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«Res publica» Redefined?

The Polish-Lithuanian Transition Period of the 1560s and 1570s in the Context of European State Formation Processes

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Miia Ijäs

The union of Poland and Lithuania was ruled by the Jagiellon royal house from 1385–1572, after which a political transition to an elective monarchy was undertaken. This book studies the political transition from the Jagiellon dynasty to an elective monarchy as a political decision-making process in the 1560s and 1570s. It focuses on the Polish-Lithuanian nobility and clergy as ‘king-makers’ and their relationship with the monarchy. In addition, special attention is paid to the issue of transnational influences and the way in which the international state system affected events in Poland-Lithuania. Thus, this particular political transition is considered in the context of the great events of early modern Europe, such as the Reformation and state-formation processes.
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4. Preparations for the transition

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4.  Preparations for the transition

Different acts of preparation prior to King Sigismund August’s death and a royal election started within the Res publica especially in the 1560s as the forthcoming change of the political system was identified and acknowledged. The future royal election was a subject of public discussion, although it needed to be handled with subtlety as long as the present king was alive. The first part of this chapter focuses on the domestic politics of the Polish-Lithuanian union and the Jagiellon realm during the last decade of the reign of Sigismund August. The second part scrutinizes foreign policy and the international relations of King Sigismund August with other lords and sovereigns in Europe, including Muscovy and the Ottoman Empire. An examination of foreign policy is important to understand the international situation of Poland-Lithuania during the transition period. A third part of the preparations focuses on the economic politics of the realm and the royal treasury. Economic policy was closely linked with both domestic and foreign policy. However, I have decided to separate it into its own subchapter in order to emphasize its importance and the grave state of the royal treasury in the 1560s and 1570s. Finally, the fourth part of this chapter moves over to the time of the interregna. Here I focus especially on the decisions which were made at the so-called convocation Sejms in 1573 and 1575, in order to set the conditions for the future royal election....

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