I was wondering about the best way to commemorate this date, 490 years from the day when Martin Luther decided to come public with his theses. And, I think, you will benefit from this unusual angle, as not much is known about my home country and the days of Reformation there.
What I am posting is a bunch of links - I am not going to violate the copyright. But please feel free to follow them and read for yourselves.
- Protestant Reformation and the Golden Age in Poland
- Evangelical Lutheran Church in Poland
- Polish Anabaptism in the 16th : a story little told
Reformations in Eastern Europe: Protestant, Catholic, and Orthodox
The Reformation first came to Poland-Lithuania in its Lutheran form soon after 1517, finding sympathizers among the German burghers in the cities of Royal Prussia. By 1522 calls for the introduction of the new religion had arisen in Gdańsk against the background of social unrest. King Sigismund I the Old banned the possession and reading of Lutheran books in 1520, and in 1526 he restored order in Gdańsk, reiterating the ban, although some burghers may have continued to practice the religion covertly. In 1525 Königsberg, the capital of the newly secularized Ducal Prussia (a fief of the Polish crown), became a center for Lutheran propaganda in the area (print shop from 1530, university from 1544). Polish and Lithuanian students attended the university, and religious propaganda was printed in their languages. Polish magnates of Great Poland began to serve as patrons of Lutheranism in the 1530s, offering protection to non-nobles on their estates. A few individual voices were heard in Vilnius in the same decade, but pioneering Lithuanian Lutherans such as Abraomas Kulvietis and Stanislovas Rapalionis were forced to seek protection in Königsberg. Another center of the Polish Reformation grew up in the 1520s and 1530s around humanistic circles at the Cracow Academy, at the center of which stood Jakub of Iłża the Younger (member of the Collegium Minor 1518–1535; documented Reformation activity from 1528). It was here that conditions were created for the first propagation of the new religion in Polish society, and there is some justification in calling Little Poland the "cradle of the Polish Reformation."
All of these activities either remained largely covert or depended upon the protection of the nobles until the reign of Sigismund II Augustus (1548–1572), who, although remaining Catholic, was more open to the new ideas. He corresponded with Philipp Melanchthon and John Calvin (who dedicated his 1549 Commentary on Hebrews to him), and he appointed the patron of Lithuanian Calvinism, Mikołaj Radziwiłł the Black, as Lithuanian grand chancellor (1550–1565). The transformation of the Polish-Lithuanian Reformation from a clandestine movement into an open, organized church with public services and synods dates from about 1550, when Protestant gentry began to form a majority in the lower house of the parliament. Protestant magnates were a majority in the upper house from the 1560s. Between 1552 and 1565, only Protestants were elected as marshals presiding over sessions of parliament. In 1552 the diet vacated decisions of the ecclesiastical courts against tithe-resisters and heretics, and in 1555 it declared a Polish interim, guaranteeing religious toleration for nobles until a general council could meet. In 1559 Sigismund II granted religious liberty to Prussian towns, approving the Augsburg confession that had been adopted by the Royal Prussian Diet.
In the years 1556–1560 a reformed church of Little Poland began to take shape as an overt organization, with a presbyterial governing structure and a Calvinist-Zwinglian doctrine. Leaders of the movement included Francesco Lismanini (1504–1566), the Franciscan provincial of Poland and confessor of Sigismund II Augustus's mother, Queen Bona Sforza, and the Erasmian Jan Łaski (Joannes à Lasco, 1499–1560), who returned to Poland after a seventeen-year exile in December 1556.
The Reformation in Poland-Lithuania quickly underwent fragmentation. The Brest Bible—the first printing of the entire Holy Writ by Polish Protestants—was a joint project of the Reformed churches of Poland and Lithuania. Its financial patron was Mikołaj Radziwiłł the Black. By the time it was printed in 1563, many of its sponsors and translators, led by such Italian refugees as Giorgio Biandrata (c. 1515–1588), had made moves in the direction of Anti-Trinitarianism, forming a volatile and loosely organized "Minor church" (as opposed to the still Calvinistic "Major church").
In 1570 the Calvinists, Lutherans, and the Czech Brethren living in exile in Great Poland (the latter had been in communion with the local Calvinists since the Union of Kominek in 1555) met at a synod of concord at Sandomierz and produced a Confessio Sandomirensis, agreeing to hold joint synods, although they actually met jointly only four times between 1570 and 1595. The Minor church, which was excluded from those deliberations, experienced a period of great internal turmoil in the 1570s and 1580s. The social radicals of Little Poland established centers in Raków and Lublin. Their leaders, such as the "pope of Lublin" Marcin Czechowicz (1532–1613), argued for pacifism and a withdrawal from the state. Lithuanian Anti-Trinitarians, such as Szymon Budny (c. 1530–1593), wrote in defense of the jus gladii ('office of the sword') but took much more radical ("non-adorantist") stances on Christological questions. Compromise positions were worked out by the Italian refugee Fausto Sozzini (Socinus), and the "Arians" at Raków published their Confessio Racoviensis in 1605, dedicating the work to King James I of England.
As the tiny but intellectually prominent groups of Polish Anti-Trinitarians were conducting their intensive debates on religion and society, the mainstream Reformation in Poland-Lithuania began to decline. The signs of weakness were already visible as the Polish Reformation reached its zenith in the 1573 Confederation of Warsaw. This document was worked out during the interregnum after the death of the last Jagiellonian king, Sigismund II (d. 1572), and from then on the elected kings of Poland were required to sign pacta conventa based on it and guaranteeing mutual toleration among dissidents in religion.
The rest of the article, about Contrreformation, at answers.com.
And from Wikipedia:
Poland and Lithuania in the Reformation Era
In modern eyes, the most saliently liberal aspect of Jagiellon Poland is its exceptional toleration of religious dissent. This tolerance prevailed in Poland even during the religious upheavals, war, and atrocities associated with the Protestant Reformation and its repercussions in many parts of sixteenth-century Europe. The Reformation arrived in Poland between 1523 and 1526. The small Calvinist, Lutheran, and Hussite groups that sprang up were harshly persecuted by the Roman Catholic Church in their early years. Then in 1552 the Sejm suspended civil execution of ecclesiastical sentences for heresy. For the next 130 years, Poland remained solidly Roman Catholic while refusing to repress contending faiths and providing refuge for a wide variety of religious nonconformists.
Such broad-mindedness derived as much from practical necessity as from principle, for Poland, and especially the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, that governed a populace of remarkable ethnic and religious diversity, embracing Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, Protestants, and numerous non Christians. In particular, after the mid-sixteenth century the Polish lands supported the world's largest concentration of Jews, whose number was estimated at 150,000 in 1582. Under the Jagiellons, Jews suffered fewer restrictions in Poland and Lithuania than elsewhere in Europe while establishing an economic niche as tradesmen and managers of noble estates.