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HISTORY OF POLAND IN 10 STEPS:
#2
Union with Lithuania and the Golden Age
Photo: Jan Matejko, Union of Lublin that created the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. National Museum in Lublin.

■ The royal line of Mieszko ruled Poland until the end of the 14th century, when they died out. This forced Poland to look for their new king elsewhere, and after a brief political romance with Hungary, the Polish Queen Jadwiga married the Grand Duke of Lithuania, thereby giving rise to long-lasting union between the two nations. The alliance eventually evolved into creation of one country: the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth in 1569.

■ The 150 or so years between the beginning of the 16th century and the first decades of the 17th century went down in history as the Polish Golden Age. The country’s political system evolved into an early democratic monarchy and became one of the first multicultural states in history, with minorities’ rights protected by the Union’s laws. The Commonwealth was one of the biggest political entities in Europe as well as one of the most influential, both culturally and politically.

On 23rd August 1989 at 7 pm Eastern European Summer Time, two million Estonians, Latvians and Lithuanians linked hands to form a 675km long human chain that started from Tallinn, Estonia and ended in Vilnius, Lithuania to peacefully demand freedom that was forcefully robbed from them by Soviet Union because of the secret protocol that was part of the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact.

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