'It is by Unrule that Poland Stands' Institutions and Political Thought in the Polish-Lithuanian Republic
Independent Review, Forthcoming
27 Pages Posted: 27 Mar 2008
Date Written: February 2008
This paper discusses history, institutions and political thought in the Polish-Lithuanian Republic (1573-1795). We argue that the Republic was an exceptional place in terms of its commitment to religious tolerance, individual freedom and limited constitutional government. In the light of the unique nature of its institutions, it is striking how neglected the example of Poland is in classical liberal historical scholarship. After providing a historical narrative of the rise and the fall of the Republic, we discuss in detail three distinctive features of the Polish political system: the unanimity principle in the legislature (the liberum veto), the right to resist (the Confederation) and the constitutional constraints imposed on kings (Henrician Articles and Pacta Conventa). We also provide a brief overview of Polish political thought of the era, which displayed strong libertarian leanings.
Keywords: Polish-Lithuanian Republic, religious tolerance, liberum veto
JEL Classification: N43, D72
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation