Frederick William I of Prussia
Frederick William I, known as the Soldier King, was the King in Prussia and Elector of Brandenburg from 1713 until his death, as well as the father of Frederick the Great. He was in personal union the sovereign prince of the Principality of Neuchâtel and he was born in Berlin to Frederick I of Prussia and Sophia Charlotte of Hanover. During his first years, he was raised by the Huguenot governess Marthe de Roucoulle and his father had successfully acquired the title King for the margraves of Brandenburg. During his own reign, Frederick William I did much to centralize and he replaced mandatory military service among the middle class with an annual tax, established schools and hospitals, and resettled East Prussia. The king encouraged farming, reclaimed marshes, stored grain in good times, in short, Frederick William I concerned himself with every aspect of his relatively small country, planning to satisfy all that was needed for Prussia to defend itself. His rule was absolutist and he was a firm autocrat and he practiced rigid, frugal economy, never started a war, and led a simple and austere lifestyle, in contrast to the lavish court his father had presided over.
At his death, there was a surplus in the royal treasury. He intervened briefly in the Great Northern War in order to gain a portion of Swedish Pomerania, Frederick Williams reforms left his son Frederick with the most formidable army in Europe, which Frederick used to increase Prussias power. The observation that the pen is mightier than the sword has sometimes been attributed to him, although a highly effective ruler, Frederick William had a perpetually short temper which sometimes drove him to physically attack servants at the slightest provocation. His violent nature was further exacerbated by his inherited porphyritic illness, Frederick William died in 1740 at age 51 and was interred at the Garrison Church in Potsdam. The coffins were discovered by occupying American Forces, who re-interred the bodies in St. Elisabeths Church in Marburg in 1946. The original black marble sarcophagus collapsed at Burg Hohenzollern—the current one is a copper copy and his eldest surviving son was Frederick II, born in 1712.
Frederick William wanted him to become a fine soldier, as a small child, Fritz was awakened each morning by the firing of a cannon. At the age of 6, he was given his own regiment of children to drill as cadets, the love and affection Frederick William had for his heir initially was soon destroyed due to their increasingly different personalities. Frederick William ordered Fritz to undergo an education, live a simple Protestant lifestyle. However, the intellectual Fritz was more interested in music and French culture, as Fritzs defiance for his fathers rules increased, Frederick William would frequently beat or humiliate Fritz. Fritz was beaten for being thrown off a horse and wearing gloves in cold weather. After the prince attempted to flee to England with his tutor, Hans Hermann von Katte, the enraged King had Katte beheaded before the eyes of the prince, the court declared itself not competent in this case
Kurt Christoph Graf von Schwerin
Kurt Christoph Graf von Schwerin was a Prussian Generalfeldmarschall, one of the leading commanders under Frederick the Great. He was born in Löwitz, and at an early age entered the Dutch army, with which he served at the Schellenberg and at Blenheim. In 1707 he became a lieutenant-colonel in the army of the duke of Mecklenburg-Schwerin, and was present at Ramillies and Malplaquet, in 1713 he was with Charles XII of Sweden in his captivity at Bender, and in 1718 was made major-general. In 1719 he opposed the Hanoverian army which invaded Mecklenburg, at first he was employed in diplomatic missions, but in January 1722 –1723 he received the command of an infantry regiment. In the following year he became lieutenant-general and in 1739 general of infantry, during the life-time of King Frederick William, Schwerin was employed in much administrative work. Frederick the Great, on his accession, promoted Schwerin to the rank of field marshal. After the conclusion of the war he was governor of the important fortresses of Brieg, on 6 May followed the Battle of Prague, leading on a regiment of the left wing to the attack with its colour in his hand, he shouted Let all brave Prussians follow me.
After which he was struck and killed by a cannonball, Frederick erected a statue on the Wilhelmplatz to his foremost soldier, and a monument on the field of Prague commemorates the place where he fell. Since 1889 the 14th Infantry of the German army had borne his name, regarding personal names, Until 1919, Graf was a title, translated as Count, not a first or middle name. In Germany since 1919, it part of family names. This article incorporates text from a now in the public domain, Hugh
Frederick the Great
Frederick II was King of Prussia from 1740 until 1786, the longest reign of any Hohenzollern king. Frederick was the last titled King in Prussia and declared himself King of Prussia after achieving full sovereignty for all historical Prussian lands, Prussia had greatly increased its territories and became a leading military power in Europe under his rule. He became known as Frederick the Great and was affectionately nicknamed Der Alte Fritz by the Prussian, in his youth, Frederick was more interested in music and philosophy than the art of war. Upon ascending to the Prussian throne, he attacked Austria and claimed Silesia during the Silesian Wars, winning acclaim for himself. Near the end of his life, Frederick physically connected most of his realm by conquering Polish territories in the First Partition of Poland and he was an influential military theorist whose analysis emerged from his extensive personal battlefield experience and covered issues of strategy, tactics and logistics. Considering himself the first servant of the state, Frederick was a proponent of enlightened absolutism and he modernized the Prussian bureaucracy and civil service and pursued religious policies throughout his realm that ranged from tolerance to segregation.
He reformed the system and made it possible for men not of noble stock to become judges. Frederick encouraged immigrants of various nationalities and faiths to come to Prussia, some critics, point out his oppressive measures against conquered Polish subjects during the First Partition. Frederick supported arts and philosophers he favored, as well as allowing complete freedom of the press, Frederick is buried at his favorite residence, Sanssouci in Potsdam. Because he died childless, Frederick was succeeded by his nephew, Frederick William II, son of his brother, historian Leopold von Ranke was unstinting in his praise of Fredericks Heroic life, inspired by great ideas, filled with feats of arms. Immortalized by the raising of the Prussian state to the rank of a power, Johann Gustav Droysen was even more extolling. However, by the 21st century, a re-evaluation of his legacy as a great warrior, the son of Frederick William I and his wife, Sophia Dorothea of Hanover, was born in Berlin on 24 January 1712.
The birth of Frederick was welcomed by his grandfather, Frederick I, with more than usual pleasure, with the death of his father in 1713, Frederick William became King of Prussia, thus making young Frederick the crown prince. The new king wished for his sons and daughters to be educated not as royalty and he had been educated by a Frenchwoman, Madame de Montbail, who became Madame de Rocoulle, and he wished that she educate his children. However, he possessed a violent temper and ruled Brandenburg-Prussia with absolute authority. As Frederick grew, his preference for music and French culture clashed with his fathers militarism, in contrast, Fredericks mother Sophia was polite and learned. Her father, George Louis of Brunswick-Lüneburg, succeeded to the British throne as King George I in 1714, Frederick was brought up by Huguenot governesses and tutors and learned French and German simultaneously. Although Frederick William I was raised a Calvinist, he feared he was not of the elect, to avoid the possibility of Frederick being motivated by the same concerns, the king ordered that his heir not be taught about predestination
Silesia was strategically important to Prussia because it significantly blunted the capacity of Prussias two chief foes—Austria and Russia—to meddle in Prussian affairs. Prussian victory foreshadowed a wider struggle for control over the German-speaking peoples that would culminate in the Austro-Prussian War of 1866, the First Silesian War inaugurated, and is generally seen in the context of, the wider ranging War of the Austrian Succession. While Charles launched a claim to the throne and the Habsburg territories, King Frederick II aimed at the annexation of Silesia. Furious Frederick III in turn insisted on the centuries-old Brandenburg claims to the Silesian Piast heritage. Forty-five years on, an alliance formed in support of Prussia’s newly asserted claims on Silesia. King Frederick II was supported by the electorates of Bavaria and Cologne, as well as by the kingdoms of France, Spain and Naples along with various smaller European powers. The shared objective within the alliance was the destruction or at least the diminution of the Habsburg Monarchy and Austria were bound by the Anglo-Austrian Alliance which had existed since 1731.
On 8 November 1740, King Frederick II ordered the mobilization of the Prussian Army, according to his plan of attack, two corps would defeat a small Austrian infantry regiment and occupy the whole Silesian lands. On December 11 he issued an ultimatum to Austria demanding the surrender of Silesia, in turn, he promised to acknowledge the Pragmatic Sanction and to give his vote as Brandenburg prince-elector in the Imperial election to Maria Theresas husband Duke Francis of Lorraine. Instead of awaiting the Austrian response, he marched against Silesia with an army of about 27,000 men five days later, hailed by the Protestant population. After a two-month campaign, Prussian forces had occupied all of Silesia, with only small Austrian garrisons entrenched in the fortresses of Głogów, and Nysa. Having abandoned winter quarters in 1741, the Prussian forces started their spring campaign, the Silesian capital Wrocław was occupied by August 10, a first armistice was concluded on October 9. The Prussian victory in the Battle of Chotusitz on May 17,1742, only the southern portion of Upper Silesia remained under Habsburg control, called Austrian Silesia.
The Second Silesian War took place from 1744 to 1745, the Austrians had lost Silesia to Prussia in the Battle of Mollwitz. This was the time when the Austrians, under the command of Field Marshal Otto Ferdinand von Abensberg und Traun, the Prussians were again led by King Frederick the Great. The Battle of Hohenfriedberg on June 4,1745, was fought through a series of separate actions, after the Prussian victory, Frederick did not pursue the opposing armies. In the Battle of Soor on September 29,1745, Fredericks Prussians faced an Austrian army led by Prince Charles Alexander of Lorraine with 39,000 men, Frederick tried to obtain Graner-Koppe from Prince Charles where the Prussians met with cannon fire. The Prussians won after a closely fought battle consisting of a series of attacks, whilst Frederick was sure the war was over, Empress Maria Theresa had not given up her claims to Silesia
Battle of Lauffeld
The Battle of Lauffeld, known as Lafelt, Lawfeld, Maastricht or Val, took place on 2 July 1747, during the French invasion of the Netherlands. It was part of the War of the Austrian Succession, Cumberland moved to defeat a detachment of the French army commanded by the Prince of Clermont that de Saxe had sent to bait the Pragmatic Allies into moving. Then Saxe force-marched the main French force to the ground he had chosen, once again, as at the Battle of Rocoux, the Austrians on the right refused to move against the open French left flank. The French made five assaults on Lauffeld and the villages changed hands several times, a large French column drove the 10,000 British and Hessian defenders out of the village of Lauffeld a final time. The French cavalry pierced the allied center, now, a general French advance began to turn the Allied left flank, threatening the annihilation of the British infantry. General Ligonier, on his own initiative, led the cavalry in charges that would save the army, the greatest cavalry engagement of the war ensued with over 15,000 horsemen charging and counter-charging.
Seven regiments of the Irish Brigade in the French service lost over 1400 killed or wounded, the Duke of Cumberland, George IIs favourite son was nearly taken prisoner by the Irish, as in the confusion of battle he mistook the red-coated Irish Brigade for his own troops. Ligonier came up with a body of horse, enabling Cumberland to escape. It was a French victory that left the gateway to the Dutch Republic open to invasion, the allied retreat allowed Saxe to send a detachment of 30,000 troops under Count Lowendahl north across the Low Lands, capturing the city of Bergen-op-Zoom to finish that years campaigning season. At the opening of the campaigning season of 1748, the French invested Maastricht and, after a brief siege. The citys siege started negotiations in April, ending the war in October 1748 with the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle, George, Charles A. eds. The Vinkhuijzen collection of uniforms, France, 1750-1757. Archived from the original on 8 March 2013, flags through the ages and across the world.
History of England From the Peace of Utrecht to the Peace of Versailles, Reed. The War of the Austrian Succession, St. Martins Press, New York, ISBN 0-312-12561-5 Chandler, David. The Art of Warfare in the Age of Marlborough, spellmount Limited, ISBN 0-946771-42-1 Skrine, Francis Henry. Fontenoy and Great Britains Share in the War of the Austrian Succession 1741-48, history of England, from The Revolution to the Death of George the Second, London,1848, Vol. II
Battle of Fontenoy
The battle was one of the most important in the war and considered the masterpiece of Saxe, serving France, Louis XV, and his son, the Dauphin, were present at the battle. Saxe went on the offensive in April 1745 with a large French army and his initial aim was to take control of the upper Scheldt basin and thereby gain access to the heart of the Austrian Netherlands. To these ends, he first besieged the fortress of Tournai, in order to relieve Tournai, the allies first decided to attack Saxes position – a naturally strong feature, hinged on the village of Fontenoy and further strengthened by defensive works. Despite devastating flanking fire the allied column, made up of British and Hanoverian infantry, only when Saxe concentrated all available infantry and artillery was the column forced to yield. The allies retreated in order, conducting a fighting withdrawal. The battle had shown, the strength of a defensive force relying on firepower, casualties were high on both sides, but the French had gained the field, and Tournai fell shortly after the battle.
This success was followed by an advance against the less organised and outnumbered allied army, Oudenarde, Bruges. By the years end, the Saxon-born Saxe had completed the conquest of much of the Austrian Netherlands, the battle had established French superiority in force and high command. In 1744, France went over to the offensive in the Low Countries. King Louis XV and the Duke of Noailles scored early successes with the capture of the fortresses of western Flanders, Ypres. Opposing Saxe was the Pragmatic Army, the bulk of which was made up of British and Hanoverian troops under General George Wade, much had been expected of the allies in 1744 but the timidity of their generals had produced nothing against a numerically inferior enemy. Although Wade eventually advanced towards Lille, he did more than bicker with the Austrians about the cost of moving his siege train from Antwerp. Saxe was able to maintain his position at Courtrai and along the lines of the Lys, the Pragmatic Allies had scored considerable success in late 1744.
A joint Austro-Saxon force under Charles of Lorraine and Count Traun drove Frederick IIs Prussian army from Bohemia, further success followed with the death in January 1745 of the French puppet emperor, Charles VII. Joseph sued for peace and gave his support for the candidacy of Maria Theresas husband, Francis Stephen, with Bavaria out of the war the Austrians could now try to win back Silesia from Frederick II. Likewise, Bavarian repudiation of its French ties meant France was freed of its German involvement, and could now concentrate on its own efforts in Italy. As early as December 1744, Saxe had prepared plans for an offensive in the Low Countries. The trio of generals was completed by Prince Waldeck, commander of the Dutch contingent in theatre and they hoped to gain the initiative by the establishment of forward magazines and an early opening of the campaign season
Battle of Dettingen
The Battle of Dettingen took place on 27 June 1743 at Dettingen on the River Main, during the War of the Austrian Succession. The British forces, in alliance with those of Hanover and Hesse, George II commanded his troops in the battle, and this marked the last time a British monarch personally led his troops on the field. The battle straddled the river about 18 miles east of Frankfurt, with guns on the Hessian bank, the village of Dettingen is today the town of Karlstein am Main, in the extreme northwest of Bavaria. The British force of 17,000 men under John Dalrymple, here it joined the Pragmatic Army, some 50,000 strong at the start of the campaign, containing 16,000 Hanoverians with the balance made up of Austrians and Dutch. The army remained inactive until January 1743, when King George II ordered Dalrymple to march into Germany, leaving the Hessians. The internal divisions in the Dutch Republic delayed their army of 20,000 so that it too late to participate in the campaign. On 17 June the army set up camp between Kleinostheim and Aschaffenburg, accompanied by 25 squadrons of British and Hanoverian cavalry, arrived there on 19 June and took up overall command.
This was the result of skillful maneuvering and harassment by a French army of some 45,000 led by Noailles, Noailles had lined the south bank of the Main with artillery that could fire without interference on the Pragmatic armys left flank. Meanwhile, about 12,000 French troops marched north on Aschaffenburg, thickly wooded hills to the Pragmatic Armys right flank prevented the allies from turning Gramonts position. Some six hours passed with the British and Hanoverians trying to form an advance in this confined position, at one point, George IIs horse ran off with him, it was halted by Ensign Cyrus Trapaud, who received a promotion as a reward. James Wolfe wrote that the Pragmatic first line of infantry consisted of nine regiments of British foot, four or five Austrian regiments, the French infantry followed and they too had initial success, throwing back several British regiments of foot. However, the charge forced the French artillery to stop firing and, with the attack spent and the French out of their defenses, the allies counter-attacked.
The French line collapsed with the Allies driving Gramonts force across, as a consequence, the road to Hanau was opened, which allowed the Allies to continue their retreat and re-supply. With the French defeat at Dettingen, the Duc de Noailles missed the best opportunity to win the war at a stroke for the French. Had the French prevailed, the Pragmatic Army would have had to surrender or starve, during the battle, Lieutenant-Colonel Sir Andrew Agnew of Lochnaw warned his regiment The Royal Scots Fusiliers not to fire until they could see the whites of their een. A noted wit, Sir Andrew is quoted as addressing his regiment thus, better kill them afore they kill you. And to George II after the battle, who had chided him for letting a French cavalry charge break into his regiments position, Ay, please Your Majesty, in memory of this victory, Handel composed his Dettingen Te Deum and Dettingen Anthem. The two parties had agreed before the battle that the sick and wounded who fell into the hands of the enemy would be cared for, when the allies retreated they left behind most of their wounded, and the French respected the agreement, a precursor of the Geneva Convention
Bohemia is the westernmost and largest historical region of the Czech lands in the present-day Czech Republic. Bohemia was a duchy of Great Moravia, an independent principality, a kingdom in the Holy Roman Empire, and subsequently a part of the Habsburg Monarchy, after World War I and the establishment of an independent Czechoslovak state, Bohemia became a part of Czechoslovakia. Between 1938 and 1945, border regions with sizeable German-speaking minorities of all three Czech lands were joined to Nazi Germany as the Sudetenland, in 1990, the name was changed to the Czech Republic, which become a separate state in 1993 with the dissolution of Czechoslovakia. Until 1948, Bohemia was a unit of Czechoslovakia as one of its lands. Bohemia was bordered in the south by Upper and Lower Austria, in the west by Bavaria and in the north by Saxony and Lusatia, in the northeast by Silesia, and in the east by Moravia. In the 2nd century BC, the Romans were competing for dominance in northern Italy, the Romans defeated the Boii at the Battle of Placentia and the Battle of Mutina.
After this, many of the Boii retreated north across the Alps, much Roman authors refer to the area they had once occupied as Boiohaemum. The earliest mention was by Tacitus Germania 28, and mentions of the name are in Strabo. The name appears to include the tribal name Boi- plus the Germanic element *haimaz home and this Boiohaemum was apparently isolated to the area where King Marobods kingdom was centred, within the Hercynian forest. The Czech name Čechy is derived from the name of the Slavic ethnic group, the Czechs, like neighbouring Bavaria, is named after the Boii, who were a large Celtic nation known to the Romans for their migrations and settlement in northern Italy and other places. Another part of the nation moved west with the Helvetii into southern France, to the south, over the Danube, the Romans extended their empire, and to the southeast in Hungaria, were Sarmatian peoples. In the area of modern Bohemia the Marcomanni and other Suebic groups were led by their king Marobodus and he took advantage of the natural defenses provided by its mountains and forests.
In late classical times and the early Middle Ages, two new Suebic groupings appeared to the west of Bohemia in southern Germany, the Alemanni, many Suebic tribes from the Bohemian region took part in such movements westwards, even settling as far away as Spain and Portugal. With them were tribes who had pushed from the east, such as the Vandals, other groups pushed southwards towards Pannonia. These are precursors of todays Czechs, though the amount of Slavic immigration is a subject of debate. The Slavic influx was divided into two or three waves, the first wave came from the southeast and east, when the Germanic Lombards left Bohemia. Soon after, from the 630s to 660s, the territory was taken by Samos tribal confederation and his death marked the end of the old Slavonic confederation, the second attempt to establish such a Slavonic union after Carantania in Carinthia. Other sources divide the population of Bohemia at this time into the Merehani, Beheimare, Christianity first appeared in the early 9th century, but only became dominant much later, in the 10th or 11th century
Battle of Chotusitz
The battle was a part of the War of the Austrian Succession sometimes referred to as the First Silesian War. The armies were equal at 28,000 to 30,000 each, with the Prussians having about 2,000 more infantry. The Austrians were attempting to retake occupied Prague and the Prussians were trying to block them from accomplishing that, the battle of Chotusitz was especially notable in that it was the only major battle started by the Austrians during this war. Prince Charles had entered Bohemia with the intention of liberating the capital of Prague. Faulty intelligence misinformed him of the strength of the Prussians in the area, the Prussian army had divided with Frederick leading the vanguard about 10,000 strong, marching on Kuttenberg, Kutna Hora, with the intent of preventing the Austrians from reaching Prague. The main army of nearly 20,000 followed a day under Prince Leopold of Anhalt. With the two Prussians forces a days march apart and out of supporting distance of each other Charles had an opportunity of inflicting a defeat in detail on one, or both, of the Prussian forces.
Unfortunately, a wary Charles hesitated for a day and the two Prussians forces, realizing the danger, both moved towards each other, Leopold marching through the night reached Chotusitz at 2 A. M. and established tenuous contact with Frederick. Leopold went into camp a little north of what was to be the field of battle on the plain in the valley of the Elbe near the hamlet of Chotusitz. Charles of Lorraine, hoping to catch Leopold cut off from Frederick while the Prussians were divided, advanced north with his force in four columns and he decided to attempt a night attack, or camisade. Charles overnight advance took longer than anticipated and it was well after dawn that he approached the field with 30,000 troops. Alerted to the danger, Frederick gave Leopold instructions to deploy on Chotusitz and hold until the rest of the Prussians could come up with Frederick, bringing their forces up to 28,000. Frederick gave orders to Leopold to deploy leaving room for Fredericks force to come in on the right and he began marching towards the field at 4 A. M. with the intent of arriving at 7 A. M.
Leopold marched from the camp to Chotusitz and positioned his troops facing south-east in the town and to the right, the left flank terrain was very broken with gullies and ponds and unsuitable for the cavalry. By 7 A. M. the Austrians were deployed and had advanced to within cannon shot while Frederick had arrived on the field with the rest of the Prussian army, at 8 A. M. Charles ordered a general attack. Frederick rode up the rise behind which Buddenbrocks cavalry was partially concealed, observed the Austrian position, quickly unlimbered some guns, under cover of this fire, Buddenbrocks cavalry advanced at a trot and at a gallop. The Prussian line, in a charge, outflanking the Austrian first line, broke. The Austrian cavalry was stopped and driven back by cavalry under Rothenburg and a couple of Prussian infantry regiments
Battle of Rocoux
The Battle of Rocoux was a French victory over an allied Austrian, British and Dutch army in Rocourt, outside Liège during War of the Austrian Succession. The result was a major French victory but not the crushing blow Maurice had hoped to inflict, the French army was commanded by Marshall Saxe and the army of the Pragmatic Allies by Prince Charles of Lorraine of Austria and the British General Sir John Ligonier. Saxe had nearly completed his campaign to take Flanders and was threatening to invade the Netherlands, heavily outnumbering the Dutch, the French defeated them on the third assault. The Dutch were forced to withdraw behind the British and Hannoverian lines, in the face of a general French advance the allied line began to give way. The Austrians on the right were not engaged and made no attempt to take the initiative. Ligoniers cavalry and some British and Dutch infantry formed a guard that held off the French as the army withdrew. The French were victorious, although the army escaped from destruction.
This was the great victory of three for Saxe, after Fontenoy and prior to Lauffeld. The French were victorious, immediately capturing Liège and breaking Austrian control over the Austrian Netherlands for the remainder of the war, George, Charles A. eds. The Vinkhuijzen collection of uniforms, France, 1750-1757. Archived from the original on 8 March 2013, flags through the ages and across the world. Browning, Reed. The War of the Austrian Succession, St. Martins Press, New York, ISBN 0-312-12561-5 Chandler, the Art of Warfare in the Age of Marlborough. Spellmount Limited, ISBN 0-946771-42-1 Skrine, Francis Henry and Great Britains Share in the War of the Austrian Succession 1741-48
Wilhelm Reinhard von Neipperg
Count Wilhelm Reinhard von Neipperg was an Austrian general. He spent his boyhood in Vienna and in 1702 joined the Imperial service and he was a Obristlieutnant in his fathers regiment in 1709, and by 1715 was a colonel. He distinguished himself at Temesvar in 1716 and at Belgrade in 1717, after fighting against the Turks, he renounced his military career in order to attend to the education of Prince Francis of Lorraine, the future Holy Roman Emperor. He was elevated to the rank of count in 1726, Neipperg was with Fieldmarshal Wallis, at the Battle of Grocka and negotiated the Peace of Belgrade. Two years later, during the War of Austrian Succession, he commanded the Austrian Army which was defeated at the Battle of Mollwitz by Frederick II of Prussia, nonetheless he became an Imperial field marshal that year. His daughter, Maria Wilhelmina von Neipperg, became mistress of Francis I and his grandson Adam Albert von Neipperg married Napoleons widow Marie Louise. He died at Vienna in 1774, just one day before his 90th birthday, the Habsburg Monarchy, 1618-1815, Cambridge University Press,1994.
Jones, The art of war in the Western world, Andrew, The Enemy at the Gate, Habsburgs and the Battle for Europe, Bodley Head Random House,2008
Poland, officially the Republic of Poland, is a country in Central Europe, situated between the Baltic Sea in the north and two mountain ranges in the south. Bordered by Germany to the west, the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south and Belarus to the east, the total area of Poland is 312,679 square kilometres, making it the 69th largest country in the world and the 9th largest in Europe. With a population of over 38.5 million people, Poland is the 34th most populous country in the world, the 8th most populous country in Europe, Poland is a unitary state divided into 16 administrative subdivisions, and its capital and largest city is Warsaw. Other metropolises include Kraków, Wrocław, Poznań, Gdańsk and Szczecin, the establishment of a Polish state can be traced back to 966, when Mieszko I, ruler of a territory roughly coextensive with that of present-day Poland, converted to Christianity. The Kingdom of Poland was founded in 1025, and in 1569 it cemented a political association with the Grand Duchy of Lithuania by signing the Union of Lublin.
This union formed the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, one of the largest and most populous countries of 16th and 17th century Europe, Poland regained its independence in 1918 at the end of World War I, reconstituting much of its historical territory as the Second Polish Republic. In September 1939, World War II started with the invasion of Poland by Nazi Germany, followed thereafter by invasion by the Soviet Union. More than six million Polish citizens died in the war, after the war, Polands borders were shifted westwards under the terms of the Potsdam Conference. With the backing of the Soviet Union, a communist puppet government was formed, and after a referendum in 1946. During the Revolutions of 1989 Polands Communist government was overthrown and Poland adopted a new constitution establishing itself as a democracy, informally called the Third Polish Republic. Since the early 1990s, when the transition to a primarily market-based economy began, Poland has achieved a high ranking on the Human Development Index.
Poland is a country, which was categorised by the World Bank as having a high-income economy. Furthermore, it is visited by approximately 16 million tourists every year, Poland is the eighth largest economy in the European Union and was the 6th fastest growing economy on the continent between 2010 and 2015. According to the Global Peace Index for 2014, Poland is ranked 19th in the list of the safest countries in the world to live in. The origin of the name Poland derives from a West Slavic tribe of Polans that inhabited the Warta River basin of the historic Greater Poland region in the 8th century, the origin of the name Polanie itself derives from the western Slavic word pole. In some foreign languages such as Hungarian, Lithuanian and Turkish the exonym for Poland is Lechites, historians have postulated that throughout Late Antiquity, many distinct ethnic groups populated the regions of what is now Poland. The most famous archaeological find from the prehistory and protohistory of Poland is the Biskupin fortified settlement, dating from the Lusatian culture of the early Iron Age, the Slavic groups who would form Poland migrated to these areas in the second half of the 5th century AD.
With the Baptism of Poland the Polish rulers accepted Christianity and the authority of the Roman Church