Grand Duchy of Moscow
The Grand Duchy of Moscow, Muscovite Rus' or Grand Principality of Moscow was a Rus' principality of the Late Middle Ages centered around Moscow, the predecessor state of the Tsardom of Russia in the early modern period. The state originated with Daniel I, who inherited Moscow in 1283, eclipsing and absorbing its parent duchy of Vladimir-Suzdal by the 1320s, it annexed the Novgorod Republic in 1478 and the Grand Duchy of Tver in 1485. After the Mongol invasion of Rus', Muscovy was a tributary vassal to the Mongol-ruled Golden Horde until 1480. Muscovites and other inhabitants of the Rus' principality were able to maintain their Slavic and Orthodox traditions for the most part under the Tatar Yoke. There was strong contact and cultural exchange with the Byzantine Empire. Ivan III further consolidated the state during his 43-year reign, campaigning against his major remaining rival power, the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, by 1503 he had tripled the territory of his realm, adopting the title of tsar and claiming the title of "Ruler of all Rus'".
By his marriage to the niece of the last Byzantine emperor, he claimed Muscovy to be the successor state of the Roman Empire, the "Third Rome". The emigration of the Byzantine people influenced and strengthened Moscow's identity as the heir of the Orthodox traditions. Ivan's successor Vasili III enjoyed military success, gaining Smolensk from Lithuania in 1512, pushing Muscovy's borders to the Dniepr River. Vasili's son Ivan IV was an infant at his father's death in 1533, he was crowned in 1547, assuming the title of tsar together with the proclamation of Tsardom of Russia. As with many medieval states the country had no particular "official" name, but rather official titles of the ruler. "The Duke of Moscow" or "the Sovereign of Moscow" were common short titles. After the unification with the Duchy of Vladimir in the mid-14th century, the dukes of Moscow might call themselves "the Duke of Vladimir and Moscow", as Vladimir was much older than Moscow and much more "prestigious" in the hierarchy of possessions, although the principal residence of the dukes had been always in Moscow.
In rivalry with other duchies Moscow dukes designated themselves as the "Grand Dukes", claiming a higher position in the hierarchy of Russian dukes. During the territorial growth and acquisitions, the full title became rather lengthy. In routine documents and on seals, various short names were applied: "the Duke of Moscow", "the Sovereign of Moscow", "the Grand Duke of all Rus'", "the Sovereign of all Rus'", or ""the Grand Duke" or "the Great Sovereign". In spite of feudalism the collective name of the Eastern Slavic land, Rus', was not forgotten, though it became a cultural and geographical rather than political term, as there was no single political entity on the territory. Since the 14th century various Moscow dukes added "of all Rus'" to their titles, after the title of Russian metropolitans, "the Metropolitan of all Rus'". Dmitry Shemyaka was the first Moscow duke who minted coins with the title "the Sovereign of all Rus'". Although both "Sovereign" and "all Rus'" were supposed to be rather honorific epithets, since Ivan III it transformed into the political claim over the territory of all the former Kievan Rus', a goal that the Moscow duke came closer to by the end of that century, uniting eastern Rus'.
Such claims raised much opposition and hostility from its main rival, the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, which controlled a large portion of the land of ancient Rus' and hence denied any claims and the self-name of the eastern neighbour. Under the Polish-Lithuanian influence the country began to be called Muscovy in Western Europe; the first appearances of the term were in an Italian document of 1500. Moscovia was the Latinized name of the city of Moscow itself, not of the state; the term Muscovy persisted in the West until the beginning of the 18th century and is still used in historical contexts. When the Mongols invaded the lands of Kievan Rus' in the 13th century, Moscow was an insignificant trading outpost in the principality of Vladimir-Suzdal. Although the Mongols burnt down Moscow in the winter of 1238 and pillaged it in 1293, the outpost's remote, forested location offered some security from Mongol attacks and occupation, while a number of rivers provided access to the Baltic and Black Seas and to the Caucasus region.
More important to the development of the state of Moscow, was its rule by a series of princes who expanded its borders and turned a small principality in the Moscow River Basin into the largest state in Europe of the 16th century. The first ruler of the principality of Moscow, Daniel I, was the youngest son of Alexander Nevsky of Vladimir-Suzdal, he started to expand his principality by seizing Kolomna and securing the bequest of Pereslavl-Zalessky to his family. Daniel's son Yuriy controlled the entire basin of the Moskva River and expanded westward by conquering Mozhaisk, he forged an alliance with the overlord of the Rus' principalities, Uzbeg Khan of the Golden Horde, married the khan's sister. The Khan allowed Yuriy to claim the title of Gran
Wiśniowiecki was a Polish princely family of Ruthenian-Lithuanian origin, notable in the history of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth. They were powerful magnates with estates predominantly in Ruthenian lands of the Crown of the Kingdom of Poland, they used the Polish coat of arms of Korybut; the family is a cadet branch of the House of Zbaraski. The family tradition would trace their descent to the Gediminids, but modern historians believe there is more evidence for them to have descended from the Rurikids. According to the Gediminids relation theory, the ancestor of the family was Duke Kaributas, a son of the Grand Duke of Lithuania, Algirdas. Kaributas was stripped of the Duchy of Severia and transferred to Volhynia and Podolia where he was given to govern cities of Vinnytsia and Kremenets, while Zbarazh as a private estate. At first Zbarazh was inherited by Ivan, but in 1434 it was passed on to the second son of Korybut Fedor of Nieśwież; the latter became a progenitor of such princely families like Porycki, Zbarazski.
In the 15th century Wiśniowiecki family split away from House of Zbaraski. The family place was city of Wiśniowiec. At first Wiśniowiecki estates were located predominately in Volhynia, but since 1580s included on the left-bank Ukraine in a region around Lubny, others that in the past belonged to the princes Glinski and Daumantas. From their days as Ruthenian nobility, they held the title of Kniaz. By the late 16th century, the family became Polonized, they gained much importance in the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, with vast possessions in the 16th to 18th centuries on the territories of today's Ukraine the town of Vyshnivets. Their estates were so vast and their position so powerful that they were known as the most powerful of magnates – the "little kings", their ancestral seat was the Vyshnivets Castle. The family's golden age was the 17th century, when its members accumulated much wealth and influence, held numerous important posts within the Commonwealth; the most notable members of this family were Michael I, king of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania from 1669 to 1673, his father Jeremi Wiśniowiecki.
The coat of arms of the House of Wiśniowiecki was the Korybut coat of arms. Michał Zbaraski Wiśniowiecki, Prince at Wiśniowiec, progenitor of the Wiśniowiecki family Iwan Wiśniowiecki, married Nastazja Olizarowicz h. Chorągwie Konstanty Wiśniowiecki, starost of Żytomierz, married Anna Elżbieta Swierszcz z Olchowca h. Jastrzębiec Konstanty Wiśniowiecki, voivode of Belz and Ruthenia, married Anna Zahorowska h. Korczak, Urszula Mniszech h. Mniszech, Katarzyna Korniaktowna h. Krucyni and Krystyna Strusiowna h. Korczak Marianna Wiśniowiecka, married voivode of Bełz and Ruthenia Marshal Jakub Sobieski h. Janina, the father of King of Poland Jan III Sobieski Janusz Wiśniowiecki, Master of the Stables of the Crown, married Katarzyna Eugenia Tyszkiewicz h. Leliwa Dymitr Jerzy Wiśniowiecki, Great Guard and Hetman of the Crown, voivode of Belz and Kraków, married Marianna Zamoyska h. Jelita Konstanty Krzysztof Wiśniowiecki, voivode of Podlasie of Bracław and Bełz, married Urszula Teresa Mniszech h. Mniszech and Anna Chodorowska h.
Korczak Janusz Antoni Wiśniowiecki, voivode of Wilno and Marshal, married Teofilia Leszczyńska h. Wieniawa Urszula Franciszka Wiśniowiecka and writer, married voivode of Troki and Hetman Prince Michał Kazimierz "Rybeńko" Radziwiłł h. Trąby Michał Serwacy Wiśniowiecki, the last male representative of the Wiśniowiecki family, Hetman and Voivode of Wilno, Great Chancellor of Lithuania, married Katarzyna Dolska h. Kościesza, Maria Magdalena Czartoryska h. Czartoryski and Tekla Róża Radziwiłł h. Trąby Dmytro Vyshnevetsky known as Baida, first Ataman of the Ukrainian Cossacks, Hetman of the Registered Cossacks Aleksander Wiśniowiecki, starost of Rzeczyce, married Katarzyna Skoruta h. Korczak Michał Wiśniowiecki, castellan of Bracław and Kiev, married Halszka Zenowiczówna h. Deszpot Michał Wiśniowiecki, starost of Owrucz, married Regina Mohyła Jeremi Wiśniowiecki, Prince at Wiśniowiec, Łubny and Chorol, voivode of Ruthenia, married Gryzelda Konstancja Zamoyska h. Jelita Michał Korybut Wiśniowiecki, King of Poland 1669–1673, married Eleanor of Austria, Queen of Poland Anna Wiśniowiecka, married starost of Lublin Zbigniew Firlej h.
Lewart Aleksander Wisiowiecki, married Aleksandra Kapusta h. Kapusta Adam Wiśniowiecki, married Aleksandra Chodkiewicz h. Kościesza, daughter of Hetman Jan Hieronimowicz Chodkiewicz h. Kościesza and Krystyna Zborowska h. Jastrzębiec Wiśniowiec Lithuanian nobility Kings of Poland Szlachta Lubomyr Wynar. Wiśniowiecki in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine, vol. 5. Herb i rodowód Wiśniowieckich. Marek, Miroslav. "Genealogy of Wiśniowiecki-Zbaraski family". Genealogy. EU. Pictures of Wiśniowiec castle
Korybut coat of arms
Korybut is a Polish coat of arms. It was used by the Princely House of Wiśniowiecki-Zbaraski and several branches of the House of Nieświcki in the times of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth. Notable bearers of this coat of arms include: House of Wiśniowiecki Dymitr "Bajda" Wiśniowiecki (leader of the Ukrainian Cossacks, Hetman of the Registered Cossacks. Janusz Wiśniowiecki Dymitr Jerzy Wiśniowiecki Janusz Antoni Wisniowiecki Jeremi Wiśniowiecki Michał Korybut Wiśniowiecki Michał Serwacy Wiśniowiecki House of Zbaraski Krzysztof Zbaraski Jerzy Zbaraski Polish heraldry Heraldic family List of Polish nobility coats of arms Bartosz Paprocki: Herby rycerstwa polskiego na pięcioro ksiąg rozdzielone, Kraków, 1584. Tadeusz Gajl: Herbarz polski od średniowiecza do XX wieku: ponad 4500 herbów szlacheckich 37 tysięcy nazwisk 55 tysięcy rodów. L&L, 2007. ISBN 978-83-60597-10-1
Coat of arms
A coat of arms is a heraldic visual design on an escutcheon, surcoat, or tabard. The coat of arms on an escutcheon forms the central element of the full heraldic achievement which in its whole consists of shield, supporters and motto. A coat of arms is traditionally unique to an individual person, state, organization or corporation; the Roll of Arms is a collection of many coats of arms, since the early Modern Age centuries it has been a source of information for public showing and tracing the membership of a noble family, therefore its genealogy across time. The ancient Greek hoplites used individual insignia on their shields; the ancient Romans used similar insignia on their shields. Heraldic designs came into general use among western nobility in the 12th century. Systematic, heritable heraldry had developed by the beginning of the 13th century. Who had a right to use arms, by law or social convention, varied to some degree between countries. Early heraldic designs were personal. Arms become hereditary by the end of the 12th century, in England by King Richard I during the Third Crusade.
Burgher arms are used in Northern Italy in the second half of the 13th century, in the Holy Roman Empire by the mid 14th century. In the late medieval period, use of arms spread to the clergy, to towns as civic identifiers, to royally chartered organizations such as universities and trading companies; the arts of vexillology and heraldry are related. The term coat of arms itself in origin refers to the surcoat with heraldic designs worn by combattants in the knightly tournament, in Old French cote a armer; the sense is transferred to the heraldic design itself in the mid-14th century. Despite no widespread regulation, heraldry has remained consistent across Europe, where tradition alone has governed the design and use of arms; some nations, like England and Scotland, still maintain the same heraldic authorities which have traditionally granted and regulated arms for centuries and continue to do so in the present day. In England, for example, the granting of arms has been controlled by the College of Arms.
Unlike seals and other general emblems, heraldic "achievements" have a formal description called a blazon, which uses vocabulary that allows for consistency in heraldic depictions. In the present day, coats of arms are still in use by a variety of institutions and individuals: for example, many European cities and universities have guidelines on how their coats of arms may be used, protect their use as trademarks. Many societies exist that aid in the design and registration of personal arms. Heraldry has been compared to modern corporate logos; the French system of heraldry influenced the British and Western European systems. Much of the terminology and classifications are taken from it. However, with the fall of the French monarchy there is not a Fons Honorum to enforce heraldic law; the French Republics that followed have either affirmed pre-existing titles and honors or vigorously opposed noble privilege. Coats of arms are considered an intellectual property of municipal body. Assumed arms are considered valid unless they can be proved in court to copy that of an earlier holder.
In the heraldic traditions of England and Scotland, an individual, rather than a family, had a coat of arms. In those traditions coats of arms are legal property transmitted from father to son. Undifferenced arms are used only by one person at any given time. Other descendants of the original bearer could bear the ancestral arms only with some difference: a colour change or the addition of a distinguishing charge. One such charge is the label, which in British usage is now always the mark of an heir apparent or an heir presumptive; because of their importance in identification in seals on legal documents, the use of arms was regulated. This has been carried out by heralds and the study of coats of arms is therefore called "heraldry". In time, the use of arms spread from military entities to educational institutes, other establishments. In Scotland, the Lord Lyon King of Arms has criminal jurisdiction to control the use of arms. In England, Northern Ireland and Wales the use of arms is a matter of civil law and regulated by the College of Arms and the High Court of Chivalry.
In reference to a dispute over the exercise of authority over the Officers of Arms in England, Arthur Annesley, 1st Earl of Anglesey, Lord Privy Seal, declared on 16 June 1673 that the powers of the Earl Marshal were "to order and determine all matters touching arms, ensigns of nobility and chivalry. It was further declared that no patents of arms or any ensigns of nobility should be granted and no augmentation, alteration, or addition should be made to arms without the consent of the Earl Marshal. In Ireland the usage and granting of coats of arms was regulated by the Ulster King of Arms from the office's creation in 1552. After Irish independence in 1922 the office was still working out of Dublin Castle; the last Ulster King of Arm
Time of Troubles
The Time of Troubles was a period of Russian history during the interregnum in the Tsardom of Russia between the death of Feodor I and the accession of Michael I from 1598 to 1613. Feodor's death in 1598 without an heir for the title of Tsar of Russia ended the Rurik Dynasty, causing a violent succession crisis with numerous usurpers and impostors claiming the throne. Russia suffered the famine of 1601-03 that killed two million people, one-third of the population, was occupied by the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth during the Polish–Muscovite War until 1612 when they were expelled; the Time of Troubles ended upon the election of Michael Romanov as Tsar by the Zemsky Sobor in 1613, establishing the Romanov Dynasty that ruled Russia until the February Revolution in 1917. Tsar Feodor I was the second son of Ivan the Terrible, the first Tsar of Russia who had founded the Tsardom of Russia in 1547 from the Grand Duchy of Moscow, his elder brother, Tsarevich Ivan Ivanovich, had been groomed as the heir apparent since a young age and Feodor was never considered a serious candidate for the Russian throne.
On 19 November 1581, Tsarevich Ivan was accidentally killed by their father during a fit of rage, making Feodor the heir apparent, after Tsar Ivan's death on 28 March 1584 he was coronated as the Tsar of Russia on 31 May. Feodor was pious and took little interest in politics, instead ruling through Boris Gudunov, the brother of his wife Irina Godunova, his closest advisor, a boyar. Feodor only produced one child, a daughter named Feodosia who died at the age of two, when he died in January 1598, the Rurikid dynasty that had ruled Russia since the 800s AD became extinct. Gudunov, who had acted as a de facto regent for Feodor, was elected his successor by a Zemsky Sobor. Russia experienced a major famine from 1601 to 1603 after poor harvests were encountered, with night time temperatures in all summer months below freezing, wrecking crops; the famine is believed to be caused by a global trend in climate change, known as the General Crisis, with one probable cause of climatic changes was the eruption of Huaynaputina volcano in Peru in 1600.
Widespread hunger led to the mass starvation of about two million Russians, a third of the population. The government distributed money and food for poor people in Moscow, leading to refugees flocking to the capital and increasing the economic disorganization. Rural districts were desolated by plague. Gudunov's reign was not as successful as his administration under the Tsar, the general discontent was expressed as hostility towards him as a usurper; the oligarchical faction of the Russian nobility headed by the Romanovs, who had unsuccessfully opposed the election of Godunov, considered it a disgrace to obey a boyar. Large bands of armed brigands roamed the country committing all manner of atrocities, the Don Cossacks on the frontier were restless, demonstrating that the central government could not keep order. Conspiracies were frequent after Tsar Feodor's death and rumours circulated that his younger brother, was still alive and in hiding despite thought to have been stabbed to death at an early age either by accident or by Godunov's order.
The political instability in Russia was exploited by several usurpers known as False Dmitris who claimed to be Tsarevich Dmitri and sought to claim as heir to the Tsardom. In 1603, False Dmitri I — first of the so-called False Dmitris — appeared in the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth professing to be the rightful heir to the Russian throne; the mysterious False Dmitri I attracted support both in Russia by those discontented with Godunov and outside its borders in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and the Papal States. Factions within the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth saw him as a tool to extend their influence over Russia, or at least gain wealth in return for their support; the Papacy saw it as an opportunity to increase the hold of Roman Catholicism over the predominantly Eastern Orthodox Russians. A few months in 1603, Polish forces crossed the frontier with a small force of 4,000 Poles, Russian exiles, German mercenaries and Cossacks from the Dnieper and the Don, in what marked the beginning of the Polish–Muscovite War.
King Sigismund III Vasa did not declare war, but supported the intervention as the Polish were too preoccupied with conflicts with Sweden and the Ottoman Empire to start another war with Russia. Instead, some powerful magnates from the szlachta decided to support False Dmitri I with their own forces and money, in the expectation of rich rewards afterward. After Godunov's death in 1605, False Dmitri I made his triumphal entry into Moscow and was crowned Tsar on 21 July, moving to consolidate his power by visiting the tomb of Tsar Ivan, the convent of his widow Maria Nagaya, who accepted him as her son Dmitri and "confirmed" his story. False Dimitri I was married per procura to Marina Mniszech on 8 May 1606, in exchange for promises of vast grants of land and wealth, converted to Catholicism and relied upon Polish Jesuits and Polish nobles that played a prominent role at his court, as well as on Mniszech's private armies. False Dmitri I became unpopular quickly into his reign, as many in Russia saw him as a tool of the Poles.
On 17 May 1606, ten days after his marriage, Dmitri was killed by armed mobs during an uprising in Moscow after being ousted from the Kremlin, many of his Polish advisors were killed or imprisoned during the rebellion. Vasili IV Shuysky, a member of the House of Shuysky and relative of the Rurikids, seized power and was elected Tsar by an assembly composed of his supporters. Shuysky's rule was weak as he did not satisfy the Russian boyars, C
False Dmitry I
Dmitry I was the Tsar of Russia from 10 June 1605 until his death on 17 May 1606 under the name of Dmitry Ivanovich. According to historian Chester S. L. Dunning, Dmitry was "the only Tsar raised to the throne by means of a military campaign and popular uprisings", he was the first, most successful, of three "pretenders" who claimed during the Time of Troubles to be the youngest son of Ivan the Terrible, tsarevich Dmitry Ivanovich, who had escaped a 1591 assassination attempt. It is believed that the real Dmitry died in Uglich. Dmitry I entered history circa 1600, after making a positive impression on Patriarch Job of Moscow with his learning and assurance. Upon hearing of this, Tsar Boris Godunov ordered the young man to be seized and examined, whereupon Dmitry fled to Prince Constantine Ostrogski at Ostroh, of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, subsequently entered the service of the Wiśniowieckis, a polonized Ruthenian family. Two family members in particular, the princes Adam and Michał Wiśniowiecki, were intrigued by the stories Dmitry told of whom he purported to be, as it gave the Poles real opportunity to capitalize on the political rancor rising in Moscow.
There were rumors that Dmitry was an illegitimate son of the Polish king, Stefan Batory, who had reigned from 1575 to 1586. Dmitry's own story was that the Tsar Ivan's widow his mother, anticipating Boris Godunov's assassination attempt, had given the young tsarevich into the care of a doctor, who placed him in various Russian monasteries through the years. After the doctor's death, Dmitry had fled to Poland, working there as a teacher for a brief time, before being accepted into the service of the Wiśniowieckis. Several of those who had known Ivan IV claimed that Dmitry did indeed resemble the young tsarevich. However, regardless of whether or not Dmitry's tale was authentic, the Wiśniowiecki brothers, along with Samuel Tyszkiewicz, Jan Sapieha, Roman Różyński, several other Polish noblemen soon agreed to back the man, his claim, against Tsar Boris Godunov. In March 1604, Dmitry visited the royal court of Sigismund III Vasa in Kraków; the king provisionally supported him, but gave no promise of military aid to help ease the young man's path to the throne.
To attract the support of powerful Jesuits in lieu of the king outright stating anything, Dmitry publicly converted to Roman Catholicism on 17 April 1604, thus convincing papal nuncio Claudio Rangoni to back up the young Russian's claim. During his time at court, Dmitry met Marina Mniszech, daughter of the Polish nobleman Jerzy Mniszech. Dmitry and Marina fell in love; when Boris Godunov received word of Dmitry's Polish support, he spread claims of the younger man being just a runaway monk called Grigory Otrepyev, although on what information these claims were based is uncertain. Regardless, the tsar's public support soon began to wane as Dmitry's loyalists spread counter-rumors. Several Russian boyars pledged themselves to Dmitry, thus giving them a "legitimate" reason not to pay taxes to Tsar Boris. Dmitry, having now gained the full support of the Polish Commonwealth, formed a small army of 3,500 soldiers from various private forces. With these men, he advanced on Russia in March 1605. Boris's many enemies, including the southern Cossacks, joined Dmitry's army on the long march to Moscow.
Thus combined, these forces fought two engagements with reluctant Russian soldiers. The young man's cause was only saved when news of the sudden death of Boris Godunov on 13 April 1605 reached his troops in the aftermath. With the unpopular tsar dead, the last impediment to Dmitry's progress had been swept away. On 1 June, the disaffected boyars of Moscow staged a palace coup, imprisoning newly crowned tsar Feodor II and his mother, the widow of Boris Godunov. On 20 June, Dmitry made his triumphal entry into Moscow, on 21 July, he was crowned tsar by a new Muscovite Patriarch of his own choosing, the Greek Patriarch Ignatius; the new tsar moved to consolidate his power by visiting the tomb of Tsar Ivan, the convent of his widow Maria Nagaya, who accepted him as her son and "confirmed" his story. The Godunovs, including Tsar Feodor and his mother, were executed, with the exception of Tsarevna Xenia, whom Dmitry took as his royal concubine for five months. In contrast to Godunov's policies, many of the noble families Tsar Boris had exiled – such as the Shuiskys and Romanovs – were granted the pardon of Tsar Dmitry and allowed to return to Moscow.
Feodor Romanov, sire of the future imperial dynasty, was soon appointed as metropolitan of Rostov. Dmitry planned to introduce a series of economical reforms, he restored Yuri's
The Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth – formally, the Crown of the Kingdom of Poland and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and, after 1791, the Commonwealth of Poland – was a dual state, a bi-confederation of Poland and Lithuania ruled by a common monarch, both King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania. It was one of the largest and most populous countries of 16th– to 17th-century Europe. At its largest territorial extent, in the early 17th century, the Commonwealth covered 400,000 square miles and sustained a multi-ethnic population of 11 million; the Commonwealth was established by the Union of Lublin in July 1569, but the Crown of the Kingdom of Poland and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania had been in a de facto personal union since 1386 with the marriage of the Polish queen Hedwig and Lithuania's Grand Duke Jogaila, crowned King jure uxoris Władysław II Jagiełło of Poland. The First Partition of Poland in 1772 and the Second Partition of Poland in 1793 reduced the state's size and the Commonwealth collapsed as an independent state following the Third Partition of Poland in 1795.
The Union possessed many features unique among contemporary states. Its political system was characterized by strict checks upon monarchical power; these checks were enacted by a legislature controlled by the nobility. This idiosyncratic system was a precursor to modern concepts of democracy, constitutional monarchy, federation. Although the two component states of the Commonwealth were formally equal, Poland was the dominant partner in the union; the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth was marked by high levels of ethnic diversity and by relative religious tolerance, guaranteed by the Warsaw Confederation Act 1573. The Constitution of 1791 acknowledged Catholicism as the "dominant religion", unlike the Warsaw Confederation, but freedom of religion was still granted with it. After several decades of prosperity, it entered a period of protracted political and economic decline, its growing weakness led to its partitioning among its neighbors during the late 18th century. Shortly before its demise, the Commonwealth adopted a massive reform effort and enacted the May 3 Constitution—the first codified constitution in modern European history and the second in modern world history.
The official name of the state was The Kingdom of Poland and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and the Latin term was used in international treaties and diplomacy. In the 17th century and it was known as the Most Serene Commonwealth of Poland, the Commonwealth of the Polish Kingdom, or the Commonwealth of Poland, its inhabitants referred to it in everyday speech as the "Rzeczpospolita". Western Europeans simply called it Poland and in most past and modern sources it is referred to as the Kingdom of Poland, or just Poland; the terms: the Commonwealth of Poland and the Commonwealth of Two Nations were used in the Reciprocal Guarantee of Two Nations. The English term'Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth' and German'Polen-Litauen' are seen as renderings of the Commonwealth of Two Nations variant. Other names include the Republic of Nobles and the First Commonwealth, the latter common in Polish historiography. Poland and Lithuania underwent an alternating series of wars and alliances during the 14th century and early 15th century.
Several agreements between the two were struck before the permanent 1569 Union of Lublin. This agreement was one of the signal achievements of Sigismund II Augustus, last monarch of the Jagiellon dynasty. Sigismund believed, his death in 1572 was followed by a three-year interregnum during which adjustments were made to the constitutional system. The Commonwealth reached its Golden Age in the early 17th century, its powerful parliament was dominated by nobles who were reluctant to get involved in the Thirty Years' War. The Commonwealth was able to hold its own against Sweden, the Tsardom of Russia, vassals of the Ottoman Empire, launched successful expansionist offensives against its neighbors. In several invasions during the Time of Troubles, Commonwealth troops entered Russia and managed to take Moscow and hold it from 27 September 1610 to 4 November 1612, when they were driven out after a siege. Commonwealth power began waning after a series of blows during the following decades. A major rebellion of Ukrainian Cossacks in the southeastern portion of the Commonwealth began in 1648.
It resulted in a Ukrainian request, under the terms of the Treaty of Pereyaslav, for protection by the Russian Tsar. Russian annexation of part of Ukraine supplanted Polish influence; the other blow to the Commonwealth was a Swedish invasion in 1655, known as the Deluge, supported by troops of Transylvanian Duke George II Rákóczi a