Greater Poland (Polish: Wielkopolska), west-central Poland, including much of the area drained by the Warta River and its tributaries;
- Masovia (Polish: Mazowsze), central Poland, with its capital in Warsaw;
- Duchy of Livonia (Polish: Inflanty), a northern fief of the Commonwealth from 1561, lost to Sweden in the 1620s and in 1660;
- Courland (Polish: Kurlandia), a northern fief of the Commonwealth;
- Prussia (Polish: Prusy), parts of which belonged to the Commonwealth:
- Kresy, the southeastern Crown;
- Ruthenia, the eastern Commonwealth, adjoining Russia;
- Samogitia (Polish: Żmudź), western Lithuania.
- Silesia (Polish: Śląsk) was not part of the Commonwealth, but small parts belonged to various Commonwealth kings; in particular, the Vasa kings were dukes of Opole from 1645 to 1666.
- Pomerania (Polish: Pomorze) is the term used for lands lying on the southern bank of Baltic, partially outside the Commonwealth and/or in Prussia
- Galicia (Polish:Galicja) was not widely used until 18th century
Commonwealth borders shifted with various wars and treaties, sometimes several times in a decade, especially in the eastern and southern regions.
Coat of Arms for a Polish-
A Duchy of Ruthenia was planned at various times, particularly during the 1648 Cossack insurrection against Polish rule in Ukraine. The proposed Duchy of Ruthenia was intended to be a full member of the Commonwealth, which would thereupon become a tripartite Polish-Lithuanian-Ruthenian Commonwealth , but the plan was never implemented.
The Crown had approximately double the population of Lithuania and five times the income of the latter's treasury. As with other countries, over time the borders, area and population of the Commonwealth varied. After the Peace treaty in Jam Zapolski in 1582, the Commonwealth had appoximately 815 km˛ with the population of 6,5 million. After the Truce of Deulino in 1618, the Commonwealth had an area of approximately 1 million km˛ (990,000 km˛) and a population of 10-11 million (with about 4 million Poles).
In the 16th century, the Polish bishop and cartographer Martin Kromer published a Latin atlas entitled, Poland: about Its Location, People, Culture, Offices and the Polish Commonwealth, which was regarded in its time as the most comprehensive guide to the country.
Kromer's works and other contemporary maps, such as those of Gerardus Mercator, show the Commonwealth as mostly plains. The southeastern part of the Commonwealth, the Kresy, was famous for its steppes. The Carpathian Mountains formed part of the southern border, with the Tatra Mountains chain the highest, while the Commonwealth was bounded in the north by the Baltic Sea. As with most other European countries at the time, the Commonwealth had extensive forest cover, especially in the east. Remains of the Bialowieża Forest form today the last largely intact primeval forest in Europe.
Voivodships of the Commonwealth
- Poznań Voivodship (województwo poznańskie, Poznań)
- Kalisz Voivodship (województwo kaliskie, Kalisz)
- Gniezno Voivodship (województwo gnieźnieńskie, Gniezno) from 1768
- Sieradz Voivodship (województwo sieradzkie, Sieradz)
- Łęczyca Voivodship (województwo łęczyckie, Łęczyca)
- Brzesc Kujawski Voivodship (województwo brzesko-kujawskie, Brześć Kujawski )
- Inowrocław Voivodship (województwo inowrocławskie, Inowrocław)
- Chełmno Voivodship (województwo chełmińskie, Chełmno)
- Malbork Voivodship (województwo malborskie, Malbork)
- Pomeranian Voivodship (województwo pomorskie, Gdańsk)
- Duchy of Warmia (Księstwo Warmińskie, Lidzbark Warmiński)
- Duchy of Prussia (Księstwo Pruskie, Lidzbark Warmiński)
- Płock Voivodship (województwo płockie, Płock)
- Rawa Voivodship (województwo rawskie, Rawa Mazowiecka )
- Mazovian Voivodship (województwo mazowieckie, Warsaw)
- Kraków Voivodship (województwo krakowskie, Kraków)
- Sandomierz Voivodship (województwo sandomierskie, Sandomierz)
- Lublin Voivodship (województwo lubelskie, Lublin)
- Podlasie Voivodship (województwo podlaskie, Drohiczyn)
- Ruthenian Voivodship (województwo ruskie, Lwów)
- Bełz Voivodship (województwo bełzkie, Bełz)
- Wolhynian Voivodship (województwo wołyńskie, Łuck)
- Podole Voivodship (województwo podolskie, Kamieniec Podolski)
- Bracław Voivodship (województwo bracławskie, Bracław)
- Kijów Voivodship (województwo kijowskie, Kijów)
- Czernichów Voivodship (województwo czernichowskie, Czernichów)
- Wilno Voivodship (województwo wileńskie, Wilno)
- Troki Voivodship (województwo trockie, Troki)
- Nowogrodek Voivodship (województwo nowogrodzkie, Nowogrodek)
- Brześć Litewski Voivodship (województwo brzesko-litewskie, Brześć Litewski)
- Mińsk Voivodship (województwo mińskie, Mińsk)
- Mścisław Voivodship (województwo mścisławskie, Mścisław )
- Smoleńsk Voivodship (województwo smoleńskie, Smoleńsk)
- Witebsk Voivodship (województwo witebskie, Witebsk)
- Połock Voivodship (województwo połockie, Połock)
- Duchy of Samogita (księstwo żmudzkie, Miedniki -Wornie)
- Norman Davies, God's Playground, ISBN 0231053533 and ISBN 0231053517 (two volumes).
- Jan Chryzostom Pasek, Memoirs of the Polish Baroque: The Writings of Jan Chryzostom Pasek, a Squire of the Commonwealth of Poland and Lithuania, ISBN 0520027523.
- Adam Zamoyski , The Polish Way: a Thousand-Year History of the Poles and Their Culture, ISBN 0781802008.
- Pawel Jasienica, Rzeczpospolita Obojga Narodów, ISBN 8306010930.
- Zdzisław Kowalewski , Rzeczpospolita nie doceniona: Kultura naukowa i polityczna Polski przedrozbiorowej, ISBN 832110312X.
- Teresa Chynczewska-Hennel , Rzeczpospolita XVII wieku w oczach cudzoziemców, ISBN 8304041073.
- Albrycht Stanisław Radziwiłł, Pamiętnik o dziejach w Polsce.