The Polish Peasant Movement in Politics: 1895–1969
Spontaneous forms of peasant protest have marked Polish social history for many hundreds of years. Countless serfs have rejected their station by fleeing from their masters, and countless more have expressed their bitterness in acts of personal violence. Similarly, organised peasant protest has a long history in Poland. During the seventeenth century, for example, many serfs from the south-eastern region of the country escaped from their lords’ control by fleeing across the river Dniepr to the so-called Wild Fields, where they joined the Cossacks in setting up armed detachments to plunder the estates of their former oppressors. The rebels were finally defeated by royal armies in the battle of Beresteczko (1651), and their leaders summarily sentenced to death. Over a hundred years later (in 1769), another peasant revolt sparked by the reimposition of villeinage in the Szawel region of Lithuania, at the time under Polish control, met the same fate. And the Kosciuszko uprising of 1794, although primarily concerned with the national liberation of Poland, was undoubtedly supported by peasants who hoped to bring about the abolition of serfdom.l
KeywordsPolish Worker Parliamentary Election Formal Politics Large Estate Polish Party
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