The first reliable information about Poland dates back to the second half of the 10th century. Even then, it was a relatively large state, created by the Piast dynasty by combining several tribal principalities. In the XI century. Poland, as a result of the wars won, annexed a number of territories. The most prominent king of that period was Boleslav I the Brave, who strengthened the independence of the country in the wars with the Holy Roman Empire. In the second half of the XII century. Poland, like its neighbors Germany and Kievan Rus, fell apart.
In the middle of the XIII century. Mongol-Tatar invasion from the east devastated most of Poland. No less dangerous for the country were the incessant raids of pagan Lithuanians and Prussians from the north. In order to protect his possessions, the prince of Mazovia Konrad in 1226 invited Teutonic knights from the military-religious order of the Crusaders to the country. Within a short time, the Teutonic Knights conquered part of the Baltic lands, which later became known as East Prussia. As a result of the formation of East Prussia, the country lost access to the Baltic Sea. Check a2zdirectory for old history of Poland.
The reunification of most of Poland took place under King Władysław I. However, the national revival is more connected with the successful rule of his son, Casimir III the Great. Casimir strengthened the royal power, reformed the administration, legal and monetary systems according to the Western model, promulgated a code of laws called the Wislice Statutes, eased the situation of the peasants and allowed Jews to settle in Poland – victims of religious persecution in Western Europe. Late XIV – early XV centuries. – the reign of the Grand Duke of Lithuania Vladislav II. Under him, the vast territories of Poland and Lithuania were united in a powerful state union.
16th century became a golden age in Polish history. At this time, Poland was one of the largest countries in Europe, it dominated Eastern Europe, and its culture reached its peak. During the reign of Sigismund II Augustus, the state reached its greatest power. Krakow became one of the largest European centers of the humanities, architecture and art of the Renaissance, Polish poetry and prose, and for a number of years – the center of the reformation. At this time, the Polish-Lithuanian state began to be called the Commonwealth.
After the death of the childless Sigismund II, the central power in the vast Polish-Lithuanian state began to weaken. In the 17th century in Poland there was a frequent change of rulers, the Ukrainian Cossacks revolted, the wars with Russia and Turkey weakened the country, and the gentry received new privileges in the form of political rights and exemption from taxes on income. Under the reign of Jan Casimir (1648-1668), the Cossack freemen began to behave even more militantly, the Swedes occupied most of Poland, including the capital, Warsaw, and the king, abandoned by his subjects, was forced to flee to Silesia. The process of disintegration began in the country.
In 1772, Prussia, Russia and Austria partitioned Poland. The division of the country awakened a social movement for reform and national revival. The four-year Sejm (1788-1792), headed by enlightened patriots Stanislav Malakhovsky, Ignacy Potocki and Hugo Kollontai, adopted a new constitution on May 3, 1791. Under this constitution, Poland became a hereditary monarchy with a ministerial system of executive power and a parliament elected every two years. On January 23, 1793, Prussia and Russia carried out the second partition of Poland. The third partition of Poland, in which Austria participated, took place on October 24, 1795; after that, Poland as an independent state disappeared from the map of Europe. Despite the absence of a state as such, each new generation fought for it, either joining the opponents of the powers that divided Poland, or raising uprisings. As soon as Napoleon I began his military campaigns against monarchical Europe, Polish legions were formed in France. Having defeated Prussia, Napoleon created in 1807 from the territories captured by Prussia during the second and third partitions, the Grand Duchy of Warsaw. The creation of the Grand Duchy of Warsaw was considered by the Poles as the beginning of their complete liberation.
The First World War divided the powers that liquidated Poland: Russia was at war with Germany and Austria-Hungary. This situation opened up fateful opportunities for the Poles, but also created new difficulties. Firstly, the Poles had to fight in the opposing armies, secondly, Poland became the arena of battles of the warring powers, and thirdly, differences between Polish political groups escalated. On August 14, 1914, Nicholas I in an official declaration promised to unite the three parts of Poland into an autonomous state within the Russian Empire after the war. However, in the autumn of 1915, most of Russian Poland was occupied by Germany and Austria-Hungary, and on November 5, 1916, the monarchs of the two powers announced a manifesto on the creation of an independent Polish Kingdom in the Russian part of Poland. After the February Revolution in Russia, Poland’s right to self-determination was recognized. In June 1918 Poland was officially recognized as a country.
The new country faced great difficulties. Cities and villages lay in ruins, there were no connections in the economy, which for a long time developed within the framework of three different states. Poland had neither its own currency, nor state institutions, finally, its borders were not defined and agreed with the neighbors. However, state building and economic recovery proceeded at a rapid pace. One of the first post-war events in the country was the adoption on March 17, 1921 of a new constitution. It asserted a republican system in Poland, established a bicameral (Sejm and Senate) parliament, proclaimed freedom of speech and organizations, equality of citizens before the law.
At the end of the 30s, the leaders of the new Polish Republic tried to secure their state by pursuing a policy of non-alignment. However, on September 1, 1939, World War II began with an attack on Poland. The German occupation of Poland was particularly brutal. Hitler included part of Poland in the Third Reich, and transformed the rest of the occupied territories into a general government. All industrial and agricultural production in Poland was subordinated to the military needs of Germany.
In January 1944, the Red Army crossed the border of Poland, pursuing the retreating German troops, and on July 22, with the support of the USSR, the Polish Committee of National Liberation was created in Lublin. On August 1, 1944, the underground armed forces in Warsaw, under the leadership of General Tadeusz Komorowski, began an uprising against the Germans.
At the Yalta Conference, Churchill and Roosevelt officially recognized the inclusion of the eastern part of Poland into the USSR. With the presence of Red Army units in Poland, the Soviet Union easily transferred power to the Polish communists.
In June 1956, some 50,000 Poznań workers joined the students in opposing the communist leadership and Soviet domination.
By the mid 70s of the XX century. the state began a period of economic recession. Poland accumulated huge debts to Western financial institutions, the payment of which exacerbated economic problems. A number of large strikes of workers took place across the country. The economic recession continued until 1983, then industrial and agricultural production began to gradually recover.