Polish Constitution of May 3, 1791

Constitution of May 3, 1791

The Constitution of 3 May, 1791 (Polish: Konstytucja 3 maja) was adopted by the Great Sejm (parliament) of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, a dual monarchy comprising Poland and Lithuania. Drafted over 32 months beginning on 6 October 1788, and formally adopted as the Government Act (Ustawa rządowa), the document was designed to redress the Commonwealth’s political defects. The system of Golden Freedoms, also known as the “Nobles’ Democracy”, had conferred disproportionate rights on the nobility (szlachta) and over time had corrupted politics. The adoption of the Constitution was preceded by a period of agitation for—and gradual introduction of—reforms beginning with the Convocation Sejm of 1764 and the election of Stanisław August Poniatowski as the Commonwealth’s last king.

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