Enlightenment in Poland: characteristics of the epoch

The Enlightenment is an era in which scientists and philosophers have assumed the role of intellectual guides. In France, it was called the Age of Light, which was supposed to be a metaphor for education, awareness and freedom. What works were created then?

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1. Enlightenment - new ideas and new hopes

The Enlightenment spans the 18th century, and the era ended with the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars. In Poland, the Enlightenment fell during the reign of the last king of Poland, Stanisław August Poniatowski (1764-1795).

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Enlightenment is a time of great development and ennoblement of science. These activities were supported by the aforementioned king Poniatowski, who surrounded himself with well-educated people. He tried to transfer the ideas of the Enlightenment, which were already wildly popular in Europe, onto Polish soil. He organized Thursday dinners, during which the political situation in the country and the world was discussed, and literary works were read.

In 1765, the Knight's School was established, which was a modern institution educating in the spirit of the new era. Her graduate was, among others Tadeusz Kosciuszko. In the same year, the national theater was opened - the first public stage in which actors played in Polish.

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At the beginning, the Enlightenment was limited only to Warsaw, while the rest of the country received new ideas rather reluctantly. The situation was changed by the dissolution by Pope Clement XIII of the Jesuit Order, who ran most of the mainstream schools in Poland. The response of the Polish parliament was the establishment of the National Education Commission in 1773: from that moment on, education was in the hands of the state.

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In the Enlightenment, the worldview is expressed by deism and atheism, while the moral attitudes characteristic of the era are utilitarianism and libertinism.Social life revolved around the slogans: freedom, equality, fraternity. There is also a new economic order.

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2. Creators of the Enlightenment Age

In the spirit of the Enlightenment ideas, they created, among others:

  • Adam Naruszewicz
  • Stanisław Trembecki - he wrote court, rococo and libertine poetry
  • Ignacy Krasicki - the most prominent representative of the Enlightenment era in Poland, closely associated with the court of Stanisław August Poniatowski. Author of numerous fairy tales, satires and heroicomic poems (Monachomachia, Antimonachomachia). He wrote the first Polish novel (Mikołaj Doświadczczyński cases), which appeared in 1176.
  • Franciszek Dionizy Kniaźnin
  • Franciszek Karpiński - the author of many works in which he made love the main theme: idyllic, clean, close to nature. He also wrote in the religious trend. He is the author of the words of songs that are sung in churches to this day, incl. Evening song (All our daily affairs…), Morning song (When the auroras rise in the morning…) and Songs about the birth of the Lord (God is born…).
  • Stanisław Staszic - strongly involved in the political and social affairs of the country
  • Hugo Kołłątaj
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