Experts gather to consider contribution of new book in understanding political unions

A panel of leading historians will discuss Europe's 'forgotten union' at a special event to launch a new book by an Aberdeen academic.

Professor Robert Frost’s work, The Making of the Polish-Lithuanian Union 1385-1569, is the only study of its kind in English and sheds new light on a political union sometimes seen as a precursor to the modern EU but generally overlooked by the history books.

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.

To mark the launch of the book, a panel of leading historians will gather in Edinburgh to discuss its key findings and what the Union can tell us about the nature of composite states.

Professor Frost said: “The history of eastern European is 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, one of the longest-lasting political unions in European history. Yet because it was ended by force in the late-eighteenth century, it barely features in standard accounts of European history.

“I hope my book will restore the place of this important union in European history by filling in the huge gaps which currently exist in our knowledge.

“Just this week we are seeing the problems of modern unions in reaching agreement on how to deal with the refugee crisis. Processes of unification in the past can tell us much about the problems of reaching agreement and about the problems that face all political unions.

Professor Frost will introduce his book to an audience at The Great Hall, The Royal College of Physicians, Edinburgh, on Wednesday September 30. He will be joined for a panel discussion by leading historians Sir John Elliott (Oxford), Norman Davies (Oxford), Colin Kidd (St Andrews) and Alvin Jackson (Edinburgh).

They will explore the contribution of the book in understanding of the politics not just of modern Poland, but also of Ukraine, Belarus, and Lithuania, the nature of composite states in late-medieval and early modern Europe, and what the formation of the Polish-Lithuanian union can tell us about the formation of the British and Irish unions.

The event, which starts at 6pm, is free to attend but places must be reserved online by visiting, telephone 01315517134 (answerphone) or e-mail: It is sponsored by the Polish Consulate in Edinburgh, Oxford University Press and the University of Aberdeen.