De Regne et Regimine


On Government and Governance

Adrianus Gregorius Poniatovius

Smashwords Edition. Copyright 2013 by Adrian Poniatowski.

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Frontispiece: The Prussian Homage, by Jan Matejko. The scene, as imagined by the artist (one of the finest of Poland’s long history and artistic tradition) is the climax of a three hundred year old struggle between the Polish Crown and the Teuton Knights over dominance in what was Royal Prussia, later East Prussia when ceded to the Prussian kingdom under the terms of a treaty. At the time, Zygmunt the Old, seated in majesty, had the option of destroying the insolent Knights and their principality, absorbing the lands into the Crown. The other option was what eventually happened: the creation of a royal fief, in which the defrocked and defeated Knights still held a position of influence, but absolutely subordinate to the interests of the Crown. The hope was that the solution would a host of problems, such as in administration, while the Prussian threat could be easily quelled once again. The arrangement worked well in Poland’s Golden Age, but would prove to be a field sown with the seeds of disaster in the coming centuries, when her neighbors encroached upon the rich Commonwealth. As said before, the fief eventually was joined with the Prussian kingdom, which rose steadily in power. The rest, as is said, is history. The event serves as a parable for the statesman, reflected in the worried gaze of Stanczyk, the respected court jester, to destroy the viper when it is already vanquished.

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