Slavery in Poland existed on the territory of the Kingdom of Poland during the rule of the Piast dynasty in the Middle Ages.It continued to exist in various forms until late in the 14th century when it was supplanted by the institution of serfdom, which has often been considered a form of modified slavery.
Polish literature refers to this group of people as "unfree people" (Polish : ludzie niewolni, Latin : servi, ancillae, familia) rather than as slaves (niewolnicy).
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The institution of slavery as practiced in the Polish territories during the Early Middle Ages played a lesser (if still significant) economic or cultural role than in other states such as Roman Empire where slavery played a crucial role in keeping economy alive.It existed on the territory of Kingdom of Poland during the times of the Piast dynasty; in fact, the number of slaves rose significantly with the establishment of the Polish state, as most of the slaves were owned by the king.
According to Samuel Augustus Mitchell, non-free people were emancipated in Poland in 1347 under the Statutes of Casimir the Great issued in Wiślica,although there are indications that some form of slavery, in practice and law, continued at least till the end of the 14th century. Throughout the remaining history of feudal Poland, particularly in the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, much of the peasantry was subject to serfdom, which was often likened to slavery. Serfdom was abolished in Poland in the 18th century during the times of the partitions of Poland.
The niewolnicy came primarily from the ranks of prisoners of war, and were treated as a commodity destined mostly for the largest slave market of its age: Prague. Later, between XI and XII century, ransom was popularised due to acceptance of Christianity, but it covered mostly prisoners of prominence. Some people could also become enslaved due to their inability to pay off their debts, and occasionally enslavement was used instead of a death sentence. Children of niewolni would also belong to that class. They belonged to the king or knights. Niewolni owned by the king were organized in units of tens and hundreds.Those who were not owned by the monarch were among the few in the Kingdom of Poland that could not rely on royal justice.
Niewolni had a limited right to relocate themselves, and could own possessions. : czeladź, Latin : servi casati). Czeladź would have their own house, and would be little different from regular peasants or serfs.Over time, their numbers decreased, due in part to some escaping and also because their owners saw it as more profitable to use them as peasants rather than servants (Polish
Types of slavery found in Poland include forced labor, forced begging, and forced criminality.Sectors of the Polish economy considered most vulnerable to slavery and other forms of exploitation include agriculture, construction, food processing, housekeeping and cleaning, although problems have also been found in the industrial production and catering sectors. Until recently, some of the people subject to forced labour in Poland were from North Korea. Common techniques for trafficking people into slavery from other countries include false job promises, high fees or alleged debts, rape, and withholding the person's documentation. An example is a 23-year old woman trafficked from Uganda to Poland in 2009. She was promised well-paid employment in Europe and told she did not need money or documentation. She was raped multiple times during her journey to Poland. This woman was able to escape once she arrived in Warsaw, and was eventually able to receive medical treatment from a clinic as well as services from the Ministry of the Interior and Administration's Program of Support and Protection for Victims of Human Trafficking. False offers of employment are usually for sales or agricultural work. Many trafficking victims from Bulgaria and Ukraine are forced into sex slavery. Poland is part of the European G6 Initiative Against Human Trafficking.
Pacta conventa was a contractual agreement, from 1573 to 1764 entered into between the "Polish nation" and a newly elected king upon his "free election" to the throne.
The Henrician Articles or King Henry's Articles were a permanent contract between the "Polish nation" and a newly elected king upon his election to the throne. It stated the fundamental principles of governance and constitutional law in the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth.
Pospolite ruszenie is a name for the mobilisation of armed forces during the period of the Kingdom of Poland and the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth. The tradition of wartime mobilisation of part of the population existed from before the 13th century to the 19th century. In the later era, pospolite ruszenie units were formed from the szlachta. The pospolite ruszenie was eventually outclassed by professional forces.
Veche was a popular assembly in medieval Slavic countries.
The liberum veto was a parliamentary device in the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth. It was a form of unanimity voting rule that allowed any member of the Sejm (legislature) to force an immediate end to the current session and to nullify any legislation that had already been passed at the session by shouting, Sisto activitatem! or Nie pozwalam!. The rule was in place from the mid-17th century to the late 18th century in the Sejm's parliamentary deliberations. It was based on the premise that since all Polish noblemen were equal, every measure that came before the Sejm had to be passed unanimously. The liberum veto was a key part of the political system of the Commonwealth, strengthening democratic elements and checking royal power and went against the European-wide trend of having a strong executive.
A rokosz originally was a gathering of all the Polish szlachta (nobility), not merely of deputies, for a sejm. The term was introduced to the Polish language from Hungary, where analogous gatherings took place at a field called Rákos. With time, "rokosz" came to signify an armed, semi-legal, rebellion by the szlachta of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth against the king, in the name of defending threatened liberties. The nobles who gathered for a rokosz formed a "confederation".
A konfederacja was an ad hoc association formed by Polish–Lithuanian szlachta (nobility), clergy, cities, or military forces in the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth for the attainment of stated aims. A konfederacja often took the form of an armed rebellion aimed at redressing perceived abuses or trespasses of some authority. Such "confederations" acted in lieu of state authority or to force their demands upon that authority. They could be seen as a primary expression of direct democracy and right of revolution in the Commonwealth, and as a way for the nobles to act on their grievances and against the state's central authority.
A sejmik was one of various local parliaments in the history of Poland and history of Lithuania. The first sejmiks were regional assemblies in the Kingdom of Poland, though they gained significantly more influence in the later era of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth. Sejmiks arose around the late 14th and early 15th centuries and existed until the end of the Commonwealth in 1795, following the partitions of the Commonwealth. In a limited form, some sejmiks existed in partitioned Poland (1795–1918), and later in the Second Polish Republic (1918–1939). In modern Poland, since 1999, the term has revived with the voivodeship sejmiks, referring to the elected councils of each of the 16 voivodeships.
Royal elections in Poland were the elections of individual kings, rather than dynasties, to the Polish throne. Based on traditions dating to the very beginning of the Polish statehood, strengthened during the Piast and Jagiellon dynasties, they reached their final form in the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth period between 1572 and 1791. The "free election" was abolished by the Constitution of 3 May 1791, which established a constitutional-parliamentary monarchy.
The General Sejm was the bicameral parliament of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth. It was established by the Union of Lublin in 1569 from the merger of the Sejm of the Kingdom of Poland and the Seimas of Grand Duchy of Lithuania, Ruthenia and Samogitia. It was one of the primary elements of the democratic governance in the Commonwealth. The sejm was a powerful political institution and the king could not pass laws without the approval of that body.
The Christianization of Poland refers to the introduction and subsequent spread of Christianity in Poland. The impetus to the process was the Baptism of Poland, the personal baptism of Mieszko I, the first ruler of the future Polish state, and much of his court. The ceremony took place on the Holy Saturday of 14 April 966, although the exact location is still disputed by historians, with the cities of Poznań and Gniezno being the most likely sites. Mieszko's wife, Dobrawa of Bohemia, is often credited as a major influence on Mieszko's decision to accept Christianity.
The Cardinal Laws were a quasi-constitution enacted in Warsaw, Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, by the Repnin Sejm of 1767–68. Enshrining most of the conservative laws responsible for the inefficient functioning of the Commonwealth, and passed under foreign duress, they have been seen rather negatively by the historians.
Juliusz Bardach was a Polish legal historian. Professor of the University of Warsaw, member of the Polish Academy of Sciences. He specialized in the history of governance and law of Lithuania and Poland.
Abolition of serfdom in Poland occurred over a period of time. At the end of 18th century a reform movement in Poland resulted in the Constitution of May 3, 1791 which took the peasantry under protection of state. Full abolishment of serfdom was enacted by the Proclamation of Połaniec on 7 May 1794, but it was also short-lived as Poland got partitioned by her neighbours in 1795, beginning first 12 years of Polish inexistence as an independent state and later another 103 years. In the 19th century various reforms on Polish territories were taking place. Namely in all three of the Austrian partition, Prussian partition and the Russian partition. Serfdom was abolished in Prussia in 1807, in Austria in 1848, in Russia in 1861. Despite these facts 7th May 1794 remains the date serfdom was abolished in Poland.
Sejm of the Duchy of Warsaw was the parliament of the Duchy of Warsaw. It was created in 1807 by Napoleon, who granted a new constitution to the recently created Duchy. It had limited competences, including having no legislative initiative. It met three times: for regular sessions in 1809 and 1811, and for an extraordinary session in 1812. In the history of Polish parliament, it succeeded the Sejm of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and was followed by the Sejm of the Congress Poland.
Serfdom in Poland became the dominant form of relationship between peasants and nobility in the 17th century, and was a major feature of the economy of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, although its origins can be traced back to the 12th century.
The opole is a historical unit of administration in Poland. An opole was characterised by close geographical ties between a group of settlements and common legal responsibilities collectively affecting all of them. The institution of the opole predates the Kingdom of Poland, and began disappearing around the 13th to 15th centuries. It was the lowest unit of administration in the medieval Polish kingdom, subordinate to the castellany.
The privileges of the szlachta formed a cornerstone of "Golden Liberty" in the Kingdom of Poland and, later, in the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth. Most of the privileges were granted between the late 14th and early 16th centuries. By the end of that period, the szlachta had succeeded in garnering numerous privileges, empowering themselves and limiting the powers of the monarch to an extent unprecedented elsewhere in Europe at the time.
Army of the Congress Poland refers to the military forces of the Kingdom of Poland that existed in the period 1815–1831.
The General Sejm was the parliament of the Kingdom of Poland. It had evolved from the earlier institution of Curia Regis and was one of the primary elements of democratic governance in the Polish dominion.