Senate: 2019 to mark 450th anniversary of Polish-Lithuanian union

The Senate has passed a resolution that will see 2019 named the Year of the Union of Lublin that took place in the southwestern Polish city of Lublin in 1569 and saw both states unite.

Two senators abstained while 84 voted for the resolution that will see the epochal event celebrated not only on the 450th anniversary but also all year-long. Giving the year 2019 the name Year of the Union of Lublin will give governmental institutions and non-governmental organisations a thematic goal around which they may build their programmes.

“The Union of Lublin is an illustrious testimony of wisdom and the far-sightedness of elites that jointly created a powerful federal state,” reads the Senate’s resolution that recalled the union’s importance.

In its resolution, the Senate noted that a multinational, multiethnic, multicultural and multireligious monarchy was created, one characterised by tolerance and peaceful coexistence that were lacking in other European states of that time.

The union became reality on July 1, 1569 when, after a long and vehement discussion, the peoples of the Kingdom of Poland and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania decided to unite during their noblemen’s free convention (sejm wolny) in the Polish city of Lublin. Three days later the king of Poland Zygmunt II August ratified the union.

The Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, that would survive until 1795, was born. Many historians consider it to be the first union of two countries whose citizens became equal with regard to their rights and opportunities to participate in political life.

As a result, both countries were united by a common elected monarch, parliament, foreign policy and currency, while their treasuries, military, chancellery and ministerial offices remained separate. In addition, both countries’ noblemen acknowledged and honoured each others’ coats-of-arms, something that validated the Horodło union’s provisions of 1413.

The Horodło union that took place in 1413 and saw both countries’ noblemen acknowledge their coat-of-arms was not the first step leading to the Lublin union.

The first stage of the joining of Poland and Lithuania can be traced back to the Union of Krewo in 1385 that saw the then Grand Duke of Lithuania Władysław Jagiełło convert to Catholicism along with his family, court and noblemen, release all Polish captives and prisoners of war, and also obliged him to fight for the retrieval of lands lost by Poland and Lithuania.