The reason for the contemporary and modern destruction of the countries of the old Polish Lithuanian Commonwealth , both via wars and XX century ideologies, as well blind fanatic nationalism (Second Thirty Years war 1914-1945) to end with the disintegration of Ukraine, can be traced back in a past strictly interconnected with the Reformation:
Religion and cultureAfter the baptism in 1252 and coronation of King Mindaugas in 1253, Lithuania was recognized as a Christian state until 1260, when Mindaugas supported an uprising in Courland and (according to the German order) renounced Christianity. Up until 1387, Lithuanian nobles professed their own religion, which was polytheistic. Ethnic Lithuanians were very dedicated to their faith. The pagan beliefs needed to be deeply entrenched to survive strong pressure from missionaries and foreign powers. Until the seventeenth century there were relics of old faith reported by counter-reformation active Jesuit priests, like feeding žaltys with milk or bringing food to graves of ancestors.
The lands of modern-day Belarus and Ukraine, as well as local dukes (princes) in these regions, were firmly Orthodox Christian (Greek Catholic after the Union of Brest), though. While pagan beliefs in Lithuania were strong enough to survive centuries of pressure from military orders and missionaries, they did eventually succumb. In 1387, Lithuania converted to Catholicism, while most of the Ruthenian lands stayed Orthodox. There was an effort to polarise Orthodox Christians after the Union of Brest in 1596, by which some Orthodox Christians acknowledged papal authority and Catholic catechism, but preserved their liturgy. The country also became one of the major centers of the Reformation.
In the second half of the 17h century Calvinism spread in Lithuania, supported by the families of Radziwiłł, Chodkiewicz, Sapieha, Dorohostajski and others. By 1580s the majority of the senators from Lithuania were Calvinist or Socinian Unitarians (Jan Kiszka).
In 1579, Stefan Batory, King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania, founded Vilnius University, one of the oldest universities in Northern Europe. Due to the work of the Jesuits during the Counter-Reformation the university soon developed into one of the most important scientific and cultural centers of the region and the most notable scientific center of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. The work of the Jesuits as well as conversions from among the Lithuanian senatorial families turned the tide and by 1670s Calvinism lost its former importance though it still retained some influence among the ethnically Lithuanian peasants and some middle nobility, by then thoroughly Polonized.
The Radziwiłł family (Polish pronunciation: [radʑiˈviw]; Lithuanian: Radvila; Belarusian: Радзівіл, Radzivił; German: Radziwill; Latin: Radvil) is a noble family of Lithuanian origin. The descendants of Kristinas Astikas, a close associate of the 14th century Lithuanian ruler Vytautas, were highly prominent for centuries, first in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, later in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and the Kingdom of Prussia. The family has produced many individuals notable in Lithuanian, Belarusian, Polish, German (particularly Prussian) and general European history and culture. The Radziwiłł family received the title of Reichsfürst (prince, Lithuanian: kunigaikštis, Polish: książę, Belarusian: князь, kniaź), from the Holy Roman Empire.
The Radziwiłł family also branched regarding religion. Following the Protestant and Polish Reformation, two branches converted to Calvinism. One branch, the Nesvizh–Kletsk-Olyka line, remained as Calvinists for two generations until the children of Mikołaj "the Black" converted to Catholicism before the end of the century. The Biržai-Dubingiai line remained in the Protestant faith until the extinction of their line one century later. Both Mikołaj "the Black" and Mikołaj "the Red" were zealous promoters and active participants of the Protestant religion within the GDL. Mikołaj "the Black" funded the printing of a second version, and first completed, Polish translation of a Protestant bible, titled the "Radziwill Bible" (also known as "Biblia Brzeska"), which was published in the town of Brest in 1564. His death in 1565 was seen as a severe loss to the Protestant cause in Lithuania. However, Mikołaj "the Red" continued his cousin's work by founding and endowing land to several churches and schools.
The Brest Bible (Polish: Biblia Brzeska) was the first complete Protestant Bible translations into Polish, published in 1563 in Brest and dedicated to King Sigismund II Augustus.
Polish full original title: Biblia święta, Tho iest, Księgi Starego y Nowego Zakonu, właśnie z Żydowskiego, Greckiego, y Łacińskiego, nowo na Polski ięzyk, z pilnością y wiernie wyłożone.
It is sometimes also named after the Radziwiłł family surname of Mikołaj "the Black" Radziwiłł, the benefactor of the undertaking, or after Pińczów, where the translating was commissioned and translators chosen and authorized at the Calvinist synods of 1559 and 1560, and where the work was accomplished.
The Brest Bible is one of the earliest modern era translations of all of the Bible, from, for the most part, the original Hebrew and Koine Greek languages. Latin Vulgate was also utilized to a lesser degree and so was a French translation. The Brest Bible, produced by a group of Calvinist scholars, was preceded by the Luther Bible of 1534 and the Geneva Bible of 1560.
Sigismund II Augustus I (Polish: Zygmunt II August, Ruthenian: Żygimont III Awgust I, Belarusian: Жыгімонт Аўгуст; Lithuanian: Žygimantas III Augustas I, German: Sigismund II. August) (1 August 1520 – 7 July 1572) was King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania, the only son of Sigismund I the Old, whom Sigismund II succeeded in 1548. Married three times, the last of the Jagiellons remained childless, and through the Union of Lublin introduced an elective monarchy.
From the outset of his reign, Sigismund came into collision with the country's nobility, who had already begun curtailing the power of the great families. The ostensible cause of the nobility's animosity to the King was his second marriage, secretly contracted before his accession to the throne, with (said to be beautiful) Lithuanian Calvinist, Barbara Radziwiłł, daughter of Hetman Jerzy Radziwiłł.
So violent was the agitation at Sigismund's first sejm (31 October 1548) that the deputies threatened to renounce their allegiance unless the King repudiated his wife Barbara. He refused and won the day.
By 1550, when Sigismund summoned his second Sejm, a reaction had begun in his favor, and the nobility was rebuked by Piotr Kmita, Marshal of the Sejm, who accused them of attempting to unduly diminish the legislative prerogatives of the crown.
The death of Queen Barbara, five months after her coronation (7 December 1550), under distressing circumstances, compelled Sigismund to contract a third, purely political union with his first cousin, the Austrian archduchess Catherine, also the sister of his first wife, Elisabeth, who had died within a year of her marriage to him, before his accession.
Sigismund soon lost all hope of children by his third bride; he was the last male Jagiellon in the direct line so the dynasty was threatened with extinction. He sought to remedy this by adultery with two of the most beautiful of his countrywomen, Barbara Giżanka and Anna Zajączkowska but was unable to impregnate either of them. The sejm was willing to legitimatize, and acknowledge as Sigismund's successor, any male heir who might be born to him; however, the King was to die childless.
The King's marriage was a matter of great political import to Protestants and Catholics alike. The Polish Protestants hoped that he would divorce and remarry and thus bring about a breach with Rome at the very crisis of the religious struggle in Poland. He was not free to remarry until Queen Catherine's death on 28 February 1572, but he followed her to the grave less than six months later.
Sigismund's reign was a period of internal turmoil and external expansion. He saw the introduction of the Protestant Reformation into Poland and Lithuania, and the peero-cratic upheaval that placed most political power in the hands of the szlachta (nobility); he saw the collapse of the Knights of the Sword in the north, which led to the Commonwealth's acquisition of Livonia as a Lutheran duchy and the consolidation of Turkey's power in the south. A less imposing figure than his father, the elegant and refined Sigismund II Augustus was nevertheless an even more effective statesman than the stern and majestic Sigismund I the Old.
Sigismund II possessed to a high degree the tenacity and patience that seem to have characterized all the Jagiellons, and he added to these qualities a dexterity and diplomatic finesse. No other Polish king seems to have so thoroughly understood the nature of the Polish sejm. Both the Austrian ambassadors and the papal legates testify to the care with which he controlled his nation. Everything went as he wished, they said, because he seemed to know everything in advance. He managed to get more money out of the sejm than his father ever could, and at one of his sejms he won the hearts of the assembly by unexpectedly appearing before them in the simple grey coat of a Masovian lord. Like his father, a pro-Austrian by conviction, he contrived even in this respect to carry with him the nation, often distrustful of the Germans. He avoided serious complications with the powerful Turks.
Sigismund II mediated for twenty years between the Catholic Church and the Protestants. His most striking memorial may have been the Union of Lublin, which united Poland and Lithuania into the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth — the "Republic of the Two Nations" (Polish: Rzeczpospolita Obojga Narodów, Lithuanian: Abiejų Tautų Respublika). Also, German-speaking Royal Prussia and Prussian cities were included. This achievement might well have been impossible without Sigismund.
Sigismund died at his beloved Knyszyn on 6 July 1572, aged 51. In 1573, Henry III of Valois was elected King of the Polish-Lithuanian commonwealth for a few months, but then returned to France where he was crowned King Henry III of France. Shortly thereafter, Sigismund's sister Anna of Poland married Stefan Batory, and they ruled as King and Queen of Poland.
In addition to his family connections, Sigismund II was allied to the Imperial Habsburgs by his pledge as member of the Order of the Golden Fleece.
Young Sigismund is one of the figures on the Prussian Homage painting by Jan Matejko.
Sigismund I of Poland (Polish: Zygmunt I Stary; Lithuanian: Žygimantas I Senasis) (1 January 1467 – 1 April 1548), of the Jagiellon dynasty, reigned as King of Poland and also as the Grand Duke of Lithuania from 1506 until 1548. Earlier, Sigismund had been invested as Duke of Silesia.
After the death of Janusz III of Masovia in 1526, he succeeded in annexing the Duchy of Masovia.
Intermittently at war with Vasily III of Muscovy, starting in 1507 (before his army was fully under his command), 1514 marked the fall of Smolensk (under Lithuanian domination) to the Muscovite forces (which lent force to his arguments for the necessity of a standing army). Those conflicts formed part of the Muscovite wars. 1515 he entered into alliance with the Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I.
In return for Maximilian lending weight to the provisions of the Second Peace of Thorn (1466), Sigismund consented to the marriage of the children of Vladislaus II of Bohemia and Hungary, his brother, to the grandchildren of Maximilian. Through this double marriage contract, Bohemia and Hungary passed to the House of Habsburg in 1526, on the death of Sigismund's nephew, Louis II.
Worried about the growing ties between the Habsburgs and Russia, in 1524 Sigismund signed a Franco-Polish alliance with King Francis I of France. The agreement fell through, however, when Francis I was vanquished by Charles V at the Battle of Pavia (1525).
The Polish wars against the Teutonic Knights ended in 1525, when Albert, Duke of Prussia, their marshal (and Sigismund's nephew), converted to Lutheranism, secularized the order, and paid homage to Sigismund. In return, he was given the domains of the Order, as the First Duke of Prussia. This was called the "Prussian Homage".
Sigismund's eldest daughter Hedwig (1513–1573) married Joachim II Hector, Elector of Brandenburg.
In other matters of policy, Sigismund sought peaceful coexistence with the Khanate of Crimea, but was unable to completely end border skirmishes.
On Sigismund's death, his son Sigismund II August became the last Jagiellon king of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania.
Kiev became a part of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania after the Battle at Blue Waters in 1362, when Algirdas, Grand Duke of Lithuania, beat a Golden Horde army. During the period between 1262 and 1471, Kiev has been ruled by Lithuanian princes from different families. By the order of Casimir Jagiellon, the Principality of Kiev was abolished and the Kiev Voivodship was established in 1471. Lithuanian statesman Martynas Goštautas was appointed as the first voivode of Kiev the same year; his appointment was met by hostility from locals.
The city was frequently attacked by Crimean Tatars and in 1482 was destroyed again by Crimean Khan Meñli I Giray. Despite its little remaining political significance, the city still played an important role as a seat of the local Orthodox metropolitan. However, starting in 1494 the city's local autonomy (Magdeburg rights) gradually increased in a series of acts of Lithuanian Grand Dukes and Polish Kings which was finalized by 1516 charter granted by Sigismund I the Old.
Kiev had a Jewish community of some significance in the early sixteenth century. The tolerant Sigismund II Augustus granted equal rights to Kiev's Jews on the grounds that they paid the same taxes as Podil's burghers. Polish sponsorship of Jewish settlement in Kiev added fuel to the conflict that already existed between the Orthodox and Catholic churches.
Friday, March 21, 2014