The issue regarding “the reform of the union” of Lublin in Lithuanian policy in the period of three interregna following the death of king Sigismund Augustus (1572–1588)
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Problem "naprawy unii" lubelskiej w polityce litewskiej w trzech pierwszych bezkrólewiach po śmieci Zygmunta Augusta (1572-1588)
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The Union of Lublin signed in 1569 between Poland and Lithuania created a kind of federation of two states ruled by one monarch elected by the szlachta from both states; moreover, both states had a common parliament and ran a common foreign and defence policy. The magnates, who played the key role in Lithuanian politics, unlike the Lithuanian szlachta – were not fully satisfied with the resolutions of the union of Lublin. Earlier they wanted to establish a less strict relationship with Poland, maintaining separate parliamentary systems. Nevertheless, King Sigismund Augustus’s support for the idea of a closer union, which was forced by the Poles, determined the shape of the new union. Additionally, in 1569 the Grand Duchy of Lithuania lost vast areas including the Kievan land, Volhynia, Bratslav land and Podlachia, which constituted over a third of the whole territory of the state. Lithuanian dignitaries found it extremely humiliating, for it was the king who fulfilled the demands of the Poles and incorporated the areas into Poland despite Lithuanian protests. After the death of Sigismund Augustus during the subsequent interregna (1572–1573, 1575–1576, 1586–1587) the leading Lithuanian magnates, particularly Mikołaj Radziwiłł ‘Rudy’ [‘the Red’] , Mikołaj Krzysztof Radziwiłł ‘Sierotka’ [‘the Orphan’] and Jan Chodkiewicz planned to regain the territories. They referred to the plan as the “reform of the union”. However, it turned out that they could not carry out the project without the support of the magnates and szlachta from the incorporated lands. The term the “reform of the union” also meant other changes that would secure the Grand Duchy of Lithuania a more equal position in the union with Poland. Few Lithuanian demands were fulfilled by the Polish party and the subsequent monarchs. Nevertheless, the confirmation of the new codification of Lithuanian law (III Statute) by King Sigismund III in 1588, which consolidated and, in some points, even extended the Lithuanian autonomy, was a momentous event for the Grand Duchy of Lithuania.
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