Constitution of May 3, 1791

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Constitution of May 3, 1791

 

a constitution adopted by the Four-year Sejm of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. The constitution established a hereditary monarchy, strengthened the central power, eliminated such archaisms as the confederation and the liberum veto, and made a single state of Poland and Lithuania, doing away with the last vestiges of Lithuanian statehood. Political rights were recognized only for the upper and middle szlachta (Polish nobility). The poorest members of the szlachta, the golota, were deprived of rights, limiting the influence of magnates who enjoyed the political support of the golota. The constitution made almost no changes regarding the status of peasants, although it declared its “concern” for them.

Reactionary magnates opposed the constitution and established the Confederation of Targowica (1792), which appealed to Russia and Prussia to occupy the country. The constitution and reforms of the Four-year Sejm were abolished.

PUBLICATION

Wybór tekstów ívódlowych z historii panstwa i prawa polskiego, vol. 1, 2nd ed. Warsaw, 1951. Pages 88–97.
References in periodicals archive ?
Fryzel, who is the first Polish-American to serve on the NCUA Board, marched with PSFCU in the Polish Constitution Day Parade, which honors the historic Polish Constitution of 1791 - the first democratic constitution in Europe and second in the world only to the United States.
SAN FRANCISCO, April 20 /PRNewswire/ -- On May 2, 2010, the Polish American Community in the San Francisco Bay Area will celebrate the 219th annual commemoration of the May 3rd Polish Constitution of 1791, which was the first democratic constitution in Europe and second in the world, after the Constitution of the United States.
WHY: To commemorate the May 3rd Polish Constitution of 1791.
SAN FRANCISCO, April 8 /PRNewswire/ -- On May 3, 2009, the Polish American Community in the San Francisco Bay Area will celebrate the 218th annual commemoration of the May 3rd Polish Constitution of 1791, which was the first democratic constitution in Europe and second in the world, after the Constitution of the United States.
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