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The Henrician Articles, or Henrycian Articles (Polish: Artykuły henrykowskie, Latin: Articuli Henriciani), or more often stated in English literature as King Henry's Articles, were a permanent contract that stated the fundamental principles of governance and constitutional law in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth in the form of 21 Articles written and adopted by the szlachta in 1573 at the town of Kamien, near Warsawmarker, during the interregnum following the extinction of Polandmarker's second, Jagiellon dynasty.

The document took its name from that of Henryk Walezy (the Frenchmarker Prince Henri de Valois), the first elected Polishmarker king, who was obliged to sign the Articles before being allowed to mount the throne. 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.

The Articles stipulated that a king could be elected only by "free election." Every two years he was required to call a general sejm (Polish "sejm walny," or parliament). Any levy in mass or levy of taxes could be authorized only by the sejm. Between sejms, 16 senators--4 for six months at a time--were to be at the king's side as his resident advisers and overseers. Incorporated into the Articles were the Warsaw Confederation's guarantees of religious freedom. The nobility (szlachta)--the parliamentary source of the Commonwealth's laws--reserved to itself the right to refuse obedience to the king if he broke the laws of the Commonwealth.

While pacta conventa comprised only the personal undertakings of the king-elect, the Henrician Articles were a permanent statute that all king-elects had to swear to respect, beginning with the first elected Polish king, the later Henry III of France. The provisions of the Henrician Articles stated that:
  • kings of the Commonwealth were all to be chosen by election by the szlachta, and never to succeed by right of inheritance;
  • the king must convene the Sejm (Polish parliament) at least every two years for six weeks;
  • the king had no right to create new taxes, tariffs or such without approval of the Sejm;
  • the king had no right to call a pospolite ruszenie (levee en masse) without approval of the Sejm;
  • the king had no right to declare war or peace without approval of the Sejm.


The Henrician Articles created a Council comprising 16 senators (also known as "residents"). The Council was elected every two years during the Sejm session. Four of their number (rotating every six months) were obliged to accompany the king and serve as advisors and supervisors to ensure that the king made no decision contrary to the laws of the Commonwealth.

The Articles upheld the informal tradition that the king could not call a levee en masse (pospolite ruszenie) to serve outside the Commonwealth's borders without compensation and that he must pay for the royal army (wojsko kwarciane).

The Articles incorporated the Warsaw Confederation provisions guaranteeing almost unprecedented religious freedom.

The Articles also included a list of official posts and titles in the Commonwealth.

Finally, if the monarch were to transgress against the law or the privileges of the szlachta, the Articles authorized the szlachta to refuse the king's orders and act against him (by raising a rokosz, or rebellion). Each king had to swear that "if anything has been done by Us against laws, liberties, privileges or customs, we declare all the inhabitants of the Kingdom are freed from obedience to Us".

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