- 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, Romaniaand 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:
Crown of the Polish Kingdom(Poland proper), colloquially "the Crown"; and
Grand Duchy of Lithuania, colloquially "Lithuania."
The Crown in turn comprised two "
prowincjas": Greater Polandand 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.
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 Commonwealthin 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
duchyin 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" [ [http://books.google.com/books?id=7wSnyGP1KQQC&printsec=frontcover&dq=%22Duchy+of+Livonia%22&lr=&source=gbs_summary_r&cad=0#PPA17,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
duchyin the Baltic region that existed from 1562to 1791as a vassal state of the Grand Duchy of Lithuaniaand later the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. In 1791it gained full independence, but on March 28, 1795, it was annexed by the Russian Empirein the third Partition of Poland.
Thought was given at various times to the creation of a
Duchy of Ruthenia, particularly during the 1648 Cossackinsurrection 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 Commonwealthalso were never realized, although during the Polish-Muscovite War (1605-1618)the Polish Prince (later, King) Władysław IV Wazawas briefly elected Tsar of Muscovy.
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