Historical conditions and development of the legal doctrines of state power in the Polish political and legal thought in the XV-XVIIth centuries

  • Ihor Yatsenko International Legal Center EUCON

Abstract

The article describes the historical conditions in which the Polish legal doctrines of state power was concepted during the XV-XVIIth centuries. That period witnessed the development of the theory of mixed government, which had been based on the postulate of combination of three forms of government: monarchy, aristocracy and democracy; in this combination, in order to maintain social and political equilibrium, the state power is shared between the monarch, the wealthy (nobility) and the public at large (commonality), and some state bodies jointly take part in the realization of their legally-defined areas of activity. To some extent, the theoretical postulates of the mixed government had been implemented in Poland. In the XVth century Poland had underwent transformation from puremonarchy to the state governed by the noble estate, which remained nevertheless the kind of monarchy characterized by the noble estate being involved in the exercising of public power along with the monarch. During that period the political system of Poland was characterized by the two principal features: decentralization of power and local representation.

In practice, this meant a divided governance, where the different subjects of state — the king, the aristocracy, the clergy, the nobility — exercised the political power, creating a situation of mutual balance, control and mutual respect. This period was characterized by the beginning of conception of political doctrines in the Polish political thinking that was also a consequence of a high degree of political independence of the nobility. The doctrines were related, in particular, to the organization of state power and its distribution. The doctrine of strengthening the monarchic power was represented by Jan Ostroroh, who substantiated the need for separation of the royal power from the power of the church. In turn, Stanisław Orzechowski defended the social-contractual origin of the state, the principles of the noble parliamentarism, the idea of natural law, the independence of the secular power from the church. He had factually described the model of separation of powers with a certain mechanism of checks and balances in the mixed system of governance where different bodies represented different social classes. In turn, Piotr Skarga argued for a strong, centralized power of the monarch, which he considered as a foundation of a strong state with a good system of government. He supported the profound changes in the state structure in the spirit of royal absolutism. He was a supporter of removing the nobility from the state government and odepriving the nobility of the political privileges.

Over that historic period some other Polish political thinkers like Andrzej Modrzewski, Filippo Buonaccorsi (Filip Kallimach), Jacobus Priluscius (Jakub Przyłuski), WawrzyniecGoślicki (Goslicius), Krzysztof Warszewicki, Andrzej Fredro, Łukasz Opaliński had also presented their views which have later created a base for the Polish doctrines of the state power.

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Published
2019-02-22
How to Cite
Yatsenko, I. (2019). Historical conditions and development of the legal doctrines of state power in the Polish political and legal thought in the XV-XVIIth centuries. Administrative Law and Process, (2(16), 108-118. Retrieved from http://applaw.net/index.php/journal/article/view/131