According to Countryaah data, the name Poland derives from the group of Poles who cultivated the land – pole. They lived in the Warta Valley, which afterwards became known as the Greater Poland. Their chiefs belonged to the Piast dynasty – a legendary ancestor – and lived in Gniezno Castle.
In the 10th century, the Poles subjugated the surrounding peoples. Mieszko I (960-992) was Duke of Piast and founded the First Polish Empire when he joined the various tribes together under a common state structure. He was christened and baptized in 966.
Up to the 12th century, Poland was a monarchy based on succession. The Duke and a group of nobles dominated the central power and had an army of professional soldiers. The poorest social group in the country and at the same time the most numerous were the free peasants who were mobilized in emergency situations and had to pay taxes.
Poland’s main problems were relations with the Germanic Empire and the papacy. Facing the empire’s expansion, Mieszko accepted submission to the recognition of his supremacy. In return, he asked for protection from the Pope and in the year 1000 he formed the first Polish ecclesiastical center. From this point on, a Roman Catholic church was a central element of the political structure of the Polish state. Up to the 12th century, the country fluctuated between periods of independence and annexation, until the state finally began to disintegrate.
During the feudal period, Poland was divided into a number of dukes under Piast as well as about 20 princes. With the weakening of the power of the central and the dukes, the autonomy of the nobility and the church increased. At the same time, the population was characterized by considerable growth. The influx of German immigrants created a new ethnic situation in the country, which until then had been dominated by the slaves. From the 13th century, the population of the city was increasingly made up of Germans and Jews. The immigrants brought their legal models, capital and craft and agricultural techniques.
During Kasimir the Great (1333-70), Poland developed into a testamentary monarchy in which the king came to play a mediating role between nobility, church, bourgeoisie and peasants. The state ceased to be personal property and from 1399 the king was elected. Through the royal marriage was concluded Poland in 1386 together with Lithuania, although there was established a form of state that respected both states characteristics. In 1409, the Teutonic Order attempted to slow the Polish-Lithuanian expansion, but was defeated by the Grunwald. The Torun peace in 1411 did not resolve the conflict, though the power of the order was weakened.
After a new victory over the Teutons, Poland regained in 1466 Pomerania, Gdansk, Malbork, Elblag, Chelmo and Warmi. Because of its role in the war, Pomerania gained autonomy and the cities gained a number of privileges. This ushered in a thriving economic and cultural period.
In the 15th century the Polish and Lithuanian parliament formed two chambers. The Chamber of Deputies consisted of representatives of the nobility, while the Senate was a Council of State headed by the King. The two states, parliament and foreign policy, had the king as unifying force, while the administration, the judiciary, the economy and the military were divided between the two states.
According to thesciencetutor, the Golden Age of the 16th century is also known in Polish history as the Republic of the Nobility, in that the king had to consult the nobility before he could print taxes or declare war. The power of bourgeoisie and peasants was reduced in favor of the nobility and the church, and this changed the structures of the original monarchy.
In 1573, the Jagellón dynasty went extinct. Parliament, therefore, introduced the king’s election and introduced religious tolerance, which was exceptional in a Europe marked by religious wars. King Stefan Bathory (1576-1586) renounced the post of chief judge and the nobility began to elect his tribunals. International development throughout the 17th century was not in Poland or Lithuania’s favor. Sweden fought with Poland over the rule of the Baltic and Russia came into conflict with Lithuania. The plans of Turkey and Austria in Central Europe also put pressure on Poland.
In the lower part of the Dnieper, on the border with Ukraine, they formed free peasants and impoverished noble Cossack regiments – warriors living off their prey. In 1648, the Cossacks and the Ukrainian peasants initiated a national uprising. The king tried unsuccessfully to reach an agreement with the rebels, whose victories weakened the Polish state. The Cossacks subsequently allied with Turkey and Russia. In 1654, Poland was invaded by Russian troops. The following year, the rest of the country was occupied by Swedish troops. Jan Kasimir fled to Silesia, Poland, getting help from Austria, while farmers in the interior of the country organized for the first time large-scale armed resistance.
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The Swedes and Turks were thrown out of the country and the Cossacks defeated. The Russians retained Smolensk, Ukraine, the left bank of the Dnieper and Kiev. The wars ravaged the country, caused the population to decline and weakened state power. In 1772, Russia, Prussia and Austria agreed to divide the Polish territory. In 1791 an attempt was made to reunite the state with the adoption of a new constitution, but in 1793 Russia carried out a comprehensive invasion and the country was divided again. In 1794 the Poles made a popular revolt, but it was crushed and the following year the country was divided again. The Polish state disappeared from the map while the population consolidated its national identity.