Major grant to fund the study of Europe's 'forgotten union'

Major grant to fund the study of Europe's 'forgotten union'

An Aberdeen academic has secured a major grant for research to fill in a 'black hole' in the history books.

Professor Robert Frost has been awarded a Leverhulme Fellowship which will fund three years’ research into a political union often viewed as the precursor to the modern EU.

He will examine the Polish-Lithuanian Union from a new perspective and produce a second volume of The Oxford History of Poland-Lithuania for Oxford University Press.

Professor Frost said: “Spanning four centuries, the union between Poland and Lithuania was one of the longest standing in European history: it was only in 2012 that it was surpassed for longevity by the Anglo-Scottish Union.

“Despite this, it is Europe’s ‘forgotten union’ with the history of eastern Europe dominated by the story of the rise of the Russian empire, yet Russia only emerged as a major power after 1700. For 300 years the greatest power in Eastern Europe was the union between the kingdom of Poland and the grand duchy of Lithuania.

“There remains a huge hole in the history books and I hope that with the support of this grant I can begin to put that right.”

In his first book, The Making of the Polish-Lithuanian Union 1385-1569, Professor Frost looked at the coming together of the Union. He said the Leverhulme funding would now enable him to look at what was achieved under the political system.

“This was the most radical consensual political union before the French Revolution. Because it came to an end at the end of the 18th century many people dismiss it or asses it purely in terms of how it ended and view it as a failed state. But it was much more of a healthy political construction than people give it credit for and I want to explore that further.

“I will attempt to reinterpret the history of this forgotten union and demonstrate that its end was not inevitable as tends to be the general assumption.

“The end of the Polish-Lithuanian Union had far-reaching implications for the modern European state system and so a detailed study of its achievements and eventual break-down is long overdue.”

The Levehulme Major Research Fellowship provide replacement teaching costs over two or three years, to allow academics in the humanities and social sciences to focus on a specific piece of original research.

The Leverhulme Trust was established by the Will of William Hesketh Lever, the founder of Lever Brothers. Since 1925 it has provided grants and scholarships for research and education and today is one of the largest all-subject providers of research funding in the UK, distributing approximately £80m a year.