The Polish�Lithuanian State, 1386�1795 is the first account in English devoted specifically to this important era. It takes a regional rather than a national approach, considering the internal development of the Ukrainian, Jewish, Lithuanian, and Prussian German nations that coexisted with the Poles in this multinational state. Presenting Jewish history also clarifies urban history, because Jews lived in the unincorporated "private cities" and suburbs, which historians have overlooked in favor of incorporated "royal cities." In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries the private cities and suburbs often thrived while the inner cities decayed. The book also traces the institutional development of the Roman Catholic Church in Poland�Lithuania, one of the few European states to escape bloody religious conflict during the Reformation and Counter Reformation.
Both seasoned historians and general readers will appreciate the many excellent brief biographies that advance the narrative and illuminate the subject matter of this comprehensive and absorbing volume.
Sedlar writes clearly and fluently, drawing upon publications in numerous languages to craft a masterful study that is accessible and valuable to the general reader and the expert alike. The book is organized thematically; within this framework Sedlar has sought to integrate nationalities and to draw comparisons. Topics covered include early migrations, state formation, monarchies, classes (nobles, landholders, peasants, herders, serfs, and slaves), towns, religion, war, governments, laws and justice, commerce and money, foreign affairs, ethnicity and nationalism, languages and literature, and education and literacy.
After the Middle Ages these nations were subsumed by the Ottoman, Habsburg, Russian, and Prussian-German empires. This loss of independence means that their history prior to foreign conquest has acquired exceptional importance in today�s national consciousness, and the medieval period remains a major point of reference and a source of national pride and ethnic identity. This book is a substantial and timely contribution to our knowledge of the history of East Central Europe.