SILESIA AS A SUBJECT OF RESEARCH INTO THE MEDIEVAL THREE ESTATES - TRADITIONS AND PROSPECTS IN GERMAN, POLISH AND CZECH HISTORIOGRAPHY
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In the last twenty years or so, historians have been exploring the differences that made the three Medieval estates co-existing in Silesia at the turn of the Middle Ages and the Modern Era so different in their forms. While earlier, until the 80s of the 20th century, the main focus of historical studies had been on the history of institutions, the constitution, and the economic issues, later interests concentrated on the social and cultural issues. Generally speaking, the Silesian territory, due to its considerable territorial differentiation, the co-existence of unequally divided authorities and powers, the instability of state organs and the fragmentation of the structures whose aim was to guard and protect the state identity and the law and order in the state, has always been a rewarding object of study of historians. What is characteristic and interesting though, is the diversity of attitudes and views expressed by different historians - researchers into internal policies, and how they influenced their interpretation of contemporaneous external facts and policies. This interest in the surrounding world was common among the 19th and 20th centuries' historians, and can be clearly detected in all the three historiographies in question, showing its influence on different interpretations and assessment of the same historical facts. The paper focuses on the issues arising from the history of the science of history. First, it looks at the studies that were carried out in Germany, Poland and the Czech Republic and emphasises the specific contexts of the research that permitted critical conclusions to be drawn regarding traditions and institutional foundations of these states. Next, the history of estate structures on the example of the relations between Silesia and its neighbours in the area of state policy is analysed, and the possibilities resulting from approaching the subject in a manner extending beyond the regional level are investigated. Finally, those issues that are in the centre of interest of contemporary researchers are discussed. A catalogue of source materials and works reflecting the updated state of affairs has been attached.
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