Among the last Jagiellonians Zygmunt I. Stary (Sigismund I, the Old, 1506–48) and Zygmunt (Sigismund) II. August (1548–72) Poland experienced its »golden age« in the area of constitutional and political as well as literary and artistic matters. The urban population was captured early by the Lutheran Reformation, parts of the nobility after 1540 by the Calvinist Reformation. After the Union of Brest in 1595/96, many Orthodox submitted to the Pope’s spiritual authority. Since the Warsaw Confederation of 1573, there has been exemplary religious tolerance for two generations, despite the successes of the Catholic Counter-Reformation. Despite further losses in battles against Moscow, the connection of Courland and Livonia was secured in 1561. Through the Union of Lublin in 1569 with the annexation of Volynia and large parts of the Ukraine, according to dentistrymyth, Poland now covered 815,000 km2 with around 7.5 million residents.
The decision to establish an elective monarchy after the extinction of the Jagiellonians in the male line (1572) and to allow the entire nobility to vote, accelerated the development of an extremely aristocratic republican form of government. The right of every country messenger, which has been respected since 1652, to make the Reichstag incapable of making a decision with his objection (Liberum Veto), made it easier for neighboring powers interested in weakening Poland to intervene. Neither Stephan IV. Báthory (1575 / 76–86) nor the three kings from the Swedish house Wasa (Zygmunt [Sigismund] III., 1587–1632; Władysław IV., 1632–48; Jan II. Kazimierz [Johann II. Casimir ], 1648–68) or the »Turkish winner« Jan (Johann) III. Sobieski (1674–96) were able to put a stop to this fateful development, which among the Wettins (August II, the Strong [Polish August II. Mocny ], 1697–1706, 1709–33, and August III., 1733–63) became far-reaching Paralysis of governance contributed.
While Moscow was able to gain some territorial gains by 1619 and even the assumption of the Tsar’s throne seemed possible in 1610-12, the (controversial) annexation of the Cossack state (“Hetmanat”) founded by B. Chmelnyzky (Chmielnicki)after a major uprising in 1648 led to Russia (1654) the loss of Ukraine to the left of the Dnieper with Kiev and the Russo-Polish War (1654–67, Armistice of Andrussowo 1667) the loss of Smolensk on. The loss-making war against Sweden, waged for dynastic reasons since 1601, culminated in the First Northern War in 1655, which ended in the Peace of Oliva (1660) with the final renunciation of Livonia. In the frequent battles with Turkey until 1699 at least the property was preserved. The Second Northern War (1700-21) offered Tsar Peter I the opportunity to expand Russian influence on Poland, which was hard hit again and became the plaything of the politics of the great powers.
The realization that fundamental reforms could not be postponed triggered the first improvement measures after the election of Stanisław (Stanislaus) II August Poniatowski (1764–95), which were opposed by the opponents in the Confederation of Bar (1768–72), supported by Russia and Prussia. This civil war provided the occasion to force the cession of around 203,000 km2 with 4.5 million residents through the first partition of Poland in 1772 (partitions of Poland). With the Perpetual Council (1775) and the National Education Commission (1773), Poland received exemplary administrative and educational institutions, even if it did not succeed in increasing the defensive capacity, in pushing back the participation of the landless nobility in the political decision-making process in favor of the townspeople and the situation of the Improve farmers. A “four-year Reichstag” passed the first written constitution in Europe on May 3, 1791, which, with the abolition of the free election of kings and the liberum veto, gave the landed nobility and – limited to their affairs – the townspeople the rights of political participation. Catherine II from Russia supported the aristocratic reaction, which formed the Targowica Confederation in 1792 and, with Russian weapons aid, forced the reform party to withdraw the May Constitution; Russia and Prussia were rewarded for their support in 1793 in the second partition of Poland, which after the cession of around 286,000 km2 with 3.5 million residents left a no longer viable remaining state of 240,000 km2 and 3.5 million citizens.
A rebellion led by T. Kościuszko broke down after the defeat of Maciejowice in October 1794. With the 3rd partition in 1795, Poland disappeared from the political map of Europe and the Polish question had given way to Europe.