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Rzeczpospolita Trojga Narodów (Polish)
Trijų Tautų Respublika (Lithuanian)
Tres Nationes Respublica (Latin)
Рэч Паспалітая трох народаў (Belarusian)
Республіка Трьох Народів (Ukrainian)
Polish–Lithuanian-Ruthenian Commonwealth
Preceded by 1569-1838 Succeeded by
Crown of the Kingdom of Poland and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania republics of Poland, Lithuania, Ruthenia and Belarus
Flag Coat of Arms
Location of Poland-Lithuania-Ruthenia

Motto
Pro Fide, Lege et Rege - Monarchy,
Nihil novi nisi commune consensu- Republic
(Latin)
("For Faith, Law and King -Monarchy,
Nothing new without the common consent -Republic")

Anthem "Hymn do miłości Ojczyzny (O Sacred Love of the Beloved Country)
Lietuva, Tėvynė mūsų (Lithuania, Our Homeland)"
Capital
(and largest city)
Warsaw
Other cities Vilnius (Wilno), Krakow, Lwow and Braclaw
Language
  official
 
Polish and Latin (Official)
  others Lithuanian and Ruthenian (regional), Belorussian and Ukrainian (both new regional languages), Russian, German, French, Yiddish and Hebrew
Religion
  main
 
Catholicism (dominant religion)
  others Orthodox Christianity, Protestantism (Lutheran and Calvinist), Greek Catholic Church and Judaism
Ethnic Groups
  main
 
Poles, Latvians, Litvin and Ruthenians[1]
  others Livonians, Cossacks and Jews (Litvaks and others)
Government Elective Monarchy (1573–1798), Constitutional Hereditary Monarchy (1798-1829) and Republic (1831-1838)
  legislature Sejm
Supreme Director Maciej Rudawski
Guardians of the Laws Mateusz Dunajski
Established Union of Lublin (1569), as the Commonwealth of Three Nations in 1786.
Currency Polish złoty and grosz, and Kraków grosz -> Common złoty
Time Zone UTC+1:30
Organizations Fraternity of Nations (member - two votes) and Congress System (guest and observer)

Malo periculosam libertatem quam quietum servitium

The Commonwealth of Three Nations[2] (Polish: Rzeczpospolita Trojga Narodów) or Triple Union (Unia Troista) was a partial reform of the old Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth that includes Ruthenia. The Commonwealth is the successor state of the old Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth (1569-1786), formally the Crown of the Kingdom of Poland and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania.

The neighboring countries of Commonwealth of Three Nations are the Kingdoms of Prussia (Brandenburg-Prussia) to the west, the Austrian Empire and Dacia to the south, Russia to the east and northeast. To the north, the Commonwealth is bordered by the Baltic Sea.

Introduction

The New Commonwealth better know as the Rzeczpospolita survived thanks to French, British, Scandinavian, and Austrian diplomacy after the Peace of Vienna (1810), that wanted a buffer state in Central Europe that could keep in check the territorial claims in the region of Prussia, Russia and Austria. Its existence depended on the constant protection of French troops against its more powerful neighbors: Prussia, Russia and Austria. For many years after the Peace of Vienna the Commonwealth was under a semi-constant state of turmoil as rival royalist, republican and nationalist factions fought for the control of the State.

The Decadence

Aby sprawa dobra i rząd pospolity wszędzie był doma, a postronnych pokój, tośmy egzekucyją nazwali. (Mikołaj Sienicki)

The Decadence (Polish: Dekadencja, Lithuanian: Dekadence, Ukrainian: декаданс, Belorussian: Дэкаданс) is the period that marks political, social, and economical crisis of the old Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth and the end of Polish Renaissance. The Deluge for many historians and commentators marks the beginning of this period. The Deluge refers to the mid-17th-century campaigns in the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth and the wars with Sweden, Prussia and Russia. During the wars the Commonwealth lost approximately one third of its population as well as its status as a great power. It affected the richest provinces of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth (Greater Poland, Lesser Poland, Mazovia, Pomerelia, Kujawy, Podlasie) that were either destroyed, unpopulated or lost to Prussia, Sweden or Austria.

After the Great Northern War (1700–12) the old Commonwealth was entangled in the divergent interest of France, Austria, Sweden, Russia, Saxony and Prussia. Each of these countries sought to influence the election of the King and internal politics. The szlachta, the owners of landed property ("manor farms" or so-called folwarks), negotiated substantial and increasing political and legal privileges and many sold their vote in the Sejm and election of the King. In case of conflict with the king or among themselves they formed a confederation (konfederacja), an ad hoc association formed by szlachta (nobility), clergy, cities, or military forces for the attainment of stated aims (i.e. Russia). The rivalry of these groups and indifference to authority weaken the Commonwealth's central government, allowing the interference of foreign powers and to lose what was left of its independent diplomacy in Central Europe. The already decentralized state became more weaken in its provinces and dependent on the szlachta.

The economy of the Commonwealth was dominated by feudal agriculture based on the plantation system (serfs) of the szlachta. Their holdings were the folwark, a large farm worked by serfs to produce surpluses for internal and external trade. However its production of grain and cattle begin to decline in importance. Wars, diminishing trade, and unable to improve transport infrastructure or its agricultural practices the Commonwealth began its decline and economic importance. Accompanied its low urban population it meant a slow, in some parts stalled development of industries. Somewhere between the 16th and 17th centuries, the Commonwealth's trade balance shifted from positive to negative.

The Central European War (1778-1782) started as a means to restore the balance and control of Central Europe and the Baltic between Prussia, Austria and Russia after the Silesian War and the unexpected Russian victories against the Ottomans in the Russo-Turkish War (1768–1774). After the War the First Partition of Poland (1782) enable Prussia to gain Royal Prussia and parts of Greater Poland leaving the major Commonwealth's major port of Gdańsk/Danzig as an exclave. Russia gained from the northeast Belarus, and parts of Livonia.

An immediate diplomatic result of the Partition was the alliance of Poland-Lithuania with Austria and France in order to keep its independence against an already powerful Russia and the rising power of Prussia. The First Partition brought the final collapse of the old regime in the Commonwealth. Reforms became an immediate concern under Stanisław II Augustus Poniatowski (1732-1798).

The Revival and Fall

Stanisław II Augustus Poniatowski (1732-1798) swears the First Government Act (1786)

Polacy powinni się obawiać nie postronnych narodów, nie zagranicznej potęgi, nie zdrady nieprzyjaciół naszych, tylko jedynie własnej nieprawości i grzechów. (Szymon Majchrowicz)

The Revival (Polish: Odrodzenie, Lithuanian: Atgimimas, Ukrainian: Відродження, Belorussian: адраджэнне) is the period that encompasses the efforts of reformation that ended in the establishment of the Commonwealth of Three Nations. Despite this movement being locally and internally triggered, and succeeding in its goal of establishing the new Rzeczpospolita it depended on the will and troops of France, Britannia, Austria and Scandinavia to survive.

The First Partition (1782) showed the major weakness, military and political, of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. If it were not for the campaigns of the Cossack in the southeast the Russia would had gained a much larger chunk of Ukraine. The Central European War also occurred with a civil war between the Warsaw Confederation (loyal to Stanisław II) and the Freedom Confederation (szlachta opposed to a centralized Commonwealth). This civil war distracted resources from the Central European War and facilitated the Prussian occupation of the western territories and did not help the campaigns of France and Austria. The Warsaw Confederation prevailed in the end but dividing the loyalties of the szlachta, clergy and burghers.

Reformers called for improvement the economy of the Commonwealth citing the example of Britain and to start its own manufacturing process. They also called for more rights and liberties to be given to the free cities seeing these as key players in any reform. It was also critical of the szlachta and their provincialism. It contrasted with the French and British Enlightenment becoming the seed of a local resurgence in arts, letters and science.

Reformist were divided between constitutional monarchists, moderate republicans (in favor of the British model) and later radical republicans (partisans of the French revolutionary republic). The liberation of serfs became one of the major political and social reforms promoted by the more radical republican circles. The anti-reformist camp fought with any means available to keep their political and legal privileges and the decentralization that keep any national administration at check. Russia sponsored many of the anti-reformist as mean to influence the Commonwealth and have its military power and influence weaken. The Warsaw Confederation, with the recruitment of Ukrainian Cossacks, ruthlessly crushed the anti-reformists in several campaigns.

In 1785, Stanisław II summoned a meeting of the Great Sejm to work out minor changes in the legislation and taxation. However all was part of a plan of the Reformists for a constitutional change. The Cossacks, nobles and cities of Ukraine were also called to participate. All of them were in favor of a reform that could elevate them from their status of saviors of the Commonwealth and as a recognition for their key participation in the defeat of anti reformists.

King-Grand Duke Adam I Kazimierz Czartoryski (Reign 1798-1809)

The Czartoryski dynasty enabled for some time peace and neutrality under King-Grand Duke Adam I. The European Revolutionary Wars (1790-1810) broke down the delicate internal balance and threw the Commonwealth again in internal turmoil as Prussian, Austrian, Saxons, Russian, French armies and their allies passed or battled in the homeland. Foreigners were helped by various patriotic or royal private armies that also fought among themselves over the favor of the Czartoryski, republicanism or mercenary armies selling themselves to the best bidder.

The so called National Rebirth (1786-1813) expressed the rise of political self-determination in the Poland, Lithuania and Ruthenia and the development of a a patriotic nationhood in the later two. It also begun the standardization and development of Lithuanian as a literary language.

After the Peace of Vienna (1810) King Adam II threw his lot with the Russians and Prussians to maintain the existence of the Commonwealth and began a despotic rule dissolving or overruling local cliques. Under his rule an incipient industrial growth began and internal financial and consumer market began to develop, promoted in part by means of roads and steam machines in the fields.

King-Grand Duke Adam II Jerzy Czartoryski (Reign 1809-1831)

By Russo-Polish Peace Treaty of 1812, Adam II settled the eastern frontier with its more powerful neighbour. The treaty was dictated by Russian envoys to the King-Grand Duke and diplomats. Its refusal would have meant further and larger territorial acquisitions by force. Several secret clauses limited the size of the army and the alliances that the Commonwealth could engage in. For patriots and republicans the day of its proclamation became the Day of National Shame.

Several reforms to tighten central control by Adam II were issued such as the long awaited like the one creating a new single Army and military academy, delegated provincial governors and their governing councils, tax and revenue recollection, construction of railways connecting provincial capitals, establishment of foreign banks that became the main private and public lenders and investors, official recognition of Polish, Lithuanian and Ruthenian as the only languages to b used in schools and law courts, end of patronage in the central administration and the creation of a central institute for the training of bureaucrats, a single postal service, etc.

The new National Army was first used to crush mercenary companies and confederations opposing Adam II. So effective were the military actions of the National Army against the rebellious factions that later it was used to subjugate and forcefully dissolve loyal confederations. By the mid the 1820s the National Army was the supreme military force of the land, along the National Gendarmerie in charge of law enforcement.

With a National Army, Adam II slowly began to tighten his personal rule and disregard the constitution. Laws that curtailed political freedoms and outlawed criticism to royal authority were approved by the Sejm whose deputies were elected in rigged ballots. Government ceased to take in account the rulings of the Sejm and was directly named and chaired by Adam II. Parliament was rarely summoned and the provincial diets were dissolved in 1823 under the excuse of promoting national schism and unpatriotic activities. The disregard for the other two nationalities and the supremacy of Polish language and culture, led to the closure of schools and limits in enrollment in the non Polish universities. The Second Government Act (1825) enshrined Adams II's personal rule.

In foreign policy and relationships under Adam II followed the mandates of Russia.

The Republican Rzeczpospolita

Government

Cockade used by Lithuanian patriots

Cockade used by Polish patriots

Cockade used by Ruthenian patriots

The first constitutional arrangement was troublesome due that local patriots were equally divided in constitutional monarchists and republicans. Both groups advocated the restoration and reform of the former Commonwealth but diverged in its details. Although they all considered some form of federalism and the incorporation of Ruthenia (north-west of Ukraine) in equal terms to Poland and Lithuania.

By First Government Act of 1786, the monarchy established a bicameral parliament (an elected Sejm and an appointed Senate), the King-Grand Duke as the chief of the executive power and the Permanent Council, the cabinet of ministers. Main change was from an elective monarchy in its unique Polish variant to a hereditary monarchy.

Under Adam II major parts of the constitution were de facto abrogated by the Second Government Act (1825). Parliament was rarely called, provincial diets were dissolved and the King-Grand Duke ruled by decree issued by his Permanent Council with no recourse of its decisions.

The Third Government Act established the republican Rzeczpospolita replacing the King-Grand Duke with an elected Supreme Director (Najwyższy Dyrektor) and a cabinet of ministers called the Guardians of the Laws.

Common issues to all three Government Acts was that while affirming the unity and indivisibility of all territories within a single state and their equal representation in state-governing bodies, it expressly stated that Poland, Lithuania and Ruthenia shared a common government, military and treasury, but tax revenues were to be spent only within the territory of their recollection and the common army.

State powers of the monarchy (1786) State powers of the republic (1831)
King-Grand Duke Supreme Director (Najwyższy Dyrektor)
Permanent Council Guardians of Laws
Sejm (Senate and Chamber of Deputies) Sejm (Senate and Chamber of Deputies)

Heads of State

Stanisław II Augustus Poniatowski (1732-1798) King of Poland, Grand Duke of Lithuania, later King and Grand Duke of the Commonwealth of Three Nations 1764-1798. Reformer of the State Institutions[3]

King of Poland, Grand Duke of Lithuania, and later also Grand Duke of Ruthenia. The First Government Act (1786) change the title to King and Grand Duke of the Commonwealth of Three Nations.

Under the First Government Act the Crown of the Commonwealth is hereditary. If there is no direct living male successor the Nation (i.e. the Sejm) elects a new king therefore creating a new royal dynasty.

  • ...
  • Augustus III of Saxony (1696-1763) 1734-1763. Also Elector and later King of Saxony (1733–1763) as Frederick Augustus II.
  • Stanisław II Augustus Poniatowski (1732-1798) 1764-1798. Died with no legal male heir.
  • Adam I Kazimierz Czartoryski (1734–1823) 1798-1809. Last elected king. Abdicated in favor of his son.
  • Adam II Jerzy Czartoryski (1770–1861) 1809-1831 Son of Adam I

Stanisław Jaskólski. Supreme Director 1832-1838.

Under the Third Government Act, that established the republican Commonwealth of Three Nations, the head of state and chief executive is the Supreme Director. The Head of State is elected by the Sejm for a fixed period from candidates proposed by the regional assemblies of the governorates and senates of the free cities.

Provisional Committee of the Three Nations (1831-1831)
Supreme Director (1831 to date)
Tadeusz Bartosz (1831-1832)
Stanisław Jaskólski (1832-1838)
Mateusz Czartoryski (1838-1838)
Maciej Rudawski (1838-1838)

Administrative Divisions

Before the Triple Union, the Commonwealth compromised primarily two parts:

  • the Crown of the Polish Kingdom (Poland proper), colloquially "The Crown"
  • the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, colloquially "Lithuania"

With the triple union the Grand Duchy of Ruthenia was recreated from the voivodeships of Volhynia, Kiev, Bracław and Podole.

The Grand-Duchy of Krakow came to exist when rebel patriots broke off Poland but maintained their compact with the crown. The Free City of Danzig was an exclave created by the First Partition of Poland (1782).

The republican Commonwealth is organized in four governorates (or gubernias), each is divided in provinces (wojewodztwa), lands (ziemie) and counties (powiaty), Besides the governorates there are also exist the independent administrative division of the free cities and public lands. The governorates have elected regional assemblies (sejmiks).

Flag Territory / governorate (or gubernia) Capital
Flag of Poland.svg General Confederation of the Kingdom of Poland ->

Grand Duchy of Poland -> Governorate of Poland

Warsaw
Flag of Lithuania (state).svg Grand Duchy Lithuania -> Governorate of Lithuania Vilnius (Wilno)
Alex K Kyiv Michael 2.svg Grand Duchy of Ruthenia -> Governorate of Ruthenia Zhytomyr
Alternative Flag of West Galicia.png Grand Duchy of Kraków -> Governorate of Kraków Kracow
Free Cities of the Commonwealth (Magdeburg rights) (none)
Flag of the Free City of Danzig.svg Free City of Danzig Danzig
Starostwo / Sniūnija / Cтароства (Public lands)

Successor states of the Commonwealth of the Three Nations

National states formerly part of the Three Nations, established after the Great Eastern War (1836-1838).

Flag Coat of Arms Country Regime Capital Established Notes
Flag of Poland.svg Coat of arms of Poland2 1919-1927.svg Poland Republic

Supreme Director

Warsaw 1838 to date Considered to be

the successor of the Three Nations

Flag of Lithuania 1918-1940.svg Coat of Arms of Lithuania.svg Lithuania Republic

Supreme Director

Vilnius 1838 to date
Flag of Ukraine.svg ZUNR coa.svg Ruthenia Republic

Supreme Director

Lviv 1838 to date
Flag of Belarus (1991, 3-2).svg Coat of Arms of Belarus (1991).svg Belarus Republic

Supreme Director

Minsk 1839 to date

  1. OTL Belorussians and Ukrainians
  2. République tripartite de Pologne-Lituanie-Ruthénie (French)
    Republik der drei Nationen (German)
    Речь Посполитая Трёх Народов (Russian)
  3. Honorary title given by the Sejm in 1790.
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