The Golden Liberty, 1573

Upon the selection of its first elected king at Kamien near Warsaw, the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth adopted many fresh new concepts in government codified in King Henry's 21 Articles. They included a parliament (Sejm), a Senate, individual civil rights, religious freedoms, and a country presided over, not ruled, by an elected king. Thus, with 10% of its population directly involved in governmental decision-making, the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth became the most democratic country in Europe.

With the inception of the Golden Liberty, the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth provided civil equality to all of its citizens; Poles, Lithuanians, Ruthenians, Germans, Armenians, Wlachians, Dutch, Tatars, and Scots. With the inception of its Confederation of Warsaw clause, the Commonwealth provided religious freedom of worship to its Catholic, Protestant, Eastern Orthodox, Jewish, and Muslim residents.

Alas, the Golden Liberty was not without its detractors. Catholic Cardinal Stanislaus Hosius declared that Poland had become "a place of shelter for heretics". The prevailing opinion in Rome was that the Jesuits would have to be dispatched to bring this unruly house back to order. And such revolutionary political and religious ideas were not welcomed among its imperialistic neighboring states as well.

Background music: Rota (Oath)
Dennis Benarz, Chicagoland USA 2009