I believe that they were good allies but were they also at some point became one nation. But it seemed like an unusually long "courtship" that lasted decades, or even centuries. That's why am kinda confused by the whole "Commonwealth" aspect. When and why did a "de facto" relationship become "de jure?" Could someone explain better on what that whole part of history was about.

  • 3
    Yes it was official. It was dismembered before the modern concept of "Nation-State" emerged, so whether it makes "one nation" is an anachronism. What exactly don't you understand ?
    – Bregalad
    Commented Aug 8, 2017 at 11:51
  • 3
    "The Commonwealth was established by the Union of Lublin in July 1569, but the Crown of the Kingdom of Poland and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania were in a de facto personal union since 1386 with the marriage of the Polish queen Hedwig and Lithuania's Grand Duke Jogaila, who was crowned King jure uxoris Władysław II Jagiełło of Poland." - Wikipedia Commented Aug 8, 2017 at 11:52
  • Thanks I just wanted to know because I play Europa and I didn't know if it was one of those alternative timeline nations
    – Gavineo
    Commented Aug 8, 2017 at 12:08
  • @Gavineo: if by that you meant Europa Universalis, some of the nations, events, and decisions in the game came earlier or later (or much later, like Germany or Italy), but for the most part the game kept its original theme of being based on what actually happened in history. I seem to recollect EU2 had more historical railroading, and there's a popular EU4 mod (MEIOU and Taxes) that re-adds some of the railroading. Commented Aug 8, 2017 at 12:25
  • 1
    Just look to Wikipedia on "Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth". It officially existed, had a constitution and was destroyed by the Russian "partition".
    – Alex
    Commented Aug 8, 2017 at 12:31

1 Answer 1


The Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth started as a "personal union" of the King of Lithuanian in 1386, when Jagiello married the Polish queen Jadwiga (who died in childbirth). That is, the same "king," ruled both countries, separately, not as a unified country. Under those circumstances, Poland and Lithuania became "fellow travelers."

Matters came to a head in 1569 for two reasons. First, the king of Lithuania threatened to die childless, ending the personal union. Second, Lithuania was threatened by Russia of Ivan the Terrible. So they sought a permanent union with Poland.

Poland wanted something in return, the de facto takeover of Lithuania. They didn't get quite this much, but the Lithuanians agreed to let the Polish gentry "settle" their holdings in the current western Ukraine, while preserving the core of Lithuania for themselves. This lead to the Union of Lublin in 1569 that formally merged the two nations, and created the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth.

After the Lithuanian (now Polish) king died in 1572 without heirs, the Commonwealth elected as its new king, a foreign prince, Stephen Batory, the first of many such foreign born kings.

Polish history twists and turns and is a bit "different" from the history of most other countries, which is why it's confusing.

  • A comment on a related question read: "Poland did form a partnership with Lithuania by marrying off its "king," Jadwiga (Lajos' daughter), to Jogaila, Lithuania's Grand Duke (king), although the partnership wasn't fully consummated until the mid-16th century (a century and half later.)" - They didn't consumate the marriage for 150 years? My mind boggles." My reply was "Poland and Lithuania didn't "consummate" their partnership for 150 years. Jadwiga died in childbirth." Strange but true. Actually it was 180 years, not 150.
    – Tom Au
    Commented Aug 9, 2017 at 0:33
  • Relatively minor detail. The first elective king of the Commonwealth was Henry Valois who deserted his throne a year after coronation (or two years after election). Stephen Bathory was elected then.
    – Milo Bem
    Commented Sep 18, 2019 at 16:37

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