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POLAND.

At a time when events of such mighty importance are daily taking place, when a revolutionary spirit, like a violent epidemic, is spreading and shaking almost every throne in Europe; when a whole nation goaded by oppression, and no longer willing to bear the yoke of a foreign despotism, is rising to assert its independence, and to claim for itself a place in the Map of Europe, a short sketch of the History of Poland may not be deemed uninteresting.

From the earliest period Poland has been more or less mixed up with Russian politics. The people were of Sarmatian origin, and after the union of several petty States into one, its Chief assumed the title of Duke. The founder of the state is not known, though common tradition asserts, that Lech was its first Ruler. This however is not certain, and some centuries after his supposed death, Piast a wheelwright was raised, about the year A.D. 830 to the ducal chair. Being a prince of a mild and conciliating disposition, though not endowed with any of those qualities which add either to the fame or splendour of an empire, he cultivated the good will of his neighbours, and dying without any character for shining talents, he left his dominions to his son, a Prince of an active, restless disposition by whom they were considerably extended.

The first Christian Sovereign of Poland was Mieczslaus, and the only thing for which history is disposed to praise him, is the zeal which he displayed in the conversion of his subjects. Being a Prince of a weak understanding, and unsettled disposition, childish in his pursuits, and frivolous in his occupations, he was little disposed to pay attention to the affairs of Government. His son by whom he was succeeded possessed more talents but was of a cruel and vindictive disposition, and having no relish for a quiet and peaceable life, he was continually fomenting quarrels with his neighbours, and carried the terror of his arms, into Prussia, Moravia, Saxony and Russia. Soon after his elevation to the Dukedom he received from Otho IIIrd. the title of King of Poland.

Boleslaus died about the year 1025 and was succeeded by his son, who assumed the title of Mieczslaus IInd. Although he carried on a war against Russia with considerable vigor, and brought it to an honorable close, he was less successful in other quarters, and the defeats which he subsequently sustained tarnished his Military renown, and destroyed the fame of his earlier victories. He was a Prince of a violent and profligate disposition. No ties could bind him, no promise however solemn was sacred in his eyes. He violated every engagement, and defied every moral law. For instigating the murder of the Bishop of Cracow, he was excommunicated by Pope Gregory VIIth. and to avoid the scorn and contempt of his subjects, he descended from his throne and quitted the country.

So incensed was the Pontiff against him, that he for a long time excluded his brother Ladislaus from the succession, but a long, humble and patient submission ultimately appeased Gregory, and Ladislaus was elevated to the Sovereignty, but was not allowed to assume the title of King. Content with the substance withont the shadow, and enjoying all the privileges of the kingly office, he carried on the Government with vigor, and at his death handed it down unimpaired to his successors.

Poland like Germany under the IVth. Henry was now frequently convul. sed by the intrigues and interference of a turbulent Pontiff. Although Ladislaus was generally successful in the wars which he waged, the latter part of his administration was rendered irksome by the aspiring views, and ambition of his sons. He died about the year 1103. His natural son Sleignaus aspired to a portion of his father's dominions, and procured the aid of the Saxons and Bohemians, but his legitimate brother backed by the Russians and Hungarians, and courted by “the Holy See," ultimately triumphed and became the Sovereign of the whole country. He defeated the Armies of Henry IVth. in several engagements, but being himself worsted in other quarters, it so preyed upon his spirits, that it brought him prematurely to the grave. He died in the year 1139.

On the death of Boleslaus, his dominions were divided into four parts, the chief sway however, was given to Ladislaus, the eldest, who assumed the title of " Duke of all Poland," but the restless and ambitious spirit of his wife Christina, soon created a civil war, which ended in the ruin and degradation of her husband, and in the elevation of his younger brother Boleshaus. This Prince was afterwards succeeded by his brother Mieczlaus, a cruel and brutal tyrant, and so enraged were his subjects at his misconduct, that they threw off their allegiance and declared, “Casimir the Just," Duke in his place, who not only redressed many of their grievances, but augmented his dominions at the expence of Russia.

Poland was now distracted by internal feuds and dissentions, and after anarchy and confusion had reigned, for a considerable period throughout the country, Premislaus assumed the title of King ; but being soon after assassinated, he was succeeded by Ladislaus the Cubit, (so called from the shortness of his stature) who was in his turn deposed, owing to some infringement of the privileges of the Clergy. Winceslaus III. King of Bohemia, next monnted the Throne, but giving such disgust to the people in general, and to the partizans of Ladislaus in particular, nothing but death

which cut him off soon afterwards, prevented his being deposed. Ladislaus now recovered his lost dignity, and although his reign was brilliant, and distinguished by many acts which redounded to his credit, he was nevertheless eclipsed by his son Casimir, who not only added to his dominions, but introduced many salutary changes, and promulgated many wise and well digested laws.

Casimir was succeeded about the year 1130, by his nephew Louis, King of Hungary. This Prince was by no means popular in Poland, although the Polanders chose his daughter Hedwiga as his successor. The reign of this Princess was celebrated by the annexation of Lithuania to Poland, in the year 1186. This event was brought about by her marriage with Jagellon, the Sovereign of that territory.

The character and conduct of Jagellon, promised many advantages to the people of both couutries, and as far as opportunities went, he amply redeemed his pledges; but the Teutonic Knights, who were the masters of Prussia, thwarted his views in politics, as well as in religion, and although Ladislaus (Jagellon assumed this title) defeated them in several engagements, he was obliged in consequence of the loss of half his Army at the seige of Marienburg, to grant thein favorable terms of peace. Ladislaus's son having been previously killed in the battle of Varna, Casimir IVth. succeeded to the Crown of Poland, and having in several occasions got the better of the Teutonic Knights, he wrested Pomerania, and other places from them, and annexed them to his own Dominions.

The ties which unite private families to each other, are not always sufficiently strong to restrain the ambition of monarchs. Russia under its grand Duke Demetrius strenuously endeavoured to shake off the Tartarian Yoke, and having worsted them on several occasions, he pushed his successes, and reduced Novogorod to complete subjection. Although ke had given his daughter in marriage to the King of Poland, he attacked Lithuania ; but being defeated by his son-in-law, he was compelled to retire in disgrace. The war was subsequently renewed between the successors of these two Princes, and again while Legismund IInd was on the Throne of Poland, and although the Russians were often defeated, they as often renewed the contest, and were at last making considerable progress in Lithuania when a famine arrested their progress and compelled them to sue for an armistice.

Legismund Ist and IInd, were successively Kings of Poland. The character of the former was more brilliant, and he possessed more shining talents than the latter, and being equally well disposed to use them for the benefit of his subject, and equally ambitious of advancing the glory of his country, he left behind him a more durable reputation than his

successor.

On the death of Legismund IIId which took place before the armistice above alluded to with Russia had expired, nine candidates started for the vacant Throne, but on their merits being canvassed by the Diet, the choice of that body fell on Henry Duke of Anjou, who was crowned at Cracow amid the shouts and acclamations of bis Polish subjects. His popularity continued but for a short time. His brother about this period dying in France he hastened to that country, and proposing to govern by deputy during his absence, he so enraged the Poles, that the Diet solemnly deposed him, and elected in his room Stephen Bathori, a man of singular and extraordinary merit, and who was at that time Sovereign of Transylvania. The reign of this Prince was one of the most vigorous recorded in Polish History. He quelled a revolt in Dantzic. He rescued Sivonia from the Russians, and introducing his own vigor, and activity, into every department of the state, he was equally feared and respected both at home and abroad.

After the death of Stephen, Legismund IlIrd. ruled over Poland for nearly half a century. Having purged the nation of many of its corrup. tions, and having reformed various abuses which had crept by degrees into the Government, be waged war with the Tartars, by whom at first he was signally defeated ; but placing the celebrated Zanroske at the head of his army, he gained a complete victory over them, although vastly superior in numbers. Flushed by this success, his Army attacked and plundered some Turkish vessels on the coast of the Black Sea, which so enraged the Sultan Morad II Ird that he assembled an Army for the invasion of Poland. Legismund disavowed the act, and declared that it was perpetrated without either his knowledge, or concurrence: the Sultan satisfied with the disavowal countermanded the march of troops and the relations existing between the two countries were not disturbed.

On the death of his Father, Legismund is said to have gone to Sweden with the hope of receiving the Crown. Eric XIVth succeeded Gustavus Vasa on the throne of that kingdom, but being a prince of a profligate character, his vices far overbalancing his virtues, his bad qualities, his good ones, he was hurled from the Throne and was succeeded by John IIIrd. who fell a victim to the ignorance of his medical attendants. Charles the uncle of Legismund urged the Swedes to disregard the claims of his Nephew, and being entrusted with the regency, when Legismund returned to Poland, he threw off his allegiance, and usurped the crown. Legismund enraged at the unnatural conduct of his uncle, immediately resorted to

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