The Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth
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Site Map:

History of the Commonwealth

Husaria: the Commonwealth's "tanks"

Nobel Laureate Henryk Sienkiewicz

Online Store: Polish and Polish- American Designs

Polish names

Lech and the White Eagle

Czestochowa: Poland's Fort McHenry

The Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth

"Whereas in our Common Wealth [sic] there is no small disagreement in the matter of the Christian faith, and in order to prevent that any harmful contention should arise from this, as we see clearly taking place in other kingdoms, we swear to each other... that albeit we are dissidentes in religione, we will keep the peace between ourselves, and that we will not, for the sake of our various faith and difference of church, either shed blood or confiscate property, deny favour, imprison or banish, and that furthermore we will not aid or abet any power or office which strives to this in any way whatsoever..." An act of the Sejm in 1573 (the Confederation of Warsaw), per Adam Zamoyski, The Polish Way, 90-91.

Imagine a United-States-that-might-have-been, with many of the freedoms and civil rights that were instituted by the Founding Fathers. Foremost among these were freedom of speech, freedom of religion (in an era that was rife with religious wars, Inquisitions, and persecutions), and protections against arbitrary deprivation of life, liberty, and property. Now suppose this country had many amazing innovations in medicine and military science, a couple of which were rediscovered only in the twentieth century.

Such an entity existed from about 1386 through 1795. The Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth stretched from the Baltic Sea almost to the Black Sea. It included not only modern Poland and Lithuania but also Belarus and Ukraine. History might have been very different if the Partitions of Poland had not destroyed this country almost immediately after the birth of the United States.
History of the Commonwealth. Technical and Political Innovations
  • Pan Zagloba's Medicine Chest: Medical Science and Hygiene
  • Decline and Fall of the Commonwealth; a warning to the United States.

  • Other sites
  • The American Center of Polish Culture, Inc. in Washington DC
  • Coffee: A Polish Gift to Civilization. Coffee was captured from the Turks at Vienna in 1683.
  • The Czarniecki Division of the Sienkiewicz Society
  • Foxy Web Designs
  • Friends of Poland (Yahoo group)
  • Husaria US: Suligowski's Regiment of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth
  • Piast Institute for Polish-American Studies
  • Polish-American Congress  Polish-American Congress, Illinois
  • The Polish Constitution and Government
  • Polish Constitution (unwritten)
  • Polish Constitution of 1791
  • The Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth
  • The Polish Museum of America in Chicago IL
  • Polish Society and Government
  • Suligowskisi's Regiment of the Polish Commonwealth
  • Zagloba's Tavern: (Yahoo group) 17th-century living history
  • 10th Dragoons, Polish 1st Armored Division living history
  • Husaria: the Commonwealth's "Tanks"

    Other sites
  • The kopia: Only the Polish lance could outreach infantry pikes (and did, at Kircholm in 1605)
  • Gallery: Battle of Vienna
  • Hetman USA: Polish Militaria Collectors Association in memory of Andrzej Zaremba
  • Husaria: Polish Winged Cavalry
  • Husaria (in Polish)
  • Husaria Polish soccer team (in Polish only)
  • Hussar tactics
  • Iron Men with Eagle's Wings: Poland's Winged Hussars
  • Jan Sobieski (painting by Jan Matejko)
  • Julie Giroux's Husaria Cavalry Overture
  • Land of the Winged Horsemen
  • Polish Figures (including characters from With Fire and Sword)
  • Polish-Lithuanian Armies
  • Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, 1450-1699 (showing locations of battles)
  • Polish Renaissance Warfare
  • Ryszard Fox's Husaria page
  • Online Husaria museum
  • Winged Hussar picture
  • Warsaw 1656: Reenactment of the Battle
  • Nobel Laureate Henryk Sienkiewicz
    The Trilogy and its lessons for the United States
    Other sites
  • Henryk Sienkiewicz Forum (Yahoo groups)
  • Sienkiewicz Society
  • Sienkiewicz Society Bookshop: generally lower prices (due to no shipping fees) for VHS and DVD movies. Link not active on 10/25/03 but I've dealt with them in the past. I'll post the new location when it's available.
  • With Pen and Sword: excellent Henryk Sienkiewicz site
  • Polish names

    Pan and Panna were the polite mode of address for a member (male/female respectively) of the Polish-Lithuanian gentry (szlachta). While now construed as the equivalent of Mr. or Ms. (as Japan's San suffix is today), it previously meant a member of the gentry or nobility, just as only the samurai were called "San" ("honorable") in feudal Japan. One translation of the title Pan Wolodyjowski is the rather-bland "Mr. Wolodyjowski" but "Sir Wolodyjowski" (as in a knight's title) is more accurate.

    J is pronounced Y. Jan ("Yan") = John, Jerzy ("Yerzy") = George, Jadwiga ("Yadwiga") = Hedwig.
    Lech and the White Eagle

    According to legend, a Polish duke named Lech was hunting when he came across an eagle's nest. He wanted to take the eggs (or fledglings) and he climbed up to get them. The mother eagle, however, threatened him with her beak and talons. Lech drew his dagger and fought the white eagle, but he soon felt admiration of the bird's defense of her children's liberty and shame for his attack upon it.

    Duke Lech gave up his assault on the eagle's nest and turned to see the land of Poland stretching out below him. He asked himself if he would defend that land as the eagle had defended her nest, and that is how the white eagle became the emblem of Poland. "The White Eagle has always been on the banners of Poland and when, as has occured many times in history, Poland has been attacked, her sons have defended her no less bravely than the eagle who long ago shed her blood in the defence of freedom." (
    Czestochowa: Poland's Fort McHenry

     The Swedes' failure to capture the fortified monastery of Jasna Gora outside Czestochowa marked the turning point of the Deluge (their invasion of Poland in 1655).

    According to Henryk Sienkiewicz's The Deluge, the monks sang hymns and played religious music in the midst of the bombardment, to the dismay of the Swedish attackers who thought their guns would level the fortress or at least persuade its defenders to capitulate. The innovation of setting patriotic lyrics to drinking songs during such events did not come along for another 157 years although, had Pan Jan Onufry Zagloba been there, I'm sure he'd have improvised something along those lines.

    February 4: Kosciuszko Day
    March 6: Pulaski Day

    visitors since 1 December, 2003