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The golden age of Poland

Zygmunt moved Poland’s capital from Cracow to Warsaw

“The Golden Age of Poland” occurred during the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, formally, the Crown of the Kingdom of Poland and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, the largest and most populous countries in Europe at that time. In its largest territorial extent, the Commonwealth covered almost 1 million square km and sustained a multi-ethnic population of 11 million. Religious freedom was guaranteed by the Warsaw Confederation in 1537, which made the country one of the most tolerant.

Another interesting fact is that between 1573–1795, kings to the Polish throne were selected in so-called “free elections”, disrespecting the rule of dynastic succession. The first free election took place after the last monarch of Jagiellonian dynasty died childless. Unfortunately, elections encouraged foreign dynasties to meddle in Polish internal politics. On several occasions, if the magnates could not come to an agreement, two candidates would proclaim themselves the king and civil wars erupted.
One of the elective kings was Zygmunt III Waza. When he was in power, the country had reached its largest area. He was the son of the Swedish King and Polish Queen. After the death of his father, he became the king of Sweden, and a Polish-Swedish personal union began. In 1595 he had been deposed from the Swedish throne by his uncle, Charles IX. This event initiated a series of wars between countries because Zygmunt wanted to regain power in his motherland.

Some historians evaluate his reign negatively, recalling, his unnecessary commitment to establishing power in Moldova and engaging Poland in devastating wars with Sweden. Others defend the king, emphasizing his many advantages, such as skillful performance as a patron of art.

Zygmunt moved Poland’s capital from Cracow to Warsaw. One of the official reasons was the fire in the King’s residence – Wawel. The truth is that Warsaw was much closer to Sweden, where the King was attempting to regain his dominion until the end of his life.

Nowadays, we can admire Sigmund’s Column, located in Warsaw Castle Square, which was originally commissioned by his son.

Short bio of the volunteer:

Kasia from Poland, graduate in tourism and management.  During free time I love to travel and hike.


Erasmus+ is a programme of the European Commission embracing the fields of education, training, youth and sports during the period 2014-2020. One of the major aspects is the cooperation between the different fields where the programme acts, hence contributing for a diverse and rich Europe.

Amongst the several goals of the programme, the following are prioritised: the objectives of the Europe 2020 Strategy, including the headline education target; the aims of the strategic framework for European cooperation in education and training (ET 2020), including the corresponding benchmarks; the sustainable development of Partner Countries in the field of higher education; the overall goals of the renewed framework for European cooperation in the youth field (2010-2018); the objective of developing the European dimension in sport, in particular grassroots sport, in line with the EU work plan for sport and the promotion of European values in accordance with Article 2 of the Treaty on the European Union.

In order to achieve these goals, the Erasmus+ has several action policies. The Key Action 1 (KA1) is directed towards the mobility of people; Key Action 2 (KA2) for the cooperation for innovation and the interchange of good experiences; and Key Action 3 (KA3) which is for the support of reformation policies.

European Voluntary Service

Since 1991 the University of Madeira Students’ Union has developed a wide incentive policy for voluntary work. In 2013 the Students’ Union started the process to receive, send and coordinate Erasmus+ projects of the European Voluntary Service, in order to have a larger influence in the volunteering field. The Union received its first volunteer withing the ambit of a KA1 project in 2014. Many efforts have been done to allow young people from Madeira to take part in several initiatives in Europe, as well as propose several projects allowing young people from several countries to work in the projects of the Students’ Union of the University of Madeira. The main goal of the voluntary work is the contribution of the volunteers to the communities and places they will be staying, being their work not rewarded with payment.

We believe that the European Voluntary Service is a mechanism full of experiences, allowing the approved candidates to have the privilege of taking part in these projects and benefit the places and communities where these volunteers will be staying.

Since 2013, the University of Madeira Students’ Union has received volunteers that have collaborated in several activities and initiatives. Besides being able to enjoy a wonderful experience which will contribute to their personal and professional growth, they are able to contribute in a unique way to the community in which they are inserted and to join dozens of volunteers from the University of Madeira.