Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The Constitution of May 3, 1791

Today marks the 220th anniversary of the Constitution of May 3, 1791 (the Lithuanian version of the Constitution is here.) The Constitution tried to centralize the power and do away with "liberum veto" - the right of nobles to veto practically any law that was being passed in the Parliament (Seimas, Sejm). This was too late - the Commonwealth soon was swallowed by stronger and better organized neighbours.

We could only wonder what would have happened if the Commonwealth has stayed alive. Would we have the Lithuanian language and nation today? Or would have we followed the way of the Scots - who perhaps share as many historical similarities with England as Lithuanians do with Poland - know who we are but use Polish in everyday life? Would the choices that people made in 1918 be relevant back in the day if the Commonwealth was alive?

Is that good or bad? Well, I do not know. That is the way it is - and I am not going to give up my Lithuanian identity any time soon.

Happy Constitution day!

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