Late Antiquity and Early Middle Ages (50-1009)
C. 62 the Romans started amber trade with the inhabitants of the Baltic Seacoast near the mouth of the Vistula River. The expedition led by Julius brought a lot of amber for decorations of the gladiatorial competitions, organised by the Emperor Nero (54-68).
In the 1st century the Goths settled near the mouth of the Vistula River. Their contact with Balts is reflected in the ethnonym gudas, which is until now used in the Lithuanian language, though applied to the Belarusians.
C. 98 Publius Cornelius Tacitus described the Aistians (the Balts) for the first time. He noted a high level of the Aistian agriculture and gathering of amber, which they were selling to the Romans.
C. 150 Claudius Ptolemy made the first effort to draw the map of the Baltic region. He mentioned some of the Baltic tribes - the Sudavians, Galindians, and, most likely, Curonians and Selonians - for the first time.
In the 3-5th centuries the Selonian River (Cap. fl. Selliani; probably the modern Daugava) was shown on the Peutinger Map (Tabula Peutingeriana).
C. 350-376 Hermanaric (Ermanarich), the King of the Ostrogoths (350-376), organised a military raid against the Aistians (probably, the Sembians and Curonians), according to the Gothic epos, reflected by Jordan (551) and Saxo Grammaticus (1218).
In 376 the Huns crushed the Goths. King Hermanaric perished.
In 454 the Goths and Gepids crushed the Huns at the battle of the River Nedao.
In 476 the Western Roman Empire was officially abolished by a German general named Odoacer, who became a King of Italy.
In 493 Theodoric, the King of the Ostrogoths (475-526), seized the power in Italy.
C. 523-526 Cassiodorus in the name of the King Theodoric wrote a letter to the Aistians. He thanked the Aistians for the amber sent to the King.
C. 551 the Aistians were described as peaceful people living on the Baltic Seacoast in The Origin and Deeds of the Goths by Gothic historian Jordan.
C. 833-836 the Aistians were mentioned in The Life of Charlemagne by Einhardt.
C 840 legendary Viking leader Ragnar Lodbrok organised a raid on the Sembians and the Curonians according to Saxo Grammaticus.
In 853 the Danes attacked the Curonians (Cori) that "had in former time been in subjection to the Swedes, but had a long while since rebelled and refused to be in subjection". After the defeat of the Danes by the united army of 5 Curonian lands, the Swedish King Olaf organised a successful attack on the Curonians, captured Seeburg (Grobiņa), and forced Apuolė to pay ransom for it (Skuodas region, Lithuania ). Apuolė thus became the first place of Lithuania, mentioned in written sources (Life of Anskar by Rimbert).
In 857 Danish Viking Roric took control over a part of Jutland. According to Saxo Grammaticus, at the beginning of his reign in Denmark Roric defeated the Swedes, the Curonians and the Western Slavs in a sea battle.
C. 860 the Swedish King of Uppsala Eirik Eymundson "went out every summer on expeditions to different countries, and conquered for himself Finland, Kirjalaland, Curonia, Estonia, and the eastern countries all around" according to Saga of Olaf Haraldson in Heimskringla.
In 862 Roric (Rurik) was invited to rule in Novgorod. His successor Oleg conquered Kiev in 882 thus laying the foundations for the Kievan Ruthenia.
C. 870 the name of the Prussians was mentioned for the first time by the so-called "Bavarian Geographer".
C. 890-893 Anglo-Saxon voyager Wulfstan described the Aistians, living Eastwards from the mouth of the Vistula River, and their trade centre Truso. He noted that their country was large, they had a lot of castles and a king in each castle. There were a lot of quarrels among these kings. He also gave an extensive description of the funerary rites of the Aistians and the division of the wealth of the deceased through a competition of riders.
C. 935 Norwegian Vikings Egil and Thorolv were looting in Curonian lands. Egil was captured by the Curonians, but liberated himself and 3 Danish Vikings, killing the Curonians, who had captured them, and burning down the place of their imprisonment.
C. 965 Arabian traveller Ibrahim Ibn Jakub wrote that the Prussians, living near the sea, were famous for their courage. They had their own language and didn't speak the languages of their neighbours.
C. 970 Norwegian Earl Hacon attacked the Curonians and the Sembians supported by the King of Denmark.
At the end of the 10th century King Erik Segersall of Sweden is said to have subdued Estonia, Livonia, Curonia and Finland.
In 983 Vladimir, the Grand duke of Kiev attacked the Yatvingians.
On April 23, 997, St. Wojciech-Adalbert, a missionary sent to Prussia by the Polish King Boleslaw the Brave, was killed by the Prussians.
High Middle Ages
Part 1 (1009-1183)
On February 14, 1009 the name of Lithuania was first mentioned in connection with the murder of a missionary, St. Bruno, at the border of Lithuania and Ruthenia.
In 1038 Meclaw, the Duke of Masovia, went into battle with Polish Duke Casimir the Restorer. His allies were the Yatvingians and the Lithuanians. Yaroslav, the Grand duke of Kiev, offered his aid to Casimir the Restorer, and attacked Yatvingia.
In 1040 and 1044 Yaroslav attacked Lithuania in his campaign against Meclaw and his allies. Lithuania became a tributary to Ruthenia and was paying tribute to the dukes of Polotsk.
In 1047 Meclaw of Masovia was completely defeated by Yaroslav.
In 1060 Hakon became King Svein's of Denmark commander of the coast defence against the Vikings, - the Vindlanders, the Curonians, and others from the East countries, - who infested the Danish dominions.
In 1075 Adam of Bremen described the Curonians (a tribe in the present-day western Lithuania) as "the most cruel tribe". He also noted that they were becoming widely renowned for their prophets, who were able to foretell the future.
In 1080 Canute IV, the King of Denmark, attacked and defeated the Curonians, the Sembians and the Estonians.
In 1128 Mstislav, the Grand Duke of Kiev, organised the invasion to Polotsk, banished two dukes of Polotsk, Borisoviches, to Byzantium and took Polotsk under his direct rule.
In 1131 Mstislav of Kiev invaded Lithuania, devastated it and took numerous prisoners. When the army was retreating, the Lithuanians beat the Kiev division, which had lagged behind.
In 1140 the banished Dukes of Polotsk Borisoviches returned from their exile.
In 1151-1167 the Borisoviches were fighting with the Gleboviches for power in Polotsk. The Lithuanians also became involved in this fight.
In 1159 Polotsk Duke Rogvolod Borisovich forced Rostislav Glebovich to make peace, but Volodar Glebovich "did not kiss the cross because he marched through forests under Lithuanian leadership".
On June 15, 1161 the Danes captured Palanga castle in Curonia (the first mentioning of Palanga).
In 1162 Rogvolod Borisivich had surrounded Volodar Glebovich in the castle of Gorodets (at the border of Lithuania; now Gorodok in Molodechno region, Belarus). With Lithuanian assistance Volodar defeated Rogvolod.
In 1170 the Estonians and the Curonians attacked the Oland island (in Sweden).
In 1180 the Lithuanians for the last time participated in the march of the army of the Polotsk dukes.
High Middle Ages
Part 2 (1183-1283)
In the winter of 1183-1184 the Lithuanians organised their first raid on Ruthenian lands (Polotsk and Pskov). The permanent Lithuanian expansion began (it was the first sign of the existence of the Lithuanian state).
In 1185 the Lithuanians devastated Livonia. The frightened Lyvians agreed to allow Meinhard, a German missionary, to build two brick castles in Livonia. At the same time, the Ikskile diocese, later to become the Riga diocese, was established. Thus the German domination over Livonia began.
In the winter of 1190 Rurik Rostislavich marched on Lithuania but came to a stop in Pinsk and went back.
In 1191 the dukes of Polotsk and Novgorod planned attack on Lithuania. However, they did not fulfil their plan.
In 1192 the Polish sovereign Casimir the Just organized a punitive attack against the Yatvingians, as they used to plunder the Polish lands (possibly together with the Lithuanians).
In 1193 Rurik Rostislavich planned the second attack on Lithuania but retreated at the demand of Svyatoslav, the other duke of Kiev.
In 1196 the Yatvingians attacked Volhynia (a duchy in Ruthenia).
In 1198 the aim of the Velikye Luki castle (on the southern border of Novgorod land) was pointed out in the Novgorod chronicle: to "defend Novgorod against Lithuania". In the autumn of the same year the Lithuanians together with warriors from Polotsk made a raid on Velikiye Luki.
In 1201 the Lithuanians made a peace treaty with the bishop of Riga (the first known international agreement of Lithuania).
In 1202 the bishop of Riga established the Order of the Knights of the Sword.
In 1213 the Lithuanian "ruler and senior" perished in a battle against the Knights of the Sword near Lielvarde.
At the beginning of 1214 there perished in Livonia the other ruler of Lithuania - Stekšys (Stecse).
In 1219 a peace agreement was reached between Lithuania and Volhynia. There were 5 elder and 16 common dukes, representing the Lithuanian side. The first of the elder dukes was Živinbutas, probably the successor of Stekšys. The other 4 elder dukes (2 pairs of brothers) were probably the sons of the two previous rulers who perished in Livonia. Mindaugas was one of them.
On April 23, 1228 Konrad, Duke of Masovia, granted the land of Kulm to the Teutonic Order (the Knights of the Cross). It became a base to the conquest of Prussia.
On February 19, 1236 Pope Gregor IX announced the first crusade against Lithuania.
On September 22, 1236 the Lithuanians defeated the Knights of the Sword in the battle of Šiauliai. Master Volkwin and 48 knights were killed.
On May 14, 1237 Pope Gregor IX united the Knights of the Cross and Knights of the Sword.
In 1238 Mindaugas was documented as the ruler of Lithuania.
1239-1248 was the period with the highest frequency of attacks on Ruthenia by Lithuania, which was taking advantage of Ruthenia's weakened condition after the Tartar invasions. At this time Lithuania took control of Black Ruthenia with the castle of Novogrudok.
In June 1245 the emperor Friedrich II gave permission to the Teutonic Order to conquer and rule Curonia, Lithuania and Semigallia.
In 1248 Mindaugas sent the sons of his brother, Tautvilas and Gedivydas, and the brother of their mother, Vykintas, to fight against Smolensk. They defeated the army of the duke Michael of Moscow, who was killed in the battle near Protva but soon were defeated near Zubtsov by the dukes of Suzdal. Mindaugas decided to expel the defeated dukes from Lithuania.
In 1249 Tautvilas, Gedivydas and Vykintas fled to Daniel, the duke of Volhynia. Daniel helped them to organize a coalition against Mindaugas and attacked Black Ruthenia. In the meantime, Vykintas managed to bribe the Yatvingians and half of the Samogitians, and come to an agreement with the Livonian branch of the Teutonic Order.
In 1250 the Livonian army attacked the lands under the rule of Mindaugas. Tautvilas had joined them and had himself christened in Riga. Mindaugas, however, bribed Andrew of Stirland, the Livonian Land Master.
In the spring 1251 Andrew of Stirland christened Mindaugas, and drove Tautvilas out of Riga. Tautvilas attacked Mindaugas, who had decided to defend himself in the castle of Voruta. Mindaugas had successfully repelled the attack with the assistance of the Teutonic Knights and soon defeated Tautvilas in Samogitia.
On July 17, 1251 Pope Innocent IV recognised Lithuania as a state within the political system of the Catholic Europe, and delegated the Bishop of Kulm to crown Mindaugas as the King of Lithuania.
On June 29 or July 6, 1253 the coronation of Mindaugas and his wife Martha (Morta) was held, probably at Latava manor. At the time of his coronation Mindaugas was compelled to grant a part of Samogitia and Yatvingia to the Livonian Order in return for its support. A document certifying Mindaugas’s donation was issued "in Lettowia in curia nostra“. Lettowia stream and Lettow hillfort were mentioned in the descriptions of the 14th century boundaries of Selonia and are identical with Palatavys hillfort and Latava village and stream in Anyksciai region, Lithuania (this is the only hint about the place of coronation). In time this donation was further enlarged.
In August or September 1253 Albert, the Archbishop of Riga, consecrated Christian, a member of the Livonian Order, as the Bishop of Lithuania. Christian had to make an oath to the Archbishop of Riga, but as the Livonian Order was in disagreement with the Archbishop, it provided assistance to Mindaugas for achieving cancellation of this oath by the Pope. In 1254 Christian was once again consecrated bishop. He became now directly subordinate to the Pope.
In 1254 a peace agreement between Lithuania and Volhynia was made.
In January 1256 the Samogitians, under the leadership of Duke Aliminas, raided Curonian lands, then under Livonian rule.
In the spring 1257 the Samogitians negotiated a 2-year cease-fire with the Livonian Order, following successful battles.
In 1259 the battles between the Samogitians and the Knights of the Cross were renewed. Mindaugas, in the meantime, had been striving to retain friendly relations with the Order, particularly after the Tartars had plundered his lands during the winter. He even granted the whole of Samogitia to the Order on August 7th. At about the same time, the Samogitian army of 3000 attacked Curonian lands and defeated the Livonian Knights in the battle of Skuodas. 33 knights perished. This victory prompted the Semigallians to begin an insurrection against the Livonian Order, which lasted from 1259 to 1272.
On July 13, 1260 the Samogitians crushed the joint forces of the Prussian and Livonian Knights of the Cross in Curonian lands near Durbe lake. Livonian Land Master Burchard of Hornhausen, Prussian Land Marshall Botel, and 150 knights were killed. This was the greatest defeat, suffered by the Order during the 13th and 14th century. It gave rise to battles for liberation throughout the whole of the Baltic lands, ruled by the Teutonic Order, including the Great Prussian Insurrection, which lasted from 1260 to 1274.
In the autumn 1261 Mindaugas, convinced by his military commander Treniota, took the Samogitions under his own jurisdiction, rejected Christianity, and entered into a war with the Order. Unfortunately, the war effort did not go well, and Mindaugas blamed Treniota.
In the autumn 1263 Treniota conspired with Duke Daumantas of Nalšia, and murdered Mindaugas. Treniota then declared himself to be the Grand Duke of Lithuania.
In the spring 1264 the servants of Mindaugas murdered Treniota. Vaišalgas (Vašelga), a son of Mindaugas, who had converted to the Orthodox Christian faith and become a monk, was declared the Grand Duke of Lithuania. With the help of the Dukes of Volhynia, he suppressed the resistance in Lithuania.
In 1265 Daumantas fled to Pskov. There, he had himself baptized, was elected the Duke of Pskov, and ruled successfully until his death in 1299. He was declared a saint for his merits to Pskov.
In 1267 Vašalgas had returned to the monastery and passed the rule over Lithuania to Shvarno, the husband of his sister and son of Daniel, the Duke of Halich-Volhynia.
On December 9, 1267 Lev, the bother of Shvarno, murdered Vaišalgas, because he had not been granted the rule over Lithuania.
In 1269 Traidenis came into power in Lithuania. In the early years of his rule he maintained friendly relations with Lev, who had murdered Vaisalgas. Therefore we may guess, that he was a rival to Mindaugas and his family. Traidenis actively fought the Teutonic Order and was actively supporting the other Balts (the Prussians, the Yatvingians and the Semigallians) against it.
On February 16, 1270 the Lithuanians defeated the Livonian Knights of the Cross in the battle of Karusa in Estonia. Livonian Land Master Otto of Luttenberg and 52 knights were killed.
On March 5, 1279 Traidenis smashed the Livonian knights near Aizkraukle (at the Daugava river), while they were retreating after the raid on Lithuania. Livonian Land Master Ernest of Rassburg and 71 knight perished.
In 1281 Traidenis died and was succeeded by Daumantas.
Late Middle Ages
Part 1 (1283-1386)
In 1283 the Crusaders of Prussia overcame the Yatvingians and attacked Lithuania. A continual war began with the Teutonic Order.
On March 24, 1285 Daumantas invaded lands of the Tver Bishop, and was killed there. Butigeidis became the ruler of Lithuania.
In 1289 the Prussian branch of the Teutonic Order seized Skalva, and built Ragaine castle at the Nemunas river. The castle became the major buttress in the fight against Lithuania.
In 1289 Butigeidis and his brother Butvydas made peace with Mstislav, the Duke of Lutsk, renouncing their rule over Volkovysk on his behalf.
In about 1291 Butvydas, the brother of Butigeidis, became the ruler of Lithuania.
On June 10, 1294 Vytenis, son of Butvydas, defeated the army of Casimir II, the Duke of Lęczyca, in a battle near Trojanow. Casimir II and numerous knights were killed. The battle was the most significant military victory for Lithuania in Poland.
In about 1295 Vytenis became the ruler of Lithuania.
On March 30, 1298 Vytenis entered into alliance with the city and Archbishop of Riga against the Livonian Order. He promised that Lithuania would accept Christianity, just as it had during the reign of Mindaugas.
On June 1, 1298 the Lithuanians crushed the Teutonic knights in the battle of Turaida (in Livonia). Livonian Land Master Bruno and 22 knights were killed.
On June 29, 1298 the joint army of Prussian and Livonian Crusaders defeated the Lithuanians and the citizens of Riga.
In 1309 the capital of the Teutonic Order was transferred from Venice to Marienburg in Prussia. This meant that the Order concentrated its main forces for the war against Lithuania.
In October 1315 the last military raid of Vytenis took place. He died probably soon thereafter. Gediminas, a cousin of Vytenis and son of Skalmantas, became the new ruler of Lithuania.
In 1317 the Lithuanian Orthodox Christian metropolis in Novogrudok was established. It remained active until 1330. The struggle to retain a separate metropolis was an important part of Lithuanian politics, regarding the East, during the entire XIV century. It was revived from 1354 to 1361, and 1376 to 1389. A metropolis was necessary to solidify the territorial gains made in Ruthenia. Only by developing a strong empire, could Lithuania fortify itself against the Teutonic Order, which had the backing of all Western Europe. Gediminas began laying the foundations for such an empire from the very beginning of his reign. He annexed the territory of Turov-Pinsk. He then had his son Algirdas married, and named him the successor to the Vitebsk Duchy, and its ruler soon thereafter at about 1320. Gediminas entered into an alliance with the Tver Duchy in 1320, which lasted intermittently until 1375. He had Smolensk (prior to 1326), Pskov (1322), Halich-Volynia (about 1320-1324), and Kiev (about 1325) placed under his protectorate. Vilnius became the capital of Lithuania during the reign of Gediminas.
In 1322, Gediminas sent a letter to the Pope with the Riga townspeople acting as intermediaries. And on May 26th, he sent letters to the Hansa cities, the Franciscans, and the Dominicans. The letters expressed his desire to accept Christianity. He invited church people, crafts artisans, merchants, and farmers to Lithuania, and announced that three churches had already been built in Vilnius and Novogrudok. The Teutonic Order, however, managed to interfere with the plans of Gediminas. Under pressure from the Pagans and Orthodox Christians, who were supported by the Order, Gediminas retracted his decision to be christened. When the envoys of the Pope arrived on November 3rd in 1324, Gediminas stated that he had never intended to be christened, and that the clerk had made an error in the writing. Regardless, he never persecuted the Christians, believing that "we all have one God," and only the worship of God is different. In spite of this, the Pope approved of the retention of a 4-year truce between Lithuania and the Teutonic Order remaining in effect.
In April 1325 Gediminas entered into an alliance with Wladyslaw Lokietek, the King of Poland. On October 16th, he gave his daughter Aldona in marriage to Casimir, the King's son. Gediminas and Wladyslaw attacked the Brandenburg province early in 1326, causing the Pope to demand that the truce between the Order and Lithuania be again confirmed. At the time, the province was being ruled by the son of Emperor Louis IV of Bavaria, an enemy of the Pope. The alliance with Poland proved particularly useful to Gediminas, when the Order again proceeded to make war with Lithuania, following the ending of the truce in 1328.
In 1329 a great army of Czech King John of Luxembourg and the Teutonic Order invaded Lithuania, and captured the most important fortresses of Samogitia. These battles were interrupted when Wladyslaw Lokietek, the King of Poland, began to attack areas under jurisdiction of the Order. The war with Poland drew the attention of the Order away from Lithuania for a time. Lithuania went to the aid of Poland between 1330 and 1331. However, during the course of the war, disagreements arose, and the alliance was terminated. Riga, a long-term ally of Lithuania, capitulated to the Order in 1330.
On February 25, 1336 the huge army of the Teutonic Order and the Crusaders laid siege around Pilėnai Castle in Samogitia. The defence, led by Margiris, made a valiant effort, but once it became clear that they were unable to withstand the attack, they burned everything and committed mass suicide.
In 1337 the Crusaders built the castle of Bayerburg (or Bavarian Castle) on the Nemunas River, with the intention of making it the capital of a defeated Lithuania. Emperor Louis IV of Bavaria handed over Lithuania to the Order. Nevertheless, the Lithuanians managed to destroy Bayerburg, and ruin the plans of the Order.
On April 7, 1340 the nobility poisoned the childless Duke of Halich-Volynia Boleslaw George II. Liubartas, the son of Gediminas, became the heir to this Duchy, as the son-in-law of the earlier Duke.
In December 1341 Gediminas died, leaving the state to his 7 sons. The capital of Vilnius was designated for Jaunutis, but Algirdas was more powerful. He had inherited Vitebsk and Kreva, and soon thereafter, delegated his son Andrew to rule Pskov. Kestutis, who had inherited the Trakai Duchy from his father, had to defend Lithuania from the Order. He was displeased with the weak Duke of Vilnius, who was unable to provide him with necessary support.
In winter 1344-1345 Kestutis, having learned of the plans for a large-scale invasion of Lithuania by the Order with the Czech and Hungarian Kings, took control of Vilnius, and handed the rule over to Algirdas. The friendship and accord between Algirdas and Kestutis lasted a lifetime. Immediately after the Vilnius overthrow, they spread a rumour, that they were about to attack Sambia. Once the Grand Master of the Order had moved all his forces to Sambia, the brothers raided Livonia. The invasion, planned by the Order, failed.
On February 2, 1348 the Lithuanian army blocked the return path for the Teutonic Knights of Prussia, who had plundered Lithuania, by the Streva stream. Unfortunately, the army met with total defeat. The members of the Gediminid family, Narimantas and, supposedly, Manvydas, were killed. It proved to be one of the worst military defeats of Lithuania during the entire XIV century.
In autumn 1349 the King of Poland Casimir III the Great seized Halich, then dependent on Liubartas. A long war erupted between Lithuania and Poland for Volynia. Poland captured the western part of Volynia in 1366. Nevertheless, the greater part of Volynia remained under the rule of Lithuania.
On April 18, 1358 Emperor Charles IV offered baptism to Algirdas and Kestutis. Algirdas demanded that the Crusaders retreat from Baltic lands, as a condition. With that, the negotiations failed.
On March 13 - April 16, 1362 the Crusaders destroyed the brick castle of Kaunas and began the most violent period of battle against Lithuania, which lasted nearly 20 years. They attacked Lithuania some 70 times during that period.
In autumn 1362 taking full advantage of the internal fighting of the Golden Horde, Algirdas defeated the Tartars near the Blue Waters (Siniye Vody), and captured Podolia and Kiev.
In 1368-1372 Algirdas organised 3 military raids (1368, 1370 and 1372) on Moscow in support of his father-in-law, Duke Michael of Tver. He was unable to take control of Moscow. Tver was forced to accept the rule of Moscow and renounce its alliance with Lithuania in 1375. Smolensk also fell under the influence of Moscow temporarily.
On May 24, 1377 Algirdas died, leaving his son Jogaila as successor. Kestutis supported Jogaila, but Duke Andrew of Polotsk, the oldest son of Algirdas caused an uprising, believing that he had the superior right to the throne. Andrew was supported by two of his other brothers and Dmitriy, the Grand Prince of Moscow. The Prince found himself engaged in a war with Khan Mamay of the Golden Horde, thus Jogaila decided to support the Khan.
On May 31, 1380 Jogaila entered into a secret peace treaty with the Teutonic Order at Dovydiškės. By virtue of this treaty, he was obliged to withhold support from Kestutis in the event that the Order were to attack his holdings. Jogaila then hurried to aid Khan Mamay. However, he did not reach the battle, fought on September 8th at Kulikovo Field, in time. The Moscow Prince had crushed the forces of the Horde. In the meantime, Kestutis learned of the betrayal by Jogaila, and decided to expel him from Vilnius.
In November 1381 Kestutis took control of Vilnius, and sent Jogaila to Kreva and Vitebsk, his patrimonial lands.
On June 12, 1382 the supporters of Jogaila enacted an overthrow in Vilnius. In a short time Jogaila had also taken control of Trakai. Kestutis and his son Vytautas arrived at Trakai with an army. They went to Jogaila's camp for the negotiations as proposed by Jogaila. However they were taken prisoners there. Servants of Jogaila assassinated Kestutis at the Kreva Castle, where he had been held prisoner. Vytautas was able to escape soon thereafter, and fled to the Teutonic Knights, to Prussia.
On July 30, 1383 the Teutonic Order declared war on Jogaila. The army of the Teutonic Knights, being led by Vytautas, captured Trakai and laid siege to Vilnius on August 12th. Skirgaila recovered Trakai on November 3rd, but the peninsular brick castle was destroyed, and Trakai lost its significance for the next 25 years.
In 1384 Jogaila extended a peace offering to Vytautas, and promised to return his patrimonial lands to him. Vytautas burned down three Teutonic castles and returned to Lithuania on July 9th. At first he was granted the rule of Grodno and Podlachia, and in 1387 - Volynia.
On August 14, 1385 by virtue of the Act of Kreva Jogaila announced his intention to marry Queen Jadwyga (Hedwig) of Poland, and to accept Christianity along with his brothers and subordinates, who had not yet been baptised. Jogaila swore, that once he became the King of Poland, he would use all of his property for the needs of both kingdoms, as much for Lithuania, as for Poland. He also swore to release Polish prisoners, and to unite "his own Lithuanian and Russian lands to the Kingdom of Poland forever."
Later Middle Ages
Part 2 (1386-1506)
On February 2, 1386 Jogaila was elected King of Poland by the Polish Sejm (Parliament) of the nobility in Lublin. Jogaila arrived at Krakow, and on February 15th was christened and given the name of Wladyslaw. On February 18th, he married Jadwyga. The coronation of Jogaila as King of Poland was held on March 4th. Thus, the conditions of the Kreva (Krevo) agreement became the conditions of a personal union. However, the relations between Lithuania and Poland were, as yet, not clearly defined by the agreement.
In February 1387 Jogaila began to institute the reforms in Lithuania, which were required by the conditions for the union with Poland. On February 17th, he established the Vilnius Bishopric. On February 20th, he declared the first of the privileges to the Lithuanian nobility, who had accepted Christianity. The privileges were the granting of rights equal to those held by the Polish nobility. On February 22nd, he ordered all Lithuanians to accept the Catholic faith. Soon thereafter, he also established the first 7 parishes. The christening of Lithuania proved to be a tremendous social upheaval, even though Lithuania with her Pagan faith already exhibited the most important elements of civilisation, including brick architecture and writing. The Pagan Dukes were as advanced, as to go on military manoeuvres bringing a personal office with them. For example, the travelling bag of Skirgaila, which fell into the hands of the Crusaders in 1385, was found to contain "Ruthenian privileges sealed in lead." On March 22nd, Jogaila granted Magdeburg Rights to the Lithuanian capital of Vilnius. On April 28th, he transferred the Trakai and Polotsk Duchies to Skirgaila, and delegated him to be his vicegerent in Lithuania.
In December 1389 Vytautas started an uprising against Jogaila and the Polish influence in Lithuania during an unsuccessful attempt to take control of Vilnius.
On January 19, 1390 Vytautas renewed the alliance with the Teutonic Order, and swore to uphold his earlier obligations. Although Vytautas was unable to take control of Vilnius even with the assistance of the Order, he was able to rapidly expand his influence and rule. Finally, Jogaila offered Vytautas the post of his vicegerent in Lithuania. Vytautas then again burned down three fortresses of the Order, and returned to Lithuania.
On August 4, 1392 Vytautas entered into an agreement with Jogaila in Ostrow at the border of Poland and Lithuania. By virtue of this agreement, Vytautas was granted the Trakai Duchy, and became, in fact, the ruler of Lithuania. Vytautas managed to formulate a strong central government, and neutralise the consequences of internal struggles over a relatively short time.
In 1396 the Khan Tochtamysh of the Golden Horde, defeated by Grand Khan Tamerlane the Great, fled to Lithuania, and requested assistance from Vytautas. In return he promised to transfer all of Ruthenia under the rule of Vytautas. Vytautas entered into a truce with the Teutonic Knights, and concentrated all his strength to the East. By helping Tochtamysh, he expected to quickly form a powerful state and become its king. Between 1397 and 1398, he organised two raids on the coasts of the Black Sea and the Crimea. He brought back many Tartars and Karaims, and settled them at the Trakai Duchy.
On October 12, 1398 Vytautas affirmed the peace treaty with the Teutonic Order at Salynas Island of the Nemunas River. He transferred Samogitia up to the Nevezis River to the Order. The Lithuanian nobility, who had gathered at Salynas, declared Vytautas to be the King of Lithuania.
In 1399 the first Lithuanian March of the Cross against the Tartars was organised by Vytautas. Both the Pope of Rome and the Patriarch of Constantinople declared this March of the Cross. Vytautas marched with the army of Lithuania, Poland and the Teutonic Order to the Vorksla River, where he faced the Tartar army. Vytautas was totally defeated at the battle on August 12th, and barely escaped himself. The plans of Vytautas for becoming the King of Lithuania and ruler of all Ruthenia were tossed asunder.
Historian Tomas Baranauskas
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