Lelewel, Joachim

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.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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LELEWEL, Joachim, (1850), Geographie duMoyen Age: Atlas, Bruxelles.