Папярэдняя старонка: Краўцэвіч А.К.

Hiedymin. (1316-1341). Kingdom of Lithuania and Rutenia   

Аўтар: Krauceyić Aleś,
Дадана: 19-10-2022,
Крыніца: Minsk, 2012.


Aleś Krauceyić

Hiedymin (1316 - 1341)



Translated from Belarusan into English by Andrei Bursau

К78 Гедымін (1316 - 1341). Каралеўства Літвы i Русі = Hiedymin. (1316 - 1341). Kingdom of Lithuania and Rutenia : нарыс / Алесь Краўцэвіч ; пер. на англ, мову Андрэя Бурсава ; пад аг. рэд. Міхася Скоблы ; маст. Ігар Гардзіёнак. - Мінск : Татарнікава С. Ю., 2012. 152 с.: іл (Жыццяпіс вялікіх князёў літоўскіх = The Lives of the Great Dukes of Lithuania). ISBN 978-985-90263-1-7.

Historians sometimes say that history is made by people. It is possible to agree or to dispute with it, but it is undoubted that direct decisions (including those, which influence the fate of the nation) are made by concrete persons. These persons' individuality leaves its unique imprints on the course of the historical process, guiding it in this very direction we can observe now, and not in some other one. An individual in history is always interesting. It seems to me that the history of the state where the modern Belarusan nation was born, which is unknown to the majority of the Belarusans, can become closer to us if it is connected with lives and destinies of its rulers - the Grand Dukes of Lithuania. «Haspadar» (master, ruler, owner) - this is how the head of the state used to be titled on this territory; it also spawned the word «spadar» (mister) - a polite form of address in the contemporary Belarusan language, just like in other languages the titles of kings led to polite forms of address - «pan» in Polish and Czech, «signor» («señor») - in Italian and Spanish, «monsieur» - in French, etc.


In the early 14th century, Lithuania [1] entered a new and, as we know today, most glorious period of its history. The previous 50 years of the life of the Belarusan-Lithuanian state were as though overcast; from time to time, the rulers of the country would emerge from the obscurity of history only to disappear in an instant once again. Having immersed in scanty and fragmentary sources, historians as if restore a mosaic with the help of survived small pieces. They have to think through and imagine, rather than to see and feel the intense life of that time, where the sound of battles, the patter of hoofs, and the clash of weapons are heard, but it is not clear who is fighting against whom and who is gaining a victory.

However, contemporary historians are supported strongly in their reconstruction of the historical process - they are aware of the result. Thus, we know that the outcome of the 13th century was positive for the Grand Duchy of Lithuania - the state survived and continued to live despite very serious, both external and internal threats.

None of the inhabitants of then Lithuania (even the well-informed Grand Dukes) could foresee what awaited the country in the new 14th century. The Lithuanians could know neither about the huge European crisis of the middle of the century, nor about the continu- ation of the war against the crusaders (which would last for more than 100 years). They could not know either that this century would turn their Lithuania Into a really great state.

Chapter one. The beginning of the rule

In the 14th century, the historical darkness started to dissipate gradually over Lithuania, and at a certain moment, in the arena of history, there appeared a new and, without exaggeration, great ruler - Hiedymin, King of Lithuania [Litva] and Ruthenia [Ruś] (this is how he was titled in Latin documents).

Curriculum vitae

Hiedymin is a son of Grand Duke Pukuvier, a brother of Grand Duke Vicień. The date of birth is unknown (it is thought that he was born ca. 1275); the date of death is about 1340-1341.

He started to rule in about 1316 after his brother's death. He approved himself an excellent statesman and diplomat. He was not a typical medieval monarch - he preferred diplomacy to war. In order to achieve his foreign policy purposes, he used effectively his children's dynastie marriages.

Гедымін (1316 - 1341). Каралеўства Літвы i Русі = Hiedymin. (1316 - 1341). Kingdom of Lithuania and Rutenia.

He doubled the territory of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and united all the main historical areas of Belarus in the one state: Paniamońnie (Nioman [Neman] Region), Bieraście [Brest], Turau-Pinsk, Połacak, and Viciebsk Regions, which led to the modern Belarusan nation's successful ethnogeny.

He increased considerably the prestige of Lithuania's ruler and earned intrayitam fame and authority far beyond the state borders. He inchoated a great dynasty, which ruled in several countries of Middie-Eastern Europe for more than 200 years. Ihe main political blunder: his testament divided the state between his sons into big principalities, which resulted in its decentralization and attenuation.

Hiedymins origin remains uncleared; his ancestry and early life are obscure due to the absence of historical sources. However, Hiedymin's name and his actions entered into the consciousness of several generations of then people so strongly that even a few centuries later the enemies considered it necessary to besmirch the Grand Duke in order to defame the whole dynasty he established. The version about Hiedymins non-aristocratic origin and his usurpation of the Lithuanian throne was concocted by ideologists of the Teutonic Order in the early 15th century. It claimed that Hiedymin was a hostler to Vicień, killed his master, and assumed the throne. It is not accidental that this version appeared soon after the Battle of Grunwald when the crusaders' animosity towards Hiedymins grandsons - Jahajła (Jagiełło) and Vitaŭt - reached its apogee.

Following the crusaders' intentions, Moscow-based chronographers of the 16th century also tried to belittle the Lithuanian dynasty, which was their long-standing enemy. According to one of the Moscow versions, Hiedymins predecessor Vicień belonged to the family of Smolensk or Połacak princes. Having escaped from the Tartars' captivity, he fled to Samogitia (Żamojć, Żemaitija, Żmudź) and married there a daughter of a wild hive beekeeper. When Viceń was killed by a lightning stroke, his «slave and hostler» Hiedymin took the widow of the Grand Duke as his wife and had seven sons with her. According to another Moscow legend, Hiedymin was a small Ruthenian boyar who was sent by a Mos­cow prince to attach to Moscow several lands near the Dniapro (Dnieper), ruined by the Tartars. However, Hiedymin ostensibly appropriated the collected money and received lands, and willfully proclaimed himself to be the Grand Duke of Lithuania. Scientists do not trust these legends because they appeared right in the heat of the Muscovy-Lithuania wars, when Moscow did everything to prove its historical rights on the Lithuanian lands, which it tried to occupy.

It is necessary to mark that the annals of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, on the contrary, underline the legitimacy of Hiedymin's dynasty. They call Vicień a son of Trajden who, in his turn, belonged to Samogitian or Połacak princes, while Hiedymin was a son of Vicień. This yersion can be met even in modern historiography. However, in the 19th century, historians paid attention to an authentic document d/d 2 October 1323 - a letter of the Ratmanns (councillors) of Riga to Hiedymin. In this letter, they say that they are ready to conclude peace with Hiedymin, «as it was during your brother and predecessor Vicień of cherished memory» (sicut Vithene bone memorie frater vester et antecessor nobiscum habit). Researchers take notice of the fact that the term «brother» is used in the document in the meaning of kin, not a monarchical colleague.

It means Hiedymin was an adult when he started to rule. If we accept 1275 as an арргохimate year of his birth, then in 1315 he was 40 years old. We know that by that time he had already taken the enemy's measure. However, it was not known at first how the new ruler would approve himself at the highest state post - after all, even an excellent military leader does not always become a good politician. During the first years of his rule, Hiedymin did not do anything special and was not mentioned in written sources.

It turned out later that the ruler just, as they say, «took a pause» in the beginning of his rule. Hiedymin looked about in a new place and did almost invisible, but very important and uneasy work - he observed, thought, and built plans. He hurried neither to accept critical decisions, nor to break the habitual order of things until he sized up a situation. He analyzed the lie of matters in the country and behind its borders, elaborating his strategy, tactics, and concrete actions. Using the modern language, he worked on his own political program and its implementation strategy. It took him not less than six-seven years. The times then, in general, were hasteless...

In the 14th century, the European Middle Ages entered their last phase called «the fall of the Middle Ages» by the eminent Dutch mediaevalist Johan Huizinga. At first, nobody had a hunch that the sweeping changes estimated as a decline of feudal Europe by modern historians, had begun. The all-European crisis became obvious with all its completeness and force soon after Hiedymin's death, in the late 1340s. Still, in the beginning of his reign, the inhabitants of Europe could not still fathom all the disturbing events, which were taking place in different parts of the continent.

Already at the beginning of the century, in Western Europe, there appeared some signs of the economy stagnation. Several crop failures successively in 1314-1317 caused hunger, which captured many countries of Europe and exacerbated the economic crisis. The death rate increased and the natural increase of the population slowed down.

Acute political and social conflicts became one more sign of the woeful epoch. AU across Europe, there were waves of the first peasants' and burghers' mutinies, among which the major ones were the peasants' movement headed by Dolcino in Italy and the peasants' and burghers' outbreak in Flanders. As it always happens during crisis times, mystical moods augmented and new religious movements and sects arose. The social pressure in many places poured out in anti-Jewish performances, which quite often led to pogroms. As a result, there was mass emigration of Jews from the German lands to, inter alia, the territory of Middle-Eastern Europe.

Conflicts between the Pope and the French crown led to the so-called Avignon Papacy (Avignon is a city in the south of France), which lasted for 70 years. In 1312, German King Henry VII managed to become a Holy Roman Emperor in Rome. A year later, the new emperor died, and there was a war between two pretendants for his throne. This situation helped one of provinces of the Empire - Switzerland ~ to get released from the German wardship. The Swiss victory over the army of Leopold I from the House of Habsburg laid the foundation of independence of their country.

Pope John XXII also tried to use the German conflict in order to strengthen his position in Italy and all Europe, and proposed a declaration of the supremacy of spiritual (Popes') power over secular (Emperors') one. As a result, the old conflict between the Popes and German Emperors for their domination in Western Europe inflamed with a new force.

Shortly before Hiedymin's death, the Hundred Years' War between France and England began in 1337. At this time, the Moors were almost completely expelled from Spain. The last Arabian state on the Iberian Peninsula - the Emirate of Granada - could act only on the defensive after the Moors were defeated by the Christian army in 1340.

Simultaneously, in a number of European states, there appeared centralization tendencies. In the early 14th century, the strong central administration existed in England, France, Castile and Aragon (which united in the 15th century, having created the Kingdom of Spain). In many countries, there gradually emerged the so-called monarchy of representatives of nobility, where the regal power was partially limited by representative bodies of public estates (parliaments), first of all - by the feudal class. In Denmark, Sweden, and Norway, representatives of the free peasantry, particularly numerous in Scandinavia, started to participate in meetings of parliament, and it became a rule. However, Italy, where large urban communes dominated (especially Venice), and Germany, where influences of large feudal lords were very strong, were still disintegrated.

The uniting processes were gradually increasing in Middle-Eastern and Southern - Eastern Europe. In the Balkans, Serbia became stronger particularly during the rule of Hiedymin's contemporary Tsar Stefan Dušan (1331-1355). This country waged successful wars against Bułgaria (which even was in vassalage for a time) and Byzantium. However, after Tsar Stefan Dušans death, Serbia broke into several conflicting principalities.

In the early 14th century, a number of the Romanian lands scattered from the Carpathians to the Danube, united in the one State. In 1324, Great Voievod Basarab 1 called his country Teara Rumaneasca, i.e. Romanian State (another name is Wallachia). The lands of today's Moldova remained under the power of the Golden Horde until the mid 14th century.

On the peninsula called Asia Minor, at the beginning of the century, there appeared a new force, which soon caused the biggest problem for Europe during the next 500 years - Ottoman Turkey. Emir Osman Gazi (1307-1326), whose name later gave the state its name - the Osmanian Empire, subordinated and united small neighboring Turkish princi­palities. Already in the second quarter of the 14th century, the Turkish state began to attack the weakened Byzantine Empire. The time of once powerful Byzantium was expiring. The Byzantines' attempts to stop the Turks by means of a hired Catalan army ended in a fiasco. In 1320-1328, the Empire was destroyed by internecine feuds. Besides, in the 1320s-30s, the Byzantine Empire waged heavy and unsuccessful wars against Bułgaria and Serbia, which enfeebled it even more before the Turkish expansion. Already soon, there would come the times when the Turks would cross the Bosphorus and start to vanquish Europe.

Gradually, the central administration was strengthened in the Kingdom of Hungary by a new dynasty established by Charles Robert (Karoly Robert) of the House of Anjou. Af­ter more than a 150-year split period, the process of centralization started on the Polish lands. Kuyavian Prince Władysław I Łokietek (Ladislaus I) installed with huge difficul - ties his power over the basic Polish lands - Małopolska (Polonia Minor, Smali Poland) and Wielkopolsza (Polonia Maior, Greater Poland), but łost Pomerania (Pomorze) to the Teutonic Order. In 1320, being silentły supported by the Pope, he organized his inauguration as a King of Poland. His business was successfully continued by his son Kazimierz (Casimir) [Hiedymins son-in-law], who was rightfully called «the Great».

The State of the Teutonic Order in Prussia was on the up grade. After the local tribes were completely subdued, it took the knights several decades to put the vanquished country into shape. They were helped much by colonists from the overpopulated German lands, who started to come massively to the new country. The Order waged a rather successful war against Lithuania; and in 1308, it occupied rich Polish Pomerania with its largest Baltic port Gdańsk.

All Northern-Eastern or Vladimir Ruthenia (future Russia) was in vassal dependence on the Golden Horde. The Ruthenian local princes actively struggled against each other for political superiority, receiving from the khan a jarliq authorizing their rule in the city of Vladimir. The Ruthenian princes considered the Horde khans to be their lawful suzerains and did not fight against the «уоке». Step by step, Moscow princes started to lay claims to their leadership in the region. A precedent was set by Prince Yuriy Danilovich (1303-1325), who received his jarliq in 1317. His brother and successor Ivan Danilovich nicknamed Kalita (1325-1340), a contemporary of Hiedymin, remained an unfailing vassal of the Horde and simultaneously strengthened the position of Moscow. He managed to keep his title of the Grand Prince of Vladimir till the end of his life. It was during the time of the rule of Kalita and Hiedymin that the first Moscow-Lithuania conflict took place; however, it did not lead to a direct military skirmish.

The State inherited by Hiedymin, was not very large (it included historical Lithuania - Navahradak, Vilnia, and Hrodna Regions), but it was organized quite well and had a strong central administration, which appeared thanks to its western neighbor - the state of the Teutonic Order in Prussia. Lithuania had to struggle against this state, and it became the main foreign policy problem for the country at that time, which led to a concentration of forces and means.

Since 1283, the knights-crusaders waged a methodical war against Lithuania; their purposes were to conquer it, to baptize it in Catholicism, and to join it to the Order's state. The crusaders army could reach the inlands and even threaten the capital Navahradak as it happened in 1314 when the Order's detachment burned the city districts. Attacks, ambushes, retaliations, storms and protection of castles, devastation of lands, capture of people - all these became a habitual reality in the life of the country. At any moment, there could be trouble in the form of warriors in gray and white mantles with the image of the black cross, which could fall upon everyone - from the poorest serf to the most distinguished boyar. It led to general comprehension of the need and inevitability of a war against Prussia. The organizers of protection of the country - the Grand Dukes of Lithuania, especially if they were successful soldiers, - could count on the peoples understanding and support. The whole country considered them defenders and redeemers. It is safe to say that in the second half of the 13th - 14th centuries, one of the two main functions of the state, i.e. to protect the country from the enemy from without, dominated and influenced strongly the other one, i.e. to form and keep the inner law and order. In the 1280s - early 15th century, Lithuania was hardened on the anvil of the Prussian war.

Descriptions of Lithuania's struggle against the crusaders show that it was a head-to- head fight, though the strategic initiative belonged to the Teutonic knights (Hiedymin did his best to recapture the initiative). The Lithuanians often used the knights' own methods against the brethren and came out victorious many times. The war was conducted mainly in the Samogitian and Hrodna directions. Its details are known to us from the last chapter of the Chronicie of Prussia written by Peter of Dusburg, who was a chronicler of the Order, and which ends in 1326. Dusburg described the events that he did know very well and which he himself took part in. Therefore, researchers trust his data, which are also confirmed by other sources. It is interesting that Dusburg did not mention a change of the ruler on the Lithuanian throne; probably, he paid no special attention to it because he did not expect any changes in the Lithuanian policy concerning his country. He mentioned Hiedymin for the first time only in 1324, while describing an unsuccessful attempt to christen the ruler of Lithuania. It is possible to consider the chronicler's carelessness about a change of the monarch in the neighboring country, against which a heavy war is waged, to be an additional evidence of a continuity of the Lithuanian policy from Vicień to Hiedymin.

However, the fact that Hiedymin became the head of a peripheral and half-pagan state, was noticed in European political centers. In the beginning of his reign, in 1317, Pope John XXII sent his bull to the «Prince of the Lithuanians», whose name was not mentioned, asking him to join the Holy Church of Rome. Some data allow us to believe that the Volhynian princes, once terrible neighbors and now weakened and intimidated ones, did try to take advantage of the situation of temporal incertitude in Lithuania, which usually happens after a change of the head of the state. In 1316, they (brothers Andriy and Lev Yuriyoviches) signed a military union with the Teutonic Order, which, taking into account the hostile attitudes between the Order and Lithuania, was of an openly anti-Lithuanian character.

Hiedymin's state was getting along nicely, even though there was a war with the Order. The data from the Order's chronicie expressively testify that the brethren-knights were considerably inferior to the Lithuanians' military force. At the beginning of Hiedymins rule, in the winter of 1317, according to the chronicler, «God miraculously rescued the brethren and their army from the arms of death.» It happened thanks to a natural cataclysm, which prevented the crusaders' squadron from a battle against the Lithuanian army that was probably worth being afraid of, if the crusaders' well prepared army, consisting of warriors from two provinces, headed by a great Marshal, was happy it had avoided a fight against the Lithuanian-Samogitian army, which had been idly waiting for three days for the crusaders. The terrible night storm with a howling blizzard frightened the crusaders and their horses so much that all of them ran every which way in the wood. Having found their horses, the crusaders decided it would be better to come back home, and then they found out «that a considerable number of infidek had a plethora of weapons and waited for the brethren and their army for three days; and if the Christians had met them, none of the crusaders would have survived.»

In the summer of the same year, the Komtur (commandant) of Ragnit tried to take «Hiedymin's castle» in Samogitia at advantage, but its garrison found out about the approach of the enemy and got ready to protect it. The crusaders only managed to burn its suburbs. The descriptions of these two episodes make it possible to believe that the Lithu­anians had a well-organized system of spies who could timely reveal the crusaders' plans,

It is possible to find interesting details in Dusburg's chronicie concerning the Samogitian peasants' attitudes towards the crusaders. During the mentioned campaign of the Ragnit Komtur, a horse of one of the crusaders stumbled, and the warrior fell off the saddle to the ground and fainted. When he regained consciousness, he saw neither his companions, nor his horse. The fretted crusader went back to Prussia. Soon he came to a Samogitian village and asked its inhabitants about a road to Ragnit. They were frightened by the appearance of the armed soldier of the Order and therefore showed him the exact direction. Then, having seen that the crusader was alone, the peasants gathered together, took their dogs, and started in pursuit of him. Having heard the people shouting and the dogs barking, the soldier hid in the forest. «At that time, the pagans, who approached him and surrounded from all sides, did not see him at all, as if the Lord blinded them. At last, they got tired and went home.» Having come back happily to Ragnit and even not having taken off his regimentals, the German ran to the church where he flopped down on his knees and thanked God for his escape.

In 1319, David of Hrodna (Davyd Haradzienski) launched a not very successful campaign against Prussia. He managed to spoil goods, but the crusaders won them back. However, in 1320, the Order's Marshal attacked Miedniki [Medininkai] District, but suffered a defeat, and was killed. The debris of his army «wandered for many days and nights over deserted villages, being tormented by hunger, but nonetheless came back home. The only thing is that Brother Gerhard, Sambian Vogt, was set on horseback with all his weapons and burned as a sacrifice to their gods.»

As it happened before, the Order was helped by squadrons of European knights. In 1322, they came to Prussia from Silesia, Germany, Luxembourg, and Czechia. Together with the Teutonic knights, they attacked several Samogitian lands and ruined them. During the storm of Piste Castle, the defenders had a bad time because the crusaders were armored so good «that when they ascended the walls, the castle garrison could stop them by neither spear, nor sword, nor any other type of weapon. Two, three, or more infidels had to take a spear and to thrust it against the breast or back of the enemy and thus, pushing them, to throw them from the walls.» The storm stopped only at night. On the following day, when the crusaders were getting ready to fight, the castle defenders asked for peace and gave their hostages, promising to subdue to the Order. Nevertheless, (Attention! - we talk here about Hiedymin's influences!) «being pressed by the Lithuanian king, they did not keep their promise.» This record is a proof that Samogitia was not a part of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, but battled against the Order together with it.

In the Winter of the following year, only strong frosts forced the crusaders and the Euro­pean knights who arrived to help them, to cancel their campaign against Lithuania and to come back home. In 1324, a similar winter march was scuttled «due to weak ice».

The tensions on the northern-western borders dissipated attention and forces of the State. Since the last decades of the 13th century, the Lithuanians' activity in the eastern and Southern directions was considerably reduced. They obviously tried to avoid conflicts with the powerful overlord of eastern and southern Ruthenia - the Golden Horde.

The confrontation of Lithuania with the Galizian-Volhynian Principality actually came to an end due to the fact that the latter was weakened as a result of the purposeful policy of the Golden Horde. On the eastern frontiers, there were the Lands of Połacak and Viciebsk, which were allies of Lithuania, politically depended on it, and sought for support in their fight against the Livonian Germans. On the western border, there were the split Masovian principalities, some of them were connected with Lithuania by traditional dynastie liai-sons. They were afraid of the strong neighbor, but at the same time, they realized that the Order and the Kingdom of Poland are dangerous as well.

Since the times of Pukuvier, the Grand Dukes' power in Lithuania was inherited from one generation to another within the scope of one dynastie kin that was above all other aristocratic families. Revolts of small princes, representatives of the Baltic patrimonial aristocracy, were ended by their death or their escapement to the Order's state. There is some information about it in the Order's sources, which provide numerous data about the lands given to the fugitives from Lithuania, but only for a temporary period of time - until the Order conquers Lithuania, «till the moment when they return their possessions they left in Lithuania.»

His son Alhierd's marriage to Viciebsk Princess Maryja Jarasłaŭna became Hiedymin's first successful foreign policy action. A chronographer wrote in 1318, «Viciebsk Prince had no sons; so Hiedymins son Alhierd married his daughter.» A fewyears later, after the death of the father-in-law, Alhierd became a Viciebsk Prince, and the Belarusan-Lithuanian state peacefully added one more Belarusan land - the country of rich cities along the European trade route - the Dźvina (Dvina, Daugava).

Alhierd's marriage became the second (the first one was his sister Elizabeth's marriage to one of Masoyian princes) among similar marriages. Later, it became elear that they were a part of the general political doctrine of his father, The core of Hiedymins doctrine was diplomacy, not wars. The ruler turned dynastie marriages into an effective tool of his foreign policy.

Hiedymin had many children - as a really great person, he was great in everything, including family. According to sources, it is not elear how many times Hiedymin was mar­ried; there were opinions about one wife and about two or even three wives. The Bychaviec (Bykhovets, Bychowiec) Chronicie, Belarusan-Lithuanian annals, which is known to us in its 16th-century сору, mentions only one name - Jeuna (Jewna). In total, God sent Hiedymin more than ten kids who were born between 1300 and 1321. Historians have counted in various sources 14 children of Hiedymin; however, there are different opinions concerning the sequence of their births.

At the beginning of the 1320s, the Grand Duke stopped to be an observer. Hiedymin started at once to act actively and resolutely, combining and using successfully both diplo­macy and war.

Chapter two. A diplomatic march on the West

All activities of Hiedymin testified that he was inherently a creator and a diplomat, not a destroyer and a warrior. However, in the Middle Ages, war was a rather usual means to have it out between states. Hiedymin could not manage without it, either. Still, when there was a possibility to choose between weapons and an agreement, he used to resort to diplomacy.

Hiedymin obtained sufficient military experience during his service - by order of his father - on the Samogitian-Prussian border, and later mastered his skills during his cooperation with his brother Vicień. Undoubtedly, this experience affected his vision of means and methods of conducting the state activity. On the other hand, the ruler was also inspired by the successful example of peaceful accessions of lands to the state through Alhierd's marriage to the Viciebsk Princes. A little bit earlier, ca. 1316, Hiedymin married his daughter (christened Elizabeth [Elżbieta]) to one of Masovian princes - Wacław Płocki (Wenceslaus of Płock, also called Wańko). Thus, the tradition of marriages between the Masovian and Lithuanian dynasties started during the times of Trajden, was continued, and the bases of good-neighborliness with the land, which could potentially choose a union with Lithuania's enemy - the Order, became stronger. Later, the ruler organized some more marriages of his children, all of which had a political subcurrent (it is thought that the minimum age of consent for that time was 14 years old).

In about 1319-1320, Hiedymin married his daughter Maryja to Tver Grand Prince Dmitry, thus, having started a more than one-century long union between Lithuania and the city of Tver, the basic adversary of Moscow in the incorporation of Vladimir-Suzdal Ruthenia (later, Hiedymin married his other daughter to a Moscow prince).

The marriage of Lubart, Hiedymin's son, with a Volhynian princess, which took place before 1322 (the exact date is unknown), had important strategic consequences. Two decades later, the fact of this marriage provided Lubart with a formal basis to apply for the whole Galizian-Volhynian Principality. Hiedymin continued to organize political marriag­es as his children grew.

Hiedymin's dynamie actions started in the 1320s, were not limited to diplomacy only. The ruler had to take into account the whole complex of state problems and in order to solve them - to use various methods, among which in the Middle Ages the most widespread one was war. After a rather long break, at the beginning of the 1320s, Lithuania's attacks against Poland began anew. The campaigns in 1321, 1323, and 1324, were aimed at separate lands of Masovia. Hiedymin pursued a classical policy here - he was on friendly terms with some local princes (he did not touch possessions of his son-in-law Wacław Płocki) and warred against others, thus, achieving his goal - not to let these lands unite, which could detriment his country.

The greatest success of the Lithuanian ruler's diplomacy could be a termination of the war against the Teutonic Order. Here, the situation looked much more difficult and adverse to Lithuania, than that in the East. The Order's state had neither desire, nor need, at least until Samogitia was conquered, to reconcile with the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. Peace with Lithuania would cancel all strategic plans of the Order, first of all - to occupy Samogitia in order to unite Prussia with Livonia (Inflanty) by land. Having reached this purpose, the crusaders' state would become the strongest country in the Baltic region. Lithuania could not allow the knights to vanquish Samogitia because the Grand Duchy would be the next.

In the times of Hiedymin, the Teutonic Order in Prussia was on the upbeat and constantly increased its forces. It occupied Gdańsk and Pomerania, and brought thousands of German colonists (not only peasants, but also townspeople and knights) to Prussia, being regularly supported by European knights. The Order was interested in a war against Lithu­ania and had all grounds to hope for success.

Nowadays, we understand that Hiedymin's overriding purpose - to build amity with the Order's state in Prussia - was unattainable at that time. Hiedymin obviously overestimated the possibilities of his diplomacy here. The fact that the ruler believed in success of peace with the crusaders, even though it was counter to their plans, is proved by his energetic diplomatic attack. Hiedymin did almost manage to achieve his purpose in 1323 when the so-called Vilnia Armistice was signed, but it lasted not for a long time. The way to this agreement happened to be very uneasy. Hiedymin had to spare no effort and energy to make the crusaders walk this way with the help of «the devil's tricks» as bishops from the Order's state in Prussia wrote later.

The Order had to solve its own military problems after the mentioned unsuccessful march on Samogitia in 1320, during which its Grand Marshal was killed and Vogt of Sambia (a Prussian region) was burned at the ritual pagan stake. In 1322, Lithuanians launched a devastating campaign against German possessions in Estonia. In 1323, messengers from Pskov came to David of Hrodna, asking him to help them protect their land from the Livonian knights. Having received the ruler's consent, David and his army went to Pskov and forced the Germans to raise the siege. A grateful Pskov-based chronographer wrote, «Thanks to God, Lithuanian Prince David came with his men and... scared them away across the River Velikaya; he took their stone-mortars and other weapons, burned their fieldworks, and the Germans were compelled to flee discreditably...» David continued this campaign and raided the whole territory of Livonia, reaching the Danish King's possessions in Estonia.

Hiedymin understood perfectly that the Order could be defeated only if it were deprived of Western European knights' military assistance. It was possible to do it only by becoming a part of Catholic Europe or, at least, by convincing it that Lithuania tried to become such a part. Hiedymin started to settle this matter by two ways - first, he kept assuring Europeans that Lithuania is a favorable for them country; second, he demonstrated his desire to be catholicized. Since the times of Mindauh and Vicień, Lithuania was ałready quite experienced in declaring its intentions to be christened in order to reconcile with the Order. It was a diplomatic move mastered by the Grand Dukes of Lithuania in their battles against the Order.

In January 1323, Hiedymin began a wide diplomatic-propagandist action in both directions, which included dedarations and concrete actions. The ruler chose the citizens of Riga to be his voicers as they were vitally interested in peaceful trade in the whole Baltic region and White Ruthenia. Besides, the inhabitants of Riga seriously conflicted with the Livonian branch of the Teutonic Order and resorted to Lithuania's military help against the Livonian knights-crusaders for a long time. It was in the Riga Chancellery where Hiedymin's well-known letters were prepared in Latin, the official language of Western Europe of that time. The burghers of Riga not only helped to write the Lithuanian ruler's letters, but also to deliver them to their addressees. The letters were directed to the Pope, the largest North­ern-German cities (Bremen, Gotland, Greifswald, Sund, Cologne, Lubeck, Magdeburg, Rostock, Stralsund, Stettin - all of them, as well as Riga, were members of the powerful Hanseatic League, which dominated in the North and Baltic Seas), and the religious order of Dominicans. The contents of these letters testify that they were aimed at damnifying the Order and hurting its reputation in Europe. Hiedymin also wanted to open his country for the Western Europeans. He was undoubtedly aware quite well of the huge colonization movement from overpopulated Western Europe to the East (the so-called colonization based on the German right) and knew about the benefits it could bring, by example of how the German and Polish colonists built a state in Prussia.

Hiedymin's letter to the pontiff, d/d January 1323, proves that the ruler knew perfectly the history of his country - he recalled his «predecessor, King Mindaŭh, who was baptized into the Christian faith, but because of the blatant injustice and infinite treacherous ac­tions of the master of the Teutonic Order, he lost his faith, just like we did as a result of the same insults, and therefore today we are still adherents of our ancestors' beliefs.» He also reminded of Grand Duke Vicień who invited two missionaries, Franciscan monks, and built a church for them, but the Teutonic knights «sent their detachment through byroads and burned this church.» Hiedymin asserted that he was not an enemy of Catholicism and that he accepted Franciscan and Dominican monks in his country, having given them absolute freedom of worship and christening. Specially for them, he built two churches in his Capital Vilnia and restored the church burned by the crusaders in Navahradak. In the end of his message, the Grand Duke declared about his intention to be christened and, that is the most interesting, openly called the reasons, which brought him to such a decision. It is necessary to quote precisely this fragment of his letter because later there were disputes over its exact interpretation, «but now, my dear Pope, we are begging you to pay attention to our sad situation because we are ready, like other Christian monarchs, to follow you in everything and to accept the Catholic faith so that the aforementioned torturers, i.e. the master and his brethren, stop griping us.» This documentary witness is probably the most exact and sincere explanation of the adherence to Catholicism of not only Hiedymin, but all the Grand Dukes of Lithuania, who provided similar declarations. It also testifies that Hiedymin took into account the most near-term tactful, rather than strategic purposes. The ruler did not understand (and, most likely, could not understand then) the huge strategic importance of joining his country to the Western civilization.

Hiedymin's acknowledgment actually meant that the Teutonic Order succeeded in the implementation of its official mission - an invasive expansion of the Catholic faith. Another thing is that there existed an obvious contradiction between the official ideological doctrine of the Order and its concrete material interests in the Baltic region. According to the doctrine, the Orders knights had to stop at once all their military actions after a pagan ruler agreed to embrace Christianity. However, by that time, the Order had already lost its extraterritorial character and became a territorial organization - it had its own state - the main support, guarantee, and means of its existence. The state developed according to its own logic; in order to function normally and to survive in the hostile air, it was necessary, first of all, to keep increasing its territory. A concrete and vital task was to unite Prussia with Livonia by land, i.e. to occupy Samogitia. The obstacle was not only the Samogitians (at least, the majority of them), but also the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. Besides, the heads of the Order undoubtedly asked themselves the question - what shall they do when no pagans are left in the Baltic region? To abandon everything - this hard-won country, this debugged state, and to come to another place where there is a need to battle against the heathen, e.g. Tartars? (By the way, they did receive such an offer). To leave their castles, possessions, prosperity, and to start from scratch without any guarantees of success? The pragmatic state interests required the presence of pagans in the Baltic region in order to justify their own presence here and to keep receiving military and material aid from Europe (including through their monasteries in various countries in the West).

According to such a logic, when a Lithuanian ruler declares his readiness to accept Christianity, it is necessary to prove that in fact he palters, feigns, and is not inclined to carry out his pledge, and that the Christian missionaries who do not belong to the Teutonic Order, cannot have good conditions for their work in Lithuania. Hence it appears that Hiedymin's words about the crusaders' detachment that destructed a church in Lithuania, seem unplausible no longer.

Soon, the ruler sent his next letter (25 January 1323) to citizens of German cities, in which he informed them about his correspondence with the Pope, about his desire to be christened (Attention! - It is already a second letter about it), and about the positive answer of the Pope, and - the main thing - he invited to live in his country representatives of various social groups: priests, knights, armigeri, merchants, doctors, and artisans. He also listed separate specialties: smiths, wagoners, shoemakers, tanners, millers, bakers, shopkeepers, and other experts. Peasants were also invited; the ruler guaranteed them an allotment and tax exemption for ten years. Hiedymin appealed to the inhabitants of the German lands because they were close, therefore natives of Germany prevailed among colonists in Poland, Czechia, and Hungary (it spawned the term «colonization based on the German right»).

Having received no reply from Europe within four months (it is possible to say, taking into account then communication, that it was not a very long term), on 26 May 1323, Hiedymin sent a new letter to German cities, in which it is already possible to feel notes of irritation because of the absence of any reaction to his previous offers. Hiedymin reminded that he was the ruler in his land and that his word stood in force here. He also recalled that his ancestors «sent their ambassadors and missive letters to you, offered you to settle here, but none of you came, never a one extended thanks for this offer.» Still, the addressees should not be afraid - if the ancestors promised something, Hiedymin would give twice as much. The ruler repeated once again his invitation to come to his country to live for various people with their wives, children, and domestic animals, guaranteeing them protection and tax exemption.

The absence of any conspicuous transmigratory waves from the German lands to Lithuania may be explained by the fact that the colonization current had no time to reach Lithuania. During the times of Hiedymin, the demographic resources in Western Europe were already outspent. There were the first sings of a crisis there - poor harvests, famine, an increased death rate and, as a consequence, a demographic recession.

Even though there are no data that natives of Germany settled in Lithuania, modern researchers expressed an opinion that Hiedymin could not have started building a slew of castles in the Gothic style without European experts.

In his letters in Latin, Hiedymin titled himself «the King of the Lithuanians and Ruthenians» or «the King of the Lithuanians and many Ruthenians», as well as used the title «Prince of Semigallia». He had all grounds for that because already at the beginning of the 1320s his State included not only principalities of Paniamońnie and Aukštaitija, a part of Lietuva [today's Lithuanian Republic], but also newly-added Belarusan lands. The Lithuanian ruler extended his patronage to the tribes of Semigallians; Samogitia was in league with Lithuania, too.

Today we know that Hiedymin's messages were a part of a big diplomatic game aimed at enfeebling, or if possible - eliminating completely the military threat on the part of the Order's State. The Teutonic Order was perceived in Western Europe as a forward detachment of Western Christianity and civilization, which not only protected, but also spread it. As it was already said, Hiedymin understood that in order to achieve his purpose, he himself had to become a part of that civilization and, first of all, to embrace Christianity. Entering into correspondence with the Roman high priest and inviting colonists to his country, Hiedymin took coherent steps in the direction of Europe. With this end in view, he used the Western European enclaves in the Baltic region, which had their own bones to pick with the crusaders and suffered much from trade infringements due to constants wars against the crusaders. Par excellence, it concerned the townspeople of Riga, who were particularly interested in steady trade and who, therefore, longed for peace in the whole Baltic region. In reply to Hiedymin's letter, written on 2 October 1323, the Riga Magistracy raised this vitally important for the city question. The Ratmanns of Riga called Hiedymin «glorious governor, Ruler Hiedymin, by the grace of God, King of the Lithuanians and Ruthenians». In this letter, they say that they are ready to conclude peace with Hiedymin, «as it was during your brother and predecessor Vicień of cherished memory» (this is the already quoted documentary witness of the character of Hiedymins kinship with Vicień). The let­ter shows that the burghers of Riga were bothered by the aggressive policy of the Teutonic knights, who «contrary to a peace treaty, are not afraid to kill ruthlessly our citizens both in the very city and beyond its walls. Thus, we are not sure they shall not want one day to occupy our city and its people.» Therefore, the inhabitants of Riga do ask «His Grace» in case of the brethren-knights' attack to come necessarily to the aid of the city and not to sign any peace agreements with the knights without participation of the townsfolk of Riga.

In this letter, one interesting person - David of Hrodna - is mentioned. The inhabit­ants of Riga write that they have heard that David has become a Pskov Prince (probably, he stayed in Pskov for some time after the campaign of 1322), and they ask Hiedymin to help them build good relations with him. The character of relations between Hiedymin and David is described in the phrase, «... because he and you are particularly close friends.»

It is possible to secure the stability of peace only from the position of strength. The ancient Romans used to say, «Si vis pacem, para bellum» («If you want peace, prepare to war»). Hiedymin acted in the spirit of this Latin proverb, and a bright example of that was his large-scale building of castles on the western boundarics of the country. It was Hiedymin who began to construct the first in the country entirely stone castles - in Lida, Kreva, Miedniki, Troki (Trakai), Vilnia, and Koŭna (Kaunas). These mighty fortifications were built on the model of the Order's Gothic castles and, as it is thought, with the help of German masters. Together with the strengthened centers in Hrodna, Vaŭkavysk, Słonim, and Navahradak, new castles created a line of defense on the western border of the state - a forceful screen from the Order's attacks. It is possible to rightfully call it «Hiedymin's western shield». It is not incidentally that all of them were situated not on the very border, but a tad in the distance. When the crusaders' army crossed the frontier, the garrison had time to organize protection and to gather the local boyars and peasants inside the baileys.

Hiedymins diplomatic activity took efFect already in the same 1223. At the end of September, ambassadors of all basic political subjects of the Eastern Baltic region (except for the main one - the Prussian branch of the Teutonic Order) came to Vilnia. There were envoys of the city of Riga, of the Riga Archbishop and Riga Capitulum (General Chapter), of the bishops of Osel and Dorpat, representatives of the Franciscan and Dominican monastic orders, an assistant of the Danish King and, which is important, ambassadors «from the Master and all brethren from Livonia».

On 2 October 1323, all the ambassadors plenipotentiary and the Lithuanian ruler signed the so-called Vilnia Armistice, which proclaimed Lithuania's peace with «all Christians who send their ambassadors to us and who want to be in peace with us». This agreement was aimed at guaranteeing peaceful trade in the whole region - «all the paths by land and by water must be open and free for everybody so that they could go from them to us and from us to them without any barriers»; it also listed the lands it covered - «Aukštaitija and Samogitia, Pskov and all the Ruthenian lands that we possess; on the part of landowners - the Riga Bishopric and the city of Riga; on the part of the Master - the city of Memel, the Land of Courland, and everything that belonged to Livonia, the Master, and his brothers; on the part of the Bishop of Ösel - all his Bishopric and everything he possessed; on the part of the Bishop of Dorpat - all his Bishopric and everything he possessed, including the city of Dorpat; on the part of the King of Denmark - Harria, Vironia, and Alentaken, as well as everything he possessed». The armistice also stipulated the order of solving probable conflicts.

How can we estimate the results of this action? It could not become completely successful because, as we know, this peace was unprofitable for one of the main forces in the region - the Order's state in Prussia. A letter of its vassals, Prussian bishops, says that this peace treaty was the result of the Lithuanians' artfulness and hypocrisy. However, for some time, at least pro forma, the Prussian crusaders were obliged to stand by agreement. First, they formally participated in it because the peace was signed by representatives of one of the Order's branches - the Livonian knights. Second, the peace was supported by a united front of all Baltic diasporas of the West, and the crusaders did not want to be considered renegades in the eyes of Europe. During several years after the treaty was concluded, there were no data about large fights and campaigns in the Baltic region; it means the Vilnia Ar­mistice did work. It is considered to be the basic success of Hiedymins diplomacy.

In reality, however, there was no peace. The roads were full of predatory bands, there-fore commercial relations were actually broken. Hiedymin complained that the Livonian Order supported the gangs of highwaymen who attacked the border areas of Lithuania and plundered Połacak Region. The Grand Duke accused the knights of insulting his ambas­sadors despite their writs of protection.

Hiedymin tried to expand the incidence of the peace; in 1326, he sent a special embassy to Novgorod, which accepted it good-naturedly. A local chronographer informs, «... there arrived ambassadors from Lithuania... and concluded a peace treaty with the citizens of Novgorod and with Germans».

A doubtless failure of Hiedymin's diplomatic action was the absence of the Order's state in Prussia among those who signed the Vilnia Armistice. It meant he did not reach the overall objective for the sake of which he had made so many efforts. The following events, already in 1324, showed that Hiedymin was disappointed by the incomplete success of his diplomatic action and did not finish it. He refused to embrace Catholicism.

Chapter tree. A might-have-been Catholic

In medieval Europe, the question of faith was of basic ideological importance. The belief was a sign of people's belonging to this or that civilization - whether they were friends or enemies. At that time, the Christian world was marked by bellicosity and, together with the peaceful missionary outreach, it allowed violent means of its expansion; there were infinite religious wars.

Christianity started to come to Middle-Eastern Europe already in the developed Middle Ages. Besides the missionary activity and violent baptism during territorial expansions (a vivid example - the German wars against the Polabian Slavs), it was embraced as a result of a pohtical decision of the ruler of a pagan country. Croatia was forced to be christened by the Franks in the 8th century; Czechia was christened in the 9th century; Poland, Kyivan Ruthenia, and Hungary - in the 10th century.

A christening of a pagan country meant that it joined the western civiIization and that of its ruler - that he joined the number of European monarchs, i.e. became a subject of the international law. For the Lithuanian rulers, to accept Christianity in its Catholic version was an extremely important political problem because their country was an object of attacks of a strong military organization of Western Christianity - the Teutonic Order. Since Mindaŭh, practically each new ruler faced this problem and declared his promise to embrace Catholicism only to defend his country from the crusaders' attacks.

Hiedymin also declared his desire to be baptized in Catholicism (he said about it twice in the letters quoted above), and Pope John XXII began the corresponding preparations. He specially chose and sent his authorized legates in June of 1324 to the Baltic region. They had to do two important things - to carry out a christening ceremony of the Lithuanian ruler, i.e. to attach one more country to the Catholic world, and to reconcile the Order with the Lithuanians and Livonian Germans (first of all, the Archbishop of Riga and the city of Riga). The legates arrived in Riga in October of 1324 and started at once to perform their mission. First, they warned the Order against breaking the peace with Lithuania; then, they sent their ambassadors to Hiedymin in order to discuss the organization of his baptism.

An extremely interesting detailed report of the legates' ambassadors on their trip has preserved. Due to the importance of their mission, they described in details not only the events they took part in, but also Hiedymins own statements and the information they received during various conversations, even hints, as well as their impressions of their conversations with the Lithuanian rulers courtiers. Hiedymin invited them to his palace on the very day of their arrival and accepted the letters from the legates (as well as from the Riga Archbishop, two Livonian bishops, and the Riga Magistracy), but told them that they would have a conversation the next day, having explained that the ambassadors were tired after their trip and should have a rest at first. The next day, going to a morning mass, the legates' ambassadors held a conversation with Mikałaj (Nicholas), a Franciscan monk; they asked him about Hiedymins intention to be christened so that they could execute their mission to the best advantage. Despite all their efforts, they managed to receive from Mikałaj only one, but very important information - (Mikałaj's words testified that he belonged to the rulers council) «the King's intentions have changed in such a manner that he does not want to embrace the Christian faith». This news utterly amazed the ambassadors. Having waited till the mass was over, they rushed with inquiries to other Franciscans - brothers Heinrich and Berthold. They said, «the King did have good intentions, but unfortunately, under the influence of other, unexpectedly arisen circumstances, he entirely changed and rejected his initial desire.» The monks suspected it was Mikałaj who influenced Hiedymin to arrive at such a decision. Already during a whole year, they had not been invited to the ruler's council, and they believed it also was Mikałaj who had a hand in it. Their conversation was interrupted by the rulers envoy who invited the brothers Berthold and Heinrich to Hiedymin (Mikałaj had been invited earlier).

After breakfast, the legates' ambassadors received an invitation to an audience with the ruler and when they came, they «found him in the royal chamber together with his advisers, approximately 20 men, which was very unpleasant for us because we hoped to see him alone». For certain, the ambassadors did hope to have an influence over the ruler, to try to convince him during a private conversation, but happened to be during an official audi­ence, where they only had to wait for a declaration of the already made decision.

Nevertheless, having consulted between themselves, the ambassadors decided to act «and, in order to gain favor in his sight, they started to tell Hiedymin about the legates' arrival and about the process against the brethren of the Order, and about the return of captives and their goods after the peace was concluded, for which the ruler thanked them and was very happy». The ambassadors reminded Hiedymin of his letter to the Pope and described how the Pope «with an inexpressible pleasure» accepted this letter and ordered the next day to call cardinals in order to read them the letter; after that, he began to care- fully choose corresponding people who could execute the mission in Lithuania and could not find them at once. Still, after a while, the Pope sent his proxy legates who came to Riga. «They were sent in order to baptize you in Christianity, which you and your ancestors have been trying to do for a long time. They are eager to see you because they were sent here for the sake of your salvation and eminence of your kingdom.»

Having listened to the ambassadors, Hiedymin asked them whether they were aware of the contents of his letters, «which he had sent to the apostolic assistant, the archbishop, and the whole world». They answered that they did know about the Kings desire to accept the Christian faith and to be christened. Then, Hiedymin declared that he had not ordered to write anything of such a sort and that if it was brother Berthold who had written this, «then, let it fall on his head. And if I ever had such an intention, let Devil baptize me». After that, Hiedymin said, «Let the Christians praise the Lord in their own way, the Ruthenians - in their own way, and we shall praise the Lord in our own way, while God is the one for all of us.» The ruler ended his speech with philippics against Catholics, first of all - the crusaders, exposed their injustice, propensity for violence, cruelty, insatiability, and accused them of infringing the universal peace signed in the previous year. It was what the ruler was extremely interested in, and his people specially asked the ambassadors whether the peace treaty would be observed.

Besides, Hiedymin ordered to prosecute an inąuiry concerning the contents of his letters and to find out if there were his promises to accept Catholicism there. The monks-copyists confirmed that they had written only the words pronounced by the monarch. One of them, Franciscan Berthold, insisted he had exactly written down the words of the King, i.e. that he «would like to be a humble son and to join the fold of the Holy Mother-Church». Then, Hiedymins representative asked, «It means you recall that the King did not order you to write about christening?». All the present monks assured him that «to be a humble son» and «to join the fold of the Holy Mother-Church» meant nothing else but baptism.

The legates' envoys made their last hopeless attempt to change the situation. They asked Hiedymin of a private audience, but he was already busy with his negotiations with the Tartar ambassadors (an interesting detail about Lithuania's relationship with the steppe State), therefore he sent to this meeting his authorized people - members of the council. Having no choice, the ambassadors from Riga asked these people to assure their ruler that if he decided to be baptized, he would be highly honored in the same way all other Chris­tian kings were, and even more, that the papal legates had all powers to give the King twice as much than he would wish, and that he «will become such a great and powerful king and sovereign as nobody in the world».

Thus, having done all they could in order to convince the ruler, the ambassadors started to ask everybody they met about the reasons of such behavior of Hiedymin. They were told that the Order's knights ostensibly bribed some influential Samogitian noblemen, and they took against Hiedymin and began threatening that if Hiedymin got christened, they would capture him, his sons, and all his relatives, and would expel them from the country or kill them all with the help of the Teutonic knights. Allegedly, the Ruthenians also menaced the ruler. Therefore, he disowned his first decision and did not risk speaking any more about his christening in Catholicism. Franciscan monks also mentioned brother Mikałaj - he supposedly dissuaded the ruler from receiving baptism. When Hiedymin asked his advice in this business, Mikalaj assertedly answered, «You respect the Riga Archbishop as a father, but he cannot protect himself; for whole 12 years, he has been in Rome, solving his problems, and still, he cannot settle the matter. Thus, how can you be defended by him, the one who cannot help himself?!; meanwhile, the apostolic assistant is so far away that you will be entirely destroyed before he comes to help you. Weil, if you would like to walk this way, you had better prefer some mighty king, for example - the King of Hungary or Czechia. They will be able to protect you and preserve from harm.»

Also, the legates' ambassadors were told the words of a waiting-lady that ostensibly, at first, the ruler was grimly determined to embrace Catholicism and after his official refusal, during several nights, he groaned inwardly, «sobbed his heart out and, having stopped, started to cry again; they say he used to do it like this every night.»

If we put Hiedymin's feelings on one side (by the way, they might be figments of the mind of the woman or the monk who told the ambassadors about them), we can draw certain conclusions from the mentioned report. The main conclusion is that Hiedymin perceived his christening in Catholicism as a political act; he had no sudden divine afflatus - no cali to Christ, as some historians of the 19th century tried to ascribe to him, Undoubtedly, he felt disappointed in the actual failure of his diplomatic action. Even though the 1323 peace treaty, for the sake of which the ruler had made many efforts, was supported by the Pope, it did not lead to the expected peace and tranquility in the Baltic region.

The way the ruler managed to worm out of his promise, conveys interesting conclusions, too. By all appearances, he did promise to be baptized. Hiedymins behavior shows that he was a real monarch who cares about his credibility in the state and abroad. The monarch cannot just forget about his promises (history has preserved some interesting descriptions of how Hiedymins grandson Vitaŭt redeemed his promises); therefore, everything was made to prove that there was no promise at all.

The report of the legates' ambassadors contains a lot of important information for histo­rians. It shows evidently that the ruler was pagan (not an Orthodox Christian), that he was of Baltic origin (Lithuanian, Yotvingian, Samogitian, or some other) and was remarkable for his religious tolerance, which was characteristic of the inhabitants of historical Lithuania. Alongside the Grand Duke, there was the Rada (Council; later, it will turn into the state institution «Pany-Rada» [Council of Lords]), consisting of about 20 people, including, at least, one Catholic monk; its structure depended on the monarch's will. The mention of Hiedymins talks with the Tartars testifies that the Grand Duchy of Lithuania had diplo­matic contacts with the Golden Horde.

Hiedymin's unsuccessful christening is mentioned by Peter of Dusburg, who provided his own interpretation of it, adding some details. According to the Order's chronicler, the papal legates' envoys came from Lithuania back to Riga in the end of November 1324. Together with them, there was Hiedymin's ambassador who was officially ordered to inform the legates about Hiedymins answer concerning his acceptance of Catholicism. In the audience of the legates, the Lithuanian ambassador - «the man of a noble family... on behalf of his King, in the presence of the legates, a considerable number of prelates, and the other faithful, who were there, declared in a solemn voice that the King had never assented to any messages about his own and his subjects' christening, and never sent these messages to the Holy See; he never agreed that such messages were publicly read in the littoral cities and other regions of the kingdom. He added that the King made an oath to never accept other gods, besides those his ancestors believed in. The envoys confirmed his words. After the legates heard it, they returned to the apostolic capital with that answer.»

According to Dusburg, the peace agreement between Lithuania and the Baltic Germans was organized by the papal legates, not by Hiedymin. Having muddled the peace treaty and the Lithuanian rulers christening together, the chronicler accused Hiedymin of the breach of the peace in the Baltic region. Instead of caring about his own and his subjects' christen­ing, Hiedymin ostensibly «followed his predecessors and exerted every effort to destruct the faith and Christians.» It is impossible to believe the chronicler's statement that «after the peace treaty was concluded, the brethren and other Christians in Livonia, Prussia, and other neighboring countries, without hesitation, believed that there would be no more wars.» It is hard to trust it. It was not so easy for the knights to renounce their vital interests and to stop the Order's well-functioning military vehicle aimed at war. To be at war for the Christian faith was their main and only assignment, and Peter of Dusburg, as it is known, was a chronicler the Order. To underline guileful intentions of the Lithuanian ruler, he informs that when the legates' envoys were still in Hiedymins palace, the ruler sent his army to attack Livonia - «that was how he showed his promise to embrace Christianity.»

Like the previous rulers, Hiedymin saw and estimated only the closest political prospect, i.e. tangible benefits for himself and his country in case of his acceptance of Catholicism. A man of his time, he could not foresee all future consequences of such a step - joining the Western European civilization. Hiedymins behavior in religious affairs shows that he evaluated them mainly (if not exclusively) through the prism of political interests of his State. However, a man of his Ievel was also able to estimate the closest tactful advantages of the acceptance of Catholicism. The example of Poland was obvious - it was a Christian country, but an enemy of the Order. The Polish kings repeatedly began litigations against the crusaders, accusing the Teutonic knights of their groundless aggression. Even though the Poles used to fail in almost all these suits, but it constrained the knights' activity, at least for the period of litigations. Also, the Order's reputation was harmed by these trials when a Christian monarch reproved and announced the facts of aggressions against the Christian lands.

An additional problem was the situation of Lithuania - a border zone between two civilizations. Undoubtedly, Hiedymin took into account the contradictions between different branches of Christianity - Catholicism and Orthodoxy. The latter for a long time (since the 11th century) had been present in Lithuania, and Hiedymins state was joined by new Belarusan lands where Orthodox Christianity undoubtedly dominated.

Hiedymin understood the importance of the religious question and paid a lot of attention to it. It was Hiedymin who created the first Orthodox Lithuanian Metropolitanate with its capital in Navahradak (there is a version that it was created by Vicień). Not much is known about the Metropolitanate of Lithuania; the first mention concerns the presence of the Lithuanian Metropolitan at the synod in Constantinople in 1317. There is also information about his participation in the Constantinople synods in 1327 and 1329, which acts cali him Theophilus. However, it is not known if this person was that Metropolitan of Lithuania between 1317 and 1327. After Theophilus died ca. 1330, the Metropolitanate of Lithuania was liquidated as «in Lithuania, the number of Christians was small.» Since 1330, there had been no data about it for long time in sources. There was an opinion that it was easy for Hiedymin to make the Constantinople Patriarch agree to create this Met­ropolitanate because Hiedymin showed him the prospect of christening pagan Lithuania.

The ruler acted in a typical border zone situation, which sets the problem of choosing a civilization orientation, and in this case, Hiedymins political choice is evident - his own Metropolitanate. He aimed at bringing together the newly-added Orthodox iands within Lithuania and attracting new, first of all, Belarusan lands. It is not known what exact territory belonged to the Lithuanian Metropolitan. It is thought that it covered Navahradak Region, probably, a part of Aukśtaitija, and increased after the Belarusan lands joined the Grand Duchy of Lithuania.

Hiedymin, as he himself said during his conversation with the legates' envoys, considered it expedient to preserve his ancestors' faith. It was a usual thing in such a specific region as Paniamońnie. Here, even in its Slavic parts - Navahradak, Hrodna, and Vilnia Regions - Christianity had no such strong and old traditions as it did in the other Belaru­san lands. Orthodoxy came here almost a hundred years later (in the 2nd half - the end of the llth century) and was spread not violently, but peacefully - by missionaries. This coexistcnce of Christians and pagans led to a specific situation of religious tolerance, which was described by Hiedymin («everyone worships God in their own way»).

Today, it is still possible to meet some historians' opinions that pagan Lithuanians had a feeling of superiority over their Christian neighbors who were ostensibly conquered by them. However, there are no facts, which prove that heathendom was inculcated. On the contrary, the sources only notice that all the time there was a question of pagans acceptance of Christianity either in its Orthodox or Catholic form.

Hiedymin treated religious affairs purely pragmatically, from a political point of view. His State was considerably growing due to the Orthodox lands, which explains his special attention to this denomination. It is necessary to remember how easily Hiedymin's children embraced Orthodoxy when they came to reign the Belarusan and Ukrainian lands.

The ruler saw much less political prospects in Catholicism. It is interesting that the piece of advice given by the Franciscan monk Mikalaj to Hiedymin (not to hope for the Pope in the struggle against the Order, but to unite with a king of a neighboring country), was implemented already in the next year. Hiedymin signed an anti-crusaders military agreement with Polish King Władysław I Łokietek.

Chapter four. The first Lithuanianian-Polish union

From the earliest times, disintegrated Poland was a sitting duck for warriors from Lithuania, whose regular onslaughts on Małopolska and Wielkopolska (which is more than 300 kilometers of a journey) resulted in a good haul. Therefore, the closest to Lithuania Masovian princes searched for the peace and union with the dangerous neighbor and built dynastic-matrimonial connections with the Lithuanian Grand Dukes. Since the times of Trajden, it is even possible to say about a corresponding tradition. However, there was no unity among Masovian princes because almost every one of them was strong and dreamed to unite all Masoyia under his own power; everyone had their own foreign poIicy, often not coordinated with the others. In the 14th century, the Masovian lands, which territory was not very large, happened to be between three forces as if between three fires. Besides the strengthened Order's state and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, the Kingdom of Poland started to revive in the west. The Masovians had to maneuver and tried to remain, whenever possible, neutral, but more often they were compelled to choose a union - either voluntarily, or by force of circumstances. Thus, some Masovian principalities managed to survive for a rather long time, and the last of them was forced to become a part of the Kingdom of Poland only in 1526-1529.

The Lithuanians did not miss an opportunity to plunder the Masovian lands. As Masovia was not included in the list of the lands covered by the Vilnia Armistice, the Lithuanian army headed by David of Hrodna, attacked the Land of Płock in the end of November 1324 and made good execution. Peter of Dusburg, accusing Hiedymin of his infringements of the peace with Christians, describes in details how the Lithuanians despoiled and burned the city of Pułtusk, the residence of the Bishop of Pułtusk, as well as 130 villages of the same bishop and Płock Prince Ziemowit II (Siemowit), a lot of estates of the nobility and monasteries, 30 churches; they also killed or captured more than 4,000 people. The Lithuanians did not touch the possessions of Wacław Płocki as his wife was Hiedymirfs daughter. Also, in 1321 and 1323, Wacław Płocki allowed the Lithuanians, who led a military expedition against the Duchy of Dobrzyń, to cross his territory. Both times, the city of Dobrzyń was destroyed, and the Duchy was ruined.

After more than a century of a political disintegration, the Polish lands showed a tendency to reconstruct a centralized state. The end of the period of a feudal split in Poland had to do with the activity of Władysław I Łokietek crowned in 1320. Even though the revived Kingdom of Poland was rather small - it only included Małopolska, Wielkopolska, and the Land of Sieradz (which occupied a little bit more than 100,000 sq. km.), it was gradually gatherlng momentum and started to look narrowly at the new lands that Poland considered to be its own ones due to their Polish ethnic character or because they used to belong to the state of the Piast dynasty. First of all, the united Polish state got rid of its dependences on German emperors and then - the Popes' patronage. Still, there were payments - Peter's Репсе («denar świętego Piotra») paid by peasants and townspeople, as well as the tithe and annates [2] paid by the clergy. The Polish kings always tried (and often quite successfully) to keep at least a part of the Church incomes for themselves.

Most likely, Hiedymin gave ear to his adviser, monk Mikałaj, and decided to conclude an alliance with not the far and, therefore, not so useful Pope, but with the closest strong monarch. The best choice was the King of Poland - his territory was near and he was really interested to contain the crusaders. The peace was profitable for the King of Poland as it stopped the Lithuanian attacks, which the Poles could not repel - at least, there were no retaliations during several tens of years.

The Lithuanian ruler launched a new diplomatic action with his innate responsibility and thoroughness. First of all, he had a quiet, with no toing and froing, preparation - he contacted the Polish King and coordinated quickly the necessary details with him. However, in historiography, there were opinions that the initiator of the union was Władysław I Łokietek. As a matter of fact, it is not essential who started first, but right at that time Hiedymin was engaged in his famous diplomatic march on the West. The agreement with the Polish King could be a part of it. Łokietek also understood the problem of fighting against the Order alone, while there were many territories he wanted to return - most of all, Polish Pomerania (vanquished by the crusaders in 1308) with its large and rich city - Gdańsk. His hatred for the German crusaders-Christiana was stronger than his hostility towards the pagan monarch, all insults and losses from Lithuanian onslaughts. In order to compensate these insults so that they could not appear suddenly and complicate the allied relations, it was decided to fix the agreement with the help their childrens marriages (this tactic was already tested by Hiedymin). The marriage of Polish Prince Kazimierz (the future King Kazimierz Wielki [Casimir the Great]) and Lithuanian Princess Aldona (whose Christian name was Anna), Hiedymin's daughter, took place on 16 October 1325 in the capital Kraków. Chronicles inform that the bride's marriage portion became 20,000 of the Poles captured by the Lithuanians during their plundering inroads; now, they were brought back home and followed the Lithuanian Princess' marriage cortege.

Soon, already in the following year 1326, the Polish-Lithuanian union was tested for the first time. Łokietek decided to use Lithuanians in order to settle accounts with one more German enemy - the Margraviate of Brandenburg, which disturbed him and gradually cut lands from his states from the north-west. He preliminary signed an armistice with the Prussian crusaders so that, first, to protect the rear for the period of his absence and, second, to guarantee Lithuanians' free passage along the Order's border. Hiedymin sent to help the Poles his stalwart military leader and confidant David of Hrodna, who headed a squadron of 1,200 horsemen. The campaign was very successful. Having appeared un- expectedly in the vicinity of Frankfurt (Oder), the allies ruined completely its outskirts. The Germans, first of all - the Teutonic knights, described in details and trumpeted the Lithuanians' atrocities all across Europe, having accused the Polish King of his collusion with the pagans against the Christians (even though among the Lithuanians, there were Christians as well, e.g. their leader - Orthodox Prince David). According to chroniclers, the Lithuanians captured about 6,000 people and burned 140 villages and churches. On their way home, their leader was killed, according to Jan Długosz, the Polish historian of the 15th century, by knight Andrzej Gost - for the former offences David caused to the Masovians. The Order's chronicler Peter of Dusburg, a contemporary of this event (his chronicie comes to an end right in 1326), described it like this, «The army was joined by one Pole who was distressed for such a huge slaughter of Christians. He pretended to be a friend of the infidels. At the right time and place, in the presence of many people, he killed David, the castellan of Hrodna and the head of that military campaign, who, as it was said above, had wronged the faith and believers way too much.» The 1326 campaign had a wide resonance with political consequences in Europe. On the one hand, it gave Poland trouble because its union with the heathen against the Christians damaged the reputation of the Kingdom (even 100 years later, it was recalled during the Council of Constance). On the other hand, Łokietek received concrete material acquisitions - his state added the territory in the border zone of Wielkopolska, Pomerania, and Silesia.

The following joint campaign took place in 1327. Poland started to war against Masovia and the Order, and Łokietek insisted on Hiedymin's participation in it. However, Hiedymin had a peace treaty with the knights until the end of the year, confirmed by papal legates. Nevertheless, Hiedymin did not clude the allied duty - his army attacked the crusaders' ally - the Land of Wizna, one of the Masovian principalities, which signed a defensive alliance with the Order. Not accidentally, the Lithuanians attacked this very Land and not the other ally of the crusaders - the Principality of Płock - it was where Hiedymins daughter was a wife of Wacław Płocki. The land ruled by Wacław, was attacked by King Łokietek.

Two years later, when the crusaders organized a big march on Samogitia, the Polish King, probably in coordination with Hiedymin, attacked Prussia, and the Order's army was compelled to come back to protect their land. This action of the Poles had deplorable consequences for them. The joint army of the Order and Czechia occupied the Land of Dobrzyń, and Wacław Płocki had to plight his faith to the King of Czechia. Łokietek's state happened to be as if in the gripe of the two powerful forces - the Order and the Kingdom of Czechia.

In 1330, the Poles and Lithuanians launched again a joint campaign against the Order's state. Łokietek also had a group of Hungarian horsemen. However, when Hiedymin's warriors came to the agreed place, which was on the enemies' territory (near Brodnica in the Land of Chełmno), they did not find Łokietek and his army there. It turned out later that the Polish King did start a campaign, but absolutely in another direction. He planned to come to the appointed place later (it seems he thought that Hiedymin would be deterred by the crusaders for a while). Having found himself on the enemies' territory alone, without the ally, Hiedymin considered such behavior of Łokietek as a breach of the allied duties (it is possible to guess what strong words were said at the Poles who did not come to the meeting point). When the monarchs finally met, there, for certain, were a slew of strong words as well. Fuel to the fire was added by the commander of the Hungarian group, who declared that he would not fight against Christians in alliance with pagans. It all ended when Łokietek paid an indemnity for his infringement of the agreement (the King of the Lithuanians and Ruthenians did not allow anyone to laugh at him) and went home. The first in history Lithuanian-Polish union cracked.

Probably, for Hiedymin, a more rational decision would be to smother his anger and to take advantage of the presence of the Polish army so that to continue the campaign together and to inflict more damage on the crusaders. At first sight, he acted under the influence of his emotions. However, all activity of Hiedymin as a monarch contradicts such estimation. He became a great politician thanks to his ability to restrain and to abstract from emotions when he needed to make important decisions. The Grand Duke might know what he was doing then. Apparently, it is possible to agree with opinions of the historians who think that the real reason of the termination of the campaign was the position of the commander of the Hungarian group. Also, it was important that he lost his trust in the ally.

In 1331, there was the last joint action, more precisely - an attempt. Like before, there was an agreement about a simultaneous attack of the Poles and Lithuanians on the Order's territory from two sides. However, the Lithuanians failed to do so because the rivers were in unprecedentedly fuli spate. Having gained nothing in Prussia, on their way home, the Lithuanians allowed themselves to rob the Polish lands. After that, both sides did not want to continue their cooperation; there were joint actions no more - at least, sources say noth­ing about them.

Actually, the Lithuanian-Polish union broke up, but did not sink into oblivion. Even though, Poland and Lithuania will have an obstinate fight with each other for the Galizian-Volhynian heritagc, which will happen already after Łokietek and Hiedymin died, the ехреrience of the first union will not be futile. 250 years later, it will still be remembered. On the eve of the Lublin Union in 1569, the szlachta's publicists recalled it as «the first friendship and confederation of our ancestors during Łokietek and Hiedymin 250 years ago.»

After the unsuccessful campaign in 1331, the only link between the two countries until her death in 1339 was Hiedymins daughter - Polish Queen Anna, and till the year 1339, the Lithuanians had not attacked the lands of the Polish Kingdom. Hiedymin valued his daughter, and it let Polish historians call her «an ambassador of the Polish-Lithuanian rapprochement.»

In literatura, it is possible to meet different estimations of the first attempt of the Polish-Lithuanian interaction - from the most pessimistic to entirely positive ones. It is true that it brought the allies both benefits and losses; it seems it was Lithuania for whom it was more profitable. At least, Hiedymin, unlike Łokietek, lost neither any of his territories, nor his reputation in the eyes of Catholic Europe (it was far from being good anyway).

The Polish-Lithuanian military alliance concerned the heads of the Order's state. They assumed measures to avoid a similar situation in the future. During a meeting of monarchs of Middle-Eastern Europe in Visegrad in 1335, the Orders ambassadors demanded that the Poles should promise that they, as Christians, would not unite any more with the Lithuanians against the same Christians - the Order's brethren. The crusaders achieved it only a few years later, when the Polish-Lithuanian disagreement on the heritage of the Galizian-Volhynian state exacerbated. The treatise signed in Kalisz in 1343, resulted in a termination of Polish-Orders wars u p to the beginning of the 15th century, while the Grand Duchy of Lithuania remained once again alone in its struggle against its main enemy.

Chapter five. King of Lithuania and White Ruthenia

Hedymin's diplomatic talent manifested itself most vividly in the «eastern» foreign policy direction. Here, practically all his successes were reached with no use of weapons. Of course, it is impossible to attribute al! achievements exclusively to the ruler's diplomatic talent. His desire and ability to act by peaceful means were very important. The International situation was propitious. The Belarusan lands to the east and south of Lithuania were wedded to the idea of a union with it because of the threat on the part of the Golden Horde. The Tartars controlled Eastern, Northern, and Southern Ruthenia and would like to spread their influences to the westward.

Already during the first period of his rule, Hiedymin created the real bases to be called «the King of the Lithuanians and Ruthenians». It was his title outside Lithuania, e.g. the Magistracy of Riga and the Order's chronicler Peter of Dusburg used it. Except for actually Lithuania, which Hiedymin inherited together with all its internal problems and external enemies, his state gradually gathered all main historical areas of Belarus. In the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, it was these lands (Połacak, Viciebsk, Mahiloŭ, and Homiel Regions) that were called «Ruthenia».

The process of Ruthenia's entering the Belarusan-Lithuanian state was evolutionary, continuous, and natural, without obvious violence. Probably, it explains why we do not know the exact dates when these lands joined the GDL - everything happencd quietly, without arms, violence, captures, and murders. Therefore, then chronographers did not notice the very moment of the union, but only constated the result.

The Belarusan lands were close to Lithuania (which was half-Belarusan itself) and had maintained close relations with it for a long time. For at least several centuries, they were peaceful and often allied. There was a slow and imperceptible, but extremely important in the historical prospect, work - the process of Baltic-Slavic contacts, more specifically - natural Belarusanization of the Baltic tribes, including the Lithuanians.

Ruthenia's rapprochement with Lithuania was spurred by the threat of the Tartar's domination. The choice was predetermined: on the one hand - the foreigners, subjugators from the far steppes; on the other hand - the neighbor, close Lithuania. Even today, historians are surprised by the absence in sources of the exact information on almost all territorial acquisitions of Hiedymin - nobody knows when and how separate lands joined the Grand Duchy. Meanwhile, those were not just ordinary events - the state increased its territory quite considerably - the lands of Viciebsk and Połacak, Polesia (the land of Turau- Pinsk), Podlachia, and probably Mahiloŭ and Homiel Regions. Some historians think that Hiedymin subordinated a large piece of Ukrainę - the land of Kyiv; however, the majority of them say it happened during the times of his son Alhierd.

Also, for a long time, historians argue about the chronology and methods of Hiedymin's augment of his state. The situation with the Viciebsk Land is elear - Alhierd married а Viciebsk Princess, which peacefully connected this region to Lithuania (but with considerable autonomy). Approximately at the same time, the Połacak Land peacefully joined Lithuania, too. Back in the 12th century, Połacak lost its political unity and split into several independent principalities: Połacak, Viciebsk, Miensk, Drucak, Łahojsk, etc. In Belarusan literature, it is possible to find the data that Połacak entered the Grand Duchy of Lithuania in 1307, when Hierdzień, a brother of Vicień and Hiedymin, started to rule there, and that Połacak finally joined Lithuania ca. 1326, when another brother of Hiedymin, Vojin, became a Połacak Prince (at the end of Hiedymin's life, there was already his son Narymunt, christened as Hleb), However, it is necessary to use cautiously the terms «en­tered», «joined» as all documents kept testifying that Połacak was considerably independ­ent in its internal and international affairs. For example, the Lithuanian-Livoman agreement d/d 1 November 1338 was signed by not only the Grand Dulce, his sons, and boyars, but also the «Bishop of Połacak, the King of Połacak and the City of Połacak, the King of Viciebsk and the City of Viciebsk, all of whom kissed the cross during the ceremony.» Besides, Połacak could independcntly conclude with Livonia separate agreements, which concerned concrete affairs - conditions and rules of trading operations, in particular it concerned haggling, e.g. the treaty signed between 1338 and 1341, when Połacak Prince Hleb and Bishop Ryhor (Gregory) independently agreed with Riga.

The Lithuanian- Połacak relations were fixed as «allied» by sources already in the 12th cen­tury. Since the moment the Grand Duchy of Lithuania was created, Połacak had been in the sphere of its political influences (e.g. the Lithuanian princes in Połacak - Таŭcivił, Hierdzień). Lithuania acted as a defender of the Połacak rights from the Livonian Germans in Baltic trade. Therefore, the moment of a change of a status from dependence to a formal affiliation with the State was not noticed, and it caused no surprise or attention among the neighbors. Both Połacak and Viciebsk joined Lithuania as wide autonomy, which was expressed in writing in the form of the so-called «land privileges» - the first ones in the history of the state. We know these privileges due to the copies of the 16th century, because each new Grand Duke issued his written acknowledgement. It is thought that for the first time these privileges were written in the late 14th century, while the previous ones existed as a traditional oral oath.

With his adherence to diplomacy, Hiedymin strengthened and expanded the famous principle of the policy of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania in the newly-added lands - «not to destroy the old rules, not to introduce new rules». Since the times of Mindaŭh, there was a tradition of «good-natured» submission of the lands of Ruthenia with preservation of their considerable autonomy. Quite the opposite tradition was used by Moscow in Vladimir-Suzdal Ruthenia. The Mongolian method was applied there - to destroy everything and everybody that could maintain even theoretical resistance.

In the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, the age-long rights of inhabitants of Połacak and Viciebsk Regions were guaranteed. Even after the formal inclusion of these lands in the State structure by way of voivodeships, their autonomy was preserved. They had their own voivode and their own administration system, which differed form that in Lithuania. Appointing representatives of the central power, i.e. assistants and voivodes, the ruler had to consider the opinion of the citizens of Połacak and Viciebsk: «to give them the voivode according to the old rule and to their will; and if they do not like this voivode, then we have to give them another voivode whom they like». The inhabitants of Połacak and Viciebsk kept their monopoly on all posts of local management. The judicial power of the ruler's admin­istration was limited - «and the voivode of our Połacak cannot judge our citizens alone; he has to judge together with boyars and townspeople.» The important self-government institution remained the traditional vieča (veche, popular assembly), which solved such affairs as an election of the authorities, army duties, and different economic questions. It was natural that the first «ziemskija pryvileji» (land privileges) concerned Viciebsk and Połacak. These lands, first, had the oldest in Belarus and, therefore, the strongest traditions of their own statehood; second, they had been and remained large, rich, and influential centers of craft and trade, which controlled a considerable part of the Dźvina trade route. In peace treaties of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania with Novgorod and Pskovin the middle of the 15th century, there is not only the term «Litvin» (a Lithuanian), but also «Pałačanin» (a burgher of Połacak) and «Viciablanin» (a burgher of Viciebsk), i.e. the inhabitants of these cities were not entirely identified with Lithuania. The Połacak and Viciebsk Lands' dependence on Lithuania was limited to tax payments to the state treasury and military service.

The Land of Miensk joined the Grand Duchy of Lithuania by insensible degrees. The Novgorod annals mentioned a Miensk prince among the ambassadors of Lithuania in 1326. Then, Novgorod received Hiedymin's embassy, including the brother of Grand Duke Volin - Połacak Prince, Miensk Prince |Vasil, and Prince Chviedar Śviatasłavavić. Most likely, at the same time, Lithuania was joined by the insignificant Principalities of Łukoml and Drucak situated between Miensk and Połacak.

Polesia (the Land of Turaii and Pinsk) is the ancient territory of the tribal union of the Dryhavićy (Dregoviches). It joined Lithuania unobservably as well. Already in the late 12th - early 13th centuries, it split up into several independent principalities, which cent­ers were the city of Turau on the River Prypiać, Pinsk on the Pina, Słucak on the Słuć, and Klecak on the Lań. In the mid 13th century, these principalities became politically dependent on the Galizian-Volhynian state. Their old and friendly relations with the neighbor - Lithuania - were supported probably by their hope to get rid of this dependence. According to a Volhynian chronographer, local princes had always disliked the Galizian-Volhynian rulers. The brightest episode of Lithuanian-Pinsk relations in the 13th century was Pinskers' political and military support of Mindaŭh's son Vojŝałk in his struggle for the father's throne. A documentary affirmation of the fact that Polesia entered the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, the rulers domain, is Hiedymins testament, according to which his son Narymunt was appointed to rule the main Polesian city - Pinsk.

As compared with Połacak and Viciebsk, the legał status of the Land of Turau and Pinsk differed a tad. The Lithuanian influences were not less old here, but its own local forces were not so strong that to achieve a separate autonomy «pryvilej» (privilege). Therefore, the Polesian principalities joined the Grand Duchy gradually and invisibly for then historians, on the basis of the Lithuanian laws, and became a part of the Grand Duke's domain.

However, there is evidence that the traditional system of relations was not cardinally changed here and that the local laws and customs were still valued. For example, when Grand Duke Alaksandr Kazimiravić (Aleksander Jagiellończyk), who ruled in 1492-1506, started to distribute steads among boyars from Lithuania in Bieraście Region, local boyars sent him a complaint, saying that they had these plots of land from the earliest times. The ruler admitted the reasonableness of their complaint and restored the former order.

Hiedymin also attached Podlachia to the Grand Duchy of Lithuania; it was a boundary region at the junction of the Ukrainian, Belarusan, and Masovian ethnic groups. The Ukrainian (Volhynian) influences were the strongest here, and this land (its name designates its geographical position - «near Poland - «near Lach [Lechites]») used to belong to the Galizian-Volhynian state. Its main cities - Drohiczyn, Mielnik (both on the River Bug, the international trade route), Bielsk, and Brańsk were founded by the Eastern Slavs. As it often happened in the Middle Ages, the borders of the land were not stable and could change. Thus, in the 11th - 12th century, Podlachia included the city of Bieraście with its vicinities.

Historians define differently the time when Podlachia joined Lithuania - some of them say it happened during the last years of Hiedymins rule: 1336-1340, while the majority believes itwas in 1323-1324 and consider it to be a result ofthe agreement of Łokietek and Hiedymin, which, in its turn, became a prologue of the Polish-Lithuanian union in 1325.

The Land of Bieraście, which bordered historical Lithuania, maintained the closest re­lations with it. According to the well-known historian of Lithuania, Matvei K. Lyubavsky, the Land of Bieraście «was in crossover relations with Lithuania; it did not merge with it completely, but at the same time it was not separated from it like other lands.» The next important city of the land after Bieraście was Kobryn - already in the 13th century, it be­came the center of a separate land as a part of the Galizian-Volhynian state. The Principality of Kobryn joined Lithuania also invisibly, at least - for then historians. Documents of the 2nd half of the 14th century testify that it was Alhierd's possession. The Kobryn Principality was a part of Troki Voivodeship and kept its administrative independence till the mid 16th century. According to the then geographical understanding, Polesia was situated to the east of Kobryn.

Podlachia's western part was under the Polish, first of all - Masovian influences. From time to time, Masovian princes attached some of its territories to their principalities; there were Masovian colonists who used to bring their rules of law here. Therefore, Podlachia's western part had less communication with Lithuania.

The information we know, says that the Belarusan lands joined peacefully the Belarusan-Lithuanian state. Even the very fact of lack of exact data shows the absence of war and violence; after all, chronographers of the neighboring countries could not ignore wars and problems in Lithuania. For a long time (at least, since the 12th century), all these lands had old connections with Lithuania and were its «lifebelt» protected by the Lithuanians so that nobody could ever attack or plunder it.

It is interesting to compare the ways the Belarusan lands and Samogitia joined Lithu­ania. It is undoubted there was a link between Samogitia and the Grand Duchy of Lithu­ania, but the character of this link is not completely clear. Certainly, there existed some military cooperation. According to sources, the Lithuanian army actively participated in the Samogitian border's protection and launched joint or coordinated with the Samogitians military operations against the Order. It is known that Pukuvier ordered his sons Vicień and Hiedymin to rule separate castles in Samogitia - they organized their defense, thus receiving the valuable military experience in fights against the best army of Europe.

Hiedymin encouraged the Samogitians to struggle against the crusaders, sent his mili­tary help, and invited Samogitian warriors to participate in his campaigns. However, we known some cases when the ruler ignored the Samogitians' interests. For example, in the Lithuanian-Order's peace treaty of 1338, Samogitia was not included in the list of the lands covered by the peace; therefore, the crusaders kept plundering it. On the other hand, the Order did try to embroil Samogitia with Lithuania by offering a profitable union either only to the Lithuanians, or only to the Samogitians, and generously awarding fugitives from Samogitia. From time to time, Samogitians believed the crusaders and opposed Hiedymin. When it came to Hiedymin's christening, their representatives even threatened the Lithu­anian ruler. It leads to a conclusion that Samogitia was not a part Hiedymin's «Kingdom of Lithuania and Ruthenia». The important proof is that Hiedymin shared his state between his sons and never mentioned Samogitia. It may be said that there was a close union or it was under Hiedymin's suzerainty (as it was with Semigallia). This land was in the sphere of vital interests of the Order's state as a bridge to connect by land its Prussian and Livonian branches. The Samogitians fought for their independence and, when there was a choice, preferred Lithuania, even though some part of the local aristocracy was ready to unite with the Order in order to preserve their personal plots of land and public positions (as it was in Prussia). In the 14th century, Samogitia became an arena of a severe struggle between the Order, on the one side, and Samogitians with Lithuanians, on the other side. Being pressed by circumstances, the Lithuanian rulers repeatedly agreed to transfer Samogitia to the crusaders. It was over only in the following 15th century when, according to the Polish-Lithuanian-Order's Treaty of Melno in 1422, the Samogitian Land entered the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. It means that the Grand Duchy of Lithuania joined the lands, which new form today's Republic of Lietuva, one century later than the Belarusan ones. Contemporary enthusiasts, who would Ике to find out the ethnic character of historical Lithuania, should pay attention to this historie fact. Then, it will be easier to find the answer to the question, the Grand Duchy of Lithuania - was it a state of the Belarusans or the Lietuvans in the 14th century?

Hiedymin could rightfully use his title «The King of Lithuania and Ruthenia» (once again, we shall pay attention to the fact that there is no Samogitia in it) in Latin documents. The annals of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania (in scientific historiography, they are called «Belarusan-Lithuanian» ones), which were written in the 15th - 16th centuries, start to describe true historical events from the times of Hiedymin, even though there is a lot of legendary information about his personality.

Hiedymin transferred his capital to Vilnia, the old Crivitian city (appeared in the 11th-12th centuries) on the River Vilija (Wilia, Neris), a large tributary of the River Nioman. A legend from the Belarusan-Lithuanian annals wrongfully says that it was Hiedymin who founded the city. According to a tale, tired after a busy hunting day, the Grand Duke had a prophetic dream about an iron wolf howling as if hundreds of other wolves were inside it, on a top of the hill. When he asked a pagan priest for an explanation of the dream, he was told that he must build a castle on the top of that hill, near the River Vilnia, and a grand city around that hill, so that «the glory of this city shall echo throughout the world». In sober fact, in the 1st millennium B.C., on the site of Vilnia, there was a Baltic settlement. In the llth-13th centuries, this place was settled by Slavic colonists - Crivitians (Kryvićy, Kriviches) from Polacak, who turned this settlement into a city. Probably, the capital was transferred to the River Yilija because of a strategic reason - it was more convenient to administer the most important western veetor of the foreign policy from here. The affairs with the Order, both to the north (Livonia) and to the west (Prussia), constantly demanded an instant reaction, ftrst of all - a fast gathering of the army in case of threats.

Contemporary studies have shown that in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, the eastern part of modern Belarus - Połacak, Viciebsk, and Mahiloŭ Regions - were called Ruś (Ru­thenia). Historians have revealed it in documents of the 16th century, but the beginning of sueh a tradition doubtlessly dates back to the times of Hiedymin, when the mentioned areas were a part of the Belarusan-Lithuanian state. All the regions of the state in the 16th century (until the Union of Lublin) had their exact names: alongside Lithuania and Ruthenia, in documents, there are Paleśsie (Polesia), Padlaśśa (Podlachia), Źamojć (Samogitia), Valyń (Volhynia), Kijeŭśćyna (Kyiv Region), and Padolle (Podolia). They kept their own specificity of the administrative system. The state of Hiedymin included «Belarusan» Ruthenia. Also, the Orthodox inhabitants of other regions, including Lithuania and Podlachia, were called Ruthenians due to their faith. Therefore, Hiedymin had real grounds and all rights to be titled «the King of Lithuania and Ruthenia».

Preserving their wide autonomy and local traditions, the Belarusan lands were uniting around Lithuania both politically and economically. The Belarusan language became the official and Uterary language on the territory of the Grand Duchy. In the Lithuanian land itself, there still was a process of Baltic-Slavic, or exactly - Lietuvan-Belarusan contacts, which resulted in gradual Belarusanization (including - of peasants) of the northern part of Lietuva (Vilnia Region - Aukštaitija). It was since the times of Hiedymin that the so- called «Golden Age» of Belarus started - the fullest and most harmonious development of Belarusan culture, when it covered the whole public structure of the country - from peasants to the Grand Dukes. The Golden Age lasted for more than two centuries - until the Union of Lublin, and has never repeated again. However, it łaid the foundation of the national life, which has withstood despite all hardships, assimilations, physical destruction of its bearers. Thanks to this medieval Golden Age, today there still exists the Belarusan nation.

Chapter six. The straightened spring

The international situation and, the main thing, inner circumstance of the state of Hiedymin provided him with a rather wide field for his active foreign policy activity. In the main western direction, after several years of relative dormancy, everything again became as it had been before - there was a new war. Since 1328, the Order s army had one or even two campaigns against Lithuania and Samogitia every year. The basic objects of the Prussian crusaders' attacks were Hrodna and various regions in Samogitia. In 1328, the Order's army attacked Hrodna and two districts in Samogitia. It proceeded until Hiedymin's death. The Land of Połacak suffered from the Livonian knights (the campaigns in 1333 and 1334). In 1334, the Order's army even reached the Yicinities of Hiedymin's new capital - Vilnia.

The Lithuanians also launched regularly campaigns against the Prussian and Livonian knights, but their marches were less often. Besides the mentioned onslaughts within the framework of the Polish-Lithuanian union (1330, 1331), Hiedymin organized military campaigns in 1329,1336,1337, and 1338. As always, the ruler skillfully used his diplomacy. In 1338, he eliminated the Livonian Order from the game, having signed a peace treaty with it, which did not concern the Order's state in Prussia.

These affairs were very important, but not only they concerned Hiedymin. The strengthening of Poland and Lithuania, which included Podlachia, worsened Lithuanian-Masovian relations. The Masovian princes, who had their own views on Podlachia, changed their orientation on Poland and Lithuania and began their rapprochement with the Order. As a reply to the Polish-Lithuanian union (1325), in 1326, there was a military agreement of three MasoYian princes (including Hiedymin's son-in-law Wacław) with the Order about their mutual aid in case of attacks of the enemies. Naturally, they meant attacks of the Poles or Lithuanians. When it came to a war (in 1327), the Order acted in alliance with the Masovians, while Hiedymin militarily helped the Poles,

Later, the Masovian princes tried to be neutral, but sometimes they once again became friends with either Poland, or the Order. Their peaceful relations with Lithuania ended in 1336 when Hiedymin sent his army headed by his sons, among whom there were Alhierd and Kiejstut, to MasoYia. The campaign was successful. The Lithuanians captured a lot of people. However, in the following year, during another onslaught against Masovia, the Lithuanian army was defeated. The Masovians caught the enemies when they were trying to cross the River Narew, and killed many Lithuanian warriors, The next march on Masovia took place at the end of Hiedymin's rule in September 1340.

Relations with the Gahzian-Volhynian Principality, where the line of their own ruling dynasty broke, was an important issue for Lithuania. According to sources, the two last Galizian-Volhynian princes - Andriy and Lev Yuriyoviches - died before 1323. Seven years earlier, in 1316, feeling threats from both Poland and Lithuania, these princes restored their union with the Teutonic Order, which was not a real menace to Volhynia. The anti-Lithuanian orientation of this union was disguised in the text of the agreement. It was written that the Galizian-Volhynian princes would protect the Teutonic knights from the Tartars (which actually did not threaten the knights) and «from all other enemies». The Order's State was actively fighting against Lithuania - therefore, it is not hard to figure out who were those ««all other enemies»».

Bolesław, a son of the Yuriyoviches' sister Maria and Masovian Prince Trojden, became the last Galizian-Volhynian prince. As he was to rule Volhynia, Bolesław passed from Catholicism to Orthodoxy under the name of Yuriy (Jerzy). Therefore, in historiography, he has a hyphenated name Yuriy-Bolesław or Bolesław-Yuriy. In 1327, the new prince confirmed a continuation of friendly relations with the Order, but simultaneously he supported a rapprochement with the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. In 1331, Yuriy-Bolesław married Hiedymin's daughter christened under the name of Jaŭfimija (Eufemija, or Ofka, an abbreviated form in sources). Besides, Hiedymin created formal legał grounds for his successors' claims to the Galizian-Volhynian heritage by betrothing (the precise date is known) his son Lubart to a local princess. This combination reminds of that in Viciebsk where, unlike Volhynia, everything passed peacefully. As a later record in the Belarusan-Lithuanian annals informs, «Lubart was accepted by the Prince of Volodymyr to his daughter, to Yolodymyr-Volynskyi and Lutsk, and the whole Volhynian Land». It is not known whose daughter Lubart married - a daughter of one of the Yuriyoviches, or his niece - a daughter of Yuriy- Bolesław (in scientific literature, there were such versions). After Yuriy-Bolesław died in the same year Hiedymin did, Lubart laid a claim to the Galizian-Volhynian heritage and supported militarily his rights.

Even today. the problem of mutual relations of Hiedymin's state and the Land of Kyiv causes discussions among historians. Since the 16th century, the annalistic tradition says it was Hiedymin who submitted this Land, as well as the Galizian-Volhynian Principality, A scientific analysis of sources reveals a discrepancy of these data. It is precisely known that Volhynia kept its independence till 1340 - it was ruled by local princes. It is more difficult to clarify the situation with Kyiv due to the absence of information. Researchers' conclusions are often based on the analysis of one episode in 1331, which is known from annals, This year, Kyiv Metropolitan Theognostus consecrated Vasiliy (Basil) to be Archbishop of Novgorod. He was elected by the Novgorodian veche. His ordination had to happen in Volodymyr-Volynskyi, where the residence of the Metropolitan was at that time, and he went there together with some citizens of Novgorod. They travelled through Belarus. As annals say, Hiedymin stopped them and released them only when they promised to accept Hiedymin's son Narymunt as a prince of one of parts of their Land. In Volhynia, Vasiliy was canonically-elected, but his way back home was not easy. Right after the Novgorodians, ambassadors from Pskov and Hiedymin came to the Metropolitan and asked him to lay hands on Bishop Arseniy (Arsenius) for Pskov, separately of Novgorod. The Novgorodians objected to it because Pskov had depended on their diocese for a long time (therefore, they considered it to be Novgorod's possession). The Metropolitan listened to arguments of the Novgorodian delegation and refused to provide Pskov with a separate bishop, «Arseniy was humbled and left with his people.» Hiedymin, whose patronage was ignored, consid­ered himself offended, too. Being aware of that, Vasiliy decided to come back home not through the territory of Lithuania - «to run between Lithuania and Kyiv.» During this trip, the Novgorodians received the news from the Metropolitan, «the ruler of Lithuania has sent his 500 people to catch you.» Having passed Kyiv, Vasiliy approached Chernihiv and here «he was stopped by Feodor (Theodor), Duke of Kyiv, a Tartar tax collector (basqaq), and 50 men. The Novgorodians just stood; they did not want to ąuarrel. The Duke understood that it brought shame on him and left them, but did not escape from the divine scourge - his horses died.»

Kyivan Duke's participation in the pursuit of the Novgorodians who opposed Hiedymin, made some historians believe that Kyiv depended on Hiedymin's state. On the other hand, the presence of a basqaq in Kyiv can mean that Feodor obeyed the Tartars. There also was an opinion that Kyiv could depend on both Tartars and Lithuanians. Even though we have no real bases to say about Kyiv's submission to Hiedymin, it is impossible not to notice the presence of the mighty Lithuanian ruler's influences here. One of then documents mentions Hiedymins brother Feodor, who might be the Kyivan Duke (like Vojin was Prince of Połacak).

Some data allow us to say about Hiedymins essential political influences in Smolensk and Severia, which included smali cities-states: Novhorod-Siverskyi, Chernihiv, Bryansk, Kozelsk, Novosil and others. However, the character of their dependence on the Belarusan-Lithuanian state is not exactly found out. For example, the agreement with Riga of 1340 calls Prince of Smolensk an elder brother of Hiedymin.

Undoubtedly, Hiedymin should take into account the «Tartar factor». His state was gradually enlarging and reached the borders of the Ruthenian principalities, which de­pended on the Tartars. Despite periodic crises and internal troubles, in the 14th century the Golden Horde remained a powerful force, and all the neighboring monarchs reckoned with it. We have no detailed information about the Lithuanian-Tartar relations during the times of Hiedymin, but we know that they did exist. It is proved by rare, but vivid mentions in sources. We may recall that in 1324, during their visit, the papal legates informed about the presence of Tartar ambassadors in Hiedymin's palace, and that the ruler had negotiations with them. In their turn, Lithuanian ambassadors visited the Horde. It is possible to explain the absence of appreciable Lithuanian-Tartar conflicts by two reasons. First, Hiedymin attached to his country the Belarusan lands, which were neither formally, nor actually «under the Tartars». Neither Połacak and Viciebsk (unlike Novgorod), nor Turaŭ and Pinsk had ever paid taxes to the Tartars and ever sent their ambassadors to swear fealty to the Horde. By the way, this fact is a ground of one of versions of the origin of the name «Biełaja Ruś» (White Ruthenia, Belarus) - white means «free», free from the Tartars.

While Hiedymin acted in the Belarusan space, there were no collisions with the Tartars, concerning whom the Lithuanian ruler's behavior was usual - cautious and diplomatic; he preferred peace treaties to military attacks. The Khans of the Golden Horde would like to expand their territories, but the best times of their state remained in the past. Earlier or later, the Lithuanian-Tartar contradictions should lead to a serious conflict, but it will happen during the times of the rule of Hiedymin's son - Grand Duke Alhierd.

Nonetheless, Hiedymin's relationship with the Horde cannot be called idyllic because the Lithuanian ruler's influences covered the lands of the Grand Duchy of Vladimir, which was directly subordinated to the Golden Horde. Between the local princes, there was a severe struggle for the Khan's jarliq authorizing their rule, that is to say - for leadership in Northern-Eastern Ruthenia - future Russia. During the times of Hiedymin, the basic rivals in this struggle were the Principalities of Tver and Moscow. As it is known, Hiedymin built contacts with both by betrothing his daughters to Tver and Moscow princes. It turned out that the Moscow princes were more dexterous and successful in receiving the Tartar Khans' favor and in eliminating the competitors. Therefore, according to the usual logic of foreign policy, Hiedymin supported the weaker one - the Tver princes, and froze his relations with Moscow. In their turn, the authorities of Tver searched in Lithuania for support against Moscow. As a result, there appeared a Lithuanian-Tver union, which lasted for almost 150 years.

Tver was considerably weakened by the anti-Tartar revolt in 1327 (local Prince Alexander unsuccessfully tried to stop it), when the inhabitants of Tver killed the Tartar detachment together with the Khan's ambassador Cholkhan (Shevkal, Shchelkan), a cousin of Uzbeg Khan. The survived Tartars escaped through their ally Moscow. After that, Moscow Prince Ivan Danilovich (Kalita) went to the Khan to pay his compliments and to blacken Tver. It was the Moscow Prince who headed a retaliatory expedition of Ruthenian princes and Tartar squadrons, which awfully ruined the Land of Tver. At first, Tver Prince Alexander Mikhailovich fled to Novgorod, but when they did not accept him, - to Pskov. In 1329, Ivan Danilovich reached Pskov - he came there together with his army and that of other Ruthenian lands (including Novgorod). Frightened inhabitants of Pskov expelled Alexander from the city, and he was granted political asylum in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania by Hiedymin. Two years later, Alexander Mikhailovich came back to Pskov as Hiedymin made him a local prince here; he reigned for six years.

However, Alexander of Tver did not want to refuse his homeland. He reconciled with Uzbeg Khan - in 1337, he went to the Horde, officially repented before the Idian, who forgave him and graciously returned him his Principality of Tver. In his turn, the Khan was visited by Moscow Prince Ivan Kalita (in the winter of 1338/1339). After that, Uzbeg Khans attitude towards Alexander of Tver changed dramatically. The Khan called him to his quarters and after a while (as a result of the Moscow intrigues) ordered to kill him together with his son Feodor. Ivan Kalita, on the contrary, received from the Tartar suzerain new «favors». Historians have expressed an opinion that the tragic destiny of the Tver Princes was caused by their connections with Hiedymin, which were presented to the khan in the interpretation of Ivan Kalita. As a result, Ivan Danilovich became the first Moscow Prince who possessed the Grand Duchy of Vladimir till his death.

The Moscow Prince dilated his possessions and influence under the guise of an increase of the Tartars' lands. Another object of annexation was to be the neighboring Land of Smo­lensk. Local Prince Ivan Aleksandrovich chose morę tolerant Lithuania and recognized Hiedymin as his suzerain. It meant a state of war between the Horde and Lithuania. In the Winter of 1339/1340, the Tartar army launched a campaign against Smolensk. The Grand Duke of Moscow provided them with an additional Ruthenian army. The campaign was unsuccessful, and Ivan Kalita soon died (on 31 March 1340).

Since the beginning of Hiedymin's rule, the Republic of Pskov had good relations with him; it is proved by the military march of David of Hrodna to protect Pskov's interests in 1322. Besides, the Lithuanian ruler's patronage helped the citizens of Pskov in their Baltic trade, as well as in their independence of Novgorod. However, in some cases, e.g. when there was a military threat, Pskov preferred the Grand Duke of Moscow, but he was too far and still too weak, therefore the merchant republic used to come back to their policy of seeking Lithuania's patronage. In the described episode with an attempt to receive their own bishop independently of Novgorod, the Pskov embassy was accompanied and supported by Hiedymin's people.

The Lithuanian ruler built, even though not at once, peaceful relations with Novgorod. In 1324, his army reached the border zone with the Land of Novgorod, «on the River Lovat, the Lithuanians were discomfited by the Novgorodians». This defeat of the Lithuanians led to an armistice with Novgorod in 1326, which became a basis of Lithuanian-Noygorodian good-neighborliness for the following 150 years. The initiator was diplomat Hiedymin because it was his embassy that arrived in Novgorod to talk about it. The ambassadors defined the status of Novgorod's border regions, which obeyed Novgorod, but also had to pay the so-called «black kuna» tax to Lithuania. Thus, Lithuania became a guarantor of these Novgorodian territories' untouchability - they were remote from the center and therefore it was difficult to defend them. Besides, the Novgorodians accepted Hiedymin's son Narymunt as a prince to rule some districts of their Land. It happened in two years after the promise Hiedymin received from Novgorod Archbishop Vasiliy during his passage through Lithuania. It led to a conflict with the Moscow Prince who wanted to vanquish rich Novgorodian lands. The Novgorod annals say, «in 1333, Lithuanian Prince Narymunt, Grand Duke Hiedymin's son, was christened under the name of Hleb. He would like to visit Novgorod to pray in St. Sophia Cathedral; the Novgorodians sent Gregory and Alexander to him, who invited him; he came to Novgorod in October; he was accepted with honor, and he kissed the cross of Grand Novgorod; and he was given Ladoga, Oreshek, Korela and Korela Land, and Koporye, with the right to be inheritable». As a true diplomat, Hiedymin tried to neutralize the Moscow Prince - in the end of 1333, he organized a marriage of his daughter Aigusta (christened under the name of Anastasia) and Ivan Kalitas son Simeon. However, this marriage did not lead to good relations with Moscow (neither did the mar­riage of Hiedymins great-great-grandson Alaksandr and Moscow Princess Elena in the 15th century). For Hiedymin, who was brought up in the western school of diplomacy, a marriage of children meant, at least, a formal peace, but the Moscow relatives were not bothered by such ethic nuances.

In the following year 1334, the Novgorodians achieved reconciliation with Kalita, and Narymunt left the territory of Novgorod and went to Lithuania, but did not refuse his power completely - his assistants stayed in Novgorod's Volosts (traditional administrative subdivisions), which were still mentioned in Novgorodian sources in 1338 and 1347. Hiedymins answer to the Noygorod-Moscow rapprochement was his march on Novgorod's Torzhok Volost.

In such a situation, Ivan Danilovich (Kalita) had to support his authority and to demonstrate that he was a trustworthy ally - a guarantor of Novgorod's safety. For the first time in history, the Moscow Prince dared to militarily oppose the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. The objects of his attack became insignificant towns in the eastern part of the Land of Smolensk - Osechen, Ryasna, and some others. Even though they were situated not on the ter­ritory of Hiedymins state, contemporaries perceived them as Lithuanian, «... Prince sent them there, and they burned the Lithuanian towns Osechen and Ryasna, and many other towns». It was the first known from sources military conflict of Moscow and Lithuania, or more concrete - with the Principality of Smolensk, which depended on the GDL. It did not come to a direct meeting on the battlefieid. At that time, the enemies had different weight categories. Moscow was only starting to receiye the leading roles in the region (Northern-Eastern Ruthenia), while Lithuania was already becoming the strongest state in all Eastern Europe. Its territory was increasing fast. Hiedymin reaped the fruits of his predecessors' hard work. The Lithuanian spring started to straighten up.

Chapter seven. Hiedymin's testament

Hiedymin take heed in advance of his heritage, which he planned to leave to his children, whom he had a lot; according to various data - seven or eight sons and six daughters. There are different opinions concerning the sequence of their births. Here is one of detailed reconstructions:

1. NARYMUNT - born ca. 1300-1302;

2. ELIZABETH (wife of Wacław Płocki) - bom ca. 1301-1304;

3. VITAUT - born ca. 1302-1304;

4. ALHIERD - born ca. 1303-1305;

5. MARYJA (wife of Dmitry The Terrible Eyes, Grand Duke of Tver) - born ca. 1304-1307;

6. KARYJAT - born ca. 1305-1308;

7. JAUNUT - born ca. 1306-1309;

8. KIEJSTUT - born ca. 1308-1310;

9. ALDONA (wife of Połish King Kazimierz III) - born ca. 1311-1313;

10. LUBART - born ca. 1312-1315;

11. MANTYVID - born ca. 1313-1315;

12. Name unknown (Jaŭfimija?) (wife of Galizian-Volodymyr Prince Yuriy-Bolesław II) - born ca. 1314-1317;

13. Name unknown (Elena?) (wife of Kozelsk Prince Andrei) - born ca. 1315-1319;

14. AIGUSTA (Anastasia) (wife of Moscow Grand Duke Simeon The Proud) - born ca. 1316-1321;

It is also supposed that the mother of all his children could be Jeŭna. This approximate chronological reconstruction, like all other similar ones, is made on the basis of various data concerning the dates of the childrens marriages.

A great person usually has a goodly heritage. It is Hiedymin's testament that tells us about his many acquisitions (e.g. new territories attached to his state). It was written during the last years of his life, i.e. after 1338. The contents of the last will is known to us thanks to a very short paraphrase from later Belarusan-Lithuanian annals, «Father gave Mantyvid the towns of Karachey [3] and Słonim, Narymunt - Pinsk, Alhierd - Kreva; besides, the Prince of Viciebsk had no sons and accepted Ałhierd to his daughter in Viciebsk as a son-in-law; Jaŭnut became Grand Duke in Vilnia; Kiejstut - Troki, Karyjat - Navahradak, and Lubart was received by the Volodymyr Prince to his daughter in Volodymyr and Lutsk, and the whole Land of Volhynia.» This short, but extremely valuable record shows that the ruler divided between his sons the main possession, the core of the state - Lithuania, and the closest Principality of Pinsk, which was connected much with it.

In this Lithuania, which is called Lithuania Proper in historiography in order to distinguish it from the general name of the state, Hiedymin's five sons - Jaŭnut, Alhierd, Kiejstut, Mantyvid, and Karyjat - received their lands. The annals also mention the Lands of Viciebsk and Volhynia. We know that Viciebsk, like Połacak, kept its considerable autonomy during the following times. It is additionally proved by the testament. Hiedymin could not treat the Lands of Połacak and Viciebsk the same free way he treated his patrimonial possessions in Lithuania. Alhierd became a Viciebsk prince not because of his father's will, but according to the decision of the local authorities. In order to provide his son with a stronger position, the father gave him an important territory in Lithuania. The same is with Narymunt, who was accepted as a prince of a number of Novgorod's Yolosts, - he received from his father a more guaranteed possession - the Principality of Pinsk.

Lubart was not given any possession in Lithuania; probably, the father knew about his certain position in Volhynia. As a Lithuanian chronographer wrote this much later, somewhere in the late 15th century, he might already know the result of Lubart's claims to the Galizian-Volhynian heritage.

There are no doubts that Hiedymin attached Podlachia to the state; historians only discuss the exact date of this event. In the 13th century, this land belonged to the Volhynian princes. However, as Matvei Lyubavsky wrote, «it was politically united and self-contained, with its own interests and ambitions, with its main city of Bieraście. At first, it kept its political unity after it joined Lithuania during Grand Duke Hiedymin». We see Hiedymins desire to preserve local traditions here as well. When Alhierd and Kiejstut, after their father's death, started to rule the state, Kiejstut received Podlachia and the Principality of Hrodna. The absence of the Hrodna Land in the testament can be explained by the fact that already since the 13th century it had been administratively connected with Troki, and consequently it became Kiejstut's possession together with Troki.

Hiedymin gave Samogitia to none of his sons; this land was not mentioned in the last will at all Relations of Samogitia and Lithuania did not develop easily, though two nuances seem to be undeniable here. First, there was an old Lithuanian-Samogitian rapprochement because of the joint battle against the Order; second, Samogitia was not a part of Hiedymin's state.

The same thing was with Semigallia. In documents, Hiedymin was titled as the Prince of the Semigallians; he took up the cudgels for them before the Pope, accusing the crusaders of plundering their land. As it is known, Lithuanian-Semigallian friendly relations date back to the beginning of the 13th century, to the times of Grand Duke Trajden. Like in Samogitia, the old tradition of cooperation was formed because of the joint struggle against the Order's knights, in this case - the Livonian ones.

The rulers last will shows us the territorial breadth and internal arrangement of Hiedymins state. Hiedymin left his children a state, which territory was much larger than that received from his brother Vicień. Its core was still Lithuania - Upper and Middle Paniamońnie, the area with the Belarusan cities of Navahradak, Hrodna, Stonim, Vaijkavysk, and Vilnia, and a mixed Belarusan-Lietuvan rural population in villages. In the northern parts of Lithuania, there lived the Baltic, mainly Lietuvan population, which was pagan and had no cities; in the southern parts - the Belarusans with already strong Chris­tian traditions and developed cities. Between the two ethnic groups, there was no precise border, but a wide contact zone, where the local Baltic tribes were gradually Belarusanized.

This Lithuania Proper was the initial Grand Duchy of Lithuania, which was struggled for, protected, and inherited by Hiedymin's predecessors. During his rule, Lithuania attached new lands, first of all - those, which were the closest to its borders. No lands were joined only in the Prussian and Livonian directions. There was a war there, during which Lithuania had to defend itself so that to lose neither its territories, nor the allies' lands.

Hiedymin united in one state for the first time almost all historical areas of Belarus (except for Smolensk) and made the Ukrainian and Ruthenian lands politically dependent on Lithuania. The influences of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania were spreading across Eastern Europe like rings in the water.

On the basis this testament, it is possible to draw conclusions about the principle of the delegation of powers in Lithuania. Hiedymins last will shows that his state was quite typical for the Middle Ages and was a patrimonial monarchy. According to the then right, it was considered to be the ruler's property. He demised it to his children and divided it between them according to his own decision. Also, the supreme authority was passed not according to the right of primogeniture, but the Grand Duke's will. Hiedymin left his throne in Vilnia not to his eldest son Narymunt, but Jaunut, whom he preferred most of all for some reason. This decision was the first display of the tradition of passing the supreme authority in Lithuania, which was continued during Alhierd and Kiejstut. It also testifies about the extremely strong position of the central power embodied in the Grand Duke.

In order not to create any grounds for a political rivalry between the elder and younger representatives of the family, Hiedymin left no plots of lands in Lithuania to his brothers - Polacak Prince Vojin and Feodor (probably, the Prince of Kyiv).

Historians have not ńgured out yet why Hiedymin divided his country this very way First of all, the situation with Jaunut is not elear - why he left him as the Grand Duke, but reduced his personal possession, i.e. made him weaker than Alhierd and Kiejstut, who received Troki and Kreva, which are situated near Vilnia. Alhierd also had the Land of Viciebsk, and Kiejstut - the Land of Hrodna and, as it is thought, Podlachia. The first possible interpretation of researchers is simple - Jaunut was a fair-haired boy of Hiedymin,

However, Hiedymin's life and activity proved that he was a rather reasonable and foreseeing politician and would not be guided only by his feelings. The famous Polish historian Henryk Paszkewicz has come to the following conclusion - in this case, Hiedymin, as always, thought over his decision quite well. The man in Vilnia should have become a regula­tor of mutual relations between the brothers, while the two strongest princes (Alhierd and Kiejstut) should have covered and protected the two most important directions of the GDL foreign policy - the West and the East. Each of the sons had a precisely determined enemy on the border, each should have taken care of his own direction: Alhierd - Northern and Eastern Ruthenia; Kiejstut - Masovia and the Order's state in Prussia; Jaŭnut - Livonia; Karyjat - the southern-eastern direction; Narymunt - the southern direction (Tartars); Lubart - Poland; and only Mantyvid was not present in this scheme.

Hiedymin hoped his descendants would live in rapport, remember his authority, and respect his last will. It is possible imagine how the great Lithuanian is sitting in the palace of his castle in Vilnia, being surrounded by his sons and advisers, and solves the affairs of the state. His movements are not hasty, quiet, and majestic. He does not speak fast, but significantly; each of his words is important and listened to. The ruler is not used to being disobeyed; while he is alive, there cannot be even a hint of any conflict or disagreement between his sons. Another thing is when they became independent politicians - heads of their territories. Unfortunately, a complete mutual understanding is a rare thing in politics. The great ruler's hope for peace in his family after his death was futile. Jaŭnut occupied the main throne of the country not for a long time.

Such a political blunder as his division of the state between his sons is quite bizarre, It would be more rational to give all power to one son and to leave only insignificant possessions for the rest so that they could keep the prestigious status of the Hiedyminian dy­nasty. It is undoubted that during the father's life the children lived and acted jointly like a really united family. Did Hiedymin really believe that it would be like this after his death? Or he could not just admit political degradation of his sons brought up as statesmen who ruled considerable areas?

The conflict between what has to be done and his fatherly love might be the greatest contradiction in the life of the great ruler, and he solved it like a father, and it was his mistake. Having split the country into big principalities, which kept their autonomy, he created the bases for its disintegration. Alhierd with Kiejstut starte d to rectify his error, trying to centralize the state, e.g. they divided between themselves the lands of Mantyvid and Karyjat after their death. Still, it was his grandson Vitaŭt who liquidated the consequences of this blunder.


Hiedymin enlarged the initial state borders, in which it was constrained under the pressure of external forces, and laid the foundation of a fast growth of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania in the geographical and political space of medieval Europe. He was successful thanks to the fact that he lived and acted in the corresponding times and circumstances, reaped the fruits of his ancestors' work, and solved the really vital problems of the country. Their implementation was marked by Hiedymin's own individuality and originality. First of all, the ruler valued quiet, peaceful, not always visible work, but not resonant, glorious, and blusterous wars. He cared not about his own glory, but the welfare of the country. He had enough intuition and intelligence to understand that the national strength is reached due to its weal, which is created primarily by peaceful creative work, not by rapacious military campaigns.

Peacefully and invisibly even for his contemporaries, Hiedymin united for the first time all ancient historical areas of Belarus in one state. It was this union that spurred the process of forming the modern Belarusan nation and provided his historical success. The union of the two main parts of Belarus - Lithuania (Navahradak, Hrodna, and Vilnia Regions) and Ruthenia (Polacak, Viciebsk, Mahiloŭ, and Homiel Regions) - was reflected in the ruler's title, which was fixed in international acts - «the King of Lithuania and Ruthenia».

Hiedymin was a great diplomat. He was provident, patient, and steady on his way to the purpose. It is possible to recall his excellently prepared Vilnia Armistice in 1323 and the surprise of his enemies who had to sign it contrary to their will.

At last, the great ruler showed himself as a strong man who established one of the most renowned dynasties in Europe. The Hiedymins not only for more than two centuries had been the Grand Dukes of Lithuania, but also ruled in Poland, Hungary, and Czechia. Even in hostile Moscow, princes from the family of Hiedymin were thought to be higher than the Riurikids.

The preserved documentary witnesses show that Hiedymin behaved as a real European monarch. He cared about his country, had enormous power, could rule the state according to his own understanding, and did not ask anybody's advice. There was a council, which had no permanent institutional structure and was formed by Hiedymin of his own volition. His treasury was rich; it is only possible to imagine how much it cost to build castles on the western border. His state did not depend on anybody, even formally - not on the Golden Horde, not on Moscow, not on the German Emperor or Pope (like Poland or Czechia), not on the Byzantine Empire. Except for the Teutonic Order, there were no neighbors Hiedymin had to be wary of. New territorial acquisitions only added him forces and authority, which attracted new ones like a chain reaction. Hiedymin succeeded almost in everything and might think that after his death all would be as he decided. However, new times and circumstance came, and they dictated new solutions.


Gedimino laiśkai. Yilnius, 1966.

Nikžentaitis A. Gediminas. Vilnius, 1989.

Paszkiewicz H. Jagiellonowie a Moskwa. T. 1.: Litwa a Moskwa w 13-14 w. Warszawa, 1933.

Piotr z Dusburga. Kronika ziemi Pruskiej, Toruń 2004.

[1] Lithuania [Litva] is a historical land; the name of the central area of the Grand Duchy of Lithu­ania, which included Navahradak [Navahrudak], Hrodna, and Vilnia [Vilnius] Regions, as well as western parts of Miensk [Mińsk] Region. This term was also used as a short name of the whole state after some other historical parts (Ruthenia, Podlachia, Polesia, Samogitia, Volhynia, Kyiv Region, and Podolia) were added.

[2] Annates were the whole of the first year's profitits of a benefice, which were generally given to the papal treasury.

[3] According to other sources, Mantyvid was given not Karachev (a town in Bryansk Region of today's Russia), but Kiernaŭ (Kernave). It seems таге logical, because it was the Lithuanian territories that were divided, but not the annexed lands.

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