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Monarch, citizens, and the law under Stefan Batory: The legal reform of 1578

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Chapter Summary

One of the underlying goals of this chapter is to challenge some of the criticisms that have been traditionally directed against certain political arrangements of early modern Poland-Lithuania. The unanimity rule and the liberum veto have been dismissed as retrograde and inefficient ever since the Enlightenment took an interest in the trials and tribulations of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. Stefan Batory's supporters clearly stated before his coronation that they expected their decisions regarding the administration of justice and the rules of election to be considered inviolable, and that neither king nor any other person could raise these fundamental laws. One of the most important consequences of the 1578 legal reform is that it remodelled the country's judicial system to match its political setup, thus eliminating the dissonance that had been created after 1572 between the szlachta's political role and its position in the judiciary.

Keywords: 1578 legal reform; judicial system; Polish szlachta; Polish-Lithuanian commonwealth; Stefan Batory



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