Joachim Lelewel

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Joachim Lelewel
BirthplaceWarsaw, Poland
Historian, bibliographer
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Lelewel, Joachim


Born Mar. 22, 1786, in Warsaw; died May 29, 1861, in Paris. Polish historian and public figure. Graduated in 1808 from the University of Vilnius, where he held the chair of history from 1815 to 1818 and 1821 to 1824.

After the exposure of the Philomats and Philarets (secret student societies), Lelewel was dismissed from his teaching post on the grounds of having been the societies’ ideological mentor. He moved to Warsaw and made contact with secret Polish patriotic organizations. In 1828 he was elected a deputy to the Sejm. At the outset of the Polish Uprising of 1830–31, Lelewel, a wellknown ideologist of the liberation movement, became chairman of the Patriotic Society. As a member of the Provisional Government he worked for the adoption of a number of revolutionary measures, such as allotment of land to some of the peasantry.

After the suppression of the uprising, Lelewel emigrated to France and became the leader of the Polish National Committee, uniting the democratic forces of the Polish emigration. The committee’s publication of his appeal “To Our Russian Brothers,” calling for a joint struggle against tsarism, led to his expulsion from France in 1833. In Brussels he became the ideological leader of such Polish democratic organizations as Young Poland and Unification. He was active in the international Democratic Association, founded in Brussels, whose goal was the unity and brotherhood of nations.

Lelewel was the founder of the romantic school in Polish historiography. Working independently of the French historians Thierry and Guizot, he came to view the historical process as the struggle of classes (peasants and landlords). He believed that history should be a chronicle of the life of the people and stressed the creative role of the masses in history. His works were democratic, republican, and anticlerical, and his views on history and society laid the foundation for progressive Polish social thought of the 1820’s to 1860’s (E. Dembowski, T. Krçpowiecki). He wrote many works on the political history of Poland from earliest times through the 19th century and on the history of the Polish peasantry. Lelewel laid the foundations for a number of auxiliary disciplines in Polish historiography.


Kieniewicz, S. Lelevel’. Moscow, 1970. (Translated from Polish.)
Hleb-Koszañska, H., and M. Kotwiczówna. Bibliografia utworów Joa-chima Lelewela. Warsaw, 1952.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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Harrisse also referred to what he called an "artificial reproduction of this little globe", by Joachim Lelewel in an atlas accompanying the 1850 edition of his Geographie du Moyen Age, "blending the two hemispheres in one, and making of the whole an elliptical mappamundi".
The Polish historian, Joachim Lelewel (1786-1861), argued that the Slavs had once enjoyed an early form of democracy, which was then destroyed by 'Germanic feudalization'.
During the Romantic period, their outstanding historian was Joachim Lelewel (1786-1861), a prolific author who wrote extensively on all periods of Polish history, and on many other subjects besides.
Above all, an important role was played by the progressive historian Joachim Lelewel, famous throughout Europe, who reinforced Bakunin's commitment to democratic, Slavic and federal ideas.
Dafur gibt es aber ebenso wenig schriftliche Uberlieferungen wie fur die Annahme von Joachim Lelewel, nach der die Tur von Plocker Klerikern der Furstin Aleksandra, der Gemahlin Siemowits IV., fur ihren Bruder, den litauischen Fursten Lingwen geschenkt worden sei.
Five nineteenth-century historians are considered: Joachim Lelewel, Simonas Daukantas, Frantisek Palacky, Michaly Horvath, and Mihail Kogalniceanu.While one could argue with the author about the relative importance of these five in their respective countries and in Europe generally (except for Palacky and Horvath who undoubtedly deserved inclusion in this book), the fact that such a book has been written outweighs its possible imperfections.
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The present struggle is best characterized by the celebrated 19th-century Polish insurrectionist appeal attributed to Joachim Lelewel which spoke of a fight "For Your Freedom and Ours."
Major, in his introduction to Early Voyages to Terra Australis, Now Called Australia refers to another work which he attributes to Franciscus--a map of the world on an oval projection dated 1526, a copy of which appears in the atlas which accompanies Joachim Lelewel's Geographie du Moyen Age.