Administrative division of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth

Administrative division of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth

The administrative division of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth was the result of the long and complicated history of the fragmentation of the Polish Kingdom and the union of Poland and Lithuania.

The lands that once belonged to the Commonwealth are now largely distributed among several Central, Eastern, and Northern European countries today: Poland (except western Poland), Lithuania, Latvia, Belarus, most of Ukraine, parts of Russia, southern half of Estonia, and smaller pieces in Slovakia, Romania and Moldova.


While the term "Poland" was also commonly used to denote this whole polity, Poland was in fact only part of a greater whole — the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, which comprised primarily two parts:
*the Crown of the Polish Kingdom (Poland proper), colloquially "the Crown"; and
*the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, colloquially "Lithuania."

The Crown in turn comprised two "prowincjas": Greater Poland and Lesser Poland. These and a third province, the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, were the only three regions that were properly termed "provinces." The Commonwealth was further divided into smaller administrative units known as voivodeships ("województwa" - note that some sources use the word palatinate instead of voivodeship). Each voivodeship was governed by a Voivode (governor). Voivodeships were further divided into "starostwa", each "starostwo" being governed by a "starosta". Cities were governed by castellans. There were frequent exceptions to these rules, often involving the "ziemia" subunit of administration: for details on the administrative structure of the Commonwealth, see the article on offices in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth.

Administrative division

By provinces, voivodships and lesser entities.

Crown of the Polish Kingdom (Polish Crown)

"Crown of the Polish Kingdom" or just colloquially the "Crown" (Polish:"Korona") is the name for the territories under Polish direct administration in the times of Kingdom of Poland until the end of Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth in 1795.

Grand Duchy of Lithuania

Grand Duchy of Lithuania or just colloquially the Lithuania ( _lt. Lietuva) is the name for the territories under direct Lithuanian administration in the times of medieval sovereign Lithuanian statehood, and later until the end of common Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth statehood in 1795.


Duchy of Prussia (1525 - 1701)

The "Duchy of Prussia" was a duchy in the eastern part of Prussia from 1525–1701. In 1525 during the Protestant Reformation, the Grand Master of the Teutonic Knights, Albert, secularized the order's Prussian territory, becoming Albert, Duke of Prussia. His duchy, which had its capital in Königsberg (Kaliningrad), was established as a fief of the Crown of Poland.

Duchy of Livonia (Inflanty) (1569 - 1772)

The "Duchy of Livonia" [ [,M1| Trade, Diplomacy and Cultural Exchange: Continuity and Change in the North ISBN:9065508813, p 17] ] was a territory of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania — and later a joint domain (Condominium) of the Polish Crown and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania

Duchy of Courland and Semigallia (Courland) (1562 - 1791)

The "Duchy of Courland and Semigallia" is a duchy in the Baltic region that existed from 1562 to 1791 as a vassal state of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and later the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. In 1791 it gained full independence, but on March 28, 1795, it was annexed by the Russian Empire in the third Partition of Poland.

Proposed divisions

Polish-Lithuanian-Ruthenian Commonwealth

Thought was given at various times to the creation of a Duchy of Ruthenia, particularly during the 1648 Cossack insurrection against Polish rule in Ukraine. Such a Duchy, as proposed in the 1658 Treaty of Hadiach, would have been a full member of the Commonwealth, which would thereupon have become a tripartite Polish-Lithuanian-Ruthenian Commonwealth, but due to szlachta demands, Muscovite invasion, and division among the Cossacks, the plan was never implemented.

Polish-Lithuanian-Muscovite Commonwealth

For similar reasons, plans for a Polish-Lithuanian-Muscovite Commonwealth also were never realized, although during the Polish-Muscovite War (1605-1618) the Polish Prince (later, King) Władysław IV Waza was briefly elected Tsar of Muscovy.


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