Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Etymology of the Polish term Rzeczpospolita
Rzeczpospolita has been used in Poland since at least 16th century, originally to denote any democratic state. Today, however, it is used solely in reference to the Polish State. Any other republic is referred to as republika in modern Polish.
The official name of the present-day government of Poland is Rzeczpospolita Polska, which is usually translated into English as "Republic of Poland". However, such translation, when talking about the 16–18th century Poland, may be confusing since in those times the Rzeczpospolita was a monarchy. For that period Rzeczpospolita is rendered rather as "Commonwealth" (which is another English version of the Latin res publica), as in "Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth".
The word Rzeczpospolita is also used as a name for three periods in Poland’s history:
- First Rzeczpospolita (1505–1795)
- Second Rzeczpospolita (1918–1939)
- Third Rzeczpospolita (since 1989)
Other expressions and names that use this term include:
- Rzeczpospolita szlachecka (Nobles' Commonwealth / Republic)
- Rzeczpospolita Krakowska (Republic of Kraków)
- Polska Rzeczpospolita Ludowa (People's Republic of Poland)
- Rzeczpospolita - a daily newspaper
- Polish republic - about three historical periods when Poland had a republic
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