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Thursday, 23 March 2017

Poland

HISTORY

The name "Poland" originates from the name of a West Slavic tribe called Polanie that inhabited the Warta River basin of the historic Greater Poland region in the 8th century, "Polanie" means "people living in open fields".

After his marriage to the Christian Dobrawa of Bohemia, the pagan ruler of the Polanie, Mieszko I, converted to Christianity in 966, an event considered to be the founding of the Polish state.

The word "Poland" was written officially for the first time in 966.

The coronation of King Bolesław I the Brave of Poland took place on April 18, 1025. He was the first Polish ruler to receive the title of rex (Latin: "king").

Coronation of the First King, by Jan Matejko.

Bolesław I died shortly after his coronation, most likely from an illness.

The earliest known contemporary depiction of a Polish ruler shows King Mieszko II Lambert of Poland, who ruled between 1025 and 1031, being presented with a Liturgical book by Matilda of Swabia (see below).


Kraków was the headquarters and the place of coronation of Polish kings and the nation's capital from 1038 until the move to Warsaw in 1596.

The first Mongol invasion of Poland started on March 18, 1241. The Mongols overwhelmed the Polish armies of Sandomierz and Kraków provinces in the Battle of Chmielnik and plundered the abandoned city of Kraków.

In 1569, Poland formed a strong union with Lithuania called the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth.
The Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth was one of the largest and most populous countries of 16th and 17th century Europe with a uniquely progressive political system.

The Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth at its greatest extent after the Truce of Deulino, which was signed on December 11, 1618 . It concluded the Polish–Muscovite War (1605–1618) between the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth and the Tsardom of Russia. In the years 1618–1621 Poland covered an area of 990 000 km.²

The Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth after the Truce of Deulino. By Maciej Szczepańczyk.

Russia, Prussia and Habsburg Austria began the First Partition of Poland to help restore the regional balance of power in Eastern Europe among those three countries on August 5, 1772.

The Polish Constitution of May 3, was the first codified national constitution in Europe and the second ever in the world after that of the United States. It was adopted by the Great Sejm (parliament) of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth on May 3, 1791. The document was designed to redress the Commonwealth's political defects, which conferred disproportionate rights on the nobility (szlachta) and over time had corrupted politics. It was referred to as "the last will and testament of the expiring country" and was in effect for only 14 months and 3 weeks.

Constitution of May 3rd, enactment ceremony inside the Senate Chamber at the Warsaw Royal Castle, 1791

Russia and Prussia, fearing the mere existence of a Polish state, arranged for, and in 1793 executed, the Second Partition of the Commonwealth, which left the country deprived of so much territory that it was practically incapable of independent existence.

The popular and distinguished general Tadeusz Kosciuszko, who had several years earlier served under Washington in the American Revolutionary War, led Polish insurrectionists against numerically superior Russian forces in the 1794 Kościuszko Uprising. Despite the victory at the Battle of Racławice, he was ultimately defeated.

The highest mountain in Australia, Mount Kosciuszko, was named after General Tadeusz Kosciuszko.

In 1795, the Commonwealth was partitioned one last time by Prussia, the Russian Empire, and Austria, and with this, it effectively ceased to exist.

Stanisław II August, the last King of Poland acceded to the throne in 1764 and reigned until his abdication on November 25, 1795.

Stanisław II August, the last King of Poland

The partition ended Poland's independent existence for 123 years. The core of the country became the Grand Duchy of Warsaw under the protection of Napoleon I in 1807.

After the failed Napoleonic Wars, Poland ceased to exist as a political entity, and was divided between the victorious powers Russia, Prussia and the Austro-Hungarian Empire at the Congress of Vienna of 1815.

Shortly after the armistice with Germany in November 1918, Poland regained its independence as the Second Polish Republic.  Józef Piłsudski assume supreme military power on November 11, 1918, which is recognized as the symbolic first day of Polish independence.

White and red were officially adopted as the Polish national colors in 1831. They derive from the colors of the coats of arms of the two constituent nations of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth. The national flag was officially adopted on August 1, 1919.


Poland’s flag is the same as Indonesia’s but upside down.

In 1921, Poland defeated Soviet Russia in the Polish-Soviet War that started in 1919, which reaffirmed its independence.

Gabriel Narutowicz took office as the first president of Poland on November 11, 1922. Tragedy struck just five days later when Narutowiczwas was assassinated at the Zachęta Gallery in Warsaw by painter and right-wing nationalist Eligiusz Niewiadomski.

Narutowicz in his office, just days before the assassination

Poland lost independence again not long after the beginning of World War II, after suffering a defeat by both the USSR and Nazi Germany. Although the government collapsed, the Polish people fought on by forming the largest and most effective resistance movement in Nazi-occupied Europe. It succeeded in disrupting German supply lines to the Eastern Front of World War II, provided military intelligence to the British, and saved more Jewish lives in the Holocaust than any other Allied organization or government.

The Polish government wrote a White Book with proof of the mass extermination of Jews in German occupied Poland and gave it to the United Nations on December 10, 1942.

20% of Poland's population died in World War II, the highest percentage of any nation.

Grave of a Polish Home Army resistance fighter 

After the war, Poland became a communist country within the Eastern Bloc. The new government was appointed by Joseph Stalin and was under the control of the Soviet Union.

The 2,120 ft Warsaw Radio Mast, the world’s then-tallest structure, was completed on May 18, 1974. It collapsed in August 1991.

The radio mast in Konstantynów, Poland.

The lyrics of U2's song "New Year's Day" refer to the movement for solidarity lead by Lech Walesa in Poland. After it was recorded, Poland announced they would abolish martial law, coincidentally, on New Year's Day, 1983.

In 1989, Poland ceased being a communist country and became a liberal democracy, holding its first free elections in more than 40 years.

Poland's change of government was the first in a series of events that led to the states of Eastern and Central Europe regaining their independence and the fall of the USSR in 1991. After the democratic consolidation, Poland joined the European Union on May 1, 2004.

Flags of Poland and the European Union

FUN POLAND FACTS

The oldest restaurant in Europe is located in Wrocław, Poland. Piwnica Swidnicka has been operating since 1275.

Outside view from 1859

Bigos, often translated into English as hunter's stew, is a Polish dish of finely chopped meat of various kinds stewed with sauerkraut and shredded fresh cabbage.

Each side of the main square in Krakow, Poland is 200 metres long.


Polish people marry the youngest within the European Union (26.5 years old for men and 24 years old for women on average).

Nearly 35% of the 60 million Poles live abroad and large Polish speaking communities can be found in the US, Canada, UK, Germany, Australia, Argentina and Brazil.

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