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10: From the First Congress of Vienna to the Union of Lublin

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The Habsburgs never accepted their defeat in the Hungarian election after Mathias Corvinus. They not only immediately re-occupied the lost Austrian territories, but they were resolved to realize their old plan of uniting Hungary and possibly also Bohemia with Austria. Their rivalry with the Jagellonians, who had gained both kingdoms for themselves, was therefore more acute than ever before and led to a first rapprochement between Austria and Russia, the eastern enemy of the Polish-Lithuanian dynasty. Negotiations between Vienna and Moscow which started under Emperor Frederick III in the eighties, parallel to Ivan III’s negotiations with Casimir’s other opponents including Mathias Corvinus, were now continued with a view to encircling the Jagellonian state system. At the same time there was a danger that the energy and versatility of the new emperor, Maximilian I, would create internal difficulties for Vladislav of Hungary, using the partisans of the Habsburgs in that country who were few in number but who belonged to some of the most powerful families.

    The Jagellonians reacted by secretly discussing the possibilities of cooperation among the three brothers who ruled Poland, Lithuania, Bohemia, and Hungary, including also their two younger brothers: Frederick, who led the Polish hierarchy as primate archbishop of Gniezno, bishop of Cracow, and finally also cardinal, and Sigismund, who was growing up at the court of Buda. When, after the discussions of John Albert and Alexander at the Polish-Lithuanian border, they all met in 1496 at Levocsa, in Hungary, they were also joined by their brother-in-law, Frederick of Brandenburg. The matrimonial relations of the Jagellonians with some of the minor German dynasties seemed to become particularly valuable at a time when the Teutonic Order, after the death of a grand master who proved loyal to Poland and who participated in the ill-fated expedition of 1497, elected as successor one of the princes of the Empire, Frederick of Saxony, who refused to pay the homage due to the Polish king according to the treaty of 1466.

    That tension in the relations with the Teutonic Knights was the problem which most seriously troubled the end of John Albert s reign. Popular among the gentry, whose privileges he had extended at the Diets of 1493 and 1496 at the expense of burghers and peasants, after his defeat in Moldavia he lost much of his authority, which an Italian exile, the humanist Philip Callimachus Buonaccorsi, advised him to strengthen according to the Renaissance pattern. Such councils proved entirely impracticable in Poland, but in the field of political relations, great possibilities seemed to open up when in 1500 an alliance was concluded in Buda between the Jagellonian brothers and two Western powers, France and Venice.

    Allegedly directed against the Turks, that treaty was an answer to the German-Russian encirclement of East Central Europe. It integrated the Jagellonian kingdoms into the general European state system and seemed to guarantee a valuable support against the Habsburgs and also indirectly against the Teutonic Order which the Empire continued to protect. It so happened, however, that the following year John Albert unexpectedly died at the very moment when he was preparing an energetic action against the Knights of the Cross and planning to marry a French princess. Her sister became the wife of Vladislav of Hungary and Bohemia, but the weakness of this king’s rule was another reason, in addition to the Russian invasion of Alexander’s grand duchy, why the high hopes of the turn of the century did not materialize.

    Under such conditions, Habsburg pressure increased in Buda where in 1505 the Diet decided never again to elect a foreigner as king. Alexander, who from 1501 had also been King of Poland, made no progress in settling the Prussian problem, and his struggle against the supremacy of the senatorial families ended in the compromise of 1505. This was the famous constitution Nihil Novi which confirmed the legislative power of both houses of the Diet, and promised that “nothing new” would be decreed without their joint consent. But while in Hungary and Bohemia the aging Vladislav was to continue his policy of appeasement for another decade and in 1514 the constitutional privileges of the Hungarian nobility were fixed in Stephen Verböczy’s Tripartitum, Alexander, who died in 1506, was followed in both Lithuania and Poland by his youngest brother, Sigismund, who was to be the leading personality in all East Central Europe until his death in 1548.

    A man of refinement and culture, which he acquired at the court of Buda, and trained in government as Vladislav’s viceroy in Silesia, he was also anxious to solve through peaceful methods the big problems which he had to face. He tried to establish a lasting peace not only in his relations with the West but also in the East, after the failure of an attempt to regain Lithuania’s territorial losses in a first war against Vasil III, the son and successor of Ivan III. There continued, however, the cooperation of Moscow and Vienna against the two closely united surviving Jagellonian brothers. At the same time Maximilian I supported the new grand master of the Teutonic Order, another prince of the Empire, Albrecht of Brandenburg, of the Hohenzollern family. He was elected in 1510 after Frederick of Saxony, and though he was a nephew of the King of Poland he decided to obtain a revision of the Torun treaty by any means. And Vasil III, encouraged by a rebellion in Lithuania which was led by Prince Michael Glinski—an exceptional case in view of the loyalty of the tremendous majority even among the Orthodox Ruthenian population—was preparing further aggression in cooperation with that ambitious exile of Tartar origin.

    In the war which Moscow started in 1512, breaking the “eternal” peace of 1508, the main attack was directed against Smolensk. When the two first sieges of that strategically important White Russian city ended in failure, Vasil persuaded the envoy of Maximilian I to conclude in Moscow a treaty which, going beyond the Emperor’s intentions, pledged him to join in the struggle against Sigismund I. With Albrecht of Prussia also ready for action after the breakdown of protracted negotiations, and the Crimean Tartars as a permanent threat at the southeastern border, the situation of Poland and Lithuania indeed became critical after the fall of Smolensk in 1514. Seizing that opportunity for pressing his claims to Hungary and Bohemia, the Emperor was planning a congress on German territory where Sigismund and Vladislav would practically surrender in all controversial issues.

    But only a few weeks later, in the same year, the great victory of Orsza, won by the Lithuanians under the leadership of Prince Constantine Ostrogski, the most powerful Orthodox Ruthenian magnate, assisted by Polish forces, altogether changed the situation. Welcomed even in distant Rome as a decisive victory of the Western world, that battle did not regain Smolensk, lost for almost a century, but made the Emperor decide in favor of an understanding with the Jagellonians to be negotiated at a congress which started in Pozsony (Pressburg), Hungary, where Sigismund, with his Polish and Lithuanian advisers, joined the King of Hungary and Bohemia.

    That congress of 1515 can be called a first Congress of Vienna, three hundred years before the famous one, because it was concluded in the Austrian capital after Maximilian I had met his guests near the frontier. The consequences of that meeting were to prove of primary significance for the history of East Central Europe. The three monarchs, all humanists of distinction, rather liked one another upon becoming personally acquainted. The Emperor promised no longer to support either the grand prince of Moscow against Lithuania or the grand master in Prussia against Poland, but to act as a friendly mediator, advising Albrecht to pay his homage to the king and Vasil III to stop his aggressions. For these concessions made to Sigismund I, Maximilian of course expected some compensation with respect to the succession in Hungary and Bohemia. But no treaty which would guarantee that succession to the Habsburgs after the extinction of the elder branch of the Jagellonians was signed in Vienna. Only a double wedding was celebrated. Vladislav’s only son, Louis, married the Emperor’s granddaughter Mary, while Maximilian himself was married per procuram to Vladislav’s daughter Ann, acting for one of his grandsons, Charles or Ferdinand.

    These matrimonial alliances of course increased the influence of the Habsburgs and the chances of their succession in both kingdoms, but in 1515 it was impossible to foresee which dynasty would be extinguished first. Vladislav died the next year, and Ferdinand of Austria, who finally married his daughter, soon started to organize a pro-Habsburg party among the Hungarian magnates. But before the fate of Hungary and Bohemia was decided, Sigismund I, acting as tutor of his nephew, had an opportunity to play a rather important part in the imperial election in 1519 after the death of Maximilian I.

    Poland did not want to alienate the Habsburgs once again, and she hoped that Charles V would continue the policy which his grandfather had promised to follow at the Congress of Vienna in 1515. Therefore, though neither the Prussian issue was settled nor peace with Moscow secured through Habsburg mediation, the Polish envoys at the Election Diet of Augsburg, acting jointly with the representatives of the minor King of Bohemia, managed not to side with the French candidate, Francis I. The new Emperor, whose main interests were in the West, never did turn against the Jagellonians and he continued to send missions to Moscow with peace suggestions, presented by the famous Sigismund von Herberstein. But, just like the abortive papal interventions, being dictated by illusory hopes of gaining Moscow for a religious union, these diplomatic actions never had any concrete results and hardly contributed to the armistice of 1522 which did not restore any of her losses to Lithuania. Furthermore, already in 1519 Poland had to decide for a war against the grand master, who not only refused due homage but also conspired with all her neighbors in view of a simultaneous aggression. When that war proved inconclusive, and here too a mere armistice had to be signed in 1521, it was agreed that once more the Habsburgs, together with Louis of Hungary and Bohemia, would act as mediators. But as a matter of fact, as in the past, they favored the Teutonic Order, and Ferdinand was only waiting for a change in the Hungarian situation to put forward the old claims of his dynasty. Such a change, giving a new significance to the Vienna decisions of 1515, was to occur in 1526, preceded in 1525 by an entirely unexpected turn of the Prussian issue.


In comparison with the Jagellonians and the Habsburgs—the two main rivals in East Central Europe—at the beginning of the sixteenth century the Hohenzollern dynasty seemed to have rather limited possibilities of action in that region. It is true that they ruled in the March of Brandenburg for about a hundred years. But that originally Slavic territory was by now almost completely Germanized except for the small group of Lusatian Sorbs at the border between Brandenburg and Saxony. Projects for gaining the Polish crown for a Hohenzollern, soon after their establishment in Berlin, had failed, and as electors they seemed to be chiefly interested in the problems of Germany. And it was in distant Franconia, near the Swabian cradle of the family, that the younger branch of the Hohenzollerns was ruling the tiny duchy of Ansbach.

    It was, however, precisely a member of that side line who as grand master of the Teutonic Order transferred his activities to Prussia and revived the Order’s old conflict with Poland. Gradually he had to realize that neither Pope nor Emperor was willing or able to give more than occasional moral support to the disintegrating community of the once powerful Knights of the Cross, and before the armistice of 1521 had expired, Albrecht of Hohenzollern decided to reverse his policy completely, thus revealing his real personal and dynastic ambitions. Fully aware of the progress of Lutheranism in Prussia, he himself joined the new faith, dissolved the Order, and turned its Prussian territory into a secular duchy. Of course he needed a protector against the claims of what remained of the Order in Germany, where another grand master was elected, and even more against the indignation of Rome which was shared by Charles V. Such protection he could find only in Poland. Therefore he was now ready to recognize the frontier fixed in 1466 and the suzerainty of the king, if recognized, in turn, as hereditary “Duke in Prussia.”

    The decision which Sigismund I had to make was a very difficult one. A devout Catholic who just had repressed a Lutheran rebellion in Danzig, he was deeply shocked by Albrecht’s apostasy. But on the other hand, this seemed a unique opportunity for at last, getting rid of the traditionally hostile Order and severing all ties between the part of Prussia, which was not directly subject to the authority of the king of Poland, and any foreign power. When Albrecht accepted the condition that the duchy should be hereditary only in the Ansbach line of the Hohenzollerns, and that it should return to the Polish crown after the extinction of the male descendants of himself and his three brothers, an agreement was reached. On April 15, 1525, on the market square of Cracow, the duke paid the king the homage which he had refused as grand master.

    The establishment of the Hohenzollerns in East Prussia was to prove extremely dangerous for Poland. Her own province of “Royal Prussia”—old Polish Pomerania—was now placed between the possessions of two branches of the same ambitious German dynasty. It soon became apparent that the electoral branch in Brandenburg would henceforth consider its main objective to be that of obtaining hereditary rights in “Ducal Prussia,” a first step in the direction of creating a new great power at the expense of Poland and another means for effecting German penetration far into East Central Europe.

    These future developments were difficult to foresee, however, at a moment when the attention of Sigismund I and of his advisers, all eager to avoid violent conflicts, was distracted by other urgent problems. Comparatively easy was the incorporation into the kingdom of that part of Mazovia, with Warsaw, where a side line of the old Piast dynasty ruled as vassals of the crown until the death of the last of them in 1526. The regional autonomy which for a certain time had to be guaranteed to that purely Polish province was no danger to the unity of the realm. But in the same year the long-feared invasion of Hungary by Suleiman the Magnificent shook the very foundations of the Jagellonian state system.

    The attack had been expected since, at least, 1521, when the Turks had conquered Belgrade, the gate to Hungary. The Hungarians themselves were divided into partisans of the Habsburgs, who counted in vain on Austrian help against the Muslim, and a national party, opposed to German influence and to a decisive struggle against the sultan’s overwhelming power, in which, as they anticipated, the Hungarians would be left alone. This actually happened in the critical summer of 1526 when their army, assisted only by a few Polish volunteers, was crushed in the battle of Mohács on August twenty-ninth. Like his grand uncle at Varna, young King Louis lost his life in the defense of Christendom. The elder line of the Jagellonians disappeared with him.

    That defeat had far-reaching consequences for all East Central Europe. Ferdinand I of Austria, backed by the prestige of his brother Charles V who a year before had defeated the Western opponent of the Habsburgs, Francis I of France, in the battle of Pavia, immediately seized the opportunity to realize at last the old design of his dynasty to gain the crowns of both Bohemia and Hungary. Sigismund I of Poland saw no possibility of claiming the succession of his nephew. His only son, Sigismund Augustus, was a minor. This son had been born to Sigismund I in 1520 by his Italian wife, Bona Sforza, whom he had married in 1518 and who was strongly opposed to the Habsburgs. The aging king himself could hardly govern two more countries. In the East he was threatened by Moscow and the Tartars, and he had achieved no success with his plan for a French alliance. Thus the only presumptive rival practically abandoned the field to Ferdinand, who was first unanimously elected in Bohemia and a few months later in Hungary also. In the latter country, however, only by the aristocratic leaders of the pro-Habsburg party. The opposition, which included a majority of the gentry, had already elected a native Hungarian a few weeks earlier. This was John Zápolya, the palatine of Transylvania.

    The partisans of Zápolya were the first to realize that Habsburg rule in Hungary as well as in Bohemia meant the end of national independence and of the rights of the Estates, a strong German penetration, and the predominance of royal authority. Criticized for their weakness, the Jagellonian kings had never represented any similar danger, and their replacement by Ferdinand, an event which is sometimes considered the origin of the Danubian Habsburg monarchy of the future, ended the cooperation of both medieval kingdoms with the Polish-Lithuanian Federation in a free East Central Europe.

    In the case of Hungary, Mohács proved an even greater catastrophe. Because of the twofold election which followed the defeat in a foreign war, before that conflict was over the country entered into a protracted civil war. Zápolya, whose sister had been the first wife of Sigismund I, hoped for the support of the King of Poland and indeed enjoyed much Polish sympathy. But the Jagellonian who had not opposed the Habsburgs even in his own interest was still less inclined to fight them in favor of Zápolya. He limited himself to a mediation which had no chance of success and to granting Hungary’s national king an asylum on Polish soil at a critical moment of his struggle. Even so, Poland’s relations with the Habsburgs naturally deteriorated, especially when she refused to side with them in their war against Suleiman the Magnificent.

    Such a war necessarily developed, since the sultan, eager to control defeated Hungary himself, was not prepared to tolerate Habsburg domination in that country. In 1529 the Turks besieged Vienna for the first time. They had to withdraw but they continued to support Zápolya who, finding no other ally, turned to Hungary’s traditional foe. Under these conditions Sigismund I had to observe an even stricter neutrality. He was fully aware that Zápolya’s cooperation with the Turks would ultimately lead to their domination in most of Hungary, a domination which for Poland would be even more dangerous than Habsburg rule on the other side of the Carpathians. At the same time, however, he was eager to avoid an open conflict with the Ottoman Empire which could at any time launch its Tartar vassal, the khan of the Crimea, against Poland and Lithuania.

    Even so, these Tartar neighbors in the southeast were a permanent nuisance, and some of their repeated invasions were a real threat to the normal development of the Ukraine, as the Ruthenian border regions of the Lithuanian grand duchy were called from the sixteenth century on. Through these poorly defended southern provinces of the Lithuanian state, the Tartar raids quite frequently penetrated far into the Ruthenian provinces of Poland, which in addition had to suffer from unsettled relations with Moldavia. Formerly vassals of Poland, the Moldavian princes, though more and more threatened by the Turks who controlled Wallachia, now claimed a relatively small frontier district in the Carpathian Mountains which became a source of endless trouble between the two countries. A Polish victory in 1531 brought no decisive change in that tense situation, just as the successful resistance of Austrian forces against the Turkish pressure at the Austro-Hungarian border in the following year hardly affected the chaos and anarchy south of Poland. It was therefore only natural that Sigismund I should continue a cautious external policy as well as his efforts to secure a better defense of his own country.

    What might sometimes seem a policy of appeasement becomes understandable if in addition to growing dangers on all fronts, including the Russian, where Lithuania could only make short armistices, the internal problems of the Jagellonian Federation are considered. In both component parts constitutional reforms were being studied. These would give the common ruler necessary financial means for organizing a permanent defense of the frontiers. With a view to strengthening the position of the dynasty, Sigismund I, at the queen’s suggestion, had his son elected grand duke of Lithuania and then also king of Poland during his own lifetime. But when this action resulted in the coronation of Sigismund Augustus, then ten years old, in 1530, his father was still far from having settled all the difficulties caused by the growing power of the Polish Diet and by the rivalries of a few leading aristocratic families in Lithuania.


The rise of Ottoman power and the pressure which that new empire exercised upon Europe as a whole until the end of the seventeenth century was always facilitated by the lack of unity among the Christian powers. In the days of Suleiman the Magnificent, when the danger threatening Europe from a completely conquered Balkan Peninsula was greatest, both the Protestant Reformation and the hostility between the Habsburg and Valois dynasties made a common front of all Christendom quite impossible. These Western developments also deeply affected the situation in East Central Europe. The diplomacy of Francis I of France, who in 1536 had made a formal alliance with the sultan, supported all opponents of the Habsburgs in the Danubian region but proved unable to help them in their struggle for freedom from both German and Turkish predominance.

    In 1538 a serious effort was made in Hungary to put an end to the disastrous civil war and to find a compromise solution. Another Turkish success in the neighboring country of Moldavia, which in that very year definitely came under the overlordship of the Ottoman Empire, as had Wallachia, was a serious warning. The advisers of John Zápolya, including Croat and Italian diplomats who knew the Turkish danger through long experience, now, after many hesitations, arrived at the conviction that an understanding with Ferdinand I was preferable. They negotiated the treaty of Nagyvárad (Grosswardein) which temporarily sanctioned the division of Hungary between the two rival kings but envisaged the unification of the country under the Habsburg after his opponent’s childless death. But the next year Zápolya married Izabel, a daughter of the King of Poland, and when a son, John Sigismund, was born to him, he tried to revise the agreement. After his death in 1540 there was again a strong party among the Hungarians who opposed the unpopular Ferdinand and supported the claims of Zápolya’s widow in favor of her minor child.

    This was, of course, an excellent occasion for more Turkish interference. Pretending to defend the rights of John Sigismund, Suleiman once more invaded Hungary. In 1541 he occupied Buda where a Turkish pasha was to have his see for almost a century and a half. It soon became obvious that the unhappy country would henceforth be divided not only in two but in three parts: the central portion, by far the largest, under direct Ottoman control; a border region along the northern and western frontiers occupied by Austrian forces; and a semi-independent Transylvania left to the Zápolya family.

    Ferdinand I tried in vain to expel the Turks, but absorbed by the, problems of Germany, where he supported his brother, Charles V, against the Protestant princes, he had to make peace with Suleiman in 1547, to whom he even promised a yearly tribute from his section of Hungary. It seemed much easier for the Habsburgs to act against the Zápolyas with a view to adding at least Transylvania to their small share in the partition of Hungary. Here, however, they also met the opposition of Poland because Sigismund I, and after his death in 1548, his son and successor Sigismund Augustus, wanted to protect Izabel and her child. In full agreement with all Hungarian patriots, Sigismund I considered Transylvania the nucleus of an independent Hungary, since even the Turks found it difficult to penetrate into that isolated mountain region.

    Negotiations with Ferdinand I were resumed, however, by the same diplomat, the Franciscan friar George Martinuzzi, who had been instrumental in preparing the agreement of 1538. Now, fourteen years later, a somewhat similar plan was being discussed. The Habsburg King of Hungary was once more supposed to succeed the Zápolyas, taking over Transylvania too, on condition that he would assure the defense of the country against the Turks and compensate John Sigismund and his ambitious mother in Silesia. But the Habsburgs were neither able nor willing to fulfill these conditions, and furthermore they distrusted their opponents to such an extent that Martinuzzi was murdered at the order of one of the Austrian generals.

    Any agreement had thus become impossible, and Transylvania was constituted as an entirely separate body politic, first under the rule of John Sigismund Zápolya and after his death in 1571 under another family of the Hungarian aristocracy, the Báthorys. These princes of Transylvania, as well as their successors in the following century, were all eager to prepare the liberation of Hungary from both Germans and Turks. But they barely succeeded in gaining a few frontier counties of Hungary proper and had to be satisfied with creating within the limits of their principality, especially in its capital Kolozsvár, a center of national life where in an atmosphere of unusual religious tolerance various Protestant and even anti-Trinitarian groups, who were also opposed to the Catholic Habsburgs, found possibilities of development.

    The constitution of autonomous Transylvania was based upon the cooperation of three officially recognized “nations,” out of which two, the Hungarians proper and the Szeklers in the southeastern part of the country were ethnically Magyar, while the third was formed by the numerous Germans, called Saxons, particularly in the cities. The majority of the population were Wallachs, however, and being mostly composed of peasants they did not enjoy any political rights. They were indeed part of the people, now called Rumanians, who had their own principalities in Wallachia and Moldavia but had little interest in uniting with them, since these eastern neighboring countries were even more strictly controlled by the Turks.

    It is true that time and again princes appeared, particularly in Moldavia, who tried to liberate themselves from Ottoman suzerainty. As in the preceding century, some of them preferred to recognize Polish overlordship, and there were, in the times of Sigismund Augustus, repeated Polish interventions in Moldavian affairs. They mainly resulted, however, not from the king’s own initiative, since, like his father, he tried to avoid an open conflict with the Ottoman Empire, but rather from projects of individual magnates, sometimes acting in understanding with the Habsburgs.

    In that distant region the Habsburgs used some of their Polish partisans because divided Hungary was of course unable to resume her earlier attempts at placing the Danubian principalities under her influence. But both Ferdinand I, Roman Emperor after the abdication of Charles V in 1556, and after Ferdinand’s death in 1564, his successor Maximilian II, continued to oppose Suleiman the Magnificent directly in Hungary, always eager to bring the whole of it under their domination. The war of 1566 ended, however, with the loss of the important fortress of Szigetvár, whose siege became equally famous through the heroic defense of the city by Count Nicholas Zrinyi (Zrinski), a Hungarian leader of Croat origin, whom both peoples consider a national hero) and through the death of the sultan just before its conquest.

    Even the decline of Turkey’s power after the disappearance of the last of an interrupted line of great sultans, notable already under Suleiman’s insignificant son Selim II, hardly affected the situation in Hungary. Only a league of Christian powers, persistently recommended by the Holy See, could have liberated the territories conquered by the Ottomans. Yet the only joint action which materialized in the second half of the sixteenth century was limited to the sea, where it achieved the famous victory of Lepanto in 1571. Toward the end of the century, under Emperor Rudolf II, the Habsburgs alone undertook an expedition which was supposed to reconquer Hungary. But after an initial success of the imperial forces and a Turkish victory at Keresztes in 1596, the protracted war ended with the Treaty of Zsitva Torok in 1606. Though this treaty marked the end of Ottoman advance and supremacy, it did not change the frontier but left most of the country in Turkish hands.

    That Austrian effort was not at all coordinated with the simultaneous action of the most prominent prince of Wallachia, Michael the Brave, who at the same time tried to liberate all Rumanian peoples from Turkish domination and to unite them in a national state. Since he wanted to include Transylvania, which the Habsburg kings of Hungary hoped to regain for themselves, he was also obliged to fight against Austrian forces. It was precisely by them that he was killed in 1600 after clashing with Poland in Moldavia, where the Movila dynasty, supported by related Polish families, checked Turkish influence only temporarily.

    Turkish rule was of course particularly severe where it was exercised directly, with no autonomous national authority protecting the conquered peoples. It is true that at the time of the greatness of the Ottoman Empire its administration was efficient and in general even tolerant. But after centuries of freedom and cultural development, the Christian population of central Hungary suffered a fate similar to that which for a much longer period deprived all the Balkan peoples of any dignified existence and active historical role, with all their resources exploited by a foreign government, and their most promising male children taken away from them to serve as Janizaries fighting for the sultan.

    Hungary’s position at the extreme limits of the Ottoman Empire was even worse with regard to the immediate consequences of the almost uninterrupted warfare. The devastation of war did not reach the Balkan territories, which were now well at the center of the empire. But in addition to southern Hungary, which had already been badly ruined by frequent Turkish invasions that took place before the actual conquest began, the whole belt along the dividing line between the two parts of Hungary proper was now thoroughly devastated. That area served as a defense against the Habsburgs and taxes had to be paid both to the Turks and to the local administration that was left in Hungarian hands.

    Some self-government survived in the central part of Hungary, especially in large “peasant towns” where helpless people joined together to find a little more security and tolerable conditions of life. But most regrettable was the temporary disappearance of all the old centers of national culture, including Buda itself, which had been largely destroyed, the burned palaces being replaced by Turkish barracks or mosques. And that center of the country was completely cut off, both from Transylvania and from the northern and western counties of Hungary and Croatia which escaped Turkish domination only to be controlled by the Austrian military authorities.


At the very time when the area of free East Central Europe was so greatly reduced by Ottoman conquest, foreign penetration and pressure was also advancing from the West. The progress of the Catholic Habsburgs, representing the Western world, was of course something entirely different from the invasion by an Asiatic power, alien in religion and culture, which after annihilating all freedom and independence in South East Europe was starting a similar procedure in a large part of the Danubian region. But what remained of that region was also unable to develop freely on the ground of national tradition. The rule of the Habsburgs, though much less despotic and ruthless than the sultan’s domination, was gradually curtailing the rights of the Estates. With German Austria as a territorial basis and with the imperial crown of Germany as a symbol, it represented a trend toward Germanization and centralization around a foreign source of authority. It would be anachronistic to identify the Habsburg regime, particularly in the age of Charles V, that King of Spain whom so many Germans opposed as a foreigner, with any German nationalism in the modern sense or to see in the cosmopolitan court of the emperors a center of German life. But in the eastern section of what Charles V, with the assistance of his brother Ferdinand, tried to merge into a universal empire, the German element was the main unifying force and the strongest support of Habsburg domination. This was rapidly developing in the direction of a more or less enlightened absolutism.

    In the century which followed the elections after Mohács, a clear distinction must be made in all these respects between the two kingdoms gained by the Habsburgs, namely, Bohemia and Hungary. Of the latter, they really controlled so small a part which was in such a precarious condition of quasi-permanent war or threat of war, that their administration could hardly be considered a real test of Habsburg rule in Hungary. But even those Hungarians who definitely preferred it to the Ottoman yoke were soon to realize that here, too, they were under a foreign government which considered northern and western Hungary merely a fragment of alien territory, good only to serve as a defense for the empire.

    Even that defense was so inadequate that it only exposed that “free” part of the artificially and arbitrarily divided country to devastating Turkish raids. Already under Ferdinand I and Maximilian II, but even more so under Rudolf II (1576—1612), the Hungarians complained that the German emperors who called themselves their kings sorely neglected Hungarian interests. They indeed defended the interests of Catholicism, the faith to which the majority of the Hungarians remained deeply attached. But such of them as had turned Calvinist at the time of the Reformation and were completely free in Transylvania were persecuted under the Habsburg regime, which was identified with the Counter Reformation, to an extent and in a way that was rather harmful to the Catholic church. For the cause of Hungary’s freedom seemed to be intimately connected with the defense of religious liberty for the Calvinists. The protest of the Diet of 1604 was highly significant in that respect.

    The Diets of which the Hungarians were so proud lost more and more of their importance because the king, who was at the same time German emperor, hardly paid much attention to the deliberations of a body which in any event could represent only a small part of historic Hungary’s territory. Unable to convene in Turkish-occupied Buda, the Diets usually met in Pozsony (Pressburg), practically the capital of “free” Hungary. But even in that city which in the past had been an important cultural center, with a university founded in the brilliant period of Mathias Corvinus, these cultural activities could hardly develop since the Turkish border was now so close. All this was the more regrettable because obviously the liberation from the Turks of the other major part of Hungary could only be achieved under Habsburg leadership, with their section of the country as a basis for operations. And it was equally apparent that the conditions created in that narrow section under the Habsburg regime would then prevail in all Hungary.

    In Bohemia, the election of Ferdinand I in 1526, which was free and unanimous, was not followed by any civil war or foreign invasion. The kingdom therefore remained undivided, its peace undisturbed for almost a hundred years, and Habsburg rule well established. A first controversial problem, however, immediately appeared. It was typical of the strained relations between king and Estates. The former, as husband of Anna, the sister of the last Jagellonian ruler of Bohemia, insisted upon his hereditary rights, while the Estates considered the crown elective, as most of the Hungarians did, and were in a much better position than the latter to defend the constitution of their kingdom. Ferdinand I succeeded in having his hereditary rights recognized in the non-Bohemian lands of the crown of Saint Václav, in Moravia, Silesia, and Lusatia, where the German element was more important than in Bohemia proper. Here, in the center of the country, the opposition was much stronger, but in 1547 the Diet of Prague was forced to admit Ferdinand’s interpretation that his wife had been accepted as heiress by the Estates. On the same occasion the Diet also had to pass new laws which limited its power by placing the appointment of officials and judges practically in the hands of the king alone.

    Even more dangerous for Bohemia’s autonomy was Ferdinand I’s creation of central organs of administration for all possessions of the Habsburgs. These new bodies, the privy council and the war council, were of course located in Vienna, while Bohemia retained only her own chancellors in Prague and her own courts.

    Even more than in Hungary, these limitations of political rights were connected with the religious problems of the age of the Reformation. In Bohemia the Hussite tradition was still alive, thanks to the Czech Brethren, a well-organized religious group. And while in the fifteenth century the anti-Roman movement in Bohemia had also been strongly anti-German, now in spite of national differences, there was a sympathy with German Lutheranism which contributed to the spread of the Reformation in Ferdinand’s new kingdom. Since, together with his brother, Emperor Charles V, he was the main defender of Catholicism, in Bohemia as in Hungary the causes of political and religious freedom were closely tied to one another. Furthermore, since the so-called Schmalkaldic War against the Protestant princes of Germany was fought near the border of Bohemia, it had strong repercussions there where the Estates, sympathizing with the Schmalkaldic League, opposed any participation of the Bohemian army in the war against the League and even formed a similar association in Bohemia. That movement collapsed when the German Protestants were defeated at Mühlberg in 1547, and thus the war did not actually reach Bohemia. But after his victory Ferdinand I seized that opportunity for a repression that was particularly directed against the formerly so powerful cities. Some leaders of the nobility were also punished and the Czech Brethren were expelled.

    Only a small number of them remained in Bohemia, under strong pressure to return to the Catholic faith. The last remnants of the Utraquists joined the Lutherans, and the “Compactates” which had once reconciled that moderate wing of the Hussite movement with Rome, completely lost their significance and were finally withdrawn at the request of the Estates. As a matter of fact there was no religious persecution in Bohemia under Ferdinand I and even less under Maximilian II who had been accepted as king in his father’s lifetime. That second Habsburg who ruled in Bohemia, showed there, as in Germany, some sympathy with the Protestant movement and in 1575 he even permitted the Estates to draft a joint confession of the new denominations. But that project did not satisfy anybody and the religious situation in the country was already very tense when in the following year Rudolf II succeeded his father, having also been accepted as future king before the death of his predecessor.

    Rudolf soon established his permanent residence in Prague and, thanks to his serious intellectual interests, could have again made Bohemia’s capital an important cultural center if it had not been for his growing mental illness which made him neglect all public affairs not only in Bohemia but also in the empire and the other Habsburg possessions. In his ensuing conflict with his brother Mathias, Rudolf had the support of the Bohemian Estates, for which he had to pay by guaranteeing religious freedom in the “Letter of Majesty” of 1609. But since he was deposed by Mathias two years later, the confused situation in Bohemia was rapidly leading to the rebellion which was to start the Thirty Years’ War.

    In spite of all their troubles in Hungary and in Bohemia, the Habsburgs of the sixteenth century were not only determined to keep both crowns but planned to gain a third one, that of Poland. Such a success would have given to that German dynasty, in addition to the imperial crown, the control of all East Central Europe. On several occasions this seemed about to occur. Their expectations were based upon the fact that the last of the Jagellonians in Poland and Lithuania, Sigismund Augustus, had no children although thrice married. And since both his first wife and his last were sisters of Ferdinand I, the situation seemed similar to that which already, before Mohács, had given the Habsburg candidate a good chance to succeed to the elder line of the same Jagellonian dynasty in Bohemia and Hungary. In Poland, too, the Habsburgs tried to form a group of partisans, especially among the Catholic hierarchy and the aristocracy, and their relations with some of the leading Lithuanian magnates were to serve a similar purpose, though the alternative of abandoning the grand duchy of Lithuania to the Russian czar and claiming only Poland proper was also considered.

    If, in spite of all, the Austrian candidates failed in all three elections which followed the death of Sigismund Augustus in 1572, it was for two equally important reasons. The last Jagellonian himself, disliking the imperialistic policy of his Habsburg relatives and their diplomatic intrigues at his court, opposed their plans with even greater diplomatic skill and had his own ideas as to his possible successors. On the other hand, the great majority of the Poles were determined to reject any German candidate. They particularly considered the Habsburgs, with their trend toward absolutism, a threat to the Polish constitution which had been fully developed at the time of the Renaissance and the Reformation.


Though a typically Western movement, the Renaissance, in its fifteenth-century phase, had already spread all over East Central Europe, with Prague and Buda as its earliest outposts. Both of these in turn influenced Cracow, whence the trends of what might well be called a pre-Renaissance penetrated as far as the Lithuanian and Ruthenian provinces of the Jagellonian Federation. In the sixteenth century it was almost exclusively within the limits of that federation that Renaissance culture, now at its height, could successfully develop its eastern wing. In Hungary it was completely doomed by the Ottoman conquest, and even in more fortunate Bohemia the decline of national culture under foreign rule proved unfavorable to its progress. In both countries the Reformation movement now had a much stronger appeal for those who were looking for a new stimulus in their struggle for national survival.

    In Poland, too, where the sixteenth century was a golden age of national civilization in close connection with the West, the flowering of the Renaissance was now inseparable from the contemporary religious crisis. This is equally true for the comparatively short period of Protestant predominance in the intellectual life of the country and for the Catholic restoration in the latter part of the century. For in Poland, which instead of a Counter Reformation enforced by foreign influence had a Catholic revival out of native sources, the result was a close connection of Catholicism and nationalism, prepared by the last Renaissance generation and leading into the specific Baroque culture of seventeenth-century Poland. That whole process stopped, of course, at the eastern frontier of the Jagellonian Federation, but within its boundaries it contributed to a spontaneous Polonization of the upper classes in both Lithuania and the Ruthenian lands where the interest in humanism and the religious controversies of the time created an intimate cultural community with the Poles. Hence, also, the repercussions of all these developments in the constitutional debates which shaped the political structure of the commonwealth.

    In all these respects the reign of Sigismund I was a period of preparation for the decisive results achieved under his son. Under the old king the impact of the Reformation was rather limited. Lutheranism was soon to appear in the western provinces that were neighbors to Germany, especially in the cities and in Polish Prussia, but it never had any deep attraction for the Polish population. Sigismund I was alarmed, however, and he tried to stop the movement by means of severe but rarely enforced decrees which could not reduce the interest in ecclesiastical reform. That interest was provoked—as in other countries—by real abuses in the church, by travel and studies in foreign lands, by the spread of Protestant literature, and also, toward the end of the reign, by the first contacts with non-German reformers, including even anti-Trinitarians who appeared in Poland. Since that interest was shared by the young Sigismund Augustus, all partisans of the Reformation were eagerly waiting for his succession.

    In the meantime Renaissance culture had finally established itself under his father, a patron of architecture and literature as were his most distinguished collaborators and his Italian wife, Bona Sforza, who brought to Poland many prominent Italians and also the political conceptions of the country of her origin. Truly symbolic was the reconstruction of the old royal castle on Wawel Hill in Cracow, already started before the queen’s arrival and producing one of the finest Renaissance monuments in the eastern part of Europe. But the same cultural trend is also reflected in a collection of state papers, letters, and reports which cover the whole of Sigismund I’s reign. It is called Acta Tomiciana from the name of Peter Tomicki, Bishop of Cracow and Vice-Chancellor, who represented Polish humanism at its best. But it also contains contributions of the leading writers of the period, all using a brilliant Renaissance Latin and frequently appearing as Polish diplomats at the Western courts.

    In that respect the Laski family was conspicuous for a special versatility. In the next generation it was to produce the leader of Polish Protestantism. After an important part played in the English Reformation, Johannes a Lasco—as he was called abroad—returned to Poland when the creation of a national church, separated from Rome, seemed possible under Sigismund Augustus. From the beginning of the new reign in 1548 there were, indeed, public discussions both in the diets and at synods of the various denominations. In addition to the old disputes between the clergy and the nobility in the matter of tithes and ecclesiastical jurisdiction, these discussions raised the most delicate dogmatic controversies. In 1550 the young king sided with the hierarchy in order to win its support for the recognition of his marriage with a Lithuanian, Barbara Radziwill. She died soon after her coronation, however, and Sigismund Augustus was never seriously inclined to stop the Protestant movement by force. On the contrary, even in Rome he seemed ready to support at least the more moderate claims of the religious reformers regarding the use of the vernacular in the liturgy and the chalice for layman, as well as the abolition of celibacy for the clergy.

    Such a program was also advanced by one of the most talented writers of the time, Stanislaus Orzechowski, a priest who had married in spite of the protest of his bishop. Although he later turned into a passionate defender of Catholicism, other representatives of the rapidly developing national literature, such as the famous political writer Andrew Frycz Modrzewski or Nicolas Rey who first used the Polish language with remarkable success, remained intimately associated with the religious trends which toward the middle of the century attracted the most prominent minds of the country.

    There was, however, among the partisans of the Reformation a great variety of doctrines and opinions which, just because they were all permitted to develop freely, made the triumph of any of the new denominations impossible. In Great Poland, where Lutheranism had many adherents, a rival Protestant church was established by the Czech Brethren. Expelled from Bohemia, they had their center in Leszno under the protection of the powerful Leszczynski family. That community was in sympathy with the Reformed church which had been organized by Calvinists in close contact with Switzerland, and which was predominant in Little Poland and also in Lithuania where the Radziwills, leading in the whole grand duchy, were its chief patrons. While these Protestant groups differed in their teaching regarding the Eucharist, even more radical heresies, attacking the dogma of the Holy Trinity and sometimes leading to extreme rationalism, were propagated by brilliant exiles from Italy, including the two Socinis, but they were also developed by a few native Poles—hence the designation Polish Brethren. They seemed to revive the Arianism of early Christianity and at the same time they were under the influence of contemporary communist trends that came particularly from Moravian Anabaptists.

    The orthodox Protestants were determined to exclude these extremists, and amidst continuous disputes among a rapidly growing number of sects they realized the necessity for coordinating and for adopting a common confession of faith in order to oppose a united, front to the established Catholic church. When John Laski returned to Poland in 1556, one year after an agreement between the Czech Brethren and the Calvinists, he favored the latter. But he also considered the possibility of a general adoption of the more moderate Confession of Augsburg which seemed to have the best chance and which was supported by Poland s mighty vassal, Duke Albrecht of Prussia, with Königsberg and its recently founded University as an important center of propaganda. But Laski died in 1560 before any agreement was reached. Only ten years later representatives of all three Protestant denominations met at the Synod of Sandomierz. Though they were unable to agree on the Reformed Swiss Confession because of Lutheran opposition, they at least concluded a formal alliance.

    Such cooperation was needed. First, because since 1565 the split between Protestants and anti-Trinitarians, whose movement soon centered at Rakow, was finally completed, and secondly, because in almost the same year Catholicism was again resuming strength. At the Diet of 1562—63, the Protestants had enforced a decision that no sentences of ecclesiastical courts would be executed by the state authorities. But after the Council of Trent, whose decrees were accepted by the king when presented to him in 1564 by the papal nuncio, a spontaneous return to the Catholic church set in, chiefly through individual conversions in the formerly leading Protestant families. Aside from the nuncios, now regularly residing in Poland, the first Jesuits who came to the country greatly contributed to that change, and the Catholic hierarchy showed a new zeal under the leadership of Cardinal Stanislaus Hosius.

    Under these conditions the non-Catholics wanted a constitutional guaranty that religious freedom would continue in Poland. They finally obtained it a year after the king’s death, when during the interregnum the Confederation of Warsaw in 1573 decided to maintain permanent “peace among those who dissent in religious matters.” That charter went further than any other “religious peace” in sixteenth-century Europe because it covered all denominations, even those radicals whom the Protestants wanted to see expelled.

    Sigismund Augustus had decisively contributed both to creating such an atmosphere of tolerance and to safeguarding Poland’s Catholic tradition because he rejected all suggestions to end his last, unhappy and childless marriage with Catherine of Austria by divorce. Furthermore, like his father, he proved to be an enlightened patron of Renaissance humanism which in Poland had a more lasting influence than the Reformation and which continued until the end of century. The interest in literature shown by the king, who collected a remarkable library, was an inspiration to all writers of that brilliant generation, including the first great poet in the vernacular, Jan Kochanowski. It was also in the service of the last Jagellonian that Poland’s greatest Renaissance statesman, Jan Zamoyski, a former rector of the University of Padua where so many Polish jurists were educated, prepared himself for his outstanding achievements during the following reigns.


The extension of Western culture in its typical expressions of Renaissance, Protestant Reformation, and Catholic Restoration to the extreme limits of East Central Europe was greatly facilitated and accelerated by the Diet of Lublin in 1569 which made the Polish-Lithuanian Union a close federation and determined its constitutional structure for more than two hundred years. On the other hand, the Union of Lublin had been prepared and made possible by a gradual penetration of Western culture far into the Lithuanian and Ruthenian lands of the grand duchy, a process which had already started in the fifteenth century but which chiefly developed from the beginning of the sixteenth.

    In 1501, at the very threshold of the new century, when the election of Alexander, grand duke of Lithuania, to the throne of Poland restored the personal union of both states after nine years of interruption, new union charters were signed at Mielnik which decided that in the future there would always be a common election of the common ruler and that “common councils” would guarantee close cooperation in the field of legislation. But the Jagellonian dynasty, though always favorable to the Union in general, was opposed to the idea of a common election, which seemed to question their hereditary rights to the grand duchy. In the year 1505, when the legislative power of the Polish Diet was definitely confirmed, the Lithuanian Diet, encouraged by the king, refused the long-delayed ratification of the Mielnik agreement. Thus the settlement of the federal constitution remained in suspense for more than sixty years.

    During that period of transition it appeared quite clearly, however, that the Union was based not so much upon legal formulas as upon a real community which bound together the constituent parts of the Jagellonian monarchy. In the field of foreign relations, that community was dictated, first, by the permanent danger of Tartar invasions which threatened the southeastern borderlands of both the grand duchy and the kingdom. Furthermore, though only the former, particularly its White Ruthenian and Ukrainian provinces, was directly exposed to Moscow’s aggressive policy, it was obvious that this growing danger could be faced only with Polish assistance. The Lithuanian requests for such assistance, both military and financial, always had the full support of the kings. The Poles themselves became more and more aware that it was in the interest of their own security to strengthen Lithuania’s resistance. Thus, when the armistice which in 1522 ended the second Russian war of Sigismund I expired in 1533 with the death of Vasil III of Moscow, and when the Lithuanians took advantage of the minority of Ivan IV to try to regain their big territorial losses, Polish auxiliary forces again contributed to the limited successes of that third war.

    Under Sigismund Augustus the situation became much more serious. Ivan, later called “the Terrible,” now grown up and crowned as czar in 1547, after his victories in the East which resulted in the conquest of Kazan and Astrakhan, instead of concentrating against the Tartars of the Crimea, where a cooperation with Lithuania would have been quite natural, decided for a westward expansion on two fronts with a view to encircling the grand duchy. Even before the war along the old White Ruthenian border was resumed in 1562, the czar invaded Livonia, which had placed herself under the protection of Sigismund Augustus, and now also threatened Lithuania from the north. When he took Polotsk in 1563, the loss of that fortress, which was almost as important as Smolensk, was a serious warning even for Poland. The Lithuanians were now more anxious than ever before to strengthen the union with the kingdom.

    But the Polish-Lithuanian negotiations which, in spite of many interruptions and fluctuations dictated by the changing political and military situation, continued to absorb the diets of both countries during the six years before the Union of Lublin, were also a natural result of the growing assimilation of the kingdom and the grand duchy under the last two Jagellonians. Western culture came to the grand duchy through Polish intermediation and therefore contributed not only to the development of a common way of life but also to a spontaneous Polonization of the most influential upper classes.

    Strangely enough, that Polonized aristocracy, led by the Radziwill family, was least in favor of closer political ties with Poland and defended Lithuania’s autonomy because it was afraid to lose the exclusive control of the grand duchy if the more democratic constitution would influence conditions there. For that very reason the lesser gentry of Lithuania claimed a more intimate connection with their “Polish brethren,” especially after 1562. As did the Poles, they favored the fusion of both diets into one common parliament on the Polish pattern, with no privileges for the magnates and with a predominance of the freely elected deputies to the lower chamber. As in 1501, that idea was combined with that of a common election. This time the king, impressed by the external danger and losing the hope of leaving any descendants, made no difficulties for dynastic reasons but joined with the partisans of the Union in both countries.

    In Poland the supporters of the Union were at the same time partisans of a reform program which under the modest slogan of “execution of the laws” wanted to improve the administration and the judiciary system, and to get the much needed financial resources for a permanent defense of the frontiers by having restored to the crown the royal lands which had been pledged to the most powerful families. That program was at least partially realized at the so-called “Execution Diet” of 1563—1564, while at the same time an even more important reform made the grand duchy ready for the final union with Poland.

    Prepared by a land reform which greatly improved economic conditions, and combined with a new codification of Lithuanian law which in many respects remained different, that reform of 1561—l566 was to a large extent a reception of the Polish constitution, including its privileges for the whole gentry and the institution of provincial dietines as a basis for self-government and parliamentary rule. The last legal restrictions, discriminating against Greek Orthodox, were abolished on the same occasion. When at last both diets were convoked for a joint session in Lublin, near the Polish-Lithuanian border, there was hardly any legal difference between them.

    In practice, however, the opposition of a few powerful families of the grand duchy, which were particularly hostile to a permanent fusion of the two diets, proved so strong that the discussions lasted for almost six months and, at the beginning of March, were even interrupted by a secession of the Lithuanian leaders. They finally yielded under a twofold pressure. First, the king decided that not only the small always contested province of Podlachia would be incorporated with the kingdom, but similarly the whole southern section of the grand duchy. The province of Volhynia, and the Ukraine, with Kiev, would be transferred to Poland with guaranties of local autonomy, including the use of Ruthenian as the official language and equal rights for the Orthodox. Sigismund Augustus chiefly wanted the Poles to share in the defense of the long eastern border. His decision also corresponded to the desires of the majority of the population which now joined the Ruthenian provinces of Poland proper.

    At the same time the great majority of the Lithuanians also exercised strong pressure upon the opposition leaders. Eventually all of them, except one of the Radziwills, returned to Lublin. There, directed by a member of the Chodkiewicz family, they signed the Union charters of July first. These were approved by the king a few days later and remained basically unchanged until the partitions of the commonwealth at the end of the eighteenth century.

    According to that memorable covenant, the kingdom of Poland and the grand duchy of Lithuania were now merged in one “common republic” and both peoples were proclaimed one nation under one ruler, who was always to be elected in common, and with one diet where Polish and Lithuanian senators and deputies would mingle with one another. At the same time, however, the grand duchy not only retained its traditional title but also its own army, treasury, and code of law, under a separate administration, so that a Lithuanian official corresponded to every Polish one. Such a strict dualism was sometimes to create serious difficulties in the practice of government but as a whole it was a sound compromise between the claims of some Polish radicals, who wanted complete unification, and the narrow separatism of a few Lithuanian magnates.

    The Diet of Lublin, which did not adjourn until the twelfth of August, also determined the constitutional position of two minor parts of the federation. The so-called Royal Prussia, i.e., Polish Pomerania, now divided into three provinces, was made an integral part of the kingdom represented in the common diet. The special privileges of the city of Danzig, however, raised some controversies which even a commission sent there the next year could not definitely settle.

    The whole issue was part of the larger problem of the Dominium maris Baltici and so was of course the question of Livonia. Although the full possession of that country was not yet secured under Sigismund Augustus, it was decided at Lublin that Livonia, endowed with a large autonomy, would belong in common to Lithuania—its immediate neighbor—and to Poland. This solution corresponded to the  desires of the Livonians who were anxious to be defended by both Jagellonian states.

    The success of the Diet of 1569 was a great personal triumph for the king, who actively participated in the discussions. At Lublin he also received the homage of the prince of Moldavia and of the new duke of Prussia, Albrecht Frederick, who the year before had succeeded his father Albrecht. He was to be the last of the Prussian line of the Hohenzollerns, but their Brandenburg cousins had already been granted the right of succession, another question which is connected with the balance of power in the Baltic region.

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