Commonwealth

Alternative meaning: the Commonwealth of Nations


The English noun "Commonwealth" dates originally from the fifteenth century and in different contexts indicates one of:

  1. a nation, state or political unit
  2. a state founded on law by agreement of the people for the common good
  3. a republic
  4. a federated union of constituent states.

The original phrase "common wealth" or "the common weal" comprises a calque translation of the Latin term res publica, from which the word republic comes. The Commonwealth of England was the official title of the political unit that replaced the kingdoms of Scotland and England under the rule of Oliver Cromwell. It formed the first republic in the English-speaking world, though this quickly devolved into a pseudo-monarchy.

Four states in the United States designate themselves "commonwealths": Kentucky, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and Virginia.

The term also served when the Australian colonies federated to form the Commonwealth of Australia in 1901. The design of the Australian government blends the US-style republican senate and British parliamentary systems, though in the Australian context the Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act made it clear that the federation existed as a constitutional monarchy, with the federal state and the individual states each directly linked to the British monarch, and each of which possesses a representative of the Crown.

Various states have used the title "commonwealth" since that time.

The term "commonwealth" is also used for the political relationship between the United States and the unincorporated territories of Puerto Rico and of the Northern Marianas.

When capitalised, "Commonwealth" refers to the Commonwealth of Nations - formerly the "British Commonwealth" - a loose confederation of nations formerly members of the British Empire (with some exceptions). The Commonweath's membership involves both republics and monarchies: the head of the Commonwealth of Nations is Queen Elizabeth II, who reigns as monarch directly in a number of states, notably the United Kingdom, Canada, Jamaica, Australia and New Zealand, among others. (In an Australian context, it may refer to the federal (i.e. Commonwealth) Government.)

Table of contents
1 Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth
2 States that use the name Commonweath
3 External links

Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth

Commonwealth is the direct translation of the official name of Republic of Poland ('Rzeczpospolita'). It is inherited from the federal country formed by Poland and Lithuania 1569-1795. In contemporary political doctrine of Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, "our state is a Republic (Commonwealth) under presidency of the King". The commonwealth introduced a doctrine of religious tolerance, had its own parliament "Sejm" (although elections were restricted to the gentry or szlachta) and elected kings, who were bound to certain contracts "Pacta conventa" from the beginning of the reign. The foundation stones of the Commonwealth (also called the Golden Freedoms) used to be

  • free election of the king
  • "pacta conventa", a binding pledge agreed to by the King on his election
  • "rokosz", the right of rebellion against kings who did not rule in accordance with their pledge
  • "liberum veto" (a later development) the right for a single representative to veto the entire proceedings of the Sejm
  • "confederatio" a military organisation of the citizens for the attainment of common political aims.

States that use the name Commonweath

External links


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