The Constitution of 3 May 1791 included provisions leading to the modification of the Polish state into a modern constitutional monarchy, a political system very much commended by many representatives of the Enlightenment. Certainly tlia social and polidcal theories adoanced Vy French thinkers as well as English and American models had a decided influence on the preparation of the Government Statute. Nonetheless, ultimately the Constitution was the final product of Polish political thought, applied to the political needs and circumstances of the late eighteenth century. Although the Constitution did not change the nature of the state, in which the nobility still played the leading role, it nevertheless opened up opportunities for further reforms. Thanks to the compromise between the nobility and the rich burghers, the Constitution, considered to be a “gentle revolution” by contemporaries, became for Poland an important step on the road to a modern state.
The Constitution of 3 May showed that this road did not have to pass through the stage of absolute monarchy. Efficiency in government and social reform did not have to be imposed from above by an absolute ruler and his close advisors. Rather it could be introduced by that part of the nobility, which, influenced by economic change, the ideology of the Enlightenment, and a growing feeling that the country was threatened by the hostile absolutism of its neighbors, realized the necessity for these steps. Tendencies toward reform by the nobility had appeared in Poland a considerable time earlier, but they became particularly strong in the early eighteenth century. A crescendo of voices demanded reform of the Diet and its transformation into an effective organ of central power, the appointment of a standing council, which would manage the affairs of state, and fiscal and military measures to ensure the independence of the country. In time new demands were voiced for state intervention in economic affairs, for protection of trade and industry, and for protection of the peasants against their lords, creating conditions in which they would be able to increase production on their farms.1
The organization of the Commonwealth changed as a result of these demands, slowly transforming the state which was close to anarchy into a state of a modern type. The central government’s power was still far from being fully effective, but nonetheless the foundation for a modern state had been solidly laid.
In the early eighteenth century, both the majority of the magnates and wide masses of the nobility remained deeply convinced, in spite of all experience to the contrary, that the government of the Commonwealth was perfect and that any change could only bring ruinous results. Behind this idealization of the old Commonwealth was the conviction that if Poland were deprived of a strong government, disarmed and pacified, she would no longer arouse the interest of her neighbors. After many years of exhausting wars this desire for peace at any price, even at the risk of self-annihilation, prevailed over all political common sense. The nobility simultaneously believed in weak government and in their own ability to stand together at the critical moment of danger to prevent disaster. According to their conviction, changes in the political system would bring the threat of royal absolutist ambitions. Among the causes of the general inertia was Poland’s Saxon connection, the Polish-Saxon personal union. Poland’s Wettin ruler was a foreign monarch who neither knew nor understood the mechanism of the Commonwealth. It was a paradox that such an adherent of absolutist government as August II was compelled to rule a Commonwealth based on the principles of the nobility’s freedoms.
The accounts of foreign diplomats, who had the opportunity of candid conversations with August II, leave us no doubt that the King was unhappy with the status quo and aspired to sovereign rule free from interference by the estates. Achievement of that goal required a hereditary succession, to free the monarch from his dependence on noble electors, and subordination of the Diet to the king.
But the introduction of these conditions was not easy. Saxony and her financial and military power was not able to force a strong monarchy on Poland. The nobility of the Commonwealth regarded the right to elect the king as their fundamental privilege, the source of most of their other political rights. Nevertheless, August II worked throughout his reign to bring his son Frederick August to the Polish throne either by avoiding free elections or by limiting their scope. Later, August III engaged in similar maneuvers.2
Hereditary succession had very limited support in Poland. Even though, as one of the most able Polish politicians of the day, Bishop Konstanty Szaniawski admitted to the Prussian envoy in 1717, “free elections have become a pure chimera. Poland would be better off under hereditary kings and could still call herself a free nation,”3 no one had the nerve to present such arguments to the assembled nobility. Still, hereditary succession remained a political choice and in 1791 the Wettin dynasty received hereditary rights to the Polish throne.
Subordination of the Diet to the crown was also fraught with difficulties. At first there were attempts to discover a substitute for the Diet. One choice was to adopt the institution of confederated diets that could pass legislation by majority vote. When this idea met with the decided opposition of the nobility, there was an attempt to create a “standing Diet”. It would deliberate in the same composition longer than the statutory six weeks, and reconvene periodically using the provisions of the so-called limita, that is, adjournments. This would require a restriction of the liberum veto. On a number of occasions the Diet was adjourned, which provoked noble indignation and accusations that the King wanted to turn the Diet into an English Parliament. In 1726 the Diet abolished the King’s power to adjourn its sessions. The King was defeated in his struggle to master the Diet.4 Nevertheless, the Diet, despite its victory, slipped into a state of crisis which lasted for the next forty years.
The idea of having some kind of permanent council at the king’s side to transact important business between sessions of the Diet or of a secret council similar to the secret cabinet in Saxony found no support in Poland during the first half of the eighteenth century. However, this notion influenced reform of the Commonwealth during the second half.5
During the reign of August II and his son, the ambitions of the Saxon Wettins harmed all serious plans for reform. The nobility learned to detect the hidden menace of absolutism in every plan for constitutional change, which made it all the harder to convince the nobility of the necessity of modernizing the government later in the century. Yet not everybody was happy with this state of affairs. Some nobles, seeing no way to improve Polish government, retired from public life. Others embarked on an arduous struggle to remove the degenerate forms which had appeared in the body politic and were now eating away like a cancer at the organism of the Commonwealth. These men wished to improve and modernize the state without doing violence to the principles on which it had originally been founded.
The first really serious examination of the possibilities for political reform came from the pen of a wealthy member of the middle nobility, Stanisław Dunin Karwicki. A seasoned parliamentarian, who frequently represented his region at the Diet or in the confederations, and a Calvinist esteemed and respected by the Catholic nobility, he had thorough knowledge of the deficiencies of the Commonwealth. When the Swedes invaded Poland in the first years of the Great Northern War, he wrote a treatise entided De ordinanda Republica seu de corrigendis defectibus in statu Reipublicae Poloniae. Although it was not printed, it survives in many copies, a testimony to its popularity and significance.
Karwicki saw the fundamental weakness of the Commonwealth in the impossibility of reconciling the king’s power with the freedom of the nation. He proposed to leave “the kings with all their preeminence, but circumscribing their power, so as to remove all fear of their authority and in this way calm the anxieties to which such apprehensions give rise.” The power of the Diet should be augmented and conditions should be created under which it could function efficiently. Above all, it should be a “prompt” or “standing Diet,” with a restricted liberum veto. The Diet should be divided into three great commissions, one for regional matters, a second for foreign policy and the third for financial and military affairs. The royal estates were to be transferred to the treasury to support a small but modernized army. The directors of the central government’s departments were to be elected by the Diet. Karwicki also proposed a fundamental reform in how the king was elected.6
Karwicki presented the first such comprehensive and consistent plan for reform of the Commonwealth since the sixteenth century. The experience of the preceding century showed that Polish parliamentary institutions needed the most changes. Karwicki proposed neither restriction nor abolition of Parliament, which the Saxon kings wanted, but Parliament’s rationalization, so that the Diet would exercise the highest authority in the land as a fully sovereign body. Not all of Karwicki’s proposals were timely, but virtually all later eighteenth-century reformers turned to his ideas about Polish governmental reorganization.
Only a few of Karwicki’s reforms were adopted in 1717 by the Dumb Diet, so-called because the deputies surrounded by Russian troops were not allowed to speak, and were forced to approve the treaty of Warsaw, signed on November 3,1716, which was concluded with Russian mediation. The Dumb Diet ended the Confederation of Tarnogród, which fought against the presence of the Saxon army in the Commonwealth. The Confederation brought no spectacular successes but managed to bring about a compromise agreement with August II. By the T reaty of Warsaw relations between the Commonwealth and Saxony were settled on the basis of an exclusively personal union. The representatives of the King and of the Confederation adopted a partial reform of government, the first in the eighteenth century.
The financial and military reform of 1716 fixed the size of the standing army at 24,000 men, which in view of the need to pay officers’ salaries in effect reduced the army to about 18,000, a very low figure compared to Poland’s neighbors. A positive aspect of the reform was the introduction of permanent taxation on royal, ecclesiastical, and noble estates. This did not mean taxation of the nobility, only of their serfs. However, it was a step forward from the situation at the turn of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. After 1716, the Commonwealth’s budget went from four to about ten million Polish zlotys per year. Although specially constituted treasury tribunals were established to supervise systematic payments to the troops, the army did not receive central financial support and was expected instead to support itself by collecting from crown estates. Furthermore, attempts were also made to define the obligations and the rights of high government officials, above all the hetmans. In addition, the rights of the dietines (sejmiki) in matters of taxation were restricted, and there were attempts to ban confederations and to restrict the Senate to its lawful obligations. Not all these decisions proved to have equal value; ultimately the decentralization of the treasury and the reduction in the size of the army proved disastrous.7
These reforms appeared to be only the beginning of larger changes, or so it seemed in light of the King’s proclamations to subsequent Diets, which foretold continued financial-military reform and the adoption of a mercantilist economic policy. The nobility added its demands for new regulations concerning relations between church and state to the royal plans. After the struggle between the court and the hetmans, the Commonwealth returned to the question of government reform at the Diets of 1724 and 1726. A special commission was set up for the conduct of foreign affairs. Also, the Diet reformed the tribunal.8 But Karwicki’s most important proposition on rationalizing the Diet was ignored and the liberum vetowas restored. This paralyzed the Diet until 1764.
In such a political stalemate the ideology of the Enlightenment became a new and powerful stimulus toward ending the decline of the state and restoring its strength. The acceptance of the new ideology in Poland was associated with the struggle to emerge from political, economic, and cultural stagnation. The influence of the Enlightenment on society in the Commonwealth was also linked to changes in early eighteenth-century social attitudes and to the acceptance of new economic ideas, of new patterns in government and politics, and of the principles of rationalist thought. However the formation of new social attitudes is a prolonged and cumulative process and changes began with the activity of inspiring individuals and small groups that slowly gained influence in society.
The spread of Enlightenment ideas was helped by changes in education. Of crucial importance was Piarist Stanisław Konarski’s establishment of the Collegium Nobilium in Warsaw in 1740. The college became the model for other new colleges, first of the Piarist, and then of the Jesuit order. This was the beginning of educational reform, one of the most important achievements of the Polish Enlightenment. A further step toward the modernization of education was the creation of the Commission for National Education in 1773 dedicated to reforming the whole educational system.9
The intellectual revival of the early Enlightenment added a new dimension to the struggles between the camps of two rival magnate families - the Czartoryskis (popularly referred to as “the family”) and the Potockis. At first they competed for important government appointments for themselves and their clients. Then they adopted political slogans, thereby turning their factional strife into a struggle over the nature of reform and in this manner enriching the program of reforms.
The events of the War of the Polish Succession after the death of August II again impressed on the nobility the illusory nature of any political ideas not backed up with sufficient force. As a result, financial and military reforms were seen as urgent tasks. More than one political writer demanded an army of a hundred thousand men and the funds to support them. In theory, all agreed on this. Yet, when the great commission was set up to prepare the necessary proposals at the Diet of 1736, opponents soon found sufficient reasons to put off the matter until the next Diet. However, later Diets during the reign of August III were disrupted and no decisions were made.
The issues of military and financial reforms were raised again on the eve of the Diet of 1744 when the international situation was particularly favorable for the Commonwealth. Both warring magnate factions therefore put forward their projects for reform. Stanisław Poniatowski, the father of the future King, expressed “the family’s” point of view in his List ziemianina do pewnego przyjaciela z innego województwa, 1744 (Letter from a landowner to a certain friend from another province) in which he explored means of increasing the army’s strength. He proposed a reform of the tax system based on a national mercantilist policy, industrialization, and economic protection of the burghers. He also proposed restricting the right to disrupt debates at the dietines or the Diet.
At the same time, Antoni Potocki circulated his own letter to the dietines. He came out in support of financial military reform and a more efficient operation of the Diet. He put forward a project for the appointment of a standing commission as the King’s privy council. Its membership would include not only senators and nobles appointed at sessions of the Diet, but burghers as well. He wanted to recognize the burghers as a separate estate with rights to representation in the Diet. Unfortunately Potocki helped dissolve the Diet in the interests of Frederick the Great, thus wrecking the most important attempt since 1717 to reform the Commonwealth. The Potockis were also responsible for the breakup of the Diets in 1746 and 1748, when efforts were being made to reform the Polish government.10
The question of how to bring order to the Commonwealth continued to be a subject of lively debate and was frequently discussed by the nobility at the dietines. Publicists also engaged in polemics on the topic, writing pamphlets and leaflets that were sometimes printed but far more often copied by hand. The status quo did not lack defenders, but there were also mature reformist voices. Unlike the reformers of the first quarter of the century, the writers of the 1740s did not confine themselves to the question of how to put the political system in order. They stressed that reform of the government could only bring the results expected if it were associated with a change in social relations. By this they meant improved status for the peasants and broader rights for the burghers.
The fullest program of reforms in this sense is found in the work Glos wolny wolność ubezpieczający 1733 (1749) (A free voice in defense offreedom), probably written by King Stanisław Leszczyński and later included in his collection entitled Oeuvres du Philosophe Bienfaisant (Paris, 1763). Leszczyński’s point of departure for his observations is close to that of Karwicki. He emphasized the need to restrict the power of the monarchy, to transfer royal estates to the treasury, and, following the English example, to make ministers responsible to the Diet for all actions taken in the name of the king. He recommended restricting the liberum veto, abolishing the Senate’s status as a separate institution and its incorporation into the Diet, and reorganizing the ministries into collegiate bodies. Kings would be elected by a special Diet. For the security of the Commonwealth there would be an army of fifty thousand in time of peace, and one hundred thousand men in time of war.
Leszczyński’s social proposals form the most important part of his discussion. He criticized the clergy for their devotion to material possessions and demanded the transfer of excess clerical income to the state. He derided the nobility for their demagogic democracy and demanded the removal from the dietines of military officers and nobles without land - the magnates’ chief political backers. Above all he defended the oppressed peasants and the burghers. He spoke out against the manorial system, against the limitation of peasants’ personal freedom, against the lords’ power of life and death over their serfs. He also appealed for increased protection of commerce and industry, which would improve conditions for the burghers.11
Glos wolny remained influential to the end of the Commonwealth. The reforms of the Great Diet and the Constitution of 3 May had their roots in Leszczyński’s political tract.
The next period of reform activity began in the 1760’s. It was then that Stanisław Konarski published his greatest work, O skutecznym rad sposobie, 1760-63 (On effective counsel). He was the first to reject the liberum veto in an uncompromising manner, a step he considered a necessary condition for any improvement in the Polish parliamentary system. A reformed Diet, wrote Konarski, would have full legislative authority and would organize the executive. The Diet would be elected for a term of two years by the property owning nobility. Royal power was to be restricted, though Konarski did not reject the introduction of hereditary succession. Konarski proposed that a standing council of residents made up of the ministers, the Primate, senators nominated by the king, and deputies nominated by the Diet would exercise executive power. Altogether Konarski’s system had strong connections to Karwicki’s earlier plans.
Konarski’s work had a great influence on the political life in Poland. During the interregnum of 1763-4 after the death of August III, “the Family” adopted many of Konarski’s ideas in its reform program. Chancellor Andrzej Zamoyski presented the Czartoryski program at the Convocation Diet in 1764, before the election of the new King. He demanded that the Diet be made more efficient by the introduction of majority voting, that an executive council be set up, and that the collegial system be introduced in government departments. These ideas could not be fully realized because of opposition to them by Frederick the Great and Catherine II. Changes were limited to a partial improvement in the functioning of the Diet by the introduction of new rules of procedure, and by allowing majority voting in financial and economic affairs. These improvements were effective - henceforth not a single Diet was dissolved. The competence of the highest military and financial offices was reduced and taken over by commissions, elected by the Diet. The Convocation Diet also initiated a new policy towards the burghers. So began the transformation of the state into an orderly “enlightened” Commonwealth.
The new King, Stanisław August Poniatowski, favored reform. As a substitute for a permanent executive body he assembled his so-called Conference of King and Ministers to serve as a cabinet. A special commission undertook the regulation of the coinage. The King also appointed Commissions “of good order” for the towns.12
The reforms soon stopped, blocked by the conservative opposition that was supported by St. Petersburg and Berlin. Also the Confederation of Bar, which took up arms in 1768 against the Russian intervention in Poland, proclaimed the defense of the independence of the Commonwealth, but in its traditional form. After the First Partition, Russian interference made serious reform impossible. This did not stop the flow of reform plans. Among others the former leader of the Confederation of Bar, Bishop Adam Krasiński, in his memorandum on the reform of law and the government, proposed a hereditary monarchy, the introduction of a standing council, an effective reform of the Diet, and some social reform. At the same time, the Piarist lawyer and historian, Wincenty Skrzetuski defended the principle of national sovereignty, declaring his support for a hereditary monarchy that would put an end to the abuses of free elections, and emphasized economic policies that would strengthen the Commonwealth.13
The Diet of 1773-1775, convened after the First Partition of Poland, introduced only limited reforms. A Permanent Council was set up as an instrument by which the Russian Ambassador exercised his control over the King. It was composed of thirty-six councilors from the Senate and the house of deputies. It limited some of the royal prerogatives and imposed some restrictions on the power of the magnate-ministers. It was divided into five departments responsible to the most important ministers: foreign affairs, police, war, justice, and the treasury. There was also a limited military-financial reform. The crown lands came under the control of the treasury, which was to rent them out on fifty-year leases. The most notable achievement of this Diet was its establishment of the Commission for National Education.
Thus the third attempt at political reform since 1717 resulted in half measures. What was worse, the Diet, under the pressure of the Russian Ambassador Stackelberg, hampered the possibility of further basic reforms. The Diet had to assure the exercise of traditional fundamental rights: free election of the king, the right to refuse obedience to the crown, the principle of unanimity (with some exceptions), etc. These rights were guaranteed by Russia, Prussia and Austria. In the newly formed institutions, and particularly in the Permanent Council, positions of importance were held by individuals whose chief concern was their own questionable self-interest, or who served as lackeys of the foreign powers.14
It should be emphasized, however, that even in these dramatic circumstances new steps had been taken towards modernizing the state. Without the Commission for National Education, the radical change in attitude which took place in the next period would have run a much more sluggish course. The Permanent Council also proved a useful institution, solving many problems of internal policy and facilitating changes in economic and social life.
In the next few years, significant weaknesses (both in terms of external interference and internal opposition) were revealed in connection with Andrzej Zamoyski’s Code of Laws entitled Zbiór praw sądowych, 1778 (The collection of judicial laws). The need for a new codification of the law was a matter which had been raised some time before. The Diet of 1776 entrusted preparation of a new collection of laws to a commission directed by Andrzej Zamoyski. Zamoyski, with the agreement of the King, decided to go beyond the narrow instructions he received from the Diet and compiled a Code of laws intended to standardize the laws in use in the Commonwealth, and to bring them in line with the ideas of the Enlightenment, plotting the direction of further social change. There was a propaganda campaign, designed to secure favorable reception of the Code by the nobility. The wisest pronouncement concerning the codification project came from the political writer, Józef Wybicki. In his Listy patriotyczne do Jasnie Wielmożnego eks-kanclerza Zamoyskiego prawa ukłdadającego pisane, 1777-78 (Patriotic letters to His Honor Ex-Chancellor Zamoyski compiling a code of law), Wybicki primarily dealt with basic problems of social life, advocating better conditions for the peasants and improvements in the rights of the burghers. The draft Code presented in 1778 did not diminish noble privilege but it increased the rights of burghers and mitigated the harsh legal disabilities of the serfs. Large towns received the right to send representatives to the Diet, a measure in line with earlier enactments. The Code also contained provisions allowing burghers to acquire land and facilitating their ennoblement. It also defined the manner in which burghers and nobles could form commercial companies together. A new view of peasants found eloquent expression in the sections of the Code that separated serfs bound to the soil with manorial obligations from free peasants whose settlement was governed by contract. Zamoyski preferred leniency toward serfs and wanted to restrict the pursuit of runaways. He also brought back regulations dating from 1496 that allowed a serifs second and fourth children to move to a town and take up a trade.
Zamoyski was not allowed to propose laws that changed the highest institutions of government. However, he included regulations concerning the obligations of the Jewish population, the loss of noble privileges by nobles who did not own property, and on the relationship between church and state. Zamoyski’s Code of Laws was not perfect; nonetheless, it was an attempt to put Polish law in order and to bring it into line with the needs of an “enlightened” Commonwealth.
When the draft Code was laid before the public for discussion it met with objections from foreign interests and from the conservative nobility. The papal nuncio G. A. Archetti, deeply perturbed by the Code, which, in his opinion, violated the rights of the church in Poland, embarked on energetic action against it. He won the support of the magnates and also of the Russian ambassador Stackelberg, who feared that the introduction of the Code might lead to far-reaching political changes. At the final debate of the Diet of 1780 the deputies rejected the Code categorically as prejudicial to noble rights and privileges. Though rejected by the Diet, the work done by Zamoyski’s commission was later used during the Great Diet and in the Constitution of 3 May.15
From the defeat of Zamoyski’s Code of Laws to the summoning of the Great Diet in 1788, political life in the Commonwealth followed a sluggish and murky course. It was a time of a parting of the ways between the young magnates, like Adam Czartoryski or Stanisław and Ignacy Potocki and the old conservatives. New political programs were written that caused a realignment of political parties. Not unexpectedly, it was during this time that the most profound works by thinkers of the Polish Enlightenment appeared. Most prominent among them were the books of Stanisław Staszic. At first, Staszic did not play an active part in political life, though he deeply felt the shortcomings of the Polish system of government. This led him to write two books that had an unusually powerful effect on public opinion in Poland. These were his Uwagi nadzyciem Jana Zamoyskiego, 1787 (Remarks on the life of Jan Zamoyski) and Przestrogidia Polski, 1790 (Warnings for Poland). Staszic endowed his pronouncements with an extraordinary power of suggestion. Although he was a confirmed republican, he recognized that conditions in the Commonwealth made it essential to bolster the power of the monarch by abolishing free elections of the king and introducing a hereditary monarchy. The Diet would have to undergo thorough reform, including the introduction of the majority principle and the creation of a common chamber of burghers and nobles, in which both estates would have an equal number of votes. Staszic also attached great importance to the expansion and modernization of the army.
Staszic believed that simultaneous changes in economic and social policy were of fundamental importance. He demanded a protective policy for Polish trade and crafts, equalization of burgher and noble rights, and improved conditions for the peasants, whose miserable state was depicted by him as exceptionally shocking. He regarded peasant poverty and subjugation as the chief cause for the weakness of the Commonwealth. Sharing the views of the physiocrats, Staszic saw the farmer’s labor as the basis of society’s welfare, emphasizing that he meant the labor of the peasant. On the other hand, Staszic attacked the magnates harshly as the chief instigators of Poland’s downfall.16
Hugo Kołłątaj was a theorist of reform like Staszic, but was much more active politically. He influenced the decisions of the Great Diet and affected the attitudes of its deputies and public opinion with his propaganda. He recruited a group of able publicists and men of letters who formed what came to be known as “Kołłątaj’s Forge,” the most powerful center of political propaganda that ever existed in the old Commonwealth.
Kołłątaj frequently took up his pen to join in numerous debates. Starting in 1788 he published his most important work in the form of letters to Stanisław Małachowski, Marshal of the Great Diet. Do Stanisiawa Maiachowskiego Anonima listów kilka, 1788-89 (To Stanisław Małachowski several letters by an anonymous author). He included in these letters his most important ideas on the state of the Commonwealth and the possibility of its reform, many of which he shared with Staszic. Kołłątaj, however, was guided to a greater extent by the possibilities of the moment. The demands of political tactics were uppermost in his thoughts. As a result we find contradictions in Kołłątaj’s works that make it hard to ascertain his doctrine.
Like Staszic, Kołłątaj recognized social change as fundamental to successful reform, insisting, for example, that burghers should have the same rights as nobles. All social and political reforms had to assure the more efficient functioning of government. A reformed Diet would play the leading role in government. It would be permanent and operate on the majority principle. Executive power would also originate in the Diet, although Kołłątaj declared himself in favor of the separation of powers. He also supported hereditary succession to the Polish throne.
Kołłątaj’s views were of particular significance for constitutional reform, for he was soon to participate in drafting the most important document of the Great Diet. He was one of the authors of the Constitution of 3 May, together with Stanisław August, Ignacy Potocki, Stanisław Małachowski and Scipione Piattoli. Kołłątaj personified the application of theory to practice. He worked to transform his ideas and those of his predecessors into real constitutional change.17
The Constitution of 3 May was a “gentle revolution,” as Kołłątaj called it. It had its roots in the ideas of Karwicki and his successors, in the attempts at reform from the Dumb Diet to Zamoyski’s codification, and even in the absolutist dreams of August II. The Constitution of 3 May is naturally associated with the Great Diet, but while it was a product of discussions of the deputies and senators, it was also a result of a long search for reform in the Commonwealth that began early in the eighteenth century. Ultimately the Constitution proved to be a great achievement in the sense that it showed the Polish way to the formation of a modern state.
(Notes prepared by the editorial staff)
1. Władysław Konopczyński, Polscy pisarze polityczni XVIIIw. (do Sejmu Czteroletniego) (Polish political writers of the 18th century (up to the Four-Year Diet)) (Warszawa, PWN, 1966). See also: Jörg K. Hoensch, Sozialverfassug und Politische Reform. Polen im vorrevolutionären Zeitalter. (Köln: Böhlau, 1973); Jerzy Lukowski, Liberty’s Folly. The Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth in the Eighteenth Century, 1697-1795 (London: Routledge, 1991).
2. Józef Gierowski, “Polska, Saksonia i plany absolutystyczne Augusta II” (Poland, Saxony... and the absolutist plans of August II) in Polska w epoce Oswiecenia, ed. Bogusław Leśnodorski (Warszawa: Wiedza Powszechna, 1971), pp. 60-105.
3. Józef Gierowski, “Personal - oder Realunion?” in Um die polnische Krone, eds. Johannes Kalisch and Józef Gierowski (Berlin: Runen und Loening, 1962), p. 290.
4. Władysław Konopczyński, Le liberum veto (Paris: H. Champion - Gebethner i Wolff, 1930); Józef Gierowski, Między saskim absolutyzmem a zlotą wolnośćią (Between Saxon absolutism and golden freedom) (Wrocław: Ossolineum, 1953); Henryk Olszewski, Sejm Rzeczypospolitej epoki oligarchii 1652-1763 (Polish Diet in the oligarchy epoch 1652-1763) (Poznan: Wyd. Uniw. A. Mickiewicza, 1966); Jerzy Michalski, “Sejm w czasach saskich” (The Diet in the Saxon times) in Historia sejmu polskiego, vol. 1, ed. Jerzy Michalski (Warszawa: PWN, 1984), pp. 300-349.
5. Władysław Konopczyński, Geneza i ustanowienie Rady Nieustającej(The genesis and the establishment of the Permanent Council) (Kraków: Akademia Umiejętnosci - Gebethner i Wolff, 1917).
6. Stanisław Dunin Karwicki, Dziela polityczne z początku XVIII wieku (Political works at the beginning of the 18th century), eds. Adam Przyboś and Kazimierz Przyboś (Wrocław: Ossolineum, 1992).
7. Michał Nycz, Geneza reform skarbowych sejmu niemego (The genesis of the fiscal reforms of the Dumb Diet) (Poznan: Poznarńskie Towatzystwo Przyjaciól Nauk, 1938).
8. In addition to the works quoted in note 4 see: Jerzy Michalski, Studia nad reformą sądownictwa iprawa sądowego w XVIII wieku (On the reform of the judicial system and judicial law in the 18th century) (Wrocław: Ossolineum, 1958).
9. Władysław Konopczyński, Stanisław Konarski (Warszawa: Wyd. Kasy im. Mianowskiego, 1926); William John Rose, Stanislas Konarski: Reformer of Education in XVIII-century Poland (London, 1929); Ambroise Jobert, La Commission d’Educadon Nationale en Pologne (1773-1794) (Paris: Librairie Droz, 1941).
10. Michael G. Müler, Polen zwischen Preussen und Russland (Berlin: Colloquium Verlag, 1983); Zofia Zielińska, Walka “Familii” o reformę Rzeczypospolitej 1743-1752 (The struggle of “the Family” for reform of the Commonwealth) (Warszawa: PWN, 1983).
11. Józef Feldman, Stanisław Leszczyński (Wrocław-Warszawa: Książnica-Atlas, 1948); Emanuel Rostworowski, “Czy Stanisław Leszczyński jest autorem ‘Glosu wolnego’” (Is Stanisław Leszczyński the author of the “Free Voice?”) in Emanuel Rostworowski Legendy i fakty XVIII w. (Warszawa: PWN, 1963).
12. Władysław T. Kisielewski, Reforma książąt Czartoryskich na sejmie konwokacyjnym r. 1764(The reform of the princes Czartoryski at the Convocation Diet 1764) (Sambor: J. Czainski, 1880); Bogusław Leśnodorski, “Mowy Andrzeja Zamoyskiego--na konwokacji 1764 r.” (Andrzej Zamoyski’s addresses at the Convocation Diet 1764) in Księga pamiątkowa 150-lecia Archiwum Glównego Akt Dawnych w Warszawie (Warszawa: PWN, 1958), pp. 338-339; Jerzy Michalski, “Reforma książąt Czartoryskich na sejmie konwokacyjnym” (Reform of the judiciary at the Convocation Diet) in Między wielką polityką a szlacheckim partykularyzmem. Studia z dziejów nowozytnej Polski i Europy ku czci Profesora Jacka Staszewskiego (Torun : Wyd. Uniwersytetu Mikołaja Kopernika, 1993), pp. 295-313.
13. Aleksander Kraushar, Książą Repnin i Polska (Prince Repnin and Poland) (Warszawa: Gebethner i Wolff, 1900), 2 vols.; Kazimierz Rudnicki, Biskup Kajetan Sotyk (Kraków. W.L. Anczyc, 1906); Władysław Konopczyński, Konfederacja barska (Confederation of Bar) (Warszawa: 1936-38), 2 vols; “Biskupa Adama Krasińskiego traktat o naprawie Rzeczypospolitej” (Bishop Adam Krasiński’s treatise on the reform of the State) ed. Władysław Konopczyński, Przegląd Narodowy 6, 4 (1913): 344-359, 5 (1913): 492-515; Jerzy Michalski, “Propaganda konserwatywna w walce z reformą w początkach panowania Stanisława Augusta” (Conservative propaganda and its struggle against reform at the beginning of Stanisław August’s reign) Przegląd Historyczny 42, 3-4 (1951): 536-562; George T. Lukowski, The Szlachta and the Confederacy of Radom 1764-1767/68: A Study of the Polish Nobility (Romae: Institutum Historicum Polonicum Romae, 1977).
14. Jerzy Michalski, “Sprawa chfopska na sejmie 1773-1775” (The peasant problem at the 773-1775 Diet), Przegląd Historyczny 45 (1954): 3-13; “Problem iusagratimdi i kary smierci w Polsce w latach siedemdziesiątych XVIII w.” (The issue of ius agratiandi and the death penalty in Poland in the 1770’s), Czasopismo Prawno-Historyczne 10, 2 (1958): 175-196; “Rejtan et les dilemmes des Polonais au temps du premier démembrement,” Acta Poloniae Histórica 63/64 (1991): 27-88; Daniel Stone, Polish Politics and National Reform 1775-1788. (New York: Boulder, Colorado U. Press, 1976).
15. Ewa Borkowska-Bagieńska, “Zbiór praw sądowych” Andrzeja Zamoyskiego (Collection of judicial laws by Andrzej Zamoyski) (Poznan: Wyd. Uniw. im. A. Mickiewicza, 1986); Emanuel Rostworowski, “Mysli polityczne” Jozefa Wybickiego czyli droga od konfederacji barskiej do obiadów czwartkowych” (“The political thoughts” of Józef Wybicki, or the road from the Confederation of Bar to the Thursday dinners) in Józef Wybicki Księga zbiorowa, ed. Andrzej Bukowski (Gdansk: Ossolineum, 1975), pp. 11-34.
16. Czesław Leśniewski, Stanisław Staszic, jego zycie i ideologia w dobie Polski Niepodleglej (1755-1795) (Stanisław Staszic, his life and ideology in the era of independent Poland (1755-1795)) (Warszawa: Gebethner i Wolff, 1926); Władysław Konopczyński, “Polscy pisarze polityczni XVIII wieku (Czasy Sejmu Czteroletniego)” (Polish political writers of the 18th century (the period of the Four-Year Diet)), MS. Jagiellonian Library, BJ, no. 52/61.
17. Hugo Kołłątaj, Listy Anonima i Prawo polityczne narodu polskiego (Anonymous letters and Political law of the Polish nation), eds. Bogustaw Leśnodorski and Helena Wereszycka (Warszawa: PWN, 1954), 2 vols; Kołłątaj i inni. Zptiblicystyki doby Sejmu Czteroletniego (Kołłątaj and others. From the political literature of the time of the Four-Year Diet) ed. Łukasz Kądziela (Warszawa: Wyd. Szkolne i Pedagogiczne, 1991); Zofia Zielińska, Kołłątaj i orientacja pruska u progu Sejmu Czteroletniego (Kołłątaj and the Prussian orientation on the eve of the Four-Year Diet) (W arszawa: PAX, 1991); Emanuel Rostworowski, “Marzenie dobrego obywatela czyli królewski projekt konstytucji” (The dream of a good citizen or the king’s project of the constitution) in Rostworowski, Legendy i fakty, Maria Pasztor, Hugo Kołłątaj na Sejmie Wielkim w latach 1791-1792 (Hugo Kołłątaj at the Great Diet in the years 1791-1792) (Warszawa: Wyd. Sejmowe, 1991); Andrzej Walicki, The Enlightenment and the Birth of Modern Nationhood: Polititcd Thought from Noble Republicanism to Tadeusz Kościuszko (Notre Dame: Univ, of Notre Dame Press, 1990).