Henrician Articles

The Henrician Articles or King Henry's Articles (Polish: Artykuły henrykowskie, Latin: Articuli Henriciani) were a permanent contract between the "Polish nation" (i.e., the szlachta (nobility) of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth) and a newly elected king upon his election to the throne that stated the fundamental principles of governance and constitutional law in the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth.[1][2]

While pacta conventa comprised only the personal undertakings of the king-elect, the Henrician Articles were a permanent statute that all kings-elect had to swear to respect.[1][3]

The articles functioned, essentially, as a first constitution for Poland until the Constitution of May 3, 1791.[1][2]


The articles took the form of 18 Articles written and adopted by the nobility in 1573 at the town of Kamień, near Warsaw, during the interregnum following the extinction of Jagiellon dynasty.[2] The document took its name from that of Henry of Valois, the first Polish king elected in a free election, who was obliged to sign the Articles before being allowed to ascend the throne.[2] Subsequently every king-elect was required to swear fidelity to them, as is contrasted with the similar documents, the pacta conventa, which were tailored and different for each king-elect.[1] Acceptance by the king-elect of the articles was a condition of his elevation to the throne, and they formed part of the royal oath at the coronation.[1]


The provisions of the Henrician Articles stated that:

See also

Polish Wikisource has original text related to this article:


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 Juliusz Bardach, Bogusław Leśnodorski and Michał Pietrzak, Historia państwa i prawa polskiego (History of the Polish State and Law), Warsaw, Państwowe Wydawnictwo Naukowe, 1987, pp. 216–7.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 (Polish) Artykuły henrykowskie. Trybynał Konstytucyjny. Wszechnica Konstytucyjna
  3. 1 2 3 Jacek Jędruch (1998). Constitutions, elections, and legislatures of Poland, 1493–1977: a guide to their history. EJJ Books. pp. 84–86. ISBN 978-0-7818-0637-4. Retrieved 13 August 2011.
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