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From Polish history -
|The Livonian War was fought between 1558 and 1583 for control of Old Livonia, the territory of present-day Estonia and Latvia. The Tsardom of Russia faced a variable coalition of Denmark-Norway, Sweden and Poland-Lithuania. The years 1558-1578 were a period of Russian dominance in the region, marked by early successes at Dorpat (Tartu) and Narva, and the dissolution of the Livonian Confederation. The Confederation's collapse brought Poland-Lithuania into conflict with Russia. Stephen Báthory, after becoming king of Poland, eventually turned the tide of the war, with successes between 1578 and 1581, including the joint Polish-Swedish offensive at the Battle of Wenden. This was followed by a long campaign through Russia, before a prolonged and difficult siege of Pskov. The war between Poland-Lithuania and Russia was concluded favourably for the former with the Truce of Yam-Zapolsky in 1582, with Russia losing Polotsk and all its holdings in Livonia to Poland-Lithuania. Sweden gained most of Ingria and northern Livonia, while Russia was left in humiliating defeat and became increasingly isolated from western politics and influence.
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Baroque town houses along the Long Market (Polish: D?ugi Targ, German: Langer Markt) in Gda?sk, formerly inhabited by the city's patriciate. Partly visible on the left is the Artus Court, once a meeting place for wealthy burghers, now housing a historical museum.
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|Vladislaus IV (W?adys?aw IV Waza; 1595-1648) was a Polish-Swedish prince of the House of Vasa. He reigned as king of Poland and grand duke of Lithuania from 1632, and also claimed the titles of king of Sweden and grand duke of Muscovy (Russia). He was the son of King Sigismund III of Poland and Sweden, and his wife, Queen Anna of Habsburg. The teen-aged Vladislaus was elected tsar by the Seven Boyars in 1610, but did not assume the Russian throne because of his father's opposition and a popular uprising in Russia. Following his father's death in 1632, he was elected king of Poland, with no serious contenders. Vladislaus was fairly successful in defending the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth against invasion, notably through his personal participation in the Smolensk War. He supported religious toleration, carried out military reforms, and was a renowned patron of the arts. The king failed, however, to realize his dreams of regaining the Swedish crown, conquering the Ottoman Empire, strengthening royal power, and reforming Polish internal politics. He died without a legitimate male heir and was succeeded by his half-brother, John Casimir. Vladislaus's death marked the end of relative stability in Poland.
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Warsaw (Warszawa) is the capital and, with a population of over 1.7 million, the largest city of Poland. Founded in 1300 on the Vistula River, Warsaw became the seat of the dukes of Masovia in 1413. Masovia was annexed by Poland in 1526, and 70 years later, in 1596, King Sigismund III moved his seat from Kraków to Warsaw. The rise in political status was accompanied by strong economic and cultural development. Occupied by Nazi Germany during World War II, Warsaw was the site of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising in 1943 and the Warsaw Uprising in 1944, followed by a complete destruction of the city. Painstakingly rebuilt in the Communist era, Warsaw is now an increasingly important political and economic hub of Central Europe.
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