Smolensk is a symbolic border place in Polish-Lithuanian-Russian history. Part of medieval Kyivan Rus', the city was taken by Lithuania in 1404, by Russia in 1514, by Poland-Lithuania again in 1611, and then permanently by Russia in 1654, as the Commonwealth went into decline.
The painting above (by Jan Matejko, 1862) depicts the legendary sixteenth-century court jester Stańczyk gravely pondering the loss of Smolensk to Muscovy in 1514, as the Polish royal court carelessly carouses behind him.
You can follow @StanleySBill.
Tip: mention @twtextapp on a Twitter thread with the keyword “unroll” to get a link to it.

Latest Threads Unrolled: