The Spirit of Laws in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth: 1573-1791: Continuity, Change, and Conservative Jurisprudence
Higgins, John Patrick
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The PhD thesis draws upon inspiration from Montesquieu's "The Spirit of Laws" as well as contemporary comparative constitutional theory to reexamine the constitutional evolution of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth from 1573-1791. The dissertation breaks down into three broad sections: the period of construction of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth's constitution (1374-1609), the period where there was a struggle to maintain the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth's constitution through a series of severe crises (1609-1717), and the period wherein there was an attempt to reform the Polish-Lithuanian Constitution (1717-1791). The disseration combines textualist-exegetical and historical methods of both primary and secondary sources with the leading political thinkers and political discourse of each subperiod. This allows for the development of an internal understanding of the ideas, instutions, and social practices that composed the constitutional system. Then, once this internal understanding has been completed, the dissertation then concludes by commenting how many of the Commonwealth's achievements are in fact of universal character worth the attention of contemporary constitutional scholars.
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