Models of Authority in the Polish Political Tradition and Poland’s Effectiveness in the International Arena
Added: 2017-10-30
Added: 2017-10-30

Text from the collective work: Władza w polskiej tradycji politycznej: idee i praktyka, OMP, Kraków 2010.



In its history, the Polish state experienced various political systems. A fairly common stereotype states that the nature of these systems had an undeniable influence on Poland’s ability to conduct a particular type of foreign policy or the lack of such ability. But is the effectiveness of foreign policy in fact dependent on the model of state authority and can some political systems be reasonably considered superior, at least with respect to conducting diplomacy effectively, while others necessarily result in weakness and courting defeat?

The answer to this question will be the main purpose of this article. The article’s main thesis is that no such relationship can be observed and in epochs when Poland was ruled in accordance with a model that favoured the executive (by a king or dictator – usually called the chief of state – or by an authoritarian government), it suffered defeats in some cases but enjoyed victories in others, just as it was the case in periods when republicanism triumphed and executive power was considerably limited. Concentrating power in the hands of individuals or of a small group of policymakers did not prevent strategic errors from being made, just as the decentralisation of the decision-making process did not result in an inevitable disaster. Brilliant as well as wrong political decisions were made and victories or defeats followed them equally under the centralised and decentralised authority models, although the country fared differently in different epochs.

So what periods can we distinguish in the history of models of authority in Poland and what was their impact on the Polish foreign policy? What were the characteristic features of each period? Since when can the public opinion be considered to have influenced the shape of the state’s strategic foreign policy goals? What was the influence of the political form of the Polish state and of the efficiency of its state apparatus on the foreign policy pursued by that state? These are the questions that are the focus of this article. We will not devote equal attention to all the historical and political epochs in which the Polish state functioned. It is difficult to analyse the influence of the model of authority in medieval Poland on its foreign policy as thoroughly as in the case of the First Republic, 19th-century efforts to regain independence, the interwar period (1918–1939) or the Third Polish Republic after 1989. There are few relevant sources from the Middle Ages and the conclusions will probably not differ much from those that could be applied to other countries of that era: among the characteristics and factors that determined the shape of that policy, of primary importance were the rulers’ personal traits and the nature of threats that were present. When it was ruled by the first monarchs from the Piast dynasty, Poland was not an original state in this respect and did not have a political system that would diverge from those of its nearer or more distant neighbours. Therefore we will limit ourselves to just a few basic remarks regarding the medieval model of authority in Poland, its evolution and its influence on the state’s foreign policy. It is on later periods that we will concentrate more.


At the beginning of its existence, the Polish state was an early feudal monarchy. Later came the period of regional disintegration (when around a dozen of de facto independent states functioned, each with a foreign policy of its own, which was shaped by the intellectual and geopolitical horizons of individual rulers and their courts); subsequently, in the times of Casimir the Great, Poland was transformed into a fully-developed estate-based monarchy with a strong knighthood, which – after the main line of the native dynasty had expired – managed to take over the helm and look after its interests during the personal union between Poland and Hungary, and then design and execute the masterpiece that was the Polish-Lithuanian union. After all, a decisive role in its conclusion was played by the “nobles from Lesser Poland”, i.e. magnates from the capital region. It was also within this estate (and among the educated clergy) that the idea of the Regnum Poloniae and the concept of the Polish nation (gens polonica) was born already under the first Piast monarchs and survived the period of regional disintegration.

Apart from the obvious material factors (military strength), the scope of discretion available to medieval rulers of Poland in the foreign policy area was constrained by the political possibilities of mobilising the country’s resources in order to achieve the results intended. To speak of public opinion in the contemporary sense of the word would of course be ahistorical, but it cannot be denied that the loyalties related to one’s family, tribal and later regional identities, the course of the process whereby paganism was replaced by Christianity and finally whether soldiers could hope for spoils of war were important factors that affected the social mood and the morale of the army, and thus also the foreign policy capabilities of individual rulers of Poland. As concerns their effect on diplomacy, these factors were rather reactive than initiative, since the public was not in a position to force the ruler to pursue specific external policy goals, but its moods and aspirations could prevent the king’s or prince’s plans from becoming implemented. It is enough to mention the knights who were supposed to accompany King Bolesław the Generous to Kyiv where he “followed in the footsteps of his great-grandfather” in 1077 – as the expedition dragged on, they deserted, concerned about family matters at home.

The sense of unity and belonging to a single state among the country’s political elites, which had grown for three centuries, finally matured at the beginning of the 14th century and was clearly demonstrated for the first time in connection with Gdańsk Pomerania having been seized by the Teutonic Knights. Poland ceased to be a patrimony, i.e. the private property of its rulers, and instead became the common property of the body politic that emerged as knights increasingly turned into citizens. One could argue that it was precisely in 1309 that the phenomenon was first observed which eventually, after centuries had passed and the knighthood that used to be subordinate to the king had been transformed into nobles, i.e. those citizens who elected the king, made the nobility the driving force behind the state’s policy, including foreign policy. When Poland lost Western Pomerania, which was ruled by the local Griffin dynasty, or Silesia, which joined Bohemia, or finally the Lubusz Land and the northern belt of the marshes on the Noteć River, which was annexed by the Margraviate of Brandenburg, this did not result in a strong feeling that part of the country had been taken away or in a general expectation that the ruler would recover the lost provinces. The matters were different with Gdańsk Pomerania, since it was brutally seized[1] at a time when the Polish elites were already conscious of belonging to a single state, the loss was not forgotten or forgiven[2], and the lands in question were retaken by force 157 years later. However, this Polish state policy programme was not the original idea of the Jagiellons who came from Lithuania and were not attached to the Piasts’ legacy. It was rather dictated by the will of the Polish political elites, which was executed by their rulers, and this symbolised a new model of authority within the state – the aforementioned transition from a patrimonial monarchy to an estate-based one, with the growing role of the knighthood as the driving force behind both domestic and foreign policy. Of course, apart from the historical memory of the land lost by the Regnum Poloniae, this Polish policy programme that set recovering Gdańsk Pomerania as its goal was very much influenced by the dispute over the estuary of the River Vistula, which remained unresolved during the 150 years in question, owing to the significance of this waterway for grain trade – the driver of the then Polish economy and a source of wealth for its elites.[3] This does not, however, invalidate the thesis that 1309 can be regarded as a symbolic moment when the public opinion was born as a factor driving the Polish foreign policy and capable of setting strategic goals related to expansion or reclaiming lost territories.

The rules of military service codified under the reign of Casimir the Great, which were based on the ownership of land, and the related emergence of an army of knights based on the levy en masse not only paved the way for further systemic changes in the state (it is sufficient to mention the Nieszawa privileges of 1454 and the circumstances in which the king was forced to grant them),[4] but also determined its military capabilities and therefore the efficiency of the Kingdom’s foreign policy. Military expansion became an increasingly unlikely essence of Polish foreign policy. This was not due to the discrepancy between the demographic potential of Poland and that of its neighbours, since there was no such discrepancy. After all, the German Reich had not been a uniform political organism for a long time and after Frederick Barbarossa’s reign had ended, the Kingdom of Poland faced no more invasions by united forces of the Holy Roman Empire.[5] On the other hand, Brandenburg, Western Pomerania, the State of the Teutonic Order, Lithuania, the Principality of Galicia-Volhynia (and later the Kingdom of Ruthenia), Moldova, Hungary or Bohemia had no demographic advantages over Poland. Although Poland did expand into Ruthenian lands and there was a military factor behind this expansion, its essence was not military conquest but rather dynastic relationships. The struggle for Galicia-Volhynia in fact reflected competition not against Ruthenia itself, but against Lithuania and Hungary, with the Tatar factor becoming progressively weaker. Thus Poland was not too weak in demographic terms to undertake a policy of conquest. The factor that prevented this policy from being pursued (with a single exception) was the model of authority – an estate-based monarchy with the growing role of knighthood whose wealth came from land ownership rather than the spoils of war, and which could serve as an effective tool for defending the country until the Thirteen Years’ War, but was unwilling to join foreign expeditions, and finally ceased to be a valuable offensive force after John Albert’ disastrous expedition to Bukovina in 1497. An attempt to use it in this capacity (and in the same direction) again resulted in the 1537 rebellion, dubbed the Chicken War, which was started by the noblemen who were assembled in a camp in Gliniany near Lviv in order to participate in an expedition to Moldova.[6] As a result, the Executionist movement emerged, which ultimately led to the development of fully-fledged noble democracy of the “golden age”.

The aforementioned single exception to the rule, i.e. a ruler refraining from conquering neighbouring lands when the conquest in question was in the country’s interest and full support from knighthood could be counted on, might have occurred in 1410. This is at least the argument put forward by historian Paweł Jasienica who stated that King Władysław Jagiełło had deliberately delayed the march on Malbork (Marienburg) immediately after the victory at Grunwald, and claimed that this was deliberate policy on part of the ruler who considered himself to be more the Grand Duke of Lithuania than the King of Poland. Breaking the offensive potential of the Teutonic Order was in the interest of Lithuania and of Jagiełło himself, but conquering the Order’s Prussian state could weaken the will of the Polish nobility to maintain the ties to Lithuania and to its dynasty, which had just ascended to the throne in Kraków.[7]

This is, of course, only a hypothesis, which is unverifiable since we lack sources that would illuminate the motives behind Jagiełło’s actions. However, it is made more probable by the fact that before the advent of the aforementioned “golden age” of noble democracy, the rulers’ dynastic plans were an important component of Polish foreign policy in the Jagiellonian era. It should also be noted that the Polish state’s activity that was motivated by these reasons did not bring any lasting successes. While the Jagiellons temporarily gained the Bohemian and Hungarian thrones, Poland did not benefit from that. Just the opposite – its resources were squandered on futile attempts to halt the Turkish expansion south of the Danube, which were symbolised by the defeat at Varna, and also on long and fruitless wars against Matthias Corvinus over who should ascend to the throne in Buda. It was difficult to expect that Polish elites, and thus the country’s resources could be mobilised politically and militarily to a sufficient degree in order to achieve these goals. Moreover, the Jagiellons’ two powerful states, Poland and Lithuania, which extended from Smolensk to Silesia, did not act jointly. Only Polish forces were involved in expeditions to the south of the Carpathians, while Lithuania had to increasingly concentrate on resisting the designs of Grand Princes of Muscovy who, starting with Ivan Kalita, pursued the policy of gathering Rus’ lands. This trend intensified during the reign of Ivan III the Great who adopted the title of Grand Prince of All Rus’[8] – Muscovy set its sights on the Ruthenian lands held by the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, effectively seizing them piece by piece until the end of the reign of the native Lithuanian dynasty, which in turn was unable to mobilise the two countries’ resources to successfully defend its eastern border. On the other hand, the inclusion of distant Lithuanian borderlands (such as e.g. Bryansk or Vyazma) in the Polish-Lithuanian state was not permanently fixed in the consciousness of the noble nation and it never developed a programme that would include recovering them. Thus the dynastic model of foreign policy proved unsuccessful in that era, which does not mean that it was not repeated later. However, the political system of the Republic of Poland prevented it from being effective. Noble citizens could well profess sentimental attachment to the Jagiellons or to the Vasas (after all, Sigismund III, the first Vasa king on the Polish throne, was a relative of the Jagiellons on his mother’s side) but this did not mean that they were willing to bear the costs of a foreign policy that was motivated by the monarch’s will to retain or gain thrones in Buda, Prague or Stockholm.

On the other hand, family ties between Sigismund I the Old and Albrecht Hohenzollern, who was the king’s nephew, may well have enabled the latter to retain power in Prussia after 1525. Perhaps if this decision were made several decades later, in the era of the Executionist movement, the “Prussian front” could have been closed once and for all by the noble nation’s decision. After all, it was a well-known battle cry that “no German will be forced down our throats”. By the will of the noble nation, expressed at that time by the greatest leader and statesman of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth of the era, Grand Hetman and Grand Crown Chancellor Jan Zamoyski,[9] Maximilian III Habsburg was denied the Polish throne at Byczyna in 1588. In 1525, the Jagiellons’ dynastic foreign policy model resulted in a different solution, however, which brought regrettable consequences one and a half century later (during the years of the Swedish Deluge), but by that time it was difficult to reverse.

In the 16th century, the linkage between military duty and the political rights derived from it led to the emergence of the noble nation and of the political system of noble democracy. Poland and Lithuania, which were initially two estate-based monarchies combined by a personal union, were later transformed into the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, which was an elective monarchy or, as some might claim, a monarchical republic. The noble nation decided about its ability to mobilise forces and resources to pursue specific foreign policy programmes. Elected kings attempted to influence the noble nation, but were no longer able to forcibly shape it. It may even be claimed that a clumsy king could derail the Commonwealth’s foreign policy against the will of its citizens (and this was precisely what Sigismund III Vasa did on the Muscovy and Prussian issues), but he could not, against their will, pursue his own goals regardless of whether those were beneficial or harmful from the point of view of interests of the Polish-Lithuanian state. Therefore owing to its political model, the Commonwealth could only act effectively on the international arena when the goals of the king and of the noble nation coincided, allowing the monarch to draw on the country’s resources necessary to implement the foreign policy programme in question. Good examples of both extremes were the effective mobilisation of the forces of the Commonwealth during the siege of Vienna in 1683 and, on the other hand, the completely unrealistic attempt to regain Poland’s supremacy over the Duchy of Prussia, which ceased to be the Crown’s fief in 1657 pursuant to the Treaty of Wehlau-Bromberg. Both projects were undertaken by John III Sobieski. In the first case, however, the noble nation saw an absolute patriotic duty to defend the country in the face of the threat of an Ottoman invasion – the previous one, a decade earlier, resulted in the loss of Podolya, and the Treaty of Buchach signed at that time brought the spectre of the Commonwealth becoming the Ottomans’ fief. The extension of Turkish possessions to include more countries south of the Carpathians posed an obvious threat to Kraków and only complete political blindness could lead one to ignore the fact that it was better to oppose the threat on the Danube together with the Austrians than to face it alone on the Vistula or even the Dniester. On the other hand, gathering troops against Prussia, a tiny country that was still underestimated by the vast Commonwealth at that time and whose army had been defeated by Hetman Wincenty Gosiewski in the battle of Prostki 20 years earlier,[10] did not evoke a similar response. Thus royal plans to wage war against Prussia were perceived as merely a cover for the monarch’s dynastic ambitions: gaining the Duchy for his son and at the same time gaining permission to mobilise the army, which – devoted to its victorious leader – could then become the instrument of introducing the infamous absolutum dominium that was the nightmare of the increasingly pauperised and poorly educated nobility of the second half of the 17th century. It is difficult to imagine the Commonwealth’s army, which consisted essentially of nobles, as a basis for the introduction of absolute monarchy, and it is difficult to seriously suspect that John III Sobieski was so ignorant of psychological and political realities of his own country so as to make similar designs, but this did not ultimately matter. Notions (in this case, misconceived ones, but still shared by the body politic of the Commonwealth at the time) are as real as the number of companies and cannons at the king’s disposal. In the case of the Viennese expedition, the political system of the then Polish-Lithuanian state made it possible to mobilise its forces for the last episode in which the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth presented itself as a power by demonstrating the effective expeditionary capabilities of its troops, while in the Prussian case the same system was the primary reason why the task was not undertaken.

However, the case described here does not justify a claim that stronger royal authority in the Commonwealth – had it existed – would have resulted in a better and more effective foreign policy. After all, the most important strategic errors that determined the country’s fate were committed not as a result of a king being helpless in the face of the nobles’ parliament; quite the opposite, they were made by a king who could do as he pleased. Such turning points in the Commonwealth’s history – independently made but unfortunate royal decisions that were subsequently implemented – were 1596, 1610 and 1618. All those events dated to the reign of Sigismund III Vasa who broke the nobility’s opposition, defeating rebels in the fields of Guzów in 1607. The first of those dates was the Union of Brest, which, although a few centuries later it resulted in acts of holiness and martyrdom worthy of the highest respect, was an act of extreme political folly at the end of the 16th century. As a result of the Union of Brest, the centre of Eastern Orthodoxy[11] was pushed out from the lands of the Commonwealth (and specifically from Kyiv); to quote John Paul II: “from the Jerusalem of the East Slavs for whom the Dnieper River was their Jordan”, to Moscow – the self-proclaimed “third Rome”. The Union transferred the centre of religious loyalty of numerous inhabitants of Jagiellonian lands beyond the borders of the country and handed a powerful instrument of influence to the Kremlin, a deadly enemy of both Poland and Lithuania. The second such turning point was Sigismund III Vasa’s decision not to place his son Władysław on the Muscovite throne (1610) since the prince having to change his faith was considered too high a price; finally, the third one was the consent granted by the monarch in 1618 to the succession of the Brandenburg Hohenzollern line in the Duchy of Prussia. After all, no outstanding political acumen was required to predict that, separated by Royal Prussia (Gdańsk Pomerania), both parts of the electors’ state would seek to combine their territories at the Commonwealth’s expense as soon at the latter became weak enough to allow it.

Let us stress once again that none of those fundamental strategic mistakes was the result of the king’s ability to act being constrained by the system of noble democracy; just the opposite – those were examples of the monarch’s personal decisions.

It is not difficult to notice that the model of authority in the Polish-Lithuanian state evolved considerably despite its formal continuity, which certainly had an effect on the effectiveness of Polish foreign policy. Some feedback was present in the system as well. For instance, some foreign policy failures, e.g. during the reign of Alexander Jagiellon (the loss of one-third of Lithuanian territory to Muscovy and destructive Tatar invasions), caused the rejection of the system of magnate dominance established under the Privilege of Mielnik (1501) and greatly contributed to laying the foundation for noble democracy in the form of the Nihil novi constitution (1505).[12] The rule of Stephen Báthory, who appealed to regional assemblies over the general parliament and was quite popular among the nobility owing to his effective foreign policy,[13] could also be considered to have established a separate subsystem within the framework of the nobles’ democracy; it provided one more example of feedback and mutual influence between the model of authority and the quality of foreign policy pursued.

It is generally accepted that the elective monarchy system weakened the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and was an obvious invitation to courts of neighbouring countries to interfere in its internal affairs. As a result, it undermined the effectiveness of the state’s foreign policy. However, this is an oversimplified view. At the time when Poland-Lithuania was mighty, the pretenders’ efforts made in order to ascend to its throne could, and did in fact, strengthen it even more. The best example was the election and rule of Stephen Báthory: the Commonwealth gained not only an outstanding ruler, but also – through him – influence in Transylvania. Curiously enough, interests of the king’s or his family’s homeland did not have a significant impact on the Commonwealth’s foreign policy and did not distract the monarch from major tasks of ruling the state. This was very different from the model of authority that was in evidence in the era of the Commonwealth’s weakness in the 18th century. The ascent of the Saxon Wettin dynasty to the throne, combined with the political collapse of the middle nobility in the wake of the wars in the second half of the 17th century, resulted in Poland–Lithuania ceasing to be a political actor in the international arena. After all, the Commonwealth’s entanglement in the catastrophic northern war resulted from the decision of its ruler, which was made by him in his capacity of the Saxon elector rather than the King of Poland or the Grand Duke of Lithuania and without the consent of the Commonwealth’s parliament, although it is worth noting that it was made in the hope of retaking Livonia and thus gaining popularity among the nobility.

In the era when the Commonwealth became weakened, the elective monarchy system exacerbated that weakness and in fact became an instrument for imposing from the outside rulers who were convenient for the neighbouring countries, and also an instrument for incapacitating the Polish-Lithuanian state and perpetuating its impotence, which was most clearly in evidence during the War of the Polish Succession (1733–1735). However, even in that era, the political empowerment of the noble nation and its influence on the state’s foreign policy remained undeniable. The most important example of that was the Dzików Confederation (1734) and the struggle undertaken by the citizens of the Commonwealth in order to ensure free elections. After all, that civic movement originated from the model of authority that existed in the First Republic, i.e. noble republicanism. That model later manifested itself in the era of the Bar Confederation, which was still a movement animated thoroughly by the nobility, and also during subsequent uprisings, including that of January 1863, when individual districts declared their participation during civic congresses. In effect, the political system of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth resulted in a phenomenon that was globally unique at the time: either against the will of the monarch (and thus formally against the state’s will) or in the absence of both monarch and state (as was the case after 1795), the body politic (i.e. citizens) of the Commonwealth, which survived its collapse, was able to engage in foreign policy acts that were decided upon by local associations, and this included acts as drastic as a declaration of war. However pathetically it might sound, the resolution of a local district confederation of 1768 and the act of joining the national uprising adopted by one district or another in 1863 were essentially the same – they amounted to a declaration of war on the Russian Empire by the citizens of, say, the Lida or Kalisz districts.

The appointment of the Permanent Council in 1775 as a permanent government failed to improve the effectiveness of Polish foreign policy. The Guard of Laws, which was established pursuant to the Constitution of May 3, did not fulfil its task either. Just the opposite – entrusting it with the fate of the Commonwealth in the face of the Russian intervention and the war waged in defence of the Constitution, combined with the adjournment of the parliament, which ceased to have an effect on the course of state affairs as a result, opened the way for the king’s accession to the Targowica Confederation and for the capitulation that resulted in the Second Partition. Given the political and personal realities of 1792, the theoretically sound idea to concentrate power, for the duration of the war, in the hands of a narrow cabinet with the king at its helm turned out to be a mistake. This example demonstrates the risks of all theorising about the effectiveness of one model of authority or another from the point of view of Poland’s foreign policy. If the Commonwealth had been ruled by the Great Sejm, it would surely have defended itself more doggedly and could possibly have survived.

The essentially dictatorial power of Tadeusz Kościuszko as the commander-in-chief became a model for subsequent Polish uprisings. In 1794, it generally proved effective. It is difficult to claim that adopting another model for directing the insurrection would yield better results and improve the Commonwealth’s position in the international arena. Models of authority under insurrection conditions can be considered, in principle, as models of country leadership during wars. Their importance for the effectiveness of Polish foreign policy, whose main task at the time of those uprisings was to attract allies and prevent the partitioning powers from cooperating, was limited. The decisive factors here were success on the battlefield and the nature of the uprising. From this point of view, it was not the dictatorship of General Józef Chłopicki or later of General Michał Radziwiłł, or even the formation of the National Government headed by Adam Jerzy Czartoryski, that affected the chances of gaining support from Austria or at least securing its friendly neutrality in 1830–1831,[14] of persuading France or Great Britain to cooperate,[15] of shaping the attitude of Belgium,[16] which was grateful to the Poles, or that of Prussia,[17] which was hostile to them. At that time, it was not the system of authority that proved decisive, but rather the way in which the war was conducted – the spring offensive that culminated in the victories at Dęby Wielkie and Iganie broadened options for foreign intervention in favour of Warsaw, similarly as the scale of Franco-Prussian tensions generated by the pressure exerted by the French public opinion in connection with the Polish issue and the Parisian government’s appetite for Prussian Rhineland provinces. On the other hand, the defeat at Ostrołęka diminished those chances. The model of insurrectionary authority had nothing to do with it, except maybe under a hypothetical scenario (let us call it the Jacobite one) in which Nicholas I were successfully assassinated during his coronation in 1828 and the Tsar’s entire family who gathered in Warsaw were murdered as well. In this case, it would probably be difficult to count on sympathy from any European court or government, including the British one. However, it would also be clear to everyone that in these circumstances, the war with Russia would have to be waged using radical means from the very beginning, since no settlement or mercy could be expected. This would probably polarise the views of Polish elites, which would become divided into treacherous collaborators and the revolutionary war party, which would not balk at the most drastic means for extracting military power from the country for the purpose of a ruthless struggle against Moscow.

The model of authority in the underground Polish state that existed from 1862 to 1864, while extremely interesting, cannot really be considered as a factor behind the successes or failures of Polish foreign policy. The shape of that policy was decided by the lack of material resources, not by the quality of diplomatic cadres and decision-making centres.[18]

A similar caveat applies to the “diplomacy” engaged in by the Hotel Lambert political camp, which, led for decades on end by Prince Adam Jerzy Czartoryski, did not allow European powers to forget about the Polish cause and provided an effective substitute for the foreign policy of a non-existent state. The extensive social and political connections of this milieu and the high level of expert knowledge it managed to accumulate make this model of pursuing foreign policy an interesting subject of research,[19] but it would be difficult to claim that its quality had any connection to the model of authority in Poland, as this authority was then exercised by the partitioning powers.

Thus the next era to be considered here must necessarily be the Second Polish Republic. The history of its political system can be divided into two periods – before and after the May Coup of 1926.

The resurrected Poland was born as a parliamentary republic, although from the outset there was a strong personal centre of power – the Chief of State, i.e. Józef Piłsudski. It is difficult to dispute the claim that in terms of foreign policy, the government achieved optimum results at that time and that this outcome resulted from the personality of the man who held the office of the Chief of State rather than from the model of authority under which this office was established.

The 1912–1917 operation involving the Riflemen’s Association and the Polish Legions affected domestic rather than foreign policy. It contributed to Piłsudski’s legend and created political and military cadres dedicated to him, which were then effectively used to rebuild the Polish state. It also influenced Poland’s international situation, for example by creating the context in which the Act of 5 November 1916 was adopted, which undoubtedly resulted from the impressive battle performance by Polish soldiers in the Legions and was motivated by the hope of recruiting more such soldiers.[20] However, the greatness of this armed action consisted in the first aspect mentioned above, i.e. its contribution to Piłsudski’s legend. However, the door for Poland’s grand entry into the international arena only opened when Piłsudski provoked the oath crisis, which was apparently at odds with his work of building the aforementioned military force and resulted in him being interned in Magdeburg. In fact, this event marked Poland’s entry into the camp of World War I winners, in which Roman Dmowski and his National Democracy were already present for a long time but lacked any significant armed forces. It is something of a paradox that those who, like General Józef Haller, continued to be loyal to the Central Powers for longer and only changed sides after the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk which handed the Chełm region to Ukraine, later became the symbol of the National Democrats’ effort to organise Polish armed forces that fought alongside the Allies. However, it was owing to Piłsudski’s character rather than the system of authority in place in Poland that the instruments of Polish foreign policy developed by the National Democracy, whether diplomatic or military, were not wasted but rather used for the country’s benefit.[21]

Engaging in the “great game” for the shape of Central and Eastern Europe in the form of the April 1920 Kyiv expedition was again only possible owing to the fact that the decision-making process was concentrated in the hands of the Chief of State. Thus in this case we can claim that the model of authority existing at the time played a decisive role in determining Warsaw’s foreign policy. However, the Chief of State was not a dictator then and he did not want to become one. Poland was not a totalitarian state and its resources could not be exploited in order to achieve foreign policy goals without accounting for domestic public opinion. Hence it was impossible to continue the war against Soviet Russia until the achievement of the political goals that had given rise to the Kyiv expedition, i.e. until an independent Ukraine that was allied (federated) with Poland could be built. Therefore military triumphs in the battles of Warsaw and of the Niemen River did not result in the implementation of the political programme that underlay the entire war. The model of authority that was forming in the Polish Republic at the time resulted in the National Democrats led by Jan Dąbski and Stanisław Grabski having the last word on the political outcome of the 1919–1920 struggle against the Bolsheviks, since it was they who dominated the Polish delegation in Riga and also had the largest representation in parliament. It was precisely their parliamentary majority that forced the abandonment of the federation programme; fearing that the Belarusian element would become too strong in the revived Polish Republic and result in its “cantonisation”, the National Democrats gave up the Mińsk region, “handing masses of Belarusian people to Moscow”.

Until 1926, the Second Polish Republic was a state with a parliamentary-cabinet system. Owing to the weakness of its two chief enemies, which resulted from their fresh war defeats and the superiority of the victorious Entente in Europe, the Versailles order was not seriously threatened in the first years of its existence after the Bolsheviks had been routed by the Polish Army in 1920. The already “post-war” and still “parliamentary” Poland from the years 1921–1926 did not face any dramatic foreign policy challenges and all fundamental decisions in this field had been made by 1921. Those were complemented by the recognition of the eastern borders of the Republic of Poland by the Council of Ambassadors in 1923,[22] but this recognition was merely the confirmation that the outcome of earlier struggles remained unchanged and its formal approval rather than a breakthrough in Poland’s international position and therefore it is difficult to consider this fact a strategic success and use it as a basis for assessing the effectiveness of the model of political authority that was in place in Poland at that time.

In 1922 and 1925, Poland’s international position deteriorated as a result of the Treaties of Rapallo[23] and Locarno[24] and of the Polish-German customs war breaking out. However, it would be difficult to argue that another system of authority in Warsaw could have prevented such a course of events more effectively. At most, Poland could have reacted more strongly to each of these facts had they taken place after 1926.

The May Coup and authoritarian rule by Piłsudski certainly changed the political model of the Polish state. In foreign policy, this was reflected by the adoption of several basic principles, which the Piłsudski camp continued to observe even after the Marshal’s death. These can be summarised in five main points:

1. The principle that the territory and borders of the Republic of Poland were sacred, i.e. recognition that the territorial integrity of the state is non-negotiable and any attempt to challenge it must lead to a war. This position was openly voiced by Warsaw in its contacts with both allies and potential enemies. As stated by Foreign Minister Beck, the Polish government “will not engage in any talks concerning Poland’s borders with anyone and in any manner. The only way in which we will discuss the Republic’s borders will be by firing from all cannons”.[25]

2. The principle of Poland as an independent power, which precluded accepting the status of a client state (like Czechoslovakia), and this was a clear threat for the Second Polish Republic in its relations with France before 1926. The Marshal’s personal rule was undoubtedly an important factor that ruled out such a scenario once and for all.

3. The principle of “equal distance”, which consisted in rejecting the concept of striking an alliance with one great neighbour against the other (i.e. with the USSR against Germany or with Germany against the USSR). It was the upshot of the correct conclusion that accepting any of the above options would ultimately make Poland either Germany’s or the Soviet Union’s satellite, and the war between the two powers that were both hostile to Poland would necessarily have to be waged in its territory and would, at best, result in Poland becoming the victor’s vassal.

4. The principle of superiority of bilateral treaties over multilateral ones. Poland realistically assessed the effectiveness of the latter and limited itself to participating in the League of Nations and in the Kellogg-Briand Pact.[26]

5. The principle of consolidating the Intermarium area. This originally manifested itself in Józef Piłsudski’s federalist policy, which culminated in the years 1919–1920 with the Kyiv expedition. However, the idea of organising the area between Russia and Germany under Poland’s leadership persisted in the Piłsudski camp until the very end of the Second Polish Republic: in the form of a “Prometheist” policy, of an alliance with Romania or of attempts to form a bloc of countries bordering on the Soviet Union in Europe – so called “limitrophe states”. However, tense relations with Lithuania, cool ones with Czechoslovakia and the hostility between Romania and Hungary ruled out any strategic success in this Polish foreign policy dimension. And Poland also made mistakes of its own. The most serious deviation from the principle of respecting the interests of Intermarium states was its participation in the partition of Czechoslovakia. Also at odds with this principle was the support for a common Polish-Hungarian border and for Slovak independence aspirations, but at the same time this was the last manifestation of the (unrealistic) attempt to build a bloc of states under Poland’s aegis.

However, the aforementioned principles of Poland’s foreign policy in the 1930s were not the result of one system of authority or another, but rather a reflection of the state of mind and quality of the then Polish leadership for whom imponderables were of essence and “the only thing in the life of people, nations and states that [was] invaluable” was their honour.[27]

The will to defend Poland’s independence as expressed by the aforementioned principles resulted from the memory of the impotence of the Saxon era and of Stanisław August Poniatowski’s infamous role in the burial of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. Therefore any scenarios that involved negotiations about ceding some part of Polish territory, bowing to pressure from foreign capitals or tacit consent to the country becoming a vassal of another were rejected. This attitude was widely shared by citizens because, as Foreign Minister Beck rightly noted, every adult Pole remembered what the world looked like without Poland. Thus the will to defend independence was widespread and it resulted in a certain policy direction within a state whose elites could not count on assistance from an external power (as was the case in the communist Polish People’s Republic) and could not openly govern against the will of their people. Any capitulation and tacit consent to Poland becoming a satellite state was therefore impossible for reasons that included both psychology and internal politics. This, again, had nothing to do with one system of authority or another that existed in Poland, except for what has been already stressed: it was an authority that emanated from internal factors in independent Poland.

The only major episode in the history of the Second Polish Republic that could give rise to discussions concerning the relationship between the decision-making process in Poland that determined its diplomatic undertakings and the quality of that diplomacy was the Czechoslovak crisis of 1938. The fact that after the Marshal’s death, three decision-making centres formed within the Piłsudski camp – one led by President Mościcki, another by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs headed by Minister Józef Beck and the third one led by the Supreme Inspector of the Armed Forces, Marshal Edward Rydz-Śmigły – hindered any bold manoeuvres. No man was present there who, like Piłsudski, would be capable not only in intellectual and moral terms (i.e. in terms of sufficient spiritual strength to accept responsibility for decisions of this scale), but above all in political terms, of making a sudden U-turn in state policy and imposing his will on the other decision-making centres. Only the Marshal – obviously, if he had lived and had wished to do so – could have ordered Beck, Mościcki and the army to execute a political volte-face that would consist in overcoming the previous resentment towards the southern neighbour and standing by its side to ward off the threat of a German invasion. Only his commands would have been obeyed. Of course, we are entering the realm of alternative history here. The question whether he would have done so and how much this would change the course of events must remain without answer. However, the purpose of this article is not to answer the question of what Poland should have done in 1938, but rather how its political system at the time affected the effectiveness of its foreign policy. In this respect, it is reasonable to conclude that by eliminating the decision-making centre that dominated the others, Piłsudski’s death reduced the probability of any bold foreign policy manoeuvres that were so characteristic of his tactics during World War I. It should be noted here that his death only introduced an informal change in that the Marshal’s collaborators and subordinates ceased to be mentally dependent on him. Although the legal principles underlying the state’s political system were formally changed in the last days of Piłsudski’s life through the adoption of the Constitution of April 1935, this fact did not determine the quality of Polish foreign policy. The Constitution of 1935 was, however, of certain significance later from the point of view of the symbolic legal continuity of authorities of the Republic of Poland in exile, since it was on its basis that the President could legally appoint his successor in the conditions that emerged after September 1939.

The history of the communist Polish People’s Republic and its foreign policy is not worth considering in the context of the effect of the model of state authority on Polish foreign policy, since the strategic dimension of this policy was determined in Moscow rather than Warsaw. The few exceptions to this rule do not affect this overall assessment.[28]

A separate issue to be considered here is the Polish foreign policy after 1989. The last 20 years are interesting from the point of view of our discussion because they have not been a uniform period. First, there was a transitional government system, which operated on the basis of the so-called “contract” parliament, with the dominant majority of MPs who originated from the communist nomenklatura and who were appointed by their parties (the former Polish United Workers’ Party and its successor Social Democracy of the Republic of Poland together with its satellite parties: the United People’s Party and its successor the Poland’s People Party, and the Democratic Party) rather than elected. The ministries of internal affairs and national defence, which were saturated with officers of the former system, continued to be headed by former communist apparatchiks General Czesław Kiszczak and General Florian Siwicki, and the former communist leader of the People’s Republic of Poland Wojciech Jaruzelski was elected President by the contract parliament. The dominance of old communist elites in the army, police, special services, diplomacy, media and the broadly understood state apparatus was absolute. Therefore it should come as no surprise that at least until the autumn of 1990, the main goal of Polish foreign policy pursued by Tadeusz Mazowiecki’s government was the “Finlandisation” of Poland.[29] This continued to be the case to some extent in the following years until the withdrawal of Russian troops from Poland in September 1993.

Lech Wałęsa’s presidency was a separate chapter that extended into the next period. Until the collapse of the USSR, the legendary leader of Solidarity, as head of the Polish state, basically continued the policy of his predecessors in spite of his electoral promises to accelerate change. The fact that he was confused and at a loss how to react at the time of Yanayev’s putsch and also his other actions whose actual purpose was preventing Ukraine’s independence[30] demonstrate that Wałęsa conducted a “Finlandisation” policy until December 1991 as well. However, a new decision-making centre emerged at that time in the form of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which was being supplied with, although still not dominated by, new cadres. These developed a two-pronged policy which supported Ukraine’s independence aspirations and attempted to achieve a similar goal in the case of Belarus as well.

By 1995, however, a peculiar system of division of executive power developed in Poland. Within the area that is of interest to us, its essence was the existence of so-called presidential ministries, i.e. the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of National Defence and the Ministry of Internal Affairs. Obviously, the first two are directly involved in conducting the state’s foreign policy. In the first half of the 1990s, foreign policy became an area in which the presidential and government centres of power competed, a prime example of which was Lech Wałęsa’s dispute with Jan Olszewski’s government about Article 7 of the Treaty with Russia; the prime minister ultimately prevailed, in dramatic circumstances.

The dual nature of decision-making centres in Polish foreign policy was eliminated after the adoption of the new constitution in 1997 and the disappearance of “presidential ministries”; this change also coincided with the 1995 election of Aleksander Kwaśniewski who remained president for ten years and whose terms of office (apart from the 1997–2001 period of the Solidarity Electoral Action/Freedom Union government) coincided with ruling coalitions dominated by the nomenklatura from the former communist party or from its satellite agrarian party (renamed the Polish People’s Party in the meantime). Anyway, strategic directions of that policy were the subject of cross-party consensus from 1993–2004, since no serious political power in Poland questioned the programme that assumed its accession to NATO, and with the exception of the relatively weak League of Polish Families, no party objected to Poland’s membership in the European Union. Apart from the aforementioned exception, differences in attitudes to the EU were related to the manner of negotiating the accession and the conditions that had to be stipulated in order to secure Polish national interests rather than to the very idea of joining the Communities. The Democratic Left Alliance could also count on the support of most of the opposition (except the League of Polish Families and the Polish Self-Defence Party) for its programme of tightening the alliance with the U.S., which manifested itself by the absence of effective opposition to the military assistance that Warsaw lent to the U.S. intervention in Iraq.

As a result, Poland achieved three of its four strategic foreign policy goals in the past 20 years. It shook off Russian domination, joined NATO and became a Member State of the European Union. The fourth goal, which was bringing its neighbours into the Western security sphere, was achieved only partially. The Baltic States, Slovakia, Romania and even the more distant Bulgaria did join both NATO and the EU, but dragging Poland’s eastern neighbours such as Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova, and subsequently also states of the Caucasus, especially Georgia, towards the West, still remains an uncompleted task.

The period in which the ruling coalition was dominated by the Law and Justice Party was again one of coherence between the presidential and governmental centres of power. After 2007 and the establishment of the Civic Platform/Polish People’s Party government, a sharp conflict soon developed between the two centres, in this area as well. For the first time since 1989, strategic directions of Polish foreign policy became the subject of intense internal rivalry, a cold civil war of sorts between the main parties on the Polish political scene – the Civic Platform and Law and Justice. Owing to the model of executive power adopted in the present Polish system, the dominant side in this dispute is the government centre, which has a monopoly on the material resources that enable the conduct of actual foreign policy. The president can make gestures or declarations, appeal, protest, condemn or support, but has no real tools for shaping the state’s foreign policy at his or her disposal. As a result, this policy is essentially conducted by the government.

My assessment of the effectiveness of the actions taken by the Civic Platform/Polish People’s Party government in the international arena is highly critical,[31] but this is related not to the model of authority in Poland, but rather to the nature of the political parties that formed the ruling coalition.

There is no place here to discuss the atrophied state of Poland’s foreign policy in the last two years. However, regardless of whether we consider it a success story or a succession of failures, it was not the model of executive power in Poland that determined the outcome – it was the political views of those in power, i.e. the model of exercising that power and not the systemic framework in which this exercise takes place.

This conclusion is general in nature and can serve as an overall summary here.


The presented review of the history of Poland from the very beginning until the present day does not confirm the initial thesis contained in the title. The title suggests the existence of a connection between the model of authority embedded in the political system of the Polish state at any given moment and the effectiveness of the state’s foreign policy, but such a relationship could not be proved.

It was certainly not present during the early feudal monarchy, which experienced moments of triumph, whether military or diplomatic, during the reign of Mieszko I and of the three subsequent kings named Bolesław (the Brave, the Generous and Wrymouth) as well as debacles (Mieszko II, Bolesław the Generous and the era of regional disintegration). The victories were won and the defeats suffered under the same model of authority, which was exercised by subsequent rulers with varying skill and under different external and internal conditions. Similarly, during the estate-based monarchy era there were successes during the reigns of Casimir the Great and Władysław Jagiełło, a certain stagnation during the rule of Louis I of Hungary, the defeat suffered by the young Władysław III and the interspersed failures and triumphs of his brother Kazimierz in his Prussian, Hungarian and Czech policies. The system of noble democracy that emerged after 1493, with the central role assigned to the parliament, was finally transformed in 1573 into a political system that involved free election. The oligarchisation of the political system of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth which started under Sigismund III Vasa reached its apogee in the period between the Khmelnytsky Uprising and the Bar Confederation and must be recognised as the factor responsible for Poland-Lithuania’s numerous foreign (and not only) policy failures of that time. Even so, it was an effect rather than cause. It was the fact that the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth was exhausted by repeated wars against the Cossacks and Muscovy, Swedes and Turks from 1648 onwards that resulted in the political collapse of the middle nobility and the transformation of the noble democracy system into one of magnate oligarchy, which later adversely affected the effectiveness of the state’s foreign policy, and not vice versa. The aforementioned fundamental strategic errors committed by Sigismund III Vasa were not related to either the Executionist movement whose remnants were still active during his reign or to the ever more powerful magnate oligarchy. Thus they did not result from the system of authority in Poland, but rather from the political quality of the Polish elites, and in this particular case – from the monarch’s personal traits. The essence of the negative evolution of the model of authority in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth that occurred in the 17th century and led, as a consequence, to a decline in its significance as an international actor, was not legal and political change, but rather the deterioration in the quality of the elites caused by their impoverishment and even physical annihilation in significant part during several decades of war. From that time onwards, it was foreign policy failures (the inability to put up effective armed resistance in the face of foreign interventions) that shaped the model of authority in Poland, and not vice versa.

The quality of its elites determined both the last spark of the Commonwealth’s greatness, which was the Constitution of May 3, and the form of its decline. The political model was of secondary importance here; it has even been demonstrated that the logical solution of handing over executive power to a constitutional body (Guard of Laws) and adjourning the parliament paradoxically facilitated the country’s capitulation. The quality of the country’s elites and not the legal perfection or imperfection of the constitutional model of executive power was the decisive factor.

Similar conclusions can be drawn from the history of the Second Polish Republic. The successes and failures of interwar Poland in the field of foreign policy resulted from the nature of its ruling elites – the quality of the people who staffed the Polish state apparatus and sat on decision-making bodies and not the model of authority that operated from 1918 to 1921, and then from 1921 to 1926, in the next decade until the Marshal’s death in 1935 or finally during the period of “the Piłsudski camp without Piłsudski” from 1935 to 1939.

This rule also applies to the last 20 years. The various legal and political models (the system of presidential ministries, cohabitation between governments and presidents from opposing political camps) that provided the basis for the operation of the structures of the Polish state which were in charge of foreign policy of the Republic of Poland after 1989 were of secondary importance to the effectiveness of that policy. As always, the quality of the elites who staffed those structures and observed (or not) the rules adopted was the decisive factor.

This conclusion is not surprising. After all, it would be naïve to expect that a model of the state’s political system could be a sufficient recipe for effective foreign policy. A system of governance may obviously obstruct or facilitate its conduct, but it only determines the form in which foreign policy is carried out rather than its content. Policy content, on the other hand, is shaped by individual people and it is ultimately up to them to ensure that the state’s actions in the international arena are effective. There are of course some other extremely important factors such as the country’s internal potential and the external geopolitical context, but otherwise the effectiveness of Polish foreign policy depends on these people’s knowledge, strength of character, integrity, willingness to act, courage, readiness for sacrifice and devotion to serving the interests of the Republic rather than on the model of authority adopted.

[1]     For more detail, see: K. Górski, “Pierwotny Gdańsk i dzieje jego zagłady, Rocznik Gdański 1932, No. 6, pp. 51–75, K. Jasiński, “Zajęcie Pomorza Gdańskiego przez krzyżaków w latach 1308–1309”, Zapiski Historyczne 1966, No. 31, vol. 3, pp. 10–52 and S. Kujot, “Czternasty listopada 1308 r. w Pomorzu Gdańskiem”, Roczniki Towarzystwa Naukowego w Toruniu 1908, No. 15.

[2]     For evidence that points to this annexation being etched in collective memory, see: Lites ac Res gestae inter Polonos Ordinemque Cruciferorum – Spory i sprawy pomiędzy Polakami a Zakonem Krzyżackim, vol. I, Poznań 1890; vol. II, Poznań 1892; vol. III, Warszawa 1935 and H. Chłopocka, “Tradycja o Pomorzu Gdańskim w zeznaniach świadków na procesach polsko-krzyżackich w XIV i XV wieku”, Roczniki Historyczne 1959, No. 25, vol. 1, pp. 65–139.

[3]     More on the importance of Gdańsk Pomerania for the consciousness of the Polish elite of the era, see: H. Chłopocka, op. cit., pp. 65–139. It is worth noting that there was no memory of illegal annexation in the case of Silesia, which was still ruled by the local Piasts (an old native dynasty that could not be treated as invaders or usurpers, which was undoubtedly the case with the Teutonic Knights in Pomerania), was not subject to armed occupation and its possession did not determine the control over the country’s main waterway that served communication and trade purposes. Thus recovering Silesia did not become part of the Polish foreign policy programme despite the memory that it used to be part of the Kingdom of Poland.

[4]     For more detail, see: R. Grodecki, S. Zachorowski, J. Dąbrowski, Dzieje Polski średniowiecznej, vol. II, (1333–1506), Kraków 1995, pp. 396–399.

[5]     For more detail, see: B. Miśkiewicz, “Najazd Fryderyka Barbarossy na Polskę w 1157 roku”, Zeszyty Naukowe UMK 1968, vol. 8, Historia, p. 33–50.

[6]     For more detail, see: P. Jasienica, Polska Jagiellonów, Warszawa 1965, pp. 354–355. Cf.: Z. Wojciechowski, Zygmunt Stary (1506–1548), Warszawa 1979, pp. 362–365 and A. Sucheni-Grabowska, Walka o demokrację szlachecką, [in:] Polska w epoce odrodzenia. Państwo, społeczeństwo, kultura, A. Wyczański (ed.), Warszawa 1970, pp. 17–20.

[7]     P. Jasienica, op. cit., pp. 111–120.

[8]     L. Bazylow, Historia Rosji, vol. I, Warszawa 1985, pp. 138–142 and 171.

[9]     W. Sobieski, Trybun ludu szlacheckiego, Warszawa 1978, pp. 90–92.

[10]    The Polish victory, although great, did not result in the annihilation of the entire Brandenburg army, which soon avenged its defeat on Gosiewski’s division during the battle of Filipów. For more detail, see: S. Augusiewicz, Prostki 1656, Warszawa 2001.

[11]    Southern Orthodoxy was already under Turkish rule, and therefore Kyiv was the only independent Orthodox centre outside of Moscow and it had an advantage flowing from its tradition and history. The argument that Kyiv was an independent religious metropolis is based on the unquestionable fact that until 1596, no attempts were made in the Commonwealth to force Orthodox believers to convert to another denomination, and the Ukrainian and Lithuanian-Ruthenian lands were ruled by native elites who were subject to the process of Polonisation, which however, was not yet very advanced and remained completely voluntary at that time.

[12]    M. Bobrzyński, “Sejmy polskie za Olbrachta i Aleksandra”, Szkice i Studia Historyczne 1922, vol. I, pp. 184–257.

[13]    A. Wyczański, Polska Rzeczą pospolitą szlachecką 1454–1764, Warszawa 1965, pp. 227–231 and J. J. Siemieński, “Króla Stefana polityka sejmowa”, Przegląd Historyczny 1937, vol. 34, pp. 3–53.

[14]    For more detail, see: J. Dutkiewicz, Austria wobec powstania listopadowego, Kraków 1933.

[15]    For more detail, see: idem, Anglia a sprawa polska w latach 1830–1831, Łódź 1967; idem, Francja a Polska w 1831 r., Łódź 1950; idem, Francja i Wielka Brytania wobec Powstania Listopadowego, [in:] Powstanie Listopadowe 1830–1831. Dzieje wewnętrzne. Militaria. Europa wobec powstania, W. Zajewski (ed.), Warszawa 1980, pp. 330–349.

[16]    For more detail, see: W. Zajewski, Belgia wobec Powstania Listopadowego, [in:] Powstanie Listopadowe…, op. cit, pp. 350–370.

[17]    For more detail, see: H. Kocój, Władze pruskie wobec Powstania Listopadowego, [in:] Powstanie Listopadowe…, op. cit., pp. 371–396.

[18]    For more on Polish foreign policy during the January Uprising, see: H. Wereszycki, J. Zdrada, Polska działalność dyplomatyczna (1860–1900), [in:] Historia dyplomacji polskiej, L. Bazylow (ed.), vol. III, Warszawa 1982, pp. 433–627.

[19]    For more detail, see: R. Żurawski vel Grajewski, Działalność księcia Adama Jerzego Czartoryskiego w Wielkiej Brytanii (1831–1832), Warszawa 1999, and idem, Wielka Brytania w dyplomacji księcia Adama Jerzego Czartoryskiego w okresie kryzysu wschodniego (1832–1841), Warszawa 1998. Abundant literature on the subject is listed in the bibliographies.

[20]   For more on the legend of the Legions, see: Legenda Legionów. Opowieść o Legionach oraz ludziach Józefa Piłsudskiego, W. Sienkiewicz (ed.), Warszawa 2008. On this legend’s significance for Piłsudski’s position in November 1918, see: B. Skaradziński, Polskie lata 1919–1920, vol. 1, Warszawa 1993, pp. 127–130. About the Act of 5 November 2016: ibidem, pp. 67 and J. Pajewski, Odbudowa państwa polskiego 1914–1918, Warszawa 1980, pp. 125–138.

[21]    For more detail, see: J. Molenda, “Roman Dmowski i Józef Piłsudski – próby osiągania kompromisu w sprawie odbudowy Polski”, Niepodległość i Pamięć 1998, No. 4, pp. 15–28. For more on the relationship between Piłsudski and the National Democrats during the struggle for independence, see idem, Piłsudczycy a narodowi demokraci 1908–1918, Warszawa 1980.

[22]    J. Kumaniecki, “Uznanie wschodniej granicy Polski przez Radę Ambasadorów”, Kwartalnik Historyczny 1969, vol. 76, No. 1, pp. 73–92.

[23]    For more detail, see: G. Rosenfeld, Wpływ linii politycznych z Rapallo i Locarno na stosunki niemiecko-polskie, [in:] Niemcy w polityce międzynarodowej 1919–1939. Era Stresemanna, vol. I, S. Sierpowski (ed.), Poznań 1990, pp. 69–84.

[24]   For more detail, see: W. Balcerak, Locarno a system wersalski, [in:] Niemcy w polityce międzynarodowej…, op. cit., pp. 85–96 and M. Nowak–Kiełbikowa, Polska–Wielka Brytania w dobie zabiegów o zbiorowe bezpieczeństwo w Europie 1923–1937, Warszawa 1989, pp. 113–130.

[25]    M. Koźmiński, Polska i Węgry przed II wojną światową. Październik 1938–wrzesień 1939, Wrocław 1970.

[26]   See: Memorandum Departamentu Politycznego Ministerstwa Spraw Zagranicznych RP dla ministra spraw zagranicznych J. Becka uzasadniające zastrzeżenia rządu polskiego wobec paktu wschodniego, 15 sierpnia 1934 r. Warszawa, [in:] Dokumenty i materiały do historii stosunków polsko–radzieckich, vol. 4, N. Gąsiorowska–Grabowska (ed.), document No. 140, pp. 237–239.

[27]    A. K. Kunert, 1939 Polska była pierwsza, Warszawa 2009, pp. 62–63. For the text of the speech, see: J. Beck, Przemówienie ministra spraw zagranicznych wygłoszone na plenarnym posiedzeniu Sejmu RP, w odpowiedzi na mowę kanclerza Rzeszy A. Hitlera z dnia 28 kwietnia 1939,

[28]   For more detail, see: P. Żurawski vel Grajewski, Dwie dekady polskiej polityki zagranicznej 1989–2009, [in:] Rzeczpospolita 1989–2009. Zwykłe państwo Polaków?, Kraków 2009, pp. 271–274.

[29]   J. Strzelczyk, Ucieczka ze Wschodu. Rosja w polskiej polityce 1989–1993, Warszawa 2002, pp. 110–112. See also: A. Dudek, “Finlandyzacja po polsku”, Plus Minus, No. 32 (863), Rzeczpospolita, 14–16 August 2009, pp. P4–5.

[30]   On the behaviour of Wałęsa and the then Polish elites at the time of Yanayev’s putsch, see: J. Strzelczyk, op. cit., pp. 227–253. On Lech Wałęsa opposing Ukraine’s independence, see ibidem, pp. 280–282.

[31]    For more detail, see: P. Żurawski vel Grajewski, Dwie dekady…, op. cit., pp. 298–304.

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