• S. H. Steinberg
Part of the The Statesman’s Yearbook book series (SYBK)


Poland became a state by the union of a number of Slavonic tribes settled in the basins of the Vistula, the Warta and the Oder. The nation was converted to Christianity in 966. Under the Piast dynasty (10th-14th centuries) German ‘eastward expansion’ (Drang nach Osten) deprived Poland of her north-western and western borderlands. After the defeat of the Teutonic Order at Tannenberg (1410) and the partial recovery of Prussia, Poland’s political interests turned eastward. Temporary successes in White Russia and the Ukraine were bought by a permanent weakness on her western front. Poland reached the height of her power in the period between the 14th and 16th centuries under the rule of the Jagiellon dynasty. On its extinction the crown became elective and this, leading to an overgrowth of special rights granted to the nobility and gentry, resulted in the permanent weakness of the central authority. During the 17th and 18th centuries the position of Poland rapidly declined, and eventually, by the three partitions of 1772, 1793 and 1795, the Polish Commonwealth, as it was then called, was divided between Prussia, Russia and Austria.

Polska Rzeozpospolita Ludowa


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Books of Reference

  1. Documents on Polish-Soviet Relations, 1939–43. London, 1961Google Scholar
  2. Halecki, O., A History of Poland. 2nd od. London, 1956.—(ed.), Poland, New York, 1957Google Scholar
  3. Lednicki, W., Russia, Poland and the West. London. 1954Google Scholar
  4. Mikolajczyk, S., The Rape of Poland. New York, 1948Google Scholar
  5. Milosz, C., The Captive Mind. London, 1953Google Scholar
  6. Modzelewski, J. (ed.), Pologne, 1919–39. 3 vols. Neuchâtel, 1945–48Google Scholar
  7. Reddaway, W. F., Penson, J. H., Halecki, O. and Dyboski, R.. (ed.), The Cambridge History of Poland. 2 vols. London, 1940–50Google Scholar
  8. Schmitt, B. E. (ed.), Poland. 2nd ed. Berkeley, Cal., 1951Google Scholar
  9. Sharp, S. L., Poland: White Eagle on a Red Field. Harvard Univ. Press, 1953CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Stanislawski, J., English-Polish and Polish-English Dictionary. 2 vols. London 1940Google Scholar
  11. Stern, H. P., Struggle for Poland. Washington, 1953Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1961

Authors and Affiliations

  • S. H. Steinberg
    • 1
  1. 1.The Royal Historical SocietyUK

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