3 maj 2010

3rd of May - Day of the Constitution

One of my favourite national days - a remembrance of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth civic traditions. On the 3rd of May 1791 the Parliament signed the act which was aimed to improve defects of the deteriorating state. It was created by the great noblemen around the enlightened king Stanisław August Poniatowski (a controversial guy, I appreciate what he did). The Constitution gave more rights to townspeople and peasants and enhanced some democratic procedures. For details check Wiki.

Unfortunately, the act was in force only a year. It couldn't have been a great success as our three neighbours (Russia, Prussia and Austria) didn't want to see the country stronger. After the first partition in 1772 the Commonwealth was weaker but there was still a big piece of land of to divide and take over. In 1795 the big country perished from the map of Europe for 123 years. Here you have a map of how it exacly looked like.

But the Constitution of May 3 remains a great victory of the reformative block. It is known to be the first constitution in Europe and the second in the world after the United States (1787). On this picture (1891) by Jan Matejko - Polish historical painter - you can feel the probable atmosphere of that time.

From this short presentation you can learn that the signing of the act wasn't 100% legal but...

On this occasion I recommend you to go to the Royal Castle in Warsaw. But don't only look at the interior - it's better to hire a guide or read a lot inside. You can learn the Polish history from the paintings and get to know our last acknowledged king*.

The 3rd of May can be an occasion for many different events. I avoid the military parade in Warsaw but I like the idea of running.

And lastly a nice old song:

* In the XIX century Polish kings were for example Russian tsars but ask Poles - we don't have it in the collective memory.

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