The Enlightenment in Poland

Symbol of the Glory of the Consitution 
(by Friedrich John 1791)  

It would be quite unjust to talk about the 3rd of May Constitution and not mention the cultural aspects of the period of the Enlightenment in Poland, or the "epoch of Stanislaw August", as it was sometimemes referred to. Certainly the culture of the society, especially poetry and music, played a significant part in not only  carrying out new reforms, but also igniting the patriotic spirit. This period in Poland's history was characterized by both political and also cultural changes. In the realm of of culture, the most important changes concerned the educational system, carried out by the National Commission  of Education. Its model was the Collegium Nobilium , founded in 1740 by Stanislaw Konarski, a political writer and pedagogue whose ambition was to to educate the future political elite in the spirit of enlightenment and citizenship.   

The king himself played the central role in Poland's artistic and literary life; his great passion was poetry and art. He was a generous patron of writers and artists, and his famous "Thursday Dinners" held in the Royal Castle in Warsaw were a gathering place of the intellectual elite.   

The following are some examples of Polish poetry and music of the Enlightenment. They represent the finest works of the cultural leaders of the enlightenment.  


 Krakowskie Przedmiescie from Nowy Swiat, Warsaw, by Canaletto 1773-1779

[May 3rd Constitution EN] [May 3rd Constitution PL] [Before the Constitution]
[The era of reform] [The aftermath] [Cultural Surroundings] [Music] [Poetry]
[Senators] [Deputies] [Chicago Tradition] [Links] [Credits] [E-mail]