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Rzeczpospolita [ʒɛt͡ʃpɔsˈpɔlita] ? / i is based on the Latin term res publica (republic). In contrast to the Latin meaning “public cause”, however, the Polish term literally means “common cause”. Audio file / audio sample

The Polish word entered Lithuanian phonetically unchanged, but is written Žečpospolita and primarily describes the common aristocratic republic from 1569 to 1795.

Rzeczpospolita after its establishment in 1569

First Rzeczpospolita (I RP) , also known as the “aristocratic republic”, denotes the Union Poland-Lithuania from 1569 to 1795. It was an elected parliamentary monarchy with the participation of the nobility in all important political decisions.

The proportion of the nobility ( Szlachta ) in the total population was between 8 and 12%, depending on the century. All aristocrats had the same civil and political rights (immunity to life and property) regardless of property and rank and were subject to lower tax rates due to their obligation to military service. Thus over 10% of the residents were involved in the formation of political will, which is an extraordinary amount for the conditions of the early modern period.

Though founded in the I Rzeczpospolita applies in 1569, when Poland and Lithuania , by then in personal union rules, in the Treaty of Lublin to Real Union ( Republic of the Polish Crown and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania merged). The new state adopted the Nihil Novi constitution of 1505. The official language of the republic was Latin, in order to guarantee equal rights for both states and because it was consciously intended to tie in with the tradition of the Roman Republic .

In the late 17th and 18th centuries, the principle of unanimity, lat. Liberum veto, was established in the parliament ( Sejm ) , which often rendered this body incapable of making decisions and ultimately accelerated the decline of the Rzeczpospolita. In addition, since the early 18th century, rival alliances (so-called confederations ) formed within the Polish nobility , which uncompromisingly struggled for power and for this purpose also allied with neighboring states.

In 1791 the I. Rzeczpospolita adopted the first constitution in Europe , in which, among other things, the Liberum Veto was abolished and many reforms passed. But they came too late. Foreign interference and expansion policies of Russia , Austria and Prussia ultimately led to the country being dissolved in 1795 .

In 1918, after the First World War , in which the partitioning powers faced each other, Poland and Lithuania were able to regain their independence. However, they no longer formed a union. In contrast to Lithuania, Poland continued the old state tradition.

The People's Republic of Poland (Polish: Polska Rzeczpospolita Ludowa, PRL ), which existed from 1945 to 1989, is excluded from the census due to Soviet foreign determination.

Republics of other nations are called “republika” in Polish.

See also