03 May 2021

The Constitution of the Third of May 1791

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Jan Matejko, Konstytucja 3 maja 1791 roku [Constitution of the 3rd of May 1791] 1891.

230 years ago today, the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth adopted the first written Constitution in Europe, the second in the world.

Wikipedia article.

The adoption by Poland of a Liberal Constitution so alarmed the despotisms of its neighboring empires that they invaded and punished Poland with the Second Partition of 1793. The actual document was seized and carried off and locked away in the Kremlin in Moscow, in a trunk tightly chained, as if it constituted a kind of weapon of mass destruction, which to autocracy and despotism perhaps it did.


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