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Session #16 - Enlightened Absolutism and the Partitions of Poland

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Piotr Wrobel

November 1 , 2012 ENLIGHTENED ABSOLUTISM The Partitions of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, and Russian Expansion in Southeastern Europe  Enlightenment ideas began in the 15 and 16 centuries  At that time, France and Paris were the capital of Europe and the most important things happened there  The encyclopedia was invented (supposed to be the entire corpus of human knowledge) – initially the Church had tried to ban it but the movement was too strong  Enlightenment - development of humanity (to think for themselves), the development of reason, idea of universal enlightenment (humans were equal by nature i.e. serfdom was wrong) ~ A new idea towards religion – people were not considered part of God’s order but had different religions which were comparable ~ Belief that economy was vital to politics and life in general ~ Self-government  These core ideas became very popular throughout the world – American Revolution was a product of the Enlightenment  Of course it spread to ECE too – it reached different parts of ECE at different times (therefore, there were always conservative peoples who opposed the Enlightenment and were anti-Western)  Bohemia and Austria accepted the Enlightenment first; 2 zone – Hungary and Poland; 3 zone – Romania, Lithuania, the Balkans; the Turks would not accept the Enlightenment  The Enlightenment affected politics a great deal – the state became the most important (everyone should work for the state for the well-being of the entire society) – strongly against feudalism but for order and reason  This new way of ruling was called enlightened absolutism Austria and Bohemia  Maria Theresa succeeded to the Hapsburg throne – a traditional Catholic who started introducing centralized government; supported building of factories of industry; supported changes in education  Her son, Joseph II (r. 1780) – an extreme representative of the Enlightenment who tried to regulate everything in the state ~ He showed toleration towards Protestants; he abolished the death penalty; liberated the peasants; closed 700 monasteries  When he died in 1790, the throne was taken over by his brother, Leopold but he died in 1792 – this program of enlightened change collapsed in Austria (most of the ideas introduced by Joseph were revoked) November 1 , 2012 Poland-Lithuanian Commonwealth  1764 – new leader, Stanislav P. (lover of Catherine II) who brought about many reforms  However, he was weak and he was not an absolute monarch – there was civil war in Poland, war with Turkey  Austria took parts of Turkey Prussia  Region north of Poland occupied by ethnic Prussian (close to Latvian and Lithuanian)  Poland had much difficulty with the Prussians – they were constantly invading and they were pagan  1226 – Polish prince invited the Teutonic knights to Prussia (in an effort to Christianize the area) where they occupied a territory near the Vistula  Initially the Teutonic knights were quite weak (had been a military order during the Crusades in the Holy Land) ~ The Brothers of the Hospital of St. Mary of the German nation  They did not distinguish themselves in the Holy Land  1224 – King Andrew of Hungary invited the Teutonic knights to Transylvania ~ He thought they would help to defend Hungary ~ He realized very quickly that they were not sincere and he ejected them from Transylvania  Initially the Prussians did not realize the threat – they should have stopped the building of castles by the Teutonic knights  Teutonic knights began subjugating Prussia (Pomerania and even Lithuania proper) th  At the beginning of the 15 century, they were one of the most powerful military orders  They were an anachronism from the very beginning – as an organization they became a burden (they did not want to pay taxes etc.)  1410 – the Battle of Grunewald, Poland and Lithuania united to defeat the TK  1466 – Peace of T. was signed in Poland and western Pome
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