Early history

  • 966: Poland is established as a sovereign state, with Mieszko I as its first recorded ruler.
  • 1025: Bolesław I the Brave becomes the first king of Poland.
  • 1385: Jogaila, the Grand Duke of Lithuania, signs a document known as the Union of Krewo shortly before his marriage to Poland's Queen Jadwiga.
  • 1569: The Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth is established, officially uniting the two nations. At its peak, the Commonwealth was the largest country in Europe and one of its most powerful.
  • 1648–1666: The Commonwealth is invaded by Sweden and Russia in a period of military campaigns known as the Deluge. During this time, the Commonwealth loses its status as a powerful political entity and a third of its population. The material damage is extensive, with more than 300 towns and cities completely destroyed by Swedish troops.
  • 1772: The First Partition of Poland takes place, with Russia, Prussia and Austria dividing and annexing significant portions of the country. The Commonwealth loses a third of its territory and another third of its population.
  • 1793: The Second Partition of Poland takes place, with Russia and Prussia taking over and dividing more than half of the remaining Polish territory.
  • 1795: The Commonwealth is entirely erased from the map, with its little remaining territory divided among Russia, Prussia, and Austria.
  • 1807: In an effort to rally support among the Polish, Napoleon creates the Duchy of Warsaw, a client state of France, from some of the partitioned Polish territories.
  • 1815: After Napoleon's exile, the Duchy of Warsaw is once more divided among Russia, Prussia and Austria, with the bulk falling under Russian rule. Russia establishes the Congress Kingdom of Poland, a theoretically semi-independent state, entirely under the control of Russia in practice.
  • 1848: The Poznań Uprising occurs in the Prussian Partition in reaction to the Prussian leadership's growing anti-Polish rhetoric, wilful erasure of Polish culture and language, and attempts to Germanise the Polish public. The rebellion ends when its leaders are captured and jailed.
  • 1863: One of many rebellions against Russian leadership, the January Uprising is partitioned Poland's longest-lasting insurgency. Reprisals from Russia are harsh, including execution and exile. Despite an end to the overt rebellion, underground Polish society continues to foster change at a grassroots level through political involvement and other initiatives to retain Polish language and culture.

20th century

  • 1918: Poland regains independence and forms the Second Polish Republic, following the end of World War I and the collapse of the Russian Empire.
  • 1939: Germany invades Poland, marking the start of World War II. Shortly afterwards the Soviet invasion of Poland begins. The two invading powers divide up the country as they had agreed in the secret provisions of the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact, signed between Stalin and Hitler in August 1939.
  • 1940: Stalin approved a series of mass executions of nearly 22,000 Polish military officers and intelligentsia, which became know as the the Katyn massacre, named after the Katyn Forest where the mass graves were first discovered by German forces. The Soviet Union denied responsibility for the massacres until 1990, when it officially acknowledged them, and condemned the killings by the NKVD, as well as the subsequent cover-up by the Soviet government.
  • 1941: Operation Reinhard, a secret German plan for the mass murder of the Jewish people, is put into action as 'extermination centres' are built throughout German-occupied Poland. By the end of the war, approximately 3 million Jewish Poles lost their lives.
  • 1945: World War II ends, with Poland's total fatality rate estimated at 5 million. Post-war Poland becomes a communist state under Soviet control. 
  • There were major changes to Poland's borders after the war. Large parts of eastern Poland were ceded to the Soviet Union, and today form part of Lithuania, Belarus and Ukraine. Poland was instead given large sections of east Germany.
  • 1956: Protests and uprisings against the communist government occur, including the Poznań 1956 protests.
  • 1980: The Solidarity movement forms, a trade union and social movement that becomes a key player in the fall of the communist government.
  • 1981–1983: In response to growing political opposition, martial law is instituted by the communist government.
  • 1989: The communist government collapses, and Poland becomes a democratic state with a market economy.
  • 1999: Poland joins Nato.

21st century

  • 2004: Poland joins the European Union.
  • 2015: Andrzej Duda is elected as President of Poland, marking a shift towards right-wing populism in the country.
  • 2020: Poland's first case of Covid-19 is identified. Over the next few years, the pandemic sweeps across the nation, infecting more than 6 million and killing 119,000. Lockdowns are instituted throughout the pandemic, and the economy experiences significant setbacks.
  • 2022: Over 10 million refugees flee to Poland following Russia's renewed invasion and land grab in Ukraine. Poland becomes one of Ukraine's most vocal supporters within the EU.