After evoking the trials of the Roman Catholic Church at the end of the eighteenth century, the introduction briefly explains the nature of the Polish‐Lithuanian Commonwealth. It then reviews the work of the Four Years’ Sejm and its historiography, focusing on the sejm's under‐researched ecclesiastical reforms, and setting them in the contexts of both Catholicism and Enlightenment. In comparing the Commonwealth with Joseph II's Habsburg Monarchy and Revolutionary France,the question is posed of the relationship between the form of government and political outcomes, To this end a methodology for the study of political history is developed, drawing on the works of Sir Lewis Namier, Maurice Cowling, and Quentin Skinner. The sources for both the high politics and political culture of the Polish Revolution are discussed, leading to six premises for the analysis of political decision‐making in republican and parliamentary polities.
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