Volume 39

Acta Hictorica Universitatis Klaipedensis, vol. XXXIXThe Unknown Land of Žemaitija: The 13th to the 18th Centuries

Acta Historica Universitatis Klaipedensis, Vol. XXXIX

Editor Vacys Vaivada

Klaipėda, 2019

What and where is Žemaitija? The most authoritative dictionaries rarely include it, even when we look for Samogitia, the better-known Latinised name for Žemaitija. In Lithuania, the Žemaitijans are dominated by stereotypes about perseverance, stubbornness, closedness, and a desire for freedom. For some Lithuanians, they are a reincarnation of noble heroes, who participated in the most important Medieval battles in the nation’s history. For others, they are a Lithuanian sub-nation that still cherishes its unique dialect and culture. With this set of articles, we do not dwell on the controversy over the issue of how different the present-day Žemaitijans actually are. The occasion of the 800th anniversary of the first mention of Žemaitija in written sources (1219) is used here to draw readers’ attention to lesser-known aspects of Žemaitija’s past. In this volume of Acta Historica, Lithuanian historians and archaeologists come together to present their reflections on some reference points in the history of Žemaitija, discuss the times when Žemaitija was an area of conflict between Lithuania and the Teutonic Order, and provide new information on Early Modern society in what was known as the Starostwo of Žemaitija.

Editor’s note


I. Reference Points and their Contexts

Žemaitijos vardas senuosiuose žemėlapiuose: formos ir transformacijos
EN title: Žemaitija on Ancient Maps: Forms and Transformations of its Name

The first written mention in historical sources of the name of Žemaitija (or Samogitia), the west Lithuanian region, is well-known. In 1219, the Hypatian Codex described how Žemaitijan dukes, along with Lithuanian dukes, made peace with Volhynia. Much less is known about the emergence of the name of Žemaitija on ancient maps, despite the fact that old cartography often provides the first records of various geographical, socio-cultural and socio-economic phenomena. The article not only tries to trace the first appearance of the name Samogitia on maps, but also discusses its various forms and transformations, explaining the motives behind choices of particular forms of the name. The author examines nearly all the maps created before the early 19th century as cartographic sources. For the classification of this volume of material, she uses the concept of the three-stage cartographic depiction of Lithuania proposed by Vaclovas Chomskis. More than 200 maps of different scales and representing different areas, including Lithuania, Lithuania and neighbouring countries, Lithuania and Poland, Europe, Prussia, etc, were researched in order to track the use of different names for Žemaitija.

Key words: Žemaitija, West Lithuania, ancient maps, history of cartography, geographical concepts.

Ką 1219 m. įvykiai Mežuotnėje bylojo apie žemgalių visuomenės sanklodą?
EN title: What do the Events of 1219 in Mežotne Say about Žemgalian Society?

The account of the 1219 treaty between the Lithuanian dukes and Galicia-Volhynia provided by the chronicler of the Ruthenian principality lists briefly several dukes from different areas of what is treated by contemporary historians as the Lithuanian confederation. They include the dukes of Lithuania, Deltuva, Nalšia and Žemaitija, but do not mention representatives of the Curonians, Žemgalians (Semigallians) or Yotvingians. Our knowledge of one of the omitted areas, Žemgala (Semigallia, today southern Latvia and northern Lithuania), is still based on the presumption that its society should have developed according to a more or less similar path as other Baltic societies of that period. The article invites us to reconsider this presumption, focusing on one episode mentioned by Henry of Livonia in his chronicle from the early 13th century. Henry describes how, in 1219, the Žemgalians of the Mežotne (Mesoten) area approached the Bishop of Riga seeking military assistance to defend themselves against the Lithuanians, and, as it became evident during the negotiations, against other Žemgalians. In dealing with this episode, the author attempts to characterise the society of Žemgala, mainly its upper social layer, which could be described considering scarce sources. This leads him to the broader question of whether the development of Žemgalian society was similar to other non-Christian (firstly, Baltic) societies.

Key words: pre-Christian Baltic society, warriors, free members of the community, Žemgala.

Akmens amžius Pietų Žemaitijoje. Nauji archeologiniai duomenys ir jų vieta Rytų Baltijos regiono kontekste
EN title: The Stone Age in Southern Žemaitija. New Archaeological Data and its Place in the Context of the East Baltic Region

The paper presents the first general archaeological data about the Stone Age period in the Tauragė and Šilalė districts, in the south of the historic Žemaitija (Samogitia) area of western Lithuania. Until recently, this area was almost excluded from the general context of Lithuanian and east Baltic Stone Age studies, due to a lack of information. However, new archaeological material in the museums of the Tauragė and Šilalė districts now makes it possible to discuss the region in this period. The archaeological material has been subjected to laboratory testing, and the first results are included in the context of the east Baltic region. In addition, archaeological fieldwork that was carried out along the banks of the rivers and lakes in these districts in 2016 and 2017 provided the first evidence of Stone Age hunter-fisherman-gatherer sites. This material consists of hunting and work tools, and the manufacturing debris from flint and non-flint raw materials, osteological remains, and ground stone and flint axes of various types. The material was investigated by reviewing it from a technological perspective, and by the AMS 14C dating method, while some finds were also studied by micro-wear analysis. The study area falls within the Jūra river basin, which consists not only of smaller tributaries, but also of small lakes, some of which have become overgrown and transformed into peat-bogs over the millennia. The archaeological evidence confirms that the earliest inhabited sites in southern Žemaitija date from the Final Palaeolithic, while the area continued to be settled during the Mesolithic and Neolithic.

Key words: Stone Age, reindeer, flint industry, pressure blade technique, AMS 14C dating, microwear analysis, settlement, southern Žemaitija.

II. Žemaitija as an Area of Contact and Interests between the Teutonic Order and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania

Žemaitija ir Žiemgala XIII a. ketvirtajame ketvirtyje – XIV a. pirmajame ketvirtyje
EN title: Žemaitija and Žemgala in the Late 13th and Early 14th Centuries

The article examines the political relations between the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, especially Žemaitija as a constituent part, and Žemgala (Semigallia), from the beginning of the 1279 Žemgalian uprising against the Teutonic Order until the rule of Grand Duke Gediminas of Lithuania. The author tries to explain why Gediminas used the title of Duke of Žemgala in his letters of 1323, although in other cases, the title of the Lithuanian rulers does not include the name of Žemgala, and neither do other sources describing the territorial structure of the grand duchy mention Žemgala as part of it. Some historians have already argued that Žemgala was joined to the Grand Duchy of Lithuania in 1279. The article re-examines this argument, and tries to validate it. The cooperation of Lithuania (especially Žemaitija) with the Žemgalians during the war of 1279–1290 shows that the integration of Žemgala into the Lithuanian state was in fact its integration into Žemaitija during the war. The author concludes that this integration was not denied by the time Gediminas took power, despite the fact that the Teutonic Order had already initiated a new phase in the invasion of Žemgala. Gediminas used the title of Duke of Žemgala because he actually controlled most of Žemgala. A substantial part of it remained permanently within the Grand Duchy of Lithuania.

Key words: Grand Duchy of Lithuania, Žemaitija, Žemgala, Teutonic Order, Livonia.

Pirmasis Bajerburgas: kur planuota įkurti užkariautos Lietuvos sostinę?
EN title: The First Site of Bayerburg: Considerations on the Siting of What was to be the Capital of Conquered Lithuania

This article deals with Bayerburg Castle, built by the Teutonic Order on the banks of the River Nemunas in historical Žemaitija, and mentioned in 1337–1344. Supported by the Emperor Louis IV (the Bavarian), the Crusaders planned Bayerburg to be the capital of conquered Lithuania. Although their plans were never fulfilled, the construction of the castle and the immediate attack on it were significant events in the Medieval history of Lithuania. The aim of this article is to relocalise Bayerburg Castle. In seeking to determine where the castle was actually built, the author re-examines the Chronicle of Wigand of Marburg and other written sources referring to Bayerburg. He discusses the hypothesis put forward in 2004–2005 that this Teutonic castle should be localised at Plokščiai hill-fort (in the Šakiai district), and re-evaluates the arguments that led to the refutation of the previous interpretation, according to which Bayerburg was at Veliuona (in the Jurbarkas district). The article concludes that the Plokšiai hypothesis is poorly substantiated, and the previous idea that Bayerburg should be localised at Veliuona must be ‘reinstated’.

Key words: Teutonic Order, Teutonic castles, Crusaders, Žemaitija, Bayerburg Castle, Veliuona.

Lietuvos didžiojo kunigaikščio valdžia prie Nemuno 1283–1410 m.: karinis aspektas
EN title: The Power of the Grand Duke of Lithuania on the River Nemunas, 1283–1410: The Military Aspect

This article seeks to analyse the presence and activities of Lithuanian grand ducal power along the River Nemunas in the period 1283 to 1410. The war between the Teutonic Order and the Lithuanians is viewed from the point of view of challenge-and-response theory. A detailed analysis of narrative sources has allowed us to distinguish two periods in which Lithuanian grand ducal power actively promoted the introduction of innovations in the Lithuanian art of war. The first period encompasses the last decade of the 13th century and the first decade of the 14th century. In this period, not only was a line of Lithuanian castles put in place along the rivers Nemunas and Jūra, but also what we call the Lithuanian military riverine fleet was created. The period was also likely to have been a time when Lithuanian forces adopted the crossbow. The second period involves the last two decades of the 14th and the early 15th century. In this period, a more active defence of fords across the rivers Nemunas and Neris was undertaken from time to time by Lithuanian troops, by putting up wooden fortifications and employing artillery. The synergy of fortification and artillery was a recipe for Lithuanian troops to counter some of the advantages enjoyed by their Teutonic adversaries on water and on land.

Key words: Grand Duke of Lithuania, Grand Duchy of Lithuania, Teutonic Order, Žemaitija, River Nemunas, ships, fords, crossbow, military innovations.

III. Approaches towards Žemaitijan Society of the Early Modern Period

Nusikaltę kunigai XV–XVI a. Žemaičiuose: nuo vaikžudžio Lauryno iki mušeikos Mažvydo. Bažnyčios teismo bylos kaip Žemaitijos christianizacijos etapo įrodymas
EN title: Delinquent Clergy in 15th and 16th-Century Žemaitija from Laurynas the Infanticide to the Brawler Mažvydas. Church Court Records as Indicators of Stages in the Christianisation of Žemaitija

This article surveys the complex issue of the Christianisation of Žemaitija, seeking to illustrate with the aid of Church court sources (supplications to Rome from the end of the 15th century and appeals to the provincial court of appeal in Gniezno), the foundation of churches and altars which took on extra vigour from 1500 onwards until the chaos and destruction caused by the Reformation movements slowed the process of Catholic parish endowment for some time, as the limited amount of boyar disposable income was diverted elsewhere to Protestant foundations. Despite the admittedly restricted network of parish churches, and it is logical to assume that churches were built where the greater concentration of inhabitants lived, it is worth examining the emergence of Catholic practices (piety) – supplications to Rome, the cult of Corpus Christi, indulgences, the popularity of indulgenced fairs, participation in various levels of Church court activity (in Medininkai, Gniezno and Rome), parish fraternities, prevalence of Christian names, the foundation of churches, chapels and altars (with an associated rise in the level of liturgical sophistication demanded by founders, and an increase in the number of Masses being celebrated, and therefore open to attendance, in parish churches). Indeed, by the turn of the 15th and 16th centuries, when all of these factors can be seen, Catholicism was sufficiently rooted in Žemaitijan society at large that any threat to its development could arise only from internal discontentment (in other words, so-called reform movements) rather than any old (pagan) practices.

Key words: Žemaitija, conversion, Catholic Church, consistory court, appeal, Gniezno, Lithuania.

Vietos bendruomenės ir valdžios komunikacijos problemos XVII a. antrojoje pusėje (pagal Šiaulių ekonomijos pavyzdį)
EN title: Communication Problems between the Local Community and the Government in the Second Half of the 17th Century: The Case of the Šiauliai Economija in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania

In 1589, the Sejm of the Commonwealth of the Two Nations established the royal holdings (Crown lands), called Economijas, of Šiauliai, Hrodna, Alytus, Brest, Kobrin and Mahilioŭ in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. However, Šiauliai started to function as a royal Economija only in 1619. At this time, it was the largest and richest royal holding in the grand duchy. The article deals with the relatively closed community of the Šiauliai Economija in the second half of the 17th century. Its unusual administrative system, with its relatively abundant community records, makes it possible to trace and discuss the following issues: how the local government had functioned and how it maintained relations with the community; how the local community and individual members used and dealt with decisions by the Lithuanian central government; what rules of communication applied between different actors, the Lithuanian central government, the Šiauliai Economija government, and the local community.

Key words: Grand Duchy of Lithuania, Crown lands, Šiauliai Economija, centre-periphery relations, administration, communication.

Atneštiniai herbai Žemaitijos bajorų heraldikos tradicijoje XVI–XVIII amžiais
EN title: ‘Imported’ Coats of Arms in the Heraldic Tradition of the Žemaitijan Nobility of the 16th to 18th Centuries

The Žemaitijan nobility of the 15th to the 18th centuries included several heraldic groups: a group of local origin; Polish coats of arms; personalised Polish coats of arms; and coats of arms that were imported/adopted from other countries. This article focuses on the second and fourth groups, which include coats of arms that could be described as ‘imported’, ‘foreign’ or ‘alien’. The article aims to discuss the prevalence and use of these coats of arms in the heraldic tradition of the Žemaitijan nobility of the 16th to the 18th centuries. The adoption of Polish heraldry was already evident in the first half of the 16th century. The Horodło coats of arms entered the heraldry of the Žemaitijan nobility. Also, Polish coats of arms were brought to the country by Polish noble families. The number of those who came to Žemaitija from Germanspeaking lands was very small, and this meant that their heraldic sources were not abundant. On the other hand, surviving heraldic sources indicate that these newcomer families usually only used their own coats of arms.

Key words: heraldry, coat of arms, imported coat of arms, Žemaitija, nobility.