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Book summary. Robert I. Frost. Study of Poland-Lithuania Part 1.

Posted June 11th, 2017 at 11:22 AM by samshit

Robert I. Frost is a British historian.
His interests are the history of Poland-Lithuania of 15-18 centuries.

The main purpose of his study " After deluge" is to examine why the Commonwealth should have failed so spectacularly to overcome the political and military crisis it faced as a result of Cossack rising and Muscovite and Swedish invasion.

Frost thinks that it was unique political structure of Poland-Lithuania in early modern period which diverged Poland-Lithuania so dramatically from the central and eastern Europe.

Political structure of Poland-Lithuania had it's own unique features:

Firstly, Sigismund Augustas' success in creating a more united and centralised state through the union was only partial - Lithuania was tied more close to Poland but was not absorbed while the issue of where the power ultimately lay with the king or the diet was left unresolved.

Secondly, the imperfect political union was matched by a similarly incomplete social and cultural union.

Thirdly, the growing power of magnates was making government increasingly difficult.

Fourthly, the diet's control over tax-making prevented the raising of the new taxes.

In the result, restricted access to "financy" tied the king's dependence on the diet's approval.

The court tried to restore the Commonwealth's political system to health through reforming diet procedure.

First of all it was necessary to sweep away the pernicious "liberum veto" - the right of any member of the diet to end to the current session and to nullify any legislation that had already been passed at the session by shouting, Sisto activitatem! In 1655-1659 the attempts of the court to restrict or abolish liberum veto came to nothing.

Frost thinks that the man problem of the government was not so much the failure of the diet to vote adequate taxes but the widespread under-fulfilment of the quotes agreed. The problem lay in the relationship between the diet and the localities. With regard to taxes voted by the diet some dietines simply not paid. Thus army remains unpaid and mutinous.

At last in 1657-1659 the court try to persuade the diet to approve court's proposal that the new taxes should become part of the ordinary revenue of the state and due to it such taxes should be levied without diet permission. But the diet opposed this plan.

Between 1648-1655, division among senators, rivalry between magnate factions, disagreement between Poles and Lithuanians and determined opposition of magnates prevented government from imposing it's authority and led to the defeat in war.

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