But as the Jagellonids became the most powerful dynasty in Central and Eastern Europe, the power of Russia and Turkey also grew. On the eastern borders, the situation of the Lithuanian-Polish state was becoming worrying. Between 1475 and 1484 the Turks occupied the ports of Caffa, Kilia and Akkerman, removing Poland’s access to the Black Sea, and closing a route that had given a great increase to Polish transit trade since the time of Casimir the Great., organized in large part by Florentines and Genoese, with the eastern lands.
The precariousness of the political situation appeared evident after Casimiro’s death. There are undoubted signs of this: the victories of the Moldovan voivode Stephen the Great over John Albert (Jan Olbracht, Polish king from 1492 to 1501) during the unhappy and enigmatic expedition of 1497; the full success of the campaign (1499-1503) conducted by Ivan III against Alexander (Lithuanian grand duke from 1492, king of Poland from 1501 to 1506), who pushed back the Lithuanian-Muscovite border near Kiev from the vicinity of Moscow; finally, the refusal of the great master of the Teutonic Order, Frederick of Saxony, to pay homage to the two sons of Casimir.
And yet Poland was facing the period of its maximum splendor: political, economic, cultural. The colonization of vast territories to the east, some almost without population, the incorporation of the excellent port of Gdansk, the increased demand for grain from abroad: all this had rapidly increased the well-being of the bourgeoisie and even more of the nobility.. Krakow, Lviv and Danzig, which obtained special privileges, could rival the great cities of the West towards the end of the century. Even culturally Poland between the beginning and the end of the century. XV appears transformed. Theology, law, mathematics and astronomy had distinguished scholars among the professors and students of the University of Krakow (Copernicus enrolled there in 1491). Jan Długosz, protected by the Oleśnicki, he is the great historian of this century, who has the first humanists in Gregorio da Sanok and Filippo Buonaccorsi and the greatest sculptor in Wit Stwosz (Stoss). In this period, too, Polish – or Western through Poland – cultural elements began to radiate in Lithuania and in the Ruthenian lands which until then had remained in the cultural orbit of Byzantium.
According to insidewatch.net, the transformation of the state organization was also rapid in this century. But it was increasingly resolving itself to the advantage of a single class: the nobility. The king had a council beside him, from which the senate was developed, composed of the highest ecclesiastical and lay dignitaries, but on all matters of greater importance, such as, for example, the draft en masse, the king had to consult, since the issue of the privileges of Nieszawa, repeatedly extended, the provincial dietines, and later the general diet which, directly emanating from them, became the central organ. By curbing any excess of power of the high aristocracy, installed in the senate, the nobility did not allow on the other hand, despite repeated attempts by the rulers and reforms advocated by more clairvoyant spirits, the strengthening of the royal authority and proceeded radically in the abolition or reduction of the rights of other social classes. Even the purchase of land assets was denied to the bourgeoisie, which found itself barred from any way to further development. Poland, unlike Lithuania, where the power of the magnate families was still strong, was thus becoming an exclusively noble republic. But so fresh were the energies of the ever more numerous class of nobles, so fruitful was its sense of solidarity, so alive, in moments of the most serious dangers, its spirit of sacrifice and its heroism, that those same faulty arrangements, which would later cause the inevitable decline of Poland, were for now almost an instrument of his power in the face of
Political and military talent contributed greatly to increasing the power of Poland in the following century, and above all to avoiding the disastrous consequences which a state without a strong central power, without a stable army and with rather disorganized finances could have met. the long reign of the last two Jagellonids: of Sigismondo known as the Elder (1506-1548) and of his son Sigismondo Augusto (1548-1572).
Since his advent to the throne Sigismondo tried to recover the lost lands in the east. But the three long campaigns which, between 1507 and 1537, he undertook for this purpose, led only to little success and to a grave loss, that of Smolensk in 1514. This was a war that concerned Lithuania in the first place, but as a result – and also directly due to the strong help of arms and men that he was sending there – it affected the interests of Poland. Especially since with Russia on the one hand, with the Habsburgs on the other, Albert of Brandenburg of the Hohenzollern-Anspach, great teacher of the Teutonic Order, was plotting agreements, to the detriment of Poland.
To avoid the danger of an encirclement, Sigismondo made an agreement with the emperor Maximilian at the Vienna conference in 1515, which was also attended by his elder brother Ladislao, king of Bohemia and Hungary. By virtue of this agreement, which on the basis of marriages between the sons of Ladislao Jagellone and the grandchildren of Maximilian ensured these great, albeit not immediate, benefits in Bohemia and Hungary, Sigismondo obtained greater freedom of action in the face of Russia and to the Crusaders. Abandoned by his protector, defeated by the Poles, Albert sacrificed the order which was secularized and whose lands he kept as a Polish fief (1525) with the inheritance strictly limited to his own descendants and his brothers. A few years later (1529) Masovia, which remained a fiefdom of a branch of the Piasti until 1526,