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 Post subject: Jogaila, and his Union with Poland
PostPosted: 2006 10 22, 20:20 
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By the 14th century Lithuania had grown into a powerful nation. Gediminas and his son, Algirdas, had built up Lithuania's military, and new territories had been added. The Grand Duchy now extended into Slavic lands into the south and east, and it can be said that the population was now at least half-Slavic. Algirdas and his wife produced a son in 1350 whom is still frowned upon by Lithuanians today. He goes by two names, depending on which ethnicity is naming him, which we will touch upon later. At first he was Jogaila; simple, pagan, Lithuanian duke; but he would become a famous ruler in Poland under the name Wladyslaw II Jagiello.

Jogaila (I will use his Lithuanian name throughout this text) was born to the Grand Duke Algirdas and his wife Uliana Alexandrovna of Tver in 1350. He had to wait a long time to gain power in Lithuania, however; his father ruled for 27 years after Jogaila's birth, and when he died, the power was split between Jogaila and Kęstutis, a brother of Algirdas. Jogaila joint-ruled for four years (1377-81), but Kęstutis overthrew him and usurped all power for himself. Jogaila and his supporters came back a year later and had Kęstutis imprisoned, where he would later die.

When Jogaila assumed power in Lithuania, the nobles were mainly followers of Baltic paganism (and they had been since the death of Mindaugas). Because of pressures from the Teutonic Order, a German Catholic organization to the west; and the Grand Duchy of Moscow, an Orthodox kingdom to the east, Jogaila was forced to make a decision. He either was to Christianize Lithuania, from which he had another set of choices to make beyond that; or he was to keep Lithuania under paganism. Most of the common people in Lithuania were already Christians, so the logical route was to accept Christianity. This, however, created another problem: which rite would he accept (or, in this case, marry into)?

Jogaila was pressured by his mother, a Russian princess, to marry the daughter of the Grand Duke of Moscow. This, however, would not help his problems with the Teutonic Order, whom had been raiding and attacking Lithuania ever since she had reverted back to paganism. Possibly because of this, he refused to marry Sofija (the daughter of GDM). Converting Lithuania to Christianity with the help of the Teutonic Order would have been catastrophic, for the Teutons would have taken over. The pressure continued on Jogaila and Lithuania until he reached a decision in 1385, and it involved Lithuania's southern neighbor, the Catholic kingdom of Poland.

In 1385 Jogaila signed the Union of Krevo, a document that returned lands taken from Poland as well as re-Christianized Lithuania. He also agreed to marry 11 year-old Queen Jadwiga of Poland, breaking a betrothal with the German king Wilhelm. The kingdoms of Poland and Lithuania became one with the marriage, and Jogaila officially established Christianity within his kingdom through his baptism at Wawel Cathedral in 1386. He took the name Wladyslaw II Jagiello, possibly named for Wladyslaw I, the one who united Poland. This resulted in mass baptisms across Lithuania, even though the kingdom remained a mix of Catholic and Orthodox rite among the peasants.

Jogaila married four times in his life: first he married Jadwiga (they had one child together, but both mother and daughter died within a month from complications in the birth, 1399). He then married Anna of Cilly in 1402. They had a daughter, Jadwiga, who would marry Frederick von Hohenzollern. She was heir to the throne until 1430, when she died and younger male siblings were able to assume the role. Anna died in 1416, and Jogaila married Elizabeth Granowska of Pileza in 1417. They did not have any children, and Elizabeth died in 1420. The king's fourth and final marriage was to Sophia of Halshany (Hungary) in 1422. They had five children in their 12-year marriage, two of which would later become kings of Poland-Lithuania.

Jogaila died in 1434, splitting his kingdom back up between his two sons, Casimir IV (Lithuania) and Wladyslaw III (Poland). Vytautas, who was a Grand Duke of Lithuania at the time, had died in 1430, and this kept any older relatives of Jogaila from assuming the throne after his death. Because Sophia was not Polish, Jogaila had to make concessions to the Polish nobles to allow his sons to take control of the kingdom.

Jogaila, in conclusion, was a great king of Lithuania who was able to gain a great deal of territory as well as make a powerful alliance. Because of this, Lithuania at his death was the largest nation in Europe. The signing of the Treaty at Lake Melno in 1422 made peace with the Teutonic Order, even though the exchange of lands made it seem like total defeat for Poland. Jogaila had created a Union, a union between Lithuania and Poland that would last over 300 years after the death of the king. His conversion to Catholicism lasted, and the Roman Catholic Church is still the overwhelming religion in both Poland and Lithuania. He is still honored today, as there is a great statue of him standing in Central Park in New York (see Wikipedia article for photo).

SOURCES: ... ogaila.htm (This one contains some neat pictures of Jogaila... have a look!)


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