1386-1569 - Dynastic Connection with Poland

King Louis of Poland and Hungary had died in 1382, leaving behind two daughters. The Polish nobility had the younger daughter, Jadwiga - at that time merely 10 years old - divorced from Wilhelm von Habsburg; they offered her in marriage to Duke JOGAILA (widely known under the Polish spelling of his name, JAGIELLO) of Lithuania, if the hitherto pagan Lithuanians would convert to Catholicism and if Lithuania would cede PODOLIA to Poland. Jagiello fulfilled both conditions; the marriage was held in 1386, beginning the Jagiellonian Dynasty in Poland. Jagiello ruled in Poland until 1434; Lithuania in 1392-1430 was ruled by Duke VYTAUTAS THE GREAT .
In 1388 the DIOCESIS OF VILNIUS was founded; another diocesis was established in SAMOGITIA in 1417.

The Grand Duchy, although closely allied with Poland, remained a separate political entity. The Grand Duchy included Lithuanian (now Catholic) heartland in the north, and large stretches of areas inhabited by RUTHENIANS (Belorussians, Ukrainians) of Orthodox confession. At the SYNOD OF NOVOHRODEK (1415) the Orthodox church of the Grand Duchy declared itself independent. Head of the Grand Duchy's Orthodox church was the METROPOLITAN OF KIEV, residing in Novohrodek.
The Lithuanian nobles elected their dukes. Although Poland and Lithuania often were ruled in PERSONAL UNION (i.e. the King of Poland also was Grand Duke of Lithuania), Lithuania kept separate political institutions - an administration, assembly, army.
In 1569 Lithuania and Poland signed the UNION OF LUBLIN, merging both states (a union Lithuania's higher nobility objected to; the lower nobility was interested in taking up the Polish offer, and the King-Duke pressed for it). From 1569 onward there was only one king-duke in the country, Poland and Lithuania had a common diet, a common currency. Lithuania, though, retained a separate administration and army. In effect, Lithuania had lost its independence, being turned into an annex of the Polish kingdom.

List of Lithuanian Grand Dukes (left) and Polish Kings (right), 1386-1569

Polish Kings are only listed if identical with Grand Dukes

Lithuanian spelling

Vytautas the Great
Zygimantas Kestutaitis
Kazimieras Jogailaitis
Zygimantas Senasis
Zygimantas Augustas


common spelling


Casimir IV. Andreas
Sigismund the Old
Sigismund Augustus

Links to Lithuanian history from SRC
History of Lithuania, from Scantours
History of Lithuania, from Ramunas' Personal Pages
Chronology of Catholic Dioceses - :Lithuania, from Den Katolske Kirke i Norge
Articles Lithuania, Lublin (on Union of Lublin), from Catholic Encyclopedia 1912 edition
DOCUMENTS Map featuring the Grand Duchy of Lithuania in the 14th and 15th Century, from Virtual Guide to Belarus, in Russian
Map featuring Lithuanian expansion 1263-1430, from Bucknell Univ.
Lithuanian Grand Dukes etc., from World Rulers by Ben Cahoon; better list from Information about Lithuania
Statute of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, 1529, from Belarus Guide
Images of Lithuanian Grand Dukes : Casimir Andreas, Alexander, Sigismund the Old, Sigismund August, from Gallery of Polish Kings, features portraits by J. Matejko (later 19th Century)
Map : The Baltic Lands, c. 1400, The Baltic Lands, c. 1478, The Baltic Lands, 1563, from Freeman's Historical Geography 1903, posted by Perry Castaneda Library
Silver coin issued under Aleksandras, from Jim's Medieval Coins
Historical Documents of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, from National Library of Lithuania, collection of Parchments
REFERENCE Manfred Hellmann, Grundzüge der Geschichte Litauens (Main Features of Lithuania's History), Darmstadt : Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft 1976 (in German)

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted in 2000, last revised on November 11th 2004

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