Wednesday, May 2, 2012
On this day in history, the world's second constitution
Catherine the Great of the Russian Empire invaded the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. The Prussians didn't like the new powers of the Polish-Lithuanian king because it might have led to a demand on Prussian lands that were once in the hands of the Poles. Other powers didn't like it because it was a threat to the notion of absolute monarchy and these threats could've caused some political instability. All in all, the Constitution was regarded contemporaneously as a nuisance. The Russian invasion and the discontent of its neighbors leaked into the second partition of Poland. This led to Polish and Lithuanian lands falling into the hands of the Russians and Germans. The bourgeoisie of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth were beaten back and the old magnates returned to their former glory under the Prussians and Russians. Poland would lose independence until the 20th century on account of this constitution. While this might be sad for most Poles, the constitution retained power long after it was abandoned as a symbol for what is right and good about the Polish culture. It became a beacon in the history of democracy and has inspired countless other democratic movements. It now stands as both a Polish and Lithuanian holiday marking the democratic spirit of both peoples.