Age of Monarchy - Poland and Netherland

By — McGraw-Hill Professional
Updated on Oct 18, 2011


Poland had been a strong nation-state during the late Middle Ages; a dynastic marriage in 1386 between Princess Jadwiga of Poland and the Grand Duke of Lithuania united the two as the Kingdom of Poland-Lithuania. However, the dynasty died out in 1572, at which point the nobles seized power, granting themselves the right to elect the monarch. The aristocracy proved too powerful for the monarchy, which never recovered enough strength to suppress the nobles. In 1764, Stanislav Poniatowski was elected king; unfortunately for the immediate future of Poland, he was romantically involved with Catherine the Great of Russia, who would use the personal relationship to take over half the kingdom.

By 1772, Russia had annexed Lithuanian territory as far west as the Dvina River. At the same time, Prussia and Austria began taking over Polish territory on their own borders. The Second and Third Partitions of Poland followed in the 1790s, effectively erasing Poland as a nation from the map.

The Netherlands

The Netherlands became a parliamentary republic after gaining its independence from Hapsburg rule in the Treaty of Westphalia. It consisted of several provinces, each of which sent deputies to the national assembly, the States General, which met in The Hague, at the mouth of the Rhine River on the North Sea. This was also the residence of the hereditary ruler of the Orange family, known as the stadholder. In 1688, stadholder William of Orange became William I of England, thanks to his marriage to the Stuart princess Mary.

Because the Dutch provinces were small and the population was culturally homogeneous, the provincial deputies of the States General tended to work effectively together rather than bickering. They controlled all foreign- policy decisions, subject to the approval of the provincial legislatures, called “estates.”

Practice questions for these concepts can be found at:

The Age of Monarchy Practice Test
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