Act of the Union of Lublin on UNESCO’s Memory of the World Register

The 1569 Act of the Union of Lublin was inscribed on UNESCO’s Memory of the World Register. Under the terms of the document, the Kingdom of Poland and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania overcame their differences to form a Commonwealth. As UNESCO pointed out, the act offers a unique testimony to a voluntary union of two equal countries in the early modern age.

The document was hammered out by two equal sides in the course of protracted and turbulent negotiations. A combined parliament played a prominent role in creating the union and in its subsequent operation. According to UNESCO, the Union of Lublin was the high point of the Jagiellonian monarchy, with its multicultural character. 

Established under the act, the Commonwealth united its constituent nations by means of a common king, a combined Sejm, a common currency, and common foreign and defence policy. The union continued until the 18th century, when its lands were gradually seized by Russia, Prussia and Austria in three rounds of partition.

Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Belarus and Ukraine had jointly submitted the Act of the Union of Lublin for inscription on the Memory of the World Register, which protects documentary heritage. The inscribed document is in Polish, and was issued by the Grand Duchy of Lithuania to the Polish side. It is kept at the Central Archives of Historical Records in Warsaw. The copy presented to the Lithuanians by the Crown went missing during World War.

The inscription ceremony was attended by the heads of archival boards from the countries concerned, the directors of central archives, as well as government officials and representatives of scientific and cultural institutions. Poland and Belarus used this opportunity to exchange valuable historical documents.