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J. OCHMAŃSKI "The National Idea in Lithuania..."
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Ibicus
Posted 2005-09-26 06:27 (#29158)
Subject: J. OCHMAŃSKI "The National Idea in Lithuania..."


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The National Idea in Lithuania from the 16th to the First Half of the 19th Century: The Problem of Cultural-Linguistic Differentiation

JERZY OCHMAŃSKI

The Development of the Lithuanian Nation up to the Mid-Sixteenth Century

The Lithuanian nation was formed during the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, when the early feudal Lithuanian state came into being on the basis of the class society that took form under Mindaugas (1219-1263); the state was consolidated under his successors, Traidenis (1269-1281), Vytenis (1269-1315), Gediminas (1315-1341), Algirdas (1345-1377) and Kęstutis (1345-1382).1

The Lithuanian ethnic group, divided among a number of "lands," i.e., tribal territories — Lithuania (Lietuva), Deltuva, Nalšia, and the Samogitian lands of Karšuva, Medininkai, Šiauliai, etc. — had long shared a common agricultural structure and been closely related linguistically; from the ninth to the eleventh centuries it had also been united culturally.2 Joined under one ruler, this group gradually started to lose its tribal diversity and to develop a common national consciousness. The ancient lands — Lithuania, Nalšia, and Deltuva — united into one region, which was called Aukštaitija (Upland) from at least the fourteenth century. Samogitia (Žemaitija, Lowland), although it preserved some peculiarities in a separate administrative

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1  Among the fairly rich literature concerning the history of Lithuania in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, the following four monographs are the most authoritative: H. Łowmianski, Studia nad początkami społeczeństwa i państwa litewskiego, 2 vols. (Vilnius, 1931-32); H. Paszkiewicz, Jagiellonowie a Moskwa, vol. 1: Litwa a Moskwa w XIII i XIV wieku (Warsaw, 1933); idem, O genezie i wartości Krewa (Warsaw, 1938); V. T. Pašuto, Obrazovanie litovskogo gosudarstva (Moscow, 1959); cf. H. Łowmianski, "Uwagi o genezie państwa litewskiego," Przegląd Historyczny (Warsaw), 42 (1961): 127-46; J. Ochmański, "Uwagi o litewskim państwie wczesnofeudalnym," Roczniki Historyczne (Poznań), 27 (1961): 143-60. The problem of the formation of the Lithuanian nation under feudalism has not as yet been studied.

2  R. Jablonskis-Rimantiene, "O drevnejšix kul'turnyx oblastjax na territorii Litvy," Sovetskaja etnografija (Moscow), 1955, no. 3, pp. 3-19. See also Lietuvos archeologijos bruožai (Vilnius, 1961), p. 516; the author of that section, R. Kulikauskienė, believes that the Lithuanian nationality (tautybė) started to take form in the ninth to the twelfth century.


organization,3 also underwent an internal integration; the inhabitants of Samogitia called themselves Lithuanians and stated that Samogitia was an inseparable part of Lithuania.4 The name "Lithuania" is first attested to by sources in 1009. Originally referring only to a tribe which probably occupied the territory between the Nemunas (Neman), Neris (Vilija), and Merkys,5 and which would become the basis of the Lithuanian state, it was generalized and applied to all Lithuanian lands in the thirteenth to fourteenth centuries. The spread of the words for "Lithuania" and "Lithuanians" reflects a growing sense of internal ties within the Lithuanian nation, and manifests a national identity that developed and consolidated during a fierce struggle against the Teutonic Order and during an expansion into the Ruthenian lands. As a result of that expansion, the national Lithuanian state started to transform early — from the first half of the thirteenth century — into the binational, Lithuanian-Ruthenian Grand Duchy of Lithuania, in which Lithuanians constituted a privileged and ruling part of the nation and Ruthenians formed a legally and politically dependent part.6 The inability to battle successfully against the Teutonic Order while continuing to expand into the Ruthenian lands forced Lithuania to adopt the Polish concept of the Polish-Lithuanian union of 1385-1386.7 After the capture of the vast Ruthenian territories, the union with Poland, and the Christianizaton of Lithuania (Aukštaitija, in 1387) and of Samogitia (in 1417),8 Lithuanians

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3  O. Halecki, Litwa, Ruś i Żmudź jako części składowe W. Ks. Litewskiego (Cracow, 1916); B. Dundulis, Lietuvių kova dėl Žemaitijos ir Užnemunės XV a. (Vilnius, 1960), pp. 73-77; cf. J. Ochmański, review in Kwartalnik Historyczny (Warsaw), 58, no. 3 (1961): 788-90.

4  Codex epistolaris Vitoldi, magni ducis Lithuaniae (1376-1430), ed. A. Prochaska (Cracow, 1882), p. 1018, entry for the year 1416; cf. Dundulis, Lietuvių kova, pp. 78-79.

5  The Lithuanian land is placed within the confines of the Nemunas, Neris, and Merkys by Łowmiański in Studia nad początkami, 2:108-111. But A. Šapoka holds the view that the Lithuanian land was the later Vilnius region; see his Vilnius Lietuvos gyvenime (Toronto, 1954), pp. 6, 11,32.

6  The situation of Ruthenians in the Lithuanian state was recently described by H. Jabłonowski, Westrussland zwischen Wilna und Moskau (Leiden, 1955); he also cites the earlier literature on this subject.

7  The literature concerning the union of 1386 and its history, but by Polish scholars only, was presented by S. Zajączkowski in "W sprawie badań nad dziejami stosunków polsko-litewskich za Jagiellonów," Studia historica w 35-lecie pracy naukowej Henryka Lowmiańskiego (Warsaw, 1958), pp. 199-217. The problem of the union was examined from the Lithuanian point of view by A. Šapoka, Lietuvos ir Lenkijos valstybiniai santykiai Jogailos laikais (Kaunas, 1935); cf. also an evaluation by a Belorussian researcher, V. I. Pičeta, "Litovsko-pol'skie unii i otnošenie k nim litovsko-russkoj šljaxty," in his collection of studies, Belorussija i Litva XV-XVI vv. (Moscow, 1961), pp. 525-50 (the cited article was first published in 1909).

8  Concerning the Christianization of Lithuania, see J. Fijalek, "Uchrzešcijanienie Litwy przez Polskę i zachowanie w niej języka ludu," in Polska i Litwa w dziejowym stosunku (Cracow, 1914); M. Andziulaitytė, Žemaičių kristianizacijos pradžia (Kaunas, 1937); V. Gidžiūnas, "The Introduction of Christianity into Lithuania," Lituanus (Brooklyn, N.Y.), 1957, no. 4, 13.


faced a crisis — this despite the Grünwald victory over the Teutonic Order (1410) — as a result of close contacts with the more developed Polish and Ruthenian cultures. This was to be expected, because the clash between two separate cultures usually leads to the domination of the one that is more highly organized and to an intensive absorption of its elements by the lower culture, which then begins to lose its national character.

Surprisingly, the adoption by the Lithuanian state and by the Lithuanian higher orders of the Ruthenian language as the official (chancellery) language in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, the Christianization, superficial as it was, of Lithuania at the turn of the fourteenth to fifteenth century, and the subsequent gradual adoption of Western culture coming through Poland did not have any serious destructive effect on the self-identification of Lithuanians for a fairly long time, until the mid-sixteenth century. In a sense the Polish-Lithuanian union even had a positive effect on the Lithuanians, because the religious differences which had divided the "pagan" Lithuanians from the Orthodox Ruthenians before the union became even sharper as a result of the Lithuanians' adoption of the "Polish faith" — Catholicism. Moreover, the class privileges granted to the Catholic — i.e., Lithuanian — boyars in 1387 and 1413 elevated the Lithuanians, juridically and politically, above the Ruthenian boyars. This filled Lithuanians with a sense of superiority vis a vis the Ruthenians, whom they called by the pejorative word gudai. Aware of being the dominant nation, Lithuanians jealously defended their position. They reluctantly acquiesced to the equal rights given to Ruthenians in 1434,9 and tried to prevent Poles from assuming high state posts in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, treating them as foreigners.10

The developing national consciousness of Lithuanians in the fifteenth century was voiced by Vytautas in 1420, in his well-known statement that Aukštaitija and Samogitia are "unum ydeoma et uni homines" (one

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9  W. Czermak, "Sprawa równouprawnienia schizmatyków i katolików na Litwie (1432-1563)," Rozprawy Akademii Umiejętności: Wydział Historyczno-Filozoficzny (Cracow), vol.45 (1903); A.Voldemar[as], "Nacional'naja bor'ba v Velikom Knjažestve Litovskom v XV-XVI w.," Izvestija Otdelenija russkogo jazyka i slovesnosti Imperatorskoj akademii nauk (St. Petersburg), 14 (1909), no. 3.

10  P. Dąbkowski, Stanowisko cudzoziemców w prawie litewskim w drugiej połowie XV i w XVI wieku (1447-1588) (Lviv, 1912).


language and one people),11 i.e., one Lithuanian nation. In that period Lithuanians were able to absorb foreign linguistic and cultural (Ruthenian, Polish, Latin and German) influences to their own advantage, and even to use them as instruments to spread Lithuanian national consciousness. Foreign influences awakened and positively affected intellectual life in Lithuanian society and in its ruling strata, and aroused interest in Lithuania's own historical past. A number of chronicles about the history of Lithuania were written in Ruthenian, Polish, German, and Latin. The most outstanding works, the so-called Lithuanian-Ruthenian chronicles —  such as the Genealogy of Lithuanian Princes (ca. 1398), the Eulogy of Vytautas (ca. 1428), and the Chronicle of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and Samogitia (between 1565 and 1573) — speak well of the level of Lithuanian intellectual life and efforts to learn their own history.12 In approximately the third quarter of the fifteenth century, a theory about the Roman origin of Lithuanians, based on the similarity of a number of Lithuanian and Latin words, was developed, probably within a circle of Lithuanian students at Cracow. It was noted by the Polish chronicler Jan Długosz.13 The theory had an obvious political purpose, for it supported the claim of the antiquity and noble origin of Lithuanian boyars, which had been under Polish-Lithuanian dispute since 1447. The emergence of the theory reflects the historical interests of educated Lithuanians who wanted to elevate the status of their nation.14 The theory itself enjoyed tremendous popularity among the Lithuanian boyars; some of them believed in it so sincerely that they sought to return to the "language of our ancestors," i.e., classical Latin, and renounced their native Lithuanian as corrupt because of its deviation from the language of ancient Romans.15

Although the Ruthenian language, along with Latin, dominated in society and in the Grand-Ducal chancellery and state institutions, particularly in their documents, the Lithuanian language, too, resounded, and not only in everyday life. It was used even in diplomatic negotiations with representatives of foreign states: for instance, in 1492 the Grand Duke's council conducted negotiations with envoys from Gdańsk in Polish,

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11 Codex epistolaris Vitoldi, p. 467.

12  J. Jakubowski, Studia nad stosunkami narodowościowymi na Litwie przed Unią Lubelską (Warsaw, 1912), p.16ff.

13  J. Długosz, Opera omnia, vol. 12 (Cracow, 1876), pp. 470-75; Michalon Lituanus, De moribus Tartarorum, Lituanorum et Moschorum (Basel, 1615), p. 23.

14  Jakubowski, Studia, pp. 30-35.

15  Jakubowski, Studia, pp. 63-64, 69.


Lithuanian, and Ruthenian.16 Also, ordinances issued in foreign languages must have been made accessible to the population in a Lithuanian version by the boyars who directed the state administration. During the entire feudal period, dealings pertaining to peasants and boyars were carried out partly in Lithuanian, although records were taken down in Ruthenian or Polish. Judicial oaths taken in Lithuanian by witnesses (the so-called priesaikos) have been preserved, although their number is small.17 Lithuanian texts of judicial oaths date as late as from 1624, although their language shows that the formulary was established much earlier. Lithuanian also influenced the state languages, Ruthenian and Polish, in the form of a goodly number of loanwords (over 400 terms).18

The religious Reformation, which was spreading in Lithuania in the mid-sixteenth century, preached the idea of using the national language in church, and thus helped the development of Lithuanian culture considerably. It forced the Catholic clergy to increase their use of the Lithuanian language in teaching the Gospel and in sermons. In 1547 the first book in Lithuanian, "Catechismusa prasty szadei" (The simple words of catechism), appeared anonymously in Königsberg. Its publisher was Martynas Mažvydas Vaitkunas, an expatriate from Greater Lithuania.19 Mažvydas used Lithuanian translations of Polish and German church hymns made by well-known European humanists, including Abraomas Kulvietis and Stanislovas Rapolionis (both of whom died in 1545).20 His "Catechismusa" represents a work of the Lithuanian intellectuals who

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16  K. Jablonskis, "Mažvydo gyvenimas ir aplinka," in Senoji lietuviška knyga (Kaunas, 1947), pp. 89-108, cf. p. 99; Z. Ivinskis, "Lietuvių kalba viešajame Lietuvos XVI-XVII a. gyvenime," Aidai (Kennebunkport, Me.), 1953, no. 8, pp. 360-68; no. 9, pp. 408-417.

17  V. Biržiška, Senujų lietuviškų knygų istorija, pt. 2 (Chicago, 1957), pp. 52-55; V. Abramavičius, "XVII-XVIII a. priesaikos lietuvių kalba," in Bibliotekininkyste ir bibliografija, vol. 1 (Vilnius, 1961), pp. 332-36.

18  K. Jablonskis, "Die offizielle Urkundensprache des litauischen Grossfürstentums als kulturgeschichtliche Quelle," in Pirma Baltijas Vesturnieku Konferencija (Riga, 1938), p. 270; idem, Lietuviški žodžiai senosios Lietuvos raštinių kalboje, pt. 1 (Kaunas, 1941), cites about 300 Lithuanian words that entered the Ruthenian and Polish chancellery language of old Lithuania (15th- 18th centuries). Professor Jablonskis showed me, in Vilnius in February 1960 (shortly before his death), a list of ca. 125 new words ("nauji žodžiai") which he found after the publication of Lietuviški žodžiai.

19  Cf. a photoprint edition, Pirmoji lietuviška knyga (Kaunas, 1947).

20  V. Biržiška, Martin Mažvydas und seine Mitarbeiter (Heidelberg, 1948), p. 31; V. Mykolaitis-Putinas, "Literatūriniai elementai Mažvydo ir jo amžininkų raštuose," in Senoji lietuviška knyga, pp. 128-29; Ch. Stang, Die Sprache des litauischen Katechismus von Mažvydas (Oslo, 1929).


emigrated from Greater Lithuania to Lesser (Prussian) Lithuania to escape religious persecution by the Catholic clergy.21

The Lithuanian nation flourished until the mid-sixteenth century. Though permeated with foreign linguistic and cultural influences, the higher social strata maintained and solidified their national consciousness.22 Serfdom was not yet completely established, and thus Lithuanian boyars did not lose their cultural links with the people. They used the same language as the masses did. The peasants, only superficially Christianized, kept their pagan beliefs en masse, and observed the ancestral customs until the sixteenth century. It was only from the second half of that century23 that, under the influence of Catholic Counter-Reformation, the peasantry turned to the cultural values of Christianity and started to assimilate and adapt them to their psyche and culture.

The Disintegration of the Lithuanian Feudal Nation under the Influence of Polonization, Ruthenization, and Russification from the 16th to the 19th Century

By the mid-sixteenth century, as the class structure of Lithuanian society solidified, the nobility subordinated the peasants, imposed serfdom,24 and started to limit the development of the burgher class. Sensing their strength, the Lithuanian boyars strove, after the model of the Polish nobility, to break the magnates' oligarchic control and to participate in governing the state.25 Thus, the conditions for the disassociation and fragmentation of the Lithuanian nation appeared and found fertile ground. The nobility became disassociated from their natural ethnic environment, that is, from the Lithuanian people. The individuals who held a privileged position in the state and who oppressed the peasants did not perceive attractive values in the people's culture and drifted away from it, creating their own, noblemen's, culture. Lacking their own accomplishments in the arts and sciences and spurning the cultural values developed by their subjects (veldamai), the Lithuanian nobles turned to foreign models. These were in

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21 Cf. the collection of articles Senoji lietuviška knyga (Kaunas, 1947).

22 S. Kot, "Świadomość narodowa w Polsce XV-XVII w.," Kwartalnik Historyczny (Lviv), 52, no. 1 (1938): 24.

23  L. Kolankowski, Zygmunt August, wielki książę litewski do r. 1548 (Lviv, 1913), pp. 223-34.

24  The problems created by serfdom in Lithuania were discussed by J. Jurginis, Baudžiavos įsigalėjimas Lietuvoje (Vilnius, 1962); cf. Z. Ivinskis, Geschichte des Bauernstandes in Litauen von den dltesten Zeiten bis zum Anfange des XVI. Jh. (Berlin, 1933).

25  M. K. Ljubavskij, Litovsko-russkij sejm (Moscow, 1900), pp. 513, 734.


large measure those of Polish culture and of the nobiliary ideology of its renaissance of the "Golden Age."26

The assimilation of these models was made possible by the Polish-Lithuanian union at Lublin. The example of the Polish nobles, who had started to set the tone and the direction of social life and state policy in Poland from the mid-sixteenth century, attracted Lithuanian boyars irresistibly. First, they assimilated the main ideological values of the Polish nobility, namely, the ideals of noble status and of nobles' equal rights.27 Those ideological principles led to a program of struggle to break the superiority of magnates and to govern the state logically. Implementation of the program was possible only through a closer consolidation of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania with Poland. For this reason, as well as the threat from Muscovy, Lithuanian-Ruthenian noblemen supported the Polish strivings for a union.28 The Lublin Union of 1569 held that from that moment on, Poland and Lithuania formed "one joint Commonwealth which was united and coalesced from two states and nations into one nation."29 It also confirmed the previous principle of a joint rule by one monarch, and introduced a joint Diet for Lithuania and Poland and joint legislation in the form of "constitutions" (Laws) endorsed by the Diet after 1569. Lithuania preserved its governmental singularity, however, because it retained a separate administrative system with the central offices of chancellor and hetman and maintained its own treasury, army, judiciary, and legal codes, in the form of the Lithuanian Statutes of 1566 and 1588. The national separateness of Lithuania was also upheld by establishing the principle of "both nations," Polish and Lithuanian, which would persist almost as long as the Commonwealth itself.30 Thus, despite the resistance of magnates who fiercely opposed the union because it threatened their dominant position in the Lithuanian state, the class interests of Lithuanian nobility as a whole predetermined the fate of the union in favor of a closer association with

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26  A. Brückner, Dzieje kultury polskiej, vol. 2, 2nd ed. (Warsaw, 1958).

27  A. Zajączkowski, Główne elementy kultury szlacheckiej w Polsce (Wrocław, 1961), pp. 49-59.

28  Ljubavskij, Litovsko-russkij sejm, pp. 635, 700,734; O. Halecki, Dzieje unii jagiellońskiej, vol. 2: XVI wiek (Cracow, 1920), pp. 151 -54; Pičeta, "Litovsko-pol'skie unii," pp. 543, 545; S. Kutrzeba, "Unia Polski z Litwą," in Polska i Litwa w dziejowym stosunku, pp. 599-652.

29  Akta unii Polski z Litwą, published by S. Kutrzeba and W. Semkowicz (Cracow, 1932), no. 148, p. 344 (act of the Polish side) and no. 149, p. 385 (act of the Lithuanian side; the two texts are identical).

30  A. Šapoka, Lietuva ir Lenkija po 1569 m. Liublino unijos (Kaunas, 1938); V. I. Pičeta, "Pol'ša na putjax k kolonizacii Ukrainy i Belorussii: Ljublinskaja unija i ee političeskie posledstvija," in his Belorussija i Litva v XV-XVI vv., pp. 556-92 (the article was first published in 1940).


Poland.31 They also affected the preeminent place that Polish culture and language would occupy in Lithuania soon after the union of 1569. The Polish language became the language of the privileged and enlightened strata and, from 1696, was officially recognized.32 Polish also became a political factor in bringing closer together Polish noblemen and the Ruthenian-speaking Lithuanian boyars.

The process of the Lithuanian nobility's loss of national character and of its Polonization began in about the mid-sixteenth century.33 At that time the Polish language, which had previously been rarely used in Lithuania, began to play a greater role not only in social, but also private life. The years 1544-1548 were a turning point for the spread of the Polish language in Lithuania; following the example of King and Grand Duke Sigismund Augustus and his Polish court in Vilnius,34 the Lithuanian nobility began to use the Polish language widely. That segment of the nobility which succumbed to cultural Polonization most quickly had a good, and sometimes brilliant, command of the literary Polish language already during the Vilnius period of Sigismund Augustus's rule.35

Polonization did not affect all the nobility equally. It progressed faster among the wealthy nobility than among the middle nobility. Augustinas Rotundus, the historiographer of Lithuania, maintained already around 1576 that only peasants used the Lithuanian language, whereas the nobles had adopted the language of the Poles.36 The ardent Lithuanian patriot and Samogitian canon, Mikalojus Daukša, wrote in 1599 that "our Lithuanian nation itself, because of its knowledge of the Polish language and fluent command of that language, has reduced its own language to an extreme neglect, oblivion, and almost rejection; everybody can see it well, but I do

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31  Šapoka, Vilnius Lietuvos gyvenime, p. 36.

32  The Diet resolution of 1696 decreed that from that moment "the scribe of the palatinate land court" should "write in Polish, not in Ruthenian," and that "all kinds of decrees should in the future be issued in the Polish language" {Volumina legum, vol. 5 [St. Petersburg, 1860], p. 418). This order merely legalized an actual state of affairs, because, after the union of 1569, the Polish language became within a few decades the dominant, but unofficial, chancellery language in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania.

33  W. Pociecha, Królowa Bona, vol. 8 (Poznań, 1958), p. 189, maintains that Bona promoted the influx of Poles to Lithuania (in the historical sense, i.e., Lithuania and Belorussia) and entrusted them with responsible state offices.

34  Concerning the Polish court of Sigismund Augustus, see Kolankowski, Zygmunt August, pp. 316-19.

35  Cf. J. Jasnowski, Mikołaj Czarny Radziwiłł, 1515-1565 (Warsaw, 1939).

36  A. Rotundus, foreword to the second Lithuanian Statute of 1566, Archiwum Komisji Prawniczej, vol. 7 (Cracow, 1900), pp. xviii-xxi, especially p. xx. Regarding Rotundus, see M. Baryczowa, "Augustyn Rotundus Mieleski, wójt wileński, pierwszy historyk i apologeta Litwy," in Ateneum Wileńskie, vol. 11 (Vilnius, 1936), pp. 155-56.


not know whether anybody will praise this as being fair."37

The Lithuanian petty nobility seemed to become a Lithuanian-Polish hybrid, speaking a Polish saturated with Lithuanianisms and Ruthenianisms, and regarding the Polish language as a mark of good manners and high culture. That hybrid type was linked to everything Polish by ideological-political circumstances, but in its cultural traditions it gravitated towards everything genuinely Lithuanian. Generally speaking, political Polonization encompassed the entire nobility, whereas cultural Polonization left a lesser imprint on the petty nobility.38 The greatest susceptibility to Polish cultural and political influences existed in the Vilnius region, followed by the Kaunas region. As a consequence of many centuries of proximity to their Slavic neighbors, these two regions were less resistant to foreign influence and better acquainted with the Ruthenian language, a knowledge of which made it easier to learn Polish. Polonization proceeded with much less intensity among the middle and petty Samogitian nobility, who, with the exception of those in the Liaudeė brook area ("the Liauda nobility"), long remained loyal to the language and customs of their ancestors and maintained close contacts with the common people. Samogitia, cut off geographically from direct contacts with Slavs, was long distinguished by a strong instinct for self-preservation. Also, in the Suvalkai land, which had a small noble population (because of the peasant character of colonization there), Polonization did not make much headway.

The linguistic, cultural, and political Polonization of the Lithuanian nobility led to a reevaluation of the Lithuanian national idea and to its transformation into a local patriotism within the framework of the Commonwealth.39 This process was deepened during the partition period of 1772-1795 and by the Great Diet's reforms (1789-1792), set in motion by adherents of the Patriotic party in an effort to save and strengthen the Commonwealth. It was then that the idea of a monolithic noble nation within

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37  M. Daukša, Postilė: Fotografuotinis leidimas (Kaunas, 1926), "Przedmowa do czytelnika łaskawego," p. [1].

38  M. Römer, Stosunki kulturalno-etnograficzne na Litwie (Cracow, 1906); Šapoka, Vilnius Lietuvos gyvenime, p. 39, maintains that the Polonization of the petty Lithuanian gentry started only in the early nineteenth century; this is contradicted by Rotundus and Daukša. Also cf. K. J. Čeginskas, "Die Polonisierung des litauischen Adels im 19 Jh.," Commentationes Balticae (Bonn), 4/5 (1958): 21 -42.

39  Kot, "Świadomość narodowa w Polsce," p. 24, argues that after the union of 1569, the foundation for a monolithic nation (of nobles, of course) composed of Poles, Lithuanians, and Ruthenians started to develop. This process was also going on in Lithuania: see Šapoka, Lietuva ir Lenkija, pp. 267-68; K. Avižonis, Bajorai valstybiniame Lietuvos gyvenime Vazų laikais (Kaunas, 1940); S. Ehrenkreutz, "Separatyzm czy ciążenie Litwy ku Polsce po Unii Lubelskiej," in Pamiętnik IV Powszechnego Zjazdu Historyków Polskich, vol. 1 (Lviv, 1925).


the multinational Commonwealth started to crystallize and, subsequently, to crowd out the historical principle of "both nations."40 In Polish and Lithuanian society, the conviction formed that within the framework of one state, there existed a single noble Polish nation. Events after the partitions, especially the popular uprisings of 1794, 1830-1831, and 1863, consolidated that conviction, as the Lithuanian nobility and common people joined the armed struggle together, in the name of the Polish Commonwealth. "Dabar lenkai neprapuolė kil žemaičiai gyvi" (Poles have not perished yet, as long as Samogitians are alive) was the song of the Lithuanian insurgents of 1831. In the consciousness of the national prophet-cum-poet who came from historical Lithuania, Adam Mickiewicz, and in that of his contemporaries, the conviction lived that' 'Lithuanians and Mazurs are brothers; do brothers quarrel because one is called Władysław and the other Vytautas? Their family is the same, it is — Poles."41 Lithuanian noblemen were proud of their Lithuanian origin, and although most did not know the language of their ancestors, they called themselves "gente Lituani, natione Poloni." Thus Mickiewicz's apostrophe. "O Lithuania, my fatherland!" remained in complete accord with the feeling of belonging to one Polish nation.

The Polonization of Lithuanian towns and townsfolk proceeded through the influx of Polish elements to the more developed urban centers of Lithuania and through the elements' absorption of Lithuanian burghers. The Polonization of Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania, started early — after the union of 1386, in connection with the Christianization. Polish clergy arrived there first, followed, in the fifteenth century, by merchants and artisans. They came to Vilnius in larger numbers in the middle of the sixteenth century, following the Polish court of Sigismund August.42 Already in the

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40  W. Smoleński, "Sprawa stosunku Litwy do Polski na Sejmie Wielkim," in his Studia historyczne (Warsaw, 1925), pp. 60-74; B. Leśnodorski, Dzieło Sejmu Czteroletniego (1788-1792) (Wrocław, 1951), pp. 234-42. A. Šapoka has noted, with bitterness, that Lithuania was not even mentioned in the Constitution of 3 May 1791, nor was the term "Commonwealth of Both Nations"; see his "Gegužes 3 d. konstitucija ir Lietuva," first published in Lietuvos Praeitis, vol. 1 (Kaunas, 1940). Šapoka's view is not fully accurate, because the Constitution of 1791 was "a mutual guarantee of both nations"; also, in detailed laws — e.g., about dietines, the royal council, and towns — the name Lithuania appears alongside that of the Crown Land; see Volumina legum, vol. 9 (Cracow, 1889), pp. 235, 266, 291, 316. The "both nations" principle was maintained in the resolution of 1793: Volumina legum, vol. 10 (Poznań, 1952), p. 111, article 4.

41  A. Mickiewicz, Księgi narodu i pielgrzymstwa polskiego (1832), Dzieła (Warsaw, 1955), vol. 6, p. 37.

42  Kolankowski, Zygmunt August, pp. 329-30; M. Łowmiańska, Wilno przed najazdem moskiewskim 1655 roku (Vilnius, 1929), pp. 84-91; J. Morzy, "Geneza i rozwój cechów wileńskich do końca XVII wieku," Zeszyty Naukowe Uniwersytetu im. A. Mickiewicza w Poznaniu/Historia, 1959, no. 4, p. 27.


early sixteenth century, around 1521, sermons at St. John's parish were delivered in Polish as well as in Lithuanian.43

Vilnius, which had been a multinational city for a long time, inhabited by Lithuanians, Belorussians, Ukrainians, Poles, Jews, Germans, Tatars, and small numbers of Armenians and Italians, was saturated with everything Polish faster and to a higher degree than other Lithuanian cities and towns. From the second half of the sixteenth century, Lithuanians must have begun to be a national minority in their own capital, in light of the situation in the seventeenth century, when Polish and Polonized elements achieved not only a cultural, but probably a quantitative superiority in the city.44 The next two centuries, the eighteenth and nineteenth, and in particular the period when the university at Vilnius was founded and flourished (1803-1832), saw the city become a center of Polish culture, spreading its influence through the entire former Commonwealth. The historian Joachim Lelewel and the poet Adam Mickiewicz were among the many outstanding scholars and writers who lived there.

The Lithuanian nation's loss of its separate identity to Polonization may have started as early as the fifteenth century, when a network of parish churches operated by Polish priests developed in Lithuania. Later, in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, owners of feudal manors, now denationalized, heightened the Polonization process by speaking to their peasant serfs in Polish. The process was accelerated by the schools, especially during the time of the Commission for National Education (1773-1803) and in the years prior to 1863, when instruction was given either in Latin or in Polish, rarely in Lithuanian. If anything was said in schools about the history of Lithuania, it was only within the context of the history of Poland.45 The loss of Lithuania's national character proceeded primarily in its southeastern linguistic territory, where a knowledge of Ruthenian helped considerably in the population's mastery of the Polish language.46 Polonization was highly successful among Lithuanians only from the seventeenth century on, when Lithuanian noblemen on the peripheries of Lithuania were

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43  Jablonskis, Mažvydo gyvenimas, pp. 98-100.

44  V. Merkys, "Lietuvos miestų gyventojų tautybės XIX a. pabaigoje-XX a. pradžioje klausimu," Lietuvos TSR Mokslų akademijos darbai (Vilnius), ser. A, 2 (1958): 85-89. Concerning relations between national groups in Vilnius, see Łowmiańska, Wilno przed najazdem, pp. 85-90.

45  V. Maciūnas, Lituanistinis sąjūdis XIX a. pradžioje (Kaunas, 1939), pp. 213-15. The influence of schools on Polonization during the time of the Commission for National Education is described by A. Šidlauskas, Prosveščenie v Litve v poslednej četverti XVIII v. (Avtoreferat kandidatskoj raboty) (Vilnius, 1962).

46   H. Turska, Powstanie polskich obszarów językowych na Wileńszczyźnie (Vilnius, 1939), p. 53 (the work was printed but not distributed, due to the outbreak of war).


already considerably Polonized and when the Catholic church, under the influence of the Jesuit Counter-Reformation, intensified its pastoral activity and began to uproot the people's pagan beliefs. It operated with the help of Polish priests, who frequently did not know the Lithuanian language at all. Another important element in precipitating Polonization was the low level of national consciousness among the masses. The peasantry, which lived in an increasing bondage from the fifteenth century, could not develop its culture through education. Higher schooling and the related knowledge of one's own historical past were accessible, in principle, only to the nobility. Sons of peasants only exceptionally reached higher schools, where in any case the Polish language and culture dominated. The nobles and priests who might have supported the peasants' national self-identification were themselves vehicles of Polishness in towns, manors, churches, schools, and even taverns. Because few priests were Lithuanian,47 the masses learned religion in Polish,48 and said their prayers (poterius) in Polish, sometimes without fully understanding them.49 They spoke the prayers in a foreign tongue because they thought that it represented the foundations of the faith.50

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47  S. Bednarski, Upadek i odrodzenie szkół jezuickich w Polsce (Cracow, 1933), says that in 1740, of 695 Jesuit priests in the Lithuanian province, only 128 had a command of Lithuanian. Cf. A. Rukša, "'Diarium Societatis Jesu' ir lietuvių kalba Vilniuje (1710-1723)," Tautos Praeitis (Chicago), l, no. 3 (1960):409-423; L. Piechnik, Początki Akademii Wileńskiej (Cracow, 1961; typescript of a doctoral thesis), points out that the following was repeated in Jesuit reports sent to Rome at the end of the sixteenth century: "In their overwhelming majority priests are of Polish origin, know no Lithuanian language, and therefore neglect the teaching of the people; the simple Lithuanian people have not renounced their old beliefs and continue to cultivate pagan customs." Fijałek, "Uchrześcijanienie Litwy," p. 258, too hastily jumped to the conclusion that "In general, during the whole period of the Polish state, the Lithuanian nation had its religious needs met in its own language."

48  Turska, Powstanie polskich obszarów językowych, p. 53, says: "Church services here were sort of lessons in the Polish language, during which peasant masses learned.''

49  M. Romer, Litwa (Lviv, 1908), p. 23, cites an interesting case that he himself witnessed. A priest touring his parish at Christmas visited an estate where he started to review a laborer about his daily prayers. The Lithuanian laborer, who had been taught his prayers by his mother, a poor noblewoman, began: "I believe in God, the Father, Poisoner (Truciciela, instead of Stworzyciela 'Creator') of Heaven and Earth." This episode took place in Römer's (Römeris, in Lithuanian) village of Bagdoniškis (near Obeliai in Zarasai county), and the surname of the laborer was Lasinskis; see M. Romer, Dziennik, vol. 26, under the entry for 11 March 1920. Romer's diary (for the years 1911 -1933) is now in the manuscript division of the Central Library of the Lithuanian Academy of Sciences in Vilnius. Other examples of the rote learning of daily prayers in Polish, which Lithuanians misunderstood and distorted, were given in Aušra (Tilsit [Tilžė]), 1884, no. 10/11, p. 373.

50  See the collection of reminiscences by the Reverend Jan Misiurewicz (Jonas Misiurevičius) about Suvalkų Kalvarija county and the Suvalkai governorship for the years after 187'1: Ze stosunków litewsko-polskich: Głosy Litwinów (Warsaw, 1907), pp. 14-15.


Although Polonization was neither deliberately organized nor carried out by coercion, there was a moral pressure on Lithuanian villagers to Polonize. The Catholic clergy and the Polish-speaking noble owners of serfs intimated to, or even persuaded, their subjects that their vernacular was vulgar, deriding it as a language of country bumpkins and ruffians.51 The Lithuanian peasant felt that the Polish-speaking lords and priests held his language and his Lithuanian identity in general in contempt. Therefore he tried to divorce himself from that nationality, to renounce and to shed it. Yet in the depth of his soul the peasant preserved a grudge and took offense against those who tried to humiliate him and make him feel inferior due to his national, social, and cultural background.52 In part, especially after 1863, the Polonization of Lithuanians occurred voluntarily. The richer peasants who sent their children to schools viewed with satisfaction their youngsters' assimilation of the Polish language (privately, because schools were then Russified) because they were speaking in the language of lords. Ecstatic about the grandeur of Polish culture, especially literature, young Lithuanians proudly demonstrated their acquired Polishness as proof of good education and cultured behavior.53

The disintegration of the feudal Lithuanian nation from the sixteenth century on occurred under the influence of another factor, opposed to Polonization — that of Ruthenization. Evidence of that phenomenon, which historically preceded Polonization, can be found as early as in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, among Lithuanian princes who settled in the Ruthenian lands seized by Lithuania.54 Ruthenization also influenced considerably the development of the Lithuanian nationality. The Ruthenian language in Lithuania, before it gave way to Polish, was a vehicle for spreading the Lithuanian statist idea, to which most boyars in Lithuanian Rus' succumbed during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.55 Although the Ruthenian language started to be customary among the Lithuanian ruling classes from the thirteenth century, the differences in religion that divided

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51  "Every noble person speaks in Polish, whereas peasants use the barbaric peasant language," said landlords in Lithuania: see Aušra, 1884, no. 10/11, p. 367; also cf. Ze stosunków litewsko-polskich.

52  See Ze stosunków litewsko-polskich, p. 14ff.

53  Cf. the reminiscences of the outstanding Lithuanian linguist J. Jablonskis, Iš atsiminimų vieno iš daugelių: Dvidešimtmetinės "Auszros" sukaktuvės, 1883-1903 (Tilsit, 1903), pp. 48-49.

54  A. Briickner, Litu-slavische Studien, vol. 1 (Weimar, 1877), pp. 5-7; E. Karskij, "Kul'turnye zavoevanija russkogo jazyka v starinu na zapadnoj okraine ego oblasti," Izvestija Otdelenija russkogo jazyka i slovesnosti Rossijskoj akademii nauk, 29 (1924: Leningrad, 1925), pp. 3-4.

55  Jakubowski, Studia, pp. 25, 42, 61.


pagan and Catholic (from 1387) Lithuania from Orthodox Rus' effectively countered the large-scale acceptance of Ruthenian culture by Lithuanians within the limits of ethnographic Lithuania.56 The influence of Ruthenian did, however, weaken the resistance of Lithuanians to foreign cultural and linguistic influences, and made it easier for Lithuanians knowing the Ruthenian literary language or the Belorussian vernacular to accept the Polish language in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.57

The most noticeable effect was the demographic rise of the Belorussian population at the expense of the Lithuanian. As late as the sixteenth century, the Lithuanian population occupied the counties of Trakai and Vilnius, the northern part of the Ašmena county (Ašmiana in Belorussian) and most of Švenčionys county. After the wars of the second half of the seventeenth century and the early eighteenth century, the Belorussian population started to move into those devastated territories and only a few Lithuanian settlements were preserved, surrounded by gudai. Even Vilnius was almost completely surrounded by Slavs by the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.58 The Vilnius region then acquired an exceptionally mixed Belorussian-Polish-Lithuanian ethnic character. Thus, by the end of the eighteenth century, the Ruthenian influence on Lithuania had manifested itself — first, in the considerable Belorussification/White-Ruthenization of the southeastern part of the Vilnius region, and then, in the borrowing of some elements of Ruthenian culture, e.g., through loanwords.

After the partitions of Poland-Lithuania, Russia and Russian culture also influenced the Lithuanians. The capture of the Lithuanian lands of Aukštaitija and Žemaitija by Russia in 1795 and of the Suvalkai region (Polish Suwałki) in 1815 (in 1795-1807 the region belonged to Prussia, in 1807 it was included into the Warsaw Principality, and in 1815 it became part of the Polish Kingdom subordinated to Russia) initially did not worsen everyday life for the Lithuanians. Although Repnin, who administered Lithuania for Catherine II in 1794-1797, tried to introduce Russian administration in the captured territories,59 a change in Russian policy in Lithuania occurred under Paul I (1797-1801). Paul granted amnesty to the insurgents of 1794, preserved the Lithuanian Statute of 1588, and reestablished the noblemen's dietines. His successor, Alexander I, went even further: he allowed the transformation of the Vilnius Higher School into a university (1803), agreed to the organization of state schools on a Polish

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56  Jakubowski, Studia, pp. 12 -13.

57  Šapoka, Vilnius Lietuvos gyvenime, p. 37.

58  Jakubowski, Studia, pp. 3-4; Šapoka, Vilnius, pp. 40-44.

59  L. Żytkowicz, Rządy Repnina na Litwie w latach 1794-1797 (Vilnius, 1938).


basis, and appointed Prince Adam Czartoryski superintendent of the Vilnius school district. All three measures favored the rebirth of social and intellectual life in Lithuania. But the situation of the peasants deteriorated. As in Russia, they were burdened with the corvee and military conscription, something previously unknown in Lithuania. Under Catherine II, all the resolutions concerning the improvement of village life adopted in the Commonwealth during the Great Diet (1788-1792) and the 1794 uprising had been, of course, abandoned.60

A radical turn towards Russification came after the suppression of the uprising of 1830-1831. The tsarist regime reacted to this patriotic manifestation for the independence of Poland-Lithuania with reprisals against the insurgents and by closing the university at Vilnius, in 1832, as a center of revolution. The university's medical section, renamed the Medical-Surgical Academy, existed only until 1842, when it was abolished after secret Polish student organizations were uncovered there. An attempt by Szymon Konarski in 1838 to spread democratic insurrectionist propaganda was cruelly suppressed, and acts of Russification only intensified. In 1840 the very name "Lithuania" was banned in bureaucratic practice and was replaced by the term "Northwestern March." At the same time the still binding Lithuanian Statute was abolished and replaced by Russian legislation.61 The administrative reform of 1841 introduced a new administrative division, replacing the Vilnius governorship that had been formed in 1801. The reform divided Lithuania into two governorships, with centers in Kaunas and Vilnius, respectively. The Suvalkai area was transformed into a separate governorship in 1867.

The constantly intensifying Russification of Lithuania by police and administrative measures did not severely hamper the cultural development of Lithuania, however, until 1864-1865. It was the radical policy of Russification begun after the uprising of 1863, instigated under the slogan of "restoring the Russian nationality and Orthodoxy in Lithuania" as an "originally Russian land," that had exceptionally hard repercussions on the fate of the Lithuanian nation.62

Mickiewicz University, Poznań
[1986]

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60  H. Mościcki, Pod znakiem Orła i Pogoni (Warsaw, 1915), pp. 12-15.

61  K. J. Čeginskas, "Die Russifizierung und ihre Folgen in Litauen," Commentationes Balticae 4-6, no. 2 (1959): 97,119.

62  M. N. Murav'ev, Pamiętniki Wieszatiela, as published by W. Dębowski (Kiev, 1917), pp. 9, 37; cf. Čeginskas, Die Russifizierung, pp. 108-113.

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