"The Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth" by Richard Butterwick

The Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth Richard Butterwick

Publication date:
10 Nov 2020
Yale University Press
416 pages: 235 x 156mm
32 color illus. + 8 maps

In the eighteenth century the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth was at the crux of international politics; it was surrounded by Russia, Prussia, and Austria, all of which were determined to ensure the Commonwealth stayed weak. Although placed on the throne by his former lover Catherine the Great in 1764, King Stanisław refused to serve Russia’s interests, instead seeking deep reform. But, despite his best efforts, by 1795 the Commonwealth was annexed by its neighbors.
Richard Butterwick tells the compelling story of the last decades of one of Europe’s largest and least understood polities. Drawing on the latest research, Butterwick vividly portrays the turbulence the Commonwealth experienced. Far from seeing it as a failed state, he shows the ways in which it overcame the stranglehold of Russia and briefly regained its sovereignty, the crowning success of which took place on 3 May 1791—the passing of the first Constitution of modern Europe.

Richard Butterwick is professor of Polish-Lithuanian history at University College London and holds the European Civilization Chair at the College of Europe, Warsaw. He is the author of Poland’s Last King and English Culture and The Polish Revolution and the Catholic Church, 1788-1792.