Warsaw Confederation

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After the end of the Second World War, in 1945 in London, the constitution of UNESCO was signed, an organisation whose main objective is to promote international cooperation in the fields of culture, art and science, and for human rights, regardless of skin colour, social status or religion. The first director of this organisation was Julian Sorell Huxley, an evolutionary biologist, grandson of Thomas Henri Huxley, a deep believer in Darwin's evolutionary theory. On the initiative of French socialist activist Leon Blum, UNESCO's headquarters were moved to Paris.

One of the forms of UNESCO's activities is the creation in 1992 of a project called Memory of the World International Register, aimed at preserving and making available various types of documentation of global historical or civilisational importance. In 2003, the Warsaw Confederation of 1573 was added to this list.

The Warsaw Confederation is a resolution passed on 28.01.1573 in Warsaw, which is considered to be the first legal act in the world guaranteeing religious tolerance. Perhaps wrongly the first, as such a guarantee was created in 313, during the reign of the Roman Emperor Constantine the Great, but at a time when religious opponents were murdering each other with viciousness in Western Europe, it was an exceptional act. It guaranteed unconditional and everlasting peace between all those who differed in faith, gave dissenters equal rights with Catholics and the protection of the state, while forbidding the secular authorities to support the clergy in religious persecution.

The resolution was passed on the initiative of the Protestant aristocracy in Poland, the dissenters being led by Grand Marshal of the Crown Jan Firlej, a Calvinist, and Sandomierz Voivode Piotr Zborowski, a Calvinist, to whom many other Protestants belonged.

As a result, Poland gained a reputation in Europe as an "asylum for heretics", where followers of various denominations, whether Protestant or Jewish, as well as people who did not belong to any denomination, found refuge. Religious tolerance was considered the "Polish way" in Europe.

The Warsaw Confederation, together with the later Henrician Articles (also enshrined in the Memory of the World), was the legal act preceding the introduction of free election after the death of the last of the Jagiellons, Zygmunt II August, whose marriages neither to the Habsburgs nor to Radziwillowna had produced offspring.

This made the struggle for the throne of Poland open to all European families, including Protestant families in Germany and Scandinavia, where Protestantism was the dominant religion (and where there were no legal provisions for religious tolerance!). Despite the influx of dissenters, the Polish nobility had strong Catholic traditions. The king was elected a Catholic French prince, Henry of Valois, whose infamous flight to France was followed by the election of Stefan Batory, also a Catholic, and then Sigismund of the Swedish Vasa family, who was, however, a Catholic, unlike his relatives in Sweden - Protestants, who tried to invade Poland and gain the throne of Poland, just like the Habsburgs or other mighty men of the time. However, the then excellent Polish knights and commanders were able to repel candidates to the throne other than those elected at the Convocation Sejm. Thus, Zamoyski defeated the army of the Austrian Archduke Habsburg at the Battle of Byczyna, thus guaranteeing the throne to Batory, while Chodkiewicz defeated the Swedish army at Kircholm, ensuring that Zygmunt Waza retained his throne.

With time, however, foreign political circles from countries where religious tolerance was out of the question had an increasing influence on what was happening to the throne of Poland and who ruled Poland. This makes you wonder... "Tolerance - the Polish style" sounds nice, but... it has its second bottom.

(Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator)

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