[size=18pt]The Flags of the Poles and Poland – Part 3[/size]

[size=12pt]The Jagiellonian Dynasty[/size]

The Banner of Kazimierz IV Jagiellonczyk 1447-1492

Banner of Kazimierz Jagiellonczyk

The eventual successor to Warnenczyk III after a three-year interregnum was Kazimier IV (Casimir IV) who fought a long war with the Teutonic Knights and imposed on them the Peace of Thorn in 1466. This treaty resulted in Poland acquiring Malbork (Marienburg) and Gdansk (Danzig) and access to the sea. In 1471, he was able to vindicate his son's claim to the throne of Bohemia, to which the younger Wladyslaw IV later added Hungary.

Flag of Royal (Polish-Lithuanian) Prussia 1466-1772

Royal Prussia Flag

Royal Prussia originally developed from the medieval Northern March of the Holy Roman Empire, passing to the House of Hohenzollern in 1415. The Duchy of Prussia was created in 1525 when the eastern lands of the Teutonic Knights were seized as a Polish fief by Albert of Brandenburg-Ansbach, a member of the Hohenzollern family. While Ducal Prussia was only a Polish fief, until it merged with Brandenburg to form the Kingdom of Prussia, Royal Prussia was a Polish province with substantial autonomy up to the time of the first partition in 1772, when it was taken by the new Kingdom of Prussia which had been just created when the Elector Frederick III assumed the title of Frederick I, King in Prussia, in 1701.

Administratively, it was part of the larger Great Poland Province, and after the Prussian takeover it became Province of West Prussia in 1773.

Banner of Sigismud the Old 1506-1548

Banner of Sigismud the Old

Sigismund I the Old (Zygmunt I Stary) was a highly respected, next to last, Jagiellonian king of Poland. He did reform the fiscal system of the country and waged the successful wars against the Muscovy and the Teutonic Order. He fought the Grand Master Albrecht (his nephew) to force him to pay homage as the vassal of the Polish Crown. Albrecht converted to Lutheranism and secularized the order, becoming the Duke of Prussia.

Sigismund was also the patron of the Arts and advanced the education. His second wife, Bona Sforza d'Aragon was also a great supporter of the Arts and introduced many new dishes and wines to the Polish and Lithuanian cuisine, most of all, the vegetables, which since that time are known in Polish as "wlosczyzna" (the Italian stuff).

His banner features a beautiful monogram "S" for his name, given to him in honor of his mother's maternal grandfather, the Holy Roman Emperor Sigismund.

Banner of Zygmunt II August 1548-1572

Banner of Zygmunt II August

Last of the Great Jagiellonian Dynasty, Sigismund II August presided over the formal unification of Poland and Lithuania into one state. Under his rule Poland acquired the Duchy of Courland and Semigallia as the vassal state, a fief (today's Latvia), and thanks to that, and by extension, became later a "colonial power" as Courland colonized parts of West Africa (the Gambia) and the Caribbean island of Tobago.

The banner of Sigismund II August displayed the Arms of all the lands and provinces around the coat-of-arms of the Commonwealth.

Henryk Walezy (Henri de Valois) 1573-1574

Banner of Henryk Walezy

The first elected king of the Commonwealth – and a total disaster. His mother wanted all of her sons on the thrones, any thrones. When her attempts to make Henry the king of Algeria failed, she took the opportunity to gather all possible support to get him elected the king of Poland, country equally exotic to the French as was Algeria.

Polish gentry decided to choose him over other candidates, providing he will sign "pacta conventa" (Henrician Articles) which further yet restricted the royal powers in favor of the "Golden Liberties" of the gentry. When he arrived in Warsaw, in the middle of winter and shivering in cold, it became obvious he is not going to last long. Manicured, wigged, perfumed and with diamond earrings dangling from his ears, he looked like a feminized freak to the Polish red-necks. Himself, he hated the Poles, calling them "barbarians and bores" When only he got the news of his brother's death (Charles IX), he did secretly, at night, run away from Poland , abandoning his new realm. Soon, he became the king of France – Henri III.

Stefan Batory (Báthory István) 1576-1586

Banner of Báthory István

The next elected king proved to be an excellent choice. He was the Hungarian Prince of Transylvania and appreciated the throne of the Commonwealth offered to him, although part of Polish gentry wanted to see the Habsburg Holy Roman Emperor, Maximillian II on it, and it almost came to the civil war.

Stefan (Stephen) Batory faced immediately the threat of the growing power in the East – Russia. Tsar Ivan the Terrible conquered large chunks of Polish and Lithuanian territory, including Livonia. Batory allied the Commonwealth with the Swedish king John and led the punitive expedition on Russia, recovering all the lost lands and more, and staving Russian expansion for the next 100 years. He also, decisively, put down the rebellion of Danzig burghers and prepared the country to face rapidly growing Turkish threats.

This is his royal banner, flown at Polotsk during the homage paid to him by the Russian boyars (nobles).

The Flag of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania

Grand Duchy of Lithuania

This is the flag of Wielkie Ksiestwo Litewskie (Grand Duchy of Lithuania). Lithuania was "dynastically" united with Poland in the late 14th century under the Jagiello family and the two states were "constitutionally" linked by the Union of Lublin in 1569.
This period of Polish and Lithuanian history is often referred to as the "Golden Age of Poland" as the Polish-Lithuanian alliance became one of the most influential and powerful in medieval Central and Eastern Europe.

To be continued…
Source http://www.loeser.us/flags/