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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


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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7. The Polish-Lithuanian transition period of the 1560s–1570s in the context of European state formation processes


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7.  The Polish-Lithuanian transition period of the 1560s–1570s in the context of European state formation processes

In this study I have scrutinized the political change of Poland-Lithuania from the dynastic reign of the Jagiellons to the elective monarchy in the 1560s–1570s. I have analyzed this transition as a decision-making process. Accordingly, I have divided the analysis into four sections, which represent the different stages of a decision-making process. These sections are (1) identification of the forthcoming change, (2) preparations prior to the actual change, (3) choice between different alternatives and (4) confirmation and evaluation of the outcome. I have treated the Polish-Lithuanian political body – the estates at the national Sejm – as a heterogeneous group, which represented the different parts and communities of the larger Polish-Lithuanian state. Thus, I have treated the Polish-Lithuanian state as a composite or conglomerate state. In this respect, I have followed recent historiography, which has discovered anew the complexity of early modern federations and state systems. In order to analyze the decision-making process within such a heterogeneous group, I have taken into account the four social functions – adaptation, goal-attainment, integration and continuity (latency) – which a society/organization needs to implement and fulfill in order to remain functional and secure its existence through a period of transition. This approach was inspired by the social action theory and the so-called AGIL paradigm introduced by sociologist Talcott Parsons.

The various documentary sources for sixteenth-century political negotiation – Sejm reports, speeches and...

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