An Engineer looks at Russia by Wal Hannington

By Wal Hannington

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Rethinking Ukrainian History (Edmonton, 1981) and T. Chynczewska-Hennel, 'The national consciousness of Ukrainian nobles and Cossacks from the end of the sixteenth to the mid-seventeenth century' Harvard Ukrainian Studies 10 (1986). Introduction among the nobility. Protestant nobles claimed that religious freedom was part of the liberties of the nobility and full religious toleration was established by the 1573 Warsaw Confederation. Nevertheless, legal toleration did not mean that relations between the confessions were harmonious and anti-Protestant feeling among the Catholic majority enabled Sigismund III (1587-1632) to launch a great CounterReformation offensive, spearheaded by the Jesuits.

The Henrician Articles, which were incorporated into the coronation oath in 1576 for Stefan Batory and all his successors, laid down certain basic principles, but the personal undertakings of each new monarch, embodied in his own Pacta Convent a, placed further restrictions on his freedom of action: usually his predecessor's Pacta were incorporated into the new document with new conditions, often to counter his predecessor's perceived abuses. Taken together, the Henrician Articles and the various Pacta Conventa represented a growing body of constitutional law establishing the limits of royal power and defining the extent of the S.

There were political objections, however, to the widespread employment of professional infantry. The szlachta preferred to keep the Commonwealth's defence in its own hands rather than risk entrusting the king with control of politically unreliable foreign mercenaries. This attitude left the Commonwealth dangerously exposed. There was no substantial standing army: political considerations prompted the progressive reduction of the number of troops under direct government control. By 1648, these consisted of the royal guard, limited to 1,200 in 1647, a permanent force of 4,200 regulars who garrisoned the Ukraine and the registered Cossacks, reduced to 6,000 in 1638 and unavailable after Khmelnytskyi's rising began.

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