Sp. Ch.15 pt 4Pages 432-444
Limited Monarchy and RepublicsI.
In eastern E, the Polish aristocracy controlled a virtually powerless king. TheDutch Republic and England resisted the power of hereditary monarchsThe Weakness of the Polish Monarchy
. Much of Polish history revolved around the bitter struggle between the crownand the landed nobility.
The dynasty union of Jagiello, grand prince of Lithuania, w/the P queenJadwiga resulted in a large Lithuanian-Polish state in 1386, although itwas not until 1569 that a formal merger occurred.
The union of L and P under the Jagiello dynasty had created the largestkingdom in Christendom at the beginning of the 15thc.
P-L played a major role in eastern E in the 15thc and also ruled muchof Ukraine by the end of the 16thc
. P-L had a unique government system in that assemblies of nobles elected theking and carefully limited royal power. The power of the nobles also enabledthem to keep the P peasantry in a state of serfdom
In 1572, when the Jagiello dynasty ended, a new practice arose of choosing kings, who they thought would bring new alliances.
. When the throne was awarded to the Swede Sigismund III (1587-1631),the new king dreamed of creating a vast P empire that would includeRussia and possibly Finland and Sweden. P not only failed to meet thisgoal, but by the end of the 17thc had become a weak, decentralized state.
It was the elective nature of the P monarchy that reduced it to impotence.
The Sejm, or P diet, was a 2-chamber assembly in which landownerscompletely dominated the townspeople and lawyers who were alsomembers.
To be elected to the kingship, prospective monarchs had to agree toshare power w/the Sejm in matters of taxation, foreign and military policy,and the appointment of state officials and judges
The power of the Sejm had disastrous results for central monarchialauthority, for the real aim of most of its members was to ensure thatcentral authority would not affect their local interests. The acceptance of the liberum veto in 1652, whereby the meetings of the Sejm could bestopped by a single dissenting member, reduced the government to virtualchaos.
P, then, was basically a confederation of semi-independent estates of landednobles. By the late 17thc, it had also become a battleground for foreign powers,who found the nation easy to invade but difficult to rule.The Golden Age of the Dutch Republic
The 17thc has often been called the Golden Age of the Dutch Republic as theUnited Provinces held center stage as one of E’s greatest powers.
Like F and England, the UP was an Atlantic Power, underlining the importanceof the shift of political and economic power from the Med basin to the countriesof the Atlantic seaboard.