chapter  1
14 Pages

Shifting Boundaries and Conceptual Identities

This chapter summarises those aspects that are characteristic of Poland and that, consequently, may have interacted to create the environment, unique to Poland, within which Polish parents commemorated their deceased children. Poland-Lithuania was a multinational, multi-ethnic state whose people drew their sense of common identity from their allegiance to the ruler and the rule of law. As a powerful state covering the whole of Central and Eastern Europe, Poland during this period played an important role in the alignment of political forces in the European continent. However, the increased demand for Polish grain in the West led to an expansion of the manorial system based on serf labour. This led to a drop in the peasants' share of wealth and income. The dominance of the nobility at the expense of royal power was in contrast to the rest of Europe, with its emerging absolutist states, and resulted in a different process of civilisation in Poland.