Historical Basics
The Commonwealth

Few Americans, including those of Polish ancestry, are aware that the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth was once
among the greatest nations on earth.  In addition to Poland and Lithuania, it incorporated lands in present day
Ukraine, Belarus, Romania, Moldova, Austria, Latvia, Estonia, and Russia.  A vassal state, the Duchy of Courland,
even established colonies in the Carribbean and Africa.  The armies of the Commonwealth, led by the legendary
husaria, were a dominant force and became the basis for western cavalry.  A modern democracy, even Kings were
elected.  Refugees from religious and cultural persecution were welcomed, and it was not uncommon to see
Christian churches side by side with Jewish temples and Islamic mosques in major cities.  In a time when the
Reformation and Counter-Reformation resulted in the deaths of countless "heretics," the Commonwealth was a
sanctuary and forum in which theologians could debate without bloodshed.

The Commonwealth collapsed for various reasons, not the least of which included the election of Kings not
entirely dedicated to the welfare of the Commonwealth.  The deputies in the Sejm, the legislative body, squabbled
amongst themselves for personal gain, paralyzing the Commonwealth's defenses.  With Russian soldiers inviting
themselves into the Commonwealth as "friendly protectors," the Sejm was forced to vote for policies re-enforcing
foreign interests, eventually resulting in the dissolution of the Commonwealth.  It ceased to exist in 1795, when all
of Poland was swallowed by Russia, Prussia, and Austria.  In spite of numerous rebellions against the foreign
invaders and empty promises from Napoleon Bonaparte, Poland and Lithuania did not regain independence until
the close of World War I in 1918.
The Commonwealth, 1739 AD