‘A Tragedy’, But ‘Very Beneficial’: The Evaluation of the Lublin Union in the Latest Lithuanian Historiography
Keywords:1569 Union of Lublin, Grand Duchy of Lithuanian, Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, Livonian War (1558–1583)
The article describes historiographic issues on which there is more or less general consensus in the newest Lithuanian historiography devoted to the issues of the union established in Lublin in 1569 as well as areas where new divergences in the evaluation by historians appear. When discussing the latter issue, in the first place, attention is paid to how the latest Lithuanian historiography describes the nature of the Polish–Lithuanian state founded in Lublin. Attempts are also made to draw attention to the fact that there is still a lack of purposeful scientific research that could convincingly justify the thesis, which is gaining popularity in the latest Lithuanian historiography and especially in public discourses and didactic texts, that the Union of Lublin of 1569 saved Lithuania from the inevitable annexation or “surrender to Moscow”, which would have been inevitable if this alliance had not been concluded. The article states that there is general agreement in Lithuanian historiography as regards the assessment that in 1569, when the Polish–Lithuanian union was emerged, a compromise was reached, as a result of which Lithuania retained its statehood. Although the sovereign powers of the Lithuanian State were confined within the framework of a joint state with Poland, they were not abolished. There is a consensus in historiography that the union established in Lublin in 1569 was of vital importance and contributed to the cultural rapprochement of the societies of Poland and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and that the Polish– Lithuanian state, which emerged as a result of the union, helped to unite the forces of Poland and Lithuania, which allowed them to successfully resist the expansionist policy of Russia, at least for some time. There remain persisting differences in the interpretation of the nature of the joint state of the Crown of the Kingdom of Poland and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania (the Polish– Lithuanian Commonwealth). Sometimes it is called a federation and on other occasions, a confederation or an intermediate term between federation and confederation is used. However, some historians consider that attempts to adapt these modern terms for describing the realities of the mid-sixteenth century should be avoided. The article says that, in the latest Lithuanian historiography and especially in public discourse and didactic texts, the popular thesis that, in 1569, Lithuania faced a dilemma with the alternatives to either create a state union with Poland or inevitably lose the war with Moscow and be annexed by the Moscow State or be forced to “surrender to Moscow” still requires additional research. The representation in the Lithuanian historiography of the situation of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania as extremely desperate may be overly exaggerated. In order to be able to present reliable conclusions about the real situation of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania during the Livonian War, it is necessary to conduct a deeper study of the history of the war, the history of diplomacy as well as a comparative analysis of the military, financial and economic potential of the states having participated in this conflict.
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