The Day of Polish Constitution of 3 May 1791. One of the most modern basic laws of its time.

May 3, 2022

The anniversary of the 1791 Constitution was not always a national holiday.

May 3, declared a holiday by the authors of the Constitution, was again made an official holiday in 1919 and – after a break of several decades – reestablished after the fall of communism in 1990.

For history lovers: The Constitution of 3 May 1791 was adopted for the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, the dual monarchy comprising the Crown of the Kingdom of Poland and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania.

The Constitution was designed to correct the Commonwealth’s political flaw and sought to implement a more effective constitutional monarchy.

The Constitution, among others, introduced political equality between townspeople and nobility and placed the peasants under the government’s protection. It banned pernicious parliamentary institutions such as the Liberum Veto!

The Commonwealth’s neighbors reacted with hostility to the adoption of the Constitution. King Frederic II broke Prussia alliance with the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. He joined instead Catherine the Greats Imperial Russia, and supported anti-reform Polish magnates to defeat the Commonwealth which led to the Polish-Russian War of 1792.

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