Polish History

Poland’s History

966 – Poland is born, and most importantly, recognized by THE church.

1000 – Boleslaw the Brave King of Poland crowned by German Emperor Otto III, who also recognizes the Polish state’s existence.

1225 – Recently unemployed Teutonic German crusaders brought in to re-establish order against invading Lithuanians, Jacwingians, and Prussians.

1241-42 – Mongol expansion into Europe crushed as Poland and Lituania expand eastward.

13th thru 14th Centuries – Poland expands further eastward, while giving up Denmark, Bohemia and Volhynia.

1346 – During the reign of the Great Kazimierz, a law was passed offering sanctuary to Jews fleeing other European countries, allowing them to settle here.

1410 – Poland and Lithuania defeat the Teutonics.


1493 – The Sejm, or parliament in Polish, is created as an assembly of the Polish nobles.

1569 – Poland and Lithuania united as one country in the ‘Union of Lublin.’ The capital and the Sejm move to Warsaw.

1572 – King Sigismund II dies without an heir, forcing the creation of the ‘Republic of Nobles’ with all kings now elected by the nobility.

1596 – King Sigismund III moves the royal residence from Krakow to Warsaw.

17th Century – Swedes conquer most of Poland briefly, the Cossacks revolt and the Sejm starts allowing the ‘liberum veto’ or single vote veto over any legislation.

1683 – King Jan III Sobieski leads the Polish army into victory over the Turks at the ‘Relief of Vienna,’ ending the Ottoman Empire’s expansion into Europe.

18th Century – this period saw the major decline of Poland as an empire, with the nobility splitting it into pieces, and eventually the Prussians take over. By 1830 the constitution suspended, the Sejm and army are dissolved.

19th Century – this period saw a splitting of the two halves of Poland, with the west becoming German, the east, Russian.

1914 – Jozef Pilsudski and his Polish Legions fight alongside the Austrians and Germans in World War One. These countries control the country through the war, and as occupiers agree to form a new Polish state after the war.

1918 – Jozef Pilsudski is the new leader of the new democratic Poland, with the Ejm limited in power with the President in control of the country. Using the force of arms, the Polish re-conquer a lot of their former territory, which now includes a highly varied ethic mix of Jews, Lithuanian, Belarussian, Ukranian and others.

1920 – The Russians are defeated at Warsaw in the Miracle on the Vistula, as the Poles prevent the Russians from retaking their country.

1939 – The Germans and Russians invade Poland, dividing it amongst themselves Repression of Jews begins immediately.

1939/41 – Polish Army in Exile fights with the British and Americans, while the Home Army leads a partisan war against the occupiers.

1943 – Warsaw Ghetto destroyed after an armed uprising by the Jews.

1944 – Home Army starts an uprising in Warsaw on August 1, hoping to establish an independent Polish state in advance of the advancing Red Army. The rebels last two months before they and the city are destroyed by the Germans.

1945 – 17 January the Red Army occupies the ruins of Warsaw, communists take over the country, and the state of Poland becomes a puppet of the Russians.

1955 -Warsaw Pact Group created by Moscow in reaction to NATO’s formation.

1956 – Liberalization of Poland begins under the leadership of Wladyslaw Gomulka.

1968 – Communists begin anti-Semitic campaign, with the few remaining Jews fleeing the country.

1970 – Armed crackdown on striking shipyard workers of Gdansk, Edward Gierek becomes President.

1978 – The Polish Cardinal of Warsaw becomes Pope John Paul II. He visits Poland in 1979.

1980 – Shipyard strikers in Gdansk form the Solidarity independent trade union.

1981 – General Jaruzelski seizes power and outlaws the Solidarity union.

1989 – The ‘bloodless revolution’ begins across the Eastern Block. The first non-Communist government of Poland is elected since the war, led by Tadeus Mazowiecki.

1990 – Solidarity leader Lech Walesa is elected President.

1991 – New Sejm formed in free elections.

2004 – Poland joins the European Union.

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